Wildflower Bay

This month’s SuperWendy’s TBR challenge is for a random pick. I read Rachael Lucas’s Wildflower Bay. Firstly, here is the blurb and be warned that I discuss spoilers beyond it including my opinion of the love declaration:

Wildflower Bay by Rachael LucasThis little island has some big secrets…

Isla’s got her dream job as head stylist at the most exclusive salon in Edinburgh. The fact that she’s been so single-minded in her career that she’s forgotten to have a life has completely passed her by – until disaster strikes.

Out of options, she heads to the remote island of Auchenmor to help out her aunt who is in desperate need of an extra pair of scissors at her salon.

A native to the island, Finn is thirty-five and reality has just hit him hard. His best friends are about to have a baby and everything is changing. When into his life walks Isla . . .

Earlier in the year, I read both Rachael Lucas’s Sealed With a Kiss and Coming up Roses. Neither book set the world on fire for me in the romance corner but I did enjoy the overall stories. Her books are romances but they lean heavily toward the community and friendship, Aga-saga, small-town/village stories.

Wildflower Bay is the story of Finn MacArthur (errant hot sleep around dude who did it with the heroine from Sealed with A Kiss before she hooked up with his BFF and her OTL) and Isla Brown, a top notch hair stylist from Edinburgh who loses her cutthroat job and steps in to help her aunt out on the Scottish isle of Auchenmor for a few months. Isla who thrives on the bustle of the city is not all that impressed by living in such a quiet place nor with her aunt’s old style salon. After a while though, she starts getting on with the staff, develops a liking for Finn, gets on incredibly well with Finn’s Ma Ruth and develops a friendship with Lily the weird hippy-enlightened touchy feely resident who runs alternative lifestyle sessions (the whole Lily and crystals and demon child secondary storyline felt ridiculous and I really wanted to take a red editor’s pen to this section and slash slash slash away as I didn’t feel it added anything whatsoever to the narrative except to make fun of people with crystals and to give heft to the book’s word count). I also felt that Isla’s backstory was excruciatingly long and navel-gazing woe-is-me, I’ll-show-them-at-the-school-reunion-that-I-am-spesh annoying. To her credit, Lucas delivers an anti-climax for Isla in the form of a reunion which makes Isla realise that everyone else grew up and she really didn’t need to angst throughout the book (dammit! So much angst over nothing).

Once we have met Isla and she has lost her job and is heading for the island, the story turns to Finn who wakes up one morning with his latest one-night stand walking out and he questions what he wants out of life and maybe he should start looking for something more permanent. This is about the whole insight I got into Finn’s romantic, personal longing for entanglement with a significant other. Sure, he had a heap of other character building story going on that made him complex etc etc but I felt that the romantic side of his story was a bit lacking. Isla too seemed rather detached from relationships (she tells you as much). The two have several chance meetings on this very small island and over the space of the two months they slowly develop a friendship and eventually grow to love each other. I must say that much of the romance remains off the page and rather understated. Down to the love reveal (if I could even call it that) where Isla and Finn read out to each other his Ma’s posthumous letter to the two of them saying that they should give each other a go and they both shrug and agree because…you know, if Ma says it, it must be love. As love declarations go, this one sucked. It actually bored me.

I am doing a bit of a disservice to the novel here as I did like the book as a friendship  and community story. I really like Rachael Lucas’s Scottish setting and her sharp and lilting dialogue amongst all the characters giving the book a strong Scottish brogue with lovely language nuances that made me feel all melty and Monarch of the Glen(nish). I especially like the social mores that she builds into her stories. There are no judgements for having one-night-stands (for males and females) with older characters having the attitude of “you’ve gotta let loose every now and then”. This is particularly refreshing in light of the US romances I read that can be rather moralistic and have a overriding purity code. I think that this occurs in US books and in many M&Bs (even if they are authored by UK authors) even if the protagonists are not virgins. Australian rural romance is sits between the US and UK (though I say this lightly as I have only read a handful of rural roms). This reflection of strong social responsibility without the overriding slut-shaming, virginity code  is one of the reasons I like reading Rachael Lucas. Not much is made of sleeping with someone who is not the hero/heroine’s grand love and it happens on the page not in the backstory.

