ARC REVIEW : DISCRETION

The Riviera means indulgence—if you’ve got money. For Sadie Reynolds, a down-on-her-luck student, the Riviera means dingy hostels and back streets. When a wrong turn puts her in jeopardy, the last thing she expects is to be saved by the most handsome stranger she’s ever locked eyes with. When she later wakes up in a luxury suite with a Mediterranean view, she’s in the tender care of her rescuer: Olivier Dumont, France’s most eligible bachelor, billionaire hotelier, and heir to the Dumont fashion fortune.

Olivier also owns his reputation for scandal. But Sadie is unlike any woman he’s ever met. Her humble persona and wild innocence promise real passion. He’s promising Sadie something too: anything she wants. From Bordeaux to Cannes to Paris, Sadie’s past in America is swept away and replaced with a fantasy too good to be true.

Pulled into Olivier’s orbit of wealth, glamour, and excess, Sadie discovers that the Dumont dynasty comes with a legacy of wicked secrets. And Olivier’s secrets may be the most damning of all…


review

So, there’s a reason I should never wait too long to post a review for a book. I read this one a little more than a week ago and the details are already fuzzy in my head. But in my defense, this one has less to do with my memory and more to do with the story. The book wasn’t half as interesting as the blurb made it out to be.

First things first. I didn’t feel the romance at all.  It was a case of insta-love. But I could forgive insta-love if the build-up from there is written well. Sure, there’s a lot of sex between the main characters. But there was more sex than actual talking and connecting. I’d have loved something simmering within before they actually started doing the dirty. But nothing like that. It goes from zero to hundred pretty fast.

There’s a part where the heroine decides at the last moment to stay back and spend some more time with the hero, a big effing decision. But the way she goes ahead with it, and the way the hero reacts? They might as well have decided to stay back at home instead of going to a party. I did not feel any excitement. If you want to sell the story of a girl being taken on the ride of her life and make some big decisions for the sake of a guy within a few days of meeting him, you don’t rush it like that. You gotta make every moment between the couple count. But it was too rushed.

The whole premise kind of felt stupid to me. How the hero is forced to give up everything because of one ‘discretion’. The prologue made it out to be a momentous thing. But when the whole thing came out, I just found the whole reason stupid. I felt incredulous at the series of things that kept happening. The plot was predictable, suspense element was dull, and villains unconvincing. And that ending just came off as a cop-out. There was no real resolution or closure.

I think ultimately, the story lacked any real meat. There was nothing new about the setup. So it all had to come down to the writing. But the author let me down. I’ve read her books before and I know she can do much better. That’s a big reason I requested the ARC. But this was a forgettable fare by her. Another series I don’t think I’ll continue with.


ratings

★★☆☆☆

Publication Date: 6th August, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  Amazon Goodreads Book Depository

ARC REVIEW : REDESIGNING HAPPINESS


It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer–and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fianc�, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on–and off–camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . .

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son–though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is–and discover what she truly wants.


review

I have very little to say about this book.

I requested this because I found the whole interior designer bit interesting. And who doesn’t like a good second-chance romance?

Sadly, there was very little on Yvonne’s job as an interior designing. Rather, it was used as some sort of a plot device to set up the romance. But this is a protagonist who’s supposed to be a popular interior designer with a TV show on the pipeline. So I was hoping to see her do more interior designing.

Yvonne’s a single mother engaged to Nathan. But Richard, her ex and the father of her son re-enters the scene and causes complications. For one, he didn’t know he had a son. To make matters worse, Yvonne still has feelings for him.

I’m not someone who actually doesn’t mind the whole trope of ‘guy finding out that he had a child all along’. But only if the writer can actually sell it well. And to sell it well, both the reasoning for him having not known and the aftermath of him knowing about it, should be convincing. The author failed on both parts in this one. I was really underwhelmed by Richard’s interactions with the son after the big revelations.

There were some big twists and secrets come out in the end, all of which turned the story even more unbelievable to me. I also was not sold on the romance. I did not feel any connection between the main couple. There was no organic development.

