New Release Book Review: Choosing Lillian by Rania Battany

Choosing LillianI Loved Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany and Choosing Lillian is the second in the Stolen Hearts series which follows on a little while after and this time social worker Lillian, who helped Lucy in the first novel, gets her own HEA.

For those who have read Call me Lucy, you will know that the chemistry between Lillian and the police officer Blake, was palpable, so it was no surprise that these two characters find ways to reconnect after Lucy’s case is finished.

Blake was definitely the instigator in this relationship, making excuses to catch up with her, and though shy, knew what he wanted when it came to Lillian. I really liked Blake and I was barracking for him through the whole novel, such a lovely guy, and very protective when it came to Lillian and it turns out, he has every reason to worry about her. Lillian isn’t too sure of what she wants due to the breakdown of her marriage a year before, and because of this, she sends lots of mixed signals to poor Blake, and to herself. I thought her friends and family weren’t very supportive of Lillian starting a new relationship, except of course Lucy, who was right behind her. Lillian is also still suffering the loss of a young client and still coming to terms with her inability to help when it was needed. Lillian has lots to deal with including her ex-husband who causes a few extra issues she definitely doesn’t need.

I really enjoyed the relationship that built between Lillian and Blake, I loved how the chemistry they had led to so much more, they both just had to trust and make the jump.

We meet many of the same characters in Choosing Lillian, but I changed my mind about a few of them in this story. I found Lillian’s mother to be very unsupportive of Lillian in this novel, and I didn’t like her much at all, she was constantly trying to get Lillian back with her ex, who was an asshole, and I couldn’t understand her thinking or lack of empathy. I found Gabby to be quite judgy and very naive, but I’m looking forward to reading her story and seeing where she ends up. I still am not a big fan of Leila, but she is starting to soften a bit more, I guess her relationship with Jacob from the prequel novella Letters to Leila, is softening those sharp edges of hers.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020  20/50

#20Backlistin2020: Book Review: To Wed a Wild Scot by Anna Bradley

To Wed a Wild ScottTo Wed a Wild Scot by Anna Bradley has been waiting to be read since at last July, it feels good to have ticked my third #20backlistin2020 book off the list.

It was the absolutely gorgeous cover that first attracted me to this novel, I haven’t read many regency romances, but Maddison Michaels introduced me to the genre and I have found I really enjoy it, especially if the female characters are strong ones.

Juliana, our main character is definitely a strong female, she’s headstrong, gutsy, stubborn and determined, though at times full of self-doubt. Logan, our leading man is also headstrong, stubborn and determined, but he has a soft heart underneath his imposing character.

I really enjoyed this novel, there were a few times I wished the characters would stop jumping to conclusions and just talk to each other, but this is an ongoing issue I have with many novels, at least they worked things out between them eventually.

I really do love a strong, sexy Scotsman and this novel definitely ticked that box for me. With great secondary characters, as well as a very unlikeable character that they have to deal with, this was an enjoyable read, and I’ll be looking for more books by this author.

Thanks to NetGalley and Lyrical Press for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Spring at Lake Grange by Eliza Bennetts

Spring at Lake Grange

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, I love the fact that the women are over 40, are strong women and are still able to find their happily ever after.

This one especially ticked all my boxes due to its abundance of inclusion from so many aspects of our society.

I really loved our main female character Maria, we were introduced to her in book 3, Winter in Mason Valley and it was lovely to see her get her own story. She’s such a positive, sassy, sexy lady and I loved that she really seemed to know who she was.

Ethan was a different kind of character altogether, described as socially inept and he certainly was that, part of it came from his upbringing, and lack of positive role models and lack of relationships formed when he was young, but part of me continued to feel that he seemed to be on the autism spectrum, whether this is because I work in this industry or not, I don’t know, but I liked that this man, who had so many social issues, was still able to find ‘the one’ and form a meaningful relationship. I did find myself rolling my eyes many many times at Ethan’s complete inability to understand feelings and felt sad that he thought feelings were to be avoided at all costs.

I liked Maria’s whole family, her brothers were both good characters and I especially loved her brother Steven and I thought it was very brave and right of him to decide it was time for him to be happy and to be truthful to his family no matter the fallout, in order to be true to himself. I loved how wonderful Maria’s relationship was with Steven and how she had his back completely.

There was so much to like about this novel, it was a story of family, of inclusiveness, of figuring out who you really were and what you really wanted, a story of coming to terms with what life has dealt you and loving those around you for who they are no matter what. I definitely ended this novel feeling good for all the characters involved and knowing that they would all be travelling happily ever after.

