‘Solving Shelly’ – written by Grayson Avery #BookReview @GrayAveryBooks @rararesources

Can an intervention make you find love?

Synopsis

Shelly Larson is in a man drought so dry it makes The Grapes of Wrath look like a Hampton’s pool party. With most of her besties (The Sweet Water Circle) in good relationship standing, The Circle spins to Shelly with a long-overdue intervention. It’s time for her to find her forever man. Or at least a guy without a foot fetish who doesn’t text pictures of himself in his tighty whities. 

Shelly wants no part of the dating scene, but no matter what she tries, The Circle is ahead of her, so eventually she relents to the torturous trio of speed dating, online dating apps, and blind dates. Will she find a diamond in the rough or will it just be rough? 

Meanwhile, the only Circle member still looking for love, Donna, is back from L.A., divorced and crashing with Shelly. When Donna’s new man makes a play for Shelly, it sets off shockwaves that could fracture The Sweet Water Circle’s thirty-year friendship, just as Taylor’s wedding to billionaire Ben Bach brings the crew from Sweet Water to Ibiza and Paris, not once, but twice. Will Shelly risk her friendships for a chance at forever love that could end up in heartbreak? Find out in the series finale of The Sweet Water Circle!

My review

Even if almost every member of the Sweet Water Circle is in a happy relationship, Shelly Larson is absolutely not looking for love. She enjoys spending her time in her greenhouse and making her own wine. And she surely doesn’t need a man to make her feel complete.
But that is not what Sweet Water Circle wants for Shelly, thus an intervention in scheduled.
Now Shelly is speed dating, online dating, having blind dates. But the quest for finding love isn’t an easy one. Luckily she has Donna by her side, freshly returned from L.A. after her divorce and also member of the Sweet Water Circle.
Can Shelly find what the other members have? Does she has to kiss many frogs before finding her Prince Charming?
And how strong is the bond of the Sweet Water Circle when something unexpected seems to be happening?

It’s not a secret I absolutely love The Sweet Water Circle! I have read each story and each time I fell in love with the characters.
So obviously I had to read Shelly’s story, while we know that she isn’t looking for love at all.

Being a single woman for a long time myself, I could perfectly understand Shelly and why she isn’t looking for love. Being single means you have your own freedom and structure, and no risk of having a heartbreak.
So why change that when we are completely content with our lives?

And now that her friend Donna is back from L.A. and crashing at Shelly’s place with her son, Shelly isn’t feeling lonely at all.
But The Sweet Water Circle isn’t accepting a ‘no’ for an answer and make an intervention, slightly forcing Shelly to do things she doesn’t want to do.
I had so many laughs reading how her speed dating went, because it just seemed all so awful yet so true! But it wasn’t all that awful, because there was one match…

I would be a bit angry myself if my friends would trick me the way they did  with Shelly, but of course they did it with the right intentions. And they truly want the best for each other, and all be as happy as the already settled members are, and even a wedding is on the schedule!

About the wedding, can I just say that I was a bit surprised at reading what money can buy? Because I honestly didn’t think that a marriage in the Notre Dame and the reception in Versailles would be actual possible?

It was nice to see how Shelly seems to have found her match, but if I am being honest, I didn’t like Zack 100%. While he is easy – going, and gives Shelly all the time and space she needs, I just didn’t feel the love sparking from the pages… And his sometimes laidback attitude, going along with everything, while I would find it strange to tag along, was in big contrast with his behaviour, being a bit too possessive.

And the shock revelation, causing a rift between the Circle… I could see how it affected the two concerned friends, but the reactions of the other members was not what I really expected from them… In that view I was a bit disappointed that suddenly Shelly was standing alone in a corner…

It may seem I didn’t enjoy reading this story, but don’t get me wrong, because I truly did! I loved reading how Shelly was getting back out there, found someone who had the same passions as her.
Seeing how Shelly and her friends are enjoying Paris and Ibiza, was just what I expected it to be, slightly over the top, yet just perfect for the Circle!

When I started to read this last book, I thought I knew where it would end, but I have to admit that I didn’t expect that twist, although the more I was reading the more I saw the direction this wonderful author was going.

Being book number Five, it wouldn’t be easy to keep up the high standards of the previous books, and fulfilling my high expectations, but Grayson Avery showed again that I should have faith and not to be worried, as I had another great time reading Shelly’s story

And may I please beg for a next book, because I want Donna to have her own story too!

‘The Lost Laird from Her Past’ – written by Jeanine Englert #BookReview @JeanineWrites @rararesources

Can love overcome the pain and hurt from the past?