The ending made it look like there would be a sequel. I’ll take a pass on that.


ratings

★★☆☆☆


Publication Date: 31st July, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

ARC REVIEW : VALENCIA AND VALENTINE

ARC REVIEW : LAST SUMMER

I always like it when a book surprises me in the end. And that final twist at the end certainly took me by surprise. But it felt a little too unreal and far-fetched to me. Also, the ending was bit of a cliff-hanger, with the author choosing to keep things a little open ended. While I could see where this could head to, but I’d also like a definitive ending.
Oh, how I wish I could rant properly about my complaints with the story! But it would be too spoiler-y for a book that hasn’t even released yet.
But any problems I have with this book are totally to do with my own rationale and personal opinions. This book definitely ticks the right boxes as far as the genre of thriller and suspense are concerned!

ratings

★★★☆☆

Publication Date: 9th July, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads

ARC REVIEW : THE UNLIKELY LIFE OF MAISIE MEADOWS

When Maisie Meadows finds herself single and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.

But a new job working at an auction house puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back together in the most unlikely of circumstances…

Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?


review
Maisie dreams of having her family together again. And when she comes across an incomplete piece of treasure in her workplace of an auction house, she gets the strange idea of completing this puzzle to reunite her family. After her mother threw her cheating father out when she was 7, Maisie was forced to watch quietly the storm raging her family – a scorned mother, three indifferent older teenage siblings and an absent and yet adoring father. As a result of a childhood out of her control, Maisie grows to be a control freak as an adult. She likes order and symmetry. The only time she allows herself to lose control is when she paints random paintings in the walls, ceilings and floors of a room in her house she keeps locked and a secret.

Maisie is a charming and adorable character. I really loved her in the beginning. But eventually, her naivety and tendency to assume things without asking, started to irk me. The first half was a 5-star read for me. But the second half was so rife with miscommunication and misunderstandings, with Maisie’s character almost crossing the line between cute and frustrating.

I really enjoyed the diverse and quirky cast of characters, especially those in the auction house Maisie works in. The author captures the charm and allure of the environment pretty well. I also loved Maisie’s family. They are not perfect, and share a lot of bitterness, but beneath it all, share a strong love for each other. And it was good to see that Maisie who might be a little too positive, was the only one who could see the good in every one of them.

The romance was cute too. While Maisie loves everything to be organized and ordered, Theo is a mess, and hates symmetry. I loved that contrast. Their romance is a series of misunderstandings. Maisie gets a misunderstanding at the beginning that Theo is a gay, a relief for her because the last time she was attracted to her boss, he cheated on her and she had to resign. But the miscommunication between these characters got only worse with every page. That kinda took away from the cuteness of the couple.

This was a charming, hilarious and endearing read with a lot of great characters. But the silliness could’ve been notched down a little.


ratings

★★★☆☆


Publication Date: 8th July, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Goodreads

ARC REVIEW : SUMMER AT FIREFLY BEACH

Hallie Flynn’s favorite place in the world is her great Aunt Clara’s beautiful beachside house, with its inviting wraparound porch and enchanting views across the sparkling turquoise ocean. For Hallie, going to Firefly Beach, filled with magical childhood memories, feels like coming home. But all that is about to change…

In one moment Hallie’s world is turned upside down. She’s left broken-hearted when her adored Aunt Clara passes away.

As always, Aunt Clara has thought of everything. In her last letter she included the bucket list Hallie wrote when she was twelve-years-old—and Clara’s final wish is for her to complete it. For once, Hallie decides not to hesitate. Stepping away from her dead-end job and predictable schedule, she embraces Aunt Clara’s words.

Spending the summer at Firefly Beach, Hallie encounters old friends and begins to remember the things that matter most to her. All the time her childhood friend Ben Murray is there, supporting her every step of the way. But following the bucket list isn’t an easy journey. And if that wasn’t all, a run in with wealthy Gavin Wilson, a newcomer to Firefly Beach, leaves her questioning her future, and facing something buried deep in her heart which she’d rather not admit to.

