Only The Beginning is a contemporary romance and book one of the Rockin’ Country series.
These books are music themed and this is the story of the romance between country singer Harmony Stewart and Garrett ‘Reaper’ Thompson, the leader of a rock band. At opposite ends of the music spectrum they seem like an unlikely match, but both understand the strains being on the road, and their connection blossoms quickly.
With romance around the corner Harmony has to work through her insecurities while Reaper’s temper may be too much for the couple. Can country meet rock and make a match? Will the fans approve of them getting together?
I enjoyed this story, the music scene was a setting that I don’t often choose to read about. There were some good secondary characters who will also have their own stories in following books.
Princess of Country Music. America’s sweetheart. Survivor of the scrutiny that comes with it all.
Hannah ‘Harmony’ Stewart has lived most of her adult life in the spotlight. It hasn’t always been easy. One heartbreak almost ruined her. Some days it’s hard to keep a smile on her face and stay positive, but there are a lot of people counting on her to keep it together. Just when it seems like she’s at the pinnacle of her career, her life takes a turn. She meets a man who challenges everything she knows about herself and makes her question if the life she’s living is for her or for the Nashville machine.
Heavy Metal’s bad boy. Hair trigger temper. Struggling to deal with pressure of the industry.
Garrett ‘Reaper’ Thompson is tired. Touring and keeping up appearances with his band “Black Friday” is beginning to wear him out. He’s ready for a change, ready for something different. When he meets Hannah at an awards show, he knows that she’s the one, he knows that he can’t live without her.
Their own insecurities, their fans, her ex-boyfriend, and the media themselves. Can they look past it all and come through on the other side? For their story – this is only the beginning.
Saving Toby is the first book in the Finding Me contemporary series. This story is also a new adult opposites attract romance. I had previously read book three in the series, although the characters aren’t linked, it is the subject matters that relate to the series.
Claudia and Toby— two young adults from very different homes. Toby grew up with violence; his father killed two people while drunk driving, while his brother is in prison for murder. The family name Faye was well known in town, but not for good reasons.
Claudia is the police chief’s daughter who studies hard and has plans to move to California for university. She has volunteered for part-time work caring for Toby’s sick mother. Previously, Toby and Claudia had been had the same school; he’d had a crush on her, but she moved away to a new school. Their romance now blossoms, but it is complicated by further violence and Claudia’s plans to move away.
This is a story about relationships and finding what you want in life. At times this is a harsh story, but that gives it a realistic edge. Overall another good book in the series.
Loving a man through a hard fall from grace is a job for a strong woman.
The Faye name is infamous in Claudia’s sleepy Long Island bayside town. She remembered Toby Faye only as the tough, moody kid in school who couldn’t make eye contact with her. She might have forgotten him if it weren’t for the horrific drama surrounding his family.
When a job opportunity drops Claudia back into Toby’s life, she discovers the once skinny, troubled boy is now a charismatic and playful package of muscle and swagger. Despite her attempt to ignore Toby, his loving relationship with his ailing mother gets Claudia’s attention and wins her heart. A good girl mixing it up with the town bad-boy is a huge risk, but Toby’s blue-grey eyes expose a need Claudia cannot ignore.
Does Claudia have the grit to love Toby through his inevitable downfall?
Saving Toby is the first standalone novel in the stirring Save Me new adult romance series.
Olga has been reading When Emma Came To stay by Cheryl Waters.
