‘A story which tests the boundaries of romance and friendship’ Rosie’s #Bookreview of Always I Love You by Michelle Keill. #TuesdayBookBlog @booksirens

Always I Love YouAlways I Love You by Michelle Keill

4 stars

Always I Love You is a story which tests the boundaries of romance and friendship.

Joanna came to Paris, the City of Love, to find her ‘Big Love’; on the eve of her departure, believing that she failed in her search, she meets Ludo and Sébastien. Friends and flatmates, the duo take Joanna dancing, then back to their flat. The young men have made a pact: they wish to find someone they can be devoted to, a woman that they can share.

This is a well-written tale; there are twists and complications, a drop of the mystic as well as a dark undertone. Keill’s characters get under your skin and I was never quite sure where the story thread would go. This isn’t happy-ever-after romance, in fact ‘happy’ would be a poor choice of word to describe this story. At times I needed to take a break from reading; it’s often ‘heavy’ in substance, but I returned, curious about the outcome.

It’s an unusual story and one which I think could open many deep discussions, especially if it were chosen for a book club. I like Keill’s writing style and have read other books by her; she makes the reader think which is often a good thing.

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‘I want the “big love”… And I want to have it with you.’

Joanna Lloyd believes her dream of finding a French lover is over, but on the eve of her departure from Paris, she meets Ludo and Sébastien. Charming, and disconcertingly disarming, the two charismatic Parisians invite her to join them in their pact to find the ‘big love’.

Their attraction is instant and, defying convention, together the three of them embark upon an epic, all-consuming love affair that will change not only their lives, but those of millions of others. But their big love brings with it monumental challenges of the kind they could never have imagined.

Darkness descends on their idyllic corner of the City of Light, and the strength of their bond is tested to its limits as they strive to withstand the extraordinary forces that seek to tear them apart.

As their romance edges inexorably into tragedy, and then to infamy, can their love survive the toughest of tests, or will it shatter like glass?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #MagicalRealism The Four Women by Michelle Keill @michkeill #TuesdayBookBlog

The Four WomenThe Four Women by Michelle Keill

4 stars

The Four Women is an unusual book to define; I have chosen to call it magical realism.

It is set in Paris and revolves around a young couple who are deeply in love. Mats is an artist from Germany, and Grace is a writer. Grace has been befriended by four Parisian women: Ludivine, Marion, Véronique and Eléonore. They are an eclectic mystical group who know details about Grace and Mats that leave Grace feeling uncomfortable.

Mats has been lucky, and Paris has inspired his art; Madam Dumas will take every painting he can create. Grace leaves Mats alone each day while she roams Paris in search of her own muse. Unable to speak French, Grace is persuaded by her new friends to take lessons from a revered teacher, Alexander Martel. His teaching methods are bizarre; if Grace is to accept his help, he tells her, the lessons will be free but the cost may be ‘priceless’. A statement that puzzled Grace , but one she would understand later.

The four women made me think of the Greek furies as well as the role of the fates in a person’s life. I appreciated the author’s choice of character names, particularly when I investigated their meanings. The story is both simple and complex, leaving me with unanswered questions and thoughts of the story long after the ending. An interesting read which may leave the reader quite mystified.

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Book description

‘Go inside, Alexandre is expecting you…’

It is the height of summer in Paris when Grace, a young British writer, and her artist boyfriend move to the French capital. Grace is captivated by the glamour of the city and yearns to be part of chic Parisian society. Before she knows it, Grace is befriended by four enigmatic women who represent everything she longs to be. But Grace can’t recall where she met these women, when they entered her life, or how they seem to know so much about her.

The four women insist she seek out Alexandre Martel. He is a French tutor par excellence, and could not only teach her the language, but his influence could also open the door to the exclusive Parisian elite she so admires – although, the women warn her, Alexandre’s methods are not for the faint-hearted.

Her instincts warn her not to get involved, but Grace soon becomes embroiled in Alexandre’s world. He is a brilliant, unsettling teacher. But for his lessons there will be a price to pay…

The Four Women brings a cold shiver to a hot Paris summer in a dark, supernatural fairy tale about the choices we make, the lies we tell, and the inescapable force of destiny.