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#AWW2020 19/50

New Release Book Review: Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

I have a few Kelly Rimmer books residing on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read, and if it hadn’t been for Beauty and Lace, Truths I Never Told YouTruths I Never Told You may have been sitting there for just as long.

This was a very moving story about family, relationships, secrets, death, grief, but most importantly about postpartum depression and how it can affect both the sufferer and those who care for the person suffering.

Despite not having suffered postpartum depression, I very much related to both Beth and Grace’s experiences, because I have suffered from depression and they look pretty similar, minus the children. Because of this I always worried if I had children, I would not cope and could completely see where these two women, especially Grace, were coming from.

From the beginning, when I read Grace’s first letter, I knew I was in for an emotional time, and there were definitely moments that make me cry or brought tears to my eyes. All the characters, excepting Grace and Maryanne’s parents we so relatable and I enjoyed passing my time with them, even in the sad parts.

I liked the ways the stories ran in parallel, the 1996 timeline telling Beth’s story and the 1958 timeline telling Grace’s story through her letters to herself and then Maryanne’s story, all complimented each other and I enjoyed uncovering things slowly with Beth, though for much of the time we know much more than Beth and her siblings, we get to uncover the final secret at the moment Beth does.

Patrick’s illness, his heart disease, and his dementia were extremely sad, it is always a sad thing when someone ceases to be the person they were, but even sadder for Patrick as he couldn’t verbalise what he was wanting to say. This was a new type of dementia I was unaware of, where language is interpreted in painting or some other creative pursuits. I could visualise Patricks series of paintings so well in my mind, imagining what he would have painted to go with each of the letters. Art is a wonderful way to get our feelings out and at least Patrick had this outlet for his emotions.

There were other topics that were important throughout this story, especially the expectations put upon women to marry, look after the house and have children, the lack of say in what they can do with their own bodies, the lack of access to birth control and the way it was frowned upon to use it if you could access it. All of these things that we as westerners now take for granted. This is what Maryanne and her desire for change was hoping to get for women everywhere.

Beth – “It’s hard to believe how different things were for her. I mean, I’ve been sexually active for…” I pause and do the math, then grimace, “God. Over twenty years. I was on the pill for more than half of that time, until Hunter and I started trying to conceive. It was actually quite easy for me to avoid pregnancy until I was ready.”

  “Society moved on so fast. That’s what we wanted, of course,” Maryanne says and sighs as she pats my son to sleep. “But there’s a cost in rapid progress like that, because women your age don’t always understand how lucky you are. 

It’s true, we forget how lucky we are in many respects compared to only 60 or so years ago. One thing that still hasn’t changed enough though is the stigma around mental illness, yes it is more understood and less stigmatised than it was, but we still haven’t reached the point where people are comfortable asking for help and worrying about what others will think. Stories about mental illness are vitally important if we are going to change this. Beth, unlike Grace, had lots of support even when she didn’t want it, how different Grace’s life and in turn Patrick and the children’s life might have been had she had the support of her parents.

This was a very moving story with some very important themes and I was hooked from the beginning. I’ll definitely be getting the rest of Kelly Rimmer’s novels as soon as possible.

FB_IMG_1577105032228  #AWW2020 13/50

Book Review: Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany

Call me LucyI really loved this novel, an Enemies to Lovers romance set around a cast of characters who are part of a linked series Stolen Hearts, with the next book Choosing Lillian coming out early March.

This novel, as the title suggests is about Lucy who has been in an accident and suffered some traumatic brain injury and has no idea who she is or where she comes from, but the saddest part is that no one has come forward to say she is theirs.

Lucy is lucky in one respect, she is assigned Lillian as her social worker and Lillian is completely about protecting Lucy after she herself has suffered a loss that we slowly uncover details about. Lillian sets Lucy up at her flat where her brother Billy is living and Billy is given the job as unwilling ‘babysitter’.

This was a really moving story, Lucy’s struggle to remember her identity, while at the same time being terrified of learning who she really is, was one that pulled at my heartstrings many times throughout the novel. The fact no one has come forward for her makes her feel that she must have no worth to anyone. Billy’s behaviour towards her when she first comes to stay reiterates this feeling of having no self-worth.

I actually really liked Billy despite his behaviour to begin with, you could see he was struggling with his own demons and that deep down he cared a lot. He especially cared about his sister Lillian and I really enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship.

