Review: Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper

 

Title: Better Homes and Hauntings

Author: Molly Harper

Published: Pocket Books July 2014

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from July 21 to 22, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I’ve enjoyed Molly Harper’s sense of fun and humour in her Jane Jameson series and Naked Werewolf series so I leapt at the opportunity to read this new stand alone novel.

Better Homes and Hauntings is a paranormal romance/mystery that is set in a dilapidated haunted mansion on a private island off the coast of Newport. Crane’s Nest is the ancestral home of young software billionaire Deacon Whitney and despite a history of tragedy and hauntings he decides to renovate the mansion, hiring a team of professionals including his best friend and architect, Jake, Nina, a landscaper, and professional cleaner and organiser, Cindy. The project requires them all to remain on the island during the renovation and ignore the weird vibes and frightening dreams the house seems to provoke but that grows increasingly difficult as a malevolent spirit begins to make its presence known. Deacon’s cousin, Dotty is convinced that solving the mystery surrounding the death of her great-great grandmother, Catherine Whitney, will put the spirit to rest but they need to do so quickly, before history repeats itself.

Harper finds a good balance between creepy ghost story and lighthearted romance in Better Homes and Hauntings. There were moments when my skin prickled with goosebumps and times when I was smiling broadly at the snarky banter between her characters.

The mystery is well thought out, with missing diaries, stolen jewels and a ghostly murderer to find. Harper also integrates a real world element in the form of Nina’s vengeful ex-boyfriend, intent on sabotaging her success.

I though the mix of personalities worked well, the enforced isolation creating a quick and tight bond between the main characters. Two romances develop over the course of the novel, Deacon falls for Nina, while Jake is infatuated with Cindy. Both pairings are well suited and it is sweet to see them work things out.

A quick, light and engaging read, fans of Harper are sure to enjoy Better Homes and Hauntings and as a rare stand alone it’s a great way to test her appeal without committing to a series.

Better Homes and Hauntings is available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster I Amazon US I BookDepository I via Indie Bound

Review: Mating For Life by Melissa Stapley

 

Title: Mating For Life

Author: Melissa Stapley

Published: Washington Square Press July 2014

Status: Read from June 29 to July 01, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Mating For Life is an ambitious exploration of love, relationships and the search for happiness by debut author Marissa Stapley.

The narrative unfolds from multiple perspectives, primarily those of Helen and her three adult daughter’s, Liane, Ilsa and Fiona, who are all variously struggling with romantic entanglements. Helen, a former wild child who essentially raised her daughters, fathered by three different men, on her own, is in her mid sixties and after years of eschewing tradition is wary of her lover’s urging for commitment. Liane has been with Adam for three years, but while holed up in her family’s lake cabin trying to finish her PHd thesis and imagining her future, she realises that he is not who she wants or needs after all. Fiona has invested everything she is into her marriage and children and when cracks begin to appear in the facade of her perfect family, is left angry and floundering. Ilsa, an artist and mother of two is growing increasingly dissatisfied with her passionless marriage to her much old husband and becomes embroiled in an illicit affair.

As the story unfolds, each woman is forced to negotiate the complications of mother-daughter and sibling dynamics, confront the choices they have made and reevaluate their priorities. What becomes obvious is that to successfully mate for life, they must first learn what it is they honestly want and need as individuals.

Each chapter is prefaced by a snippet from the mating rituals of a Canadian animal or bird which relates directly to the content. I thought the writing style was lovely overall, the descriptions of both place and emotion evocative, though at times a little over detailed. I found I was distracted by the additional perspectives added to the narrative from several minor characters and while I think the author chose to do so in order to explore another facet of her theme, I didn’t think it necessary.

While I could relate to some aspects of the themes of Mating For Life, neither the story, nor the characters really resonated with me in the way it has seemed to with other reviewers. For me, Mating for Life was a pleasant read but not a memorable one.

