Review of ‘Media darling’ by Fiona Riley.

Emerson Sterling is a famous actress with a bad-girl reputation. Hayley Carpenter is a celebrity gossip journalist whose dream is to be a screen writer. When their paths cross in an awkward situation, they start to form a bond which evolves into something deeper. But Hayley soon learns the high price to pay behind the apparent glamour of celebrity life.

I have to admit that I don’t care much about celebrity lifestyle but this book got me hooked from the start because it’s so much more than a relationship between a celebrity and an ordinary person. This is a sweet romance with the addition of a critique of the media role in their portrayal of celebrities. Both main characters, Emerson and Hayley, are multi-layered with their personalities well defined. Their chemistry is absolutely off the charts, Ms. Riley has done a great job at building their attraction slowly but surely. Some of the scenes of them together are cute and others are very sensual, that variety makes the romance even more enjoyable.

The secondary characters are well rounded, specially both mains’ best friends, Alison and Tremont. The setting of the story is very well written, the descriptions of the places in both LA and Maine are beautifully portrayed. The dialogues are very well written, sometimes funny and witty, others seriously deep and moving.

The plot is tightly woven, Ms. Riley has got the ebb and flow of the tension perfectly. Even though there is a good deal of drama, the conflict doesn’t feel contrived or artificially created, on the contrary, it makes sense and seems the logical consequence of the chain of events. Many readers are going to like the fact that the author takes her time to finish the book after the conflict is solved. The story has a perfect length, neither is rushed nor stretched.

Overall, an entertaining, poignant and romantic story with a side of social critique to celebrity culture and the media. 5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘London, actually’ by Clare Lydon.

Event planner Cleo Nightingale is 39 and recovering from a divorce two years ago. Her only rule for dating again is to avoid younger women. Becca Cramer is 23, exactly what Cleo doesn’t need. But she’s also gorgeous, mature and hard working, a combination difficult to resist. Will they have their happily ever after?

Clare Lydon’s novels are the epitome of lesbian rom-coms, full of romance, hot chemistry and feel good moments. Her books are funny, witty and quintessentially British, but not overwhelmingly so. The plots are tightly woven, the characters are well rounded and the dialogues are humorous and engaging. ‘London, actually’ is no exception. As is often the case with Ms. Lydon’s books, the readers just have to sit comfortably and enjoy the read.

This is book five in the ‘London Romance’ series and can be read as a standalone novel. ‘London, actually’ is an age gap romance with the stunning setting of London which the author describes beautifully. Even the weather is realistic. Both characters are very well portrayed and convincing. Becca seems quite mature for her age but, as the youngest of five siblings, is a credible trait. On the other hand, 39 year old Cleo comes with a baggage, though her resistance to younger women is justified. Their chemistry together is hot from the beginning and increases several notches as the story moves forward. Some of the scenes of Cleo and Becca together are incredibly cinematographic in the descriptions and, at the same time, intimate and evocative. My favorite is the scene at the Boston hotel bar drinking vodka-martinis with blue cheese olives. It will stay in my memory for a long time.

The secondary characters bring the whole story to life, specially Cleo’s best friend, and very pregnant, Heidi and Tracey, Becca’s pansexual flatmate. I wonder if Ms. Lydon is planning a story with them as leads (or maybe it’s my wishful thinking). Some of the couples from the previous books in the series appear in this one but there aren’t any major spoilers so there’s no need to read the series chronologically.

Overall, an entertaining, funny, hot and feel-good romance. Clare Lydon at her best. 5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Three reasons to say yes’ by Jaime Clevenger.

When Julia Maguire meets Reed Baxter in a holiday in Hawaii, she knows that their relationship has no future. Reed is the mother of 4 year-old twin girls and a busy doctor with no time to have a full-time girlfriend. But their attraction is undeniable and Julia decides against her own convictions to engage in a holiday fling. Soon she realises that she has feelings for Reed but a relationship with her is impossible. Or is it?

This author has caught my attention since the release of her erotica novel ‘Party favors‘. ‘Three reasons to say yes’ is a slow-burn romance with some family and inner conflict on the side, set in the idyllic island of Hawaii. The main characters are well rounded and beliavable, and kudos to Ms. Clevenger for introducing an interracial couple. Writing this novel in third person exclusively from Julia’s point of view is a great choice as Reed is a mystery to the reader that slowly reveals to Julia and to us. The butch-femme relationship works here perfectly as Reed fits ideally as the dark and broody type of butch. But her character is far from being a stereotype and so is Julia. The secondary characters are multi-layered and well written, specially the twins and Julia’s best friends, Kate and Mo. The only flaw I found is that the 4 year-old twins seem too mature and eloquent for their age but it doesn’t affect the story at all.

The plot is tightly woven with attention to detail. It has a perfect balance between angst and joy, conflict and harmony. All the intimate scenes are convincing and sizzling with a little twist that is not usually dealt with in lesfic. Ms. Clevenger handles it skilfully (if you don’t want to read spoilers about this I recommend you to avoid reading the ‘extras’ section in the Bella Books website). Additionally, there is an exciting secondary plot that is left unresolved but I think that the author is going to pick up from the end of this novel in a new book as Ms. Clevenger states that ‘Three reasons to say yes’ begins a series of romances all set in island locations. Can’t wait for a second book and hopefully it’ll be as original and well written as this one. This is a promising start of the series.

Overall, a well written slow-burn romance with some family and inner conflict on the side. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

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

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