Book Review

#BookReview #WomensFiction #ContemporaryRomance #EmilyStone

One Last Gift
by Emily Stone

If, like me, you are an emotional reader, please make sure you have a box of tissues or two at hand whilst reading this. The title and blurb let you know that this will not be an easy read, but it is undoubtedly a very worthwhile and fulfilling one. With themes of friendship, loss and grief, found family, being brave whilst scared, and love in all its many shapes, sizes and colours, One Last Gift is an utterly captivating read. So much so that I couldn’t put it down and read until the early hours of the morning in my desire to finish it.


I had worried that reading a “seasonal” book in August would temper my enjoyment, but despite many of the scenes being set during the Christmas period, this book can be read year-round. Whilst there are jumps in the timeline they are clearly labelled, allowing the reader to readily stay abreast of the when as well as the where. We also get much-needed chapters from Sam’s point of view, they were intrinsic to the success of this book in terms of understanding character motivation and seeing growth. I also appreciated that the author kept the timeline linear rather than hopping around as it allowed the reader to warm to both Cassie and Sam before fear, bad decisions and tragedy tore them apart.


One Last Gift is very much a character-driven story and those characters were engaging, easy to like and imperfectly human. They made mistakes and let fear rule them but not conquer them, facing up to those fears and discovering bravery isn’t in doing something but in doing something despite being scared. I loved that through the letters and recollections of others Tom remained an active character with Cassie getting to know him in new ways.


This is a new-to-me author who has firmly placed herself on my reading radar. I very much plan on reading her first book, Always, in December and look forward to reading future work by her too.


Overall Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Heat Level 🔥 🔥


Women’s Contemporary Fiction/ Romance

Goodreadshttps:/goodreads.com/book/show/59449905-one-last-gift

Synopsis
’I think I’ve figured out that sometimes the best gifts in life are the ones you don’t expect…’
Follow your heart on this heartwrenching and uplifting romantic journey, from London to the Hamptons to the south of France and the beautiful Welsh mountains, from the author of Always, in December.
For as long as Cassie can remember, there had always been the three of them: Cassie, her beloved big brother Tom, and Tom’s best friend Sam.
Since Cassie and Tom’s parents had died, and Sam’s dad was never around, the three kids had stuck together like glue, getting into mischief, with Tom always looking out for Cassie, and Tom’s best mate put on earth to annoy her.
Now they are adults and nothing much has changed: Tom is sorted, cocky Sam is going places and Cassie is… well, Cassie thinks she’s figured it all out.
And then tragedy happens and three becomes two.
For Cassie picking herself up and moving on seems unimaginable. But then she finds the envelope with her name written on it, asking her to follow the clues to a treasure hunt carefully laid out for her months before. It promises to lead her to one last gift.
And suddenly what seemed like an ending just might be the beginning of something remarkable, unexpected, beautiful and new…


Book Review

#BookReview #Romance #WomensFiction #RebeccaRaisin

Elodie’s Library of Second Chances
by Rebecca Raisin

Early on I thought the only cliché this book was NOT going to hit was the heroine losing her job and going home to find her fiancé in bed with her best friend. Oh, how wrong I was. Rebecca Raisin cleverly layered her foreshadowing, with the more obvious clues turning out to be red herrings or misdirection. What I got instead was an absolutely delightful and uplifting story of empowerment, friendship, acceptance and love.


My initial impression of Elodie wasn’t the best, she appeared to lack any kind of backbone. As the story progressed I quickly grew to love her and could understand more and more how she had ended up boxed into a corner, a job, and a life, that she didn’t want. Finn felt just a little too perfect, but that’s entirely down to my tastes and loving a bad boy book boyfriend! Given the audience for this book and the very gentle nature of the story, he was a great fit.


If I had one wish about this book it would be that it had been a little longer. So much focus, rightly, was on the human “library books”, but it did mean the romance didn’t feel fully fleshed out. It resulted in the feeling that some key aspects of Elodie and Finn’s story were told rather than shown. A real positive of the book was the wide cast of supporting characters who helped add depth to the story. That along with great writing and an engaging plot made this a wonderful feel-good read. 


