Mini Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

 

Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet, funny and very steamy, I found it difficult to resist reading at every opportunity.


THE BLURB

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.


MY REVIEW

This is only my second Nalina Singh book and the first contemporary romance from her I’ve had a chance to read but it won’t be the last.

Main characters Sailor and Isa are extremely likeable and from pretty much the first page the chemistry between them had steam rising from my kindle. Both are troubled by events from their childhood, Isa pretty much ignored by her family who thought work was more important and Sailor by a father who walked out on the family leaving them destitute, and they’re looking for very different things in life. When they meet however they just can’t resist getting involved despite expecting it to end in disaster.

I had a lot of love for Isa and the way she fought for her family but honestly Sailor has to be the sweetest, kindest and sexiest man alive. The secondary characters were also brilliantly done and I loved how the author worked in a lot of diversity as well as issues such as arranged marriage, bullying and neglect.

The pacing is spot on and I absolutely loved a lot of the dialogue. Sailor and Isa definitely have a lot of chemistry and the sparks certainly fly between them at every interaction but there’s a lot of affection and humor between all of the characters.

I only really had a couple of small niggles the first of which was Isa’ s inner alter ego Devil Isa. That was wandering a little too close to the Fifty Shades inner goddess for me (although I promise it’s nowhere near as bad). I also would’ve liked a bit more struggle, a few more obstacles on the path to “Twue Love” but maybe I’m just mean.

Overall though I did love this book. It’s funny, sweet and has just enough chemistry to keep you going back for more.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has not influenced my review.

Advertisements

Review: Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan

Spandex and the City

Spandex and the City by Jenny T. Colgan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars for being so hilariously funny, brilliant and a little bit mad.


THE BLURB

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love. She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?


MY REVIEW

This book is out of this world…

Or should that be “involved in some kind of industrial accident that gave it super powers”??

I really, really loved this book. I am a big fan of Jenny Colgan but I’m an even bigger fan of Jenny T Colgan. This book has the usual mix of fun, humour and romance but with the added bonus of Ultimate Man. Yep we’re in super hero territory.

Have you ever wished you could be involved with a super hero or have you, like main character Holly, realized that actually being romantically linked to a man who wears a purple costume and is on a mission to use his superpowers to save the world is a little bit rubbish. Saving the world is admittedly more important than going on a date but being ditched is no fun, the costume is kinda naff (does everything really need to be purple) and let’s face it you’re going to end up as the damsel in distress. On the other hand though, if you’re single in the city with not many options you could probably do worse.

I absolutely loved how Colgan poked fun at the whole superhero world (in the most affectionate of ways) and how completely unimpressed Holly was by Ultimate Man. It had me giggling away on more than one occasion but is oh so true. Holly was a brilliant character and very relatable. She’s a little bit ditzy and seems to spend an awful lot of time embarrassing herself but she knows what she wants and despite having no powers she’s willing to get stuck in.

The romance is pretty sweet and funny as you would expect but there are also a few unexpected complications and bit of a love triangle which makes it a little bit unpredictable. It’s by no means certain how it’s all going to end. The whole superhero vs his nemesis storyline is fun and I loved how Colgan managed to sneak in a little dig at our current obsession with technology. If I had one minor niggle (and it is very minor) it’s that I thought some of the action scenes could use some work. It may just be me but I found it a little confusing trying to figure out what was going on.

Overall though I absolutely loved it. It may not be for you if you’re looking for Colgan’s usual cosy food related romances but if you don’t mind something a little bit different and a lot funny I’d definitely recommend.

I received a copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review and if it helps I also bought a physical copy.

ARC Review: 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

IMG_20171006_150912_121.jpg

 

The Blurb

Two random strangers. Thirty-six questions to make them fall in love.

Hildy and Paul each have their own reasons for taking part in the psychology study (in Paul’s case it is the $40, in Hildy’s the reasons are significantly more complex). The study poses the simple question: Can love be engineered between two random strangers?

Hildy and Paul must ask each other 36 questions, ranging from “What is your most terrible memory?” to “When did you last sing to yourself?” By the time Hildy and Paul have made it to the end of the questionnaire, they’ve laughed and cried and lied and thrown things and run away and come back again. They’ve also each discovered the painful secret the other was trying so hard to hide. But have they fallen in love?