The description provides quite a few clues as to what to expect. There are a variety of elements that converge in this novel: we have romances (yes, more than one); we have second chances (for several of the characters involved); we have secrets, lies, and plenty of reveals (not impossible to work out, but they add interest to the story and keep it moving); we have a bit of the adult coming of age story for the protagonist, Emma (whose priorities change massively after losing both, her long-term boyfriend and her long-term job quite by surprise), but, for me, this is mostly a wish fulfilment novel. Not for everybody, of course, because some people would, perhaps, hate the lifestyle the protagonist chooses/finds herself thrown into, but many people will, at some point, have probably wished they could just leave everything behind, move to a different country, and have a go at making a living in a totally different way, in a wonderful setting, staying in a nice house, finding a (new) loving relationship, and acquiring a perfect (if somewhat unconventional) family. If you are one of those people, you are likely to enjoy this novel. There is no explicit sex, and although Emma’s aunt, Maude, can be a bit outrageous at times, the language used if fairly mild. I won’t say it is unlikely to offend anybody, because I know that is a very personal thing, and a few of the situations and behaviours in the story might not sit well with some readers. I definitely wasn’t offended and didn’t mind Maude’s funny banter, which I find good-humored and endearing.
My favourite things in this book were: the setting, although those who hate long descriptions don’t need to worry, as there aren’t many and they aren’t excessively detailed either; the upbeat attitude of Emma and most of the characters, who take things in their stride, and although they might experience doubts and hesitations, they eventually decide to take a chance and take risks to try to improve things; the characters, especially Maude, who is wonderful. She is youthful, colourful, has a great sense of fun and joy, and is determined to enjoy life and unwilling to slow down due to her age or her ailments. Some of the other characters are somewhat thinly drawn, as the story (other than when it comes to Maude and her past) is very much focused on what is happening now, and we only get rare glimpses of what life has been like for the rest of the characters. But I liked them all well enough, and the main protagonist, Emma, is kind, generous, and it is easy to root for her. This is not a heavy novel, as I have mentioned, and it doesn’t go into the deep psychological reasons for the characters’ actions, and none of them are depicted as particularly complex. There is the typical will they/won’t they situation regarding one of the romances, but the obstacles are not insurmountable, and this isn’t a heavy melodrama where suffering and tragedy play a big part, thankfully.
Was there anything I disliked? Although most of the events are told from Emma’s point of view, and the whole story is narrated in the third person, there are also parts of the story where we get to see what some of the other characters think and feel. That adds to the mystery and to the tension in some cases, as we realise what is going to happen but don’t really know how it is going to come about, but because the swap in point of view can happen from one paragraph to the next and without any clear separation or indication of the change, some readers might get a feeling of head-hopping and take issue with it. Due to the nature of the story and to the rhythm of the narration, I didn’t have any difficulty following the thread and didn’t get lost despite these changes, but I thought I’d warn readers, just in case that might be a serious problem for them.
The other issue I had, and I am aware that it might have to do with my book being an early copy and a paperback at that (and I know formatting can be a nightmare sometimes), was that there were a large number of typos and similar issues (dialogue apostrophes missing, the same or similar word repeated several times in a paragraph…) that could be easily solved by a further round of proofreading if that hasn’t happened already. The writing itself is easy to follow, and there is plenty of everyday life reflected in the story, which follows the rhythm and the chronology of the seasons, and the ending is… well, happy as it should be, with no ifs or buts.
If you’ve always dreamed of changing your life completely and finding the perfect adoptive family, in a beautiful setting, with a good dose of romance and good cheer thrown in, I would recommend you to check this book. It will make you smile.
Emma’s just turned thirty. She’s just lost her job. And she’s just as single as she always is. Fortunately, her beloved Aunt Maude – a fun-loving septuagenarian – lives in the south of France. It’s just what Emma needs: time to swim in the sea that sparkles, let the sun kiss her skin, and to work out what she wants and where she’s going.
When yacht-owning Marc comes sailing into her life, Emma can’t believe her luck! But there is something she just can’t work out about him…
When her fun-loving aunt ends up in hospital Emma learns that Maude has her own secrets. Just how did her aunt come to have a masterpiece in her attic?
As this delightful corner of France wraps Emma (and us) up in its charms, we wonder if Marc is all that she wants – or is true love somewhat closer to home?
Olga has been reading Shoot The Moon by Bella Cassidy.
