Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington

sisters and lies
Enter a caption

Published by Penguin Ireland, March 24 2016, 320 pages, £9.09

Quick description: contemporary thriller, family drama, mystery, relationships.

Plot: One hot August night, Rachel Power gets the call everyone fears. It’s the police. Her younger sister Evie’s had a car crash, she’s in a coma. Can Rachel fly to London right away? With Evie injured and comatose, Rachel is left to pick up the pieces of her sister’s life. But it’s hard fitting them together, especially when she really doesn’t like what she sees. Why was Evie driving when she doesn’t even own a licence? Who is the man living in her flat and claiming Evie is his girlfriend? How come she has never heard of him? The more mysteries Rachel uncovers the more she starts asking herself how well she ever really knew her sister. And then she begins to wonder if the crash was really the accident everybody says it is. Back in hospital, Evie, trapped inside an unresponsive body, is desperately trying to wake up. Because she’s got an urgent message for Rachel – a warning which could just save both their lives . . .

I think this book started off a little slow. There was a instant splurge of questions and no clear direction. I usually prefer thrillers that are fast paced pow-pow-pow. There are big chunks of repeated background story- which is all very well but when its a mystery, I felt there needed to be hints in the present. All of it really sums up the fact that things are messed up. But I mean it was enough to keep me intrigued. It got good when we get Evie’s POV, still conscious and piecing her memory back while in the coma. As she tries to remember everything, Rachel is stumbling in the dark, doing her own investigation, tracing footsteps and making calls. Things become clearer halfway through and the book begins a slow tense build-up to a popping climax around 70%. Their stories meet and everything gets quickly unraveled, including skeletons from their childhood.

It’s fair to say that I did get more interested halfway through. The pace is slow and pulsing and prepares you for an explosion. And the big reveal really was surprising, I would not have guessed that at all. So it did throw me a curve ball.

Overall the characters are well fleshed. I don’t have more to say about Rachel than the fact that she is a bold and caring sister. I think Evie is a more complex and elusive persona, especially as she tells her story while comatose. The book gets quite graphic at times, through language, drug references, violence and sex. Certain parts in the big reveal are quite dark- mainly involving psychological issues.

So give it a whirl if all the above is y’thing!

Thanks Penguin for my review copy xxx

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The Unforgettable Hero by Valerie Bowman

unforgettable
Not bad

Published by SMP, Feb 2016, 100 pages, £1.49

Quick description: Novella, regency romance, love despite amnesia.

Steam?: moderate

Plot: To escape a forced marriage to her loathsome, social-climbing cousin, Cecelia Harcourt banks on selling a romantic novel. But when she’s hit by a coach on the way home from meeting a potential publisher and loses her memory, the accident leads to an encounter with a fascinating man. . . who she’s convinced is the hero of her novel. Due to his brother’s influence, Lieutenant Adam Hunt finds himself honorably discharged from the army. Adam intends to make his way in the world without the help of a war-hero duke, brother or no. He finds his plans for independence sidetracked by a chance encounter with a lady whose memory has gone. She believes he’s a hero. Can Adam become the man he was meant to be and fill that lofty role?

As novellas go, this is not too bad. Its very tricky to do a short love story, especially a regency one. You don’t have many pages to build up tension, chemistry as well as slip in a mystery element. I thought this book was quite sweet. Its about love in curious circumstances. Its not the best of the £1 eBooks, but it will guarantee a good few hours of reading. Another blogger has described Bowman’s work as ‘light and fluffy’. This certainly describes this book. Both Cecelia and Adam are cute. The story, veering towards the silly side, is pretty funny when you think of it. It creates confusion, conflict and reunions. These are all structured pretty well, despite being condensed. I wanted to see how far Cecelia will go with her false memory and what would happen when she recovers.

I actually liked this better than the last Bowman romance I read, The Irresistible Rogue  which I found getting a bit too graphic. The Unforgettable Hero isn’t hot as lightning, but it has a moderate amount of swoon and steam.

Thanks SMP for my review copy xx

A Duchess in Name by Amanda Weaver

duchessname
Swoontastic

Published by Carina Press, January 2016, 234 pages, £2.25

Quick description: historical romance, titles and inheritances.

Steam?: Swoontastic

Plot: Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement. Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know. Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.

This was pretty good! It was very enjoyable, light and will have you swooning heavily. I’m happy to be introduced to Weaver’s work and look forward to more in the Grantham Girls series.

Victoria has a calm dignity about her. She is kind and strong, despite growing up destined for a loveless marriage. When she meets the handsome and polite Andrew, things do not seem too bad. But learning that his family desperately need her money does put a downer on things. I like how the predicament is pretty air-tight. Andrew is blackmailed into marrying Victoria and has to leave his pleasant life in Italy. For Victoria, its either Andrew or a creepy old Lord. She has no choice thanks to her self-made and selfish American parents, who need an aristocratic title to survive in elite English society.

So they have an extremely awkward start to the relationship. More so, as they are immediately attracted to each other and can’t help but like one another. The fact that they are suspicious of each other’s true intentions means that neither of them can really be themselves. So they are kept curious and guessing each other, which is great fun for the reader. As always in a good romance, there is a streak of mystery and a big misunderstanding that keeps piling up. Whilst this is happening, Victoria grows admirably and becomes more independent and the love between her and Andrew becomes ever more complicated.

Great read! Thanks Carina for my review copy xx ❤