Monday, December 22, 2014

Sarah Morgan Romance Novels





Sleigh Bells in the Snow
Sleigh Bells in the Snow
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Kayla can't stand the Christmas season, so when she spots an opportunity to go and hide out in a secluded log cabin - while trying to win a client for her PR firm - she thinks she might have found a way to avoid the whole event. No such luck. Unsurprisingly, there's a whole lot of Christmas magic in the winter wonderland resort of Snow Crystal. Kayla really wasn't expecting to fall for the prospective client, either, but Jackson comes as quite a surprise.

I really liked the setting of Snow Crystal with its beautiful scenery, and Kayla and Jackson were both believable characters - although Jackson's family came off as a bit overbearing!

If I had one reservation with this book it's that there was too much "chemistry" - the word is seriously overused, and in some strange turns of phrase (like chemistry punching someone, which I find a strange mental image that puts me in mind of lab explosions). This is a shame, because there was believable chemistry between the characters... but I could have seen that for myself. Being constantly told about it really pulled me out of the story in the early chapters.

Other than that, though, I found this an adorable Christmas romance. The snowy resort setting was a perfect backdrop for an unfolding romance, and Kayla's aversion to Christmas adds a layer of complication that the characters have to negotiate.

Suddenly Last Summer
Suddenly Last Summer
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Élise is a French chef with a fiery temper, who sees her job at the Snow Crystal resort as the perfect escape from an abusive ex. Unfortunately she gave in to temptation and had a hot fling with surgeon Sean, and when he comes home to Vermont his presence and their electric attraction threatens to change the dynamic of the family she already feels a part of.

Élise and Sean are a couple with complications at every turn, but there's no denying their continued attraction - although they'd both like to pretend nothing happened. An engaging, summery read that's perfect beach reading.

Maybe This Christmas
Maybe This Christmas
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Tyler and Brenna have been best friends for years, but neither of them has ever acknowledged the attraction that fizzes between them. And since Tyler's primary concern is the welfare of his daughter, Jess, he's definitely not looking for a relationship. But when Brenna has to move into Tyler's spare room, everything gets a little more complicated.

This is the third in the Snow Valley trilogy, and it was great to be back amid the mountains in ski season, with another charming couple who clearly belong together.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Silhouette Series by Geoph Essex




The Silhouette Series
by Geoph Essex

1. Lovely Assistant • 2. Jackrabbit Messiah



Lovely Assistant
Lovely Assistant
My rating:         Fantasy
Source: Publisher (direct)

When Jenny Ng is hit by a car, her biggest concern is that she's going to be late for a job interview. It's only when a second accident takes her leg off - a state of affairs which proves less permanent than she would have imagined - that she starts to realise something unusual is going on. And stage magician Calvin asking her to fill in for his missing assistant is just one more strange moment in a strange day.

It was only supposed to be a one off, but as it turns out, having detachable limbs is quite handy for a magic act. Jenny and Calvin are the most adorable non-couple you could imagine, and they make a fantastic team, on stage and off. Jenny's never dreamed of being in the spotlight, but she likes Calvin enough to support his ambitions, and the role of 'lovely assistant' ends up being the most reliable paycheck she's had in a while. Unfortunately the end of the world is nigh, and that kind of thing tends to put a damper on even the most successful showbiz career.

I just loved everything about this book. It's a fast-paced and fantastical adventure; it's an understated romance; it's a comedy of errors. There are mysterious artefacts, scornful horses, and a serious deadline.  The prose is beautiful and the metaphor colourful; the story is told in a lighthearted and comedic style that made me laugh out loud... right until it made me cry. There was plenty of tension with the looming apocalypse, but it was Jenny's personal journey that broke my heart. Simply brilliant.

Jackrabbit Messiah
Jackrabbit Messiah
My rating:         Fantasy
Source: Publisher (direct)

Amity is accustomed to handling delusional patients, and in some respects Jack is a textbook case. He can't remember much about his past, the only name he answers to is Jackrabbit (not the Jackrabbit, please!), and he arrives wearing a fuzzy bunny outfit from which he just can't bear to be parted. Matters are complicated, however, by the fact that he really did just jump from the top of a tower block, and not only survived but landed on his feet. Jackrabbit says he's a god, and when video footage goes viral, there's no shortage of people willing to believe in him.

When Jack escapes from custody by a literal vanishing act, Amity must choose between following official procedures or striking out on her own to try and help her patient. With the help of similarly-rebellious police officer Pauline and living legend Maggie, Amity sets off across the country in search of answers. What she finds is an urgent requirement for Jack to save the world.

