‘Goodnight from London’ by Jennifer Robson

gfl jrSTORY: Ruby Sutton gets her big break: the chance to report on the European war as a staff writer for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She jumps at the chance, for it’s an opportunity not only to prove herself, but also to start fresh in a city and country that know nothing of her humble origins. But life in besieged Britain tests Ruby in ways she never imagined.

Although most of Ruby’s new colleagues welcome her, a few resent her presence, not only as an American but also as a woman. She is just beginning to find her feet, to feel at home in a country that is so familiar yet so foreign, when the bombs begin to fall.

As the nightly horror of the Blitz stretches unbroken into weeks and months, Ruby must set aside her determination to remain an objective observer. When she loses everything but her life, and must depend upon the kindness of strangers, she learns for the first time the depth and measure of true friendship—and what it is to love a man who is burdened by secrets that aren’t his to share.

REVIEW: Here I go again! I’m on a role with this genre  😉 WWII stories and movies are my latest obsession. But not all are well researched, plotted and written as I’m finding out. Not this story though! I liked this one a lot and there was a lot to like.

The heroine Ruby caught my interest from the first page,  and the plot of an American woman reporter going to London as WWII approaches was intriguing, as much as our heroine’s past. As our heroine get’s to know her new surroundings, we are right beside her as author’s wonderful prose and research shines through and sucks us in as Ruby tries to survive and at times thrive as her new life takes root.

The novel is well written and researched and the romance between Bennett and Ruby was sweet and relatable because it moved at a realistic pace, regardless of war and its horrors. I also liked a slew of supporting cast, from Kaz to Vanessa, but it’s the descriptions of the ravished city that touched me the most.

At ground level, near what once may have been a set of stairs, a group of men in steel helmets and boiler suits were pulling at the debris, shovels at the ready, their muttered instructions to one another barely audible above an undercurrent of noise that Ruby didn’t at first recognize. It was sort of low, keening cry, reminiscent of an animal in distress, and it made the hair on her nape stand on end and her breath catch at her throat.

She turned her head this way and that, trying to discern what she heard, and then she realized it was coming from the people around her, men and women alike, some of them covering their mouths with their hands to contain their horror.

The sound rose and rose, and then the crowd parted before her, and she stood and watched mutely as two men shuffled past with a stretcher. On it was a blanket-draped body, far too small to be that of an adult, and as the men stepped free of the debris the blanket shifted, only to reveal a tiny shoe, its leather wizened and twisted by fire and water …

The horror of that one shoe fell on her, a body blow that stole the breath from her lungs. She took a step back, closed her eyes, but the image would not flee, it was still there even in the darkness. She could see it, see the child’s little foot, so still and cold. How was she ever to wipe such sight from her mind?

This story is heart wrenching and heartwarming and I highly recommend it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London’ by Penrose Halson

tmb phSTORY: In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny office on London’s Bond Street and set about the delicate business of matchmaking. Drawing on the bureau’s extensive archives, Penrose Halson—who many years later found herself the proprietor of the bureau—tells their story, and those of their clients.

From shop girls to debutantes; widowers to war veterans, clients came in search of security, social acceptance, or simply love. And thanks to the meticulous organization and astute intuition of the Bureau’s matchmakers, most found what they were looking for.

Penrose Halson draws from newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and interviews with the proprietors themselves to bring the romance and heartbreak of matchmaking during wartime to vivid, often hilarious, life in this unforgettable story of a most unusual business.

REVIEW: Lately I’ve been fascinated with WWII stories and movies, so I was looking forward to reading this novel.

I’m not sure what went wrong with this story but I had a bit of a hard time getting through it. It took me forever to finish it. I think it’s the pace that made this story drag on and that had me like it less.

In the end, I liked the insight it offered into life when my parents were born and if you’re interested in this topic, you might enjoy it more than I did.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Where Hearts Meet’ by Maureen Driscoll

whm mdSTORY: Arabella Warren has been trying to find employment as a governess for several months. But after having to leave numerous households for unsavory reasons, she has found it next to impossible to attain a position in a decent home. Then she sees an advertisement in the newspaper for a widower seeking a wife to help care for his two children. She sets out to convince the man that he needs a governess, not a wife, and that she would be the perfect lady for the job.

Jonathan Graves still grieves the loss of his wife, even as he tries to create a happy home for his five-year-old twins. Knowing he will never love again, he believes the best solution is to enter into a marriage of convenience. His children will have a stepmother and he can go on loving the woman who passed away. But he is not prepared to meet the lady who will change all their lives forever.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

REVIEW: It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this author and her writing voice. In every story she’s written so far, she has managed to make me laugh and cry and in this one she’s accomplished both.

Jonathan and Arabella were both strong characters. Jonathan at first fought and didn’t know what to do with his feelings for Arabella, because his feelings for his dead wife were still strong,  but little by little, he started to make a place in his life and his heart for this wonderful woman that brought smiles to his children. And soon enough, he and his children just couldn’t see themselves living without her.