Mating For Life is available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster US I AmazonUS I BookDepository I Indiebound

 

Review & Giveaway: Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie

 

Title: Colours of Gold

Author: Kaye Dobbie

Published: Harlequin MIRA April 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from July 06 to 08, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Colours of Gold by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, is a captivating tale combining mystery, romance, history and a touch of ‘other’.

With the narrative alternating between the past and the present, Colours of Gold tells the story of a small girl found near death in a sealed barrel in the Murray River in 1867 and her connection to a present day art restorer’s discovery of a Trompe L’oeil in an old Melbourne hotel scheduled for demolition.

From the opening chapters of the historical timeline I was intrigued by the mysteries introduced by the author, namely the identity of the young girl rescued from the river, her extraordinary ability to see colours (aura) that warn her of a persons mood, misfortune or illness, and her fear of a tall man in a long dark coat that haunts her, day and night. Moving from the banks of the Murray, through the dusty streets of gold rush towns and finally to Melbourne, Dobbie deftly evokes the character and landscape of the historical period as Alice, and friend Rosey, struggle to escape their dark pasts, in hopes of creating a brighter future.

In the contemporary timeline, Annie Reuben is excited by the challenge presented by the conservation of the Trompe L’oeil found in the basement of the old Goldminer Hotel and intrigued by the people and the scenes it depicts, especially the figures of two young girls in the foreground. Despite the threat of interference by History Victoria, and a looming financial crisis, Annie is determined to solve the mystery of the painting, and find out what the sudden appearance of a man in a long dark coat means for her, and her daughter.

Well written, I thought the alternating chapters were particularly well structured, each advancing the story and merging neatly at the conclusion. Suspense is built carefully during the course of the novel, with the pace quickening as Alice and Annie get closer to solving the mysteries that concern them.

An entertaining and interesting novel, with appealing characters, I was surprised at how quickly I became invested in the story of Colours of Gold and how reluctant I was to put it down. This was a great read for me.

For your chance to WIN one of two copies of Colours of Gold CLICK HERE {open worldwide}

 

Colours of Gold is available to purchase from

Harlequin AuBooktopia I Bookworld I via Booko I Amazon AU

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

awwbadge_2014

 

Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Title: All Fall Down

Author: Jennifer Weiner

Published: Simon and Schuster AU July 2014/ Atria Books US June 2014

Listen to an Excerpt

Status: Read from June 22 to 23, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publishers}

My Thoughts:

“The day had stretched endlessly before me – weepy daughter, angry husband, piles of laundry, messy bedroom, a blog post to write, and probably dozens of angry commenters lined up to tell me I was a no-talent hack and a fat, stupid whore. I need this, I thought, letting the bitterness dissolve on my tongue.”

Allison Weiss is a busy working wife and mother who finds that the painkillers she was prescribed for an injury helps relieve some of the stress that threatens to overwhelm her daily. With a pill, she worries less about the financial burden of the mortgage, has more patience with her beautiful but sensitive daughter’s tantrums, is less distressed by her father’s cognitive decline, and has the energy she needs to meet her work deadlines. But soon one pill a day isn’t enough to take the edge off, nor is three, nor five, nor ten or even twenty…

In All Fall Down, Jennifer Weiner confronts the stereotype of an addict. Allison is reasonably representative of the modern, suburban, middle class woman juggling not only marriage, motherhood and career but also a myriad of other demands, such as the care of aging parents and financial concerns. Despite her increasing reliance on pills (Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin) sourced both from legitimate prescriptions, and later supplemented by purchases from clandestine internet based businesses, Allison dismisses the notion of herself as an addict, even as her life begins to fall down around her.

With realism, compassion and a touch of humour, Weiner charts how easily Allison slides into addiction – her retreat into denial, her growing desperation for her next pill and the damage her it begins to inflict on her family and her career. It all seems frighteningly possible, though opiates have never done much for me (I was once prescribed Oxycontin for an injury and they made me so violently ill I strained my vocal cords and damaged my inner ear, leaving me with laryngitis and vertigo for a week), I found I could relate to her desire to soothe the pressure, and the relief the pills must have offered.

