Again! Amanda, I accuse you of ruining my sleep and daily rhythm – your books do this every time!
So, yes, Detour to Love by Amanda Radley is another book you won’t want to put down until it’s well and truly finished. A smarter reader would expect this and make time accordingly, like reading it over the weekend or a holiday. I never seem to learn.
There are a few similarities to The Road Ahead, like forced proximity, the first encounters that have the protagonists detest each one on sight, and the age gap.. but that’s all. This is a completely different sort of a story.
And what a story it is: delicious characters, relatable dialogue, twists and turns, some of which you expect and might even guess, some surprises.. and it wouldn’t be a five-star book without some more serious themes to balance out the slowly developing friendship (and more). There’s everything you’ll need: humour, tension and emotion (don’t tell anyone but I got choked up at one point!).
I enjoyed every page and will have to get the paperback, too. Detour to Love is simply brilliant.
Ok, first a note about the author and your view on her.. If you thought Lee Winter was already great, prepare to be amazed, because she’s just topped herself. If you thought Lee Winter was good but overrated, read this and be prepared to change your opinion. This book is simply brilliant!
Everything is top notch: the characters, the dialogue, the drama, the sting, the opposites-attract romance that sizzles (and gets steamy).
Amelia is the ice queen character of this story: a VP of a family-owned chain of hotels, trying to get an even higher position. Kai, the fire to Amelia’s ice, is from a rival hotel company, known for her talent to make great deals. They meet without knowing who the other is and flirt… but then reality interferes.
Hotel Queens by Lee Winter is not a short, neat little story set in the corporate world; it’s more like a thriller, but without the dead bodies. Twists and turns and intrigues galore, Hotel Queens is a long ride and one you’ll enjoy immensely.
The London series, book 7, tells the story of Gina, a London property seller and India, a biscuit company bigshot and TV celebrity. They end up together for business (India needs a home, Gina finds her one) but keep bumping into each other accidentally and later, on purpose.. and then what happens? We know what happens! Hot London Nights by Clare Lydon is sure to be another hit.
There are irritating exes and family conflict, there’s a secondary, historical love story, Pride celebrations, chocolate biscuits and other goodies, plus houses, flats, and rooftops in London.
The main characters are believable and real, like in every Lydon novel this far – they have their ups and downs, successes and failures, and sometimes you feel like shouting at them not to be so pig-headed! I so felt for Gina – been there, done that, got the headache (ugh, mommy dearest).
In the end, we’ve met some old friends (from previous London books), held our breath for the reunion of the secondary pair and seen the protagonists happily together, as it should be.
Last but not least: when a book is sapphic, funny and at least 50% of it is a love letter to London, what’s not to like? Personally, I think this might be the best of the series yet.
Jenny Quinn, familiar from The Long Shot, keeps working as a TV production assistant until her company is bought out by a bigger one. Now she has to compete for her own job in a team of four, under a new boss. One is her old coworker, one is extremely chipper and outgoing, and one is aloof and cold to the point of being a block of ice.
So we have a workplace, enemies-to-lovers romance, with plenty of office intrigue, gossip at the water cooler as well as hard work, some of which is very relatable.
The characters are yet again brilliant; this is an A.L. Brooks novel so that’s not exactly news. I wanted to yell at Jenny and Chrissy several times, rolled my eyes at Olivia, and near the end punched the air (it’s cool, I wasn’t anywhere public).
There’s a subplot involving Olivia and her family (well, mostly in-laws) situation, and it’s as gripping as it is occasionally frustrating, because you just want her to be all right!
The romance builds slowly from grudging respect to something like friendship to love, and mixed in with the trust issues of both protagonists, the workplace politics and the twists and turns of that plot, it’s a thoroughly gripping journey you won’t want to miss!
If you thought dating while famous was hard, try doing it when you’re the president!
Presidential by Lola Keeley is an age-gap workplace romance, which is surprisingly low on angst. Basically, this is a feelgiod utopia; we can only wish it was real some day!
Emily is an environmental lobbyist, intent on saving the world. She doesn’t usually get in the spotlight, but when she does, practically everyone notices. Connie, the president, is a widow and single mother, and a bit of an ice queen. Her known bisexuality hasn’t been much noted before, but enter Emily – and rumours start to fly.
