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Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

Title: The Artisan Heart

Author: The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Opens:

High on the emergency-Department wall, a large digital clock flashed 6:00 p.m.".

Blurb:

Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

My thoughts:

The Artisan Heart is a page turning and, at times, very gritty story set against a background of reconnecting with your roots and making a new start. Hayden is a pushbike-riding paediatrician who is so good at what he does that his sometimes unorthodox methods are overlooked. Like all ER staff he works long hours and is dedicated to his work, his patients coming first. This does not sit too well with his ambitious wife, Bernadette. She is building up her PR business and expects to be a high-flyer very soon, she expects Hayden’s full support – tiredness and sick and/or dying children are not considered a reasonable excuse to miss supporting her events.

The story opens with two emergencies – Hayden’s emergency is a child who has been badly burned and Bernadette’s emergency, and just as important to her as Hayden’s patient is to him, is being asked to make a last minute presentation at a political business dinner. If it goes well she will win a major government contract and she will have made it into the big time. After an earth shattering series of event surrounding the burnt child, meaning he misses the event, Hayden gets home hoping for comfort and understanding. What he gets is the vision of Bernadette getting her comfort horizontally with her advisor.

Hayden is overwhelmed by the two traumatic events, has an emotional breakdown and runs. He runs to his old family property in the mountain community of Walhalla, he has not been back since the recent death of his father. Hayden is rock bottom and broken, he needs time to heal and think about his future. As Hayden grew up here, and knows most everybody, he is welcomed back into the small community as if he had never left. Then he meets Genevieve, certainly not a resident he has met before. And no, she is not the love interest, she is a child – a deaf child – who has been playing on the property and has a whole ‘family’ of toys living there. It is Genevieve’s mother, Isabelle, who he knows from his school days where she would bully Hayden mercilessly. Isabelle has also returned to heal from dramas in her life, and is starting up her own bakery in Walhalla.

Gradually Hayden and Isabelle start to get close, barriers breaking down, but before they can get their happy ever after two impediments arrive in town on the same day. What follows had me on the edge of my chair. Twists and turns, along with hand over mouth events unfold before all is revealed, and even once the immediate danger was over there were no guarantees the story would end the way I thought it should end.

I loved Hayden’s character the most, Isabelle didn’t come quite as alive for me as Hayden did – but each had their baggage that influenced the choices they made in the course of the story. Also the setting of Walhalla is a real – a place that I have been to, staying in one of the old cottages in the town. I have travelled the Walhalla Goldfields Railway through the most amazing scenery, and while I don’t remember there being a bakery, there was a café that sold cakes and pies that tasted fabulous – so as I read it I had these memory in my mind. This is the first book I have read by Dean Mayes and it won’t be the last.

Rating:

Excellent Stuffa real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

I wish to thank the author Dean Mayes for my copy to read and review

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Title: The summer of New Beginnings

Author: Bette Lee Crosby

Genre: Romance

Opens: When Lila married George Briggs, she believed they would settle into a lovely little house, raise a family, and live happily ever after. She was partly right.

Blurb: Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold. Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother. As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings.

My thoughts: The thing I enjoy most about ALL of Bette Lee Crosby books are that she writes about ‘real’ people. People whose lives you become part of as you read the book. You can laugh with them, grieve with them, worry about things together and share their joys as well. And even though there are some tough issues dealt with in THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS such as death, sacrifice, disability and domestic abuse; these are counter-balanced by love, support, selflessness and laughter.

At the start of the story George, dies and leaves a Lila a widow and their two daughters grieving his loss and to pick up the pieces. Meghan, closest to her father, gives up her dreams to take over the family business, however she feels that her father may not be fully gone and is still there guiding her. Tracy rebels without her father’s firm and loving hand and runs off to another state with her boyfriend’ Lila, his wife, has lost her reason for being and is struggling to find out what her role is in life now – she was happiest cooking huge meals – but with only two at home now she is at a loss. Tracy returns home with her baby boy, Lucas, her dreams broken. Her return is the turning point for a family that is merely existing – not living. Lila now has a purpose in life – being a grandmother – and cooking gain. Just after Tracy’s return, Meghan rescues a drowning puppy from the lake when a sudden storm blows up – and so Sox comes into their lives. He plays an important part. Through him they discover that Lucas has a medical problem and Meghan meets the local vet who becomes a love interest.

