Review of A Forged Affair by MaryAnn Clark

forged-affair

 

I started reading this book aware that it is part of a series, but it is easy to read as a standalone book. To begin with I found the pace of the storyline quite slow, the author’s illuminative writing allowed me to picture the area of France that the book is set in, but at first I felt swamped by this.

Sticking with the story I found that after I had the first chapter under my belt the storyline opened up a lot more, the characters started to flow a lot more freely and I began to get a feel for them.

At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the protagonist, she came across as cocky. I soon learnt that this showing off that Niki was doing was a mask to hide her pain, and that warmed me to her.

Niki’s relationship with Didier was uncomplicated at first, her desire to help him out was really endearing. Her need to stand up to the bullies on his behalf really won me over. Her relationship with Luc was really complicated and this had me very frustrated right the way through the book. That said, the complications were as a result of her pain and therefore quite understandable.

During the first chapter, when I felt the story was slow, I was really certain I was not going to enjoy this book. After about the third or fourth chapter I found that the emotions of all concerned had got me gripped, I have to admit that this did surprise me.

The author has carefully woven a rather surprising story of love, friendships, heartache and an utterly independent woman who you will find endearing but frustratingly stubborn at the same time.

Her descriptive account of the area really helps to set the scene for this story. The characters are both likeable and believable, although some of the background characters lacked dimension at times. That said, this did not take anything away from the storyline, nor did it interfere with the flow of the story.

I found this book enjoyable and thought provoking. Niki’s character caused me to ponder what it would be like for a young female to be travelling around France and then to dive headfirst into a friendship with a man she has just met.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, her knowledge about the area of France that the book is set in and the activities that the characters are involved in comes across very well. I would definitely recommend this book to family and friends.

Review of When Polly Met Olly.

I fully expected this book to be heavy on the romance. Why wouldn’t it be, it is a romance novel after all. I was pleasantly surprised to find the romance was not over loaded and that the wit and humour the main character oozes is what drives this story forward.

Polly lands a job at To The Moon And Back dating agency. She’s actually a photographer, but not landing any lucrative commissions has meant she’s had to take jobs that aren’t anything remotely to do with photography in order to get by.

Derek, her boss, is a sweet guy and when he asks Polly to pretend to be a potential client for one of his business rivals in order to better understand the competition, Polly wants to do her best for him. But when she actually meets Olly, the owner of Elite Love Match there’s a connection between them, leaving Polly feeling a little disconcerted by the obvious chemistry that was sparking between them.

When Polly Met Olly was a lovely read. It wasn’t too heavy on the romance, despite it being set around a dating agency. Polly is the kind of character that you warm to straight away. She’s clever, witty, humble, and genuinely wants to do her best for everyone she’s involved with, in whatever capacity.

The story takes a little while until we see the blossoming of romance between Polly and Olly, but to me, that felt like the right thing. It allowed the background story to tell itself, without the writer having to add bits on here and there for the reader to make sense of what’s happening. The story flows well and the characters all work well together too.

A well written, witty romance novel that doesn’t drown the reader with love and romance.

Highly recommended.

The Little Bakery of Hopes and Dreams by Kellie Hailes

Josie Donnelley hates Christmas because of painful memories connected to her Mum. She moves to the small village of Sunnycombe hoping to avoid any festivities. Getting a job in the local bakery she feels she’s safe enough from too much Christmas stuff.

What she. hadn’t banked on though was falling for her boss and his adorable daughter Mia. Callan, the bakery owner, is a widower and hates Christmas as much as Josie, but Mia is all excited by the festivities and her Dad and Josie find it hard not to get sucked into the excitement too.

A heartwarming seasonal read. Beautifully written. Lovely characters. A feel good read for the festive season and those long winter nights when you just want to curl up with a good book.

Recommended.

Review of The Not So Perfect Plan To Save Friendship House: An Uplifting Romantic Comedy.

This is a story of friendship. Of mistrust. Of coming together to celebrate friendship and work out differences.

