Thursday, 31 March 2016

Review of The Deal by Elle Kennedy

The bit on the back…

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy…

Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.

…and it’s going to be oh so good

All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

I actually came by this book when I was looking for a new audiobook to download. I read it in two sittings as it’s fairly easy to get through with not a lot of thinking required.

The story is all about main characters Hannah and Garrett. On paper they couldn’t be more different but in reality they are more similar than they know.

The blurb sounded like something I would generally go for in a book so I started it pretty much straight after downloading it. After finishing it I feel like I’m still in two minds about how I feel about it overall.

Both characters have some depth and background to them. Hannah’s a survivor not a victim and very much plays that part in the book. Her past makes her a strong character at times but at points I really just wanted her to stand up for herself more in other aspects of her life. Garrett too has a past that keeps butting heads with him although this is one thing that’s not well known about the gorgeous player of a jock.

The friends to lovers storyline is one of my favourites but at first there doesn’t seem to be much chemistry between the characters that could lead to something more. Instead the turning point is focused on one kiss that changes everything. I would have at least liked to have some lingering, angsty build up because in the beginning they are very convincing friends as the geek and the jock.

At some points I cringed with the childish, immature ramblings from Hannah and the way she referred to Garrett’s “man-monster” was particularly cringeworthy. For a book that is aimed at college age readers I honestly would have expected a bit more maturity. The relationship between the characters showcased Garrett’s maturity, strength and respect for Hannah. He shone as the main character for me although I felt like it should have been Hannah that did that as she had the bigger story, more to overcome and so on.

I would read more from this author based on the first installment of this Off-Campus sports romance series.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Review of Return to Bluebell Hill by Rebecca Pugh

The bit on the back…

Home is where the heart is…

Jessica McAdams has never belonged anywhere; never truly felt at home. Of course, what did she expect from parents who never made her feel welcome in her own house? Leaving her life in London to return home to the charming country village of Bluebell Hill is harder than she thought. Especially as she never considered she’d be returning under such heart wrenching circumstances…

Clearing out the stunning and imposing Bluebell House after her parents’ death is difficult for Jessica—they never had the best relationship and now it’s too late. Yet spending time in the house that was never a home, having afternoon tea with dear old friend Esme—and sharing hot, sizzling kisses with delectable gardener Rueben!—opens Jessica’s eyes to the potential of Bluebell House… 

Could this big old, beautiful manor really be her forever home? Is Bluebell Hill where her heart is, has always been?

Jessica soon dares to dream of her very own home with delicious Rueben by her side. But when a deep, dark secret of Bluebell House is unearthed, Jessica’s world is turned upside down…
Will Jessica ever find where her heart truly lies?

I’ve had this on my TBR since I bought it on its publication day last year. Due to other demands I’m only just getting round to it a little while after the release of Rebecca’s second novel! Insert woe is me book blogger whine here. This debut is all about main character Jessica McAdams and her return to the village she grew up in.

Jessica is quite a complex character. An emotionally lacking and strict upbringing has led her to be closed off to new emotion and relationships in her adult life with a feeling of resentment toward and misunderstanding of her parents and the way they treated her. It’s clear that although she wasn’t shown parental love she is capable of loving fiercely shown in her relationship with Esme.

Esme is a bit like Jessica’s fairy godmother. She looked after Jessica while she was growing up so they have a tight bond. A bond that Jessica uses like a crutch during the hardship she faces at the very start of this book. Another bond, although unintentional and not for lack of trying to avoid it, is with Reuben, the handsome gardener at Bluebell House.

The story follows Jessica back to Bluebell Hill and the trials that brings her, back to London and further afield as more is revealed about Jessica’s early years.

The editing could have been a little tighter toward the end of the book but overall this is quite simply a very enjoyable read.