The two sisters start to work together for a common goal, helping Lucas. There are squabbles – come on, they are sisters after all; lessons are learned, chances taken and slowly the story works its magic. By the end, there is the hope that each of the Briggs family will get their happy ever after. But this is the first of the Magnolia Grove Series so no matter that most of the threads have been tied, there is a ‘wait, there’s more’ for one of the family members. I can hardly wait until October when the next book is released.

For more about author Bette Lee Crosby – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to the author for my copy to read and review via Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley.

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Title: Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found

Author: Emma Davies

Genre: Romance

Opens: It was late night opening at the library, and Lucy Picklescott had a whole thirty-five minutes to herself before she was due back for the rest of the afternoon shift.

Blurb: Twenty-four-year-old Lucy needs a fresh start. Forever single, frustrated with her studies and dreaming of writing a novel she can’t start, she gives up everything to run home and get a job in a little library in the leafy village of Tilley Moreton. Lucy loves reading books almost as much as she loves fixing other people’s problems, so starting a book club seems like the perfect opportunity to do both. As she meets her new members, it’s clear she’s going to have her work cut out for her. One by one everyone at the book club starts the journey to their happy ever afters – even Lucy.

My Thoughts: The subtitle for Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found is ‘a heart-warming feel good romance novel’, and that’s exactly what this book is. Lia, Hattie, Callum and Oscar all turn up at the library to join the book club. Each of the characters take it in turns to tell the story so it is a good way for the readers to know what is going on in each life before the rest of the cast do. Lia is the sole carer for her mother who has Alzheimer’s; Hattie is a single mum whose daughter has just started school and she wants to make friends; Callum wants to make something of his life but his family and lack of confidence is holding him back; while Oscar (who was my favourite character) is a widower missing his wife. Their stories all intertwine as the group becomes friends and each of them hits a low point before realising they don’t have to face this alone, that they have their book club friends to lift them up and help them crawl back out of their pit.

Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found is a wonderful feel good story with depth. It covers quite contemporary issues such as caring for the sick and elderly, broken relationships, single parenthood and unemployment. Each of the sub-plots have closure although happy ever after is not necessarily riding off into the sunset. Overall, five strangers become five good friends and I certainly recommend the book, and will read more of Emma Davies’ work.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Bookouture Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Sweet Dreams, Baby

Author: C.J. Carmichael

Genre: Romance

Opens: Three weeks had passed since Portia Bishop mailed the letter she should have sent almost a year earlier. Three very long weeks.

Blurb: Three weeks ago, Portia Bishop mailed a letter to the father of her baby, Saddle Bronc rider Austin Bradshaw. It’s a letter she should have written a long time ago—like when she first found out she was pregnant, shortly after she ended things with Austin, dropped out of college, and went running to her family in Marietta, Montana.

Austin has loved Portia since he first laid his eyes on her in college. A year ago, he convinced her to do something impulsive and very romantic. Now, as he opens her letter, Austin has two reasons to return to Marietta–win back the heart of the woman he still loves and convince her he’s a good bet for a forever man and father.

My Thoughts: I have to confess it was mostly the cover that first drew my attention to this book, followed by the blurb. I have previously read, and enjoyed, another of author C.J. Carmichael’s books – Snowbound in Montana – so I knew I would be in for another good read. I was not disappointed.

Austin arrives in Marietta in response to the letter mentioned in the blurb. He has NO idea he is a daddy until he sees Portia opening the door of the Chocolate Shop where she works, holding a baby. He thinks at first she is babysitting, but she tells him the truth and he gets to hold his son for the very first time. And so the story continues – they are both so young – and so in love but both are scared of committing for different reasons. They are each wanting to make the noble sacrifice for the other, despite being miserable over the sacrifice, and they are both wanting only the best for their son, which may not be the best for them. Lack of communication ensures there is lots of misunderstanding and this angst is played out against a backdrop of three other secondary stories. The Chocolate Shop is in danger of having to close down due to a nasty landlord, there are missing family jewels and fundraising is needed to raise money for the burnt down rodeo stadium.