Phoebe Stockton is the chef at the all female senior living home, her friend June is the manager, and they love their residents and cherish the friendships that they have with the ladies. But the owner, Max, drops a bombshell on them all; he is bringing his father Terence to the home. Technically speaking Terence owns the house, but his rude behaviour and appaling manner send Phoebe, June, and the female residents into a spin.

Then there’s Nick. Nick is “one of the girls” but when Terence comes to live with them he tries to smooth things over, which gets Phoebe’s back up. In her mind Nick can do no wrong, shes had a crush on him ever since he came to work at the home. He’s gorgeous, he’s charming, he’s funny, and he’s a hit with the ladies in the home.

Max then delivers another blow, he’s bringing his daughter into the fold. Tamsyn is brought in to replace one of the helpers who left suddenly after Terence pinched her bottom! Tamsyn is not at all interested in doing any work, instead she hangs around Nick, cosying up to him and getting on Phoebe’s nerves.

At the very beginning of the story we are introduced to Phoebe as she attends her mother’s funeral. Despite the sadness of the occasion the storyline is heart-warming and inviting.

This is a wonderfully uplifting story that immediately draws the reader in. Phoebe is a lovely character and very witty too. I felt for Nick because I had guessed what was really going on with him, but obvioulsy the reader doesn’t find this out until much later in the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I loved the characters, apart from Tamsyn, she irritated me but I expect that was the author’s intention. I would definnitely recommend this book.

Review of The Lavender Garden

Set in both modern day – well, the late 90’s – and the Second World War this novel tells the story of Emilie de la Martineres and her whirlwind romance with Sebastian Carruthers.

It emerges that Emilie’s father and Seb’s grandmother were close friends during the Second World War.
As Emilie unravels the past her future certainly isn’t as rosy as she had hoped.

For me the best part of this novel was the reliving the dramas of the Second World War. I found this part of the story very intriguing and just as I thought I had parts of the plot dissed out, the author would throw in a plot twist to keep me on my toes.

At one point, towards the middle of the book – during a modern day section – I really grew fed up with Emelie’s character and considered not reading on until the end. But I persevered and bit was I glad I did!
The gripping tale took a whole new twist and I ended up staying up until the wee, small hours just to find out how everything turned out.

The story is quite strong and the characters from the past are too. Emelie was a bit hit and miss for me, and Sebastian made my skin crawl right from the word go.

I would definitely recommend this book and rate it as 4 star ****

Review of Just Breathe

I absolutely loved this book. I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this!

Dee Nichols is a yoga teacher. She took up yoga after a terrible car accident left her paralysed, but she was determined her injury was not going to define her and so took up yoga. She gained so much from the yoga that she became a yoga teacher.

Before the accident she had the kind of man in her life that many a woman dreams about – handsome, successful, wealthy….but after the accident Dee’s ex just could not accept her and so he dumped her.
This made Dee determined never to get involved with a suit again. That was before she met Ethan Roxborough, a wealthy, handsome, successful businessman.

Dee was invited to the Christmas party of Lucy Roxborough, Ethan’s sister whom she teaches yoga to, and the moment they met they became intrigued with one another.
Lucy offers Dee a job for a health insurance company that the Roxborough company owns, and given that Dee is short of cash she accepts.

We follow Dee on her journey to success. Prior to her accident she was a radiographer and had the kind of lifestyle her socialite mother approved of. After the accident Dee became so scared of committing to anything, or anyone, that she found she was thoroughly content with her “hippie” lifestyle, much to her mother’s disdain.

After the success of the yoga commercial Dee becomes involved with Ethan, as a protege of sorts. Ethan offers Dee free business advice and promises to help her network. Inevitably they grow close and a secret romance starts up.
Ethan has a reputation of being a ladies man – he is always photographed in the media with a different woman on his arm, these women are dubbed Roxborough girls – and Dee is not so keen to fall into this category.

