Persuasion by Jane Austen

REVIEW

I would have to say that I think this is one of my favourite Jane Austen books.  The characters are intriguing and the humour, especially associated with Mary, made me chuckle. Captain Wentworth is definitely deserving of Anne, she is smart, funny and not prone to hysterics.  The break-up of their original engagement may not have been what they both wanted but sometimes it takes time and separation to realise what you have and what you want.  Anne was young, still a teenager, without guiding parents and siblings, she only had Lady Russell to turn to.  I think she did what was best and she knew deep in her heart that he would come back, otherwise she would have accepted Charles’ offer of marriage and not remained single for the next 12 years.

The ending came about a bit swift.  I have found this with several of Austen’s books.  There is such a big build up throughout the story and the romantic ending and conclusion to all that has happened is over in a matter of a pages.  I would have liked to have read about the confrontation with Mr Elliot and Mrs Clay prior to them departing.

Thoroughly enjoyable read, probably my 2nd favourite.

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

 At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31693.Persuasion)

 

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

REVIEW

A truly stunning story of family unity, unconditional love, and facing untold fears.

Suzanne and Stewart used to love nothing more than climbing rock faces and mountains and delving into adventures unknown, that is until an horrendous accident claimed the lives of four people leaving three little girls with no parents. Moving back to Scotland, Suzanne and Stewart embark on the next adventure in their lives, following through on a promise and raising the girls as their own.

Hannah, Beth and Posy could not be more different if they tried.  Hannah is a workaholic with her head either in a book or staring at a spreadsheet. Beth is a stay-at-home mum with two young girls, a husband and what appears to be the ‘perfect life’.  Posy is the adventurer – who has never left home.  Each sister envies the others for the lives they live, their confidence and knowing just what they want from life. But, with the 25th anniversary of their parents death looming, the girls are going to find that what is shown on the surface is rarely what lies beneath.

I adored this book.  The bond between the sisters may appear strained and ready to snap but when they are needed they are there for each other.  The lives that they lead are so different but in the end they all want the same thing… to be loved. I really sympathised with Beth. Raising two boys there were many times that I wish I’d done what she did (I didn’t), being a mum can be very daunting but the rewards vastly outweigh the pressures and working as a team is vital. I never gave up work so I still had that adult contact but the overwhelming worry and protectiveness is always there. Hannah’s fears of love and rejection stem back to her early childhood and have ultimately effected her relationships with her sisters, parents and men. Posy is fiercely loyal to the only parents she has ever known, so much so that she dampens down her own wants and desires in favour of theirs. And all Suzanne wants is to see her children happy.

The story is beautifully written with wonderful characters that are easy to relate too. The men in the story are adorable! And each is perfectly suited to the woman they love. My heart did go out to Jason but he stepped up to mark and did Beth proud.

This is only the second book I have read by Sarah Morgan – ‘How to keep a secret’ was the first – but she is fast becoming one of my favourites. There is love and romance in this story but the main premise is the relationship between the sisters and overcoming the tragedy that shaped their lives.

Get the fire going, snuggle up with a hot chocolate and let the lives of The Christmas Sisters into your heart.

Rating 5/5

Synopsis

The McBride sisters all have different reasons for finding Christmas challenging, but their adoptive mother is determined this year will be different. As the countdown to Christmas Day begins and the sisters return to their childhood home in the Scottish Highlands, arguments, connections and secrets start bubbling to the surface. The McBride family was made, not born – but will the sisters be able to make this the magical family Christmas their mother has always dreamed of?

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39775954-the-christmas-sisters)

 

 

High Risk – Point of No Return #1 by Brenna Aubrey

REVIEW

Brenna Aubrey has done it again. Following on from the amazing ‘Gaming the System’ series, she brings us two new enigmatic characters in the form of Gray Barrett and Ryan Tyler.

As a little girl, Gray dreamed about space, rockets, planets and astronauts, unfortunately she dreamed of them all from the confines of a hospital bed. Now as a grown woman her dream of working with astronauts is within her grasp. Gray is an almost qualified psychologist who works for Xventure, the company that makes rockets and the first to devise a commercial program to send astronauts into space, known as XPAC.

Commander Ryan Tyler is the fallen-from-grace hero who has spent the past year in a haze of drunken parties and women. As the new face of XPAC he needs to clean up his act and the dubious task is placed in the unwilling hands of Gray. The time they spend together gradually brings them closer as Ryan finds that his former life is not what he wants or needs. What he needs is Gray, but can he keep hold of her?

Gray is the quiet, geeky, nerd girl. She is not impervious to the charms and looks of Commander Ryan Tyler but she does put up a strong fight to resist him. When Gray moves into his house to ‘babysit’ him, Ryan needs to find ways of distracting her…sleeping with her should work but she doesn’t fall at his feet like most women do. There is also something that has happened in the past between Gray and Ryan that Gray remembers but Ryan doesn’t. It is a recurring point throughout the book but is not revealed, I am guessing we will find out what this secret is in the next book.