Update : So I just found out that this is the 50th ARC I’m reviewing for Netgalley. That makes me so happy!

 

review

I wonder which is better or worse – a book leaving you with feelings of anger and disappointment. Or leaving you with no feelings at all, just plain old indifference.

I guess it depends on whether we pick up a book in hopes to escape our own feelings, or to fill up a void of feelings we have in our own life.

But why am I thinking about these things right now, you ask? Because I didn’t feel anything from this book. This book was not good. It was not bad. It just was…

I don’t even feel like dissecting what was it about this book that has me so apathetic. I just want to move on. But since I’ve been so kindly provided an ARC by the publisher in exchange of an honest review, I’ll have to attempt at anyway.

So what was it about this book?

It might have been the odd place the book starts off. Hallie and her family are grieving their aunt Clara. But we don’t see her dying. We don’t see Hallie decide to stay back in the beach. It’s all already happened. It was a very weird introduction.

If you want to build a whole story based on a a family’s grief over one person’s death, I don’t know, but maybe try starting off by making us feel something for that person too? For example, I recently read A Lily in the Light. It was about a missing girl who only appeared initially in the beginning for only a couple of pages. But that was enough for me to feel an attachment towards the girl, and make me invested in the story. This book lacked that. There was no hook to capture my interest.

It might have been the central romance. I liked Ben well enough. But for lack of a better word, I found him boring. I did not feel any spark in the writing. There was no tension.

Yes. Tension! That’s the right word. There’s a clear lack of tension in the book. Hallie is left a bucket list to fulfill which she wrote back when she was 12. But I didn’t feel any excitement or sense of adventure from the existence of this list. It was all a very dull affair. There was this sub-plot about a potential criminal. But even that failed to engage me.

It might just have been the writing. It didn’t pack any real punch or emotions to draw me in.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe, I’ve read too many intense books in the recent past that a simple story as this just didn’t do it for me.

I’ll give it 3 stars, because going back to my first point, I’ve decided that right now I’m better off not feeling any anger or disappointment over this book.


ratings

★★★☆☆


Publication Date: 17th June, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads

 

ARC REVIEW : THE SECOND CHANCE SUPPER CLUB

Two estranged sisters reunite in an emotional novel of family, forgiveness, lost hope, and new beginnings.

They had a forever bond, until a sudden tragedy thrust them apart. Now, each at a crossroad in her own life, two sisters’ paths are about to intersect.

Broadcast journalist Julia Frank has it all: a career, an ambitious fiancé, and the hard-won respect of her peers. Until a ruinous decision destroys her reputation, puts her job at risk, and sends her reeling toward the only soul left to turn to: her estranged sister, Ginny.

The owner of a clandestine supper club hidden in the Arizona desert, Ginny Frank has a lot on her plate. The last thing she wants is more drama—or the burden of nursing her younger sister’s wounded ego. But family is family. Besides, Ginny can use the help in more ways than one, and she’s going to make sure Julia pulls her weight.

As a tenuous reunion reopens old wounds, Julia and Ginny have no choice but to confront the pain and betrayals of the past. Will working to keep the secret supper club running be just what they need to find common ground and a path toward forgiveness, or will the increasing stress push them even further apart?

review

I love stories about family and sisters. But it’s difficult to like the story when I can’t like either of the sisters and bring myself to care for them.

We start off with broadcast journalist Julia who’s overslept and has to rush to catch her morning news broadcast. She’s already in hot waters from her boss because of the low ratings.

Now, here was my first problem with the story. When her boss calls her to express displeasure about her not garnering enough ratings, she’s confused because she’s doing her job of what’s asked her. So she doesn’t get why she’d have to care about the ratings. Now, I could expect an inexperienced girl in her 20s to think like that. But Julia who’s apparently experienced and worked hard to reach this position, acting like that just didn’t sit well with me.