My Review

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

As soon as Hildy and Paul started asking each other the 36 questions as part of a psychology study I was 100% hooked. The style of the book is probably not for everyone given that probably 70-80% is pure dialogue (or instant messaging) but it really just worked for me.

Good dialogue is probably what I enjoy most in a book so I don’t mind if there are no descriptions, no musings on innermost thoughts or even much in the way of action. I get so much more out of a couple of people having a chat and in this book it’s done absolutely brilliantly.

I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much, the banter between the two of them was just so funny but very believable. There are a few darker moments but even they are almost instantly flipped to light.

Hildy and Paul are perhaps a little cliched but honestly, in what romance are there not cliches and I feel like the fact they turned out to be different to what they initially appeared was kind of the point.

There were only really a couple of things that niggled me about this book. Firstly, their ages. I didn’t realize this was YA and spent forever trying to figure out how old they were (it turns out Hildy is 18). There were bits that just seemed a bit silly for those ages, Hildy complaining she’s never going to find love for example (she’s 18). Personally I think it may have worked better if they were a little older (college rather than school).

I also wasn’t so keen on the chapters which were in regular prose. I kind of found myself skimming through them to get to the next question and honestly Hildy needs some new friends as Xiu and Max were horrible.

Overall though this was a brilliant read and one I’d definitely recommend. Sweet, hilariously funny and completely addictive. Loved it. And, if you’re curious about what I mean by weird format, here’s a couple of sneaky peeks (yes, there are drawings too).

I won a copy of this book in a Readers First Giveaway. This has in no way influenced my review.


Where to Find It

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You is available from the 19th October

ARC Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Moonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love, #6)Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always look forward to Christmas, not because of the holiday itself but because it means we’re in for another Sarah Morgan Christmas romance. She truly is the queen of romance and this book didn’t disappoint. Yet again I picked it up early one Saturday morning and couldn’t put it down. I lost most of the day (something which happens every time I read one of Morgan’s books) but it was totally worth it.

There is a super nice and kind main character Harriet, a sexy blue eyed ER Doctor who doesn’t think he has a heart, a small trouble making dog and the wonderful New York at Christmas setting to make it all extremely romantic.

The story itself is pretty predictable but it’s such an enjoyable journey that you really don’t mind. Morgan is brilliant at creating characters you care about but also at creating this wonderful chemistry between them. Yes there are many of the usual romance tropes but even if I’ve read them a hundred times I still love them and it’s nice knowing you’re going to get the happily ever after.

I also found there was something quite inspirational about this story. Harriet has decided to challenge herself to do something she doesn’t want to every day to try and push herself out of her comfort zone. It’s wonderful watching how she develops over the course of the story as she faces her fears and does things she never thought she could. The confidence and freedom she finds kind of made me want to rush out and start my own Challenge Ali.

As well as Harriet and dishy doc Ethan there are a number of new characters and also some familiar faces. Harriet featured in the previous two books in the series so it was great to catch up with the leads from those stories, although I would have liked a bit more Fliss. There was also a little visit to the setting of one of the authors other series which meant I got to catch up with how they were all doing too. I need to make sure they’re all still loved up.

This is the sixth book in the authors From Manhattan with Love series but while there are some spoilers for previous books it could easily be read as a standalone. I know I have a bit of a tendency to read them in the wrong order and it makes very little difference.

Overall this was a great read and definitely put me in the Christmas spirit. I can’t wait for the next one.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.


The Blurb

She’ll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle…

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list—dealing with Madi’s temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi—how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple—he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all—letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?


Moonlight Over Manhattan is released in the UK on the 5th October and is available here, and on the 28th November in the US

Review: Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Alex and ElizaAlex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The story of the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler is not one I know a lot about but I very much enjoyed this fictional account of their romance. It does seem to borrow quite a bit from Pride and Prejudice but, while it’s not the most original or most exciting read, it’s a very sweet period romance.


Synopsis

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.


My Review

OK, before I start this review I feel like I should really admit that I know next to nothing about American (or British or now I think about it pretty much any) history so I have pretty much no knowledge of Alexander Hamilton. I know there’s a musical which I’m assuming is about him and that loads of people seem to be raving about but I haven’t seen it. What I’m basically saying (in a pretty long winded way) is that I went into this book pretty much blind, with very little knowledge and next to no expectations. I’d seen quite a bit of buzz around it, recognized the author’s name and was just kinda tempted by a historical romance.