The characters are great, very human and relatable, and the political bits of the story also seem real – so much deals and compromise and chasing poll results.. this was a gripping one I didn’t want to put down, even though a couple of scenes seemed a bit rushed.
I’ve actually read this novel before, way back, when its name was something different and it was still a bit ”raw”. So happy it’s a real novel now; us wlw readers need these stories!
Jae’s latest is exactly the kind of feelgood romance we need at this time. It’s cute and funny, but also very relatable at times.
Denny is the delightfully realistic butch main character, who works as a cashier and helps her sister take care of her niece. One day, she gets a message on her phone from a strange number… and begins to chat with the sender, Eliza, who turns out to be a fun person to talk to. So they become sort of pen-friends.
Denny is pining after her niece’s school bus driver, Eliza goes on one failed date after another. And they talk, compare experiences — even though Eliza is straight and the complete opposite of Denny — and soon Eliza is more interested in Denny than new dates found online.
The slow-burn romance is written so well you won’t mind the slowness; instead you’ll root for Denny and Eliza, laugh at the mishaps and coincidences, and likely enjoy every page. The side characters, Eliza’s best friend, and Denny’s family, are a hoot. Actually, I wouldn’t mind getting to read Heather’s story one day!
Yes, there are a few more serious topics, but nothing angsty, and the novel is more like a warm hug from a friend, not an agonizingly slow trip to Dramaville.
Whispering Wildwood by Emma Sterner-Radley is a gay YA fantasy adventure about a pair of siblings who, with the help of a glamorous rogue of a pirate, have to go into a mystical forest to retrieve something stolen by a folkloric beast. At first glance, this is a very straightforward adventure story: young protagonists go on a quest to a ”forbidden” place, meet odd creatures, make friends along the way and battle the ”big bad”. Simple, right?
The three main characters — Korinne, Matt and Vicktoria — are absolutely fascinating and all reveal more sides of themselves as the story progresses (I would love to learn more about these people).
There’s also an almost philosophical handling of power, friendship, family and one’s purpose in life, mostly from Korinne’s point of view. This makes the story even better; it’s not all action and adventure.
As for the inhabitants of Whispering Wildwood, there’s a whole multitude of animals and sentient creatures. All are described in a way that made my imagination run so wild, I even attempted a few sketches of them!
Here’s a refreshing take on the doc/patient trope. This time, the main characters are a physiotherapist (Kudzi) and a new police (Molly), still in training.
Reasons to heal by Jenn Matthews gets going when Molly is injured during a routine arrest. Getting back in shape takes quite a bit longer than she thought, she lives alone in a small flat, her little sister is rebelling… but hey, at least her physiotherapist is cute!
The medical side of things, such as physical therapy, group sessions, and slow recovery are believable and not too detailed. The romance is slow burn and sweet but not schmaltzy. At times I felt like it would be really easy to fall for Kudzi.. and wanted to shout at Molly.
Themes of culture clash, responsibilities and coming out were handled nicely and all the characters seemed real. Another solid novel from Jenn; four stars!
Helen & Nikki! Lucy! Asking for consent! The ASMR-y hand thing! Waita zvako (the language nerd in me was delighted)!
Ruby, a university lecturer, is roped into a gardening project with young school kids. She’s the opposite of a green thumb. Mel, a down-to-earth paramedic, would be an ideal partner for the project but Ruby and Mel are complete opposites and don’t like each other.
In the mix: some prejudice, internalised homophobia, dyslexia (what’s that got to do with anything? read and find out), relatable situations with children and older students and – wow.
The Words Shimmer by Jenn Matthews is super entertaining but also a thought-provoking read. It’s a slow-burn romance peppered with interesting facts; I could hardly put it down! I may also have sent the author some distressed messages… oops?
Ella is a big movie star, Cam a successful yoga instructor. In a romance. Superficial and perfect? Nah, they both are flawed, relatable, completely believable characters. There’s also a great supporting cast; for example, I found myself to be a bit (or a lot!) like Vanya among certain people..
A word of warning, though: Living by Lise Gold starts with a bang, not sparing the reader at all. It’s heavy, OK? Most of the drama afterwards is of an easier kind, though – this is, after all, a romance. Slow burn, but if you’re like me, you’ll probably enjoy every minute and don’t want them to rush.
I really liked how depression, its treatment and the side-effects of stardom were handled. Special kudos for the gorgeous cover!