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#Contemporary #Romance Rosie’s #Bookreview of Trying New Hats by Sofia Ellis

Trying New HatsTrying New Hats by Sofia Ellis

3.5 stars

Trying New Hats is a contemporary romance set mainly in Paris. Thirty-five-year-old Poppy Parker is just about to get promoted to Senior Marketing Manager at Boston’s Belle Cosmetics, but Gus Weasel snatches the position from under her nose. An angry Poppy wants to quit, but her boss insists she takes six-weeks paid leave to think about it instead.

This isn’t helped by her fiancé, Daniel, when he announces his own work promotion, adding that he must take off for Hong Kong immediately for six months. She then discovers that Daniel’s been keeping secrets from her, and she suspects he’s having an affair; her world is shattered in twenty-four-hours.  But all is not lost; Poppy discovers an aunt she didn’t know she had.  Selma lives in Paris, and Poppy makes an impulsive decision to visit her.

Selma collects lost souls, and Poppy fits right in.  Currently sharing the apartment is a grumpy artist and a reclusive author and Poppy begins to find some balance as she falls in love with more than just the City Of Love.

This is a sweet romance in a lovely setting. I enjoyed reading about Selma and the way she collected people in need and gave them space and time to heal. The romance is straight forward and a clean read but it does contain rather too many genre clichés in both narrative and dialogue. For this book to stand out amongst the millions of competitors it needs to have more of its own unique voice.

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Book description

Boston born and bred Poppy Parker gets thrown for a loop when the promotion she has been promised for two years is given to someone else. Meanwhile, her fiancé accepts a job offer in Hong Kong without consulting her and postpones their wedding. So when she finds a postcard from Paris with a message written by an aunt she didn’t know existed, she can’t think of a reason to not book a seat on the next flight to France.

Poppy has worn the dutiful daughter and supportive sister hat for as long as she can remember, the loyal employee hat for her entire professional career, and the patient fiancée hat since she started dating the man she is supposed to marry, a man who is already married to his job. It’s time for her to try some new hats on for size. In the process, she uncovers long-buried family secrets and a chance at true love if she is brave enough to take it.

About the author

Sofia Ellis loves sunny summer days, books and movies that end with the promise of happily ever after, and, above all, spending time with her family. She also enjoys drinking coffee while writing. Without the invigorating powers of caffeine, she wouldn’t get much done.

Sofia Ellis

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My #Bookreview of #Histfic Brethren by @RobynYoung36 A Knights Templar tale

Brethren (Brethren Trilogy, #1)Brethren by Robyn Young

4 stars

Brethren is an historical novel and is set in the thirteenth century. It features the Knights Templar and some of their crusades in The Holy Land.

The book opens in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, as an army of Mamluk warriors successfully win back land from both the Mongol nation and the western invaders. Rising through the Mamluk ranks, commander Baybars is on a personal mission to gain freedom from invaders for his people.

In Paris, a book is stolen. The Book Of The Grail is believed to contain confirmation that a secret sect exists within the Knights Templar. While in London, thirteen year old Will Campbell, a Templar sergeant, struggles with the harsh demands of discipline that being a knight-in-training requires.

The mystery which surrounds the stolen book, and the latest threats to western strongholds in The Holy Land, all lead Will on a treacherous journey to a place he’s dreamed of travelling to for years.

I enjoyed this story, as the tales which surround The Knights Templar have always fascinated me. The author explains that she tried to keep the events and characters as close to reality as possible, without the historical detail overriding the plot. I thought she did a good job, because at no time did I feel that I was in the middle of a history lesson. The book, however, took me a while to read; it is quite long. This was the only drawback, as I felt, at times, that it dragged the story out, causing me to break from reading, rather than keeping me completely engrossed. However, I do not hesitate to recommend this to those who enjoy this historical genre.

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Book description

From the burning plains of Syria to the filthy backstreets of Paris and London, Brethren is the story of Will Campbell, coming of age in a time of conspiracy, passion, politics and war.

Will longs to become a Knight Templar, but first he must serve as an apprentice to the foul-tempered scholar Everard, a man of dangerous secrets.

Meanwhile, a new star is rising in the east. Amir Baybars has fought his way from slavery to become a fearsome commander, driven by an unquenchable desire to free the Holy Land from the European invaders.

A stunning, epic novel of war, savagery and heroism.

About the author

Robyn Young lives in Hove, and is the author of BRETHREN, the first novel in a trilogy set in the world of the Crusades. The author of numerous poems and short stories published in magazines and anthologies, Robyn has a Masters in Creative Writing with distinction from the University of Sussex. She teaches creative writing part-time in Brighton.

Robyn Young

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