I suspect these facts were all to my favor however as a kinda sweet romance set in the eighteenth century is pretty much what I got. If you’re looking for a ground breaking and historically accurate story (or even just a version of the musical) I suspect you will be disappointed (although I’m basing this pretty much on other reviews).

For those like me who are completely clueless, the story is a fictional account of the romance between Alexander Hamilton, aide de camp (personal assistant) to General Washington, and Elizabeth Schuyler, daughter of a prominant General. To me it seemed kinda like Pride and Prejudice during the American revolution (stick with me and don’t throw things, I’m not saying it’s as good).

Elizabeth’s mother could certainly give Mrs Bennet a run for her money in the match making department. She’s absolutely determined to marry off her three eldest daughters as they’re a bit short on cash despite having a prominent name. She takes every opportunity to throw them in the path of any eligible man and is not above a bit of marriage arranging. Elizabeth (or Eliza), like her namesake, is the second oldest daughter, the favorite of her father and is determined to marry for love. She’s not as beautiful as her sisters Jane Angelica and Peggy but she’s more determined, practical and has a bit more common sense.

Unfortunately (or as you’re probably thinking, thank goodness) this is where the similarities to Pride and Prejudice end (well more or less). This does have a little of the social commentary, particularly around the role of women (to marry a wealthy man and have lots of babies), but it lacks a lot of the wit and humor (I know no one can compare to Austen but what the heck I’m comparing them).

It is quite a sweet romance but other than a couple of scandalous incidents, some ungentlemanly behavior and the occasional reference to historical events going on round about them that’s pretty much it.

Eliza wasn’t the most likeable of characters to me. Yes, she’s principled, intelligent and practical but she’s just a little too fanatical about the cause for me and I found myself rolling my eyes when she started preaching to those around her.

Hamilton thankfully makes up for things however and is a very swoon worthy hero (can I say that about a historical figure?). He’s a self made man, a charmer and a bit of a flirt so it was wonderful to see him become so flustered and tongue tied around Eliza (I should add that I have since been on Wikipedia and discovered where his flirting led but let’s not go there).

It didn’t feel like there was a huge amount of story (it’s mostly a ball, a few social occasions, riding around the countryside on horses and Eliza’s efforts to aid the war effort) and it’s not exactly an exciting read but I did enjoy it.

I don’t think there was anything particularly stand out about it and I suspect if you’re a big Hamilton fan you’ll be disappointed but if you like a bit of history and a period romance you’ll probably enjoy this.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy. As always all views are my own.

Review: The Rome Affair by Karen Swan

The Rome AffairThe Rome Affair by Karen Swan

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Rome Affair is an absolutely perfect Summer read. Set in two different time periods, it’s addictive and engaging with a lot of mystery and just the right amount of romance to make it impossible to put down.

Swan’s descriptions will transport you to the Eternal City and some of the most glamorous locations around the world. Definitely one I’d recommend.


Synopsis

The glamorous capital city of Italy is brought to startling life in The Rome Affair, a compelling summer novel by Karen Swan.

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.


Review

I was a little bit worried when I started reading the Rome Affair that it was simply going to be a rehash of the authors previous book The Paris Secret. From the synopsis it sounds very similar, young woman running away from trouble in her own life goes to stay in a European city and ends up investigating a mystery from the past, and I suppose it kind of is. Despite some similarities however, this is a very different book and for me it was even better.

It has Swan’s usual wonderful writing but there is something compelling and addictive about the story. I picked the book up late one Saturday night and found it impossible to put down, finishing it on Sunday afternoon. The descriptions and feel of the book drew me in so completely that it was actually a bit of a shock to the system to be back in the real world.

The narrative flips back and forth in time and is told from Cesca’s point of view in the present and Elena’s in the past and while I found both fascinating I have to confess it was Elena’s story that captivated me. Her life as a rich heiress, socializing with the rich and famous while struggling to fit in and ultimately being abandoned time after time is compelling reading. The contrast between experiencing it through her eyes and hearing her tell Cesca the story works incredibly well. She edits and spins her experiences to paint the picture she wants to show the world and it definitely makes you question whether her final perfect romance was all it seemed.