While the first half of the book focuses on Allison’s downward spiral the second focuses on her struggle to recovery. Eventually forced into rehab, Allison still refuses to accept her status as an addict, she doesn’t relate to the women with whom she shares a room or group therapy and so continues to take refuge in denial, until she is finally confronted with the truth and begins to rebuild her life, day by day.

All Fall Down is a well written and thought provoking novel, gently confronting the issue of prescription addiction in an accessible manner sure to resonate with her audience.

All Fall Down is Available to Purchase

in the US

Simon & Schuster US I Amazon US I BookDepository I via Indiebound

in Australia

Simon & Schuster Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko I Amazon AU

and all good bookstores.

 

Review: Red Sand Sunrise by Fiona McArthur

 

Title: Red Sand Sunrise

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin June 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from June 23 to 24, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Red Sand Sunrise is an engaging novel combining drama and romance in an outback setting written by accomplished author Fiona McArthur.

On the same day that her husband admits his affair with a neighbour and asks for a divorce, Dr Callie Wilson receives the news that her beloved father has passed away. Home in Red Sand, a remote township in far west Queensland, for the funeral, Callie is blindsided by yet more bad news and, with no pressing reason to return to Sydney, resolves to stay indefinitely. Fortunately she is offered the opportunity to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, and with it the chance to get to know her half sister, Eve.
Eve Wilson, a Brisbane midwife, isn’t sure of the reception she will receive from her father’s widow and the half sister she has never met, but she feels certain that attending his funeral is the right thing to do. Their warm welcome is a surprise, as is Callie’s invitation to remain in Red Sand to staff the new clinic, and her attraction to local station owner, Lex McKay.
Dr Sienna Wilson, an ambitious Melbourne obstetrician, doesn’t understand her sister’s decision to attend their estranged father’s funeral, nor why Eve would choose to remain in the middle of nowhere. She is horrified when her hospital, encouraged by a substantial donation from the the Red Sand clinic’s benefactor, insists she spends three months in the town to investigate the cause of a series of premature births and stillbirths in the region.

The story of Red Sand Sunrise unfolds as these three women, Callie, Eve and Sienna, face various personal and professional challenges, ranging from Callie’s fear of providing maternity care after her own tragic loss, to Eve’s search to find somewhere she ‘fits’, and to Sienna’s realisation she doesn’t have all the answers. McArthur ably crafts distinct individual personalities for the sisters and I found them each to be appealing characters.

There is quite a lot of emotional drama in Red Sand Sunrise, Callie especially is forced to cope with several distressing events in a relatively short period of time. I was surprised to find myself tearing up (just a little) during two pivotal scenes, but also wondered if perhaps it was a little too much.
There are also some moments of high tension which involve a few of the medical emergencies Callie, Eve and Sienna have to manage. McArthur, who has years of experience as a rural midwife, draws on her own experience and expertise to illustrate the challenges of accessing and providing medical assistance, and in particular antenatal care, in remote regions of Australia.

I enjoyed the romantic elements in the novel, Callie reconnects with her teenage sweetheart, Eve is smitten by Lex McKay and Sienna sets her sights on local police officer, Sergeant McCabe. Somewhat surprisingly, the developing relationships don’t overwhelm the story, which I appreciated.

Red Sand Sunrise is an engaging story of three sisters challenged by family, grief, romance and tragedy, set within the remote landscape of the Australian outback. I would happily recommend this heartfelt novel to fans of contemporary rural or medical romance.

Learn more about Fiona McArthur  and what she is reading in her guest post by clicking here

Red Sand Sunrise is available to purchase at

Penguin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

awwbadge_2014

 

AWW Feature: What Fiona McArthur, author of Red Sand Sunrise, is reading…

fiona

 

I am pleased to welcome Fiona McArthur to Book’d Out today to celebrate the publication of  Red Sand Sunrise.

Fiona has written more than thirty romances, which have sold over two million copies in twelve languages. She has been a RWA Romantic Book of the Year finalist and American Cataromance Readers Choice finalist. She is a midwifery expert for Mother and Baby magazine and the author of the non-fiction work, The Don’t Panic Guide To Birth. The mother of five sons, Fiona lives in NSW with her husband of thirty three years, juggling her successful writing career with her work as a rural midwife and clinical educator.

