Single for the Summer

This is a perfect feel good summer read from Mandy Baggot and a definite one for the suitcase. I have never been to Corfu but it is clear the author loves the place and I now feel I should go there. The imagery is so vivid I can picture the island clearly and can almost smell the sea.

Single for the Summer: The perfect feel-good romantic comedy set on a Greek island Tess Parks has made up her mind: love isn’t for her.
When it comes to dating she has one rule: after six weeks with a guy, she ends it. So when her heartbroken best friend invites her for a girly getaway in Corfu, Tess is sure she can stick to their pact to stay single for the summer.

But then she meets the gorgeous restaurateur Andras
To keep his overbearing mother off his back, Tess agrees to pretend to date him. But as the two spend time together, Tess begins to realise that this fake relationship is starting to feel like the best one she’s ever had…

Andras is very sexy – how do I know this without seeing him?  Because Mandy Baggot had him embedded in my mind’s eye from the moment he started doing pull ups on the door frame while shirtless!! It’s probably a good job there is no picture – not sure my hormones could take it. Initially I thought he was a bit of a wimp by not standing up to his mother, but he is just being a good son who doesn’t want to upset her.

Tess has some very weird ideas- coke with 3 sugars! My teeth hurt just thinking about it. She also refuses to walk anywhere barefoot, which seems a bit neurotic but we do get to find out the reason why eventually. She doesn’t know what she wants, everything was clear before she came to Corfu but as the days pass she starts to re-evaluate her life.

There is a great cast of supporting characters providing lots of humour along the way. The Greek wedding of Andras’ brother takes up a lot of his time and some of the escapades had me laughing out loud. The conversations between the characters in the wedding party are great, although his mother is a bit scary.

Sonya of course plays a large part in this book and helps Tess to see the beauty of Corfu while dealing with her own uncertain relationship.

And Hector definitely deserves a mention – how did he keep escaping?

This is a perfect feel good summer read from Mandy Baggot and a definite one for the suitcase. I have never been to Corfu but it is clear the author loves the place and I now feel I should go there. The imagery is so vivid I can picture the island clearly and can almost smell the sea.

I have read all of the author’s books and can honestly say her last couple have been excellent, and this is no exception. If you are looking for a romantic read that will have you laughing as well, look no further. I loved it.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mandy Baggot
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Ebury Press
  • Genre: Chick Lit
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

The Lucy Kincaid Series

I absolutely love these novels and cannot stress enough how great I think they are. Each book manages to drag my emotions through the wringer and the last couple in particular have had me sobbing.

Allison Brennan is an author that is new to me, who I discovered about 6 weeks ago. I devoured the books so quickly I felt it would be better to review this series as a whole rather than individual books.

The Lucy Kincaid series consists of the following books :

  • Love is Murder (0.5)
  • Love me to Death
  • Kiss me, Kill me
  • If I should die
  • Silenced
  • Stalked
  • Reckless (novella)
  • Stolen
  • Cold Snap
  • Dead Heat
  • Best Laid Plans
  • No Good Deed
  • The Lost Girls

NB: I have read all of them except Love is Murder and Stolen.

Lucy Kincaid is an aspiring FBI agent who survived a horrific attack as  a teenager but is determined not to let it ruin her life. She comes from a family who fights injustices both on the right and sometimes wrong side of the law.

This series starts while Lucy is in the application process for the FBI and moves through to her working as an FBI agent- and there are more books to come – yay!! It also focuses on her developing relationship with Sean Rogan and the trouble they manage to get into together.

I absolutely love these novels and cannot stress enough how great I think they are. Each book manages to drag my emotions through the wringer and the last couple in particular have had me sobbing.

While Lucy does have emotional scars, she is a very strong character who is constantly fighting against the protectiveness of her family. They think her earlier experiences mean she is unable to deal with the challenges of everyday life. Sean is a security expert and super hot 😍 but comes with his own baggage, but together they are a formidable force.  Sean does not always work within the law and Lucy does not like working outside it, so while he usually ends up involved in her investigations, the results are not always positive.

