One More Chance – Ali Vali

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s over a 3.5 star but not quite a four. It’s really hard to say you enjoyed something with such serious and difficult topics as domestic violence and homophobia. So I think it’s more appropriate to say I appreciated the writing.

The MCs are Harry and Desi – childhood lovers who met in third grade but due to life circumstances we no longer able to be together after high school. Harry becomes a well respected orthopaedic surgeon and happens to be in the ER the day Desi is brought into the ER after her husband makes an attempt on her life – throwing them together again in ways neither had hoped or expected.

I liked both MCs. Desi was written well to illustrate the feelings people in this situation feel (I have no experience in this situation, so I can only presume sensitivity readers were used to ensure this was accurate). Harry is definitely a character written in the ‘hero’ mould.

Once they are thrown back together a relationship does come around quickly which I struggled with slightly but could also understand. I’ve previously enjoyed books where characters have got back together after break-ups but I have tended to prefer ones where that’s a slower burn so this was a bit different for me.

I liked the secondary characters around the MCs – and even the horrible secondary characters had a purpose to the storyline. The inclusion of Serena, Rachel, Mona and Tony ensures that we see the MCs from different points of view and ensures that we get the opportunities to move away from the violence where possible.

The book comes with many warnings from my point of view, it definitely will not be for everybody, but it is definitely a well written book and from that point of view I can recommend it. I would be interested in a second part of the story.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Something Far Away and Happy – Bryce Oakley

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I’m a big fan of Oakley’s so I’m really glad I managed to finally carve out the time to read this new one. It was exactly what I needed and comes in at a solid 4.5 stars. The story starts with an epilogue where we meet Remi and Julia at college in Colorado. Their relationship is passionate and they have the belief they’re going to be together forever. Disaster strikes and their relationship is over just as quickly as it began.

We cut to ten years later, Remi is now an executive for an airline and Julia an interior designer. They’re again thrown together unexpectedly, giving them the opportunity to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew.

I loved the premise of this book. I was sceptical at first when it started with an epilogue if I’m honest, but it sets the scene really well and you start with presumptions of how you’re going to feel about the MCs that are then challenged along the way.

The intrigue that cuts through the story is done well. It sits there in the background for quite a while, making you want answers, and then provides interesting twists at just the right moments in the narrative.

The romance between Julia and Remi is believable – and whilst this does go a little bit from lovers to enemies and then instant lovers again, you can understand why. Once they move back into lovers territory the communication between them is strong and I like how they are written so as to not be making the same mistakes of the past all over again.

I enjoyed the secondary characters in the storyline and it would be nice if some of these were revisited in future instalments if this was to be made into a series. The most important secondary character for me was Stormy the dog and I enjoyed the way she was woven into the narrative.

I also really liked that this was another book I’ve read recently that didn’t throw in a major relationship blow up at about the 80% mark. The angst and intrigue in this storyline is provided by others and it focusses on how Remi and Julia deal with this as a couple rather than breaking them up again.

I’d definitely recommend this as a nice read for any romance fans – it’s currently available on KU.

The Bookshop Kiss (St Brigid’s #2) – Jenny Parker

Rating: 3 out of 5.
I like this sweet small town romance series and this second instalment was a good way to pass a couple of hours. I think I preferred the first instalment – The Girlfriend Sweater – slightly more, but this was still an enjoyable quick read that is a solid three and a half stars.

Becca is the owner of the only bookshop in St. Brigid. She prefers to spend her time with a good book and her cats Bear and Silver. Selma is a visiting literature lecturer at St. Brigid’s College for the summer. She’s looking to escape from Chicago and the tenure track.

The storyline is character driven and I liked both MCs. Selma gives off a carefree vibe, but actually deep down is troubled with the direction her life has taken. Becca has the more serious, quiet vibe initially, but has a more relaxed attitude to some things. I liked the secondary small town characters, especially Becca’s grandmother.

The angst in this narrative is driven by things from the past and not from the couple’s relationship itself, which made for a nice change. I thought the ending suited the couple and I’m looking forward to any future instalments.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Lockset – Brenda Murphy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series for a number of different reasons, so it pains me to say that this one just didn’t really hit the spot for me.

It has so many great things going for it, number one being the diversity the series brings. I enjoy the fact that Murphy wraps in diversity in a number of different ways and I hope this continues throughout the series and sets examples to others as to how to do this well.

I also like a book that includes a pet heavily so Rudy the dog was a nice incorporation for me.

I liked the small element of mystery that was threaded through the storyline with regards to Eun’s father. It was a nice addition to the romance and helped solidify the feelings Eun had regarding her father and the situation she finds herself in.

I have to agree with the other reviews, towards the end I was missing any relationship development and felt it had just been replaced with unnecessary sex scenes. I wanted something else instead to show intimacy between the MCs. I also wasn’t completely sure why we were introduced to Morgan’s ex suddenly at this point of the narrative either, unless this was a setup for her inclusion in future instalments.

I want to discuss a couple of small spoilers so I’m putting these behind the spoiler tag.

***Spoiler Start***

I didn’t enjoy the number of times other characters seemed to want to put down the relationship between Morgan and Eun, mentioning a date Morgan had been on that clearly hadn’t meaner much to her. One mention to add tension would make sense, but it seemed to be a running theme.

I actually had a point where I had to put my Kindle down and wanted to yell at the MCs. Later in the book they say to each other that they have to keep up good communication – I just wanted to scream that they don’t communicate well!! This was a bit of a theme in the first book too so I’m hoping that the MCs in the third instalment don’t have the same issue.

***Spoiler Finished***

Whilst I’m disappointed, I’d say there is still lots about this book to enjoy and I’d definitely recommend people give this series a try. I’m really just hoping the third book is about Yvonne.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Fair Trade – Sienna Waters

Rating: 3 out of 5.
This is my fourth Waters book and whilst it wasn’t my favourite of the four I did find it to be an enjoyable read.

Leigh is an American lawyer working in London. She’s a very private individual and doesn’t get on with her boss, but knows that she doesn’t want to go back to America if she loses her job. Rosie is a gardener by trade, she loves spending her time getting her hands dirty but is struggling to make a living doing what she loves. They unwittingly find themselves thrown together in an unusual situation when they meet one day in a London pub. Rosie agrees to help Leigh out by entering into a fake ‘green card’ marriage in exchange for the one thing she’s always wanted.

I haven’t read many fake relationship books, so I don’t have a lot to compare this one too, but I feel like my enjoyment was hampered by Leigh’s character in this particular trope. Her private nature makes the fake relationship hard to believe, so whilst I thought Leigh was written well as a character, she just didn’t fit in the situation. I also found the fact that Rosie so openly discussed the arrangement to be quite strange.

I enjoyed the twists in the narrative and whilst I didn’t initially feel much connection with the two MCs, both had points that made them likeable, even relatable, but I just didn’t get a personal connection. It’s perfectly possible others will feel differently than I on this one though. I did like how both MCs grew within the narrative though and I found the ending very fitting.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.