Inevitably their secret gets out and Dee overhears Ethan and Lucy discussing the matter, but misunderstands what they are saying. she storms out of Ethan’s appartment, hurt, confused, humiliated, not giving either Ethan or Lucy the chance to explain themselves.
It is also at this time that Lucy goes away and her assistant cancels her yoga lessons with Dee, leaving Dee to feel that Lucy does not think she is good enough for her brother.

After a couple of weeks of moping and thoroughly feeling miserable, plus having quite a few business options to decide upon, Dee decides she may as well just follow her best friend abroad to help him with his yoga tours. But her mother suffers a heart attack and this tragedy helps Dee make her peace with her mum and also face the demons that have been haunting her since her accident.

It is at this time Lucy returns to the country and gets in touch with Dee, explaining her absence – which had nothing at all to do with Dee and Ethan and everything to do with her father-in-law taking ill. After realising she had been wrong about the day she overheard Ethan and Lucy talking about the affair. After a long chat, Lucy assures Dee that her brother is interested in her and also explains about the Roxborough girls – which is everything to do with publicity shots for social functions and nothing to do with Ethan’s personal life.
She finally makes her peace with Ethan, and as is the way with this genre, they get their happy ending.

Highly recommending this book and giving it ***** 5 stars. Well worth a read!!!

Review Of Beneath Outback Skies

Paige Quinn runs the family farm in the Australian Outback. She comes across as a bit of a tomboy, certainly not one to ask for help for anything. She also comes across as a tough cookie – one would have to be to survive in that sort of job in that kind of terrain.

Her father is worried about her though. He is confined to a wheelchair after a tractor accident several years earlier, so he is unable to do any of the physical stuff. He can, however, do the paperwork and he knows that Banora Downs, the name of the family farm, is in poor financial health. Once upon a time Banora Downs used to take in paying guests, but that has not happened so much recently. Paige’s father has a plan though.

Cue Tait Cavanaugh. He turns up at the farm looking for a place to stay for a little while. Paige is pretty bewildered by his arrival as it has been sometime since Banora Downs has had paying guests. She demands to know how Tait found out about the farm, but he is pretty evasive about how he discovered the farm, blaming his secretary for looking the place up online.
Paige does not really believe his story, but she cannot be certain the farm does not still have a web presence. Tait claims he wants to spend some time out of touch with everyone he knows, and he also wants to experience life in the outback.
Paige is amused by this, Tait has arrived in a very expensive car and has the markings of a wealthy man, a man more suited to the boardroom, not the wilderness of the Australian outback. She agrees to show Tait what life is like, but she does not trust that he is being totally honest with her about his motives for being in the outback.

The story follows the pair as they grow closer and secrets are revealed. It is an easy narrative to follow and a pretty pleasant read. I enjoyed reading this book and can recommend it to lovers of this genre.

**** 4 stars.

Review Of Voodoo On the Bayou

Craig Thibodeaux is the ultimate ladies man.  Commitment is a dirty word to him.  That is until he dates the granddaughter of a Voodoo Priestess.    Madame LeBieu casts her magic on Craig, he will be a man by night and frog by day, unless he finds love.  The one snag is he must do so by the full moon – which is only a couple of weeks away!!!  If he doesn’t find love by then he will remain a frog forever.

Elaine Smith is a scientist in New Orleans.  Involved with a man who is cheating on her she decides to come to Bayou Miste after receiving an anonymous sample claiming there is pollution in the lake and it is killing the wildlife.  Elaine sees it as an opportunity to get away from her cheating ex, by burying herself in her work.

The story is fun and entertaining.  Madame LeBieu’s granddaughter sounds awful and I felt sorry for Craig; he was trying to do the right thing by her, but his reputation as a ladies man meant Lisa’s lies would be believed, causing the ultimate trouble for Craig.It is heartwarming to see Elaine come out of her shell, as well as Craig fall hook, line and sinker for Elaine.  There are some really great characters in this novel, as well as some slimey toads!!!

This is a great and fun read for lovers of this genre.

Rating = 4 stars ****

Recommended for all lovers of this genre.