Me Before You By Jojo Moyes

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The book that broke my heart

Published by Peguin (Michael Joseph), 5 Jan 2012, 528 pages, £4.99

Plot: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I saw this book in an office charity sale for NSPCC and thought I’d give it a whirl. I had seen a lot of praise for it from fellow bloggers. I knew there was a sequel hanging around and rumours of a movie in the making… So it sat on my desk as a TBR looking sweet and promising. One day this week my body was aching from screen stiffness so I took this book with me to the loungey part of the office and decided to read for a while. One hour later I couldn’t wait to leave and do my commute. Why should I look forward to a 1 hour and a half journey nicely playing sardines on the public transport system? Because I’d get to read more of this book. Yes, this book would make you look forward to that. Would make your days a little brighter. Would make you forget about your mundane troubles.

I love how Lou and Will are completely different- their class, culture, family, interests, desires. Their worlds collide in with the most compelling, uplifting, fascinating results. The story will make you laugh, cry and ache with heart-break. Will’s life was once full of luxury and activity. He had a high paid job and lived in London. He filled his free time with travelling and dating. Then an accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, unable to even eat without assistance. I mean, can you imagine the hideousness of this deal? The book does go into some dark areas about disability and society.

Anyway, when you strip all the action away, Will really doesn’t have anyone. His girlfriend and his friends all abandoned him. You could argue whether there was much meaning in his life before, if nothing is strong enough to survive? Enter Lou, who has never known much luxury or activity, has never ever left the small town they both grew up in. What a waste you must think. But we soon learn her own secrets for living in comfort.

I love the detail gone into creating the other characters- Will’s troubled upper classes parents and Lou’s boisterous working class family. The class thing is quite key in this book. The attitudes described could be shocking for other readers, but its such a British thing I completely understand. We do have some serious problems.. Will and Lou would not have crossed paths if it had not been for this accident, despite living so close to each other. As they are forced to get along, they start to teach each other about how to live, and what there is to live for.

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‘Bad Romeo’ and ‘Broken Juliet’ by Leisa Rayven

Starcrossed #1
Starcrossed #1
Starcrossed #2
Starcrossed #2

Published by Panmacmillan July 2, October 22 2015, 336/ 416, £3.59.

Quick description: Contemporary NA, set in an arts college.

Steam?: Way too much for my own good.

Plot: Bad Romeo The heart wants what it wants . . . and sometimes it wants something bad While performing the greatest love story of all time, they discovered one of their own . . . Cassie Taylor was just another acting student with big dreams at her prestigious performing arts college . . . then she met Ethan Holt. She was the good girl actress. He was the bad boy on campus. But one fated casting choice for Romeo and Juliet changed it all. Like the characters they were playing on stage, Cassie and Ethan’s epic romance seemed destined. Until it ended in tragedy when he shattered her heart. Now they’ve made it to Broadway where they’re reunited as romantic leads once again – and their passionate scenes force them they’re forced to confront the heartbreaking lows and pulse-pounding highs of their intense college affair. For Ethan, losing Cassie was his biggest regret – and he’s determined to redeem himself. But for Cassie, even though Ethan was her first and only great love, he hurt her too much to ever be trusted again. The trouble is, working with him again reminds her that people who rub each other the wrong way often make the best sparks. And when it comes to love, sometimes it’s the things that aren’t good for us that are the most irresistible.

Broken Juliet- Some loves never let you go . . . Cassie swore she’d never forgive Ethan for breaking her heart when they were in acting school years ago. He was her one great love, and when he refused to love her back, a part of her died forever . . . or so she thought. Now she and Ethan are sharing a Broadway stage, and he’s determined to win her back. Finally he’s able to say all the things she needed to hear years ago . . . but can she believe him? Has he really changed, and what makes this time different from all his other broken promises? The answer lies somewhere in the past, and now the truth will come to light. Will Cassie rediscover what it’s like to be trusting and open again – the way she was before Ethan? Or is it too late for these star-crossed lovers?

These two books have left me pret-ty exhausted. I would not recommend reading one after the other like I did. Set a two week breather between them I think. I liked the first book better. The writing was fast-paced, addictive and delved into describing some deep emotions. The protagonists suffer from deep insecurities, and the author drew out very honest and raw profiles. Cassie and Ethan materialized as very real and complicated characters. And the problems keep getting deeper and more complicated as we get on. The tension between them was- woah- it was so hot it practically slid of the page. In case you didn’t really gather before, this book is very sexy. Probably too sexy for me. Try reading this packed against everyone else on the tube hah! Awkward..

