Review of ‘Up on the roof’ by A.L. Brooks.

Lena and Megan are neighbours living in adjacent flats of a converted Victorian house in London. They couldn’t be more different: Lena is obsessed with order and routine, Megan is carefree and messy. Their relationship starts badly as Megan clumsiness gets her into trouble with her uptight neighbour. However, everything changes when a storm leaves Lena homeless and Megan offers her to move in her spare room. Will they manage to get along and what happens when they realise there might be attracted to each other?

This was a frustrating read for me. There’s so much potential in this story, for example, to explore homophobia in the first generation of Indian immigrants in the UK or how is to live with an obsessive compulsive disorder but unfortunately, this novel fails not only in achieving that but also in the romance part. Paradoxically, its main strength – the main characters’ development – is the cause of its demise. I think that Lena is well rounded as a person suffering from OCD and Megan as a carefree though insecure character. However, put them together and their interactions aren’t believable and their chemistry inexistent. The secondary characters are stereotyped and flat, maybe with the exception of the ground floor neighbour. There was a great amount of description that made this read tedious and boring. Considering that this is a romance and a happily ever after is expected, the plot development and the end weren’t believable at all. It’s a pity because Ms. Brooks’s previous novels are much better and I was expecting an enjoyable read.

Overall, a frustrating read. 2.5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Lesbian romance: The energy between us’ by Josslyn Scott.

This is a debut novella about Erin, an allegedly straight office worker, and her yoga instructor Dione. Erin starts practising yoga because she feels the need for a life change but gets a different outcome than the one she expected, a change that questions her sexuality.

As a yoga enthusiast myself, the book’s main idea appealed to me but, in my opinion, it fails a bit short on the execution. Written in third person from Erin’s point of view, the reader gets into her headspace and can only guess what Dione is thinking or feeling because very little is shown by the author.
The reader learns about Erin’s growing infatuation and questioning of her sexuality but gets little or no clues into Dione’s mindset and sexuality. The mystery surrounding a character is not necessarily a bad thing but, in this context, the latter developments in the story seem a bit forced, if not
unrealistic. Personally, I would have liked the author to show the main characters’ chemistry, ‘the energy between them’, and build it up more in the early stages, especially considering that the yoga class was their only interaction. There are a few witty dialogues that show the potential of the author and, I think that her stories – and character construction – will benefit with more of that.

Overall, an ok read. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Life pushes you along’ by Emma Sterner-Radley.

 

This is the debut novella by Emma Sterner-Radley. The premise of the book is that if people are stuck in their personal situations, “life pushes you along” in many different ways: it can be by chance, by self determination or by someone else’s help. The latter is what happens to Zoe, a 26 year old bookstore employee who feels dissatisfied with her job and lack of love life. With a little help from her best friend, her brother and Rebecca, a sexy job hunter she’s secretly attracted to, Zoe tries to change her life.
While it is positive that the book departs from the ubiquitous lesfic romance by presenting a mixed race relationship between two women with an age gap of 14 years, it falls short in delivering realistic situations and there is a good amount of telling but not showing.
The book is written mostly from Zoe’s point of view with a few chapters of her best friend’s and a couple of Rebecca’s. The author clarifies the pov in each chapter title which I don’t think it’s necessary. Some parts of the dialogues (specially Rebecca’s lines) seem to belong more to written speech and sound a bit unnatural or too long. Additionally, the relationship seems to evolve too fast in the last few chapters (with some degree of “insta love”) compared to the slow pace at the beginning of the book.
Overall, an ok summer read. 2.5 stars rounded to 3.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Becoming you’ by Michelle Grubb

I haven’t read anything by this author before except for her short story Hammersmith in the book ‘Girls with guns’. I have to admit that the only reason I chose this book was that it was set in Ireland, my home for the last eight years. I was hoping that the book would describe its fascinating landscapes or even its annoying weather but the story mostly discussed Irish drinking habits. Regarding the main plot, it was too angsty for my liking but I understand it might appeal other readers. The main characters were well described and you could understand their suffering but not enough for me to empathise with them or to enjoy the story. I’m sorry, I tried but for me reading this book was a struggle.
Overall, 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.
ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Courageous love’ by KC Richardson

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and what caught my attention was her attempt to mix a romantic story with such a tragic disease as cancer. I was curious on how she could intertwine the happiness of new love with the devastation of being diagnosed with a deadly disease into a consistent, coherent and whole plot. I’m disappointed that she couldn’t pull it off.
As a result of this, the reader is left with what appears to be two independent stories corseted into one. The first, a happy and light budding romance, with a good plot and enjoyable characters, the second, a tragic story full of medical treatment descriptions, breast cancer awareness handbook quotes and out of character behaviours. Such is the contrast between both stories that, in my opinion, Alex’s fight against cancer (with a good edition) might have worked better as a sequel of the first part of the plot. So, if you want to read a happy romance, just stop reading at the end of chapter fifteen. But if you want to suffer with the rest of us, read until the end.
Overall, 2.5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Arrested hearts’ by Holly Stratimore

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and decided to give it a try as I like cop stories mixed with romance. Unfortunately, it didn’t satisfy my expectations.
One of my issues with this book – that has been mentioned by other reviewers – is that the main characters meet in a context of sexual harassment. Basically, Randi, a police officer, stops Jule’s car not due to a traffic violation but because she saw a decal that caught her attention. To make matters worse, she asks for sex in exchange of forgiveness when she finds Jule had marijuana in her car… Seriously? This might be a turn-on for some people but it didn’t work for me at all.
I appreciate that Randy has her issues due to a hard childhood. The author gradually peels off Randy’s layers of self-preservation to eventually help the reader empathise with the character and understand her behaviour. However, I couldn’t relate to either Randi or Jule personalities, neither I could feel their chemistry. Additionally, the subplot of a criminal on the loose was too much in the background to create a page turner thriller and was resolved in a haste without proper development.
Overall, an ok read but there are definitely better books if you are into criminal stories mixed with romance by, for example, Cari Hunter.
2.5 stars
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley.

Review of ‘Beneath the waves’ by Ali Vali.

I have read several of Ali Vali books and in my opinion this author is a hit and miss. There are some things in this book that didn’t work for me, hence the feedback.

I know that this is a science fiction story but even considering this, it wasn’t believable for me. To start with, I cannot understand why the episode of the meeting of the main characters is so relevant and emotionally charged. It seems a bit mundane to me or maybe it was the author’s description.

There are too many secondary characters and developments in the plot that were a bit confusing. In my opinion the story just didn’t flow. The dialogues were sometimes disconcerting as to who was speaking and made me go back several times to get the idea of who was saying what. I think the story needs better editing, something that surprises me coming from this publisher who’s normally spot on.

I didn’t feel the chemistry between the main characters, the falling in love wasn’t believable, but maybe it was just me. The intimate scenes didn’t work for me either.

All on all, a bit of a disappointment. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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