Review: Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes writes for the reader who wants to escape. No matter if you’re reading Hughes’ beach vacation novels or her holiday books, you’ll remove yourself from reality, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy a ride through luxury. 

In Christmas in London, baker Louisa gets whisked away to London by television show producer Noah. She and her cinnamon rolls are needed for filming a Christmas special with a handsome, charming, world-famous chef and cookbook writer. 

When I read Hughes, I just latch on to the main character and forget my real life. In London, I got to wake up to the smell of coffee and pastry, buy fancy new clothes, take walks with the cutie pie producer, take cooking classes with the famous chef (and hang out in a mansion with him), and live the tv star life for a week… not to mention get a happily ever after (and watch a new friend get one too).

Not a bad way to spend 288 pages.  

-calliope 

Buy CHRISTMAS IN LONDON

Advertisements

Review: Completely by Ruthie Knox

After a few weeks of mediocre romances, I was so happy to read the first few pages of COMPLETELY. I knew by the end of the first chapter that I would come to know the main characters as if they were real people. I don’t know how some other authors can describe what a character is wearing and it seems all irrelevant and extraneous, and then Ruthie Knox describes someone’s clothing in a way that paints a picture in my mind and makes me know the character better. Whatever that particular facet of writing talent is, I’m grateful. I really was about to go on a romance hiatus until COMPLETELY came my way. 

So besides the draw of a good romance, COMPLETELY enamored me with complex family dynamics, the intricacies of mountain climbing, and the turmoil of people trying to decide if they’re suppose to continue on their current path or not. Most of the book was about mountain climbing. I learned a ton. But between the lines I also learned that the best figurative mountains to climb are the ones that are the most difficult. 

COMPLETELY has some steamy scenes and a whole lot of fun dates in New York City. It was a bit of a departure from the fluff romances I usually read, and I need to remember to go back and read Knox’s New York books #1&2. 

-calliope

Buy COMPLETELY (it’s only $2.99!)

Review: Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes


Love the luxuriousness and glamour that this book exudes – like Hughes’ others. Lily and Oliver were a cute couple, even divorced, so I enjoyed their banter and rapport. 

Unfortunately, Emerald Coast was a little too predictable even for me, and I wasn’t a fan of the cliched reasons why Angela and Ricky were looking for a mate. I’ll always love Anita Hughes for her rich descriptions, beautiful writing, and memorable scenery. I just wasn’t cut out for the plot of this particular story.

-calliope 

Buy EMERALD COAST

Review: Balancing Act (Chloe by Design #2) by Margaret Gurevich (illustrated by Brooke Hagel)


In Balancing Act, we follow Chloe at her New York fashion house internship that she won in Book #1 (Making the Cut). She lives in a dorm where one of her roommates gives her a hard time about not earning her way into the industry. But Chloe is so good at creating unique fashion, that her samples get chosen to be made into designs for fashion week. Her mentors even give her a gift bag at the end of her internship — and it contains a surprise that Chloe had only dreamed of. 

I really liked the full color fashion sketches in the book. When Chloe described clothing she saw, the next page would have a drawing of that item. The book illustrated many kinds of clothing, and I especially liked seeing all the different ways a simple shirt could be designed. 

I liked that the author made a few mean characters in the middle of all the happy friends, families, interns and mentors. The story seemed more realistic that way. Even though there were always those mean people trying to discourage Chloe, she focused on a good support system of people who encouraged her to go for her dreams. 

Now that Chloe is done with her internship, I’m excited to read Book Three when she is back in her California hometown. 

-calliope’s 11-year-old daughter 

Buy BALANCING ACT

Review: A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt 

This quick and easy holiday romance was cute, but not as satisfying as I’d hoped. Maybe its brevity precluded some of the depth I’ve come to appreciate in cozy romance novels. 

Anna heads to the Cotswolds from New York City, hoping for a respite from the pressures of life: relationships, work, and family. What she finds is no room at the inn, and a second-rate offer by the innkeeper’s cousin Colin. Colin is a happy go lucky guy who forms an attraction for Anna. 

I won’t spoil it, but when two roads diverge in a yellow wood, Anna and Colin don’t have too many choices: they fall for each other or they don’t… someone moves halfway around the world or someone doesn’t. 

This is book one in a series, and it definitely seemed like an introduction. I wanted more substance, some subplots, and a more memorable hero. But it was charming and well-written, and a nice way to familiarize readers with a new setting… especially for the price ($2.99). Here’s hoping book two hits me right in the heart! 

-calliope

Buy A COTSWOLD CHRISTMAS

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan 

Frankie and Matt are so fun!  Frankie is anti-commitment… and Matt’s a little bit in love. Watching them work together and live in the same building is pure entertainment. And Matt is my favorite kind of alpha male – he’s buff, brainy, and full of tender loving care for the women in his life. Frankie appreciates the attention but can’t imagine she deserves it… until her best friends give her a reality check. 

I just love the boy chases girl, boy gets girl storyline. Sarah Morgan surpasses expectations of a predictable romance by developing Frankie’s friendships and family ties, as well as having her come to terms with her past. I also enjoyed the wedding, the Maine seascape, and the welcoming islanders. Oh, and the walks in Central Park!! 

-calliope

Buy SUNSET IN CENTRAL PARK

Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

  
I read so much Kristan Higgins that I thought this novel would be just like her Blue Heron romances. I was wrong. Though Kristan’s signature wit is ever-present, If You Only Knew is a more serious take on relationships, both romantic and familial.  

Jenny Tate’s fickle husband divorced her and remarries… yet wants Jenny to remain his best friend. Jenny’s sister Rachel gives marriage and motherhood her all, only to find out her husband thinks she’s boring. Jenny and Rachel’s mom is no help at all, using passive aggressiveness to ensure she’s always the center of sympathy. 

I love how Jenny and Rachel navigate their romantic relationships with each other’s love and support. Higgins shows that sometimes our love induces good intentions… that the receiver doesn’t really want. For example, when Rachel needs a shoulder to cry on, she doesn’t want Jenny to judge her husband, but Jenny doesn’t know any other way to defend her sister! Higgins wrote it so real that I could believe I was with my own sister, navigating our own real life issues. 🙂

Higgins’s characters develop realistically, also. They come to emotional crossroads that push them to change gradually. Jenny’s downstairs neighbor wasn’t ready for a relationship at first because he was, frankly, depressed. Higgins gives Leo plenty of turning points and opportunities for change before illustrating his healing. 

Lest you think this is a melodrama, let me tell you there are plenty of laughs. Jenny’s dress-shop right-hand man is sarcastic and cynical and hilarious. One bride’s Momzilla gives everyone a run for their money, and Higgin’s description of her expressions is AWESOME. 

If You Only Knew has lust, laughter, and lunacy, but it also takes a peek at the serious side of love. It isn’t the Kristan Higgins that I expected; it’s even more. 

-calliope

Buy IF YOU ONLY KNEW