The Wedding Date: Same(ish) titles; different books

I was a slacker last year for the TBR Challenge and only posted the one time. This year, I plan to post monthly even if my posts are short. So seeing that the topic for January is We Love Short Shorts  I have added two short(ish) reviews rich with spoilers of two books with The Wedding Date  in their title for my first SuperWendy 2019 TBR Challenge.

2 people standing on either side of a door.The Wedding Date Bargain by Mira Lyn Kelly

When Sarah Cole finds herself in Chicago with two months to kill before her New York promotion goes through, she decides it’s time to take care of a few things—like the inconvenient issue of her virginity. Sarah knows the right guy for the job too: Max, the notorious lady’s man she’s been crushing on since college.

Max Brandt is all for a fling, just not with Sarah. She’s way too good for him. He walked away from her once, but it wasn’t easy.

Things are different now, and the plan is so simple. There’s no way either of them would do something as silly as fall in love…

I read/listened to this book 2 months ago. It was pleasant but infinitely forgettable. I can’t remember that much about the plot (other than what is outlined in the blurb above). It was very much a “The one that got away” plotline with the heroine regretting not having her chance at the hero long ago. She makes a decision to sleep with him before she leaves Chicago for a job in New York. There is a whole lot of navel gazing with questions of “should I” , “do I”, “does my career matter or love matter” etc etc. Continue reading

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One Big Huge TBR 2018 post

I have had a shockingly bad year in the review stakes. And I haven’t posted a single time for SuperWendy’s TBR challenge for 2018. And I think the only way I will be able to get back in her TBR good books so as to take part in TBR 2019 is to do one big TBR post to cover the whole of 2018. So here goes!

January 17 – We Love Short Shorts! (shorter reads)

This is not necessarily a romance, however it is about the love and broken hearts and breakups and wonderful couples separated due to someone dying. The Museum of Broken Relationships: Modern Love in 203 Everyday Objects by Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic. Using one of my favourite writing styles, the epistolary nature of this book with a few pages and photographs of objects held now at two permanent museums – on in Zagreb, Croatia and one in Los Angeles, California. There is also a touring collection. I adored this book. And I really hope that there is a sequel for unbroken relationships.

February 21 – Backlist Glom (author with multiple books in your TBR)

Molly O'Keefe covers with naked headless men showing pecs and abs.

Molly O’Keefe’ You Can’t Hurry Love and You Can’t Buy Me Love

I adore Molly O’Keefe but I rarely stumble upon her books so when I do find them, I read them straightaway. Though I don’t consider 2 books a glom, I am sneaking O’Keefe in here.

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Dear Reading, It’s not you, it’s me – TBR Challenge 2017

I am in a fiction reading slump. It is the slumpiest that I can remember since the black hole years back when my sons were babies and the only thing I read were the clues in my Christine Lovatt’s Crossword books. This makes for a very lacklustre start to Wendy’s 2017 TBR challenge – January theme of We Love Short Shorts.

The last book I finished reading was on the 15th of December and I can directly attribute my lack of interest in reading anything at all to the death of my student, my husband being in hospital, my lovely cousins visiting from Switzerland and this hot horrid heat hell called Summer.  Last night was so awful that it did not drop below 30C/86F. In heat despair, I got into my car at 4am with the engine on just to cool down in air conditioning (the plus side to this is that I listened to another chapter of my everlasting audiobook – see my last post).

My last post of the year where I searched for the good things in the year was incredibly helpful as it dragged me out of some of my sadness. I have had several swims, my house is looking tidy and lovely and I have been writing some words towards the PhD. But the ludic reading has fallen by the wayside. I have started many books but I have not managed to proceed beyond Chapter 7 in any of them. This is definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”.

I didn’t love my “short shorts”, and many of the books were quite long however my reading of them was definitely cut short (heh – see what I did there? There are many ways to link to Wendy’s theme of the month!). The books I partially read are:

Summer Skin Kirsty Eagar

Summer Skin

by Kirsty Eagar

Yeah. I know. Everyone loves this book. This book is now out of print. This book is due for US release in 2018. Fanfare is yes. *sigh* I’m up to Chapter 7 and I am already bored.

It’s not you, Summer Skin.

It’s me.

 

Under the boss's mistletoe by jessica hart

Under the Boss’s Mistletoe

by Jessica Hart.

I thought a sweet romance will do the trick. I’ve heard lots of praise for Ms Hart. But one chapter in was enough for me.

It’s not you, Under the Boss’s Mistletoe.

It’s me.

 

 

Cowboy's Christmas Miracle by Anne McAllister

The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle

by Anne McAllister

This was going to be a reread. What better way that to get out of a slump than by rereading a favourite book by a favourite author. But I couldn’t get past Chapter 2 of this book. It felt navel gazey.

It’s not you, The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle.

It’s me.

 

 

Fantastic Man by PhaidonFantastic Man: men of great style and substance

edited by Emily King

When a super groovy compilation of portraits, profiles and essays  from a magazine on stylish, gorgeous men, with few articles longer than 4 pages, you know you have some hardcore reading slump happening.

It’s not you, Fantastic Man.

It’s me.

 

Boyfriend by Christmas by Jenny StallardBoyfriend by Christmas

by Jenny Stallard

This was a bit of a 10 Ways to Lose a Guy (love this movie) rip off with the main (writer) character being told by her editor that she must get a boyfriend by Christmas and so start her adventures in drunken hookups and regretful relationships just to find the right guy was always there. I read the first 7 chapters and skimmed to the end.

Sadly, with this book, it was definitely Boyfriend by Christmas.

It was not me.

There are at least 15 books in my TBR that I couldn’t even get through the first page but I am not going to bother with listing those. I am stalling my break up with books for now. I think I will need to curate my next choice. I have Tessa Dare’s Do you want to start a Scandal waiting on my shelves and I am going to venture into the world of crime fiction (SHOCK! HORROR! The genre I am least likely to read!) by giving Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness a go purely on the strength of her being the 1980s teen romance author Janet Quin-Harkin who wrote my absolute favouritest Sweet Dreams EVAH! Ten Boy Summer.

And if that doesn’t work – I have Dog eat Dog – an AC/DC biography waiting to be read. In this heat, I might as well read about the men who rocked my 80s as I physically feel like I am on a Highway to Hell.

Burning sweltering man gif

If there’s a ghost from yesteryear in it, is it a historical?

It is Wendy the Super Amazing Super Incredible Super Sensational Librarian’s TBR Challenge and this month and the topic is historical romance. I would like to ponder – just briefly – if a contemporary set book has a ghost from the World War 2 era  in it, does it qualify as a historical even though there are barely any flashback scenes? I will answer my own question here and say no but then again, if a book has a ghost in it, I am already needing to stretch my As-if-O-Meter (well….not really as I love ghost stories), so I am asking that this incredibly tenuous link with barely-a-hint-of-historical novel is applied to Lisa Kleypas (historical novelist extraordinaire)’s Dream Lake which is one of her few contemporary set books.

I very nearly claimed Kleypas bankruptcy last month. I had read Marrying Winterborn and though it was okay, it certainly didn’t thrill me enough to merit spending time with another 300+ page book. Time is of essence and there are many books to be read! I have read only 4 of her novels over the years and though there is a lot of Kleypas love not only in the interwebs but also at my library where, despite having many of her titles, it is a rare day for there to be more than 2 on the shelf at any one time, to me, she is a “yeah-she’s-kinda-allright” read. She is an author that I would not binge read. Yet here I was, reading her twice in a row. And why? Let’s just say that I love a good ghost story so how could I go past a ghost romance!

First, the blurb:

Lisa Kleypas - Dream LakeDream Lake

by Lisa Kleypas

They say that opposites attract. But what happens when one has been devastated by betrayal and the other is so jaded that his heart is made of stone? Enter the world of Friday Harbor, an enchanting town in the Pacific Northwest where things are not quite as they seem and where true love might just have a ghost of a chance….

Alex Nolan is as bitter and cynical as they come. One of the three Nolan brothers who call Friday Harbor home, he’s nothing like Sam or Mark. They actually believe in love; they think the risk of pain is worth the chance of happiness. But Alex battles his demons with the help of a whiskey bottle, and he lives in his own private hell. And then a ghost shows up. Only Alex can see him, Has Alex finally crossed over the threshold to insanity?

Zoë Hoffman is as gentle and romantic as they come. When she meets the startling gorgeous Alex Nolan, all her instincts tell her to run. Even Alex tells her to run. But something in him calls to Zoë, and she forces him to take a look at his life with a clear eye and to open his mind to the possibility that love isn’t for the foolish.

The ghost has been existing in the half-light of this world for decades. He doesn’t know who he is, or why he is stuck in the Nolans’ Victorian house. All he knows is that he loved a girl once. And Alex and Zoë hold the key to unlocking a mystery that keeps him trapped here.

Zoë and Alex are oil and water, fire and ice, sunshine and shadow. But sometimes it takes only a glimmer of light to chase away the dark, and sometimes love can reach beyond time, space, and reason to take hold of hearts that yearn for it…

So Alex is a hard hero to redeem. He’s surly, he’s rude, he’s a drunk verging on becoming an alcoholic. He’s in the process of getting a divorce yet continues to have cold, hard, angry convenience fucks with his-ex wife. Alex goes to help his brother with a house he is restoring one day and finds himself saddled with a ghost who realises that Alex is the only human that can hear and see him. Enter Zoe who is sweet, shy and has also gone through a divorce due to her BFF husband realising he was actually gay. Zoe hires Alex to convert her grandmother’s home to make it habitable for old-age care.  The two of them constantly come into contact as he is repairing her home. Alex has had a difficult life growing up as the youngest child of 2 alcoholic parents so he keeps himself detached but he just can’t detach from Zoe eventually realising that he loves her (when it is nearly too late and he has a deus ex machina moment which could have been perfect if…. [MAJOR BLACK MOMENT IN THE BOOK SPOILER ALERT]

Tap dancing from Singing in the Rain

….there was an ambulance involved when there is an accident that has Zoe bawling and Alex dead….but there wasn’t and they all walked away from the scene. Now I could do a reader whinge and say “How believable is that?!” however my As-if-O-meter has totally embraced the awesome ghost that has partnered Alex everywhere for the past many months so I just add it as another notch on my believability scale and enjoy the love declaration instead.

Happy dance - cartoon mice with love hearts

The romance story was relatively simple as the ghost arc is really where this novel’s complexity lies and this was beautiful woven through this story. The obstacles were all on Alex’s side with his struggles with alcohol, with going dry and his slow realisation of what it is to love. Zoe felt like a prop – a lovely one, a lovely character who does have some growth in that she finally takes a risk on loving. I absolutely loved the description of her sublime cooking and the magic it had on Alex’s soul. Alex’s ghost is pretty cool. The ghost at first is grateful to have someone to communicate with but when he realises it is ungrateful-and-hell-bent-on-self-destruction Alex, the ghost becomes snarky and rather bitter. Having lived for decades in a limbo, to see a living human being waste his time and self is frustrating. The relationship between Alex and the ghost, their sharp dialogue, their love/hate life/death and all in between just sparks up an otherwise yeah-okay romance. The ghost element was believable in this story (I cannot read most paranormal books as it crosses my As-If-O-Meter)  and the ghost too ends up having a schmaltzy ending (but of course and it was to be expected and it was very well orchestrated but well it still overstepped this romance reader’s schmaltz line). The ghost’s own closure and escape from limbo – though sweet – faded into the background for me in light of the friendship between Alex who drags himself out of his pending alcoholism and the ghost who finally comes to terms with his own errant ways when he was alive.

I do love ghost stories.

I sneakread this book which I took off Rachel Bailey’s shelves when I should have been working on my PhD while I was hiding out and using her home as a study cave. Shhhhhhhh! Nobody tell her!

The ghost and Mrs Muir walking off into the fog together as a door closes behind them

Train travel, sexy baklava and a retro Anne McAllister romance: a running commentary

I was in Melbourne a few weeks ago. As a total wimp and the catastrophising human that I am, instead of braving a one hour flight each way, I caught the 10 hour train to and from Melbourne instead. On the return trip I reread an old favourite Sexy Mills & Boon by the wonderful Anne McAllister called The Antonides Marriage Deal  and I wrote running commentary while I read and travelled. All the photographs are my own taken with the thoughtful and precise skills developed over the years which my sons lovingly (I’m sure) call “The Veros School of Photography”.

Though I am posting this in time for SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge, the only thing that is paranormal about it is the smokey jackaroo….

Oh. And a warning: FULL of SPOILERS!

You can fast forward to the end of the blog for the review part.

The TL:DR for this book is Tis Great!

The Antonides Marriage Deal by Anne McAllister

The Antonides Marriage Deal

by Anne McAllister

The Greek tycoon’s takeover…
Greek magnate Elias Antonides has single-handedly regained his family’s fortune. So when his father gambles away a vital share he’s furious! Elias now has a new business partner…stunning heiress Tallie Savas.

The terms of the deal…
Tallie’s eager to prove herself, but she hasn’t counted on Elias being so sexy. Elias has underestimated Tallie, and now wonders if he can make their business arrangement personal — as in marriage!

 

 

 

8:00am Melbourne

The Yarra River in Melbourne, AustralianI’m at Southern Cross Station having just received a text informing me that my train was being replaced by buses

Successful business man Elias Antonides is fending off phone calls from his mother, his sisters, his brothers and other business partners like a pro. He is deliberate in keeping his fickle father waiting on hold but is unable to shake him. His dad, as the majority owner of the company but totally inept of keeping it afloat, insists that his son who saved the family biz from bankruptcy meet with him. The two meet just for μπαμπα to tell Elias that he has sold off half the company from under him to a buy-and-destroy self-made Greek magnate Socrates Savas.

Socrates is an Old Skool Greek man who props up his footloose sons (as Greek sons are known to be ζαχαροπαιδα/sugar boys who dissolve if they aren’t treated as though they are something special – trust me on this) and dismisses his sharp and intelligent daughter Tallie as a possibility to work in his company and instead keeps trying to match her up with Greek dudes (that said, you get to meet Tallie’s brother Theo in The Santorini Bride and he is far from a ζαχαροπαιδο in his romance with Martha, Elias’s sister). Continue reading

Recommended reading and an ever growing library TBR

It’s Wendy the SuperLibrarian’s Reading TBR Challenge time again and this month the theme is a book that has been recommended to you. Now most of my library loans tend to be the books I have sought out due to someone’s recommendation. I am loathe to spend money on a recommendation unless I have tried it first as I read way too much to purchase books without a thought. I am soooo far away from a One-Click reader but I do end up chasing library copies down constantly and this leaves me with reader anxiety.

A fortnight ago I stood at my shelves looking at my library loans trying to decide what I was going to read next when I was overwhelmed by the number of books I had amassed. With 28 library books to choose from, I knew I had reached that moment of terror that so many avid readers experience – I was about to declare reading bankruptcy and return every single book to the library just to rid myself of the pressure of reading and reviewing each one. And then I realised – I am a shallowreader and I don’t need to engage with my books in a critical manner. I just need to read them. So I embarked on a book-a-day reading bonanza! As of today, my library loan TBR now stands at 18 items! Yay! Of the 10 books that I read recommendations came from that wonderful (and at times scary) space Twitter where I have met so many like-minded readers who have recommended these authors to me such as: Miss Bates and Roz and Anna Campbell and Rachel Bailey and SuperWendy herself as well as probably many other people. And I thank them all! And yes – I will quickly run through all 10 books that I read:

Molly O’Keefe

His Wife for One NightHis Wife for One Night

So this one had a mashup of my favourite tropes: friends-to-lovers, marriage-of-convenience, cowboys (well…cowgirls?). Jack had married his BFF Mia 5 years earlier but he is a bit thick and doesn’t pick up on her “I lurve you” vibes until she asks for a divorce and suddenly they are having hot sex. Mia walks out on him and there is a big bomb blast and lots of damaged characters and lots of healing to be had. It was an angsty read and despite some loose ends that I would have liked to have seen resolved, I enjoyed this book and I particularly liked its ending.

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MORE Lynne Graham to kick off the TBR challenge 2016

My pleasure reading disappeared in December of last year. After posting my 2015 Favourites at the beginning of the month, though I planned on continuing reading, my physical self took a big long sigh, caught a summer virus that left me in bed for 3 weeks during which I didn’t pick up a single book. So, just like bike riding and swimming, when I reentered my reading shallows I did so with my favourite type of reading – category romance novels by the venerable Lynne Graham which luckily also matches the “We Love Shorts” theme for SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge 2016! I read Graham’s interconnecting novels The Greek Demands his Heir and The Greek Commands his Mistress, featuring the consecutive romances of two Greek half-brothers Leo and Bastien Zikos and their English rose heroines Grace Donovan and Delilah Moore.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 2.41.27 PMThe Greek Demands his Heir

“Don’t be silly, Leo. Strangers don’t get married.” Leo Zikos should be celebrating securing a perfectly convenient fiancée, but it’s left him cold. Instead it’s stranger Grace Donovan’s impeccable beauty that fires his blood. So he decides to pursue one last night of freedom… But that night and the two little blue lines on the pregnancy test that follow blow Leo’s plans apart. Now he must break with his fiancée and marry Grace. She might resist marrying a man she barely knows, but Leo will claim his legacy and has all the riches and influence he needs to ensure his demands are met!

Grace Donovan, a medical student who is indebted to an uncle and aunt who gave her shelter (but not much love) from when she was eleven, has been coerced to go on a holiday to Marmaris Bay in Turkey with her spoilt cousin Jenna. She is a tagalong and once her cousin hooks up with a guy, Grace finds herself sleeping in their hotel’s foyer. After several nights of this, her cousin insists they go clubbing where she catches the eye of club owner and Greek billionaire Leo. The sparks fly, Leo (unbelievably) claims that he cannot dance but hells yes he is up for one last hook-up before he marries Marina, his betrothed. The reader meets Marina in the opening chapter and already knows that their engagement is a business agreement between two friends who have agreed that having intimate liaisons with others until they actually marry is fine. Leo, considering his hook up with Grace as a one-night stand doesn’t mention his engagement to her. The two of them get down and boogie and oooopsies! the condom they are using breaks. (In classic Lynne Graham dry delivery) Leo accuses Grace of “straining it” because…you know…her virginity was so tight the latex couldn’t take it. Continue reading