Review of ‘I’m gonna make you love me’ by Tracey Richardson.

Claire Melbourne is a newspaper editor who lost a big story to a mistake by young intern Ellie Kirkland. After firing her for the error, they meet by chance and realise that they have some things in common, like the love for Motown music and Claire’s 1965 Mustang. Their budding relationship will have them both questioning their values and life choices. Will they have a chance together?

This book is not only a romance and an exploration of human relationships, but also a tribute to Motown music. The novel and every chapter are titled after a well known song of that era. In the author’s note, Ms. Richardson says that she grew up listening to this music and it’s part of her identity. I’m not a fan of Motown myself but I agree when the author says that this genre make people dance even to songs about heartbreak. It is such an upbeat music style. The tribute to that era is completed with a great inanimate secondary character: a 1965 red convertible Mustang.

Like a typical age-gap romance, Ms. Richardson has her older character pondering on the wisdom of getting involved with someone 16 years younger but, ‘I’m gonna make you love me’ goes beyond this. Both main characters have mother complex, low self-esteem and insecurity issues that make them well-rounded and interesting. The author slowly builds their relationship from their initial antagonism to a sizzling chemistry. Their intimate scenes are well written and Claire’s body image issues makes them even more realistic.

The secondary characters are multi-layered, specially Claire’s best friend Jackson and Ellie’s twin sister Erin. The twins are the daughters of a lesbian couple with high expectations and the reader gets invested in their search for their own identity and independent life choices. It’s good to see a lesbian couple that is not idealised in the plot; Ellie’s mothers are as flawed as they come. The fact that all the names in the family start with ‘E’ is a bit confusing and both mothers are hard to tell apart, at least at the beginning. Two very cute dogs complete the mixed cast.

The story is gripping to read not only regarding the characters’ personal struggles, but also thanks to the secondary plot that gives a glimpse into the world of investigative reporting, the role of the media and journalism ethic dilemmas. I’d say that beyond the music references, there is a bit of the author’s own experience in this book. Like Claire, Ms. Richardson was a newspaper editor and the reader can appreciate the pieces of her own professional and personal wisdom which makes the story all the more entertaining.

Overall, a very good age-gap romance that explores life choices and family relationships with a side story of investigative journalism. 4.5 stars.

ARC provided by the author 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 ‘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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