The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

The Time of Our Lives by Portia MacIntosh

 

44073128Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 12th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 235

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Love is in the air…?

Luca is used to being the ‘single one’ at weddings – it happens, when all your other friends are engaged, married or taken. But when she bumps into Tom, her friend from university who broke her heart into a million pieces, she finds herself wondering what could have been.

It’s ten years later, surely she should be over that Tom by now? So why is he looking even more gorgeous than ever – and why doesn’t he seem to be able to keep his eyes off her either?

And as the champagne flows and old secrets resurface, Luca realises that perhaps the time to take a chance on love and life is…now?

The laugh-out-loud new novel from bestseller Portia Macintosh!

Rating: three-stars

 

Luca is fine. Or isn’t she? Attending another wedding of her uni’s friend she realises that she’s always the single one, another are engaged/married/otherwise romantically occupied. She starts to feel that time moves on while she stays in place. When she also meets Tom at the wedding, her ex/not ex – boyfriend, she starts to think and evaluate her life.

The story actually unfold on a wedding day, and it was incredibly how much can happen in a day – well, especially when you are as accident – prone as Luca, that is. The present intertwines with flashbacks to the past and we slowly get to know the characters and their lives as a group. Also, it turns out of course that there are, and were, many secrets, misunderstatements and plays. So as much as Luca is our main character, the others play as important role in the book as she is, because they helped to shape her. However, maybe because of the relatively huge number of characters, I had a feeling that they were not good enough developed. They were there, but there was not enough depth to them and to be honest, I haven’t felt connection with them. I think Luca tried to be über – cool and nonchalant in her life. She was your normal, everyday girl, sharp – mouthed and generally happy with herself but I couldn’t warm completely to her, to be honest, not sure why.

The humour this time was also not so Portia MacIntosh – it felt too flat and there were moments that probably were supposed to be funny, like with Luca suddenly being a bridesmaid and the bride’s wishes and requests but it only felt too overdone. I also think she tried to make it a sitcom – like rom – com, with flashbacks and hilarious situations but, unfortunately it didn’t work.

From the author like Portia MacIntosh I was simply expecting something better, ambitious. I was left with a feeling that she herself didn’t connect with the story at all, it scratched below the surface, was without a depth. There were some moments that saved the book for me though on the whole I was really hoping for something deeper, with the MacIntosh’s hallmark humour and sharp observations. Altogether, “The Time of Our Lives” was a light – hearted, easy and fairly straight – forward and predictable read but nevertheless a read that will keep you reading. The pacing was right, the dialogues dynamic and it dealt with the fact that you should fight for things that you feel will make you happy.

 

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Love and Lies at the Village Christmas Shop by Portia MacIntosh

Love and Lies at the Village Christmas Shop by Portia MacIntosh

 

 

51ox8tjo2ol-_sx311_bo1204203200_Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 8th October 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 208

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Blast the Michael Bublé, wrap your hands around a cinnamon latte and enjoy this warm, hilarious Christmas novel!

Ivy loves Christmas. As owner of Christmas Every Day, the year-round festive store, you’d expect nothing less!

The only thing missing in Ivy’s life is a dash of romance – something her twin sister Holly will not let her forget…

When her mother passed away, Ivy vowed to take over the running of her mother’s store and keep the Christmas spirit alive in the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

But all this changes when an enigmatic businessman moves to the town, threatening to bulldoze her beloved shop to make way for holiday complex.

Can Ivy save her shop before Christmas? Could there be a different side to the newest resident of Marram Bay that would make all her Christmas wishes come true?

The brand new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from bestseller Portia Macintosh. Perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley and Tilly Tennant.

Rating: four-stars

 

 Ivy and Holly are two very different twins – while Holly hates Christmas, Ivy lives and breaths Christmas. Their mum has started a Christmas shop that is open all year round and after her death Ivy takes it over – and she couldn’t be happier to work there. However, the shop is now in danger, as the owner of the building is selling up and moving away. Smooth operator Seb enters the scenes here – he wants to buy the place, demolish the shop and build something else there. Moreover, he’s very charming and it looks like the whole Marram Bay is under his spell. Ivy tries everything to raise the money to keep her shop – but can she save it? 

I thought we’re going to hear more from the characters from the first book in the series but except for one or two scenes including Lily and Prue there was nothing more – this book totally focuses on brand new characters that I immediately grew fond of. I loved Ivy – she was probably one of my most favourite characters ever, such laid – back and relaxed and full of the greatest one – liners, and so, so realistic and real! I really felt as if I can reach out with my hand and touch her.  