While this book doesn't directly follow on from Lovely Assistant, there are a few incidental characters who cross over. The amazing, engaging writing style is another constant. And I couldn't get enough of the characters: Amity is a wonderful heroine whose insight into human nature comes in very handy, and you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of Maggie or Pauline. As for Jack, he's on a heart-rending quest for stability when his super-power is the ability to slip away... from himself as much as from others. The mythology of the Silhouette universe is sometimes macabre, often whimsical, and ultimately very pragmatic. I think I'm starting to get a feel for how things fit together, but I just know there's a lot more waiting to be uncovered in future books.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sophie Pembroke Romance Novels




Room for Love
Room for Love
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Carrie has many happy childhood memories of holidays spent at her grandmother's hotel, so when she inherits the Avalon Inn, it feels like the perfect opportunity to escape from a soul-destroying job and take charge of her own life. Unfortunately, the Inn needs a lot of work, and realising Carrie's dreams will take money she doesn't have. A wedding booking from her cousin could be the saving grace, but only if she can cope with the more difficult members of her family for long enough to cash the deposit cheque.

Meanwhile, gorgeous gardener Nate is only trying to help... but help is the one thing Carrie is sure she doesn't want. Not from him, or from anyone. She's surrounded by a cast of sometimes-incompetent friends, worryingly able foes, and all the everyday demands of a struggling small business... but it's Carrie's personal struggle to accept friendship, love, and assistance which lies at the heart of this book. A very sweet story which I really loved; I finished it in no time.

A-z of Love
An A to Z of Love
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Mia was devastated when her father ran off with his mistress, so she's not impressed when he writes to her out of the blue. In fact, she's determined not to open his letters. She'd much rather ignore the issue, preferring to spend her time hanging out with best friend Charlie: taking walks on the beach, eating at his restaurant, and catching a midnight movie at the crumbling local cinema.

Then Charlie's glossy ex turns up in town, with her slick business partner and a plan to turn Aberarian into a casino resort. The townsfolk are tempted, but Mia wants desperately to keep the cinema and surrounding shops as they are. If they're going to save the town, though, they're going to need to bring in enough tourists to revive the flagging economy. Mia volunteers to take on the organisation of Aberarian's annual fish festival... but while she's got plenty of good business ideas, she can't think of any way to stop Charlie going back to Becky. But that's okay, she tells herself, because they're just really good friends. Honest.

Mia and Charlie are just adorable as they negotiate the choppy waters of their friendship, along with the challenges of putting their town back on the map. A sweet summer read.

Summer of Love
Summer of Love
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Lily's engaged, but she's in no rush to get married, even if everyone else is doing it. In fact, the more fiancé Edward tries to hurry her towards the altar, the less she's sure that she wants to marry him at all. Ever. Her jewellery workshop is her only sanctuary from her conflicted emotions, but even that feels less safe since the intriguing Alex moved in to the studio across the hall.

Alex has just come back from London, and although Lily catches his attention, he'd never do anything to interfere with her engagement. Besides, he's focused on setting up a new photography business. As Lily encourages him to grasp his dreams, though, and he supports her in return, they start to get close. The only question is how they can ever make a relationship work, when Lily is terrified of commitment, and Alex came home hoping to settle down for good.

A light, summery read full of optimism, which races towards the inevitable happy ending.

The Kiss Before Christmas
The Kiss Before Christmas
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

This is a beautiful festive novella which I devoured in one sitting.

Dory is a British woman in New York who wants nothing more than to go home to her family for Christmas. Unfortunately, life isn't quite going to plan, and her budget won't stretch to a ticket - so when her boss offers to send her home for new year, just as long as she pretends to be his girlfriend for Christmas... well, she's had worse offers. But she didn't count on Lucas, Tyler's older brother, who's not only drop-dead gorgeous but immediately realises that something isn't quite right.

I loved Lucas from the first moment he sticks up for Dory against his altogether unbearable parents, and watching them get to know one another was pure pleasure. Meanwhile, Tyler was suitably clueless and infuriating, while remaining plausible in his reactions to the unfolding situation.

All in all, a perfect romance for Christmas.

The Kiss Before Midnight
The Kiss Before Midnight
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Another charming Christmas novella from Sophie Pembroke, which follows on from Dory's tale in The Kiss Before Christmas.

During the past year Molly has moved to London, got herself a new job, and almost managed to forget about the unexpected kiss she shared last New Year with childhood friend Jake. But going home for Christmas brings back all those memories, as well as casting her back into the role of immature younger sister to Dory and Tim.

Jake has a few issues of his own, not least the fact that he hasn't stopped thinking about Molly since their first (and last) kiss was interrupted. But Jake has been borrowing Molly's family since his own parents died, and as much as he's attracted to her, he's not sure he can risk losing everyone that cares about him.

Beautifully written, this is a quick read that's perfect winter fare.

Looking for more Christmas reads? I'm keeping a list (and checking it twice) of all the seasonal books that I've reviewed.