Red Sand Sunrise is Fiona’s first fiction title published with Penguin Australia, and celebrates the strength of family ties, the renewing power of love, and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.

“When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go to the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn’t expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay.

After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson doesn’t hesitate to move home and spend some time with her grieving mother. When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she’s just getting to know.

Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can’t understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together.  And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other . . .”

 

You can read my thoughts about Red Sand Sunrise by clicking here. In the meantime, please read on to find out what Fiona McArthur is reading…and who with!

 ***

Thanks for asking me, loved your back story about libraries and your innovative ways of keeping up with reading. That was me, avid reader nodding vaguely to my poor children as the ‘other world’ engrossed me, mostly from the library. That was a lifetime ago, actually thirty-three of my own books ago, and I really need to re-carve a niche in my week to at least read one book a week. Every writer should.

This was brought home to me recently when I went to Italy with two other writers. I shouldn’t have gone really because I didn’t have the money but karma came through in the nick of time, I had some long service leave, and I REALLY wanted to go. So we did it on shoestring. Actually, I should have done it on a shoestring and didn’t, but that’s another story.

This story is about Eloisa James saying if we were attending her ten day writing workshop in Tuscany we had to read a book list of books before we went. Different types of books. Books I might never have picked up because there are so many other books I’d like to read if I had time, and groaned about having to read her choices. I know you want to know what books she made us read so have included at the end. No cheating! Nah…Cheat if you want. See list at end.

Now, prior to the course I was a tad busy. I had two medical romances for Mills and Boon to write because I’d put them off to write RED SAND SUNRISE for Penguin and my M&B editor is a doll. I wouldn’t dream of letting her down. I had a 28hr a week job as a midwifery educator I was still finding my feet in but loved, I had the revisions and galleys for RSS, and a little thing called family in crisis. So how was I going to read these flipping books? Push comes to shove then reading is out.

Ah ha! I seriously love Audio books. I listen to them in the car on the way to work. It’s only twenty minutes but it’s amazing what you can get through with consistency. I have a monthly deduction for one audiobook on Audible and I download to my phone and play it in my car. My problem with audio is I can’t skim the bits I would rather skim.

Like the blood and guts and explicit detail in Ilona Andrews’ MAGIC BITES. I tiptoed past the vampire ooze, winced at the munched bones, did I tell you I’m a sweet writer, but despite the gore (thankfully not because of it) – I LOVED THAT BOOK! I would never have read it except for EJ telling me to and now I have ordered more of the same.

Then there was Kristin Higgins. Had never read one of hers. American small town, yawn, have my own small town, but OMG! Kristin Higgins rocks. I bought all of hers too. There were some authors I found that were a little harder to get into that the other participants adored. Some of the books I wondered why they were there but actually, when you sat down and studied them, they all had something in common. They grabbed you. Gave more than a few reader pleasure moments that stayed with you and statistically made it to the big time. And you can learn and absorb the nuances that shimmer in great writing.

Fiona and Eloisa

Fiona and Eloisa

Now home from the course my kindle is crammed. We talked about everyone’s favourite books, another time I could share them, and most of them I hadn’t heard of. So I downloaded them. Holding pattern. I will get around to reading them. One book a week. BTW Did I tell you I LOVED Eloisa James Three Weeks With Lady X?

Here is the list suggested by Eloisa James

Contemporary:
Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley

Alternate World:
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Paranormal:
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

Harlequin:
When Falcone’s World Stops Turning by Abby Green

Classic Romance:
After the Night by Linda Howard

Historical:
Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James

Small Town Contemporary:
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins

 

Red Sand Sunrise is available to purchase at

Penguin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

Review & Giveaway: For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

 

Title: For One Night Only

Author: Phillipa Fioretti

Published: Momentum January 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from June 09 to 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

After spending time with her Italian relatives, Australian born Ornella Ortenzi plans to enjoy a few days in the Sicilian town of Taormina with a friend before heading to Rome for an audition that could launch the acting career she has always dreamed of. So when Ornella meets Hugh Calthorpe, a handsome British archeologist, she is determined not to be swayed by his charm but after a hike up a volcano, a few drinks and a moonlight skinny dip, she decides to throw caution to the wind. After a wonderful night together, Ornella and Hugh are sharing breakfast the next morning when Hugh wanders into the cafe to pay…and vanishes, leaving his phone and sunglasses behind.