An open all year round Christmas shop – isn’t it a brilliant idea? And it was only the first festive thing in this novel. We then have twins Holly and Ivy, all the festive food you can think about, decorating trees, Christmas Festivals, Santa shenanigans … and yet it was not too festive overwhelming, thanks god, however a brilliant start to all the festive books slowly coming my way, tadah. It was full of brilliant, incredibly funny scenes and the tasting the Christmas Cake will probably stay with me forever, as well as the kissing booth and golden retriever, to name only a few.  

Portia MacIntosh has a talent to create characters that are full of life and that rarely give up but are also realistic, and it was the same this time as well. Ivy, living and breathing Christmas, was so optimistic and so bouncy and it was impossible not to like her. I absolutely loved the way she was thinking and how fair she was, she wanted to save her shop but she was also willing to take another look and see other options – however, I also loved the fire in her and that, even though she’s seen those other options, she always came up with brilliant ideas to help her keep her mum’s heritage. She was smart and funny and not taking herself too seriously. Her sister Holly was an absolute opposite of Ivy re: Christmas but as likeable as Ivy. The one and only Gaz and his never – ending attempts to chat up a girl and on the other hand such a lovely Santa. And Seb with his Lamborghini and plans, such enthusiastic and down – to – earth – all of them, as well as the supporting characters, were absolutely fantabulous and incredibly easy to like, even if they were planning on demolishing some beloved shops or trying to sabotage those plans. 

There was of course a hidden depth to it, and it had some very poignant moments, but on the whole it was a funny, entertaining novel. The banter between the characters was so natural and easy, the writing style was light – hearted and I was hooked from the very first page till the end. It was heart – warming and oh so romantic without being too saccharine. A lovely story about families, relationships, chances and finding what it really is what you want from life. It was not too complicated and a little predictable but full of other perks that made me appreciate it so much. Don’t be surprised when you’ll feel like curling up in front of your fire – place with a cup of hot chocolate and looking to put your Christmas lights on when reading “Love and Lies at the Village Christmas Shop”! Truly recommended.

The Sister Swap by Fiona Collins

The Sister Swap by Fiona Collins

 

38611933Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 1st June 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via netGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Two sisters. Two very different lives…

Meg simply doesn’t have time for men in her life. Instead, she has a strictly one-date rule, survives on caffeine and runs one of the biggest model agencies from her smart office in London. That is, until she collapses one day at work and the doctor orders her to take some R&R in the country…

Sarah is used to being stuck behind tractors and the slow pace of her cosy village life. But now her children are all grown-up (and her ex-husband long forgotten) she’s ready to change things up a bit – starting with taking back her old job in the city!

After a devastating falling out, the sisters haven’t spoken in years. Swapping houses, cars, everything is the only option – surely they’ll be able to avoid bumping into each other?

Rating: four-stars

Sarah lives in the country with her nineteen – year – old twins. They’re adult enough – or at least Sarah thinks so – and don’t need her anymore so much, so she decides to apply for her old job as an event planer. And she gets it! The only downside – it’s in London.
Sarah’s sister Meg lives in London. She’s the owner of a very successful model agency however her job is stressful and Meg is advised to slow down a little, what with her high blood pressure, and take holidays in the country.
It is obvious – the sisters should swap, right? However, there is one problem – the sisters haven’t spoken for years, following a falling out when 18 – year – old Meg left. But there is no other option, so they really end up swapping their houses. Are they going to survive this 8 weeks swap? Will they realise what is important in their lives now? Will they sort out their differences or are they going to get back to their old lives?

The two sisters couldn’t be more different, which only made the reading more thrilling. They were both strong personalities, both stubborn, so reaching out to one another was not the easiest thing for both of them. At the beginning I had some problems to warm to Meg, to be honest. I didn’t like her attitude so much, she was full of herself and was, speaking honest, quite off – putting, while Sarah was immediately likeable and felt so normal and down – to – earth. It is only when Meg gets few good ticking – offs that she starts to be a little bit apologetic and I also started to grew to like her. But they were both, as well as the background characters, really well written and developed. They also haven’t expected that the swap will made them face some truths about themselves and their lives, their pasts and respective futures, so in all honesty, next to the funnier side there is also a hidden depth in this story. They have to make decisions and answer many questions, sometimes uncomfortable ones, they have to deal with their past, they have to ask themselves what they want and come to terms with what they’ve lost. And we all know it – making up and eating humble pie is probably the most difficult thing.