Great to see the familiar character of Adam Drake pop up in this story. There are also lots of other great characters, Pari, Victoria, Tolan, Kirill and not forgetting the lovely Keely. Keely was a surprise, I thought I was going to hate her character for the part she is playing, but she is actually really sweet and knows the feelings that Gray and Ryan have for each other, can’t help but like her.

If you have never read the ‘Gaming the System’ series, I can highly recommend it but it is not vital to have read it before you read this series. For anyone who likes their men hot, their women strong and whole lot of sci-fi book and film references thrown in together then you will love this. The book finishes on a bit of a cliffhanger and I am now on tender-hooks having to wait another 2 months to find out what happens!

Rating 5/5

ARC review courtesy of NetGalley

Synopsis

Commander Ryan Tyler is a true American hero–a former Navy SEAL and the man who saved the International Space Station. Yet he couldn’t save the best friend who died in his place. Fallout from that tragic accident thrust Ty into a dark and dangerous lifestyle, but when he’s given the unexpected chance to fly again, he grabs it.

Gray Barrett never imagined that her dream job as a flight psychologist would depend upon keeping an astronaut-gone-wild on the straight and narrow. Yet here she is, babysitting the gorgeous and insufferably cocky Ryan Tyler. Everything hangs on his ability to maintain a new image for the public eye to make up for past sins. But as they spend time together, she’s drawn to the shattered man who refuses to let anyone through the impenetrable façade he’s built around himself.

Their goals are firmly in place and almost within grasp. The only thing that could screw it up is falling in love.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41838807-high-risk)

Chasing Shadows – First Wives #3 by Catherine Bybee

REVIEW

This is the third book in the First Wives series and, although I haven’t yet read the previous two, I wasn’t really in much doubt as to whether I would enjoy it as I have already read the entire Weekday Brides series and loved them.

Love is a funny thing. It can sneak up on the most unsuspecting person. Avery Grant doesn’t do love, in fact she doesn’t do relationships full stop. She married her last husband purely for the money, a mutual agreement, but definitely not for love.

Following a traumatic experience a year ago, Avery has become even more closed off emotionally. She lets men into her bed but they had better not still be there in the morning.  Learning Krav Maga has helped restore Avery’s confidence but she still freezes when her back hits the mat.

Liam Holt doesn’t know what came over him when he saw the woman in the bar but doing work in her gym just to meet her does seem a little extreme, and offering to be her sparring partner is just insane! But, as they grow closer and Avery begins to regain her memory of past events, can she trust in Liam and, more importantly, can she trust in herself?

I have to admit that I absolutely love Liam!  He is one of the most down to earth characters I have come across.  There are no airs and graces, you take him as you find him.  Where Avery may be the warrior, Liam is definitely a fighter. And the understanding he has of Avery’s insecurities if just heartwarming.

Learning to trust in someone can be a very difficult process, especially if you have never had to do it before. This story encompasses the human need to share, allowing others to carry some of the burden, opening up our minds and our hearts and trusting that they will do right by them.

I wasn’t expecting the ending as it happened but I am so proud of Avery (can you be proud of a fictional character?). She had the opportunity to make so many different choices but, in my opinion, she made the right one.

These books are essentially standalone but it really is advisable to read them in order. I will most certainly be reading the first two in this series very soon and possibly rereading the Weekday Brides – love Sam, Blake and all the gang!

Rating 5/5

Arc review courtesy of Netgalley

Synopsis

Avery Grant doesn’t date. Her first marriage was a mutually beneficial contract that gave her the financial freedom she needed to step away from her controlling parents. Wealthy and single, the last thing she’s looking for is love sneaking in to mess up her life plans. And after a brutal attack, she’s determined to never be vulnerable again, even if the new man in her life helps her feel safe.

Mesmerized from the moment he sets his eyes on Avery, Liam is driven to learn everything about this tough, sexy, challenging woman. Breaking down her defenses won’t be easy, but Liam refuses to be pushed away. All he needs is a tiny crack in Avery’s armor to wiggle his way into her heart.

But when a terrifying lie about her attacker’s fate comes to light, Avery’s past returns to haunt her. Now she’s willing to put herself in danger to get the answers she needs. That means jeopardizing the best thing that’s ever happened to her: Liam.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39792615-chasing-shadows)

Emma by Jane Austen

REVIEW

A charmingly delightful story about one woman’s unsuccessful matchmaking skills!

Emma Woodhouse has decided that, at the tender age of 20, her life is settled and content and therefore she has no need or desire to marry…ever.  She does, however feel the need for everyone else to settle down and live in perfect matrimonial harmony. And so begins her project of securing a husband (of distinguished pedigree) for her friend, Harriet Smith.

Although she has a tendency towards snobbery and arrogance, I actually really like the character of Emma.  She is easily led astray and may speak before she thinks but she does have a wonderful little conscience on her shoulder in the form of Mr Knightley.