Synopsis

A second chance…With her first love!

Lady Brenna Stewart is grateful to be saved from her burning carriage—only her rescuer is Laird Garrick MacLean, the man she once loved and lost! He seems determined to protect her from the unknown enemy pursuing her across the Scottish Highlands. But, bitterly hurt by his past betrayal, she needs answers. Why did he abandon her? And how can she keep her heart safe now, when the connection between them is as strong as ever…

My review

Lady Brenna Stewart finds herself rescued from her burning carriage, after being ambushed. But she didn’t expect that her saviour would be Laird Garrick MacLean, the man she once loved but disappeared without ever returning or letting her know if he were still alive.
However, quickly both of them realize that someone is still after Brenna, and Garrick is determined to bring the woman he once loved into safety.
Travelling the Scottish Highlands, fighting mercenaries, and trying to discover who is after all the attempts of murder, is not an easy task. Especially as Brenna demands answers of why Garrick left her. Can Garrick tell her about the demons that still haunt him? And can Brenna trust Garrick again, not only with her life, but also with her heart?
Because one thing is obvious, the connection they once shared, is as strong as ever…

I surely love stories about lost loves, second chances, and strong Scottish men. Thus I loved this story, that’s how easy things sometimes can be.

Being in 2022, I had to put my mind in the right era. Because if this story would be taking place in this year, I would have many red flags!
But my mind set right, I could comprehend a little bit better, why Brenna was going to marry a man she never saw before, pleasing her father.
And it was clear this wouldn’t be a marriage filled with love, as we read how Brenna was ‘welcomed’ by her fiancé.

I truly liked Brenna, because she is the total opposite that is expected from women in that era. She has a mind of her own, is not afraid to speak out and surely can fight off men.
Brenna stands also her ground. She got heartbroken when Garrick left and didn’t come back. But she also picked up those broken pieces and slowly tries to move on.
When Garrick is back, she just doesn’t accept a lame excuse, but demands the truth from him.
She is also a compassionate woman, because she sees the hurt in Garrick and feels for him.

I also could see Garrick’s pain, and I felt for him. but I didn’t agree with the decisions he made. I could see his point, but I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.
And also seeing how he reprimanded Brenna for moving on, while HE was the one that left without any more information, made me even a bit angry, as he was being unjust.

However, Garrick isn’t a bad, evil man… imagine such a story!
The lengths he goes for Brenna, from getting her out of a burning carriage, to protect her with his own life, fighting and killing the men that are after her, shows that he still cares for her.
And we know what a loving and caring man he is, because his family is everything for him, and learning about his past and how it affected him, broke my heart too.

This isn’t a tame story, about two people finding each other again, but there is lots of action and even a mystery to be unsolved.
And it was nice to see how the female protagonist isn’t just being a damsel in distress, but puts in her own weights in fights, and even overcomes her fears as that means her staying alive.
It was also funny to see how a typical Alpha is struggling with seeing a woman fighting next to his side.

The mystery about who was behind the murdering attempts wasn’t a really mystery to me, but I was a bit surprised when the length of the deception was going…

As this is the second part of a series, it was obviously great to see some old friends again, learning how they were doing and how sometimes it can be obvious when people are related, as they have the same features.

This was a very entertaining story, about second chances, but also about how grief can burden us and make us feel less.
But I truly liked that no matter what happened in the past, love, the real kind, will always find a way and open our eyes, showing us that while we blame ourselves, not every bad thing happening to us is our fault.
And despite all the pain and hurt we endured, we can find happiness again.

‘Rome For The Summer’ – written by Lynne Shelby #BookReview @LynneShelby5 @rararesources

There is a lot Rome can offer in one summer, and even more than you thought

Synopsis

Kate Harper has always loved the painting that has hung in her parents’ dining room for years, never suspecting that it is worth a fortune. When her art dealer boyfriend cheats her family out of the proceeds of the painting’s sale, she is left devastated and alone.

Kate discovers that two hundred years ago, the girl in the painting, Charlotte Browne, ran off to Rome with the artist who painted her portrait, but her eventual fate is unknown.

