Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jenny Oliver Romance Novels




Romance Novels by Jenny Oliver

1. The Parisian Christmas Bake-Off
2. The Vintage Summer Wedding


The Parisian Christmas Bake Off
The Parisian Christmas Bake Off
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

What's not to love about a tale of Christmassy baking?

In The Parisian Christmas Bake Off, young teacher Rachel is set up by friends who send her to Paris during the Christmas break to compete for a patisserie apprenticeship. Rachel has had trouble enjoying the Christmas season since her mum died, and she's initially furious that her friends have arranged things behind her back. But as she's unwittingly drawn into the competition, she starts to discover not only some long-lost self-confidence, but also an enjoyment of the festive spirit.

Having a handsome Frenchman on the scene certainly doesn't hurt - but while this is shelved as a romance, the romantic aspect is really only an accent to Rachel's baking journey. It adds to the story, but doesn't define it.

With its sprinkling of sadness and hope, this is a perfect and charming Christmas story which I read in one day - I just didn't want to put it down.

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

The Vintage Summer Wedding
The Vintage Summer Wedding
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Anna was in the middle of planning her perfect wedding when her life crashed down around her ears. Forced into dire financial straits, she and her fiancé move to a crumbling cottage in the hometown she left as a child. Under the pressure of a temp job she hates and a town she thought she'd left behind, Anna starts to crack, and her picture-perfect relationship with Seb starts to show the strain.

Anna is an absolute brat and I didn't warm to her at once, but as the story progressed it became clear that her character was a result of her childhood circumstances, and I started to understand her better. I'm hesitant to say too much to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that as the story progresses, Anna eventually starts to shake off her past and grow up; this book had me in tears by the end.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sarah Morgan Romance Novels




Romance Novels by Sarah Morgan

1. Sleigh Bells in the Snow
2. Suddenly Last Summer
3. Maybe This Christmas



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.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Rebecca Raisin Romance Novels



The Bookshop on the Corner
The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin
My rating:         Romance
Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Sarah is a bookworm with a quiet neighbourhood bookshop, but when she starts a blog and helps organise a festival that draws the attention of the national press, she catches the eye of an international journalist. It's too good to be true, and Sarah isn't sure she can believe in Ridge's good intentions.

This is a short, light read that was enjoyable but a little bit too much of a wish-fulfilment fantasy to really ring true for me. I really enjoyed the scenes with Sarah's friends, who are always looking out for her. I just felt the romance itself was a little too much "love at first sight" and too light on genuine character development. But it was an engaging read and I'll happily try more from this author.