Awash with culture, love & history

Lost Soul by Malika Gandhi

Touching, reflective and romantic – Malika Gandhi has crafted a gentle book that just washes over you.  A lovely read, with so many different themes.

The story is set in a small remote Indian village both today and a hundred years ago and in London now.

The change of Aanchal’s haveli from a family home to a museum would you expect herald a very different Indian village today from a century ago.  Yet, I found the difference in the village harder to see than I expected.

Marriage featured heavily, it was interesting to compare Aanchal’s marriage a century ago with that of Anupam today.  By showing Aanchal’s journey from her home as a relatively young girl to married lady and daughter-in-law you see arranged marriage in a different light.  You ask yourself what has changed?  Which seemed the more genuine love?

Of course, love was a strong theme in this book.  What I liked was the different portrayal of love centred around Aanchal.  Her relationships old and new showed the different aspects of love from sexual/romantic to parental and siblings to friends – blood family isn’t the only family.  The evolution of Vijay’s feelings and the comparison to Kunaal showed how those that love them are often blind to the obvious, and yet for both parental love does shine through, even with the cultural issues looming large.

Jennifer’s role in highlighting the cultural differences – time period aside – was important.  There was real charm in the subtlety of Kunnal trying to have one difficult conversation with his parents, just as the sadness of Vijay’s situation.

The change in the role of the British is very much a back drop to the story, and allows the author to show how the British once the ruling elite are today tourists wanting to know and share in their Indian heritage.

And then there is Aanchal the spirit herself.  As a spirit she generated such wildly different responses from those she came into contact with but this seemed to me to be culturally independent.  The response from those frightened by her to carry out an exorcism would be the same in Britain, sure the religious aspects would slightly differ but I was struck by the similarities.  Fascinating.

The one struggle with this book, is that in using Indian terms the author explain them.  Whilst, it needed to happen it did restrict the flow at times and annoyed me.  I don’t know how it could have been done better, but I just wish it had been.

thank you to the author for kindly giving me a copy of her book in return for an honest review


Shopping up a storm

Valentine by Heather Grothaus (out on June 23rd)

The concept of my other half taking me shopping or indeed knowing how to shop intrigues or even astounds me.  If only he’d buy me boots and dresses that fit perfectly, or even fix a picnic, and least of all deal with merchants!  It seems that he’s very much a man of his own time, yet a few centuries back he’d have relished the male role of shopping.  Ladies – what on earth happened?

You may wonder, why I lament a modern man’s ability to shop?

I blame Valentine!  Heather Grothaus’ new hero shops up a storm!  He can also ride, sail a raft, secure lodgings, mix poisons, speak a myriad of languages and sketch beautifully.  The man is everything a hero should be and then some.  I’ve yet to mention his charm and cheeky smile.  Any man who can shop like he can is a talented man; this is one multi talented gent.  And then there are pirates…. (seriously! Johnny Depp you are not needed!)

If this is historical romance, then Ms Grothaus is rewriting the definition.  Its an adventure story, with huge dollops of history and culture and a side order of romance and redemption!  And I loved it.

The writing is fast paced with a mixture of intriguing characters and real historical scenes.  Whilst, you know the next adventure is coming you’ve no idea what it will be and how they’ll get out of it (if indeed they will).  Travelling pre-passports never seemed so good!

Valenteen – take me shopping and I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth!  And I promise no seasickness!

Thanks to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review. Valentine is published on the 23rd of June – book 1 in the Brotherhood of Fallen Angels.

Something for the pool

Deep by Kylie Scott

Eeek!  A page and a bit in I knew this book wasn’t for me.  Clearly, I need to read the blurb better.  A YA novel about a knocked up fan following a one-night stand in Vegas? And to top it all its book four in a series!  Urgh!

Seriously, what was I thinking requesting this from netgalley….

They say don’t judge a book by its cover.  We all know its true right?  Well, today I learnt don’t judge what you like by what you know – or something like that.

This book was a little gem. Thanks to my kindle I can tell you I was hooked 3% in.

Lizzy the main character was so likeable, sweet but fierce but best of all open and honest.  She had no issue with the fact that she was crazy about Ben.  She revelled in the feeling both to herself and honestly to him.  He was your pretty archetype pain in the rear rock star – but that’s the point of the book (and the whole series I suspect).

Often when an author wants to mix it up a bit they start the story at the end rather than the beginning.  I ended up loving that Ms Scott started in the middle.   In that way the HEA ending was clearer but working out how they got to the middle and how the characters resolved it was good fun.  The cast of characters who I now know made up the other books were lively and likeable – especially Jimmy & Mal.

I so love the way the boys resolved their issues – totally inappropriate but so right for them.

This is a lovely feelgood story and an easy read.  Perfect for by the pool or a rainy coffee morning.  Only one issue I’m now going to have to download the rest of this series – roll on summer, I fancy three fun rockstar romances by the pool!

Thanks to netgalley for a free copy in return for an honest review. 


tick tock, tick tock

The Seven Series Dannika Dark (5 books & counting..)

Having just finished the latest in Dannika Dark’s paranormal Seven series – Three Hours – I’m pondering the nature of time in the old adage of falling in love .