Lucy meets a very unlikeable character in Tyler when she is revisiting the scene of her accident. From the get-go, I knew there was something off about Tyler and as the story progresses I could see why I disliked him. Tyler is all about emotional and psychological abuse. He plays Lucy from the start and whenever these two characters met, I got a horrible sense of foreboding. Rania Battany has done a great job of portraying both the mindset of the abuser and the effects this can have on the person being abused.

Lillian is working with a police officer Blake, the chemistry between these two is palpable and there is hope something might be stirring ready for the next book in the series.

There are a few other characters we meet who will be part of the series, Lillian and Billy’s mum Helen who comes across as a loving mother, loud and sure that food is the answer to any problem, characteristics that are often part of a Lebanese family. We also meet Gabby, their cousin who also is loud, outgoing and thinks food, especially pastries can cure anything. And we briefly catch up with Leila and Jacob who have their own novella Letters to Leila, which is set slightly before Call Me Lucy. I didn’t like Leila in the novella and her brief catch up in this novel didn’t change my mind about her, though I am glad Leila and Jacob are still together.

I really enjoyed Lucy and Billy’s growing friendship and relationship. I loved the way they both took tiny steps towards trusting each other, sometimes leading to more steps backward, but ultimately leading towards something real and strong that is worth pursuing. Billy really was just what Lucy needed in order to heal from her past and from her accident. Lucy is a tough person, at the same time as being completely vulnerable and I really loved her character.

This was a great read full of emotions and the mystery of finding out who Lucy really was.

Thank you to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228       #AWW2020   12/50

New Release Book Review: Hard Ride by A.M. Arthur

Hard RideHard Ride: A Gay Cowboy Romance (Book 5 Clean Slate Ranch series) by A.M. Arthur had me up all night reading to see if our two main characters, Slate and Derrick could go from fake boyfriends to something real. I have enjoyed this whole series so far and this newest book was no exception.

This one takes us away from Clean Slate Ranch, though all the previous characters I’ve come to know and love, regularly make appearances. After Slate has an accident he makes a deal with Derrick, they will be fake boyfriends for the summer, so Derrick has a date for 5 family weddings he has to attend, and in return Slate can recuperate at his place in the city where he has access to medical facilities.

The fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope is not a new one, but I personally haven’t read many of them, and I really enjoyed this one, watching them fall for each other, they already knew they had the chemistry, but watching that chemistry turn to something more was really enjoyable even if they were both too stubborn to say anything to each other. Cue best friends who can help out.

I loved the new cast of supporting characters who live in Derrick’s house and who Slate also becomes good friends with. I especially liked Dez who’s sweet, quirky and an individual and made Slate’s time recovering more enjoyable and set him on a new and completely different path from his former interests.

Slate has kept a secret from everyone, a teenage daughter who he is desperate to form a proper relationship with. I liked the way this played out and I liked how open she was to Slate and Derrick’s relationship and how that made her look at her dad in a new and better way.

A really enjoyable romance and I’ll be cheering this couple on, as I have for all the couples so far. I hope there is another book in this series to look forward to.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

 

New Release Book Review: Promise Me Forever by Juanita Kees

I really Promise Me Foreverenjoy each journey to Bindarra Creek and this latest novel set in the small country town, full of interesting characters and people who know what community means was a delight.

Promise Me Forever (Bindarra Creek A Town Reborn #8) has a touch of magic (maybe a little more than a touch) and was a fun read with two main characters who were very easy to fall in love with and to hope they could fall in love with each other.

Jack has one agenda when he comes to town to make a report on the small town of Bindarra Creek, and that is to get out of the headlines and back into real reporting, he’s not too sure about doing what he perceives to be a fluff piece on how the locals are trying to save their town.

Headstrong Meg is determined to make the dream of her granny’s museum become a reality and help put Bindarra Creek on the map. She truly hopes that Jack is the right person to help her do this, but has some serious doubts.

As the two get to know each other and discover what makes the other tick, they get more than they bargained for. And when they go off into the outback in search of a missing friend who is under the suspicion of murder, the chemistry between them heats up.

I really enjoyed the interactions between these two and I loved the way they had the magic spark and the magic of the cards between them. I enjoyed feisty Aunty Phyl’s character, she was a good laugh with her sharp tongue and her desire to protect Meg.

I always enjoy a good romantic suspense and Juanita Kees does this genre so well. With good characters and a wonderful town to set the story in, I can definitely recommend Promise Me Forever.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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#AWW2020 9/50