The Summer Seaside Kitchen (by Jenny Colgan)

Women’s Fiction / Romance

As she was growing up, Flora dreamed of escaping her life as a farmer’s daughter in a small village on Mure Island. Then when her mother died she railed against her well meaning neighbors and burnt all her bridges along the way. She left the island and moved to the city.

Three years later she is working as a paralegal for a prestigious law firm in London.

But life in the city is anything but perfect. Her job is a grind, her coworkers are hard and don’t get her and she is secretly in love with a senior partner who treats women like disposable commodities.

Then Joel, the senior partner, takes on a new client who is building a resort on Mure Island and wants to stop a wind farm spoiling his views. Flora is sent home to try and bring the locals on board but in returning she is crashing into her past. Her grief for her mother. Her father who is barely holding onto the farm and her brothers who are bitter that she left.

After discovering her mother’s journal, a hand written recipe book, she starts cooking and in doing so begins to heal the wounds of the past.


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The Summer Seaside Kitchen is one of those rare books that heals the heart. It’s a gentle love story about broken people who somehow manage to patch things up and move forward. Everything about this book is 5 Stars.

Many thanks to Hachette Australia and Netgalley for providing me with this review copy.

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Elements of Chemistry series (by Penny Reid)

New Adult

Kaitlyn has spent her life hiding in closets and generally being invisible. And the one person she is hiding from more than any other is Martin Sandeke, her lab partner.  He has a reputation as a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy. Someone who breaks a woman’s heart and leaves her in tears.

After one of her closet excursions she overhears two students plotting against Martin. Disgusted with what they are planning she sets about saving him from their scheme.  But it seems that in saving him she has inadvertently come to his notice.

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Elements of Chemistry is a three book series that to be honest is a single book in three acts. It has all the things you expect in New Adult novels –– infatuation, lust, misunderstandings, jealousy, angst –– but those elements aren’t overplayed and the series is better for it.

I do think parts one and two are a little stronger than part three which seemed to drag a little but I’m still more than happy to say this is probably the best New Adult series I’ve read.

Oh…and the answer is Oxytocin if you were wondering.

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I Need a Hero (by Emma Bennet)

Contemporary Romance

Bronte is waiting for perfect. So when Ryan, who doesn’t meet her definition of perfect moves in next door, she immediately consigns him to the friend-zone. And despite his obvious interest and his being a pretty damned nice guy, she continues to gently turn him down throughout the book.

When she meets Sebastian she thinks she’s finally met the perfect guy. It’s like he stepped out of the pages of one of the romance books she writes, but honestly he’s a complete douche. Yet she continues to make allowances for him despite his being an ass-hat.

Naturally she finally realises that Ryan is perfect but as I write this review with a chapter to go and the resolution still up in the air I kind of hope he’s chosen the other woman. He’s honestly too good for her. I mean she takes stomping the hearts of good men into the mud to dizzying heights. I really didn’t like her much.

Adding to my issues with the book is the narrative style. Emma Bennet doesn’t seem to use enough pronouns. At the very least in the beginning. I stopped noticing it after about 20% so she either started using them or I had acclimatised to her narrative style.

There are definitely good things in this book. The author writes scenes brilliantly, but somehow in stitching those scenes into a story it loses some of the brilliance and ends up being just OK.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmMany thanks to Joffe Books and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

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The Other Daughter (by Lauren Willig)

Historical (1920s)

After her mother dies of influenza, Rachel stumbles upon a picture torn from the society pages of a magazine. It’s of her father, who she thought was dead, together with his daughter –– the eponymous other daughter. As an earl he has everything –– wealth, status and respect. All things she lacks.

She forms an uneasy alliance with Simon, a gossip columnist who is a society insider and manages to insinuate herself into the bright young things of London in the 1920s. But as she sets her plan into motion to confront the father who abandoned her, everything starts crashing down around her.


The Other Daughter is good…occasionally it’s brilliant but it still somehow managed to leave me feeling a little unsatisfied. The resolutions are painfully sparse and in some cases completely absent. You grow to love Olivia and Cece but they just disappear without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

Overall, it’s worth the effort but those few missteps tarnished an otherwise great book.

