Valentine’s Day romance stack

My Valentine’s Day romance stack

Hello and wishing everybody a happy Valentine’s Day. Or a happy Sunday if celebrating VDay isn’t really your thing.

In any case, it’s a gloomy Sunday here in Melbourne and we’re in the middle of another (hopefully) short lockdown, so I feel like it’s a great day to curl up on the couch with a romance novel. I’ve prepared a nice stack of some of my favourite romance reads over the years, plus a couple of bonus books amongst the shelves in the background.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone, so I hope you all have a great weekend and happy reading!

With her tousled blond hair and upturned nose, dark glasses and chic black dresses, Holly Golightly is top notch in style and a sensation wherever she goes. Her brownstone apartment vibrates with martini-soaked parties as she plays hostess to millionaires and gangsters alike. Yet Holly never loses sight of her ultimate goal.

Truman Capote’s BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S is very different from the movie. It’s much darker and Holly Golightly is even wilder than the movie version. This is an interesting book to read and a great choice if you are a bit sick of all the Valentine’s Day gushy stuff. I think this might be one of the rare times that I prefer the movie to the book.

GOODREADS

It’s tough to beat Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly

‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Jane Austen is another great romance author for anyone feeling a little bit cynical about love. Austen’s dry wit and astute observations about love and human nature will draw you into her world every time.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

‘Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?’

Set on the bleak moors of Yorkshire, Lockwood is forced to seek shelter at Wuthering Heights, the home of his new landlord, Heathcliff. The intense and wildly passionate Heathcliff tells the story of his life, his all-consuming love for Catherine Earnshaw and the doomed outcome of that relationship, leading to his revenge.

Poetic, complex and grand in its scope, Emily Brontë’s masterpiece is considered one of the most unique gothic novels of its time.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS is probably the darkest book on this list and perfect if you’re feeling a bit anti-love this weekend. Almost all of the characters are terrible and there aren’t many happy endings here, but it’s also one of the most beautiful Gothic novels and I’m looking forward to re-reading this book shortly.

GOODREADS

A woman has to live her life, or live to repent not having lived it.

When aristocrat Clifford returns from the war, paralysed from the waist down, his wife Connie Chatterley becomes isolated and despairs of the post-war years, yearning for human connection among the emotionally dead intellectuals that surround her. When the aloof, but noble, Oliver Mellors returns to the estate as gamekeeper, Connie begings an affair, feeling that she has connected in a sensual, primordial way for the first time.

Hugely controversial at the time of its publication, Lawrence’s exploration of class differences and love and his celebration of sexuality resonates against his view of the repressed modern condition.

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER has a long reputation as one of the most scandalous classics, often read in secret by teenagers, but I found it underwhelming when I read it for the first time a couple of years ago. There’s plenty of sex and swearing but it wasn’t as confronting or titillating as I was expecting. It’s still a great read with some fascinating social commentary.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

Birth. Death. Wonder … One woman’s journey to the edge of love and loyalty from the bestselling author of The Lace Weaver

London, 1702. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver, midwife and herbalist, is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down.

In a climate of desperate poverty and violence, Mary is caught in a crossfire of suspicion and fear driven by her husband’s outlandish claims, and it is up to her to navigate a passage to safety for herself and her daughter, and the vulnerable women in her care.

When a fellow sailor, a dangerous man with nothing to lose, appears to hold sway over her husband, Mary’s world descends deeper into chaos, and she must set out on her own journey to discover the truth of Gulliver’s travels . . . and the landscape of her own heart.

I’m still reading GULLIVER’S WIFE and it’s a wonderful retelling of the classic Gulliver’s Travels from the perspective of his wife and daughter. This book is perfect for the historical fiction fan who loves strong feminist characters with witchy midwife vibes. It features more action than romance and it’s beautifully written. Stay tuned for my review coming soon.