Hoping to uncover the mystery of what happened to Charlotte, Kate seizes the chance of a summer job in Rome, where she strikes up a friendship with artist Jamie Taylor. As they explore the city and start to piece together the surprising secrets of Charlotte’s life, Kate finds herself wondering if a summer in Rome can mend a broken heart…

My review

The painting hanging in her parent’s dining room has always intrigued Kate Harper. So when her boyfriend shows an interest in it, and ends up actually buying it, her heart is a bit broken.
Unfortunately, her heart gets broken even more when she discovers that her own boyfriend hasn’t been that honest at all about the value of the painting, and cheated her family out of the proceeds of the sale.
However, Kate cannot forget The Italian Girl and she discovers that the woman in the painting is Charlotte Browne, a young woman that ran off to Rome with the artist who painter her, about two hundred years ago.
Wanting to know what happened to Charlotte, Kate takes the offer for a summer job in Rome, hoping to find more clues about Charlotte’s fate.
Rome wouldn’t be Rome if Kate wouldn’t be amazed by all the beauty the city has to offer, exploring it all with her new friend, English artist Jamie Taylor.
Will Kate find out what happened to Charlotte? And is one summer enough to mend a broken heart? Or is falling for someone else all too soon and too fast?

Thanks to Covid, it has been several years since my last visit to Rome. So having the opportunity to visit Rome again, even just by reading a book, I grabbed it with both hands!
Add a mysterious painting, a woman betrayed by some close to her, and romance, and it can’t be getting any better!

While I truly liked Kate, there was one tiny bit of frustration from my side. It’s obvious that Kate is a very kind and lovely character, I kind of was astonished in how quickly she believed Gabe, without any actual proof, what the worth of the painting was. Especially as Kate was working in a gallery, even if not being an expert herself. I would have expected her to want some actual proof, something written on paper.
But maybe that is just me, overthinking things, having read too many stories about dishonest people.

But with the exception of that small issue, I truly liked Kate. And reading how she is discovering Rome for the first time, seeing her being amazed about it all, made me appreciate again the beautiful city all over again!

I also admired the courage Kate has, because she has nothing than just a small reference to discover more about Charlotte Browne. And, even if it was only a summer job, making the move to an unknown city, is not something I would see myself doing.

But the real beauty of this story, was seeing how Kate was developing more and more. initially she wasn’t that self-confident, she doesn’t really know what she truly wants to do. Slowly we see Kate getting out of her shell, finding again her own passion for art again, and getting a serious boost of self-confidence.
She also is a very focused woman, as she doesn’t just give up after it would appear that nothing more can be found about Charlotte.

Seeing how her friendship is getting stronger with Jamie was very sweet to read. Their relationship is a slow – burning one. While there is attraction, reading how at ease they are with each other, while just being friends, was surely giving us a hint at what to expect when the time was right.

Of course, having a main character so focused on wanting to find out what happened to Charlotte Browne, makes also the readers very curious! While things wouldn’t seem to be going towards a happy end for Charlotte, I had a feeling I knew what happened to her. But obviously I had to know if I had figured it all out.

I adored wandering around Rome, with lovely characters like Kate and Jamie, but also her other new friends.
Rome was described just like it was, with its chaos, beautiful places, people accepting and opening their arms to new entries.
There are many moments show us, that sometimes doing something new and different, will give us all the answers to questions we had and even didn’t know we had. And that yes, even a city can gift us the most wonderful feeling in the world.

‘A Wedding In Tuscany’ – written by Sandy Barker #BookReview @sandybarker @rararesources @0nemorechapter_

Getting together is only the start

Synopsis

The Parsons sisters are all loved up.

Sarah is living in Sydney with Josh and their cat, Domino, but is anxious about her fast-approaching fortieth birthday.

And Cat is still living in London with her flatmate, Jane, but is in a long-distance relationship with Jean-Luc, her childhood sweetheart and recently re-discovered love.

One of the sisters receives a surprise wedding proposal – it’s a yes! – and everyone heads off to Tuscany for a destination wedding.

Reunite with favourite characters from the Holiday Romance series in one of the most beautiful locations yet for love, laughter, wedding vows, and just a smidge of sisterly mayhem.

My review

Cat and Sarah as not only sisters, but also best friends, even if they live on the other side of the world from each other.
Cat is living happily together with her re-found love Jean – Luc in London, while Sarah is all loved up with Josh in Sydney.
When Jean – Luc pops the question, it’s obvious that Sarah is the call Cat makes. And a reunion is being planned, as the freshly engaged couple dream is getting married in Tuscany.
While everything seems to be perfect for Cat, she has doubts about where their future may lay.
And things aren’t all that easy for Sarah too, as turning 40 makes her anxious and makes her feel like she is missing something from her life. But what is it?
While planning a perfect wedding and gathering family and friends in a vineyard in Tuscany, there are big questions waiting for an answer, and rather sooner than later, as the sisters’ future depends on it. 