Overall Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Heat Level 🔥


Small Town Contemporary Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61087605-elodie-s-library-of-second-chances

Synopsis
When Elodie applies for the job of librarian in peaceful Willow Grove, she’s looking forward to a new start. As the daughter of a media empire, her every move has been watched for years, and she longs to work with the thing she loves most: books.

It’s a chance to make a real difference too because she soon realises that there are other people in Willow Grove who might need a fresh start – like the homeless man everyone walks past without seeing, or the divorcée who can’t seem to escape her former husband’s misdeeds.

Together with local journalist Finn, Elodie decides these people have stories that need sharing. What if instead of borrowing books readers could ‘borrow’ a person, and hear the life stories of those they’ve overlooked?

But Elodie isn’t quite sharing her whole story either. As the story of the library’s new success grows, will her own secret be revealed? 


Book Review

#BookReview #RomCom #HQStories #Jaimie Admans

The Beekeeper at Elderflower Grove
by Jaimie Admans

A delightfully sweet and surprisingly poignant story that will not fail to warm your heart and bring a smile to your face, Jaimie Admans has created a bee-autiful tale of love and forgiveness. I fell in love with the setting of Elderflower Grove, the mystery of Josie (and Guillaume) as well as both Kayleigh and Carey. It took me a few chapters to fully get into the flow of the book, which may well just have been a “me” thing, but once I did I soon found myself thoroughly caught up in this wonderful tale.


The story is very much a plot-driven one, so we didn’t see a huge amount of growth or change from our two protagonists. The story is also told, in the third person, from Kayleigh’s perspective but with enough scenes of Carey for us to also get to know him pretty well. I loved the suggestion of the house having a personality or awareness, though it was very much left open to reader interpretation for those less keen on paranormal aspects.


I am happy to recommend this to anyone looking for a well-written, light-hearted, summer read.


Overall Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍 🤍
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍 🤍
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Heat Level 🔥


Romantic Comedy

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61040759-the-beekeeper-at-elderflower-grove

Synopsis
Her new start is about to bee-gin!
Having moved into her mum’s spare room after a disastrous break-up, Kayleigh Harwood is desperate for a fresh start. When she sees an opening for a new beekeeper at Elderflower Grove she jumps at the chance – despite not knowing a thing about bees…
The abandoned manor house holds a mystery of its own – the previous owner vanished years ago – and locals have been inventing stories about the manor ever since. Unable to resist the urge to look around, Kayleigh is shocked to find drop-dead-gorgeous gardener Carey living inside!
Carey explains that the house and surrounding land is at risk of being demolished, endangering the bees, and he has been staying there to protect it.
Convinced the secret of the house holds the key to saving Elderflower Grove’s bees, Kayleigh is prepared to do everything she can to help. But is she ready to find her own happy-ever-after too…?


Book Review

#BookReview #UrbanFantasy #HelenHarper

Hummingbird
A Charade of Magic #1
Helen Harper

Having never read a Helen Harper book before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this one. The blurb ticked all the right boxes and thankfully the book didn’t let me down either. This first instalment of Mairi’s story grasped my attention from the very first page and never let me go until the very last line. I am thoroughly enraptured by this delightful story and will be waiting on tenterhooks until the next book is out.


Set in an alternate reality that felt to be somewhere in the late Victorian or Edwardian period, Hummingbird is written in the first person from the heroines’ point of view. With themes of oppression, misogyny, poverty and greed we journey with Mairi from indentured servant through to inexperienced spy and finally watch as she becomes a revolutionary ingenue. I had expected somewhat of a cross between a cosy, witchy mystery and urban fantasy. This turned out to be a little harsher, darker and with the inclusion of both swearing and a sex scene is definitely aimed at the 18+ audience.


I warmed immediately to Mairi, she is a fighter, resilient and caring, with huge inner strength and a strong sense of moral duty. Despite being occasionally rash, belligerent and fool-hardy, she is the kind of heroine that feels real and is easy to relate to. The wide range of side characters adds depth and colour to the story but also the conundrum of who to trust and who is dangerous.


The writing style was very easy to read, the prose flowed smoothly and very easily held my attention. I was delighted with how many times the author threw a little plot twist in, taking me completely by surprise. The book ends on a very soft cliffhanger, with a lot more adventuring to be had and story to be told. I will most assuredly be continuing with this series.