I loved Austin he is smart, still in love, sporty, strong, considerate and always willing to pitch in and help out where needed – even making chocolate! Portia is very mixed up – with a split home behind her, and feeling rejected by her father she doesn’t want her son to come from a broken home – not even thinking that by not giving him one at all she is letting history repeat. She has been keeping secrets from her family as well as Austin and as the secrets unravel she finally has enough peace and confidence to start making decisions.

Sweet Dreams, Baby is the twelfth and final book in the series and reads perfectly as a stand-alone as I haven’t read any of the other books. Something I plan to remedy.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Tule Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns

Title: Talk of the Town

Author: Rachael Johns

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Opens: Megan McCormick froze at the sound of a car door slamming outside.

Blurb: Lawson Cooper-Jones has two priorities in life – his son, Ned, and the survival of the dairy farm that has been in his family for generations. Despite the best efforts of the town matchmakers and the determined pursuit of local girl Adeline Walsh, Lawson’s heart belongs still, and only, to his late wife. But when a flat tyre strands Lawson and Ned in nearby Rose Hill, he’s surprised to find a woman living alone in the old general store of the deserted town. Ned immediately forms a bond with the beautiful stranger called Meg, and Lawson is surprised to find himself captivated by her too.

Although shy at first, Meg starts to open up to him about the haunting secrets of her new home and, with Lawson unable to get her out of his head, they agree to investigate the history of the old building together. Soon they find their friendship has bloomed into something more. But when meddling Adeline makes it her mission to uncover the truth about the newcomer and her real identity is revealed, Lawson and Meg’s budding romance comes crashing down. Can they both learn to forgive in order to claim a future for their damaged hearts?

My Thoughts: TALK OF THE TOWN is a Rural Romance, a genre that is a firm favourite of mine. Author Rachael Johns is also a favourite of mine – she belongs to an elite group of authors that I call my ‘Grocery List’ Authors – Love their stuff so much that if they published their grocery list I would read it!

Meg has a past – a past that she wants to stay hidden. In her mind the best way to do that is hide away in an old General Store in a small ghost town with one other living resident near a slightly larger rural community and keep to herself. The story opens with her lurking alone in her home when a small whirlwind called Ned forces his way into her house and her heart – closely followed by his dad!

Of course this wouldn’t be a romance without conflict – and there is conflict in bucket loads! Lawson is in conflict with having feelings about a woman other than his late wife, and Meg has conflict with revealing the truth about her past. Topics covered as the story unfolds are the very relevant issues such as those dairy farmers face today, drugs in society, single parenthood, disabilities, remote medical access and attitudes towards convicted criminals who have served their time and just want a new start and the chance to move on.

There are some wonderful characters – both dead and alive – and certainly at least one handkerchief moment. Rachael Johns communicates both sides of living in a small community. The good is how the community pulls together in a crisis and will support each other when someone is in trouble; the bad is how gossip, petty power struggles and out and out meddling can affect people. Needless to say – good does win out – and the past is settled and the future looks bright for now as the characters make it to the end of the story. I do hope that Tab gets her own story in the future as I would love to revisit this town.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Harlequin Books and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Kakadu Sunset

Author: Annie Seaton

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Opens:

The three over-sized trucks in front of Ellie Porter’s small red sedan were loaded with pipes and earthmoving equipment, and they’d slowed her trip home along the Arnhem Highway from Darwin Airport.

Blurb:

Helicopter pilot Ellie Porter loves her job. Soaring above the glorious Kakadu National Park, she feels free from all her family problems. But when returning from a search-and-rescue mission she spots some unusual excavation works hidden at the back of her old family property. She is immediately very concerned because Kakadu being a National Park mining is not allowed. She decides to ask a few questions about the earthworks which immediately bring her into the radar of people who will stop at nothing to get their own way.