Oh oh oh, how happy I was when I started reading this new story from this amazing author. And having both Cat and Sarah as main protagonists, was just the cherry on top of the cake!
It may not come as a big surprise, but I absolutely adored them in their own story. But having them now together, at the same time, was just wonderful! 

I loved reading how Cat and Sarah may be very different, but also so very much alike! And I was amazed at how despite the miles separating them, their bond is just so strong and solid. They truly are not just sisters, but also the bestest friends you could imagine. 

Cat and Sarah are happy in their relationships, and things couldn’t be looking more brighter. Jean – Luc is just an amazing boyfriend, and the lengths he goes for Cat, well, can I get a Jean – Luc myself?
And Josh… while he may be younger than Cat, he is also the most understanding boyfriend Sarah could wish for… Can I get a Josh myself?
Oh wait, or can I get a perfect blend of Josh and Jean – Luc??? 

And seeing the real joy on both of the sisters as Cat is getting married, shows again how they wish the world for each other.
However… the author managed to put perfectly in words the doubts each sister is having.
Cat is doubting where she and jean – Luc should make a home. London is HER home, but she also understands that Paris is HIS home… how can a compromise be found when their dreams are set in different place? 

And Sarah… I could understand how the turning 40 was making her anxious. I felt somehow the same way when I turned thirty…
I felt for her, as she knew that something was missing in her life, but Sarah couldn’t grasp what that exactly was.
And seeing how that put a strain on her relationship with Josh, while Josh was the things she is the most certain of. 

Now, obviously this author wouldn’t write a story that is only filled with sad bits. Because I also had the best of times while reading.
Seeing the sisters back together warmed my heart, and seeing their friends reunited too!
Love sparks from all the pages, as we know that both couples are built to last, despite the doubts and possible signs from the universe (which are totally bonkers!).

Whatever setback is being encountered, nothing cannot be overcome, and joined forces are building a strong team!
Even the most despicable sister – in – law cannot stop what has been written in the stars! 

Sisters, friends and family all back together was just perfect, add a wonderful setting in Italy (totally not biased as an Italian here!) and the great writing skills of an author I absolutely adore, turned this story in an amazing book. I felt like I was part of the family, being in Tuscany myself, but also finding myself sometimes blush over the heated moments showing the passion the couples still have for each other!

‘A Harvest Murder’ – written by Frances Evesham #BookReview @francesevesham @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks

A crime never comes alone…

Synopsis

One unexplained disappearance is strange, but two are sinister.

In Lower Hembrow, an idyllic village nestled beneath Ham Hill in Somerset, the villagers are preparing to enjoy the autumn traditions of the rural English countryside until Joe Trevillion, a curmudgeonly local farmer and the father of six children, vanishes.

When Adam Hennessy, the ex-detective proprietor of The Plough, the village’s popular Inn, investigates, he finds ominous undercurrents beneath apparently harmless rumour and gossip.

Meanwhile, a vicious campaign of vindictiveness forces Adam and his three amateur sleuth friends to dig deep into the secret lives of their neighbours to expose the source of a cruel vendetta and prevent another death.

As they uncover the disturbing truth, the friends learn they must also lay their own past lives to rest before they can hope to make their dreams for the future come true.

My review

Everyone is ready to celebrate the Harvest Festival in Lower Hembrow. Imogen is adamant that this event will go without the extra ‘surprise’ as happened the last few events.
But no such luck, as Joe Trevillion, a local farmer and a father of six, disappears…
As the local forces don’t see an actual crim, with the help of former detective and current proprietor of The Plough Adam Hennessy, Imogen tries to figure out where Joe went.
But finding out the truth may seem harder than thought as the villagers are all ready to tell all the gossip and rumours about Joe.
However, not only Joe’s disappearance is troubling Imogen, as doubts around her own relationship with Dan, even at their second chance at love, isn’t going all that well.
And when weird things appear to happen to Dan too, the four sleuth friends (Steph included) need to dig out the whole truth try to prevent things to get even worse.

Whenever I am reading a story, never mind the genre, I always am looking for the happy moments for the main characters.
And how things ended in the previous book of this series, things were definitely looking good for our main characters.
So yes, I was happy to return to the village in Somerset, to see what the next adventure would be for our sleuthing team! 

And luckily for us, but not for the village, this time there is a mysterious disappearance to be investigated.  
What I like about this team, is how they all have their own forces, but it’s by joining their forces, they unravel the truth.
Even if the disappearance may not be a high priority for the actual forces, when things escalate, it’s thanks to Imogen and Adam that the mystery gets solved. 