What I liked in this book was the fact that it mostly really focused on the relationship between the sisters and not so much on the romance aspect – even though there were some will they/won’t they on the way, and especially Meg’s budding romance was the one that drew me in – it was fun and full of hiccups and awkward situations, just what I like. It was more about the sisters finding each other again, discovering each other’s lives and starting to appreciate each other, and it was lovely to accompany them on this way, to see them grow and wiser. Whatever they say, no matter how cliché it sounds, family is important.

It was so funny to see how the sisters adapt to their new places. Especially Meg at the country, where – let’s be honest – there is not much to do, and when there was something she wasn’t so interested, but after initial reservations she’s decided to invest her time in the village’s life. The outcome was mostly unexpected and embarrassing. And while seeing Sarah taking her old job as an event planer back in London and having to adapt to instagram, pinterest and other things was also hooking, the country parts were for me more colourful.
It was a really feel – good read introducing us to a city girl ending up in a cowpat and a country girl trying to adapt to the fast lanes of city life, and the differences between the places and the lives were clearly marked but the author didn’t judge any of them, she only showed us ups and downs of both options, and I think she pulled it off really well.

“The Sister Swap” was a feel – good story about family dynamics, with enough drama, funny moments and happy – ever – after. It was a predictable yet pleasant read and I was intrigued by it, and I wanted to know what has happened that the sisters were estranged for so long. There were not many twists nor turns, to be honest, and you could be sure that they’re going to find themselves again but it was written in a way that had me truly hooked. I think the end was a little too rushed, but it’s my opinion and of course you can have a different view. Altogether I really enjoyed it. Recommended!

 

 

Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli by Portia MacIntosh

Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli by Portia MacIntosh

 

38389306Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th May 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lily Holmes is ready for a fresh start. And there’s no better place to begin again than the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

All Lily wants to do is focus on making her new deli a success and ensuring her son’s happiness. Not the postcard creeping out of her handbag, and definitely not finding a new man in her life!

But this isn’t going to be as easy as she first thought. The town is in uproar about the city girl who’s dared to join them and she’s fighting a battle at every turn.

Perhaps with a little help from the gorgeous cider farmer next door, she may be able to win them over, but her past secrets threaten to ruin everything…

The brand new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from bestseller Portia Macintosh. Perfect for fans of Jo Watson and Tilly Tennant.

Rating: four-stars

In “Summer Secrets at the Apple Blossom Deli” we meet Lily, leaving behind her life in London and moving herself and her 8 – year – old son Frankie to Marram Bay in Yorkshire to start a new job and a new chapter in her life. She has high hopes for this move and she’s determined to make the opening of the new deli, which is a part of a chain of YumYum delis that she’s been working for, a success, as well as her private life. She hopes that she can make Apple Blossom, the cottage she’s moving into, as well as Marram Bay, her new home. However, the residents of Marram Bay have other ideas… But fortunately, not all of them…

Portia paints a great cast of supporting characters, they’re colourful and different, we have the really good ones and the not so good ones, those that knows everything and those that only wait for their chance. They were authentic, quirky and amusing. They were a real delight to get to know, and next to Lily we have also two significant male characters, and the difference between them was brilliant. Ex – boyfriend Nathan was a hippie who wanted to save the world trying to convince everyone to start eating vegan and who only watched reality shows on Lily’s coach, and then we have Alfie, the charming, handsome and much more normal neighbour.
I loved how determined Lily was and she was not the one to be beaten, oh no. She was a really likeable character and it was easy to fell for her from the very beginning. She has to juggle single motherhood and her career, moving to a new town with unhappy locals, then an unexpected visit from her ex and a delicious Alfie from the farm in the neighbourhood, and she does it daintily and with humour, and it is so normal that she has ups and down on this journey. She was strong and she didn’t let other people to belittle her. And well, her life was a little challenging, right, what with also an eccentric mother who pretended to be her daughter’s sister and the arrival of an ex and a potential romance as well.
My heart went also to Frankie, Lily’s son, when the hostility of the locals turned out to be directed not only to Lily, but extended to Frankie as well. It was so, so sad to see how he’s treated at school, how nobody wants to be his friends because of his mum and her plan to take the jobs from the local by opening the new deli. It’s no wonder that he felt so isolated and that he spent so much time on his own. I fell for him completely and empathised with him.