For One Night Only is a fast-paced, entertaining romantic suspense novel that has Ornella and Hugh caught up in a dangerous adventure when Hugh is abducted and ordered to steal the precious floor mosaic depicting Dido and Aenaes he recently uncovered in the basement of a hotel. There are some good twists to the story as Fioretti plots an exciting romp that includes escape and capture, a nasty group of Italian thugs, corporate conspiracy and betrayal as Ornella and Hugh strive to save themselves, and each other.

I liked both of Fioretti’s protagonists. It might be a little bit of a stretch to believe that Ornella would be so adamant about finding Hugh given the circumstances, but she is a confident and determined woman, who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid of trying to making it happen whether it is landing the role of a lifetime, or chasing after the missing Hugh. Hugh is a nice guy, smart, a little cheeky but obviously essentially principled and honest. The chemistry between the pair is well depicted from their first meeting and in the moments they spend both together and even apart, the author manages to develop the relationship so that the reader is hoping for a happy ever after.

The setting of For One Night Only is particularly lovely, I enjoyed the tour of Taormina and its surrounds, led by Fioretti’s vivid descriptions of simmering volcano’s, black sand beaches and bustling cafe’s. {Google the town and you will be fantasising about visiting it yourself!)

Combining romance, mystery, action and suspense, For One Night Only is a well written and entertaining story which I enjoyed reading.

Learn more about Philipa Fioretti and her love of  Italy by clicking here

Available to Purchase From

Momentum I AmazonAUAmazonUS I AmazonUK I iBooks I Kobo

****

awwbadge_2014

 

 

AWW Feature & Giveaway: Phillipa Fioretti, For One Night Only

phillipa

I am happy to welcome Australian author Phillipa Fioretti to Book’d Out today. Phillipa lives at the bottom of the world – in the hills outside Adelaide, South Australia – with her husband and children and an assortment of animals domestic, wild and feral. She likes reading in bed and travelling.

Phillipa studied art, archaeology and museum studies and worked as an artist and lecturer for twenty years before starting to write fiction in 2006. Her interest in Italy and Italian culture, vintage cinema and fashion, Classical Rome and the ancient world and the history of food and eating, all appear as underlying themes in her books.

In 2008 she was selected for participation in the Hachette Australia/Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program.Her first book, The Book of Love was published by Hachette Australia in 2010, hand the sequel, The Fragment of Dreams was published in May 2011.

Today Phillipa is  introducing her third book, For One Night Only, published by Pan MacMillan’s digital press, Momentum.

“In Italy, passion and danger share the same bed. When Ornella vacations in Sicily, she meets Hugh, an archaeologist working on a dig in the beautiful town of Taormina. Hugh convinces Ornella to join him on a trip to the island of Stromboli, where they hike up a live volcano at dusk.  After a passionate night together Ornella, an actress usually focused on her career, suspects she’s in love. But after breakfast the next morning, Hugh vanishes.  Ornella is left with Hugh’s phone, sunglasses and a sudden end to the love affair she thought she didn’t want. Desperate to know if Hugh ran out on her or if he’s met with disaster, she wants to search for him. But with an important screen test in Rome and her agent impatiently waiting for her, Ornella faces a dilemma. Little does she know the danger Hugh is in – and that she is the key to his survival.”

 

An engaging romantic suspense, read about Phillipa’s love for Italy before entering for your chance to WIN one of two copies…

Why Italy?