Yeah. Overall, the novel was OK. I will definitely read more of Rachael Lucas’s books as she puts them out but I really hope that she amps up the romance feels.

I borrowed a copy of this book from a public library in New South Wales.

The Hating Game with a side of vomit

Last week, having begged my work library’s lovely and conciliatory acquisitions staff whose desk was piled way-high with books, to dig out my reservation, I indulged myself in a procrastiread of author Sally Thorne’s debut novel The Hating Game. I deeply enjoyed this gorgeous book and I have lots to say about this book but first, the blurb:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game

by Sally Thorne

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She’s charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual.

Trapped in a shared office together 40 (OK, 50 or 60) hours a week, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game. The Mirror Game. The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking.

If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.

Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

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ShallowreaderBingo! September

The September card is here and it has (not so subtle) subtext *cough*!

Any reading goes – novels, letters, lyrics, news, captions, blogs – the lot! And remember that I encourage cheating and that we all love the most ludicrous reading-to-bingo-square justifications best. Play Bingo with one text or have a text per square.

Join in and play!

Row 1: Christmas Gifts *wink wink nudge nudge*, Do you remember?, September, A woman in her prime, Balance; Row 2: Where there's a will, Taming of the Shrew, Birth Day, You complete me, Twenty-fifth; Row 3: Coupling, Gush, Swooning, Naked Truth, You're History; Row 4: 69, Somewhere around the corner, Ravish, HATE, Cool Dude; Row 5: Flip Back, Home Cooking, Pillow Talk, Subtle, Gamma

ShallowreaderBingo! August edition!

It’s the end of August and for the THIRD time this year, Willaful from A Willful Woman has won the Bingo call! Woooooot! There was some fierce competition this month so a big congrats to all who have played and to a whole lot of new players this month too! Yay to more Bingo players! For a few tasters Valancy and Keira Soleore already have awesome reading wrap ups for this month.

Jim Carrey running around like a madman hugging audience members

As for my own Bingo! reading this month…..

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I blame it on the name

So I have been trying to read a book called Tribal Law whose heroine is named Vassiliki Verity. I am not on an ego trip when I claim that this character is named for me. She is. I know this because I was told by both the author and Kat Mayo of Bookthingo.

Tribal Law by Shannon B. CurtisSo here is the story: Tribal Law is a crowdsourced story. Author Shannon B Curtis (full disclosure: Shannon and I have twittered together, supped together and presented on a panel at a library event together so are on pretty friendly terms) wrote a story whose plot and main characters were given to her by members of the Australian Romance Readers Association (another full disclosure: I am not a member of ARRA though I have attended all their conventions to date). There was a big meeting, I was told it was rather raucous and fun and I was also told that Kat Mayo – friend, borrower and romance reading mastermind – insisted that the heroine be named for me. Because she loves me. Or should that be loves torturing me.

I am up to Chapter 7 of this book and though it is well-written, interesting and funny I just cannot continue (at least at this point) because  of the heroine being called Vassiliki and there are sex scenes and I just can’t stay in the story because I keep seeing my own name and I have no idea how all you “normal” named people can cope with reading books where you constantly see your own names.

Especially when I see the phrases such as “Vassiliki is a vamp” before my eyes.

I purchased my own copy of Tribal Law.

PS This book has a hatchback driving hero. I will return to read it just for this one reason!

 

 

The Betty then is no better than The Betty now

I very nearly didn’t post anything for August’s TBR challenge even though Kicking it Old Skool is one of my favouritest topics in romance reading. I adore reading older romances especially from the 70s and 80s. I regularly reread old favourites and I also seek out titles from markets and op shops. My only foray into Old Skool romance this past month was revisiting Betty Neels.

Now let me start by telling you – nay showing you! how I felt about Betty Neels as a teenager:

Bored person slumping in their seat from the tediousness of what they are listening to

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I would see her books I could feel my skin crawl. Continue reading