Book Review: Winter in Mason Valley by Eliza Bennetts

Winter in Mason ValleyThis is my final review for 2019 and what a great book to end a fabulous year of reading on.

I loved the first two books in this series and I really enjoyed catching up with Dee again after she left Urchin’s Bluff for a new job position to further her career.

I have to say it makes a nice change to be reading about women my own age making big decisions in their lives, whether it is a career, relocation or love or all three. It’s also nice to think that I’m not alone in still searching for the right job and the right man and also that not all women have to have had children to be content, though in this case, Dee gets a child as part of the package, maybe that’ll happen for me too, you just never know.

Starting her new job at the paper factory in Mason Valley Dee seems extremely off-kilter in her behaviour and it didn’t entirely endear her to me, though on further reflection, I’ve started jobs where the need to impress or make a stand straight away has made me behave slightly different to the way I normally would, though unfortunately never because the men I’m working with have blown my socks off, lucky Dee.

I wasn’t overly taken with Travis in the beginning either, his behaviour towards Dee to start with was annoying. The way he was with his mother and his daughter however, showed what a caring person he could be.

Both Dee and Travis’s characters grew on me as the story progressed and I was definitely hoping they could sort things out by the end.

I didn’t like creepy, smarmy Vince, the money man, who Dee has to work with and I seriously couldn’t understand how she didn’t pick up on his dodginess (is that a word) from the get-go, instead making excuses for his behaviour (I shudder when I think of him).

I enjoyed Dee and Travis’s undercover sting, I’ve always liked a Nancy Drew operation. What they uncover made me wonder how much of this sort of thing goes on every day and how often people get away with it or for how long. I can’t imagine ever being that dishonest or needing money that badly, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who fit one or the other of the criteria.

My favourite character was Annie, followed closely by Travis’s mum. Annie was an absolute delight and always brought a smile to my face.

A really enjoyable read, I look forward to Eliza Bennetts’ next book in the seasons series which is Spring at Lake Grange.

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

New Release Book Review – Last Bridge Before Home by Lily Malone

Last BridgeI loved the first two books in the Chalk Hill series, Water Under the Bridge and The Cafe by the Bridge and have been looking forward to Last Bridge Before Home. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Where The Cafe by the Bridge highlighted male depression and the need to ask for help, Last Bridge Before Home deals with another topical issue, domestic abuse.

Jaydah for all she comes across as a strong young woman is also an insecure young woman who has been physically and mentally abused for most of her life by her father who is an absolute bastard. It’s not just Jaydah who has been a victim to this vile excuse of a man, but also her mother and her sister Jasmine. Much of Jaydah’s life has been spent protecting them from her father and taking on responsibility for keeping them all safe. I can’t imagine living like Jaydah, being so afraid to tell anyone what is going on, keeping so many secrets all to herself, huge secrets that no one in the town of Chalk Hill has any idea about.

But is that really true? Well, one secret yes, but most people in Chalk Hill had an inkling that things weren’t exactly right with Jaydah’s father, but no one wanted to step up and ask questions, then afterwards they say ‘why didn’t you say something, why didn’t you tell us?’ way to pass the blame to the victim. This happens in real life all too often, no one wants to take responsibility for what might be going on behind closed doors, maybe we should start looking out for each other and asking the hard questions ‘Do you need help? Can I do anything? Is everything all right?’. Be there and let the people/person in question know that when they are ready, you are there, no judgement, just support.

Brix, what a lovely, loyal guy he was, and no pun intended, but what a ‘brick’ of a character he was. Jaydah has always been the love of his life and he has never given up hope that one day she will be his. Jaydah has kept her secrets even from Brix who thought he knew everything about her. I’m not sure how I would have coped if I found out all of my partners secrets and had to deal with all the issues that Brix does, but the way he took it all in his stride despite his worries about how he would deal with everything was fabulous and truly showed his love for Jaydah.

Another issue that Lily Malone deals with in this novel is the aspect of caring for someone with an intellectual disability and all it entails. She also delves into the dreams of people with a disability and what they can realistically expect when it comes to freedom of choice and their future. This is a hard topic as anyone who cares for or works with a person with disabilities can attest to. I work with people with disabilities and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have the responsibility for a person day in, day out, to make the hard choices, to explain why they can’t have everything they see others around them having. Dealing with the behaviours of people with intellectual disabilities is challenging and Lily Malone has done a great job with both her character portrayal and showing the good and the bad of living with such a challenge.

There were many tense moments in this novel, there were heartbreaking moments, moments of joy, moments I wanted to take one of Jaydah’s kali sticks and whack her father across the head for her, there were ups and downs and many wonderful moments threaded through this novel making it an absolute joy to read despite its darkness.

I hope we get to visit Chalk Hill again and see how the three brothers and their partners are going, along with their extended families.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira Australia and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Loving Lucas by Jayne Kingsley

loving lucasI thoroughly enjoyed this romance novel, it had a sassy leading lady, Miranda, who has been quietly in love with one of her dad’s colleagues, Lucas, for a couple of years, but she’s decided it’s time to make him notice her. I loved the way Miranda chose to go about this, especially the help her best friend gives her.

Lucas has issues and in true stubborn male fashion, he keeps all his feelings and doubts to himself, while silently beating himself up about a past he had no control over. For such a confident business guy, he was sorely lacking in self-belief when it came to what he deserved.