In this third chapter, there is also more focus on the entwined relationships. And seeing how Adam and Steph are getting more and more in sync was just lovely to read.
But on the other hand, seeing how Imogen and Dan seem to appear to be reaching the end of their story, broke my heart a bit.
While I wanted this couple to last, I understood how they got to this point. And even when a new appearance may be the final nail on the coffin, I still kept hoping for the best, because as a reader we knew more intel.
However, it was great to see how in times of need, everyone just was there, offering help and support, no matter how awkward things got before. 

This was again a great, cosy mystery to read, and showing that my sleuthing abilities are close to those of our main characters.
I loved to get to know all the main characters even better, learning about pasts that scarred some, making them even more real in my eyes, as sometimes in books the past of a main character doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect the present and the future.
Here the author shows us that the past made us who we are now, with all our fears and scars.
But even if things get too heated, we can get all the answers and closure that we need, and dare to show our true emotions and intentions.

‘You Only Live Once’ – written by Maxine Morrey #BookReview @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks

When you lose, how do you get up again?

Synopsis

When Lily’s husband dies, she moves to the edge of a tiny village, settling into a solitary life, her only real company her brother and his family. A quiet life becomes her safe space, with no risk of getting hurt.

When her brother offers her spare room to his oldest friend, Jack, Lily’s reluctant – but knowing how much she owes her family, can’t say no. 

A lodger takes some getting used to but to her surprise, Lily begins to enjoy Jack’s company. Slowly but surely, Jack encourages Lily to step outside her comfort zone. 

But taking risks means facing the consequences, and telling people how she really feels, means Lily might have to face losing them. But as the saying goes – you only live once – and being brave could mean Lily gets a second chance at love…

My review

Lily never expected to be a widow so soon and in so a tragic way. Having loved and lost, made her change her life into a solitary one. She lives now in a tiny village, close to her brother and his family as her only company.
So when her brother needs her help, as letting stay his best friend in her spare bedroom, it’s clear that Lily isn’t all too happy.
But with Jack’s presence in the house, Lily slowly learns to step outside and out of her comfort zone. And enjoys Jack’s presence…
However, can Lily find the courage to open her heart again, and not let her fear of losing again to take the upper hand? Because in the end, you only live once… 

There are some authors that you know you will immediately like, even if you haven’t read one single word of their latest book.
And Maxine Morrey is one of them! 

It’s obvious that Lily is a sad, lonely character and I mean this in the literal sense, she IS sad and lonely. We feel how she is still grieving over losing her beloved husband. And I could also understand how she kept to herself and didn’t wish to socialise and pretend everything was okay, when it obviously still isn’t.
But we also see the amazing Lily, as a sister, a sister – in – law and great aunty to her brother’s kids!
And she knows how much she has to thank her brother for, so if repaying him somehow means allowing Jack, her former crush, to stay in her spare bedroom, how can she say ‘no’? 

I absolutely adored reading how Lily and Jack are living at the same place. Reading their banter, their stubbornness but also being there for each other was just so amazing.
Jack may be part of the higher society, but he want nothing to do with it. In fact, he couldn’t be more normal!
He helps Lily, not because of duty or sense of obligation, but because he is just that kind of good guy.
And how he gently pushes Lily out of her cocoon, sometimes doing it the right way, but also messing up, made my heart melt. 

This isn’t a story about a maid in distress and a knight in shining armour, but I felt it more like equal distress and equal helping hands. And obviously mutual attraction but trying not to give in.
As a reader, we know that there will come a moment where resisting is impossible, and when it FINALLY happened, even if the author skipped the whole build – up and leaving us using our own imagination, I think I was as happy as the main characters! 

While I wanted Lily to make a quicker move, I could also perfectly understand her. There isn’t a timeline on how long grief takes, this is different for each person. And while frustrating for me, I could also comprehend why she was afraid to get closer to Jack. She barely survived losing her husband and if she has to go through it all again, I could see that it would truly break her.
But should we truly let fear let us miss out on the best thing in life, love? 

During this book, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. It made me happy, made me swoon, made me sad, made me angry, made me frustrated but also made me understand even better how grief and fear can change a person into only a shadow of how she/he was before.
But it also showed me that no matter how much someone suffered, or was afraid, for having the right person by your side it’s always worth of taking that terrifying step and turn into the glorious you again.

