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 ‘Bring Holly home’ by A.E. Radley.

Fashion magazine editor Victoria Hastings discovers while staying in Paris that her former assistant Holly Carter, who allegedly abandoned the job, is in hospital with amnesia. Victoria is adamant to bring Holly back home and help her recover but, in the process, both women will undergo a journey of mutual discovery of their feelings.

This is another novel based on the Devil wears Prada trope which normally features an age gap relationship and an ice queen against a more lively character. The peculiarity of this novel is that Holly suffers from amnesia which brings additional conflicts to the plot.

The novel is written in third person from the point of view of three characters: the leads Victoria and Holly and Victoria’s friend Gideon. While the main characters are well-rounded, I didn’t feel their chemistry until the very end maybe because the reader is told about the characters’ feelings more than shown by their actions. The secondary characters are a bit stereotyped and Victoria’s children sometimes act too mature for their ages.

All in all, the story is entertaining with some funny and humorous moments and a good twist at the end. Depite some situations feel a bit far-fetched, it’s a good read if you don’t take things too seriously.

Overall, an entertaining read based on the Devil wears Prada trope. 3.5 stars.

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Review of ‘Breaking character’ by Lee Winter.

When famous British actress Elizabeth Thornton shares the set with American former child prodigy Summer Hayes, a series of random accidents made the press portray them as girlfriends. The mistake escalates when a French director offers the pair a career changing role assuming that they can act on set the intimacy they share as a couple. How hard could it be to fake a relationship for a while?

Lee Winter knows how to write a story about older ice queens and inexperienced younger women who idolise them. For instance, icy political correspondent Catherine Ayers and entertainment journalist Lauren King in ‘The red files’; or ruthless assassin Natalya Tsvetnenko and her naive target Alison Ryan in ‘Requiem for immortals’; or media mogul boss Elena Bartell and crime reporter Maddie Grey in ‘The brutal truth’. In ‘Breaking character’, Ms. Winter explores a fake relationship of the celebrity variety between two actresses playing as a couple and how their relationship evolves as they share more than their professional lives.

This book is great on character building, from the mains and the secondary to the ‘real’ and the ‘fictional’. Winter does a great job at portraying each one. Some you’ll love, others you’ll despise, but every single one of them have their defined nuances. So much so that the reader is able to witness the transition from actress to film character, how they cope with the emotional strain of acting and how they bare themselves literally and metaphorically. The same happens with secondary characters. For example, each one of Elizabeth’s friends represent a different type of Hollywood celebrity: the self-centrered, the womaniser, the introvert, the eccentric genius, etc.

‘Breaking character’ gives a good insight about an actress’ profession: how they expose their feelings and bodies, how they get typecast by their looks or age, how high is the price of fame and how competitive and cut-throat Hollywood could be. The romance is very slow-burn but, in my opinion, it feels a bit rushed at the end. However, this is an entertaining and engaging read that won’t disappoint Lee Winter’s fans.

Overall, a very good read using the fake relationship, celebrity romance trope. Critical, entertaining and absorbing. 4.5 stars.

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

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