The Grand Reopening of Dandelion Cafe -Cherry Pie Island #1 by Jenny Oliver

REVIEW

An enticing tale of love, family and believing in yourself.

Annie essentially ran away from her childhood home to escape the mistakes of her past, but when she is left the Dandelion Cafe in her father’s will she has no choice other than to return.  She does, however, have the choice on whether to stay or not.

Matt ran away from his past too, only now his past doesn’t want anything to do with him.  Leaving his son, River, behind was a mistake that Matt is now trying to amend but River is not going to make it easy for him.

Throughout the book, Annie is very undecided about what she wants for her future.  She is torn between her design business and not letting go of the cafe. She has friends on one side encouraging her to give it a go and family on the other (her brother) telling her to get rid.  she also has the same choices to make as far as Matt goes…does she stay or does she go?

There are some wonderful characters in this story. Martha, Ludo and River at the cafe, Annie’s friend, Holly, her mother, Winifred, who has some very good words of wisdom when needed.  And let’s not forget her brother, Jonathan, who for being a doctor is a bit of an idiot and definitely a coward (I refer here to the tree incident!).

A lovely summertime read.  Perfect for relaxing in the garden and just letting your mind drift away to Cherry Pie Island.

Rating 4/5

Synopsis

When Annie White steps back onto Cherry Pie Island, it’s safe to say her newly inherited Dandelion Café has seen better days! And while her childhood home on the Thames-side island idyll is exactly the same retreat from the urban bustle of London she remembers, Annie’s not convinced that Owner of The Dandelion Cafe is a title she’ll be keeping for long. Not that she can bear the idea of letting her dedicated, if endearingly disorganized staff lose their jobs. Plus café life does also have the added bonus of working a stone’s throw away from millionaire Matt and his disarmingly charming smile!

One (shoestring budget) café makeover, a few delightful additions to the somewhat retro menu and a lot of cherry pie tastings later, The Dandelion Café is ready for its grand reopening! But once she’s brought the dilapidated old café back to life, Annie finds herself wishing her stay on the island was just a bit longer. She always intended to go back to the big city…but could island living finally have lured her back home for good?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24914827-the-grand-reopening-of-dandelion-cafe)

Shopping for a CEO’s Honeymoon – Shopping for a Billionaire #14 by Julia Kent

REVIEW

I think I love Andrew and Amanda a little bit more with each book I read.  Amanda is definitely Andrew’s soulmate and doesn’t take any of his overbearing, egotistical nonsense, although she has plenty of ‘ammunition’ following the gun awareness course!

Definitely an interesting way to spend your honeymoon. Although I can’t believe with that many rooms in the house they couldn’t find one without a workman in it. Lots of decisions and future plans made.  Loved Andrews declaration about his feelings when he holds Ellie.

Great to see my other favourite couple, Declan and Shannon, making an appearance along with little baby, Ellie. Shannon is a natural at motherhood. I remember those day of blowouts, I don’t care what the nappy/diaper manufacturers say, there is nothing that holds it in! Terry also makes a flying visit, I’m hopeful we will see more of him in the future and that he gets his own happy ever after.

Besides a very brief scene with Pam, there are no parents in this book.  I love Maria and James but sometimes they have a tendency to dominate.  It was really nice to just have the ‘kids’ and focus on their stories.

Looking forward to the next instalment in this brilliant series.

Synopsis

He says we never had a proper honeymoon. 

So, instead, he’s giving me… a prepper honeymoon? 

Who knew billionaire preppers were a thing? 

I guess I’m about to find out. 

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39868621-shopping-for-a-ceo-s-honeymoon)

Model Boyfriend by Stuart Reardon, Jane Harvey-Berrick

REVIEW

An emotional roller-coaster ride of love that spans oceans but always comes home.

