Closeness – Y.L. Wigman

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
3.25 stars. This book is a little bit different. I found it to be an interesting read but I probably wouldn’t revisit it. If you like a mix of contemporary and historical romance you’ll definitely enjoy this one.

Set in Australia Duscha inherits a home from her estranged father unexpectedly. She’s mourning the death of her partner and the house gives her the opportunity to go back to Canberra. The house is old and needs a lot of work, which inspires her to hire a gardener.

Honor owns her own gardening/landscaping company. Her partner Merrin is the firms accountant after Honor gives her the responsibility when Merrin experiences health difficulties. Honor is called to Duscha’s to give a quote for the gardening work, when they realise they have a connection from their pasts neither expected to encounter again.

The narrative is interspersed with historical information as to how Duscha came to inherit the house. Some of this is done through her discoveries, others are done through historical flashbacks. Whilst I enjoyed the short stories that were told, I found it jarring at times to be pulled from one timeline to another. There’s also a subterfuge plot line for Honor.

I appreciated how their discovering each other again as contractor/contractee and then friends is built into the narrative. It does provide a little bit of angst, but I’m happy to say there’s no crazy conflict and the majority of the angst in the book is provided by their feelings about their situation and the things going on around them.

I liked the relationship Honor had with her father, which grew on me after initially feeling quite differently differently about it, and Duscha’s relationship with her mother. The couple of friendships interspersed in the storyline also helped with understanding both characters.

There were a couple of small bits that weren’t revisited to the full extent I would have liked but I can understand why they perhaps won’t in the overall narrative. However there was something about the book that left me with a sense of it being unfinished. It’s possible it’s because it crams in a lot in a relatively short word count.

All in all I think this book has elements people will enjoy, with a good narrative, interesting setting and elements of mystery, paranormal, romance and family conflict.

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

The Other Side of Forestlands Lake – Carolyn Elizabeth

Rating: 5 out of 5.
I have to say this wasn’t what I was expecting. I really enjoy Carolyn Elizabeth’s Curtis and Reynolds series – but I enjoyed this in a completely different way. Whilst the book is a little bit spooky – and I really shouldn’t have insisted on reading it past midnight – it’s essentially at heart quite a sweet book.

Starting with a prologue and approximately 25% of the book set 25 years ago, we meet Lee and Willa as teenagers, where they are staying at Forestlands Lake for the summer with their parents. They get up to the usual things teenagers do, but it’s the sweet exploration of what their friendship means to each other, and whether it is possibly anything more that really stands out at this point. Tragedy strikes and they are split apart.

25 years later we meet the two again, back at Forestlands Lake in very different circumstances. Lee now runs the summer camp – though it’s a very different one to the one they encountered in the past. She also has a daughter, Maggie. Willa has a her half-sister Nicole in tow and is returning to the lake for the first time since the tragedy.

This part of the book deals with Lee and Willa picking up where they left off – which might feel a little instant love to some – but I actually liked. It also deals with the difficulties of Willa’s return. Nicole and Maggie really shine as characters here as well.

I found I actually enjoyed the paranormal aspects of the story, which I thought would be a sticking point for me. I love the way it’s discussed through Willa’s books, Maggie and Nicole, rather than it all being about some phantom camp gossip and whispers. It made it more real and understandable to me.

Early death and how it impacts those left behind is never an easy topic, but I thought Elizabeth did a great job of covering the thoughts and feelings of all of the characters, whilst still giving both the paranormal aspects and romance parts equal footing.

I’d recommend this to romance fans and paranormal fans. It’s convinced me to read a paranormal book by one of my favourite authors that I’ve left to one side as I was convinced I’d hate it because of the paranormal – so I’d say Elizabeth is definitely onto a winner.

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