Review of ‘Worth the wait’ by Karelia Stetz-Waters.

This is book 3 of the ‘Out in Portland’ series by this author that can be read as a standalone novel. In a high school reunion, television presenter Avery Crown meets Merritt Lessing, her former best friend and teenage crush. After fifteen years, their mutual attraction is still alive but past and present get in the way as Merritt cannot forget an old betrayal and Avery is a closeted lesbian who cannot build a relationship without putting her career in jeopardy. Do they have any hope of having their happily ever after?

I have to admit that I’m not into high school reunion romances or stories about decades-long grudges held from teenage years. Normally my theme preferences don’t influence a book rating or critique. But beyond the subject I’m afraid that I have a few issues with this book, starting with the plot which seems a bit unrealistic and over the top dramatic. Additionally, I couldn’t warm up to the main characters, Avery with her low self-esteem, stuck in her mother issues and self-pity while Merritt… well, much the same. Some of their behaviour or conversations felt childish and immature for a thirty something. On the other hand, the secondary characters were much more interesting, specially DX and the couple of Iliana and Lei-Ling. I would read a book about them as they are quirky and multi faceted.

Overall, an ok read if you are into school reunions and drama. 3 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Listen to your heart’ by Becky Harmon.

Attorney Jemini Rivers and Deputy Steph Williams grew up in the small town of Riverview and were best friends until the day when Jemini and her mother left town to never return. A couple of decades later, Jemini returns to Riverview after her grandmother’s death who left her the family property in hope that she would return for good. Jemini has no interest in staying in Riverview for long but meeting Steph again stirred feelings for both of them. Will they be able to reconnect after a rocky past?

This is a slow burn romance between two women who were best childhood friends until a big misunderstanding set them apart. The issue I have with this story is that their conflict would be relatively easy to overcome if only they would have a proper conversation which they avoid for most of the book. Both main characters are well rounded but it’s hard to root for their happily ever after as sometimes they behave like the children they once were. The supporting characters appear in Harmon’s book ‘New additions’ and there are a few spoilers in this book so if you plan to read both books, I suggest you to read that one first. There’s a bit of a mystery subplot but most of the story is spent in a will-they, won’t-they have a proper conversation…

Overall, an ok read if you can put up with a lengthy, almost absurd miscommunication between the mains. 3 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Add romance and mix’ by Shannon M. Harris.

This is a slow burn romance between Briley Anderson and her next door neighbour Leah Daniels. Briley is a property developer who loves to bake in her free time, she’s also shy and hopelessly attracted to Leah who is sixteen years her senior, divorced, mother of two and a grandmother. Will Briley be able to overcome her shyness to approach her neighbour and will Leah give a chance to a much younger woman?

‘Add romance and mix’ is a very sweet story, as sweet as the baking goods made by Briley. So much so that sometimes it sounds too good to be true. The main characters show almost no flaws and seem upbeat in a ‘loves conquers all’ way even when life throws them a big curve ball. There’s nothing wrong with upbeat characters like that but the story sounds a bit unrealistic. The secondary characters follow the same pattern of ideal behaviour. It is quite obvious in Leah’s teenage boy and the two year old toddler. The conflicts or tantrums are just mentioned as an afterthought but in the plot’s interactions they act like ideal children, the same as the adults. The story delves a lot in inconsequential details but rushes past conflicts and challenges. Again, too sweet and too good considering the circumstances.

Overall, an ok read if you like baking and don’t mind a bit of ‘too good to be true’ characters. 3 stars.

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

Review of ‘Highland dew’ by Barrett Magill.

Bryce Andrews is a sales director at a whisky distribution company that is looking for new craft single malt for the American market. She’s sent along her colleague Reggie Ballard to Scotland in search of an original crafted whisky. By chance she finds a shuttered family distillery that once produced the outstanding single malt ‘Highland dew’. The problem is that the owner is ill and his daughter, Fiona McDougall, isn’t interested in pursuing the family business. Can Bryce help them develop ‘Highland dew’ to its potential and, at the same time, explore her feelings towards Fiona?

This book had so much potential in both the exploration of Scotland and one of its most famous produce, the Scotch. Scotland is renowned for its beautiful landscapes and old towns. Even though the author describes them in a picturesque way, her depictions somehow get lost in the amount of information provided about roads, villages, hotels, etc. The same happens with the description of the different types of whisky, for me, it was an information overload about flavours, tasting and distillery methods. I’m sure that someone interested in the subject will appreciate it but I’m afraid that’s not me.