I absolutely loved Nick and Anna’s story in Undefeated and I’m so glad that Stuart and Jane brought them back to us again in this book.  I was a bit uncertain, apprehensive almost, about reading Model Boyfriend because the end of the the first book left them in such a happy place that I didn’t want to have bad things happen…call me a hopeless romantic if you must, I am! But trust me when I say that I so glad that I did.

Nick has retired from rugby and finds himself a complete loose end.  Having nothing to do just doesn’t sit right with him, but what can he do? When he is asked to pose for a sports calendar for charity he reluctantly agrees and finds that he actually quite enjoys it. But the road to modelling is paved with very uneven bricks and even Nick ‘The Rocket’ Renshaw stumbles along the way.

Anna is amazing. She is supportive, loving and understanding, sometimes a little too much.  Half the time I didn’t know if I wanted to hug them both or bang their heads together!

As well as being a love story it also touches on a couple of hard hitting issues – Drug addiction in athletes and the acceptance of gay sportsman in rugby.  As a romance novel reader and not much of a sports person I have never really given much thought to these issues, but following the problems with Nick and Grégoire I now have an awareness of these issues and how they can effect people.  I loved the way Grég dealt with his issue on the bus.

Brendan, oh Brendan! What can I say about this highly charismatic character except I think I will miss him the most.  He is such a bright, shining star, the voice of reason, and the shoulder to cry on.  I am so immensely happy with the way things turned out for him.

Although Model Boyfriend can be read as a standalone it would be much better to read Undefeated first, and if you haven’t read it yet…why not? A wonderful sports romance that will have your heart racing and the tears flowing (Chapter 36, I’m saying no more!)

(Please read my review for Undefeated by Stuart Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick)

And as an added bonus there are modelling shots of Stuart Reardon interspersed throughout the book…sigh!

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

“What’s it like dating one of the most beautiful men in the world? A man whose face is on every magazine and ad campaign?

Not as much fun as it sounds, as Anna Scott is about to find out.

Retired from rugby at the age of 33, injured and bored, Nick is given the chance to enter the high stakes world of fashion photography as a model.

But behind the glittering façade lies an ugly reality: drugs, alcohol, all the deadly sins, and people willing to sleep their way to the top.

It’s a tough life and tougher on relationships.

Nick needs to learn to navigate the treacherous path quickly or risk losing it all—including the woman who has become his reason for living.

In this glamorous world, there is no room for error. Being a MODEL BOYFRIEND has never been harder.

Can nice guy Nick find his way through, or will he be tempted to risk it all? Because the one thing he despises is failure.

He’s a lot more than a pretty face.”

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40550491-model-boyfriend)

The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

REVIEW

Humorous and heartwarming.  This book is the tale of a thirty+ year old singleton who isn’t ‘looking’ but really would like to have that special someone.

The problem that faces Polly Spencer is finding the ‘right’ someone.

With her best friend’s wedding looming, Polly doesn’t want to attend alone, especially when everyone around her seems to have their ‘plus one’. When an interview leads to a possible relationship she grabs it with both hands despite the warnings and her own gut instinct.  Could legendary playboy Jasper Milton be that special someone?

Polly faces several challenges including some weird and wonderful interviews as part of her job at “Posh!” magazine, a troubled time with her mum,  and a weekend hen party in Norfolk, throw in the antics of her “boyfriend” and you’ve got an emotional mix that will have you laughing one minute and shouting at her not to be so stupid the next!

A little predictable but all in all a really nice read.

Synopsis

The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38733836-the-plus-one)

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

REVIEW

One of the many classics, and the first book written by Jane Austen, has deep and meaningful undertones. The title itself tells so much about the story to follow.

Elinor is the eldest of three sisters and by far the most sensible. She keeps her emotions private and always presents herself in the correct manner. She is in direct contrast to her younger sister, Marianne, who believes that emotions should be shown and not hidden away. Both girls feel the bitter taste of heartbreak but deal with it in completely different ways, Elinor hides her pain behind a closed-off mask, whereas Marianne is open and direct about her feelings.