The mysteries in each book are complex and intriguing and I love the way both Lucy and Sean’s families are often involved with solving/ interfering in the various cases. As the series progresses we see more of their involvement, in particular Kane Rogan and Jack Kincaid who both work as mercenaries, but often end up helping the FBI. We also see Lucy working with partners other than Sean and as she is having to adapt to their various styles, this does not always go well!

While each book has a stand alone story, I recommend reading them in order to truly appreciate the character nuances and development. Having said that, I have not read Stolen and do not feel I missed anything. If you can’t read them in order, I recommend that you definitely read ‘Best Laid Plans’ before ‘No Good Deed’ as they do follow on.  There isn’t a cliffhanger in ‘Best Laid Plans’ but these two are by far the best in the series.

The latest book I have read is The Lost Girls, and again this is brilliant. I was completely immersed and was even thinking about the book when I wasn’t able to read it! It is very emotional and has some very dark moments. There is a lot going on and tension builds between Lucy and Sean as they both deal with the emotional fallout from their respective cases.

I absolutely cannot wait for the next in the series which I have pre-ordered – the only disadvantage is that these books are not available on kindle in the U.K. 😒 And the new book comes from America so having to get it 3 weeks later than release.

This series is, in my opinion, as good as if not better than the In Death series by J.D. Robb – if you know me, you know that is high praise! Hopefully these will be available on Kindle in the U.K. soon so that a new set of readers can discover this amazing set of books.

If you wanted to read the series before this, where Lucy is attacked (set 6 years before these novels occur) you need to read the Evil trilogy, but this is not essential to appreciate the Lucy Kincaid books.

  • Speak No Evil
  • See no Evil
  • Fear no Evil ( this is the one with Lucy involved)

I discovered this author by accident but am so glad I did!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Allison Brennan
  • Series: Lucy Kincaid
  • Genre: romantic suspense

 

 

 

 

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New York Actually

New York, Actually An agony aunt seen as an expert at relationships but with no relationship of her own and a cynical divorce lawyer who thinks relationships are a bad idea. Meet Molly and Daniel – what could go wrong!

Molly only has one love in her life – her Dalmatian Valentine and no interest in developing another. Daniel doesn’t own a dog but decides the only way to get to know the girl he sees with the Dalmatian is to get one. He borrows a dog from his sister and sets about getting to know Molly.

Sarah Morgan has again created a wonderful story with great characters – and I’m not just talking about the human ones. The interactions between the characters is believable and real and I love watching Daniel gradually turning into a dog lover against his better judgement.

As always there are some bumps in the road as secrets are inevitably uncovered as both characters are hiding some big ones! But the romance is perfect without being over the top and humour is threaded throughout. It is emotional in places and one of the things I love about Sarah’s books is her ability to make me feel everything along with the characters.

There are links with the authors previous New York trilogy but it is not required to have read them first. As someone who has read them however it is great to see snippets of how those characters are doing.

This book does not disappoint and if you are looking for an uplifting, feel good book to get you through the dark, cold winter days I highly recommend starting with this.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Truly, Madly, Greekly

I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Truly, Madly, Greekly: Sizzling summer reading Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Another great book from Mandy Baggot and a bargain at only 99p – and the best cover of any of her books by far.

I always look forward to Mandy’s books and this one was no exception. Ellen and Lacey have gone to Corfu to start planning Lacey’s wedding. Ellen is glad to get away from her everyday life which is crumbling around her, but she finds it impossible to relax and enjoy the holiday. Enter Yan, a member of the hotel animation team who finds himself both irritated and intrigued by this uptight Englishwoman.

This is a great story for reading on the beach but you could read it anywhere and instantly be transported into sun, sea and sand. One of the things I love about Mandy’s books is the realism – forget billionaires falling in love with secretaries, this is something you actually could see happening. It was also interesting getting a bit of an insight into the life of the animation team – having been on package holidays I never really gave much thought to what they get up to on their time off!

I love Yan and Ellen and the fact they are normal people, they are both wounded, both hiding secrets and neither are looking for love. I am a sucker for accents on men and I had no trouble imagining the sexy accent Yan had – an accent always adds to the hero’s appeal. This is a story not just about a holiday romance but about trust, family, believing in yourself and not letting anyone hold you back.