Julia acts like this confused, naive and pushover girl for the rest of the story. After she impulsively acts on a gossip she heard on a party and asks the mayor who’s guesting on the show thanks to her co-host about it. She’s of course suspended. And the first thing she does is leave the city and goes to her sister in Arizona without letting her know beforehand because she needs to escape, without having her husband know. And she justifies that having called her sister Ginny ONLY TWICE and not getting a response means she can just drop uninvited on her doorsteps. It’s the same sister who she apparently hasn’t had contact with in 3 years. Then she spends rest of the book ignoring the problem she left over at her job.

Ginny, on the other hand, is a divorced single mother. She had to pack everything up and leave her job as a premium chef in New York after her parents died. Julia who we now know to always escape her problems, refused to leave her important job  and stayed behind. That left the elder sister Ginny with a lot of bitterness about having been the one to sacrifice. She now runs a clandestine supper club at her own house with the help of her daughter who hates her and is closer to the dad.

I found Ginny even more unlikable than Julia. She’s unapologetically bitter and cold. I get that she’s having money problems, and is just not happy with her life, but the way she treated Julia and her daughter, just got on my nerves.

The only character I liked even a little was Olive. While I like character driven stories, I could not relate or empathize with any of the characters. Besides, it was very slow. Nothing seems to ever happen. This was a letdown because I genuinely liked the previous book of the author.


review

★★☆☆☆


Publication Date: 10th September, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository


ARC REVIEW : THE OVERDUE LIFE OF AMY BYLER

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City.

Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and—with a little encouragement from her friends—a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind.

But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.


review

This one was full of heart!

A term is used to describe Amy Byler quite a few times in the book – Martyr. She’s embraced the life of a single mother perfectly after her husband abandoned her and their two children. Now, he’s back. And she’s conflicted about whether to trust him or be wary. Should she be happy that he’s now determined to be the father to their kids or be insulted that he’s not here for her? But ultimately, she lets the mother in her decide it for her. It also helps that she’s got two amazingly mature kids who are capable of looking at the big picture. And John, her husband seems genuinely contrite.

After she decides to give him his one week with the children, and visits New York, life takes a turn. She’s in for a whirlwind thanks to her two best friends and her desire to make the best of. What follows is a makeover, one night stand, dates, and a #Momspringa. But it’s not all smooth sailing. There is guilt for enjoying too much and not missing the tiresome aspects of parenting. There is also turmoil over pent up feelings for her ex-husband who is still legally not her ex. Not to mention her new feelings for Daniel, a single father settled in New York.

The author does a brilliant work of painting all the shades of Amy’s character. You find yourself rooting for her really fast and just wanting her to be happy. Then there are alternate chapters where we see her daughter Cory’s entries on a reading journal Amy gave her for the summer so that she could write about the books she assigned her. But of course Cory, a teenager, prefers Hunger Games over The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Amy’s a librarian and is intent on her children getting the same literary enrichment she herself got. Her journal entries are laugh-out-loud hilarious. The transition from a teenager’s musings to a woman’s journey was just flawless!

Every mother would want Amy’s kids. Cory is a hilarious and mature teenager. Joey is eleven and yet has the vocabulary of a grown-up and is just too sensible for his own good. Not to mention the two friends – Talia and Lena, her biggest supporters. This book made me laugh out loud and just want to hug Amy multiple times. I’m not a mother myself but if I ever become one, it wouldn’t hurt to be a mom like Amy.


review

★★★★☆


Publication Date: 1st June, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

ARC REVIEW : IT’S NOT YOU IT’S HIM

New Year’s Eve. The most overrated night of the year, right? I have to get through a night of enforced fun, drink all the prosecco and talk about new beginnings. But I don’t want new beginnings. I want my old beginning back.

It’s been ten days, two hours and forty-three minutes since Tansy got dumped. Two heartbreaking weeks since Renzo, who made her weak at the knees and dizzy with excitement, found out Tansy’s secret – and ended it on the spot.