There are many interesting characters in this story – Mr. & Mrs Weston, Frank Churchill, Jane Fairfax, Harriet Smith, Mrs & Miss Bates, Mr & Mrs John Knightley, and Mr George Knightley. Oh yeah! There are also a couple of not very nice ones, namely Mr & Mr Elton. How anyone could put up with the snide, rude and overbearing Mrs Elton is anyone’s guess.  Had the story been written now, I’m sure that Emma would have had a few choice words to say to Mrs Elton, but as it is everyone seems to just tolerate her, although I do believe that Mr Knightley does get a little payback on Mr Elton towards the end.

Emma’s attempts at matchmaking her friend, Harriet, all seem to backfire and being so wrapped up in her efforts she does not see what is right in front of her.  It is a beautiful story of friends-to-lovers, that moment when the lightning bolt finally strikes and everything becomes clear.  Mr Knightley is perfectly suited to Emma.  He is her calming influence and would do anything for her.  Is Emma deserving on Mr Knightley?  I think so.  Mr Knightley confesses that he has loved her since she was 12 years old, and I believe that if Emma thought hard about it she would realise that she has loved him for just as long.

This is a story filled with misunderstandings, secrets, and romance.  Love her or hate her, Emma is definitely one of my favourite romance heroines.

Synopsis

Clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6969.Emma)

Eight Goodbyes by Christine Brae

REVIEW

Oh WOW!  What an amazing book from start to finish.  I felt a bit like Simon going on the Ferris wheel while reading this book, excited and nervous, emotional with every turn, but so glad I took the chance when it was finished.

Christine Brae is new author for me and I’m so pleased I tried this one (ok, having Stu Reardon as the cover model may have swayed my decision!) The character’s are wonderfully written, Tessa with her carefree ways, and Simon with his ridged determination.  Tessa is a lovely character.  She has had to deal with the loss of her parents and this has caused an emotional drawback for her when it comes to falling in love.  Simon knows, as soon as he lays eyes on Tessa, that she is the one. And so begins the journey that sees the couple meeting and parting in different locations around the world over the course of several months.

This is such a beautiful story and I’ll admit I was on tender-hooks at some stages and sobbing like a baby at others.  Simon is an adorable man and fully deserved to fall in love, it is such a shame that time was lost but maybe it was needed.   Tessa had to deal with everything the only way she knew how and it worked for a while but whether you believe in destiny or not, these two belonged together.

Keep the tissues handy, you will need them by the end of part 1, most of the way through part 2 and again for part 3! Loved it!

RATING 5/5

Synopsis

When Tessa Talman meets Simon Fremont for the first time, not only is she attracted to him, she’s intrigued by how different their lives are. He’s a dedicated scientist, practical, pragmatic, and grounded—while she’s a head-in-the-clouds romance author. As their relationship grows, they agree to meet in places around the world, while continuing to live on opposite sides of the globe.

Though their feelings for each other deepen, their priorities remain the same. Simon is in a hurry to be financially sound and settle down, but Tessa is enjoying her freedom and newfound success. Neither is willing to give in, but as each goodbye gets harder, Tessa begins to wonder whether fame is the path to happiness, or if she has everything she needs in Simon.

Just as Tessa finds the courage to go after her own happily ever after, the unthinkable happens, separating them in ways they never imagined. 

To move forward, she must let go of the past, and determine once and for all if love is truly more powerful than the pain of goodbye.

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29493317-eight-goodbyes)

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

REVIEW

This is a new author to me and I really like finding out whether I will enjoy an authors work or not.  It took me a while to get into this book.  There are a lot of characters, and it was a little confusing at first trying to remember who was with whom and how they were connected, but after the first couple of chapters I soon had it sorted.

The story is about nine friends, who spend every New Year’s eve together.   This year they have hired a lodge and cabins in the Highlands of Scotland.  The only other people around are Heather – the manager, Doug – the Gamekeeper, Liam – the handyman, and two unexpected Icelandic travellers. To say that nobody has the New Year that they are expecting is an understatement!

This is a mystery with a twist. Not only do we not know who the murderer is until the very end, we also don’t know who the victim is.  It certainly was an interesting way of writing the story that keeps the reader wondering  and trying to piece information together about who either party could be.  There is a lot of backstory about the characters throughout this book which does have relevance when it is all tied together but I wouldn’t say that there was anything definitive to give the game away, but that is just me.

The story is told from the point of view of three of the female ‘friends’, as well as Heather and Doug. It also switches between the past and the present, which adds some more intrigue to the story as we still don’t know who has died.  Very well written in that regard.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it is well written and has some very interesting characters. I will be reading more by this author in future.

Rating 4/5

ARC Review – Courtesy of Netgalley

Synopsis

The Hunting Party is the author’s first crime novel and is described as combining elements of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None (HarperCollins) and The Secret History (Penguin) by Donna Tartt.

The novel follows a a tight-knit group of Oxford university alumni as they celebrate New Year’s Eve in the wilderness of the Loch Corrin Estate in Scotland. A HarperFiction spokesperson said: “In these wild, white climes the group reminisce, go deer stalking, and hide friendship-destroying secrets, secrets that set a razor-sharp sequence of events in motion, culminating with a broken body in the snow.”  

(https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37642030-the-hunting-party)