The only thing that slightly irritated me about this book was Lacey.  I found it difficult to warm to her and wanted to give her a slap at times, but having said that it didn’t spoil the book for me. I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mandy Baggot
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Bookouture
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Some Kind of Wonderful

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Some Kind of Wonderful (Puffin Island trilogy, Book 2) Her whole life, Puffin Islander Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she’d found it in bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten tempestuous, smouldering days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke, and Brittany resolved to put him out of her mind forever.

Zach knows he let Brittany down, but being back on Puffin Island and seeing Brittany again stirs up long-buried emotions. This daredevil pilot has never felt worthy of her, yet he can’t stay away—even when he knows the chemistry between them will only complicate his life.

Wow, just wow, I loved this book – sexy and romantic, what more can a girl want! This is the second book in the Puffin Island series and I think it’s better than First Time in Forever. While you do not need to have read the first book, I’m a great believer in doing so and I think you come to appreciate the characters more.

What can I say about Zach? Inside that luscious body, he is still a wounded and scarred child, thinking everyone is going to turn on him. The easiest way not to let anyone hurt him is to refuse to let anyone in.  I just wanted to give him a hug (among other things). Thankfully Brittany soon realised that trying to keep her distance was futile.

Brittany is frustrated that she is stuck back on Puffin Island while her broken arm heals, and seeing Zach again throws her completely off balance. Her mind says stay away, her body says go for it. Together they need to navigate their feelings and work out a way to cope with living on the same island.

I loved getting to see all the Islanders again and especially enjoyed the insight into summer camp. The addition of Jaws was a tense scene but it just goes to show again what an amazing guy Zach is. Shame he can’t see it himself.

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: Puffin Island (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

The Liar

I think Nora Roberts is incapable of writing a bad book! This is another good one with believable characters who just drag you into the story. The story is slow to start as we get a lot of description and background with Shelby, but it is necessary for the rest of the story and gets you rooting for her from the start. I also have to confess to shedding a few tears! One of the great things about this book is seeing Shelby’s character development – moving from an abused cowed woman to one who knows what she wants from life for her and her daughter, and is determined to get it.

The Liar When her husband Richard dies in a freak accident, Shelby Pomeroy is devastated. But his death reveals a horrible truth – Richard was a liar and a cheat. Now Shelby is left with the consequences – huge, terrifying debts and mounting proof that her late husband betrayed her in every conceivable way.

Heart-broken but unbowed, Shelby is determined to fix her problems – if only for the sake of her gorgeous little daughter Callie. Returning home to Tennessee and the family she thought she’d lost for ever, she discovers a new sense of strength and freedom. And hope, too, in the handsome form of carpenter Griffin Lott – a straight-dealing man who couldn’t lie to her if he tried. 

But not everyone is thrilled to see Shelby Pomeroy back in town. And when a shocking act of violence is traced back to Richard’s shady business, it becomes clear that she is not safe from him, even in death. With her life in danger, Shelby must face the lies of the past – or lose everything.

I think Nora Roberts is incapable of writing a bad book! This is another good one with believable characters who just drag you into the story.  The story is slow to start as we get a lot of description and background with Shelby, but it is necessary for the rest of the story and gets you rooting for her from the start. I also have to confess to shedding a few tears! One of the great things about this book is seeing Shelby’s character development – moving from an abused cowed woman to one who knows what she wants from life for her and her daughter, and is determined to get it.

Griffin is of course hot, as with all the author’s male leads but in this case, he is the one who seems struck by lightning at their first meeting, rather than Shelby (although the attraction is definitely there on her side too!) The interactions between him and Callie are wonderful and I love them. There is a great cast of supporting characters and I loved Shelby’s family and the small town gossip.

This is a completely stand alone book, but I would love it if the author wrote another novel with these characters.

The suspense element moves along a bit slower than with some of Nora Roberts’ other non series books, and while I guessed where it was going quite early on, it didn’t ruin it for me.