GOODREADS

1948. The world is struggling to regain a sense of balance after the devastation of World War II, and the sugar cane-growing community of Piri River in northern Queensland is no exception.

As returned servicemen endeavour to adjust to their pre-war lives, women who had worked for the war effort are expected to embrace traditional roles once more.

Rosie Stanton finds it difficult to return to the family farm after years working for the Australian Women’s Army Service. Reminders are everywhere of the brothers she lost in the war and she is unable to understand her father’s contempt for Italians, especially the Conti family next door. When her father takes ill, Rosie challenges tradition by managing the farm, but outside influences are determined to see her fail.

Desperate to leave his turbulent history behind, Tomas Conti has left Italy to join his family in Piri River. Tomas struggles to adapt in Australia—until he meets Rosie. Her easy-going nature and positive outlook help him forget the life he’s escaped. But as their relationship grows, so do tensions between the two families until the situation becomes explosive.

When a long-hidden family secret is discovered and Tomas’s mysterious past is revealed, everything Rosie believes is shattered. Will she risk all to rebuild her family or will she lose the only man she’s ever loved?

BURNING FIELDS is a sweet Australian Historical Romance set in Northern Queensland, 1948. It’s an epic love story with family secrets set in an interesting era and I fell in love with the leading man from the first page. This is a great read for all of the true romantics out there.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

An enthralling story of one woman’s determined grab for freedom after WW2 from a talented new Australian voice.

‘PART CABARET, PART BURLESQUE, AND LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE! GENTLEMEN, AND LADIES IF YOU’VE DARED TO COME, WELCOME TO …

THE VICTORY!’

1945: After the thrill and danger of volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment protecting Londoners from German bombers overhead, Evelyn Bell is secretly dismayed to be sent back to her rigid domestic life when the war is over. But then she comes across a secret night-time show, hidden from the law on a boat in the middle of the Thames. Entranced by the risqu� and lively performance, she grabs the opportunity to join the misfit crew and escape her dreary future.

At first the Victory travels from port to port to raucous applause, but as the shows get bigger and bigger, so too do the risks the performers are driven to take, as well as the growing emotional complications among the crew. Until one desperate night …

1963: Lucy, an unloved and unwanted little girl, is rescued by a mysterious stranger who says he knows her mother. On the Isle of Wight, Lucy is welcomed into an eclectic family of ex-performers. She is showered with kindness and love, but gradually it becomes clear that there are secrets they refuse to share. Who is Evelyn Bell?

THE DAUGHTER OF VICTORY LIGHTS is another Historical Romance set post WW2 but in London this time. Evelyn Bell is a fascinating and adventurous woman struggling to readjust to civilian life after volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment. Then she discovers the part burlesque, part cabaret ship floating along the Thames. This book isn’t overly romantic and is a little bit sad, but the ending is wonderfully uplifting.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

One crumbling grand manor house, a family in decline, five generations of women, and an attic full of beautiful clothes with secrets and lies hidden in their folds.

Kelly Doust, author of Precious Things, spins another warm, glamorous and romantic mystery of secrets, love, fashion, families – and how we have to trust in ourselves, even in our darkest of days. One for lovers of Kate Morton, Belinda Alexandra, Fiona McIntosh and Lucy Foley.

Failed fashion designer Sylvie Dearlove is coming home to England – broke, ashamed and in disgrace – only to be told her parents are finally selling their once-grand, now crumbling country house, Bledesford, the ancestral home of the Dearlove family for countless generations. Sylvie has spent her whole life trying to escape being a Dearlove, and the pressure of belonging to a family of such headstrong, charismatic and successful women.

Beset by self-doubt, she starts helping her parents prepare Bledesford for sale, when she finds in a forgotten attic a thrilling cache of old steamer trunks and tea chests full of elaborate dresses and accessories acquired from across the globe by five generations of fashionable Dearlove women.

Sifting through the past, she also stumbles across a secret which has been hidden – in plain sight – for decades, a secret that will change the way she thinks about herself, her family, and her future.

Romantic, warm, and glamorous, moving from Edwardian England to the London Blitz to present day London, Dressing the Dearloves is a story of corrosiveness of family secrets, the insecurities that can sabotage our best efforts, and the seductive power of dressing up

DRESSING THE DEARLOVES is a delicious family saga full of romance, fashion, and mysterious family secrets. While there is a lovely romantic storyline, the love between the endearing and sometimes formidable Dearlove women is the real draw of this book for me. Lovers of vintage fashion will adore this book.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.

Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

IT WAS ONLY EVER YOU is a sweet love story featuring three fascinating, but very different, women who love one charismatic Irish singer. I loved the backdrops of 1950s Ireland and New York, the rock and roll New York scene, and the lovely Irish Maeve Binchy feel of this book. Perfect for everyone who likes a good love triangle, or square perhaps in this case. All the characters had their flaws in this story, particularly Patrick, but he got it right in the end.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

What if you met the love of your life and he wasn’t your husband? An AusRom Today People’s Choice Award winner that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.

What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of facing. As the fallout touches friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into a nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT is not a typical love story. It takes a confronting look at adultery told with compassion and a thought-provoking perspective. This is a great fit for anybody dreaming of travel at the moment.

GOODREADS

MY REVIEW

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: Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks

Title: Bah, Humbug                                                                    bahhumbug

Author: Heather Horrocks

Published: September 9th 2011 by Word Garden Press

Genre: Romance, Chick Lit

Pages: 96

My Rating: 3/5

Description: From Goodreads

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block – until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes this is the perfect place for his villain to hide the weapon. He digs into the snowman to discover two things: the weapon fits int he body just under the head, and the snowman was supposed to be the back drop for Lexi’s next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship. Can there be more for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

My Thoughts:

I downloaded my copy as a free download from Amazon.

As most of you know I have been reading Christmas themed novels as part of the Aussie Readers Group December Challenge at Goodreads. I put the call out to my readers to choose my next Christmas read here and Bah, Humbug was the hands down winner. I think everyone was very intrigued by the name. Thank you Holly, Delia and Marjorie for the input!

Bah, Humbug tells the story of Lexi Anderson, the next Martha Stewart, who has recently moved next door to her children’s favourite author, Kyle Miller, just before Christmas. At first she is horrified to discover that Kyle is a bit of a Christmas Grinch but she soon discovers that he has his reasons to dislike Christmas so she conspires to save Christmas once and for all for Kyle and his family. How does she do that? With lots of decorations and food of course!

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and this is definitely the case for Kyle Miller. I find that my boyfriend is generally especially nice to me if I cook any of his favourite foods so I think that Lexi could be on to something here! Kyle starts to realise that he is falling in love with Lexi but will she reciprocate those feelings or fall for the charms of Kyle’s handsome and charming brother?

Bah, Humbug is a nice and easy Christmas themed novella. I would recommend it for anyone who loves the romance or chick lit genres or for anyone looking for a short, Christmas themed read that is easily read in one sitting.

Amazon     Goodreads

Scatterbooker Reviews Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy by Megan Crane

Title: Come Home for Christmas, Cowboy Cover Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy

Author: Megan Crane

ISBN: 9781942240242

Published: 17th November 2014, Montana Born Books

Rating: 3/5

Description:

This Christmas season, Christina Grey Cooper has finally accepted that her marriage to her college sweetheart Dare is over.

So she packs up her things, leaves a note, and heads back home for Marietta, Montana in the hope that a Christmas with her family will help piece her head—if not her heart—back together.

Dare isn’t about to let the love of his life go, and who cares if that’s what he thought he wanted? He’ll do what it takes to win Christina back—even if that means suffering through Christmas with his in-laws, pretending to still be happily married for the sake of family harmony, and trying not to get caught up in all that holiday nonsense he’s never believed in…

But Christmas is magical, especially in Montana.