But I do feel I need to warn anyone who is not used to swearing in books because there’s a lot of that here. For someone a little prude like me, it was a bit of an eye-opener. O.O (my face most of the time). But I enjoyed reading something a little different from my more polite regencies. The other characters, loud, very crass and quite funny, reminded me of those in the movie ‘Fame’… I probably would not have survived this school ;).

I really liked the structure. The chapters alternate between past (broken up) and present (starting off). You see how they are in present day and wonder how they ended up like that, given the previous chapter they were so happily entwined. The two settings start to mix up and get confusing, for example tension start building up again in the present, or the past starts falling apart. I think this was the author’s intention- to convey the fluidity of the lover’s tumultuous affair. You can’t tell one end from the other, if you get my drift.

The author takes tease to a whole new level for me. There were some seriously great bits, but I think it got too frustrating after a while. You really have to throw the reader a bone sometimes. It was fine in the first book, when I was made of more sturdy stuff. But the hope for a satisfying conclusion carried onto the sequel and was stretched quite thin. I’m not sure if it was necessary for a second book and a less patient reader would have trouble waiting for the finale. There was a lot of stopping and starting, which is what got me so exhausted. But anyway, the clever structure held out. It really was the end transforming into the beginning. And overall, it was an enjoyably distracting read.

Thanks Panmacmillan for my review copies xxxx

@leisarayven

The Irresistible Rogue by Valerie Bowman

another ripper cover..
another ripper cover..

Published by St. Martin’s Press, 3rd November 2015, 352 pages, £4.92

Quick description: Regency romance with mystery and espionage.

Steam?: It will fog your glasses

Plot: Daphne Swift has not laid eyes on her devilishly charming husband, Captain Rafferty Cavendish, in quite some time. As a matter of fact, she wants the rogue to annul their brief marriage so that she can marry the reliable and estimable Lord Fitzwell. But the breathtakingly handsome Rafe is not interested in letting Daphne go-at least not without paying his scandalous price…
Rafe prefers to face the dangers of spying alone, but this time he needs his innocent, fiery wife to uncover the information he seeks. He has even agreed to release her from their marriage if she submits completely to his plan. However, Daphne’s alluring combination of courage and curves makes her a dangerous distraction, and it is not long before Rafe is trading subterfuge for seduction in order to prove that Daphne is meant to be his and his alone…

Another regency, SMP are on a roll. Did you enjoy Bella and the Beast by Olivia Drake? This is my first time reading from Valerie Bowman. And its not too shabby at all. Its a good value regency romance. A couple who have married for practical reasons under dangerous circumstances, but find themselves unable to get an annulment. Its a great, classic dilemma and works really well in this regency setting, because of all the rigid rules that become unraveled.

Daphne is back from an adventure, grieving the death of her brother and ready to re-enter elite society. She wants to put the past behind her and marry the most eligible bachelor who will provide her with title, security and stability. Everything has gone according to the system. She has been courted properly, her mother approves and the engagement party organised. Such a safe, sensible plan. What could go wrong? Well her husband showing up unannounced would be an issue. A husband who shares her passion of travel, danger, and freedom. And of course, totally gorgeous. Captain of a ship, awful reputation, dashingly unpredictable- he is everything wrong for her plan to fit into polite society. To top it all off, he had once rejected her affections by claiming she was like a sister to him. So Daphne has to battle; total cringe, anger, and undeniable attraction when he arrives. And he has the infuriating audacity to refuse an annulment! But does she actually want one…?

When news arrives of the spies that killed her brother, the ‘couple’ are thrown into another dangerous mission. They need each other; Daphne has the skill, Rafe has the experience. And once they realize that, would it be too late? This book has plenty of mystery and toe-curling scenes to dig in. My only issue is that, it was quite heavy on the espionage details when I would have preferred more tension built between the characters.

@ValerieGBowman

Thank you Amy Goppert from @SMPRomance

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Out of Control by Sarah Alderson

heart thumping
heart thumping

Published by Simon & Schuster, 12th May 2015, 320 pages, £6.99

Quick description: YA romance thriller set in New York City.

Steam?: rising off the page, but nothing explicit.

Plot: When seventeen-year-old Liva came to New York City, all she wanted was to escape the painful memories of her past and finally find a fresh start. Her hopes for a new future were dashed the moment she became the sole witness to a brutal murder. When she’s taken into police custody—supposedly for her own protection—she realizes something isn’t right, but it’s too late. Soon, bullets start flying, and Liva realizes that she is not just a witness, but the target—and she needs to escape before it’s too late.

With the help of a sexy car thief that she met at the station, Liva manages to get away from the massacre unharmed, but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit the two killers who will stop at nothing to find them. Liva and Jay are living on the edge, but when you’re on the edge, there’s a long way to fall.

This was SO GOOD! Anything Sarah Alderson writes now I think of as big lump of chocolate pudding to tuck into after a long slog in the office. Even though this was published ages ago, I still think this is worth publicizing. I got this as a giveaway after my interview with the amazing author about writing romance, to sum it up- have more sex… So thank you so much!! I have always focused on her NA books and thought that her YA may be too young for me. Hah! It really wasn’t. There was nothing graphic, but you can slice up the sexual tension, scoop it up even.

Ok, firstly, if you liked Conspiracy Girl you will definitely like this. Both are quite similar, a bold but confused heroine getting chased by a bunch of bad guys who hate her dad. To top it up, there seems to be another group of people after her. I mean, whats going on?? And these are seriously scary hitmen. The action and mystery pretty much starts from the first page and does not stop. The adrenaline flows to the end. What’s great is that its not predictable. There is a plot twist at the end, but the concluding page is a little abrupt.

I think I preferred Conspiracy Girl, purely because I loved the double POV. I would have loved to get more of Jay’s mind coming through. Despite being a complete stranger, he is the only person that Liva can depend on, and never mind him being a potential murderer. He helps her escape when police station gets attacked and when the chase continues. And yes he is pretty smoking. Whilst being scared, exhausted and confused by the chase, Liva has to battle her uncontrollable (get it?) attraction to Jay. The feelings mutual. They have 24 hours to stay alive, can they keep their hands off each other?

Get it, read, and thank me later.

Thanks again Sarah for the copy xxx

Heartsong Cottage by Emily March

Cosy Christmas read
Cosy Christmas read

Published by St.Martin’s Press, 3rd Nov 2015, 320 pages, £3.99

Quick description: Sweet, seasonal romance.

Steam?: moderate

Plot: Daniel Garrett is no stranger to heartache or tragedy. Once a successful detective, his world fell apart with his son’s murder and his wife’s suicide. Leaving the police force, Daniel devotes his life to finding missing children, but when a case goes sour on the anniversary of his personal tragedy, he returns to Eternity Springs hoping for some of the town’s fabled healing.

Shannon O’Toole isn’t looking for romance. After her fiancé’s death, she closed off her heart. But she can’t deny the spark between her and a sexy stranger at a friend’s wedding. Shannon has her own secrets and has no place in her life for a private detective, even one who moves her as much as Daniel. But when the pair are thrown together on a case, the magic of Eternity Springs just might give them a second chance.

This was my first time reading an ‘Eternity Springs’ book, but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. It was on the whole a chilled out book, perfect for cosy autumn afternoons. Its never too early for a seasonal treat! As you can gather from the plot, it does have quite a punchy beginning that did shock me a little. This might deter any body who is a little squeamish to violence. The effect leaves you aching with sympathy for Daniel, wondering how on earth is he going to recover? Enter, Shannon and there, instant connection. Its all quite predictable, but that’s why we read romances right?

The couple are of a good standard; vivacious, hard-working woman meets kind-hearted, rugged detective. The two have a very rocky relationship and I’m not sure if there was enough built up tension, you know how I’m on the steam team. But their romance is one that really does restore your faith in the world. Its all very heart-warming for the soul. As Daniel begins to heal, little surprises from his past crop up and resolve themselves. Sweet stuff going on.

Eternity Springs is a typical American small town. The cuteness of it is why I love reading these books and my weakness for Channel 5 daytime movies. I love fantasizing what it would be like to live in these quaint towns where everybody is nice and has each other’s back.

However, despite all this there is a thriller streak. There is plenty of mystery to keep the reader curious to the end. As Daniel’s latest case starts to complicate, revelations about Shannon’s life starts to spill out, even more shocking that what Daniel had to endure. All is not what is seems and she may not be who is says she is…

Wrap up warm and read!

@EmilyMarchBooks

Many thanks to Amy Goppert from SMP for my review copy xxx