Reviews, Romance

Review: The Distance

The DistanceThe Distance by Zoe Folbigg

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read Zoe Folbigg’s The Distance. The story of two people on opposite ends of the world who meet in a chat room and slowly fall in love is a sweet, wise exploration of how miles and life can come between people even in today’s shrinking technological world. At times the story moves slowly for its relatively short length and the flashbacks over the five years from their first meeting to the end of the story can get confusing. I kept having to look back up at the chapter title to understand the stage of their relationship was being related. Also, I’m not quite sure if the character of Kate and her story was really necessary but she did add an extra twist toward the end. I especially enjoyed learning a bit about the cultures of Hector’s Mexico and Cecilie’s arctic Norway.

Romantic fiction is full of characters getting in their own way of happiness but if you like the sweet tenderness mixed with the harsh realities of life found in The Distance, you might also enjoy Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop or Louise Miller’s The Late Bloomer’s Club.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: Fast Friends

Fast FriendsFast Friends by Jill Mansell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read Jill Mansell’s Fast Friends. I’ve read a couple of Mansell’s other novels both of which were light-hearted romantic comedies so I was expecting the same light read from this book. Fast Friends, in comparison to those chick-lit rom/coms, is a bit heavier as it deals with the way we, as women specifically and flawed human beings with our own baggage, tend to sabotage ourselves especially when it comes to romantic relationships but also in regards to friendships. The story follows three former classmates through three tumultuous years starting when Camille learns that her husband (a rather cruel jerk) has been cheating on her with the glamorous Roz. I found the story overlong and I often wished that the author had focused on just Camille’s story or even Camille and LouLou. However, even when I was growing tired of the ups and downs and twists and game-playing, I was aware of the many truths about human nature the story revealed and I needed to know if each of the characters got the happy ending they deserved.

If you enjoy Fast Friends, you may also enjoy Katie Fforde’s Wedding Season If like me, you also enjoy lighter romantic chick-lit, Mansell and Fforde have provided me with some fun reads such as Fforde’s Stately Pursuits and Highland Fling or Mansell’s Staying at Daisy’s.

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Fantasy, Reviews, Romance

Review: Child of the Prophecy

Child of the Prophecy (Sevenwaters, #3)Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

The third novel of Marillier’s Sevenwaters series is, in my opinion, closer in quality and story to the magnificent first book, Daughter of the Forest than the second book, Son of the Shadows was, though this one too lacked some of the romance of that first book, instead focusing on the magic and lore of their world. Like its predecessors, Child of the Prophecy centers on a strong, independent female protagonist who is tested beyond her limits. I related much more with Fainne than I did with either Sorcha or Liadan though I loved them both as characters.
The best thing about Child of the Prophecy aside from the rollercoaster ride of emotion and tension that fills most of the final 100 pages or so of the book is the return of so many of the beloved (and not so beloved!) characters from the first two novels and the resolution of many of their stories. Even if it slow at times, it is worth it, in the end, to see where Sorcha’s story from the first book has led and the importance of each choice that is made.

If you enjoy  Child of the Prophecy or Irish folklore, fairy stories, or romantic fantasy, I highly recommend you read the Sevenwaters series from the beginning.  

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The Accidental Beauty Queen

The Accidental Beauty QueenThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read Teri Wilson’s new novel, The Accidental Beauty Queen. This story of bookish Charlotte who gets roped into filling in for her beauty queen twin, Ginny, when an allergic reaction sidelines her last chance at the crown that their mother won is everything most people expect from a rom/com (in fact Miss Congeniality is mention many, many times). It is light and somewhat predictable yet sweet and, at times, wise. Many of the things Charlotte expects to go wrong do but she hadn’t predicted connection with the other pageant girls or falling in love with one of the judges – a Darcy-quoting good guy.
The simple story only works because it is short yet the writing still tended toward repetition and some over-explanation. The biggest flaw for me was the ending which was rushed an tacked on, reading more like an epilogue than a conclusion. Still, it was a fun, light read.

Since Chick-Lit is one of my favorite genres, I could recommend any number of reads like The Accidental Beauty Queen, but if you’re looking for a really great romantic comedy, I recommend the books of Kristan Higgins.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country LivingThe City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good foodie novel and Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is the sort of foodie novel that warms your heart like a wood fire in a little cottage – or an oven in a cozy kitchen. Olivia is a world-class baker whose life is currently a recipe for disaster. After a catastrophe at her job in Boston, she runs away to the open arms of her friend in the small rural Vermont town of Guthrie. When a job opportunity arises at the local B&B, Olivia feels like she has no other choice than to take it no matter how unwelcome the inn’s stern owner, Margaret, makes her feel.
It isn’t long before Vermont’s magic begins to work on Olivia’s heart, bringing back tender memories of her father. Her heart is also warmed by a connection with Martin, the son of Margaret’s best friend, and his family who welcomes her with open arms giving her the feeling of a family she never knew she was missing.
When it looks like her new found family will not welcome her as she’d imagined, Olivia does what she always does. She runs away. Once again she turns to baking, and it is baking and friendships that help her to find her way again.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a romance and Martin was pretty swoon-worthy, but it is Olivia’s journey of healing and the wonderful female friendships that carry this story. And the details that thrill the senses from the mouth-watering descriptions of Olivia’s bakes to the crispiness of the autumn leaves and the smell of the woodsmoke. Vermont is a character in this novel, leaving me to wish I’d read it in winter rather than the height of summer.

If you, like me, enjoy a good foodie novel with a touch of romance, please read Ruth Reichl’s only foray (so far?) into fiction, Delicious!which not only has food and romance but some history and lots of wonderful characters.

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