I am familiar with the name of the author but not being a big reader of romantic novels (I read the odd one and usually enjoy them, but in general prefer other genres and sometimes read them to take a break or when I need something different to my usual read) I hadn’t read one of hers yet. My mother is a big fan of shows about weddings and wedding dresses, and I thought the job of the protagonist promised some amusing adventures, and that was indeed the case, but there was much more to the novel than that.
The description of this novel is very accurate, and I think it gives a good indication of what readers can expect from it. This is a romantic novel, with a background in the world of wedding photos and wedding magazines (and it is eye-opening to realise how much insight a photographer can get into the lives and relationships of those she photographs), with some of the ceremonies taking place in wonderful settings all over the British Isles (or almost), from London, to Exeter, the Scottish Highlands, even New York (sort of), and with stops in Somerset and Shropshire, among other places. We also have wonderful contrasts between city and country life (managing a farm, cheese making, dog breeding… also make an appearance), and although most of the story is narrated in a chronological order (with some jumps forward in time) between 2014 and 2016, Tassie, the main protagonist, also remembers scenes from her youth and her recent past, and quite late in the book we get snippets of a diary set at a much earlier time (when Tassie was a very young child). I won’t go into a lot of detail, to avoid revealing too much, but there are secrets that help explain difficult family relationships and behaviours, and, most importantly, this is one of those novels that I would classify as adult coming of age stories, because a character that seemed to have got stuck at a young age (much younger than their chronological age), finally gets to mature and grow up. Oh, and there is a touch of the spiritual/paranormal as well.
There are many other themes that pop up in the novel, and some are explored in more detail than others (faith and loss; the difficulties a couple can face when trying to have children, miscarriages, and the toll that takes on the mental health; coming out (or not) to your traditional family; issues of trust; family relationships and the secrets families keep; toxic relationships and how to get free from them; second chances and living our dreams…) but it is far from simply a light and amusing read that will leave you with a smile on your face. There is that as well (yes, it is a proper romantic novel, and there is a happy ending, I can tell you that, although you’ll have to read the whole thing to see how it comes about, and “happy” might look quite different to what we think when we start reading the novel), but there are some important subjects explored in detail in the novel. I recommend readers to not skip the section of acknowledgments at the end, as it gives a good insight into the process of creation of the novel, and it also provides some extra resources to people wanting to explore further some of the issues that play an important part in the book.
The novel, which is narrated in the third person but from Tassie’s point of view, has a fabulous cast of secondary characters. To be totally honest, Tassie isn’t my favourite. Other than Alex, her long-term love interest, and a couple of the characters that appear fleetingly at some of the weddings, she was probably the character I liked the least at first. I didn’t hate her, but although I loved her friends (Syd and Oliver are fabulous, and so are their partners, and there are many other characters that appear only briefly, like the reverend and mother of one of the brides, or Syd’s witch aunt [well, Wiccan. She has an owl! How could I possibly not love her?] that I would have happily read whole books about), she was one of those people I felt like shaking and telling her to get her head out of the sand and start really looking at what was going on around her and in her own life. Perhaps because I’ve had friends with similar issues, I felt closer to those trying to advise her and getting frustrated because nothing seemed to make a difference than to her, and because even the wonderful adventure she lives in Scotland with Dan (who is great. Yes, another favourite of mine) seems to follow the usual pattern. The fact that the story is narrated in the third person helps readers get a bit more perspective and perhaps puts them in a privileged position to get a clearer picture of what is at stake, although events that happen later help move things along. And perhaps, the whole point of the story is to make us see that certain things can only get solved when we are brave enough to confront them, no matter what the likely outcome or how painful the process might be. So, yes, although I didn’t feel I had much in common with Tassie, and she wasn’t my favourite character to begin with, she grew on me, and I felt sorry to see her go at the end.