I liked the way the author handled this romance by showing us the slow and steady growing of affection, that then blossomed into love between the two. Jonathan’s love for his deceased wife was very touching that it brought tears to my eyes.

There are so many things I liked in this story, but what I loved a lot were the children and their antics, and I found the antagonist to our heroine to be so mean and I couldn’t wait to see how she’d be put in her place.

If you’re in a mood for a sweet and sensual love story with some humor in it, I hope you give this story a try.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Speak No Evil’ by Tanya Anne Crosby

sne tacSTORY: Lifting the veil of secrecy on a grand Southern family in decline, author Tanya Anne Crosby explores the lives of Caroline, Augusta, and Savannah Aldridge, three sisters who share a dark past and an uncertain future…

Caroline Aldridge was surprised by the number of mourners at her mother’s funeral. Evidently the newspaper heiress who had caused her children so much pain was well-loved by everyone else in Charleston. Now she was gone, leaving behind countless secrets-and a few demands: Caroline and her sisters must live together for one year or lose their inheritance. And Caroline must take over “The Tribune.” But a killer is making headlines, and Caroline may have unwittingly stepped into the crosshairs…

A series of kidnappings and murders resurrect the sisters’ memories of their brother’s disappearance as a child-and Caroline fears she may be next. Yet in the midst of her turmoil, she may be rekindling a romance she’d extinguished long ago. With Jack back in her life and the tattered bonds of sisterhood slowly mending, Caroline hopes the family can restore its position in Charleston society-unless a sinister force beyond their control tears them apart forever…

REVIEW: This is the first book in the series about the Aldridge sisters, Caroline, Augusta, and Savannah and the plot revolves about their memories of their brothers disappearance years ago. First up is Caroline and I have to say that she was an interesting and complex character.

The story is well written and the characters are well developed, making this story interesting and suspenseful.

If you’re a romantic suspense reader, I highly recommend you pick this one up because the ride will be thrilling and you can check all these off: action, romance and complex relationships.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Mistress’ by Danielle Steel

tm-dsSTORY: Natasha Leonova’s beauty saved her life. Discovered on a freezing Moscow street by a Russian billionaire, she has lived for seven years under his protection, immersed in rarefied luxury, while he pursues his activities in a dark world that she guesses at but never sees. Her home is the world, often on one of Vladimir Stanislas’s spectacular yachts manned by scores of heavily armed crew members. Natasha’s job is to keep Vladimir happy, ask no questions, and be discreet. She knows her place, and the rules. She feels fortunate to be spoiled and protected, and is careful not to dwell on Vladimir’s ruthlessness or the deadly circles he moves in. She experiences only his kindness and generosity and believes he will always keep her safe. She is unfailingly loyal to him in exchange.

Theo Luca is the son of a brilliant, world famous, and difficult artist, Lorenzo Luca, who left his wife and son with a fortune in artwork they refuse to sell. Lorenzo’s widow, Maylis, has transformed their home in St. Paul de Vence into a celebrated restaurant decorated with her late husband’s paintings, and treats it as a museum. There, on a warm June evening, Theo first encounters Natasha, the most exquisite woman he has ever seen. And there, Vladimir lays eyes on Luca’s artwork. Two dangerous obsessions begin.

Theo, a gifted artist in his own right, finds himself feverishly painting Natasha’s image for weeks after their first meeting. Vladimir, enraged that Lorenzo’s works are not for sale, is determined to secure a painting at any price. And Natasha, who knows that she cannot afford to make even one false move, nevertheless begins to think of the freedom she can never have as Vladimir’s mistress. She cannot risk her safety for another man, or even a conversation with him, as Theo longs for a woman he can never have.

From Moscow to the Riviera, Paris, and London, The Mistress is a riveting tale of vast fortune, cruelty, creative genius, and daring courage, as uncompromising individuals chart a course for collision.

REVIEW: The 500 foot yacht, Princess Marina, named for his mother, is owned by Vladimir Stanislos, 49, one of the richest men in Russia whose worth is estimated at $40-$50 billion. His mistress is Natasha Leonova, 26, whom he has been with for 7 years. She had a very poor life as a child and he rescued her off the streets of Russia. She was very sick with pneumonia and he nursed her back to health. Natasha knows that he refuses to have any children with a mistress. But she is the perfect companion who always knows what he needs from her. Vladimir is an art lover and collector and Natasha enjoys it as well. They spend time on their yacht or at one of their other residences around the world.

Maylis Luca is the widow of famed artist, Lorenzo Luca. Their son, Theo. is also a talented artist. Maylis owns a posh restaurant in Cap d’Antibes which displays a number of Lorenzo’s paintings, but none are for sale. Occasionally, Theo helps out at the restaurant when they are short handed.

One night, Vladimir and Natasha have dinner at the restaurant. Both are very taken with Luca’s paintings and want to buy one. However, Maylis gives them a firm no even though Theo encourages her to sell it. Theo thinks Natasha is very beautiful, but he does not care for Vladimir and his arrogant manner. However, when Vladimir offers an outrageously high figure for the painting, Maylis accepts the offer.