And if Dare has any hope of convincing Christina to give him one more chance, it’s going to be here…

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy is my fifth Christmas themed book that I have read so far as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge.

It is about Dare and Christina, former college sweethearts who are facing the end of the marriage. Christina finally has had enough of being shut out by Dare so she decides to pack up and go home to her parents in Montana just in time for Christmas.

Dare has deep scars from his childhood and doesn’t believe he is worthy of being loved and he is terrified of starting his own family and making the same mistakes that his father did. I think Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy could have explored Dare’s past a little further. I think this would have made him a lot more likable since I thought he was awful for at least three quarters of the book.

This book was quite angsty, not quite the typical Christmas themed romance although there is plenty of Christmas cheer and a Christmas miracle or two. Montana is a lovely Christmas setting, I can imagine that it would look like a winter wonderland during Christmas.

Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy is a nice and easy Christmas read with a touch of angst thrown in. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of Christina and Dare’s back-storys but it was still a great Christmas themed romance.

Amazon     Goodreads

Scatterbooker reviews The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster

Title: The Perfect Christmas 

The Perfect Christmas CoverAuthor: Kate Forster

ISBN: 9781474008501

Published: September 2014, Harlequin (UK) Limited

My Rating: 3/5

Description:

A holiday short story that proves that true love is forever, not just for Christmas…

Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA. With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway.

But can they truly leave their realities behind?

In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light. But behind her bright façade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she’s looking for a Christmas miracle. Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day?

Packed to the brim with festive cheer, this is the only story you’ll need this Christmas…

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Perfect Christmas is the fourth book that I have read so far as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge at Goodreads. All these Christmas themed books are really getting me in the mood for the festive season. If only the weather would start behaving now, it’s very miserable and dreary in Melbourne today. At least it isn’t as cold as London would be this time of year which is where The Perfect Christmas is set.

London is the perfect setting for such a short, sweet novella which is full of Christmas spirit, romance and finishes with a Christmas miracle. I really liked all of the characters and would love to read more about them, in fact The Perfect Christmas could have easily been longer for my liking.

I you enjoy romance or Christmas themed short stories then you will love The Perfect Christmas.

Goodreads     Amazon

Book Review: Secret Santo by Carla Caruso

Title: Secret Santosecret santo

Author: Carla Caruso

ISBN: 9781760141080

Published: December 2014, Penguin Books Australia/Destiny Romance

My Rating: 3/5

Description:

Holly Plume is a bookseller by day and a romance blogger by night, dishing out scathing reviews under her pseudonym, Sultry Scarlet. When she scores an invite to the publishing event of the year, Holly couldn’t be more excited. Finally a chance to meet her favourite author, the mysterious thriller writer known only as AJ Ruffo.

When Holly literally falls into the arms of the mysterious and charming Santo Randolfi, she’s sure it must be AJ. After all, Santo has tousled good looks, dark curls, luscious lips . . . He’s exactly what she’d imagined. But when Santo reveals he’s actually the author of a romance novel Holly recently slammed on her blog, keeping her online identity a secret becomes vital.

As Holly struggles to keep Santo from learning the truth, she realizes just how much she likes him. But when he discovers who she is, will their relationship be over before it’s even begun?

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Secret Santo a fun Christmas novella which is just perfect for this time of year with all of the interruptions and distractions that come along with the silly season.This was another book that I read as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge.

The main character is Holly a romance blogger who loves everything about Christmas, romance novels and her favourite author AJ Ruffo.She has just posted a scathing book review about the most awful romance book that she has ever read when she has to dash off to the most exclusive Christmas party in the publishing world of Melbourne. (Yay Melbourne, I love my home town!)

Confusion and mayhem ensues since it seems that every single person at the party writes under a pseudonym. Is Santo the handsome hunk a hack or the real deal? Either way you will enjoy this quick, fun Christmas read.

Goodreads     Amazon