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.

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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!

The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper / #BlogTour + #Giveaway

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The Law of Attraction by Roxie Cooper

 

34927591Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 23rd June 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

“Well, it’s fair to say your background isn’t conventional in terms of the average barrister…” Dolus points out. “Well that depends on your definition of conventional and who wants to be average anyway?”

Northern girl Amanda Bentley isn’t your average lawyer.

She spent her teenage years in the Working Men’s club and hanging out in the park to avoid going home. Fresh out of law school she lands pupillage at a top set of Chambers and is catapulted into a world completely alien to her own, fighting prejudice and snobbery at every turn.

Piling on the pressure, this year it is announced two candidates have been accepted but there’s only one job at the end of it. And her competition? Marty, her smarmy law school nemesis.

Throw into the mix an ill-advised romance with the staggeringly sexy Sid Ryder and Amanda quickly realises winning pupillage isn’t just about how good a lawyer you are.

But even if she does come out on top, all of it could be for nothing if her colleagues ever discover who she really is and one very dark secret.

Rating: three-stars

I don’t know much about barristers, so I really liked all the descriptions in “The Law of Attraction” by Roxie Cooper, a fresh and already distinguished voice in the women’s literature, starting with the interview, the pupillage and accompanying our main character Amanda on her way to become a real barrister. It was great to get an insight into all the “traditions”, the dinners, the initiations – those were the most hilarious parts of the story probably.

But you know, I don’t know about this book. Sure, yes, I got the message but on the other hand I am not sure why did Amanda tried so hard to prove she can be a barrister with a long and blonde hair. I mean, I have long blonde hair myself and I really never felt such a need to prove that I can do something. I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on what it was, but this story just didn’t feel so real for me and too predictable. It just didn’t wow me as much as I think it’s going to, judging on so many other raving reviews. So probably the problem might be me. For sure it was not a story about a “girl powers”, as Amanda wasn’t afraid to go to wars with her female colleagues from work – yes, I did spotted they were all bitches from hell, no worries, and it’s a pity that there was not one single girl being sympathetic to Amanda. Oh no, sorry. I forgot Heidi.

There were plenty of characters and while mostly they were really well portrayed, there was a thing that bothered me, and it was the fact that they were so very much stereotyped. The “bad” guy was odious, laughable and everything came to him so easily because of his rich father. Of course then Amanda was a witness to all of his shenanigans. I don’t mean I liked him or something, oh god, no, Marty was very annoying but also not to believable. The main character was the poor, smart as hell girl from the wrong class, proving that yes she can and pulling out of her old life. However, as much as she herself hated those that were stereotyping, I had a feeling that this is what she does all the time, starting with looking at herself through a prism of stereotype. What now, Amanda? All the characters, they were all made so that from the beginning we either like them and keep our fingers for them or dislike them.

The romance aspect… was there. For my liking also too predictable, and I thought Amanda is a little more cautious, especially knowing what’s at stake, but no, she trusted him so easily. I really wasn’t sure what I think about this whole affair, is it appropriate? And if not, then actually why not?

What I really liked were the parts that focused on Amanda at work. She did really feel like a kid in a candy store in the courtroom and she had a great passion for her job. Also, as the story progressed, we got to know more about Amanda’s past, about her childhood and probably it was created for us to understand Amanda better, her and her life choices. It was nice she got a conclusion and eventually learnt that the past can’t bring her down. But let’s be honest, when she revealed what has really happened in her past, well… it left me lukewarm, it didn’t feel worth the fuss – my opinion only. However, Amanda was this kind of character that learnt from her own mistakes. She didn’t stay in one place but she grew as a person. So I think it’s a thing that we should really appreciate, that she was like a real person who more often followed her heart than her head when making decisions as it only made her feel like a real, breathing person. And even though all of my reservations, I still admired her determination and I truly wanted her to succeed in everything she set her eyes on.

Altogether, it was a little different story about following your dream and not letting other people to patronize you and your choices, showing that hard work wins at the end. It touched upon the struggle that women still need to face in some environments. It was light and funny, if a tad predictable, but still I think there was so much potential to the writing and I would love to see more from Roxie Cooper – she can for sure create feisty, quirky heroines that have a lot to show to the world.

GIVEAWAY:

It’s UK only.

Prise: a copy of the book, a legally blonde DVD and a £10 MAC gift card

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

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

35525872Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 21st July 2017

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

Number of pages: 115

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

…where the ingredients to happiness are found.