‘The Spanish Wedding Disaster’ – written by Karen King #BookReview @karen_king @rararesources

A surprise wedding, wonderful right?

Synopsis

Some people are romantics. Some aren’t. When Sophie and Maddie are summoned to a mysterious, top-secret meeting by their best friend Kate’s partner, and told that he’s planning to whisk Kate away for a surprise wedding in Gibraltar, it’s immediately clear that bubbly florist Sophie is a total romantic. And that freewheeling, purple-haired Maddie is not.

Soon, Maddie finds herself reluctantly organising venues, planners and ceremonies; trying not to think of her own memories of Andalucia, and those she’s lost touch with there. Meanwhile Sophie’s hoping this dreamy gesture might spur on her own boyfriend to similar plans . . . and absolutely notthinking at all about Kate’s gorgeous brother-in-law-to-be.

But Kate’s got no idea what’s going on. And as the stress piles up and the group jet off to the sunny south, it seems it’s not just Kate who might get a surprise in Spain – one that could change everything . . .

My review

Kate is looking forward to her holiday in June in Spain. But what Kate doesn’t know, is that her boyfriend is not only planning to propose to her, but to actually marry her there!
Obviously Steve needs help, and who better than Kate’s best friends are perfect for the job. While Sophie is a romantic at heart and swoons by this idea, Maddie isn’t a big fan of it. And Steve adds his brother Josh in the equation as his best man.
But how can you prepare a wedding without the bride’s input? And will the result be just what Kate likes? But more important, will Kate accept Steve’s proposal? And how will these stressful months affect the organisers? Will there be an ‘I do’ in the end or not? 

Obviously, in my opinion, is a secret wedding surprise a terrible idea. No matter how good my best friends and fiancé knows me, I will always want to have my own say in it, put somewhere something that is just typical *me*.
And then I’m not talking about the dress, flowers, food, locations etc.
So as far as I could see, this would be indeed a wedding disaster! 

However…
I loved reading how Sophie and Maddie were doing everything they could to get everything perfect, together with Steve and Josh.
And trying to keep it a big secret, making up lies down the line was funny to read as it was just getting sometimes over the top. 

I found it also funny to read how the organizers were trying to get the information out of Kate without being too obvious about it.

But even if it was all about the wedding, for me it was about the friendship between the three women. Because no matter how different Kate, Sophie and Maddie are, they are a close unit, they would do anything for each other, even putting on a dress as a bridesmaid! 

Of course, there is romance in this story, and it’s not only about Kate and Steve. And I will not talk too much about how things are going, but it was nice to read how emotions and affections can shift during a couple of months.
And how our own perceptiveness can fool us and won’t allow us to see what is obvious… 

This was a funny, sweet, lovely story to read, about what we would do for our loved ones, but also how sometimes things don’t go 100% as expected.
But the love, in all the aspects, just sparks of the pages!

‘Who Do You Think You Are Maggie Pink?’ – written by Janet Hoggarth #BookReview @Janethauthor @rararesources @BoldwoodBooks

What prevails, nature or nurture?

Synopsis

Maggie Pink is a lot of things to a lot of people, but does she know who she really is?

Maggie is a mother to a stroppy teenager, a wife to a befuddled husband, and a daughter to two very different women. She has always known she’s adopted, but has she ever understood what that means? Not really.

Following the death of her mother, Maggie finally feels able to go in search of her birth mother Morag, and heads to the Highlands of Scotland with her disgruntled daughter Roxie in tow, leaving her crumbling marriage to worry about another day.

The family reunion is bittersweet, but everything is blown wide open when Roxie unearths Morag’s explosive teenage diaries. Why did Morag give Maggie away? What really happened all those years ago, and how have the echoes of the past resounded through the generations, like ripples in a puddle?

And when all the secrets and promises are out in the open, will Maggie finally have an answer to the question – who do you think you are Maggie Pink?

My review

Now that her mother has died, Maggie Pink is looking for her biological mother. She always knew that she was adopted as a baby, but until now never wanted to know more about it.
Looking for her biological parents before seemed unfair to her adoptive parents, because they truly loved her.
But now, Maggie finally finds the courage to find out more about her birth mother Morag. So she head up with her reluctant teenage daughter Roxie to the Highlands of Scotland, and leaving the worries of her failed marriage home.
Finding her family and roots is bittersweet, especially when Morag’s diaries are found and the truth about her pregnancy is revealed.
Slowly Maggie is finding answers to her questions, but will she also find an answer to the most important one, who she truly is? 

When reading a book about the main character being adopted, it’s easy to have prejudices. But how can we have an opinion about something when we don’t have all the information? 