It’s clear that Rebecca really cares about the characters she’s created in her debut novel. They stay true to themselves from beginning to end and I found them really easy to like and enjoy reading about. Everything about this book from the cover to the setting is lovely and will charm you from the get go. Rebecca has situated herself firmly in the ranks of great romance writers and has a bright future ahead of her I’m sure. I can’t wait to dive into Rebecca’s second novel A Home in Sunset Bay also published by Carina.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Slimming World Sunday on Erin's Choice: Week 3

So.... It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted and in that time I've lost 3.5lbs (-4lbs then a small gain of 0.5lbs last week) but I have a feeling that there could be a gain this week! Easter is already proving to be a disaster but I really need to get my head back in the game. The last few weeks I have been half heartedly, at best, trying to eat well but in all honesty I know myself I've just not been doing good enough.

The thing with Slimming World is that no matter how bad a day you've had or what you've eaten it's never too late to wipe the slate clean and start again. There are so many choices for low syn or syn free treats that you are never stuck for something sweet or satisfying. Recently I made the Slimming World version of Haribo sweets with Hartleys jelly sachets and although they're not exactly the same they measure up well as a replacement and at 1.5 syns for the full recipe I think they're a winner. 

Instagram is one of my slimming must haves this time around. I love seeing what everyone else is eating and it's a great place for inspiration. One of my favourite accounts to follow is @theslimmingmama. She has a blog too filled with tips, meal plans and inspiration. 

Here is one of my favourite meals from the last few weeks -

Have a good one

Erin xx

Friday, 25 March 2016

Book News - When I Lost You by Kelly Rimmer

The bit on the back...

Do you ever wish you had the chance to meet someone again for the first time? 

When Leo and Molly met and married, they believed they were invincible. Together they could take on the world. But Leo,a war correspondent, lives for life on the edge, and when he takes a step into the unknown, tragedy strikes and he loses his memory. Molly rushes to help him fill in the gaps and soon they start falling in love all over again. 

The trouble is, Molly is hiding something. Something big. The devoted wife at Leo’s bedside is a sham; Leo and Molly’s marriage was on the rocks long before Leo’s accident. 

The closer Molly gets to her husband the more scared she becomes that he will remember. As Leo’s memory begins to trickle back will Molly lose the man she loves for a second time? 

Release Date: 21st April 2016

Publisher: Bookouture

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Review of The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

The bit on the back…

Everyone remembers their first love.

Holly certainly remembers Alex. But she decided ten years ago that love wasn’t about mix tapes and seizing the moment – though she’s not exactly sure it’s about secret dates with your boss, either.
But what if the feelings never really went away?

Alex wants to make every moment of his new job count. It’s a fresh start in a big city, and he’s almost certain that moving to London has nothing to do with Holly. Almost.

How do you know if it was meant to be… or never meant to happen at all?

This book has been on my TBR pile for a shamefully long time. With the release of the 2nd book early this year I bumped it up to the top of the pile to be read.

This is all about two friends Holly and Alex who missed their chance for romance as teenagers.
The story flips back and forth between both characters and the present and past. During the “past” scenes the story of Holly and Alex as teenagers and best friends is built up into a classic picture of them having feelings for each other but neither feeling the right moment to reveal them, ultimately missing their chance.

The present day scenes tell the story of Alex and Holly being reunited. The two sides of the story, interwoven throughout, creates a sense of how the characters have changed but neither of them seem to really be fulfilling their dreams until they come back into each other’s lives. Alex was sweet, if a bit of a wimp a times, but generally likeable. I felt like Holly was being totally played by Richard and couldn’t marry up the teenage and adult versions of her. I thought for sure she would have more balls to call Richard out on his BS more often but she also seemed like a bit of a wimp and a pushover.

One of my favourite books ever is written by two authors and if I hadn’t previously have known it was two authors I wouldn’t have been able to tell, not sure if that was the intention or not. 

A few reviews I’ve read of this book state that readers are unaware of what actually happened in this book and to a degree I actually felt the same. It was a bit like a whole book worth of scene setting before an anticlimactic ending. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Book News The Plumberry School of Baking Part 2 by Cathy Bramley

The bit on the back...

