Tag Archives: romance

Wild Horses on the Salt

Romance novel about escaping domestic violence and finding a new life

Content warning: domestic violence

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

52662498

“Wild Horses on the Salt” by Anne Montgomery is a romance novel about Becca, a lawyer fleeing her abusive husband. She finds herself on a property in Arizona, USA that belongs to an old friend of her aunt’s who uses it as a guest house. Physically and emotionally bruised, it takes Becca time to open up about what has happened to her. The more she learns about the beautiful country she has found herself in and the environmental issues that threaten it, including the contentious mustangs, the more she begins to feel at ease among her new friends. Especially the handsome Noah. However, her husband is not about to let her go so easily, and Becca soon finds the safety of her new life under threat.

This is an interesting novel that sensitively approaches the issue of domestic violence. Montgomery explores the factors that can leave someone vulnerable to controlling relationships as well as the stigma, financial control and physical danger that make it so difficult to leave. From the outside, Becca is an intelligent, beautiful and successful woman and I think that books like these carry the important message that domestic violence can happen to anyone. This is a well-researched book, and Montgomery brings the Arizona landscape to life through the lens of Becca’s rediscovered passion for art.

However, there were some points in the book where Montgomery’s enthusiasm for description slowed the plot down a bit. The parts of the book that follow the journey of an unlikely pair, a stallion and a sheep, were interesting but I felt that thematically they could have been connected better to the main story as either a well-timed plot device or a clearer metaphor for Becca’s own journey.

A good approach to the difficult topic of domestic violence.

1 Comment

Filed under Advanced Reading Copies, Book Reviews, General Fiction

In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow

Magic realism historical fiction novel set in WWII Hiroshima

Content warning: war

I received a copy of this eBook courtesy of the publisher.

“In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow” by Kenneth W. Harmon is a historical fiction novel about an American bombadier called Micah whose plane is shot down over Hiroshima, Japan during WWII. Although Micah dies, his spirit remains in Hiroshima. He becomes attached to a young Japanese woman called Kiyomi and follows her to her workplace and to her home with her in-laws and daughter. As he slowly learns about his new existence from other ghosts, he grows more and more attached to Kiyomi. With the knowledge that Hiroshima will soon be under attack, Micah must try to find a way to communicate with Kiyomi and warn her before it is too late.

Despite some very graphic scenes, this is for the most part a gentle novel about love and overcoming differences. Remaining in Japan after his death gives Micah a new perspective on the country and people he previously believed were his enemies. Harmon uses dream-like states as a way for his living and dead characters to communicate, and explores ideas about what the afterlife may be like. Kiyomi is an interesting character who is trapped by traditional family obligations, and I thought that her daughter Ai was characterised well too. I thought that the parts of the book set in Hiroshima were the strongest, and I particularly enjoyed Micah’s conversations with an American-Japanese man.

While for the most part I enjoyed the beginning of the story, there were a few elements that I found frustrating. Even death doesn’t appear to prevent Micah from following a woman around (including in the bathroom) who has made it clear that the attention is unwanted. I also think it’s important to note that most of the book is about Kiyomi and her own life and experiences, but that this is not an #OwnVoices book. While Harmon clearly did a significant amount of research for this novel, I actually would have liked to have read more about this process in an afterword. I did feel that the way he sprinkled Japanese language through the book was a little jarring. I also felt that the second half of the novel, which was much more ethereal than the first half, felt muddied and unclear. It was hard to understand how much was inspired by Japanese culture and how much was Harmon’s imagination.

An experimental novel that had some interesting ideas and research but did feel confused at times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advanced Reading Copies, Book Reviews, eBooks, Historical Fiction

McSexy

Racy romance set in Ghana

Content warning: sexual themes

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

“McSexy” by Sianah Nalika DeShield is a romance novel set in Ghana about playboy millionaire Mike Frimpong and PhD candidate and children’s book author Lily Annah. Although Mike has everything, all the important people in his life keep nagging him to settle down, marry and have children. With his masculinity called into question, Mike accepts a bet that he will have a baby before the year is out. After making the bet, he meets the beautiful, intellectual Lily and sparks fly immediately. However, Lily’s family is experiencing serious financial problems and she secretly applies to an advertisement for a very unconventional job.

This is a fun, light-hearted novel full of drama and with an outrageous premise. DeShield is fearless when it comes to pushing her characters to extremes for comedic effect. However, even though it certainly had a much different tone, this book reminds me a little of “Letting Go” where the success of the characters is a given, but their ability to form and maintain relationships is the area in which they struggle. I particularly liked Lily because even though she has academic and writing success, she doesn’t yet have financial success, which created some interesting class tensions in the book.

However, I think it needs to be clear that this is not a serious book and both Mike and Lily are ultimate Mary Sues and in particular, Mike’s sexual prowess and financial acumen beggars belief at some points. Although an enthusiastic writer, DeShield does a fair bit of telling rather than showing and there were points where felt she could have dialed the description back a little and relied a bit more on suggestion, such as during the sex scenes.