What I loved about this story, is that it isn’t a sad story. Maggie was loved by her parents, even if they weren’t always on the same page about things.
And I appreciated how Maggie knew that she was adopted and out of respect for the people who raised her, didn’t have the need to find more about her biological parents. 

But while she was being truly loved by her adoptive family, her own family appears to be falling apart.
And while initially the reason of it isn’t clear, slowly we see the tragedy her family had to endure and how it changed not only Maggie but the dynamic of the family. 

Morag’s story was difficult to read, because slowly we get to know her better. Reading that getting pregnant as a young teenager and not getting the needed support from everyone, was heart – breaking.
We learn that giving Maggie away was the hardest thing Morag ever did and it scarred her…
But I found it lovely to see how Morag still kept the hope that Maggie would find her again. 

This story is about four generations of women, facing difficulties in their lives. We have the mother of Morag, who may seem like a dragon, but her own tale is also a sad one. And while I wanted to despise her, her own truth made me feel with her.
We have Morag, forced to give up Maggie, is heart – broken, lost but hopeful that the wrong will be undone.
There is Maddie, trying to find out about her family, finding out who she is while grieving over her own tragedy.
And then Roxie, a teenager who wishes that her parents get back together but has to learn that not always everything is what it seems. 

While there are so many other things happening, and many other side characters appears and you love immediately, the feeling of hope and longing emerged above every other feeling.
And reading how Maggie suddenly discovers that nurture made her the woman she is now, nature also had an input in making her the Maggie Pink she is now, was a lovely discovery as a reader too.
Because we may never underestimate the love and care we receive from our parents, whether biological or adoptive…

‘A Wish For Jo’ – written by Audrey Davis #BookReview @audbyname @rararesources

What would you wish for if you had three wishes?

Synopsis

The hilarious sequel to A Wish For Jinnie! Best read in order.

Jo Milligan’s café — A Bit of Crumpet — is her pride and joy.
But icing cakes and baking pastries in the sleepy Scottish village of Cranley isn’t hitting the sweet spot.

Jo longs for some excitement in her life. The arrival of gruff stranger Harvey Quinn doesn’t fill her with joy. Nor does the appearance of an unlikely assistant with an unexpected gift … and a serious attitude problem.

Genie Aaliyah grants Jo three wishes, but coming up with ideas proves challenging.

As Jo grows closer to Cranley’s newest resident, secrets threaten to derail their relationship.

Can Jo find a way to cook up a happy ending, or do the ingredients add up to a recipe for disaster?

My review

While polishing a lamp, Jo Milligan get the shock and surprise of her life. Because the owner of café ‘A Bit of Crumpet’ surely didn’t expect that a genie would appear out of it!
Genie Aaliyah grants Jo three wishes, but Jo now must decide what her wishes are… while Jo thinks about her wishes, Aaliyah becomes the assistant Jo wasn’t looking for. And neither was Jo looking for the arrival of Harvey Quinn, the gruff stranger just arrived in town who didn’t make the best impression…
What wishes will Jo wish for? And while they started on the wrong foot, will Jo and Harvey grow closer, or will the secrets put a stop of something that could be beautiful? 

As I had so much fun reading the first part of this series, I just had to read this next chapter. And as Jo wasn’t a total stranger, I wanted to know what adventure she would be making with a genie of her own. 

Getting to know Jo better was like being on a wonderful journey. While it would have been easy to pick out three wishes, I admired Jo that she truly wanted to think about what she would wish for.
And seeing what she chose, made me like her even more than before!
What she chose, was a choice made by her heart, and especially her first choice was so heart – warming yet also heart – breaking. 

I have to admit, I got a bit frustrated with Aaliyah, because yes, if we think about a genie, there is that big blue one that pops in everyone’s mind.
But Aaliyah couldn’t be more different! I would even compare her with an obnoxious teenager maybe?
But the way she grants Jo’s wishes perfectly, showed me also the good bits of this weird genie! 

And then there is Harvey… he too didn’t make a great first impression but he easily and quickly redeemed himself, especially when we get to know him better and learn what he has been going through.
There was a likeness with a new item that is very recent (I am not going to say what exactly or put my own thought about that on paper), but it made me realize even more that there are always two sides of a story and we shouldn’t just believe everything we read online or on the papers.
And lesson to be learned: sometimes doing nothing isn’t the right thing to do. Because the fight is worth it, especially when your own future is at stakes. 