Overall Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Heat Level 🔥 🔥 🔥


Alternate Reality Fantasy Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60594265-hummingbird

Synopsis
The best way to live in the Mage ruled city of Glasgow is to keep your head down and your mouth closed.
That’s not usually a problem for Mairi Wallace. By day she works at a small shop selling tartan and by night she studies to become an apothecary. She knows her place and her limitations. All that changes, however, when her old childhood friend sends her a desperate message seeking her help – and the Mages themselves cross Mairi’s path. Suddenly, remaining unnoticed is no longer an option.
There’s more to Mairi than she realises but, if she wants to fulfil her full potential, she’s going to have to fight to stay alive – and only time will tell if she can beat the Mages at their own game.
From twisted wynds and tartan shops to a dangerous daemon and the magic infused City Chambers, the future of a nation might lie with one solitary woman.

Hummingbird is the first thrilling book in A Charade Of Magic. The fight for freedom starts here.


Book Review

#BookReview #FantasyRomance #KatherineQuinn #CityOwlPress

On These Wicked Shores
The Azantian Trilogy #2
Katherine Quinn

As this is book #2 in a trilogy, I was expecting to read more of Bash and Margrete’s love story, see more battles of mind, wit and magic against Darius, and experience more adventures. I love the cover, it makes me imagine a strong, determined woman who is ready to face her foes.


All of this, and more, was delivered in a well-written, captivating and exciting story that threw more than one curve ball into the mix. The blurb covers most of the book, with the discovery of the third coin occurring quite late in the story.


The first half of the book, at times, felt a little slow, ponderous, and dare I say repetitive and had it stayed that way my rating would have been hovering between 2 and 3 stars. It’s possible that my head wasn’t quite in the right mindset for this as, initially at least, I found I was having to push myself to keep reading. Thankfully that feeling didn’t last and the more I read the more my enjoyment of this story grew.


I know readers can get irritated by authors over-explaining things but at times I wasn’t quite sure of the reasoning or purpose behind events. Perversely there was occasionally too much foreshadowing, which left me waiting for the other shoe to drop. And not in a good “on the edge of my seat” way but more of a “can we just get on with it” feel. Despite those frustrations, I did enjoy the book and, once the pace picked up, it quickly became the 5-star read I had been hoping for. Whilst I didn’t need the book to have had that level of pace and tension throughout, as it can be in those quiet, gentle times that we get to really connect with the characters, it needed to be more evenly spread throughout the book. Either that or more ruthless editing of dead passages was required.


Overall I’m still a fan of this series and will definitely be reading the final book when it is released. This is written in the third person, mainly from Margrete and Bash’s viewpoints but we also get to hear from Darius and Bay. I liked how this gave extra depth and insight into the story, even if Darius is an unreliable narrator. It has quite dark moments, including on-page deaths of some side characters, and the romance includes several on-page sex scenes.


Overall Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍 🤍
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Heat Level 🔥 🔥 🔥


Romantic Comedy

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60891653-the-wedding-season

Synopsis
Smart and ambitious, Freya Scott prides herself on always having it together: she has a top job as a Brand Manager for Suttworth, a multi-national drinks company, and she’s engaged to her long-term boyfriend, Matthew. Their wedding is the first of eight on her calendar this year, and she’s intent on making it the fete that everyone is talking about all summer long.
But when Matthew calls it off the day before their walk down the aisle, Freya’s entire life plan goes up in smoke. Humiliated and heartbroken, she is determined to appear in control and fine. Surely, Matthew will soon realize that he’s made a huge mistake, and their wedding will simply be “postponed” instead of cancelled.
In the meantime, Freya still has a summer of other people’s nuptials ahead of her––which she must now attend solo. To help her survive the wedding season, her best friends concoct a series of challenging, outrageous tasks that she must complete at each event, designed to distract her from Matthew and what might have been.
From getting stuck in an old church bathroom and needing to be rescued by the vicar to making out with a barman at a French chateau, Freya realizes that despite herself, she might just be having fun. And by the time the final wedding arrives, she will discover that the road to a happy ending sometimes has unexpected detours, that “I do” is only the beginning––and that perhaps her own love story isn’t over just yet.