Overall another good book from this very prolific author and while some people may think the suspense element is too slow to develop and easy to guess at, the romance and small town goings on are more than enough distraction while the plot develops.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Format: Hardback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Irreverent Questions With… Mandy Baggot

MandyBaggotYes you can believe your eyes, we are bringing back our Irreverent Questions!  Mandy Baggot, in the midst of her blog tour was kind enough to answer our questions.  She is a particular favourite of Tracey’s and if you haven’t read anything by her yet, what are you waiting for – go get Made in Nashville now!

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads.

Represented by Kate Nash of the Kate Nash Literary Agency she is also a contributor to writing blogs, magazines and short story anthologies and regularly takes part in fiction festivals and literary events.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, Corfu, shoes and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

And now, on with the irreverence!

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I always celebrate the same way whenever I bring out a new book. I always have a party on Facebook throughout the day and try and mix it up with hot men and competitions. I like to give things away and just enjoy chatting and celebrating the launch with my friends.

Then, in the evening, it’s opening white fizzy wine (champagne if I’m really lucky) and eating Chinese food. Last time, when Made in Nashville was released, I got flowers from my husband, Mr Big too!

Do you get fully dressed to write?
Not all the time! If it’s a normal day then it’s up and dressed to do the school run. In the holidays I have been known to still be in my PJs at lunchtime writing at my desk. There was also one crazy day when I had about 20 people posting clues to a James Bond competition for the launch of my novel, Security. I don’t think I got dressed at all that day. Scheduling tweets takes a while and tweeting is important you know!

How do you deal with negative comments?
I think I spilled the beans and answered this question at the Festival of Romance in September. I read ALL the reviews for my books on Amazon and Goodreads. There are some that make me cry with joy and there are others that irk, BUT I appreciate every review I get, even the stinky ones. If someone has, not only taken the time to read my book, but taken time to review it too, I am thankful for that. I often tweet the best of the one star reviews because that’s someone’s valid opinion and as authors we can’t please everyone. And it’s good to laugh, especially if someone’s called your work horseshit! I really need to make t-shirts.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After, Everyone Dies, Or…?
Ooo that’s a tough one. My favourite films of all time are Dirty Dancing and Die Hard. Die Hard is part of a Christmas Eve ritual. We watch, we eat Chinese food – are you noticing a take-out theme in these questions? I like the hero and heroine to be happy in the end – the good guys beating the bad guys, but there has to be drama and conflict all the way through or I get bored. Who wouldn’t want to be swept up by Patrick Swayze and Bruce Willis?

Do you have any phobias?
Astronauts. They bust into Elliott’s home in ET and it frightened the life out of me when I was a child. Luckily, in my line of work, I don’t have to encounter them very often. Yes, I know it’s a person in a suit but…they give me the creeps!

Many thanks to Mandy Baggot for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of Mandy Baggot


Made in NashvilleMandy’s latest book is Made in Nashville (you can read Tracey’s 5 star review here)

An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It’s been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville’s brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it?

Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind?

Honor’s record label sign the ex-boyfriend that dumped her and suddenly going back to her old life is harder than she thought. And when a secret from the past becomes public knowledge it’s no longer just about the music. Are all the people in her life lying to her to get what they want?

Join the country scene to find out!

Made in Nashville – where the off-stage action’s as hot as the music!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

The Winter Lodge

The Winter Lodge (The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 2) Jenny’s lived her whole life in Willow Lake, finding safety and warmth running her little bakery. Until one winter she loses everything in a devastating house fire. Sifting through the ashes she finds a chance for a different life…

I really enjoyed this contemporary romance by Susan Wiggs – the first book I have read by this author. The protagonists Rourke McKnight and Jenny Majesky share a history which is explored at various points within the book. I  liked the way we were taken back and forth as their past was revealed bit by bit, just enough to keep you wanting more.

There are various recipes throughout the book which I didn’t really take much notice of and skimmed over after the first couple not being much of a baker, but if you enjoy making cakes I am sure they are very interesting.

While Jenny and Rourke are the main characters there are lots of other characters who have things going on in their lives and I am looking forward to reading more in this series of books.

This book is not just about the romance, it’s about finding who you are and what you really want when everything has been pulled out from under you. I did experience many emotions and yes, I cried!

