Review of ‘The road ahead’ by A.E. Radley.

Two days before Christmas, all flights from the south of Portugal are grounded due to technical problems. Among the passengers stranded are Rebecca Edwards and Arabella Henley, two strangers that decide to share the last rental car and drive the 1,500 miles back to London. The women can’t be any different and even incompatible but they’ll soon discover that the journey is also of self discovery and mutual understanding.

This is book one of the ‘Around the World’ series by this author which is followed by ‘The Big Uneasy’. Much of this book is spent in the building up of the mains’ friendship so, I suggest that in order to appreciate this story fully, you commit to read both books in chronological order.

‘The road ahead’ follows the ‘opposites attract’ formula and indeed, these women couldn’t be any different. Rebecca is in her late twenties, middle class and a lesbian while Arabella is in her early forties, upper class and – allegedly – straight. They are profoundly different but the author excels in transforming their relationship from the awkwardness of two strangers sharing a small space to find a common ground and to establish a budding friendship. This is where the book earned my 4 stars.

Unfortunately I couldn’t feel their romantic chemistry as much as their friendship bond. Maybe because the author doesn’t get the reader enough into Arabella’s headspace to see her musings about her life’s choices and sexuality, her romantic decisions come through as a bit forced and rushed. It doesn’t help either that the book finishes before their romance develops fully. So I think that this book is better appreciated as a whole with the sequel or else as a friendship story. Either way, it’s entertaining, sometimes funny, others sad, sometimes road-trip, others an inner journey.

Overall, an entertaining age-gap, opposites attract romance better enjoyed with its sequel. 4 stars.

ARC provided to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Emily’s art and soul’ by Joy Argento.

Emily Sanders is facing a few challenges in life. She’s recently divorced from her husband, her mum passed away and she has to take care of her 23 year old Down syndrome sister. But the biggest challenge of all comes in the shape of her new co-worker, Andi Marino who is beautiful, caring and a lesbian. Andi not only becomes her best friend but makes Emily wonder about her own sexuality.

Despite the seriousness of certain issues touched by this novel such as bereavement, Down syndrome and coming out at 35, this is a positive and humorous story. Ms. Argento sets this light tone through the leads’ dialogues which are funny, full of banter and innuendo. Even Emily’s interior monologues
while examining her sexuality are amusing. Her explorations into the lesbian world provides a peculiar but, at the same time, familiar point of view. There are a few hilarious moments like the speed dating incident or the golf scene which are done really well.

Written in third person from the point of view of both main characters, the leads are well rounded and credible. As a ‘friends to lovers’ romance the author skillfully transforms their budding friendship to an increasing intimacy. Mindy, Emily’s Down syndrome sister, is a great secondary character, very realistic in her traits and interactions with other people. Her fresh outlook on life and her ‘best friend’ declarations help to keep the upbeat tone.

I think the author draw a lot of her life experience in this book (her brother has Down syndrome, it’s set in the area where she lives and, like Emily, she is an artist specialised in oil paintings) which makes the story sound really authentic. My only issue with this book is that the light tone set throughout the novel is lost temporarily in a forced conflict between the main characters. Even though the conflict seems realistic it sticks out like a sore thumb. Luckily this is a short interruption of what otherwise is a very entertaining read.

Overall, a light and humorous story of the ‘friends to lovers’ trope along with a late coming out. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘All of me’ by Emily Smith.

Dr. Galen Burguess is the chief surgical resident at Boston City Hospital. She works hard and plays hard, her reputation as a player is well known. But when she meets a new intern, Dr. Rowan Duncan, she’s soon smitten with the very reserved and very straight resident. As Galen decides not to act on her attraction, Rowan discovers new feelings for her boss. But she’s got a boyfriend waiting in Texas and she’s straight anyway, or is she?

‘All of me’ is a medical romance, Radclyffe style, with a butch/androgynous and a femme doctors as main characters in a fast and stressful hospital setting. Normally these types of books showcase several medical cases and emergency situations where patients’ lives are at risk. In this case, these elements are present with the addition of some family drama consisting of a cold and strict father (Galen’s) and a long-distance boyfriend (Rowan’s).

The medical scenes and a couple of secondary characters are the best parts of this book. However, I have a few issues that justify my low rating. My first issue is that the leads sometimes act out of character. For example, the reader is told that Rowan is shy but she acts anything but. To avoid spoilers, let me just say that both characters go through sudden and unrealistic changes from what would be their expected actions which is puzzling and sometimes downright annoying.

My other problem is that some parts of the plot are resolved very superficially, in particular Galen’s relationship with her parents. The story leads us to think this is a crucial matter while it was only mentioned in passing. It seems as if the author didn’t commit to the story completely. The main characters’ chemistry is ok but the insta-love is hard to believe.

Overall, sometimes ok, sometimes frustrating read. 2.5 stars.

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

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