Book Review: Of Love and Secrets by Margaret Lynette Sharp

Title: Of Love and Secrets

Of Love and Secrets cover
Of Love and Secrets

Author: Margaret Lynette Sharp

Published: January 5th 2015 by Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description from Goodreads:

This is the story of an eighteen-year old woman as she battles for autonomy and a life of her own. Still living at home, under the ever-watchful eye of her domineering mother, Jenny struggles to build a life and find love. What is her destiny?

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Of Love and Secrets by Australian author, Margaret Lynette Sharp, is a lovely contemporary romance novel, set in beautiful Sydney, Australia.

Jenny has just turned 18, has been dumped by her boyfriend, and feels like her mother still treats her like a child. She jumps at the chance to get out of her stifling home to go to a party with her friends where she meets the handsome older man, Richard.

Jenny and Richard begin to spend all of their time together and seem to fall head over heels in love with each other. Jenny believes that she is old enough to make her own decisions. Richard is only in his early 20’s, appears to really like her, and even her Dad seems to like him, so what’s the problem?

Jenny’s mother has all kinds of problems with the relationship. She thinks that Jenny is too young and that Richard is only interested in taking advantage of her. This makes things very tense at home, but when Richard starts to talk about moving to Melbourne Jenny begins to wonder where exactly their relationship is heading.

Jenny was such a likable, if a bit naive, character that I found myself really hoping that things would work out between her and Richard. I was really hoping for her to stand up to her overbearing mother, although I could also see things from her point of view at times. Even when you’re 18 it is quite rude and irresponsible to be staying out til all hours without letting your parents know and 18 is still too young to know for sure that you’ve found the love of your life. (In my opinion.) However, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting must be knowing when to let go and allow your children to make their own decisions, good or bad.

I really enjoyed Of Love and Secrets. It was much more than just about romance, it was about families, relationships, and the struggles of growing up and finding your own place in the world.

Check out Margaret’s Guest Author post here from earlier this month!

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Book Review: A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds

Title: A Kirribilli Christmas                                                                                          Akirribillichristmas

Author: Louise Reynolds

Published: 2 Dec 2014, Penguin Books Australia/Destiny Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 54

My Rating:  3/5

Description: From the publisher

Eight years ago Shelby left Sydney for LA, determined to set the world on fire. Now she’s nearly broke and her boyfriend has left her alone at Christmas. Lonely and miserable, Shelby finds herself drawn back to the childhood home she thought she’d left behind . . .

Frangipani House now belongs to Dan Sayers, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who found a new start in Kirribilli. When he spots Shelby dragging her suitcase up the front steps on Christmas Eve, he can’t believe his eyes. It’s been four years since he last saw her. Then, she’d been aloof, a stranger in designer sunglasses and killer heels, barely acknowledging their shared past.

As Christmas unfolds, Shelby and Dan grow closer than ever before and Shelby begins to see her ramshackle home in a new light. But before she and Dan can have any hope of a future together, they must first confront their past.

My Thoughts:

A Kirribilli Christmas is my 8th and final novel that I have read as part of the Aussie Readers Christmas/New Year themed December challenge. I’ve really enjoyed reading Christmas themed books this month, it’s a great way to get into a Christmassy frame of mind.

Shelby left Kirribilli, a suburb of Sydney Australia, to become a famous actor. It’s not working out so well for her though. She’s only had a handful of of bit parts and a rich jerk of a boyfriend to show for all of her efforts. When he makes it clear that she isn’t invited to spend Christmas with his family she takes up his offer to fly home to Kirribilli for the holidays despite the fact that since her mother passed away and she has no family left.

Her family home which is called Frangipanni House (maybe a little bit too ‘Australiana’ cliche for my tastes) is now owned by Dan, one of the many foster children that Shelby’s mother took in over the years. There seemed to be all kinds of tension between Shelby, Dan and the rest of the foster children who still get together every year for Christmas. I really felt like the tension between Shelby and the others needed to be explained more clearly. They were far too hostile for the brief explanation that was given. I think perhaps the novella was just a tiny bit too short and could have done with being a tad longer to explore those relationships more thoroughly.

Another thing that I found a little bit difficult to swallow was the location for this family. Kirribilli property is expensive, and I mean really expensive, so I’m not sure how a single mother with a hoard of foster children could have afforded such a large house there on her own even 20 years ago. And there was no way that I could imagine that anyone would be able to make a decision on whether to sell a property or not in that area on a whim. This detail is entirely irrelevant to the enjoyment of the book, especially for readers overseas but it was something that stuck out like a sore thumb for me.

Overall, A Kirribilli Christmas is a nicely written contemporary Australian romance, set on the lovely shores of Kirribilli (Sydney). The characters and story line are quite interesting and it’s a little bit deeper than the usual Christmas themed novella.

Now, this is where my review would have ended if I hadn’t turned the page and read Louise Reynolds’ author bio. I’m a born and bred Melburnian (a person who is from Melbourne) so I took particular exception to the following sentence:

“After one look at Melbourne beaches she got a library card and started to read.”

I usually steer well clear of the Sydney vs Melbourne debate but it is well documented here, here and here, as well as thousands more. But I will say that there are many reasons why Melbourne is regularly voted one of the most livable cities in the world and Sydney the most expensive. I believe that Sydneysiders are always going to prefer their home town and Melburnians are going to prefer theirs and will usually leave it at that but disparaging Melbourne’s beaches in an author bio is probably not a good way to go about things. I would have thought Melburnians would have made up a far chunk of Louise’s readers so it might be a better idea to speak about both towns in a positive light, especially since she lives here now.

Louise, you also don’t need to wear so much black, that’s just a tired old stereotype and you know that Melbourne’s fashion is better than Sydney’s. I think that most people would agree that there is so much more versatility during the colder weather that we get here during winter.

And if you have been looking for lovely beaches in Melbourne’s northern suburbs you have been looking in the wrong place! I’ve decided to help Louise out but showing her a few of my favourite Melbourne beaches.

Here we have Brighton Beach, just a 30 minute drive south of the CBD. These beach boxes there are worth quite a lot of money and the houses along the beach here would match or top the Kirribilli property market.

Brighton Beach image

Image uploaded to Flickr by Reinis Traidas and shared under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.

Here is my favourite beach in Sorrento which is just down the road from my home town. This beach is virtually empty all of the time because the only way to get there is to drive down several roads with signage stating ‘no beach access’ and then walking the rest of the way over sand dunes. (There is no way that I will tell you how to get there, sorry!) Sorrento is a 1.5 hour drive south of Melbourne’s CBD.

sorrento beach

Image from my own personal collection

And here are the famed 12 Apostles which are along the Great Ocean Road, a top tourist destination. The 12 Apostles are about a 3 hour drive west of Melbourne’s CBD but it is well worth the trip and while you are there you might as well visit other beautiful and world renowned beaches such as Lorne, Torquay and Anglesea just to name a few.


Image uploaded to Flickr by Stephenk1977 and shared under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.

This could be asking for trouble, but feel free to share your thoughts on Melbourne Vs Sydney as long as you keep it reasonably nice!

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