Homelessness is something I’m pretty passionate about, I’ve always said if I win the lotto I will find a way to build some sort of homeless shelter, and I loved that this was something Miranda was so passionate about and used her knowledge as an architect and her dad’s company to make this happen.

At times Miranda showed her naivety, but I still enjoyed the interactions between her and Lucas and was hoping that things would work out for them, when or if Lucas finally pulled his head out of his ass.

Thanks to Jayne Kingsley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release: The Mistletoe Mistress by Maddison Michaels

once upon a christmas weddingMaddison Michaels has written her first novella The Mistletoe Mistress as part of a Christmas compilation Once Upon A Christmas Wedding, it is part of the Saints and Scoundrels series and occurs before book 1. I love the two novels in this series so was eager to be able to read this novella.

While I would have loved for this to be a full-length novel, Maddison has done a good job of letting us get to know the two main characters, Michael and Holly.

I always enjoy the headstrong female characters in Maddison Michaels’ stories and Holly is no exception. Holly has come up with a scheme to keep herself and her sisters safe without the help or need of a man, if society found out there would be a massive scandal.  Michael is known as a scoundrel, but underneath there is far more to him than that.

Michael and his scoundrel friends make a bet that has both Michael and Holly questioning what it is they both want and what they will do with the secrets they are both keeping. I really enjoyed the push/pull relationship that they had going, especially since they’d know each other from childhood and both had feelings that neither wanted to admit even all the way back then, this same dynamic rears its head when they meet again as adults.

A really enjoyable short historical romance read.

I’m sure that all the stories in this compilation will be just as enjoyable as this one, so grab a copy today.

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New Release Book Review: Christmas With The Firefighter by Clare Connelly

Christmas with the firefighterThis is my latest read of Clare Connelly’s and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A sweet romance set in a small town. I really liked the main characters; Ally (Amy) who is searching for her long lost dad, Luke our firefighter who is also the town handyman and single dad to Stella who is just delightful.

Ally has trust issues, which is understandable due to her dad leaving when she was a kid, but her trust issues cause problems with Luke when he discovers she’s been keeping things from him. She changes her name whilst in town looking for her dad and I didn’t really understand why as no one there would have known who she was. But people do crazy things when they are acting emotionally.

I thought Luke was a great dad, and I liked the way he was willing to take a chance on Ally despite knowing it probably wasn’t a good idea. Luke’s brother-in-law wasn’t a favourite character, I kind of understood where he was coming from in his initial dislike of Ally, but I’d have thought being Luke’s best friend as well he’d have wanted his mate to be happy after being along for 6 years.

I thought Clare handled the meeting between Clare and her dad well and really got how a person would feel after being deserted by someone she loved so much when she was young; I know these feelings certainly resonated with my own.

I really enjoyed the dynamics between Ally and Luke and the way the relationship developed despite both of them having issues and doubts.

A lovely romance read

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Cover Reveal: Aria’s Travelling Bookshop by Rebecca Raisin

Aria's Travelling Book ShopBlurb:

With her merry band of Van Lifers, Aria heads to France in her travelling bookshop, best friend Rosie by her side for a summer they’ll never forget!

Hopeless romantic Aria vowed never to love again after losing her husband, TJ, but fate has other ideas and keeps throwing the bespectacled, booklover Jonathan in her path. When a memento from TJ turns up it brings Aria’s past back to the fore.

Nomadic by nature, Aria can’t see how love could work anyway when home is always at the end of a new patch of road…

A long, hot summer travelling off the beaten track, surrounded by newly loved up couples reminds Aria of what she’s missing.

Will she bookmark her love life at the point her husband left, or she will begin a new chapter under the sizzling sun of the Cote d’azure…?

Releasing April 8th 2020

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Rebecca Raisin Author PhotoRebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.

 

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Aria's Travelling Book Shop

Book Review: Making Her Mark by Renee Dahlia

making her markI read Merindah Park (Book 1 Merindah Park) back in April and really enjoyed it, so I was keen to revisit the Bassett family and the world of horseracing. Book 2 Making Her Mark is Rachel’s story, Rachel is a female jockey who has to fight for every ride due to ongoing sexism within the racing industry. This is an industry where things are improving and as Renee explains, one of the few where male and female riders are considered equal on the field, just not always with owners and trainers.

Rachel has many emotional issues to deal with throughout this novel, some present issues and some from when she was 16 back in her hometown that she’s never really dealt with, but to move forward, she will have to do just that. Rachel’s sexuality is part of the issue she has never dealt with, and while she completely accepts who she is now, there’s part of her that can’t get over the way she was treated as a teenager by small-town minds.

Rachel reconnects with an old school friend Allira and her brother Jacob, and the sparks fly between Rachel and Jacob immediately. Jacob is an AFL player who is hot, strong and stubborn. Both fight the connection they feel towards each other until they can’t fight it anymore. It is definitely not a smooth journey to happiness for these two and there are plenty of ups, downs, misunderstandings, and changing of minds (especially on Rachel’s part). The journey may not be smooth, but it is most definitely hot and steamy.

There is an element of intrigue in this storyline with a potential punting scheme that Jacob asks Rachel to look into on behalf of his teammates. Once again Renee Dahlia does a great job of educating me about the ins and outs of the horse racing industry and I have great respect for the work that jockey’s put into their career.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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