Despite the drama of the opening day, Verity and the rest of the team are determined to tighten up their apron strings and make a success of the cookery school – even their previously hot-tempered chef is showing his soft side and getting stuck in. 

The charming village of Plumberry is working its magic on Verity too, and as Verity's plans for a major event at the cookery school come together, the whole community starts to get involved... 

But as friendships bubble and a sprinkling of romance is added to the mix, will Verity get her fingers burnt just when things were looking peachy? 

The Plumberry School of Comfort Food is an irresistibly charming novel told in four parts - following the adventures of Verity Bloom in love, friendship and cooking. This is Part Two. 

Release Date: 5th April 2016

Publisher: Transworld

Monday, 21 March 2016

Review of Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren

The bit on the back…

For two people ambivalent about dating and love, they sure get naked around each other an awful lot . . .

London Hughes is very content to surf daily, tend bar, hang out with her group of friends, and slowly orient herself in the years after college. Everything’s going great and according to the non-plan.
But when a wave knocks her for a loop one morning, then Luke Sutter’s flirtatious smile knocks her for another that evening, she veers slightly off course…and into his path. Sure, he’s a total player, but the Why not—it’s only one night is a persistent voice in her ear.

For his part, Luke’s been on hookup autopilot for so long that he rarely ever pauses to consider what he’s doing. But after an amazing time with London, he realizes that he hasn’t been moving on from a devastating heartbreak so much as he’s been drifting to wherever—and whomever—the current takes him. With London he wants more.

Every relationship involves two people…plus their pasts. And as much as she enjoys her fling with Luke, when London learns about his past—more specifically, who’s in it—everything becomes the brand of complicated she strives to avoid. It’s up to Luke then to change some things in order to try and ensure he’s not something she’ll outright avoid as well.

I am pretty certain I am a little bit in love with this book. I read it in no time at all and I could drop everything right now and read it over again because it was just that good.

This is the fourth, and contender for my favoutire, of CLo’s Wild Seasons series. It’s all about London who shares a flat with Lola, the MC from the 3rd book in the series, and another character Luke, who you might also recognise. At first I didn’t then I was like oh hell no!! when I did.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaan, I don’t even know where to start. Christina and Lauren have ruined me for all the other book boys. Luke is gorgeous and a perfect fit for London. They have a natural chemistry which is easy and the banter and joking flows between them alongside inevitable sexual tension. One of my favourite things about Luke and London’s relationship is their friendship because it means so much to both of them. The whole series is built on friendship and this novel is an extension of the original tight bond between Mia, Harlow and Lola.

Luke, now, and London are sort of interlopers to Vegas newlyweds gang and London feels every bit of that although she is welcomed completely into the fold. There is a hesitancy on her part to get closer to Luke and it does get in the way of their relationship progressing.

As always it astounds me that this book was written by two people. The writing is faultless, beautiful and enthralling, keeping you pining for the characters long after you’ve finished reading the book. It’s all about real feelings and emotions and realistic characters and situations. I found it very easy to imagine London and Luke and to invest myself in their story. I cannot wait to see what is next from these two, and I can’t wait to come over all fangirl when I meet them at RARE this year!

Friday, 18 March 2016

Book News The Canal Boat Cafe #2: Casting Off by Cressida McLaughlin

The bit on the back...

Summer Freeman has embarked on a new life afloat. She’s taking the Canal Boat CafĂ© on a scenic journey and is meeting old friends and new. Among the new is Claire from the bohemian boating community who is keen to take Summer under her wing. Mason, the handsome photographer from Willowbeck, seems intent on tracking her down, but Summer has discovered that Mason isn’t all that he seems to be.

Summer starts to feel a real sense of freedom amongst wandering river folk, but she soon finds herself missing Willowbeck… and Mason, whose articles she has been reading online. Will Summer embrace the nomadic lifestyle or will she find herself drawn back to Willowbeck, the place she loves best and where Mason is waiting?