Jenny and Rourke are both a tad irritating at times and at some points in their past I wanted to shout ‘get a grip!’ Ultimately though, you cannot help rooting for them and of course there is the required happy ending.

I will definitely be looking for more books in this series.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Susan Wiggs
  • Series: Lakeshore Chronicles (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Genre: Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Blue Smoke

Blue Smoke Ever since she witnessed the fire that destroyed her family’s restaurant when she was eleven, Reena Hale knew what she wanted to be.  She wanted to find out what caused fires. As she got older, fire continued to play a significant role in her life and she worked hard to achieve her dream while sacrificing her personal life along the way. Bo Goodnight came into her life and called her “dream girl” after seeing her for a few seconds years ago, and he now has no intention of letting her out of his sight again, not even when it becomes clear someone is using fire to taunt Reena and everyone she cares about has a target on their back.

This book had me drawn in right from the beginning. It starts when Reena is 11 years old and rather surprisingly it got to the middle of the book before reaching the present day having gone through snapshots of her life where fire plays a part. For me this added to the story and I liked the fact I had so much background information about Reena and her very large Italian family. While some people may feel the story is slow to get going I do feel it is integral for setting the scene and giving an indication of how long this person has been stalking Reena. We are introduced to Bo Goodnight (what sort of surname is that!) in this period and it is cute how he keeps glimpsing Reena but never actually meeting her until the present day.

I found the tension in this book very high and could not put it down, was desperate to keep turning pages – not necessarily to find out who did it, but more to see what was going to happen next, when would Reena put it together and where would the next fire be? The romance between Bo and Reena became hot and heavy very quickly – after all Bo had been in love with her since glimpsing her in college and it was almost as if it was fate that bought them together. Some people may find that a bit sickly but I loved it, I am a great believer in destiny where love is concerned.

If I had a criticism it would have to be the surname Goodnight! When you have blokes calling each other by surnames having Goodnight as a name can get very confusing – huh he just said goodnight so why he is he still talking to him!!!! Maybe just me because I read quick and get confused easily.

Reena’s family play a large part in the story which is only right as it started at the family restaurant all those years previously and  I particularly enjoyed some of the interactions between the male members of the family and Bo.

Despite what I have said above the romance is not the main story element and the main plot is brilliant starting with a slow burn and building up to a roaring inferno with action coming thick and fast towards the end.

Another great book from Nora Roberts with action, suspense, romance and of course a killer whose mind is so twisted it is a wonder he can see straight!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

 

Loving Rose : The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair

Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair: Number 3 in series (From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair) Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor. Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas’s house, but she quickly realises he’s far too intelligent to fool.

After the disappointment of the previous book in this series, Ms. Laurens has returned to form with this one. The only thing I didn’t like was the confusion over Thomas Glendower/Malcolm Sinclair. I gathered he had appeared as a villain in a previous Cynster book (I later discovered it was the ‘Taste of Innocence’), but as it was not one I’d read I found it a bit confusing over what he had done that was so bad. I therefore started the book feeling like I was missing half the story. It would have been useful if the book blurb had stated where we first met him, so readers could go back to that book if they chose.

Once I put that aside though, it didn’t take me long to get into the story and I really enjoyed it. The first half of the book is very much about Thomas and Rose, their developing relationship and the secrets they both hold. Rose is guarded and unwilling to trust but finds it difficult to resist Thomas, particularly with how he is with the children. Thomas is also surprised at how quickly he feels protective towards them, and seeing his younger self in Homer, he seeks to guide him as he himself never was.  Once Rose trusts Thomas with her problems they move to London, and that is when Barnaby Adair and his (growing) team get involved to solve the mystery. For me this book is a perfect blend of intrigue and romance, and focuses very clearly on the protagonists whereas the previous one didn’t.

Ms. Laurens does not disappoint with her bedroom scenes – steamy as always! But at least this time they focused on the characters that matter.

Overall a great book and having prepared myself for this one to be another thriller with little romance as in The Masterful Mr Montague, I was very pleased to find that was not the case.

Book Information
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Series: Casebook of Barnaby Adair (3)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½