Review of ‘A bittersweet garden’ by Caren J. Werlinger.

4.25 Stars. This was another good book by Werlinger. It seems like every time I read a new Werlinger book, I have lower expectations than I should. She is a damn good writer and I don’t know why I keep forgetting that. I need to read more of her back catalog. She is too good of a writer to only remember her when a new book comes out. Anyway, this was a good, sweet lesfic romance with a paranormal twist.

The story is about Nora, who is spending a long summer vacation in Ireland. She is renting a cottage in a small town where her relatives are from. Nora quickly falls in love with Ireland and its people. She also can’t help but have an attraction to horse trainer Briana, who works for her cousins. While exploring Ireland and friendship with Briana, Nora realizes there is more to her rental cottage than meets the eye. The cottage is haunted and it seems like the ghost might have a message for her.

I really enjoyed this read. I was hooked after the first few pages and only put the book down because it was late and sleep could no longer wait. This book actually reminded me a little of ‘When the Stars Sang’, which I also really enjoyed. Of course, it is quite different because of the paranormal twist, but I think fans of that book will enjoy this one too.

The romance is very sweet. If I remember correctly the sex scenes are all fade to black. That is not my first choice, but the mains had a strong enough connection that I didn’t miss reading that extra intimacy.

Besides the mains, the secondary characters really added to the story. Werlinger is good at making you feel as a reader that you really are in a small Irish town. There was also a little mystery and suspense with the paranormal angle so this book had plenty to keep me entertained.

If you are a Werlinger fan or a paranormal-romance fan, I recommend this. I actually don’t think you have to be a big paranormal fan to still enjoy this. The book is so well written that the paranormal part doesn’t seem so unbelievable after all.

An ARC was given to me for an honest review.

Review of ‘Breaking down her walls’ by Erin Zak.

Julia Finch is a city girl used to constantly run away from her conflicted past and never settle anywhere. After dealing with her biological parents’ rejection she leaves Chicago towards the west. Her car breaks down somewhere in rural Colorado. Alone and without money, she gets a job as a ranch hand but when she meets the enigmatic and gorgeous ranch owner Elena Bennett, all bets are off. Will their attraction be enough to stop Julia from running?

This is an entertaining romance set in rural Colorado where the author grew up. Her descriptions of nature and the landscape are very picturesque along with her accounts of what ranch life is all about.

‘Breaking down her walls’ is written in third person in present tense from the exclusive point of view of Julia. Some readers might not be comfortable with the choice of present tense despite it isn’t as uncommon as one would think. Normally present tense provides a more intimate and immediate relationship with the character, it intensifies the emotions and the connection with the character’s consciousness. I personally haven’t issues with the present tense narrative but I think that Ms. Zak doesn’t use the intimacy with her character in its full potential. There were moments when the author tells us how Julia feels instead of showing it and the closeness is temporarily lost. But other moments, like Julia’s connection with her horse are really well done. Hands down, Leia is the best horse character I’ve read in lesfic.

It took me approximately half the book to feel the chemistry between the mains possibly because Elena’s character was harder to grasp. Maybe that was the author’s intention as it shows how Julia sees her. However, once the connection is established, the chemistry is strong and the intimate scenes are very realistic and hot. Unlike many lesfic books, the conflict around 80% mark doesn’t feel contrived or forced and the resolution makes sense within the plot.

Overall, an entertaining romance for nature and horse lovers. 3.5 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Riding the track’ by Kara Ripley.

Kara Ripley is the pseudonym of Rebecca Langham, the author of sci-fi novel ‘Beneath the surface’. ‘Riding the track’ is a novella set in South Australia where Clara Adler heads from California on a horse riding vacation. The problem is that the holiday was planned by her cheating ex boyfriend and Clara hasn’t ridden a horse in years and isn’t too keen on camping trips. To say that she’s thrown out of her comfort zone is an understatement but the amazing landscape, her friendly trip companions and an enigmatic sexy cowgirl will change her holiday experience completely.

This is an enjoyable road-trip book by Ms. Ripley. Written in first person from Clara’s point of view, the reader sees the beautiful and wild landscape through her eyes. The author’s depictions of the scenery are vivid as well as the close contact with the animals and nature. The dialogues are well written, with sarcasm, humour and wittiness. Clara talks to all different kinds of people, including the reader, and we can slowly witness her transformation from annoyance to enjoyment. The chemistry between the main characters is hot as the South Australian weather though I think that the book ends a bit abruptly and might disappoint some readers. Maybe the author is planning on writing a sequel or otherwise this novella might have benefited from a few more chapters. Despite this, it’s a really entertaining and light read.

Overall, an enjoyable read with a beautiful setting. 4 stars.

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

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Review of ‘Amounting to nothing’ by Karis Walsh

I’ve enjoyed a couple of books by this author so I’ve decided to give it a go. This book is number 3 of the ‘Tacoma Mounted Police’ series but there’s no need to read them in order. However, there are a few references to characters and events of the previous books that I couldn’t put in the right context.
According to the publisher, this book’s genre is intrigue & thriller / romance but it’s more of the latter. The murder investigation is in the background most of the time, like an excuse to showcase the romance. So if you are looking for a thriller, you are going to find something like an armchair detective investigation instead, a bit like an Agatha Christie book with the murderer’s self confession included.
Regarding the pace of the story, I found it sometimes too slow and descriptive and other times too fast and telling facts as an afterthought. The romance part was ok but nothing extraordinary there either.
Overall, an ok read if you like Agatha Christie with a lesbian twist. 3 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Swelter’ by D. Jackson Leigh

This is the first book I’ve read by this author because somehow none of her previous work caught my attention. Even though I live in semi-rural Ireland, I’m not into horses but for some strange reason I decided to give this book a try. I started reading it without any expectations so I cannot say I’m disappointed though I’m not thrilled either.
The story has many levels: the similar betrayal suffered by the main characters, their romantic involvement, Teal’s harassment by the press, August’s chase by a drug cartel and her management of the ranch. All these plots and subplots, along with the big number of secondary characters (human and animal) make it a huge challenge for the writer who, at times, seems to be biting off more than she can chew. As a result, some parts of the book seem more resolved than others, which can be frustrating and annoying. Luckily for the romance fans, the love part is developed satisfactorily.
Overall, an ok read if you don’t mind a bit of digression or if you are into a more humane treatment of cattle. 3 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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