Although some of the subjects are emotional (and yes, be prepared from some tears), the writing is fluid and dynamic, combining wonderful descriptions of places, people, and situations (some quite hilarious), with quiet moments of reflection and introspection, and the odd touch of magic. There is romance, of course, and although there is passion, this is not an erotic novel full of “hot” sex scenes (much to my relief, as I am not a fan), and most of what goes on takes place behind closed doors, so those who prefer to get graphic and detailed blow-by-blow accounts will be disappointed. On the other hand, you have romantic locations, descriptions of gardens and home vegetable patches, rides on horses, helicopters, leaking boats, and quite an array of weddings. As usual, those who want to know if the writing will be suited to their taste, are advised to check a sample.
I’ve already mentioned the ending, and as I said, things are solved in what I felt was a very satisfying manner, and I am not talking only about Tassie’s love life, but also about some of the other difficult relationships she and those around her have to go through. Not that it is an easy process, but this is one of the many beauties of this book.
In summary, I recommend this novel to anybody who enjoys romantic novels and is not looking for “hot” or erotic stories but prefers stories exploring complex relationship issues and providing good psychological insights into relevant topics. Fans of weddings and romances set in Scotland (the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Sky, real towns and spots) will particularly enjoy this novel, and for those who like some extras, the author is promising a tour of the locations (on Facebook and Instagram).
When the love you miss the most is the one you’ve always had.
Tassie loves many things: her friends, her job, her garden. Even her first boyfriend. But there’s a kind of love she just can’t find.
Until, in losing everything, she sees what she needed most was there all along.
Sometimes it’s not the person you need to forget, but the person you need to forgive.
Shoot the Moon is the sweetest of bittersweet novels, combining two very different love stories. One of which will probably make you cry.
Tassie Morris is everyone’s favourite wedding photographer, famous for her photos of offbeat ceremonies and alternative brides. Yet commitment is proving impossible for Tassie herself, who cannot forget her first love.
When she’s sent to photograph a ceremony on Schiehallion – the Fairy Hill of the Scottish Caledonians – she meets Dan, who might be the one to make her forget her past. That is, until a family crisis begins a chain of events that threaten to destroy not only Tassie’s love life, but her entire career.
Set in a colourful world of extraordinary weddings, Shoot the Moon explores the complexities of different kinds of love: romantic love, mother love, friendship. And, ultimately, the importance of loving yourself.
“If there’s someone in your life whom you’ve never quite got over – perhaps this book could help explain one of the reasons why.”
Highland Games is a mix of romantic comedy and hot contemporary romance.
Zoe gives up her safe life as an accountant in London and heads to a cabin in Scotland that she has just inherited. Little more than a shack, it has no electricity, no running water and no door. It also comes with a grumpy employee of the landlord who wants to get rid of her.
Rory had plans to move into the derelict cabin himself, but he couldn’t refute Zoe’s right to be there. Despite his attempts to encourage her departure, she begins to get under his skin.
The first half of this story was sprinkled with comedy, whereas the second half moved towards the hot romance theme. The host romance was fine, but I was never convinced that the two sub-genres of romance melded together in a believable way.
Having said that, it was quite readable; the characters were lively and the pace fast enough to keep me interested and I found myself reading late into the night. This is book one of a series and there promises to be more Scottish romance in the future.
Welcome to Kinloch, and the hottest winter Scotland’s ever seen.
Zoe’s always played it safe, just as her parents wanted. But when her great-uncle dies and leaves her a ramshackle cabin in the Scottish Highlands, she decides it’s time to change her life.
Upping sticks seems like a good idea in her cosy London flat, but the reality is very different. There’s no electricity or running water, the roof leaks and there’s no front door. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s moved up in the depths of winter and her scorching hot neighbour wants her out.
Rory’s got a fifty thousand tonne problem. If he can’t make Kinloch castle profitable, he’s out of a job. He needs a clear head, but there’s someone living in the cabin he saw as his own and she’s turned his world upside down.
Rory needs Zoe out of Scotland, and out of his life. The trouble is, she has no intention of leaving.