Additionally, I didn’t care much about the subplot related to Bryce’s colleague Reggie and didn’t find that it justified writing from her point of view. Establishing just the point of view of both main characters might have helped in keeping the focus on the distillery search and the romance. With respect to the romance, I didn’t feel the chemistry between Bryce and Fiona and I think the ‘fade to black’ intimate scenes didn’t help either.

Overall, an ok read if you are interested in whisky. 3 stars.

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

Review of ‘Reclaiming Yancy’ by J.B. Marsden.

This is a story about Yancy Delaney, a rancher who is dealing with the bereavement of her partner and brother in a destructive way. She takes too many risks at work, her eating habits are unhealthy and her love life is an infinite series of one night stands. In her capacity of Board Director of her family’s rural clinics, she meets Dr. Gen Lambert. There is an initial attraction but will Yancy change her reckless ways for someone who’s worth it?

‘Reclaiming Yancy’ is a debut novel and unfortunately the reader can tell. Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, there is a good amount of telling but not showing which is one my pet peeves in literature though I accept that other readers might enjoy. With respect to the main characters, I found Yancy’s treatment of other women borderline with harrasment and in some situations unrealistic. I couldn’t feel the chemistry between her and Gen at all. Additionally, some of the secondary characters are a bit stereotyped and flat.

Overall an ok debut read if you like a good amount of drama. 3 stars

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

Review of ‘Marmalade Martini’ by Julie Forester.

This is a debut novel by British author Julie Forester. The plot follows successful architect Jamie Barker’s life after she accidentally drops her keys setting off a chain reaction of life changing events. With London at the background, the story succeeds to describe the city with its beautiful scenery and some hidden gems. Having lived in London for seven years, I enjoyed the depictions of my former hometown but some non UK readers might get lost with the British vocabulary and some local cultural references.

The novel is written in third person from both main characters’ point of view with the exception of a short excerpt written from Jamie’s sister pov which could have been avoided altogether. There is a great amount of drama and angst which is not my cup of tea but some other readers surely will enjoy. It covers family issues, friendship conflicts, sexual harrasment and the ubiquitous crazy ex. With so much happening, the romance was not prominent and I couldn’t feel the chemistry between the main characters. The fade to black sex scenes don’t help to create intimacy either. Additionally, some secondary characters are a bit flat and stereotyped, specially Jamie’s ex. The book ends with some unresolved issues and a cliffhanger so expect a second part coming sometime in the future.

Overall an ok read from a debut author, specially if you are interested in dramatic fiction. 3 stars.

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

Review of ‘Face it’ by Georgette Kaplan.

This is the second book of the ‘Scissor link’ series that I recommend to read chronologically as this book reveals a couple of spoilers from the first book.

Elizabeth Smile is contacted by Michelle Harlow, an old college fling, to pose as her girlfriend to beat her cheating husband. For Elizabeth, it’s good money and an opportunity to help her old friend, provided she can ignore her feelings towards Michelle and an awkward week with her fake girlfriend’s family. Will they succeed in their deception? Will it change their relationship?

There’s been a number of fake relationships books in lesfic lately with diverse success. It’s hard for me to rate this book as it has its good and not so good parts. I liked that it’s got some twists and unexpected situations and it’s generally well written. Most of the plot describes the time Elizabeth spends with Michelle and her family during the Christmas holidays. Each member of the family (dog included) has a distinctive personality and quirks which made them easy to recognise in a relatively short novel. However, the dialogues and their banter sounded artificial, as if the author was trying too much to be witty. There are also a lot of references to popular culture (actors, books, films, music, TV shows, etc.) which are a bit excessive even for a well informed person. So much so that in a decade’s time this book will probably be outdated. There are also long parts of the book dedicated to phylosophical discussions between the characters around a number of subjects such as racism, environment, feminism and religion, among others. While some discussions were interesting, I kept wondering if this is the type of book to dwell on them as the plot loses focus on the romance. Consequently, the end seems a bit rushed and the ‘I love you’ moments too fast.

Overall, an ok read if you don’t mind a few philosophical discussions and multiple references to popular culture. 3 stars.

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