My Thoughts: Being a Darwin girl of some 40 years – and knowing the Kakadu Park area very well, I have to say I approached the setting very critically. I need not have worried – Aussie author Annie Seaton nailed it!!! Other than one little quibble about the location of her MacDonald’s in Darwin City and Darwin’s Mitchell Street being called Mitchell Avenue everything else accurate – as is the magnificent scenery and the ever present danger of Crocodiles – don’t go swimming in the rivers here!!! But every beauty spot has its snake; and KAKADU SUNSET’s snake is human with ruthless henchmen, political corruption and the very topical subject of mining and fracking. Love, bribery, kidnapping, physical maiming and murder are all set in the background of this beautiful wilderness. But it is not all doom and gloom because enter stage left our handsome hero – Kane, former military helicopter pilot suffering PTSD. He’s drop dead gorgeous but suffers from vivid flashbacks and a deep fear of flying.

The pace moves quickly with the tension steadily building as the reader gets to know what’s going on and where the danger is coming from before Ellie and Kane. That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t a few twists and turns just to prove that maybe you didn’t know it all. Each of the characters are realistic – including the support cast – you can feel the worry, the fear, the sickness and the anger. The building up of the romance between Kane and Ellie is not the main focus, it is part and parcel with the suspense – one doesn’t overpower the other. Another of the layers to the story is the fact that Annie feels passionate about conservation and the environment. It comes through the story strongly – but she doesn’t pick you up and shake you about it. Indigenous land rights also add to the tapestry of the story.

KAKADU SUNSET is the first in a trilogy based on the three Porter sisters – and I have the next one – DAINTREE – in my hot little hand. In all honesty, if you like romantic suspense that grips you and won’t let you go, then do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of this book.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

 

I have also posted this review over on Book Charmers

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Title: April’s Glow

Author: Juliet Madison

Genre: Romance

Opens: If there was anything worse for April Vedora than being stood up, it was being stood up on April Fools’ Day

Blurb: Distracting herself from a string of bad luck and a disastrous love life, bubbly April Vedora throws herself into her new business – April’s Glow, a candle store in seaside Tarrin’s Bay. The enchanting scents and colourful atmosphere provide a safe haven, but outside business hours she’s clueless about her personal life.

When a mysterious loner moves in next door, she can’t help but become intrigued, and ex-soldier Zac Masterson is equally fascinated by April. But both have sworn off relationships, and while April avoids her emotions by keeping busy and sociable, Zac hides away from the world – and his past.

My Thoughts: APRIL’S GLOW is the 4th book in the Tarrin’s Bay series and as you would expect for a book set in April – Anzac day and a returned service man are woven into the story.

Both April and Zac are wounded spiritually – they need time to heal their hurts, but they also need to learn that they can move on with their lives – that it is alright to move on. When Zac moved next door, they both started to bounce off each other as they each recognised hurt in the other. The story is told from both perspectives – so the reader learns what issues each of the two neighbours are struggling with before they do. They firstly connect by talking – at all hours of the day and night:

You’re up, I’m up. Might as well talk.

April wrote: Why not just talk over the fence?

Zac replied: Because I’m naked."

Gradually, even though their initial impressions of each other are less than favourable, comes the realisation that maybe they do have things in common after all, followed by attraction so strong that the two of them are both terrified of allowing themselves to become vulnerable. Can a candle maker and an ex-service man make it as a couple? What do they need to do to make it happen?

I loved April, in one sense she is very like me in that she sometimes says what’s on her mind not realising she’s said it aloud. Her relationships with her parents, however, are not like mine – especially the one with her father. Sometimes your personal experience can affect your outlook on life, and her relationship with Zac was certainly influenced by her relationship with her father. I loved how this thread played out, and the message that it gave – was very well done. I couldn’t imagine myself dealing with some of the issues that these two faced – but deal they did – and being a romance the reader knows that (well hopes they know that) a happy ending will eventually arrive. What kept me riveted to the pages was to find out if they would make it, and how on earth they surmounted their challenges to get there.

APRIL’S GLOW is a 5 star read – I loved the story, I loved the characters and I loved the two furry minor characters, Romeo and Juliet :)"

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

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