A fun and entertaining story, that is a refreshing take on the romance genre.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, eBooks

The Road to Vermilion Lake

Romance novel set against the backdrop of a beautiful lake

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

Image result for the road to vermilion lake

“The Road to Vermilion Lake” by Vic Cavalli is a romantic novel about Thomas, a first aid attendant and blaster’s assistant who is working on an enormous development project alongside a beautiful lake. Every time Thomas hears an explosion, he’s reminded of his ex-girlfriend, the gorgeous Sally, the first woman he ever kissed. However, his life becomes complicated when he meets Johnny, Sally’s sister and an architect on the lake development project. As he starts to fall for Johnny, Thomas wonders if he can grow to be the man she deserves and whether he can ever truly move on from Sally.

This novel is quite unusual in that it is purely romance, but told wholly from the perspective of a male character. Romance is typically considered a feminine genre, so it was a bit refreshing to read a romance novel where it’s a man who is angsting over what he says and does to make a relationship work. I thought Cavalli did a good job exploring the emotions around a new relationship and the transition from carefree young man to responsible, driven adult.

There were a lot of interesting elements to this story, but one thing that I thought was a shame was a missed opportunity to link two of these elements together. Without giving too much away, there was a character that Thomas’ friend met and a character in Johnny and Sally’s life that could have been connected and I did feel like it would have been brilliant to connect the two and have a bit more depth to the characters’ backstories.

An easy read and a gentle novel about the personal development and compromise required to make a relationship work.

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, General Fiction

A Different Kind of Lovely

I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.

 

Picture

“A Different Kind of Lovely” by Petra March is a romance novel about a wealthy but troubled young playboy who stumbles across a ballet dancer when trying to confront his painful past. The magnetism between Neal and Mina is immediate, but when Mina’s ballet career is threatened, their budding relationship may not be strong enough to withstand the pressure.

This is an idyllic novel about a summer romance and when you can tell in a relationship that you can rely on someone. March is a whimsical and sensual writer who focuses on all the senses while exploring human motivation. Mina and Neal are attractive characters whose initial physical attraction is rounded out later by their personal histories and achievements.

However, this is a romance novel and while I appreciate that the focus of the story was Mina and Neal’s relationship, I think I would have liked a bit more depth to the plot. The story alternates between Mina’s perspective and Neal’s perspective on the relationship and their own personal issues, however I think that the story needed a touch more conflict to contrast the dreamy love story against.

An easy summer read about a summer romance.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, General Fiction

The Sevenwaters Series

Where do I even begin? There is something about Juliet Marillier’s novels that just seem to resonate with me. Maybe it’s my Celtic roots. Maybe it’s her strong and relatable heroines. Maybe it’s her exquisite mix of historical fiction and fantasy. Maybe, despite everything that I say, I secretly love romance novels. I have no idea, but I just cannot get enough of her, and the Sevenwaters Series is absolutely no exception.

I started reading these books just before Christmas, and I have been trying my hardest to draw this series out as long as I can. I only just recently finished the sixth book in the collection, Flame of Sevenwaters, and so nearly a year after starting them it is only now that I can write about the whole series. The books commence with Daughter of the Forest, a Celtic retelling of the German fairy tale, The Six Swans. This is about Sorcha, a sister who must weave her six enchanted older brothers shirts of thorns to turn them back to humans from swans. The second (and my favourite of the six) is Son of the Shadows, which follows Sorcha’s spirited daughter Liadan who is determined to forge her own path, the Fair Folk be damned. Third comes Child of the Prophecy, which introduces Liadan’s cousin Fainne who brings a lot more trouble than anyone bargained for. The third book is much darker and much more morally grey, which means that while Fainne herself is not as likeable, the book is really interesting. The final three in the series, Heir of SevenwatersSeer of Sevenwaters and Flame of Sevenwaters are about three of Liadan’s brother Sean’s daughters and their interactions with the Fair Folk.

wpid-snapchat-2383505933252801951.jpg

These books always seem to touch me somehow. For example, I recently had to say goodbye to our beautiful dog Bailey, who at the majestic age of 19 years old had been a part of our family for the past 17 years. The final book, Flame of Sevenwaters, is about Maeve, a woman with a special affinity for animals who lost her own dog in a fire and who bonds with two unusual and clever new dogs. I read this book only a couple of weeks after losing my dog, and had me sobbing my heart out.

Juliet Mariller is comfort reading to me. It is the perfect marriage of history, fantasy and romance, and every new novel of hers I read, I adore. These books are beautifully written and have intricate family dynamics, strong women, beautiful men and are rich in culture and scenery. She has such a knack for capturing nuances in characters and relationships. They are my ultimate form of escapism and I am constantly torn between devouring them and savouring them, book by book. I love these books and there is little I look forward to more than picking up a new novel of hers that I haven’t yet read.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Historical Fiction