How much heartache and pining can you pack into 142 pages? LOADS!
If I were to describe Leaving Bree by Claire Highton-Stevenson by tropes, it would be second chance, friends to lovers, slowburn. Simple, yeah?
But nothing is ever simple, not the characters or the story – there are layers and depth to everything, and that’s what made this novella so good.
Morgan and Bree are great, realistic characters, ditto the supporting cast. I found myself rooting for Morgan all the way, occasionally wanting to yell at her to just get on with it and stop being so.. [censored]!
For the squeamish: the stalker bits are mostly just hinted at, as they are not the focus here. Mainly, they are there as another layer to Bree’s backstory.
This book was love at first sight, from the teaser that was published in March, to the preview chapters …to when I finally had the book on my phone to read.
The story starts with both protagonists needing some space away from other people. Tamsyn has had enough of sexism and ageism in the workplace (she’s a super popular actor, firmly in the closet) and Maggie is fighting a writer’s block (she’s written hugely successful historical romances under one pseudonym and lesfic under another). They meet. Maggie turns out to have a huge crush on Tamsyn.. and Tamsyn is more than a bit intrigued by Maggie.
They make a deal – just this short affair, while they’re both away from their own worlds, and that’s it.
Both characters are complex, realistic people – I loved them both equally and could easily relate to Maggie (not as a writer, but a fangirl). Third character, Gizmo, was a total sweetie (I’ve known one like him)! The story spans quite a long time, so even though it starts with a bang, it’s a sort of slow burn with enough drama to last for pages and pages – and all so beautifully written!
Once I started, I didn’t want to stop reading (which was a bit difficult considering I was reading at work), and when I’d stopped, I had to start over, just in case I’d read it too quickly and missed something important. Yep, Write Your Own Script by A.L. Brooks caused a classic book hangover.
I have recommended this book to just about everyone, gushed about it on social media and with other readers, and surprisingly enough, managed to stay somewhat civilised when talking to the author – but that’s another story.
As a nod to a certain movie mentioned in the book: Gripping. It’s not Jane Austen, it’s not Henry James but it’s gripping.
A bit darker tones here in a story about love, life, death and – cake. Justine is more than a bit bitter about her ex, Maddie, suddenly turning up to a friend’s funeral.. and even more so when she finds out Maddie intends to stay and wants to be friends again. Maddie, who ten years previously just up and left without any explanation! The nerve!
Basically You’re My Kind by Clare Lydon is still a romcom, with the dark nicely balanced with the light-hearted. I wouldn’t have been as forgiving as Justine, but to each their own.
So many good bits, funny and sweet and emotional.. and I’m so happy I didn’t read this on day two of my period (tmi, sorry)! Especially loved the gender-neutral baby things, the toolbelt reference, the dachshund.. and probably other details I can’t think of right now. Have to read it again soon!
Oh, and this one:
I stopped breathing. Just the fact of her lips so close to mine rendered me speechless.
I held my breath too while reading that! Like I said, gripping.
First of all, this is Hudson’s best yet!
Things start innocently enough – there’s a chance encounter and instant attraction sort of a thing between Darcy and Eilidh. Darcy’s best friend, Anja is very supportive but cautious, because Darcy has a stalker. Through everything, Darcy tries to stay optimistic but careful, Eilidh seems to be looking for love, and Anja has her own personal things to figure out, too.
These three plus a few supporting characters make up the cast around whom the story revolves and tightens until it’s almost too much and you need a break – but can’t stop reading.. because it’s almost too much!
The storyline and characters are realistic and relatable, so the thriller side of Meant to Be Me by Wendy Hudson is truly scary. There are no instantly recognisable super-villains: this mad stalker could be anyone! To counterbalance the thrills, the romance is really sweet and warm. Of course the reader is again ahead of the protagonists, which makes for a nail-biting experience – and it remains gripping until the very end*).
*) and in my case, beyond the end. The story continued in my dream, where [redacted] had [redacted, censored] and was plotting revenge. Was happy to wake up a bit earlier than usual!
Brooke is ex-military and needs a job, because she needs to take care of Robin, her teenaged sister. Robin is responsible but sassy, and a thoroughly refreshing character. Brooke and Catherine hook up one night, and things soon get complicated. Brooke wants a relationship but Catherine has been burned once.
Forget It by Claire Highton-Stevenson is a romance full of delicious heartache, a generous handful of hurt/comfort, a balancing dash of humour and to top it all, an ice queen.
Characters and situations were real enough that I wanted to yell at them (couldn’t, though – was reading at night with everyone else sleeping), and I just couldn’t put the book down until I was sure things would turn out ok.
Anna, a divorced teacher, needs a hobby… or a friend… or a life beyond work. Ollie runs a crochet class and a yarn shop. Anna joins the class, which turns out to be a bit more than just a craft thing. Little by little (real slow burn, this one – loved it) these two learn things about each other, find out they have quite a bit in common, strike up a friendship and move on from there.
Both protagonists of Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews are middle-aged, with grown children, so this is a nice change from the usual lesfic fare – although to be honest, it’s getting more common now to have older main characters (yay!).
There’s a bunch of funny side characters, very little drama, and it’s a sweet story over all. And damn if the book didn’t make me want to learn a bit more than the chain stitch (which is the only thing I learned about crocheting, in school, years and years ago)!
Amber, who works at a publishing house, has an impossible mission just before Christmas: she needs to secure the rights to an old collection of fairy tales. The problem is that the rights are held by the granddaughter of the original author of said fairy tales – and she’s a recluse who only communicates through snail mail. She also lives in Sweden.
A Swedish Christmas Fairy Tale by A.E. Radley was sweet, funny, stressful and satisfying. Funny because of the unexpected culture clashes (I didn’t think Brits and Nordics were that different), stressful because dammit, they should have talked more – and why was the boss so unreasonable? Wut, yelling at fictional characters again – who, me?
The ending was very satisfying, although I did think [character] was a bit OOC for doing that. But hey, it’s romcom, not srs lit. This book was perfect reading for a cold winter evening (don’t forget the hot drink and woollen socks!).
Drawing the Line by KD WIlliamson is the fourth book in the Cops & Docs series (but only the second one I’ve read). Exes Dani and Rebecca are thrown together again after a few years and there’s a whole lot of tension – not just the sexual kind. It’s like the aftermath of a war between these two, but they have to learn to get along again.
At first there’s a whole lot of bad blood between the two main characters, and their individual storylines reflect that. Both just try to to focus on their jobs. One’s kind of cold at work, too, one tries to adjust to a new workplace.
There are a few important supporting characters who are really fleshed out, complete people with their own traits, flaws and storylines. Main focus is still very much on Dani and Becca, with all the angsty slow burn you’d ever want. There’s even a bit of hate sex and hurt/comfort thrown in, so this was quite a ride. I liked it!
The best of the series! No, seriously. All the things that are good in a Lydon romcom, dialed up to the max. There’s the usual gallery of main characters who are sweet but far from perfect, quirky friends and relatives (and of course, old acquaintances from previous books), and a plot that will keep you entertained to the end.
Cleo and Becca meet at a wedding, and while neither is looking for a relationship with the other, they hit it off and become friends. Friends who can’t seem to stay away from each other, no matter how hard they try to convince themselves.
Snappy dialogue, funny (and sometimes embarrassing) situations, and London as the backdrop.. London, Actually by Clare Lydon was pretty much the perfect romcom. I also loved how it sometimes made fun of itself.
I started this book the same day it was released (some time in the evening) and couldn’t stop reading until the end, which was in the small hours of the next morning. My eyes were double-bagged the next day but it was so worth it!