Jo and Harvey getting closer and closer was truly sweet and lovely to read, but also a bit scary. Because as a reader you know what truth will come out, but you don’t know how our characters will react. We always hope for the best, but the author managed perfectly to grasp the humanity of Jo and Harvey.
It’s easy as a bystander to say what the right thing to do is, but when it’s you who is in the middle of it, fear and doubt are the feelings that sometimes will let you make the wrong decision. 

The third wish Jo had, shows us again how lovely she truly is. Because a wish made from the heart is always a great wish.
And seeing how our old friends are doing, was a great extra!

When you read this story, I will assure you, you will laugh, roll your eyes (Aaliyah!), experience heart – warming moments, experience heart – breaking moments and wish you had your own three wishes to see come true!
But if you have that opportunity, think wisely what you wish for, because we have seen how wonderful the right wish can be!

‘Not The Plus One’ – written by Belle Henderson #BookReview @BelleHe21599883 @rararesources

Nobody wants to attend a wedding on her own…

Synopsis

Tilly’s got her invite, now this single mum needs a plus one.

But she’s far too busy parenting her little girl, stopping her mum from over injecting her face with filler, and playing happy families with her pompous coffee-fuelled ex. Oh yeah, and there’s the new guy at work who is gunning for her job. So Tilly really doesn’t have time for any of the grief that relationships can bring. She just wants the fun, not the red flags. And it just so happens that a nice-looking man has recently caught her eye. He’ll do… for now… just perfect. 

Except he’s a little elusive. After a wild hen do including a very ropey boat trip, a gobby gate crasher and a dodgy male stripper, a series of dating disasters leaves Tilly feeling disheartened. When that familiar gorgeous face pops up on the dating website, she thinks all of her Christmases have come at once.  Could he be the plus one? 

Tilly’s too nice and she really needs to set some boundaries if she wants to be happy. Is there such a thing as the perfect plus one? Will her mother’s obsession with tweakments ever stop? Can Tilly compete with the sexy but infuriating new guy at work?

My review

Tilly absolutely adores her baby – girl. But things aren’t as easy as they may seem, because while Tilly is supposed to get back to work, she isn’t ready to let her baby go. Which is obviously understandable, as she is a single mum.
To complicate things even more, she keeps on playing happy family with her ex, her own mother is apparently a big fan of fillers and Tilly doesn’t want to attend her friend’s wedding on her own.
So her plan is to find someone to bring as her plus – one, a man to bring along but not being in an actual relationship with him. She only wants the fun, and nothing more, as she has been there, done that.
On the hen do, which goes a bit wild, she meets the perfect man and when she finds him again on a dating site, it must be a sign that he is perfect for the job ahead!
But isn’t it that something that looks too perfect, often is the total opposite? And why does the other guy she met on the hen do keeps popping up at the most unexpected places?

When I started to read this book, there were a few things I could easily relate with Tilly. Being a single (but not a mum) myself, I have felt also awkward when attending a wedding and not having my ‘gang’ with me.
It’s those moments that make you feel lonely, even if in any other occasion you wouldn’t feel that way.
So yes, I could understand why Tilly wanted to find someone to bring along, even if she isn’t looking for something more permanent.
And even if I am not a mother myself, I could also comprehend why Tilly was reluctant of leaving her lovely daughter even for a little bit.

While I felt sympathetic towards Tilly, I also had several mean streaks as I was laughing at loud at all the mess she got herself into!
It all starts with a ride in a car without putting sunscreen on, to a hen do getting over the top and a stripper who isn’t a real stripper (you’ll understand what I mean when you get at that part!).

When you read the blurb, you may think it’s all about Tilly trying to find a date for the wedding. But it’s so much more. The author manages perfectly to point in a funny way the struggles people have to face on being a single parent, and finding the perfect balance of being a good parent but also not losing yourself in the process and why not, finding that special one.

Baby classes, dates with terrible habits (TEA BAGS!!!), nosy friends and family, a too imposing ex, starting again at work while you have to face a new colleague who appears to be better than you, while some of the above may seem a bit over the top, it made me laugh yet realize how difficult it all can be.
And let’s not forget about how ‘dangerous’ the whole internet dating thing can be! Because I saw several red flags but I could see how Tilly didn’t.

There were also lovely, unexpected bits, from someone we didn’t see coming (yet we did 😊) and made me smile of contentment, making me see that no matter how weird things can go in life, there are also many good bits and you’ll never know where they will take you!

And what starts as an awkward first meeting, maybe will end in something totally unexpected yet totally wonderful, just like reading this book!