Yes, it was a tad predictable read, to be honest, but well, you could expect it from this kind of a book, and it was written in such a lovely way that it didn’t bothered me for a single moment that I know what’s going to happen. Yes, the author has tried to stir the things a little by adding a very unexpected visit, and she has managed to create a little havoc, and it was brilliant. But there are also some twists and turns that keep the pace and make the reading truly gripping.

Altogether, it was a funny, delightful and uplifting novel, perfect for the summery days. It was full of tricky situations, unexpected events, tender moments and humour. Altogether, it was all I have expected from Portia MacIntosh’s book, full of friendship, challenges, happiness, romance and family. She also touched upon some heavier issues, such as bullying for example, and she’s written about it with great compassion and gentleness, and she brilliantly captured mentality of a small town and what makes the people tick. Recommended!

 

 

 

How Not to be a Bride by Portia MacIntosh

How Not to be a Bride by Portia MacIntosh

 

36103295Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 17th October 2017

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Definitely, maybe…yes?
Mia Valentina gave up her high-flying life in LA to move back to Kent over four years ago. But it turns up that life in the slow lane isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

So when her boyfriend Leo proposes, she says yes, hoping it will bring some much needed sparkle back into her life. The trouble is, Mia never wanted a big white wedding, just the happy ever after…

The laugh-out-loud, uplifting new book from Portia MacIntosh, author of It’s Not You, It’s Them. Perfect for fans of Rosie Blake and Sophie Kinsella.

Rating: three-stars

I am a huge fan of Portia MacIntosh’s novels and I was so looking forward to reading “How Not to be a Bride” – already the title made me smile and I really hoped that it’s setting the mood for the rest of the story. And I absolutely got the fact that Mia didn’t want to get married – I have never dreamed about fluffy bouncy wedding dress and only thinking about the first dance and all those traditions that are mandatory at the wedding made me cringe, and big weddings are a real nightmare for me, so yes, Mia, I know what you meant – when married, then in the simplest way!

Portia’s writing style is, as usual, easy and light – hearted and this was a quick read full of great one – liners. A story about making decisions, small and huge and realising what it is that you want from your life. It was refreshing and of course brutally honest, but in a funny way, filled with situations all of us can relate to, cringe with embarrassment and whisper “I’ve been there, I’ve seen this”. My only problem with this book were characters, I couldn’t warm to them and probably I didn’t “get” them enough to enjoy them more. I really wasn’t sure about Mia, if she truly knew what it is she wants. The more I read about her relationship with the wonderful fireman Leo (her words, not mine. I personally didn’t think Leo is wonderful), the more often I was asking myself the question why she’s with him at all, is he the right person for her. I was starting to ask myself if they really are destined to be together, if there really are chances for them to be happy and wondering why are they together at all. There was something that was not working for me in this relationship and it bothered me the whole story.

“How Not to be a Bride” was filled with ups and downs of everyday life and problems, full of troubles in paradise and jumping to conclusions, and this all brought to us in a great, light way. There was all the time something happening in this story and I think it’s great, as it kept me glued to the pages and I truly wanted to know what’s going to happen and what kind of troubles is Mia going to get herself.

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

The Summer of Hopes and Dreams by Lynsey James

 

35652158Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 11th September 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s been a difficult year for Cleo Jones. The car accident that crushed her leg didn’t just destroy the village baker’s dreams of becoming a dancer, but crushed her confidence too. And recovering from that has been harder than healing from any number of broken bones…

But this summer is going to be different. Life is turning around for Cleo! Maybe it’s the invitation from her childhood bully to their high-school reunion that’s shocked her out of a ten-year slump. Or joining Carb Counters and finally starting to shed the weight she’d piled on during her recovery – or maybe it’s catching the eye of her gorgeous personal trainer!

Whatever the answer, this is going to be a summer she never forgets… watch out world, Cleo Jones is finally fighting back!

Rating: three-stars

 

Lynsey James’s latest book, “The Summer of Hopes and Dreams”, introduces us to Cleo, who has just found her old bucket list, and as I love novels with to – do lists, or bucket lists, or any other lists, I thought it can be THE read. And let’s not forget that I enjoy the author’s writing, and so, quickly after downloading the book, I started to read it.