Connie has had enough. Enough of the city, enough of her job – and most importantly, enough of her cheating husband! So, when her best friend jets off to sunny Australia and calls on Connie to house and dog-sit, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

When Connie arrives at the gorgeous Cotswolds getaway, she can’t resist opening the doors to the town, offering up cooking lessons – and a lot of wine! Cue the three – very different – women who respond to Connie’s cookery club advert. But it’s soon clear they will need more than a glass of wine to overcome their problems…

Can Connie conjure up the right ingredients to help her new friends? And with two gorgeous men thrown in the mix, Connie may have just ended up with a recipe for disaster!

Rating: four-stars

Having read and enjoyed Alice Ross’s some previous books, I didn’t hesitate to request “The Cotswolds Cookery Club: A Taste of Italy”. I can’t seem to have enough books about cooking, and lately also set in Cotswolds, and those two together do sound promising, no?

The story introduces us basically to Connie, who right now is at the crossroads with her life, and so when her friend is off to Australia for six months and asks Connie if she’d like to look after her house in this time, Connie jumps at the chance. She has no problems to settle in the gorgeous Cotswolds, in the lovely house and quickly she reawakens her passion of cooking. And this is when the idea of the Cotswolds Cookery Club is born, and Connie sets her mind on Italian cuisine this time. But club wouldn’t exist without its members, right, so there are some other characters who take it in turns to cook delicious, mouth – watering Italian dishes – and when I say delicious, I really mean delicious, guys! There is Eleanor, who runs the local newsagent, Melody, who’s also new to the area and Kate, a local vet with three children, husband and an au – pair.

So when the girls chop, stir, taste, cook and bake, they also share their stories, and so we relatively quickly get to know their background and what makes them tick. They were all relatable, believable characters, they had their problems and I quickly felt a part of their group. It was lovely to see how quickly their friendship was growing and how they all were starting to gain confidence.

Altogether, it was a light – hearted, very easy read. What bothered me personally was the end – it seemed so very abrupt and rushed, and I had a feeling that the story was chopped in the middle. It was a promising end, sure, but just too rushed and it put me off stride a little. But really, it was a lovely, cute story with mouth – watering descriptions of food, down – to – earth characters and brilliant romance – and not only human one! The author has spot on caught Connie’s passion to food and cooking and brought it to the pages and really, it made me want more, so it’s a pure luck that this novella is the first part in the series. Already looking towards the next one! Recommended!

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady

35546268Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 18th July 2017

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

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that working with an ex is a terrible idea…
Annie Elliot never expected her life to turn out this way: living with her dad, working as an accountant – surely the least glamorous job in Hollywood?! – and dodging her family’s constant bickering.

Landing a job as a producer on a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice seems like the piece of luck she’s been waiting for. Until the cast is announced, and Annie discovers that the actor playing Mr Darcy is Austen Wentworth: the man she’s spent nearly a decade trying to forget.

Not only is Austen her ex – but while Annie’s life has stalled, Austen is Hollywood’s hottest property…and has just been voted World’s Sexiest Man.

With nowhere to hide, there’s just one question. Now the one who got away has come back, should Annie stand by her pride? Or give into Austen’s powers of persuasion?

Rating: two-stars

Oh my word, guys! Excitement pure alert! When I’ve spotted that Brigid Coady is back with her new release I really couldn’t hide my joy – I adored Brigid’s previous book, “No One Wants to be Miss Havisham”, it was one of the funniest reads two years ago and all this time I was waiting for a new book from this author. As soon as it whizzed to my kindle, I started to read it, no need to mention that I was full of hope and expectations.

But. Guys. And I am so, so sorry. I’ll make it short and painful – unfortunately. I was disappointed. Why? Well, because of the main character, Annie Elliot. Firstly, the name Annie just doesn’t sit with me, which of course is not the authors’ fault, but writing “Annie” in almost every single sentence didn’t help. Secondly, I think I have never before come across such a pushover character, and I really started to fully dislike her. Every second page she was patronised by her sisters and father in the worst possible way. The way especially Imogen and their father talked to her was on the lowest level and yet Annie never spoke back, she just allowed them to use her – hell, she was providing for them, she paid all the bills, she organized their jobs and they were all the time unhappy, spent her money and spoke to her as if she was the last dirt, as if she was worthless, not respecting her at all. I wanted to shake her so much but eventually I gave up on Annie. When she decided to finally take those matters in her hands it was already much, much too late, for me the book was destroyed. Then on the other remaining pages Annie was reminiscing about her relationship with Austen and why it was, in advance, doomed to failure. It was a never – ending, long whinge, this narration.

This might have been a try on creating a modern version of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”, with the Elliots being the theatrical dynasty, but for me it failed completely. I’m really, really sorry for this because I’ve been expecting so much from this story. Fortunately the author’s brilliant, light and approachable writing style is still the same, so at least this saved the day for me a little. I hope though that the next book by the lovely Brigid Coady will be again my cup of tea.