I fell in love with Italy as a kid when I found an old book about the myths of Greece and Rome. I read that book over and over again. Then, as a teenager I saw some Italian films and was entranced by what I saw on the screen. It was so European and exotic, so civilized and pagan, sophisticated and vital. Unlike suburban Sydney where I grew up. This was pre-Internet, so images had more power and we weren’t as sophisticated or exposed to so much as we are today. Young love is a deep love and I still love Italy passionately. I married an Italian (and his family), my children are Italian citizens and I continue my endless struggle to master the language. So setting my books in Italy is very much about my own enjoyment of Italy and Italians.
Italians, like many Europeans, are not shy about showing their appreciation of a member of the opposite sex. It’s as natural to them as breathing. They accept love and romance as part of la dolce vita, the sweet life, which fundamentally means an appreciation of the details of living. The shape of a girl’s eyes, the excellence of a morning espresso, the flourish of a hand gesture, the crispness of the pastry on a sfogliatelle, all of these are subject to conversations that can go on for hours. For the more practical and dispassionate Anglo Saxon, this may appear as a frivolous way to spend time that should be spent fixing the economy or stamping out corruption. But you can’t erase hundreds of years of attitude just because bankers in another country got too greedy.

Bookout.Barista

Italians, particularly in Sicily, have always lived with harshness and poverty, but not so much austerity, or austerity as defined as coldness or grimness. This is because when you have very little, it becomes important to get what little you have exactly right – in order to bring some pleasure into your day. The coffee must be extracted for one minute to achieve the perfect crema, the tiny cup must be heated, and it must be served with a glass of water to take away your thirst. As you sip your exquisite coffee, made for you with such nonchalant brio by the handsome barista with the bold, dark eyes, you know that while everything else may be bleak and beyond your control, you have this one moment of transcendence to carry you through. Who could not love a country where the art of the perfection of the ephemeral is practised on this daily basis?

Read my review of For One Night Only HERE

Available to Purchase From

Momentum I AmazonAUAmazonUS I AmazonUK I iBooks I Kobo

****

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Momentum

I have 2 e-editions of

For One Night Only by Phillipa Fioretti

to giveaway

**Open worldwide**

Please leave a comment on this post and then

Closed

Congratulations Emily & J’Aimee

Entries close June 22nd, 2014

Drawn via random.org

***

awwbadge_2014

 

Review & Giveaway: Lick by Kylie Scott

 

Title: Lick  {Stage Dive #1}

Author: Kylie Scott

Published: Pan Macmillan Au April 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from June 05 to 06, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy Bookworld}

My Thoughts:

A sexy contemporary romance, Lick, the first book in the Stage Dive series, was first self published by its Australian author Kylie Scott but has since been picked up by traditional publishers in several countries and earned her a place on the USA Today Bestseller List. I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot from this title, even though it seems to have captured the imagination of thousands of readers, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be an entertaining, sweet and quick read.

“Let me get this straight, you don’t remember anything?”
“No,” I said, swallowing hard. “What did we do last night?”
“We got f**g married.” he growled.”

Lick begins with twenty one year old Evelyn waking in her hotel room after a wild night in Vegas to discover a 5 carat ring on her finger, a tattoo on her ass and the presence of tall, dark and gorgeous rock god David Ferris. Unable to remember much of anything, but convinced both she and David have made a terrible drunken mistake, Evelyn offers David a simple annulment and returns to Portland to pick up her quiet life where she left off. It is a sensible plan, but word of their Elvis impersonator officiated marriage has been leaked and Ev is ambushed by paparazzi. Forced to take up David’s offer of sanctuary while his lawyers take care of the details, Ev is surprised to learn there is more to her new husband than she suspected and that perhaps a divorce would be a bigger mistake than their marriage.

While the plot of Lick is all about the Cinderella fantasy of an ordinary girl being chosen by a handsome prince, the tone and the characters of this novel are what saves it from becoming a bland romance.

Evelyn is an appealing heroine, smart, witty and a little awkward she is an ordinary sensible girl for whom things go wildly awry the one time she sets aside her inhibitions. I can’t blame Ev for being unable to resist David, Scott’s description of him is just delicious, and at twenty one she is still in possession of the idealism that believes in destiny, true love and happy ever after.