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Without Words (by Ellen O’Connell)

Western Romance

After gunning down Rufus Petty, Bret finds himself faced with a half starved mute woman burying an old man. His only choice is to take her with him or leave her to die, so with her broken down old horse and half wild dog in tow they set off together.  His plan is to unload her on the first willing person, but it quickly becomes apparent that life isn’t easy for a woman on the frontier and if he wants to ensure her safety he’ll need to keep her with him.  

As they travel the West, searching for bounties, Hassie finds a place with Bret. Despite the limitations of not having a voice, she is smart and recognises bounties that Bret would have missed. Gradually Hassie’s view of Bret changes. She goes from seeing him as a cold blooded killer, to a man of honour who will put himself in harms way to protect those he loves.

Before long she has fallen in love, but Bret plans to return to his wealthy family in Missouri, and they will never accept a woman like her, poor and with an Irish father, so their time is short.

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Westerns tend to fall into one of two camps.  There is the idealised version where the good guys wear white hats and the bad guys wear black hats –– where a bad guy gets shot and he dies without shedding any blood; and the gritty, more realistic and usually quite violent version.

What I love about Ellen O’Connell is she takes that more romantic notion of the West but overlays a layer of realism so it is somehow entertaining and realistic but not hard edged.  I’ve read three Ellen O’Connell books and I’ll definitely be reading more. This one is equal to my personal favorite, Beautiful Bad Man. 

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How to Marry a Cowboy (by Carolyn Brown)

Contemporary Romance

When Mason’s two little hellions, Lily and Gabby, find Annie Rose on their porch in a wedding dress no less they decide she is their new mother and immediately set about making it so. Overnight Annie Rose goes from being on the run from a violent and abusive ex to being a “mamma-nanny”.

Despite his attraction to her, Mason still holds feelings for his wife who died many years earlier and resists moving beyond a professional relationship with Annie Rose, but with the two little scamps pulling the strings, not even he can resist for long.

 
How to Marry a Cowboy felt like a G Rated, almost church going christian romance for most of the book. It was very much a book I could give to my 87 year old mother and she would really enjoy it. But then everything changed and the sex started. I don’t mind sex, I mean I’ve read more than one Tiffany Reisz book and rated them 5 Stars, but the sex level really didn’t feel right for this book.

I also found some of the set-up for the story a little too easy. For example, she has an accident and her car ends up in a pond fully submerged and never seen again, less than 24 hours later Mason has hired her as a nanny. She is on the run from an abusive ex, who doesn’t really feature in the story at all except as a reason for her to be running.

What I really liked and what saved the book was the characters…especially Lily and Gabby in all their 9 year old mischievous glory.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.25.29 pmMany thanks to Sourcebooks and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

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The Duke’s Holiday (by Maggie Fenton)

Regency Romance

The Duke of Montford likes everything to be neatly lined up. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. The one blemish on his ordered ledger is a small unprofitable estate in Yorkshire. An estate which was swindled out of the family 100s of years earlier and will only return to him after the last male descendent of the Honeywell’s, the cads who swindled his family, shuffles off his mortal coil.

When Montford discovers that the aforementioned Honeywell did in fact pass on many years earlier he immediately smells a rat. Someone has been sending him reports from the estate and it’s lack of funds and signing them “A. Honeywell”.

Astrid Honeywell has been managing the estate and the family brewery since she was a child. Unfortunately as a woman she isn’t a legitimate heir and by rights the estate should be returned to the Duke of Montford. After Montford sends his right hand man to investigate she realises her number is up, but she won’t go down without a fight.

Astrid is completely wrong for Montford. Everything about her is wrong. Her hair is an unruly mess or red tangles. Her eyes are different colours, and not only does she wear a man’s clothing she insists on riding her horse astride. She definitely won’t fit into his ordered life.

But despite driving him crazy at every turn, she is also the first person who has been able to make him come alive –– to enjoy life, to get drunk and to make a fool of himself.

 

The Dukes Holiday is a complete romp. It’s great fun form beginning to end, one of those rare perfect books that I can’t fault in any way.

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