Release Date: 31st March 2016

Publisher: Harper

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Review of January (Caledndar Girl) by Audrey Carlan

The bit on the back...

It’s really simple. I needed money. A lot of money. One million dollars to be exact. The amount didn’t matter. All that mattered is that at the end of that price tag held my father’s life.

No money. No life.

The time limit was one year. On January 1st I had to pay up or my Father was going to be killed.
When you’re faced with an ultimatum like this, you do whatever you have to do.
And that’s exactly what I did.

The job…Exquisite Escorts. My role, serve as high priced arm candy to anyone that can afford the $100,000 price tag for a month of my company. Sex is optional (for me) and a 20% increase on the price.

Mia Saunders just barely escaped a paltry life back home in Las Vegas until she gets the call that her Father has been beaten to within an inch of his life for not paying his gambling debt. Problem is, the lone shark is her lousy, ruthless ex-boyfriend. Another guy in a long line of men she’d fallen head over heels for. Not anymore. Mia’s mission is simple. Serve as a high-priced escort for her Aunt’s company and pay monthly against her Father’s bad debt. A month with a rich man who she doesn’t have to sleep with if she doesn’t want to? Easy money. At least that’s the way it was supposed to go.

It’s really simple. This is just not that great.

To be fair to the author I actually liked the characters at the very start of the book, other than some questionable life choices it seemed that Mia had some balls about her and when I was first introduced to her January client, Wes, I thought ok, I can get on board with this, this guy seems alright.

Sadly as soon as they got together both characters really started to disappoint me to the point that I couldn’t wait for the book to end, holding out hope that something miraculous would happened to turn it around.

Both characters are insipid and lack any real depth of connection with each other. The original sign of chemistry – right at the beginning when Mia met Wes – evaporated quickly when the storyline basically descended into poorly written sex scene after sex scene. The main hangup I have about the storyline itself is that Mia’s only option to make some money is to sell herself, and then repeat that another 11 times, I mean she lives in Vegas and if I’m not mistaken there is more than one giant casino there right? She couldn’t have tried that first? And as for Wes, getting an escort because his mummy wants him to, I can’t even.

It’s wishy-washy and amateur and to that end I won’t be reading the rest of the series just to see how this ultimately ends up because it looks to me like just another 11 version of the same story are in store. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Review of Sleepless In Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

The bit on the back…

What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?

Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.

Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along. The perfect New York love story…

I am pretty certain there will never be a Sarah Morgan book that I won’t love. This was certainly no exception. Thank you to Harlequin for approving me for a review copy of this title via Netgalley. I couldn’t wait to get started so I dove in straight away.

The first book in Sarah’s latest series – From Manhattan With Love – is all about Paige and Jake. There are two storylines I will never get tired of reading. One of them is friends turned lovers, the other is the storyline in Sleepless in Manhattan and that is the whole in love with older brother’s best friend but said best friend can’t act on it out of loyalty to his friend. The storyline itself is inherently filled with tense, angsty moments where the chemistry between the characters practically zaps off the page like static. Sarah has out done herself with this one for me. I think this is my very favourite book of hers to date!

Paige and Jake’s history makes for a sexy and intense read. I kept waiting and waiting for that moment when they both gave in to their true feelings and when it finally did happen it was perfect - a rush of lust and pent up frustration pouring out in one single tryst. The story goes on from there where the undeniable connection forces the characters together.

Paige and her friends embark on their own business after getting the boot from their jobs. The story follows them through the initial start-up of their business where, with Jake’s help, they get their company off the ground. I really enjoyed reading about the business because it’s so different to what I do in my own career it felt like I was a part of their new venture.

Eva and Frankie are set to star in their own novels later in the year so it’s good to get a glimpse of their character and a hint of the direction their story might take. I can’t wait for the release of the next book already; I might even have to re-read this one in between then and now!