Cesca’s story in the present is slightly less intriguing, she’s hiding from something that happened in London and trying to enjoy the simple things in life in Rome, with mixed success. There’s a little bit of romance in the air and she has to admit to and face up to her past but her role seemed to be primarily to dig into Elena’s past. I didn’t think she was necessarily the most likeable of characters but she was perfect for the role of interrogator/investigator and her love of her new home really flows through the pages.

The setting of Rome was definitely one of the highlights for me as, while I’ve only visited once, I absolutely love it. The author’s descriptions are so wonderful they give a real sense of the city as well as the other settings in the novel (Greece, Florida, New York). It’s very easy to imagine yourself getting a pizza and eating outside on the piazza, visiting the tunnels running under the city, visiting a nightclub in New York or sunbathing on a yacht off a Greek Island.

The pacing of the story is spot on and there are plenty of twists and turns to grab your attention. I spent a lot of the book guessing what had happened and while you can see most of it coming there were still a few surprises that I doubt many will guess.

Overall, I would definitely rate this as one of my favorite reads of the Summer. With an addictive story, a wonderful setting and brilliant writing I would recommend this to anyone who likes a novel with a lot of secrets and a bit of romance.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

(I know, I really thought my rating would be higher too)

This is a book with a lot of hype around it and unfortunately for me it didn’t quite live up to it. It’s an enjoyable read and it’s fantastic to see this type of cultural diversity but it lacks that special something to make it stand out from all of the other YA contemporary romances out there.


Synopsis

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Review

I’m a big fan of YA contemporaries, so when I saw all of the fantastic reviews for When Dimple Met Rishi I was so excited to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately I think all of the hype around it may have been where it all went a bit wrong for me as it led to high expectations it couldn’t possibly live up to. There isn’t anything particularly bad about it but I think I just wanted more.

I do have to applaud the author for finally giving us a culturally diverse YA romance. I don’t know how accurate its portrayal of the Indian culture is (I suspect not completely given some of reviews I’ve seen) but I loved the way elements such as the language, importance of family, customs and even religion were woven into the story in a, for the most part, natural way.

I also loved that it was Dimple who was the driving force in the story. She’s the one who’s into computers and science and is determined to win the app design competition at all costs. It’s so good to see female characters in traditionally male dominated areas and also to have a female character who rates her career and future as more important than finding a boyfriend.

I do think though that the author could have taken this further with a bit more time spent on creating the app (I know nothing about techie stuff but I’m sure girls who do would have appreciated it). Unfortunately though, other than some discussion over the concept, Dimple and Rishi don’t seem to do any actual programming or anything remotely IT-ish. Instead the focus and the majority of the book is taken up with a scavenger hunt and preparing for a talent show, with everything else being brushed over. Why a talent show would be a vital part of the competition was a bit of a mystery to me and seemed more like an excuse to work some Bollywood dancing into the story.

It would also have been good to see at least one other female character who’s there to compete. Her roommate and friend is more interested in finding a rich and popular boyfriend and the only other girl seems to just be tagging along with the guys and doesn’t give the impression of being the brightest. I know it’s a male dominated area but I would have loved to have more than one female character who’s serious about it.

Dimple is also not the most likeable of characters. She is passionate and driven to succeed which I loved but had a bit of a tendency to throw a strop at the drop of a hat. She came across as unreasonable and immature a lot of the time and I hated the way she treated Rishi.

Rishi, is almost like the exact opposite of Dimple and I adored him. For him family and tradition are more important than what he wants. He’s proud of his background and his culture and speaks up for himself and others. He’s super sweet, generous, funny and a bit of a romantic. If someone wants to arrange for me to marry him I would not be against it 🙂

The romance was quite cute and I loved how it started as an arranged marriage but other than that there wasn’t anything particularly unique or stand out about it. There was the odd moment that made me laugh however, it’s one of those stories that you quite enjoy at the time but more or less forget the moment you finish.

Overall, an enjoyable read which definitely gets a thumbs up for a strong female main character and lots of diversity but isn’t quite the stand out read I was hoping for.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.