Review of ‘A wish upon a star’ by Jeannie Levig.

Leslie Raymond returns to her hometown in LA after a bad relationship that left her wary of straight women with children. Erica Cooper has a 7 year old girl with special needs and has learnt to stay independent and not to rely on anyone else. Not even her new next door neighbour Leslie who is so good to her daughter. It doesn’t hurt that Leslie is caring and gorgeous too. Will the stars align for them?

This is another fantastic book by Ms. Levig. It is not only a romance but also a story about maternal love, friendship and loyalty. Kudos to the author for featuring an older couple both in their early fifties but so full of life. Alongside them, there is Siena, Erica’s daughter who has ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’. She is portrayed with incredible authenticity as both a child and a person with special needs. It seems that the author did her research well not only in Siena’s personality but also in her relationship with others.

They say that children and dogs steal a show and this is no exception. Side by side with the trio is Gus, a stray dog rescued by Leslie who is the epitome of the (wo)man’s best friend. I’m more of a cat person but Gus’s loyalty and bond with the mains really won my heart. Without him, the story would have lost some of its most inspiring and moving moments.

The romance is slow burn and the mains’ chemistry builds up exquisitely. These are women with some baggage but nothing feels contrived or forced. The dialogues are natural sounding and all the characters, main or secondary, human or otherwise, are well rounded and credible. Every single part of the story flows seamlessly and the setting is perfect. This has been a joy to read.

Overall, a fantastic romance with very credible characters and a believable story. 5 stars.

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

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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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