The Chateau of Happily – Ever – Afters by Jaimie Admans – #BlogTour + Giveaway

chateau2bof2bhappily2bever2bafters2bbanner

The Chateau of Happily – Ever – Afters by Jaimie Admans

34887937Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 7th June 2017

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

Number of pages: 272

Genre:  Romance,  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Escape to beautiful France this summer with this uplifting romantic comedy.

Where dreams come true…?

Wendy Clayton stopped believing in fairy tales a long time ago. Instead, she has a ‘nice’ life. Nice job. Nice flat. Absolutely no men. Until her life is turned upside-down when her elderly neighbour, Eulalie, passes away and leaves her the Château of Happily Ever Afters!

But there’s a catch: she must share the sprawling French castle with Eulalie’s long-lost nephew, Julian. And no matter how gorgeous he is, or how easily she finds herself falling head over heels, Wendy needs to find a way to get rid of him…

Because surely happily ever afters don’t happen in real life?

Perfect for fans of Kat French, Caroline Roberts and Holly Martin.

Rating: four-stars

The Château of Happily – Ever – Afters is my first book by Jaimie Admans, but for sure not the last! It took me so positively by surprise, with a brilliant storytelling, larger than life characters that were almost jumping out of the pages and brilliant plot, and I found myself racing through the pages either laughing out loud or cringing with awkwardness, desperately wanting to know how things would turn out and how many snakes are we going to find in the kitchen.

I loved the characters in this book, all of them! OK, I must admit, at the beginning Julian was so, so annoying, did you have the feeling as well? Oooh, somehow he seemed so uptight and self – important, appearing out of the blue and pursuing Wendy to France, and so very well prepared! I don’t know, I just liked Wendy so much and I so wanted to box Julian on the ear, and I so wanted to encourage her to get her own back on him, however Wendy did disappoint me here a little, I was hoping for a funny open war here, and it was only Julian coming up with some annoying ideas. But whatever. But then, slowly, I started to warm to him so much, and the fact that he’s an incredibly handsome model with a six – pack had nothing to do with it. Really! I promise! So yes, together with Wendy we’ve been changing our mind about him – starting with thinking he’s a git and a cheat who only wants Wendy’s half of the château and ending with totally different feelings.

Wendy was somehow so funny with her being so serious and with the strong sense of responsibility, and so going to France was for her a real adventure, especially as she doesn’t speak French and didn’t have any experience when it comes to packing – but really, would YOU know what to take with you to a chateau that you a while ago didn’t believe exist at all? Exactly. However, our Wendy is determined to make the best of the chateau. Moreover, she can bake delicious things – really, guys, the descriptions of her creations were mouth – watering. She is accident – prone and often finds herself in awkward situations.

What both of them had in common was that they were both full of puzzles and secrets and many layers, and it was a great journey full of bumps and surprises while unpeeling all of them – and I really liked what emerged at the end. They were truly brilliant characters, full of fun and joy.

I loved the setting and the descriptions of the chateau, its rooms and gardens, the neighbourhood and French countryside, and especially I enjoyed the village market – it was so easy to imagine all those stands, friendly sellers, I could really easily picture every detail and smell not forget the descriptions of the lovely, delicious French baking – mmmmm!

The book really took off when the characters found themselves in France – it was then that it started to be hilariously funny and that I began to feel that I’m getting to know the characters. However, then, it started to slow down – don’t get me wrong, the writing style was brilliant, the dialogues were more than brilliant, it was so funny and sometimes also poignant, but there was just too much of nothing, in fact, happening. I loved the banter, or Wendy and Julian trying to first drive out each other from the house and then getting to know each other, it’s just that if felt too slow. I am also not sure how I felt about the château bringing people together, with it having secrets and treasures – somehow this part of the story felt for me too far – fetched and not completely finished. I personally couldn’t believe in the magical walls – call me a killjoy. But altogether, I totally adored this book. It was fresh, and funny, and surprising.

“The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters”  is a brilliant summer read, full of colours, smells, humour, this all brought to us in incredibly vivid way. It is sassy, charming and romantic and so easily transported me to the sunny Normandy – a really perfect read for the summer evening! Highly recommended!

GIVEAWAY

French-themed stationery goodie bag.  chateau2bof2bhappily2bever2bafters2bgiveaway

1 x Paperchase Paris notebook and pen

1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters notebook

1 x little Eiffel Tower model

1 x Eiffel Tower bookmark

1 x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters magnet

1 x Signed postcard

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