Like most romance fans I adore the falling in love story, trying to work out when they both fell and not just how.  Ms Dark’s stories deal with her heroes connecting but more often than not reconnecting, with time as her backdrop.  Focussing on the time element gives her stories more intimacy; that her heroes are largely immortal adds another dimension – afterall what do immortals care about time?!

I wonder if her couples are fated to complete their journeys – so that the time dimension is just the road they take?  Or is Ms Dark using the notion of time to show her readers the moment/s her heroes fall in love giving her stories added grit? I tend to think its both depending on the story.

With Lexi and Austin (Seven Years #1) it feels that the tragedy they shared would always draw them back – it haunted the seven years they were apart.  At first glance Izzy and Jericho’s story (Five Weeks #3) would seem to be the same.  Having been apart for so long I expected a story in their past, yet its told far more in the present – the stars aligned and at that moment and only that moment they were fated to be together.

Interestingly, April and Reno’s story (Six Months #2) though totally in the present, is the one that’s more about the future.  He’s immortal, she’s not.  Their different futures haunt their connection.

Where so many romances are dominated by the instant connection – love at first sight – the power in this series is exploring the time between the connections.  In the latest book Wheeler and Naya (Three Hours #5) had a much earlier troubled meeting in another book.  Yet, its the power of three dreadful hours that have them trusting each other and revealing their hearts.

Keeping the focus on connecting and reconnecting Lorenzo’s book (Four Days #4) reconnects readers with her original couple in the Mageri series, showing what an imaginative world she’s created and allowing the interconnections between the different elements.

If I follow the logic, there’s books titled Two Minutes and One Second to go – can’t wait.

If it ain’t broke….

Say My Name – J. Kenner Stark International Book 1

Damian and Nikki move over, LA has a new power couple – Jackson & Sylvia.

Julie Kenner found herself a legion of fans with her first Stark series.  She’s clearly a lady who knows what her fans like.  This first book in a revisited Stark series is an absolute must for lovers of the original series.

There’s enough differences and original story to keep fans happy.  Jackson isn’t facing the same demons that Damian did.  Yet, as you’d expect he’s a strong, dominant, passionate and controlling personality.  Sylvia’s demons dominate the story.  Her career drive is the crux of this book in a departure from the original Stark stories.  Sylvia and Jackson have real passion and belief in their careers, which is compelling and quite different from the way Nikki & Damian’s story unfolded.

That though is where the differences end. If you’re hoping Ms Kenner will deviate from her tried & tested formula you’ll be disappointed.  The romance and  sexual connection will remind readers of Damian and Nikki.  But given how loved her first Stark series was – why would she deviate?

A new book series like this does make you wonder – should authors revisit their material knowing its a winning formula? Or is it baby and bath time?  Should readers expect them to stick to their genre?  Afterall, we all know how disappointed readers can be when a popular author chooses to explore a new genre.

I’m kind of torn – all I can say is that Julie Kenner kept me entertained and awake for a few hours on a home flight home.  And that makes me a happy girl!

thank you to netgalley for a free copy in return for an honest review

Gentle but powerful

The Faerie Tree  Jane Cable

This is a gentle book, dealing with strong powerful themes.  I loved it.

Its about memory, loss, grief, depression, illness, thwarted dreams and losing yourself.  Ugh! It sounds morbid, but it’s not.  Equally, I don’t want to trivialise it by describing it as uplifting or magical (which it is).

For me it was overwhelmingly a story of losing your way, finding yourself and learning to trust that second chances can and do exist.  But how do you trust yourself to take them? If you can’t trust your own memories what or who can you trust?

In so many books about relationships the power play between the parties is the core element, almost whacking you in the face. Yet here, the author explores the concept in far more subtle ways, looking at how such power plays maybe unconscious.  It’s clever and intriguing.

Clearly, when she wrote this book Ms Cable had no way of knowing that thanks to a downed airliner depression and mental health would be so topical.  Those impacted by mental illness are more likely to identify with Robin and Izzy than a German co-pilot bent on destruction.  I can’t imagine how difficult much of the media coverage has been for those dealing with depression.  For that reason alone I’d recommend this book.

I’d also recommend it because I do believe in the healing power of nature and that love is its own force of nature first, second or even third time round. And you’re never too old to believe in fairies – however it’s spelt!


unlucky thirteen?

The Shadows  J R Ward

As a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood from the beginning I was so ready for this book.  But thirteen books in I was wondering how JR Ward’s boys would fare.

Well, if the last book was a stepping stone this was a giant leap forward.  JR Ward’s signature snappy expressive dialogue has never been better. Again she delivers romance with humour and loads of personality but this time round you need shares in Kleenex.

Trez and Selina’s story isn’t about vampires and shadows, it’s the story of eternal love trying to outpace terminal illness.  Selina’s demand for honesty is real and painful, it doesn’t pull on the heart strings it cuts them adrift.

She might be one of the Chosen but of all the BDB heroines so far she’s the easiest to identify with. She stays with you.  How would you want your partner to mourn you? Could you put their needs above your anger at your fate?  Should you make or even honour final requests?  I wanted to bottle her rage and passion.

Her last request of Trez is gut wrenching.  I loved the exploration of sibling (especially twin) love versus romantic love – so compelling and thought provoking.

As for iAm, well perhaps there was some predictability in that story and thank god for that!

The very best thing? With new characters and storylines there has to be a book fourteen! Hooray!