Our main character Chloe has left me s little torn. On the one hand I liked her and admired her strength and the way she fought for her weight, on the other hand she seemed a little bit meh and boring as a person. Don’t get me wrong, please, she was of course kind and lovely but maybe she was too kind and too lovely – she just wanted all the good in the world for everybody, there was not a bad bone in her body and it just felt so… flat. However, she was also honest and she felt genuine in all the things she did and felt, and it was really hard to see how she was affected by all the accidental meetings with her high school nemesis Amanda. Chloe’s relationship with Scott was the greatest part of this story, I think, or rather the way Sam made her feel good about herself, how he made her feel stronger and how he helped her to come out of her shell.
I liked how well Lynsey James captured Cleo’s battles. In a very sensitive, gentle way she was able to show all the feelings and emotions, spot on, making Chloe realistic and relatable. I think many of us know the feeling of binge eating and those guilt – feelings afterwards? Also, the descriptions of Chloe’s feelings towards herself, the self doubt, the looking in the mirror and hating herself… well, I think for most of us, normal people, they do ring a bell and it just made me understand Chloe more and better. This all written in a very gentle and sensitive way.

But the book lacked for me in this “something”. I think I know what the author wanted to achieve touching upon this very sensitive issue of being overweight but it didn’t work for me and, sadly, I must say that I’ve read better stories with such topics. Which is a pity because I was expecting more from this book and from Lynsey James, as she’s already proved that she can write brilliant, light – hearted novels. Altogether, I think that the author just wanted to make this book work, to make it all so correct, to not to offend anybody, and she’s just overdone it, and as a result we got a book that is nice but that’s all.

It was a story of lost dreams, starting afresh, becoming stronger, feeling good in your own skin. It also turned out to be much more serious that you can expect from this author and from this kind of read, I think, deeper and not so light. It’s not criticism, it didn’t disturb this book on the whole, it just might take you by surprise. It was about self – confidence and being happy with yourself and gaining confidence, and altogether I did appreciate the message in it – it was a pleasant read, with more or less likeable characters, some funny and some serious situations, and even though it didn’t push my buttons, I’m sure fans of Lynsey James are going to love it.

The Cotswolds Cookery Club: A Taste of France by Alice Ross

The Cotswolds Cookery Club: A Taste of France by Alice Ross

 

35704717Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 27th September  2017

Series: The Cotswolds Cookery Club #3 (read my review of Book 1  here and Book 2 here  )

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 180

Genre:  Humour, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Too many men spoil the broth…?

Kate Harris has enough on her plate! Life is constant juggling act between raising her three young children and running a busy Veterinary Practice in the Cotswolds. But with her passion for all things French, especially the mouth-watering cuisine, the cookery club with her three best friends, Connie, Melody and Trish is the perfect escape…

Now the foursome has been given their biggest challenge yet! Yet, with her husband Andrew’s increasingly secretive behaviour, the unexpected reappearance of her dishy ex-boyfriend, Gregg, and an unexpected culinary challenge from her daughter’s nursery, Kate decides it’s time to take charge of the disparate ingredients of her life and transform them into the perfect pot-au-feu!

Fans of Milly Johnson, Caroline Roberts and Jill Mansell will love this heart-warming read.

The Cotswolds Cookery Club is a story told in three parts. A Taste of France is part three.

Rating: three-half-stars

 

“A Taste of France” is the third and final instalment in the Cotswolds Cookery Club by Alice Ross series, though if it were for me the series could go on and on – I would love to hear what’s happening with this small but tight group of friends.

This part tells us more about Kate, the incredibly busy mum of three, and about the unfinished business of hers from the previous books. As in the previous two parts, we are treated to some incredibly delicious sounding recipes that the cookery club is making, and this time they took us on a very yummy journey to France. The descriptions of the food made not only my mouth water but only thinking about them now makes me hungry.

In this part I had a feeling it is a little too flat for my liking, with many repetitions and I felt as if we were going to in circles. It doesn’t mean it is not good, because of course it is, it is full of warmth, some hilarious situations as well but if you twisted my arm I’d have to admit that it was my last favourite part. Also, I would love to see the twins this little bit better brought up, I really felt the pain of Kate’s daughter and I myself wanted to cry, and not laugh, at their antics. They weren’t funny, they were out – of – control children.

Altogether, it was a lovely, uplifting and quick read about the power of friendship and trust. The characters were great, the way they interacted together felt honest and I really liked the fact that the women are there for each other, no matter what. All three parts were feel – good and uplifting – recommended!