Review (quick and dirty #5 FINALLY): Summer at the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard 

I’m all caught up! Here’s the fifth and final Friday night quick and dirty book review: 

I love this series set in the French countryside! Emmy is a wonderful Jane-of-all-trades at Rupert’s lovely inn, and there’s no shortage of chick-lit drama. “Interesting” guests, crazy ex-wives, and family secrets drive the plot forward fast and furiously. I like that Emmy is soft-hearted yet doesn’t stand for any nonsense… and the other characters appreciate that about her as well. What most impresses me is how Pollard writes about real life issues with lightness and whimsy. GUESTHOUSE is so fun that you don’t even realize you’ve read about divorce, grief, mortality, trauma, and tolerance. All you feel is love, laughter and friendship — which are balms for all of life’s messy parts. C’est bon. 

-calliope

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Review (quick and dirty #1): Marry Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

I’m behind on book reviews, so here’s my attempt at redemption: Five quick and dirty reviews on a Friday night. 🙂 

This is the BEST of the Willoughby Close novels — light, fun, witty, believable. Loved Alice’s story, including her realistic fears about feeling settled after being a drifter for so long, and her reactions to handsome-but-snobby Henry. Alice was the perfect companion to elderly and frail Lady Stokely, unobtrusive and kind. I liked the cameos by the Willoughby Close neighbors from previous books in the series, and Hewitt did a fabulous job having them stay true to themselves — as did Alice, even when she fell in love. This is one of my favorite summer British chick lit reads, but you might want to prep by reading book 1 first. 

-calliope

Buy Marry Me at Willoughby Close ($3.99!)

Review: A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe 

Lovely story, but not what I expected. I thought, “A wedding! France! Cheese! Pastry!” And I got a wedding… but not until the very very end; France… well a part of France  caught very much in between England and France in language and culture; cheese… yes, but not everyone liked it; and pastry… oh the very best pastries and cakes made by chef Juliette. 

Juliette set aside her personal baggage to be Max’s personal chef. For Juliette, life was even easier that way. When Max invited a bunch of friends to stay at his home for the weekend, Juliette was ready to cook for them like a madwoman. But things went wrong at every turn due to the shadow Max’s mood cast. Whether he meant to or not, Max kind of ruined everything for his friends and his chef. And that kind of ruined the story for me. 
Good writing, good plot, depressing main character. 

-calliope 

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Review: Kiss Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

I love these quick and fun Willoughby Close novels. Trying circumstances send a person to Willoughby Close to rent a cottage on manor property. The person grows in various ways, gets a hand up if necessary, chooses a direction, and makes their life the best they can. Kiss Me is Ava’s story… and boy howdy does she need a cottage to live in after her rich husband dies and leaves her with next to nothing, not even one of their several homes. 

At Willoughby Close, Ava learns how to interact with people on a friendly and neighborly level, reach out when someone needs help, and show her true colors instead of putting on a façade. Ava finds more than just her strength at Willoughby… she also finds the handsome and sensitive alpha groundskeeper, throwing a wrench into all her plans to be independent. 

While Ava is surrounded by good people who want to help her, she does plenty of helping herself — and even taking the time for a young woman who could use a break. 

I love that Hewitt focuses on second chances, and it’s uplifting to see good people making something positive out of those chances. 

-Calliope

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Review: Four Bridesmaids and a White Wedding by Fiona Collins 

What a hoot! Wendy’s getting married, and the bridesmaids do some early celebrating on a spa weekend. Except the spa part falls through and they’d never guess what was in store for them instead. 
Collins successfully writes this romcom with a true ensemble cast. Each woman reminded me of someone I know in real life, so reading this book became something of a movie in my head with my friends as the actors.  I won’t name names here, but if you read it you might recognize yourself. (For the record, I’m either Tasmin or JoJo.)

Four Bridesmaids is lighthearted for sure, but does take a somewhat serious look at the sacredness of relationships and our responsibilities in maintaining them. Collins also illustrates the strong bonds of female friendship. Sometimes all it takes is knowing you’ve found a kindred spirit to shine the light of truth on your life, and give you a happy nudge forward. 

-Calliope 

Buy FOUR BRIDESMAIDS AND A WHITE WEDDING ($2.99 hey now!)

Review: Solo by Jill Mansell

Solo is a mad adventure by two women who have their hearts set on something: for Holly, it’s Max, handsome hotel owner;  for Tessa, it’s being left alone and not being tied to a man. Unfortunately for them both, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” 

Tessa is involved with Max’s brother Ross in a love triangle of the most unexpected kind. Holly tries too hard. And Ross and Max have their own agendas! Cougar Antonia brings her own melodramatics that turn everyone’s lives into a soap opera. 

I always adore the fun and crazy that Jill Mansell writes, and this is no different. The characters are unique from book to book, Solo’s plot is multilayered, and the dialogue is believable even when it’s over the top. 

Thanks Ms. Mansell for taking me completely out of reality and into the world of fancy hotels, infidelities and karma, and simple girls who live in simple cottages quite happily enough. 

-calliope

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Review: Bookends by Jane Green


I love this story with an ensemble cast. Four friends grow up: one flies the coop, one gets married, one finds too much love, and one finds not enough. Green does a wonderful job making Cath the main character without taking time or page space away from the others. The writing is excellent, the plot moves at the perfect pace, and most importantly, there  aren’t so many characters that I have to work to understand who’s who. 

Favorite part: the bookshop, of course! 

Second favorite part: Cath’s romantic interest. Of course. 😉

This British rom com — about the development of relationships, the relative degrees of loyalty, and finding your true self behind the defensive walls we put up — is an oldie but goodie. I wanted to read a Jane Green novel, I did, and now I’ll be reading more!  

-calliope

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