Review of ‘Hungry hearts’ by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner.

Claudia Montgomery, a best selling author of mystery novels, is suffering from writer’s block. Her agent sends her to ‘Hungry Hearts’ a Bed & Breakfast in a small seaside town to find inspiration for her next novel. Kate Ferguson was a successful archaeologist who had to quit her career to care for her twin nieces in her mother’s B&B. When Claudia and Kate meet, their attraction is undeniable but could they find love in each other?

This is a very slow-burn romance between main characters in their mid forties. The story is set in a small seaside town with the typical meddling of its inhabitants. Most of the time, the tone of the story is whimsical and humorous, similar to Robin Alexander’s style, so I’m not sure if it’ll appeal to all romance fans. For me, this read would have been better if the chemistry between the main characters was stronger.

The novel is generally well written though sometimes the balance between showing and telling is off. In my opinion, the most enjoyable parts of the story is when the authors give an insight into the writing process through Claudia’s creative struggles.

There are a good number of secondary characters, mostly town residents, but the ones that steal the show are Kate’s nieces. The 10 year-old twins are as much main characters as the leading couple. They are very precocious for their age and their use of language and social skills are similar to an adult’s. I personally didn’t find them completely believable but they were definitely likeable.

Overall, a good slow-burn romance with a cast of unconventional characters. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Review of ‘Charming memory’ by E.L. Bossert.

Jamie Jordan is a famous actress whose son Max is saved from being run over by a truck. Max survived unscathed but the rescuer suffered severe head injuries. As a result, the savior lost her memory and has no recollections of her identity. Jamie is attracted to the mysterious woman who has a refreshing disregarding attitude towards Jamie’s fame and money. But under those strange circumstances, can they find a happily ever after?

This is a debut book and unfortunately the reader can tell. It would have benefited from
a more thorough editing process. The choice of an omniscient point of view with multiple characters without clear transitions confused me. I think that maybe writing this story from the point of view of both main characters would have helped in developing the story better.

Having said that, the chemistry between the main characters was believable and the intimate scenes were well written. The main plot idea was good in combining the amnesia and celebrity tropes but it just needed a better execution.

Overall, 2.5 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Review of ‘Full English’ by Rachel Spangler.

Emma Volant is an American best-selling author that, after a nasty divorce, decides to leave the US for a small town in North Eastern England. Full of insecurities and low self esteem, she slowly starts to interact with people in the village, specially Brogan McKay, the pub’s bartender and job multitasker. As Emma and Brogan’s friendship grows so does their mutual attraction, but, Emma needs time to heal and Brogan thinks Emma is out of her league. Will they have a happily ever after?

According to the author, this book was conceived after Ms. Spangler and her family spent 9 months living in the north east of England. In her notes, the author described the challenges of writing a book set in England with American and English main characters. As a reader based in Northern Ireland, I appreciate her efforts to explain her spelling choices and pronunciation guidelines for the otherwise perplexing Irish names. I’ve heard so many times people butchering my sons’ Irish names that her endeavour is appreciated.

This book is as much a romance as a crash course in British culture. The author goes beyond highlighting the obvious differences in spellings and regional words and opens up a world of different types of food, habits and social conventions. I found that Ms. Spangler researched the issue well and I found her descriptions of the landscape, the weather and social classes’ issues very realistic. As a foreigner in the UK, I concur with Emma’s problems while driving on the left side and her newfound love for scones and clotted cream!

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, I found the book slow in developing the romance mainly because there are a good number of secondary characters and a whole set of cultural differences that needed to be introduced. Some readers who aren’t interested in the clash of cultures or life in small towns might find the pace of the romance too slow. However, once the romance part of the story starts developing, their personal issues and their conflict is realistic and credible.

Having said that, while in most of the book both characters voiced their feelings so well, the later stages of their conflict felt a bit forced. The secondary characters are well rounded, even considering that there were lots of them. While I recognise the ubiquitous gossip of small towns, I’m not convinced that the meddling in the mains’ love life is characteristic of British or Irish families. The McKays might be an exception but, in my experience, I find that both British and Irish people, while they love their gossip, they tend not to voice or meddle with other people’s affairs. That’s my only criticism in the depiction of British and Irish cultures as I found that the rest was spot-on.

Overall, a very good story about American and British culture clash with a moving romance at the side. 4.5 stars.

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

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com