Enjoyable contemporary with an Austen twist

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop (Lonely Hearts Bookshop #2)True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this one, which was a surprise because it’s rare these days that I read any hetero relationships or chick lit but this certainly didn’t have any annoying alpha males or simpering females.

I thought both Verity and Johnny were well crafted characters, believable and real, human and alternatively frustrating and fascinating. Very’s obsession with Pride & Prejudice was neatly woven into the whole story narrative and never felt like a deliberate plot device and it worked well as the hook to hang their unconventional relationship on.

The introduction chapter was one of the funniest and most engaging I’ve read in a contemporary chick lit romance for a long time and actually had me chuckling out loud. Very’s mad family and bunch of friends meshed well and provided a nice contrast with Johnny’s, who were a bit posher and – at times – much more standoff ish.

Marissa, the technical villain of the piece, never became a caricature, I’ve met a fair few Marissa’s in my long years and she played true to type, a narcissistic selfish woman who couldn’t bear to let go of her devoted suitor.

The resolution was lovely but the epilogue was a bit of a waste, far too short even if it was quite sweet.

#ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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Gentle romp through Regency life

The Return of the EarlThe Return of the Earl by Sandra Schwab

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a few things expected when reading a historical romance, especially a Regency one, and for the most part, this one has those.

However, in the first few opening parts of this story the author gets the name wrong of one of Britain’s finest, and most well known, Neo-Classical Georgian architects, Robert Adam when she erroneously gives him an extra S. It’s a minor point for sure but one that should have been spotted in editing and proofing.

Putting that aside though, this is a gentle little romp through country life as a reluctant Earl, still smarting over a perceived slight some 13 years earlier.

Characters were nicely developed though, again, a little bit repetitive in the phrasing when referencing Bryn’s heterochromia and with Bryn calling Con “my Con” all the time. Little bit more variety would have worked well here.

The steam levels are fairly low but the slow burn pays off in the final quarter of the story and the epilogue is lovely and in keeping with the historical setting.

#ARC kindly provided by the publishers via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest review.

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High-tech hijinks in this futuristic retelling

EnsnaredEnsnared by Rita Stradling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would probably never have read this book if it wasn’t for the cover. It drew my eye enough that I overlooked the sci-fi futuristic element of this particular re-telling of Beauty and the Beast and I am glad I did because this was an incredibly complex and well crafted story.
I was expecting a run of the mill re-telling but instead I got a rollercoaster of a thriller style romance between a girl forced to pretend she’s a robotic version of herself and a man trapped inside a high-tech tower who is afraid of the outside world.
The science was a bit confusing at times but not enough to spoil the story and it did take a while to get going but once Alainn was living in the tower and interacting with Lor and then discovering her robotic lookalike Rosette was perhaps slightly flawed and potentially murderous, the pace really kicked off.
There were great secondary characters as well and the ethical dilemma of “what makes us human” was explored in a interesting way.

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