Friday, 30 January 2015

Book Review: What Belongs to Her

What Belongs to HerWhat Belongs to Her by Rachel Brimble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

     I thoroughly enjoyed returning to Templeton Cove for the story of Sasha Todd, manager of the fairground once owned by her family. This clearly isn't an easy situation for her, and it only gets worse when John Jordon, estranged son of the current owner, appears to take up the reins. It's obvious from the start that there is chemistry between Sasha and John, and equally obvious that neither of them will easily accept their attraction to the other.
     Rachel Brimble excels at depicting the dance of a developing relationship, with all the cautious steps forward and scurries backward, and in Sasha and John she's created two people with a great many reasons to dance around each other, including Sasha's painful past and John's father's dubious business practices.
     'What Belongs to Her' is an apt title in so many ways. Sasha's initial belief is that the fairground should belong to her, despite the legal obstacles in the way, because she loves it. But when she starts falling for John, she has to question whether love and ownership are, or should be, linked, and whether her past is hers alone, or whether she'll have to share it in order to move forward.
     Harlequin's superromances allow much more space, for a good cast of characters and a real depth to the hero and heroine, than the shorter category romances, and 'What Belongs to Her' makes good use of the space to develop an absorbing story set in an appealing location which I always look forward to visiting.

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Six Sentence Sunday: When Sally Met Wulf

I've been looking through some stories I wrote a while ago and I found this. Originally titled 'What You Wish For', then changed to 'Djinn and Tonic', it's my first attempt at a paranormal, and I'm thoroughly enjoying rewriting it based on the feedback given to me by a few kind friends at the time, so I may bring you a few tasters from the story over the next few weeks. Today, here's the moment when the heroine Sally, a goth fashion photographer, meets the hero, Wulf, a model who also happens to be a djinn, or genie, and therefore able to grant her wishes. Not that she knows that... yet.

Sal had always been a sucker for goths, and she saw a lot of them around town as well as in the course of her work, but this model was something else. Lean legs encased in smooth black gleamed under the lights, and the tight trousers gave her a good idea what else there was worth drooling over. 

“You don’t fall for models,” she scolded herself mentally.

The midnight eyes turned in her direction and she felt a warm glow spreading across her cheeks.

“I am Wolf Ryder, and I am never walking away from a challenge.” His voice was accented, but clear and beautiful. He strolled towards Sal and offered her his hand.

Great.  A weird, gorgeous foreign guy who could read minds. That was all she needed.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Book Review: The Good, The Bad, and the Undead

The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (The Hollows, #2)The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's not always a good idea diving into a series midway through, but Kim Harrison does a good job of feeding in all the backstory you need to make sense of this witty, witchy romp. With echoes of Janet Evanovich and Charlaine Harris in the tone, and a varied cast of supernaturals including vampires, weres, pixies and elves, there's plenty to lift 'The Good, The Bad and the Undead' above your average paranormal, including a complicated plot and a well-developed schema of magic, both good and bad. Witch and former bounty hunter, Rachel Morgan is an entertaining and likeable heroine with a reckless streak wider than a major freeway. She rooms with a vampire (reformed, but only just), enjoys challenging the authority of bad boy businessman Trent, and has a human boyfriend who conjures demons. All in all, Rachel is asking for a whole heap of trouble, and Kim Harrison makes sure she gets it. You may love or hate the whole supernatural mash-up thing, but you certainly won't be bored.

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Book Review: What a Woman Desires

What a Woman DesiresWhat a Woman Desires by Rachel Brimble
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So nice to read a historical novel with a heroine who's strong and gutsy, without being insanely anachronistic. Monica Danes left Biddestone for the bright lights of Bath's Theatre Royal after a distressing incident with an unsuitable suitor. She's vowed never to go back, and the only thing that could change her mind is the knowledge that after her father's death, her mother and sister desperately need her help. Still, she plans to make her visit as brief as possible, but fate has other plans for her.
Her mother's illness, her sister's loneliness, and the terms of her father's will conspire to tie her to the village, and then of course there's Thomas, her father's former groom and right-hand man, who's so obviously destined for Monica that the question is not whether, but how, the couple can breach society's carefully constructed walls to be together. While Monica is a little more daring than the average period heroine, Thomas could easily have stepped out of the pages of one of Hardy's more cheerful books. Like Gabriel Oak, he's the perfect true-hearted Englishman, and it's a pleasure to see him come into his own over the course of a story which has plenty of character development on all sides.
Talking of characters, there are some delightful minor characters and several who seem to deserve their own stories. In particular, I'm keen to know what becomes of Jane once she's finally freed of the constraints of her tyrannical father and moaning mother. All in all, from the quiet confines of Biddestone to the flicker of footlights in the city, this is a beautifully drawn world which welcomes the reader in and doesn't let go easily. A must read.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Book Review: The Next Always (Inn at Boonsboro)

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro, #1)The Next Always by Nora Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been a Nora Roberts fan for a while and this is one of my favourites (although come to think of it, I often say that about the last one I read!)
Clare and Beckett are old friends and there's no manufactured conflict between them, just a gentle journey towards making room for each other in their lives and hearts.
Clare is cautious after losing her husband, a soldier, while pregnant with their third child, and Beckett is busy renovating the Inn of the title, so neither of them is looking for love, but of course, that's when love is most likely to come looking for you...
With a little help from the honeysuckle-scented haunter of the Inn, they find plenty of things they're not looking for, and a thoroughly satisfying ending.

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Book Review: Don't Tell the Groom

Don't Tell the GroomDon't Tell the Groom by Anna Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I read the blurb for 'Don't Tell the Groom', I found it hard to believe that I would sympathise with the heroine, Penny. What kind of a person gambles away her wedding fund, then instead of coming clean, decides to organise the wedding on a shoestring budget, all the while piling lies upon untruths to her husband-to-be? The answer, according to Anna Bell, is a confused, well-meaning and very endearing one!
It's easy to see how one thing leads to another for Penny, and there is never an easy moment when she could turn round and say, 'Well, actually...' So she forges ahead with her plan, and discovers hitherto untapped reserves of creativity and compassion. I usually wince when promised 'hilarious results', but in this case I did find myself laughing out loud at some of Penny's antics, as well as choking up at some of the more emotional moments. Although some of the comedy is a little predictable, 'Don't Tell the Groom' is a sweet, funny and thoroughly enjoyable read.

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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Book Review: Christmas at the Cove

Christmas at the CoveChristmas at the Cove by Rachel Brimble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy a visit to Templeton Cove, Rachel Brimble's imaginary - but oh-so-real - seaside town. This visit had me on tenterhooks as sensible Carrie returned to the scene of her totally out-of-character one night stand on a mission to track down the father of her child. Bring on Scott, the sexy garage owner with a massive (but entirely understandable) case of commitment phobia, and the scene is set for a hugely emotional trip.
The Christmas setting adds another emotional dimension, as does Scott's endearing attempt to rescue his entire household of female relatives, including his mother, whose reunion with Scott's absent father looks set to end in trouble. All in all, Christmas at the Cove is a tear-jerker with just the right amount of humour, some hot romance to warm the cold winter nights, and some important life lessons, all wrapped up in a pretty, seasonal package.

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