The story is beautifully written and although the language used may seem old (it is over a hundred years old!) it is easy to follow and adds to the character of the story. The way that Austen describes the countryside, the cottage, the park etc. had me drawn into the world of the Dashwood’s and living in that time with horses, carriages, 2/3 day journeys to ‘town’ (London) and days spent reading or drawing.

The male characters in the book are as diverse as the female. On the one hand is Edward Ferrars, quiet and unassuming, and on the other is John Willoughby, ostentatious and forthright. My feelings are definitely mixed for Willoughby. He is believed to be a man of little integrity and the cause of much heartache to poor Marianne, and to some extent he is, but towards the end of the story, during a heart-to-heart with Elinor, my feelings for him did change. I am still far happier with the outcome for both the girls and believe that they would have lead much happier and enjoyable lives with the men they finally found love with.

Lovely story of love and heartbreak.

Synopsis

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14935.Sense_and_Sensibility)

My Champion – Knights of de Ware #1 by Glynnis Campbell

REVIEW

An entertaining and exciting tale of honour, loyalty and love, with a hint of Pride and Prejudice thrown in.

Linet de Montfort has been brought up to believe that all commoners are the same as her money-grabbing mother.  This is the exact opposite to Duncan de Ware’s upbringing. When Duncan first see’s the fiery tempered angel he knows that he can never let harm come to her and vows to protect her with his life.  Linet, mistaking Duncan as a beggar, tries to relinquish Duncan of his vow but the longer they are together and the more trouble they find themselves in, the more her feelings grow for him.

I can understand Linet’s feelings having been brought up the way she was, however her blindness to the true Duncan does get a bit annoying after a while. With all the evidence to the contrary she still believes him to be a commoner and therefore not someone her title would deem suitable for her.

Despite Linet’s prejudice towards him, Duncan is steadfastly loyal to her.  I really liked Duncan’s character.  His whole personality screams loyalty, humanity and understanding.  Besides having many children by many different women it is portrayed in the story that he would be faithful to his wife, although if I was Linet I would want to clarify this with him before I married him….any future children should come form her and her alone.

Knights, Lords, Ladies and Pirates are all encompassed within this fast-paced action story with love at the heart.

Synopsis

Sir Duncan de Ware is a sworn champion of the common man and a master of disguise.  So when he finds plucky maiden-in-distress Linet de Montfort facing off against a notorious pirate, noble Duncan goes undercover to come to her rescue, despite her insistence that she can take care of herself.  When the pirate abducts her, Duncan and Linet are caught up in a breathless adventure of danger and romance on the high seas.  And soon Linet realizes her only hope is to trust her mysterious hero—with her life and her heart.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19009284-my-champion)

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

REVIEW

A heartbreaking and heartwarming book all in one.

Lauren and Jenna are as close as sisters can be, even with an ocean between them.  Nancy, their mum, has always been more interested in her painting than what her girls are up to. And then there is Mack, Lauren’s daughter, who now at the age of sixteen is becoming increasingly distant from her mum.

When a tragedy befalls Lauren, and secrets are revealed, she and Mack return to the island of Martha’s Vineyard where her family lives to try to piece themselves back together. Over the following months more and more secrets are uncovered and truths are aired.  Each woman has her own pain to deal with but with each other to lean on they can be strong.

This is a poignant tale of decisions made and secrets kept. Would their lives have been different if the truth was told or was keeping the secret the best for everyone?  Can we learn to forgive and forget? Is living a life of misery worth it to protect our children?

This is the first book I have read by this author and I absolutely loved it.  It is beautifully written and each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the four lead female characters.  Although there is plenty of heartbreak wrapped within these pages, there is also love, tenderness and togetherness.  A great read for the beach in Summer or curled on the sofa in Winter.

ARC review for Netgalley

Synopsis

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise.  Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unravelling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, the rewards could be infinite…Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37936161-how-to-keep-a-secret)