‘Stage Dive’ lead guitarist David is the hot bad boy with a vulnerable heart. It’s a combination that is difficult to resist even when he is being a jerk because you just know his arrogance is a self defense mechanism. Unsurprisingly it turns out Dave has been badly hurt in the past and he has to deal with his trust issues before he can expect his relationship with Ev will work out.

“Love isn’t always smooth or straightforward. It can be messy and painful. Doesn’t mean it isn’t the most incredible thing that can ever happen to you.”

Though labeled a New Adult title due to the ages of the protagonists, Lick doesn’t seem to have any trouble attracting a more mature audience. If funny, sexy and sweet romance is your thing then take a stage dive into Lick.

Purchase Lick from Bookworld

NewReleases-java

 

***

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Bookworld

I have 1 print edition of

Lick by Kylie Scott

to giveaway

**Sorry, open to Australian residents only**

Please leave a comment on this post and then

Closed

Congratulations Khrissy

Entries close June 22nd, 2014

Drawn via random.org

***

awwbadge_2014

Review: Billabong Bend by Jennifer Scoullar

 

Title: Billabong Bend

Author: Jennifer Scoullar

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin May 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read from May 26 to 27, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Set amongst farming land in the Murray Darling Basin region of northern New South Wales, Billabong Bend is an wonderful novel of romance both on, and with, the land.

Fiercely protective of the river and wetlands that borders her property, Nina Moore’s is determined to extend her sustainable agricultural and environmental rehabilitation practices on Red Gums to the neighbouring property, Billabong Bend, if only she can convince Eva, the elderly owner, to sell it to her. Nina is worried that if a cotton farmer, like Max Bonnelli, gets his hands on Billabong Bend, the entire marshlands ecosystem will suffer irreparable harm.
Nina’s concerns are partly alleviated when, after a fifteen year absence, Max’s son Ric returns to Donnalee. With the rekindling of their teenage romance, Nina is convinced Ric will be able to temper his father’s greed but when tragedy strikes, Nina’s dreams of rescuing Billabong Bend, and building a future with Ric, threaten to be swept away.

Conservation and environmental protection is a major theme of this novel. Scoullar’s descriptions of the setting for Billabong Bend are evocative and vivid, from land scared by drought,
“The earth’s living skin had peeled and cracked”,
that nevertheless teems with life,
“Beneath her wheeled squadrons of pelicans and flocks of ibis. She flew lower. A startled white-bellied eagle took cover in a rare patch of weeping myall woodland. Lower again. Long-legged emus raced at breakneck speed through the swampy sedgeland. She could taste the vast, dry continent beneath her, hear the music of its river red gums, feel its clear, summer skies in her veins. Something prickled the back of her neck and a profound sense of excitement and joy coursed through her….Now this, she reminded herself. This was living.”

From the opening scene, I liked and respected Nina for her passion about the land on which she lives and the unique habitat of the river, not dissimilar to the one that flows through the town I live in. I was interested by the information I learned about the wildlife, water use, and sustainable farming practices Nina engages in, and the threats to the health of the land over and above the devastation wrought by drought.

The romantic aspect of Billabong Bend is perhaps not as strong as I expected. I personally don’t mind that the relationship between Nina and Ric is more a background element of the novel but those readers who prefer it as a focus, may be somewhat disappointed.

Reminiscent of the Australian classic Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, a truly delightful element of the story involves Ric’s precocious daughter, Sophie, who hatches and raises a flock of a geese orphaned by Max, and teaches them to fly. The scene where the geese soar over Sophie racing on the quad bike is one of the many that will stay with me.

With appealing characters, a thought provoking storyline combining romance with a touch of mystery, and rich and resplendent setting, Billabong Bend is a captivating read, and one which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

Billabong Bend  is Available to Purchase from

PenguinI boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

Click the cover to read my reviews of

awwbadge_2014

around-the-world-2014

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,610 other followers