Since then, she’s spent every evening scrolling through their old photos, drunk texted him twenty-six times (he stopped reading after five), and lost count of how many packets of Kleenex she’s cried her way through.

That’s where Operation Get Renzo Back comes in. She ropes in a new wing-woman, maxes out her credit card and accidentally-on-purpose bumps into him at every opportunity. Oh, and she finds a fake boyfriend, as you do…

But while she’s busy pretending, Tansy’s plan is thrown a major curveball. She has to learn the hard way that it’s not her, it’s him – and that sometimes, a break-up can end up being the making of you. 


review

Tansy just can’t bring herself to accept that her 6-month long relationship with the man she thinks is the one for her is over. She decides to make it her mission to get Renzo back and enlists help from her housemate Adam to get updates on him, as both the guys work in the same place. Tansy not only has to deal with her heartbreak, but also her work as a fashion buyer for an online boutique, in addition to money problems what with sending money to help out her parents back home. She also takes on another personal mission – Chelsea, a young girl who independently sells clothes she personally makes and designs.

It took me time to get into the story. Because the author takes time to set the story up. But this is necessary for us to get a proper insight into Tansy’s character. She’s a little naive, a bit of a romantic. We see flashbacks of her time back in school to see what made her this way. Things get complicated when she’s forced to let her former employer’s son become a temporary housemate. This happens to be the same guy who she has bad memories with back from school.

It always makes me happy when a protagonist has real life problems that I can relate to. All the characters were interesting with some solid female friendships. But my favorite perhaps was Adam, an amazing friend and all-round adorable guy, not to mention his possessiveness over a certain cat. There was also a particular scene where Tansy gets a surprise from her friend that just mad my heart melt!

My only complaint is that it’s a bit slow in the beginning, which while understanding takes away from initial enjoyment. The romance was also unpredictable but enjoyable, and yet I’d have liked a little more buildup to it.  But overall, it’s a heartening and engaging story with a lovely heroine.


review

★★★★☆


Publication Date: 18th June, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads

 

ARC REVIEW : THE SEDUCTION EXPERT

She’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationship, their breakup, and very often their partner’s affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a super-heroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.


review

I requested this ARC because of the raving reviews it got. After I read the book, I went back to those reviews and was left wondering if I accidentally got a different book sent to me than the other readers.

Let’s start with the first thing I noticed about this book. The writing style felt forced. The phrasing of the sentences was very off-putting. Even the style of speech and the words used were abnormal. I later came to the conclusion that since the story is set in Paris, it was probably written in French and later translated to English. That would explain a lot.

The story itself just reads like a narcissist memoir by a woman who calls herself baroness. Based on the title, I was expecting a woman who professionally helps or trains other women on the art of seduction. But we mostly see the protagonist exposing adulterer husbands and partners of other women. We see the baroness boast about herself. But we don’t see any backstory of how she actually achieved all this.

I don’t even recall ever getting her actual name. Even her boyfriend who later becomes her fiance only calls her by terms of endearment. And he has no idea about her occupation. So did she introduce herself to him as baroness? Or did I just miss that part because halfway through, the book had lost all my interest and attention.

I can do with cold and calculating characters but there has to be some hidden vulnerability. We don’t see any reason or rhyme for the baroness’s ambitions and greed. I saw a lot of people calling it a book about feminism and empowered women. I don’t know about others, but dating and agreeing to marry a man to get access to his money and social standing, without any ounce of emotion attached, is not what I call feminism.

I can’t be all negative about the book. I liked many of the other female characters in the book. I also got a lot of glee to see the baroness put down other more horrible characters. But there was not one male character who wasn’t weak or irredeemable. I don’t know what the author was trying to do here, but it didn’t work. The bad dialogues did not help either.

Midway through, I actually checked if this book was part of any series with prequels. It wasn’t. Even though it did not feel like a stand-alone or a start of a series. I’m just thankful that it was a very short book with an abrupt ending.


review

★★☆☆☆


Publication Date: 27th May, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository