Category Archives: Romance

What Would Jane Austen Do – Linda Corbett

What Would Jane Austen Do? – Linda Corbett

I am a Jane Austen fan and I love a good romantic comedy, so this novel was right up my alley. I took it with me to Rottnest, which was the perfect place. I could sit in the shade looking at the ocean (and the occasional quokka) and read.

Here’s the blurb …

It’s a truth often acknowledged that when a Jane Austen fan girl ends up living next door to a cynical but handsome crime writer, romantic sparks will fly!When Maddy Shaw is told her Dear Jane column has been cancelled she has no choice but to look outside of London’s rental market. That is until she’s left an idyllic country home by the black sheep of the family, long-not-so-lost Cousin Nigel.

But of course there’s a stipulation… and not only is Maddy made chair of the committee for the annual village literary festival, she also has to put up with bestselling crime author –and romance sceptic – Cameron Massey as her new neighbour.

When Maddy challenges Cameron to write romantic fiction, which he claims is so easy to do, sparks fly both on and off the page…

This was really fun – well-written and I loved all of the Jane Austen quotes.

A review.

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The Wake Up Call – Beth O’Leary

The Wake Up Call – Beth O’Leary

This was a Christmas present. I have read The No Show (which I thought had an interesting structure) and I have watched the TV adaptation of The Flatshare.

This was similar in type (style/genre) to The Burnout, it is unusual for me to read two similar books simultaneously, but it is just how my library borrowing worked out.

Here’s the blurb …

Two sworn enemies. A failing hotel. One chance to save the season…

It’s the busiest season of the year, and Forest Manor Hotel is quite literally falling apart. So when Izzy and Lucas are given the same shift on the hotel’s front desk, they have no choice but to put their differences aside and see it through.

The hotel won’t stay afloat beyond Christmas without some sort of miracle. But when Izzy returns a guest’s lost wedding ring, the reward convinces management that this might be the way to fix everything. With four rings still sitting in lost property, the race is on for Izzy and Lucas to save their beloved hotel – and their jobs.

As their bitter rivalry turns into something much more complicated, Izzy and Lucas begin to wonder if there’s more at stake here than the hotel’s future. Can the two of them make it through the season with their hearts intact?

I enjoyed this novel – I do like an enemies to lovers romance. And I was intrigued as to how our (Izzy’s) opinion of Lucas was to change. It’s funny with good minor characters (Poor Mandy, Smooth Pedro, etc.). The romance is not the sole focus, there is other themes – grief, family, friendship.

A review

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The Burnout – Sophie Kinsella

The Burnout – Sophie Kinsella

I think I must have come across this while browsing Borrowbox. I reserved it, there was probably a two month wait. I haven’t read anything else by Sophie Kinsella, but I have seen the movie version of Confessions of a Shopaholic, which I enjoyed.

Here’s the blurb …

Sasha has had it. She cannot bring herself to respond to another inane, “urgent” (but obviously not at all urgent) email or participate in the corporate employee joyfulness program. She hasn’t seen her friends in months. Sex? Seems like a lot of effort. Even cooking dinner takes far too much planning. Sasha has hit a wall.

Armed with good intentions to drink kale smoothies, try yoga, and find peace, she heads to the seaside resort she loved as a child. But it’s the off season, the hotel is in a dilapidated shambles, and she has to share the beach with the only other a grumpy guy named Finn, who seems as stressed as Sasha. How can she commune with nature when he’s sitting on her favorite rock, watching her? Nor can they agree on how best to alleviate their burnout ( manifesting, wild swimming; drinking whisky, getting pizza delivered to the beach).

When curious messages, seemingly addressed to Sasha and Finn, begin to appear on the beach, the two are forced to talk—about everything. How did they get so burned out? Can either of them remember something they used to love? (Answer: surfing!) And the question they try and fail to ignore: what does the energy between them—flaring even in the face of their bone-deep exhaustion—signify?

I really enjoyed this and the narrator (Bessie Carter) was fabulous. It’s a romcom so you know what to expect, but the dialogue is clever and witty, and all of the minor characters are hilarious, particularly Cassidy, Herbert, Simon and Nikolas – the hotel employees. It is quite long (over 12 hours) and could have been edited to be a bit tighter (but I always think things need editing, so it’s probably just me).

A review

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Powder and Patch – Georgette Heyer

Powder and Patch – Georgette Heyer

This is Heyer’s second published novel. Published in 1923 (and again in 1930 minus the last chapter). It set in the Georgian period, so there is lots of mentions of wigs, swords, lace and high heels (for men).

Here’s the blurb …

Cleone Charteris’s exquisite charms have made her the belle of the English countryside. But Cleone yearns for a husband who is refined, aristocratic and who is as skilled with his wit as he is with his dueling pistols…. Everything Philip Jettan is not. As much as she is attracted to the handsome squire, Cleone finds herself dismissing Philip and his rough mannerisms.

With his father’s encouragement, Philip departs for the courts of Paris, determined to acquire the social graces and the airs of the genteel — and convince Cleone that he is the man most suited for her hand. But his transformation may cost him everything, including Cleone….

This was shorter than what I expect from a Georgette Heyer novel. This is definitely not her best work – the hero is delightful, the heroine not so delightful, but there was a witty, wise older lady and lots of mentions of tight coats and stockings with clocks. The things that delight me about Heyer’s novels – the wit, the meticulous research, etc, are present in this novel in an early form. However, I don’t think this novel works for a modern audience – there’s a bit too much ‘women want to be mastered by men’ for my liking. There was also a lot of untranslated french (I have been learning French, so I was fine).

A review.

Next up on my Heyer In Order project is These Old Shades

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Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau – Sheena Wilkinson

Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau – Sheena Wilkinson

This was a birthday present.

Here is the blurb …

April McVey hasn’t a romantic bone in her body. So how has she found herself at the door of Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau, job application in hand? Matchmaker Martha hopes the lively Irish girl will breathe fresh air into a business struggling to keep with the times amid the tumult of 1930s Britain. So when lonely widower Fabian arrives at the bureau, the pair’s matchmaking skills – and professionalism – meet their first true test. Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau is a charming and witty romantic comedy about friendship, loneliness, and the unexpected places where we find fulfilment

This novel had a lovely 1930s feel to it. It reminded me of novels like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or something by Dorothy Whipple (or any of the Persephone authors). April is a modern woman not interested in marriage, Mrs Hart is a war widow who wants to find veterans and other lonely people a suitable partner. Enter some clients (some nice some decidedly not nice) and we have a fun story. There are some dark patches – a man assuming April is a prostitute and Jewish refugees arriving from Germany, but mostly it is a light-hearted romantic comedy. It also touches on women’s role in society – what is expected of them, but also what they might want for themselves.

A review.

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Codename Charming – Lucy Parker

Codename Charming – Lucy Parker

I am not sure where I first heard of this book, but I reserved the audio version from the library, so I must have heard it from someone.

Here’s the blurb …

Following Battle Royal, beloved author Lucy Parker pens another delicious romantic comedy about a fake relationship between a grumpy royal bodyguard and the charming, sunny assistant who melts his cold, hard exterior.

Petunia De Vere enjoys being the personal assistant to lovable, bumbling Johnny Marchmont. But the job has its share of challenges, including the royal’s giant, intimidating bodyguard, Matthias. Pet and Matthias are polar opposites–she’s spontaneous and enthusiastic, he’s rigid and stoic–but she can sense there’s something softer underneath that tough exterior…

For Matthias Vaughn, protecting others is the name of the game. But keeping his royal charge out of trouble is more difficult than he imagined because everywhere Johnny goes, calamity ensues, and his petite, bubbly assistant is often caught in the fray. Matthias hates the idea of Pet getting hurt and he’s determined to keep everyone safe, even if it means clashing with his adorable new coworker.

When a clumsy moment leads to a questionable tabloid photo, the press begins to speculate that Pet is romantically involved with Johnny. To put an end to the rumors, the royal PR team asks Pet and Matthias to stage a fake relationship and the two reluctantly agree. But as they spend more time together outside of work, they begin to wonder what real emotions this pretend connection might uncover. Especially when a passionate kiss leaves both of their heads spinning…

I really enjoyed this novel; it had more heart than a typical romance novel. It was well-written and the scenarios the characters found themselves in were amusing but plausible.

A review

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The Unknown Ajax – Georgette Heyer

The Unknown Ajax – Georgette Heyer

I love Georgette Heyer’s regency romances and this might be my favourite one.

Here’s the blurb …

Miles from anywhere, Darracott Place is presided over by elderly Lord Darracott. Irascible Lord Darracott rules his barony with a firm hand. The tragic accident that killed his eldest son by drowning has done nothing to improve his temper. For now, he must send for the next heir apparent–the unknown offspring of the uncle whom the family is never permitted to mention. He also summons his bickering descendants to the rundown family estate. Yet none of that beleaguered family are prepared for the arrival of the weaver’s brat and heir apparent…

This was a lot of fun with all of the usual Heyerisms – lots of cant terms, silly young man, sensible (not to mention wealthy) slightly older man, a bit of action and amazing historical research. And the ending is particularly clever and inventive.

Here’s a fabulous article from Jennifer Kloester (she wrote a biography of Heyer).

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Happy Place – Emily Henry

Happy Place – Emily Henry

I have become a keen Emily Henry fan, so I was waiting for this one to be released. Here is the blurb …

Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.

They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.

Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week… in front of those who know you best?

I do like a second chance romance.

This is a fun, well-written story about two people finding their way when things get tough (a bit of a sunken cost thing going on – not about the relationship).

This novel also has one of my favourite quotes

Like even when something beautiful breaks, the making of it still matters

A review

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Wild Apples – Minnie Darke

Wild Apples – Minnie Darke

This was free from Audible and it sounded like something I would like. It’s quite short – about five hours – so I was prepared to give it a go. And I enjoyed it. A nice romance with a mature heroine.

Here’s the blurb …

Jane Bancroft has returned to Lovett, Tasmania after 20 years away, minus one ex-husband but plus one outraged teenage daughter. Life in the city – life in general – hasn’t quite panned out as she would have liked. With her mother unwell, now seems as good a time as any to come back to where it all began, and perhaps even start a new life here in the heart of Tasmanian apple country. But the legacy of Jane’s wild apple youth has not been forgotten by small-town Lovett and her homecoming is haunted by past tragedy.

Jane’s not the only child of Lovett returning home. Drew Pascoe, one-time scrawny kid working the pub kitchens, now handsome celebrity chef, is also back in town and looking to re-establish his roots. With the blessing of the locals and in an effort to reinvigorate tourism to Lovett, Drew has restored the old homestead Valleyfield, and plans to televise its opening as Tasmania’s hottest new dining destination. He knows a key ingredient to success is a unique homegrown flavour: Jane’s mother Thea, crowned Apple Queen of Lovett and the cantankerous guardian of the legendary recipe for apple snow. But the charm offensive he’s launched on Thea is not the only reason he’s keen to spend quite so much time with Jane.

Between her mother’s bitterness, her daughter’s escapades and the struggle to rebuild a her life, helping Lovett’s new golden boy with his grand plans are not Jane’s priority. But Drew’s enchanting persistence is making Jane realise that mending old wounds and a homegrown romance may in fact be the only way to start a fresh new chapter.

This was an easy to read (listen to) story. Drew was a lovely hero (possibly a bit too understanding). I think many of stuck in the sandwich generation (teen-aged children and aging parents) can appreciate the difficulties of Jane’s life. I always like a return to a small town romance.

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The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies – Alison Goodman

The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies – Alison Goodman

Miss A, who works in a book store, told me all of the ‘Old Ladies’ were buying this book and she thought I might like it. She was right.

Here’s the blurb …

A high society amateur detective at the heart of Regency London uses her wits and invisibility as an ‘old maid’ to protect other women in a new and fiercely feminist historical mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Alison Goodman.

Lady Augusta Colebrook, “Gus,” is determinedly unmarried, bored by society life, and tired of being dismissed at the age of forty-two. She and her twin sister, Julia, who is grieving her dead betrothed, need a distraction. One soon presents to rescue their friend’s goddaughter, Caroline, from her violent husband.

The sisters set out to Caroline’s country estate with a plan, but their carriage is accosted by a highwayman. In the scuffle, Gus accidentally shoots and injures the ruffian, only to discover he is Lord Evan Belford, an acquaintance from their past who was charged with murder and exiled to Australia twenty years ago. What follows is a high adventure full of danger, clever improvisation, heart-racing near misses, and a little help from a revived and rather charming Lord Evan.

Back in London, Gus can’t stop thinking about her unlikely (not to mention handsome) comrade-in-arms. She is convinced Lord Evan was falsely accused of murder, and she is going to prove it. She persuades Julia to join her in a quest to help Lord Evan, and others in need—society be damned! And so begins the beguiling secret life and adventures of the Colebrook twins.

This is part regency romance and part action and adventure. Our heroines Augusta and Julia are mature – 42 (no less), which I think is a good thing. Think of the novels of Georgette Heyer mixed with an adventure story (where things don’t always go to plan) and along the way we learn some history – most of it quite awful (the virgin cure? mental asylums for women – locked up because their guardians (husbands, brothers, fathers) found them annoying). Our hero, Lord Evan, is on the run after returning to England before completing his sentence for killing someone in a duel (I am sure there will be more about that in a later novel). The way they all meet is brilliant, but no spoilers here. The language is very heyeresque and the world building (creating regency England) is well done.

This is a fun, fast-paced romp.

A review

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