Theo is so obsessed with Natasha that he spends an enormous period of time painting her from memory working until he feels it is perfect. When he gifts her with the painting, Vladimir becomes jealous and revenge erupts.

This is a typical Danielle Steel novels that rambles along making it a very easy read. Of course, there are a lot of repeated sentences but that is the signature of this particular author. I have read a number of her books but not all. I chose to read this particular novel because it takes place in my beloved Paris and the south of France. If you are looking for a nice story with lots of descriptions, do pick up this book. It is quite good.

Connie for b2b

‘Wicked in His Arms’ by Stacy Reid

wiha-srSTORY: Tobias Walcott, the Earl of Blade, has learned it is best to exercise rigid control over his passions and emotions in all that he does. Uncaring that it makes him seem cool and aloof to most in the ton, he is content with his desire to only woo agreeable and demur females. Then unforeseen circumstances see him trapped in a closet at a house party with the last woman he would ever make his countess.

Lady Olivia Sherwood is everything he should not desire in a female—unconventional, too decisive, and utterly without decorum. But passion ignites between them and they are discovered. Honor demands they wed, and while Tobias finds himself unwillingly drawn to the bewitching beauty, he must do everything not to tempt the passion that burns in him for her, lest it leads to disastrous consequences.

REVIEW: Hertfordshire England – 1818 – Riverhill Manor

Viscount Bathhurst is ill and his stepdaughter, Lady Olivia (Livvie) Sherwood, is helping to care for him. She has loved him as a true father since her real father took his own life leaving her mother and two daughters alone and penniless. The Viscount has a son, William, from his first marriage, who will inherit everything except for a small cottage, and modest incomes se aside for his wife and two stepdaughters.

When he tells her that he has asked his cousin, the Countess of Blade, to sponsor her for a season, she is not pleased. Having received a bad reception 3 years ago at her first season in London due to her father’s past, she does not want to go through it again. Livvie is happy with her life just as it is. As an accomplished painter, she has been able to earn money by selling her paintings. She is confident that when her stepfather passes, she will be able to help support them through this pastime.

But her mother is also insistent that she find a husband. Yet when her stepbrother, William, tells her he is going to make her his mistress, she is shocked to the point she immediately agrees to go to the Countess of Blade for her assistance in finding a husband for her.

Grangeville Park, South Hampshire

Tobias Theodore Walcott, the Earl of Blade, is riding his horse very fast when he runs into another horse knocking its rider on the ground. The rider turns out to be Livvie. Furious at him for knocking her into the mud, he is intrigued by her anger as she scolds him. Of course, she knows that the Countess will be angry with her if she learns that Livvie was riding astride.

As they get to know one another, Tobias sees that Livvie is not a very ladylike person and tends to be a bit of a hoyden. She is also very outspoken and enjoys things like fencing and fishing.

Tobias is a very straight-laced man who is not easily moved by young women looking to wed him. But when he and Livvie are caught in a compromising situation, there is no other choice than that they wed. How can these two very different people expect to make their marriage last?

This is a good story about two very opinionated people. I found Livvie to be very likable but Tobias needed a swift kick in the butt. I’m sure that readers will enjoy their adventures.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club’ by Lexi Eddings

tcwwhc-leSTORY: For Lacy Evans, returning to flyover country is the definition of failure. She had everything she wanted an award-winning design firm, a chic city condo, a handsome, aristocratic almost-fiance. Then her boyfriend ran off with her receptionist and her clients’ money. Now she s out of business and crashing on her parents couch. When she slides into a booth at the Green Apple Grill, she’s feeling lower than a worm’s belly.

But Lacy s old classmate Jacob Tyler is happy to see her. Coldwater s football hero came back from Afghanistan short part of a leg and some peace of mind, but he s counting his blessings, and Lacy could be one of them. Then there s her ex, Daniel, wearing a sheriff s badge and a wedding ring, but looking like young summer love. And a host of unlikely serendipities: the selfless do-gooders who sneak around taming curmudgeons and constructing second chances. The Fighting Marmots. The sprawling, take-no-prisoners Bugtussle clan.

Lacy thought she knew her hometown, and herself. She just wanted to get on her feet and keep running. But the longer she stays, the more she finds to change her mind. . .

REVIEW: Lexi Eddings is a new voice of contemporary romance, however Mia Marlow is one of my all time favorite historical romance authors. Knowing that, I was praying that I’d at least like this new reincarnation of her writing voice. And guess what? I loved it!

For me, even though this was Lacy and Jake’s story, it just felt more of an ensemble tale, and that’s because we have multiple points of views and because every character you meet is three dimensional.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the author’s choice of including Jake’s faith throughout the storyline. That’s something I hardly encounter in romances, unless they’re marked as “Christian”.

If you’re looking for a new voice in contemporary romance, I highly recommend Lexi Eddings and her heartwarming story of second chances, redemption, faith, hope and love.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher