Where The Light Gets In by Lucy Dillon #BookReview

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‘You know those cracks in your heart, Lorna, where things didn’t work out, but you picked yourself up and carried on? That’s where the fear gets out. And where the light gets in.’

It was Betty, defiant to the end, who sent Lorna back to Longhampton. If Lorna’s learned one thing from Betty it’s that courage is something you paint on like red lipstick, even when you’re panicking inside. And right now, with the keys to the town’s gallery in her hand, Lorna feels about as courageous as Betty’s anxious little dachshund, trembling beside her.

Lorna’s come home to Longhampton to fulfil a long-held dream, but she knows, deep down, there are ghosts she needs to lay to rest first. This is where her tight-knit family shattered into silent pieces. It’s where her unspoken fears about herself took root and where her own secret, complicated love began. It’s not exactly a fresh start.

But as Lorna – and the little dog – tentatively open their cracked hearts to old friends and new ones, facing hard truths and fresh promises, something surprisingly beautiful begins to grow around the gallery, something so inspirational even Lorna couldn’t have predicted the light it lets into her world . . .

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I was drawn to this novel because of the beautiful cover at first. When the sunlight catches these golden butterflies and that little dachshund on the cover, it’s just so gorgeous, I can’t seem to stop playing with the light and the cover :-). It’s definitely one of the prettiest covers I have in my library now and if you want to buy this novel, you really should think about getting the hardback as it has adorable little dachshund images all over the front and back book flaps.

The dog – I can even say dogs because there are two of them – in this novel were the second thing that made me want to read this. It is no wonder really that I loved Rudy – a small over-anxious dachshund – and Bernard – a very energetic border terrier – to pieces but it became much more than loving the dogs. I quicky became quite attached to this little group of people, where each new character was introduced and added with the right amount of timing and delicate writing. It was heart-warming to see how they all came together. It started with Tiffany, Lorna’s friend that she didn’t see for so long, then a niece and her sister and even Joyce who was so reluctant to let anyone in at first (literally and figuratively). In the end though they become a tightly knitted group (ha! they happen to really knit and this is in fact the most celebrated artform in the novel even though Lorna opens an art gallery with paintings, jewellery, pottery and such).

The only thing I wasn’t totally convinced about was the romantic angle in this novel. I didn’t feel IT for either of the two gentlemen in the novel that came into Lorna’s orbit. The focus wasn’t very much on the development of a romance though so it wasn’t really a problem but maybe they could have been more loveable or something. As it was presented, I wouldn’t really give them a moment’s thought :-).

Overall I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Where The Light Gets and how it filled my heart reading it. The novel was both heart-breaking and uplifting with multiple lovely friendships. In the end I really wished I didn’t have to say goodbye to these characters, I actually missed them when I closed the book and they seem to live on outside of this novel, that’s how real it felt. It has a beautiful ending that made me a bit emotional as well. I never thought I would be so touched but it made me smile through my tears. I did read one other novel by Lucy Dillon before which was a good read but it definitely doesn’t compare to this one. I can highly recommend if you like a heartwarming read!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher, Bantam Press an imprimt of Transworld Publishers, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts #BookReview

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The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

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star three and a half

This is a perfect summer read to ‘put your feet up and relax’. The Plus One has a high Bridget Jones vibe although Polly is a much cooler and fun person than Bridget and she’s certainly not as clumsy and insecure, so I think I actually like her a whole lot more!

She doesn’t have the most interesting job at a magazine called Posh! but I must say it did make for some very entertaining reading. Her job includes writing articles about the new IT-dog (because the rich have an obsession for horses, and dogs come a close second), finding baby scans so they know who the little ones can become friends with when born, to being sent to places she’d normally never go for the best scoop… like interviewing the new singleton marquess at his parent’s castle, or attending ‘special and top secret’ parties frequented by people of the high classes.

It is going to sound very weird coming from me ‘of all people’ because you must know how I feel about explicit sexual scenes in novels by now. To recap: knowing they’re in there is enough reason for me not to read a novel BUT in The Plus One they were actually one of my favorite parts. Why? Well I’m not sure I can explain this very well, it’s not that they were superhot, they were actually quite the opposite of the usually perfectly orchestrated ‘we end up in bed and suddenly all clothes are off without any mention of the inevitable bra hook problem’ and the ‘everyone’s conveniently bathed and shaved while sex was not to be expected’. It’s more that everything that could go wrong, really went wrong there and I believe that’s actually why I enjoyed them so much. The Plus One isn’t full of fairytales… although now that I think of it, the book does include a castle, a sheikh, a gold bath, bidet and loo seat… but at least in the bedroom department, when it comes down to it, it was hilarious and brutally honest :-). The many struggles and thoughts flashing through Polly’s head were super funny and made me snort OUT LOUD. Yep, damn this book.

“I always get nervous with these conversations about what one is into versus what one is absolutely not into. Like when a man asks ‘What is your fantasy?’ and you want to say ‘A film on the sofa and a grab bag of Maltesers’, but you have to think up some implausible positions and say you like dressing up as a naughty optician because that’s what you think they want to hear.”

I think you get the idea what type of novel it is :-). If you read this you’re bound to get along with and root for Polly. Now there is a very serious health issue in this novel as well which makes it sometimes a bit more serious but overall this is just a fun chicklit novel that will transport you to a whole other world. I came to realise that even the rich and famous don’t have the perfect lives and you can find sleazebags in every layer of society :-). I was a fan of the colorful cast in the novel, her gay roommate Joe, best friend Lex, colleagues Lala and Legs, old friend Bill, but I would have liked to see their own lives more in detail too and missed a bit more intrigue and drama perhaps. The ending left me completely satisfied though, I saw what was coming but was very happy the way it ended.

I received a free paperback copy from the publisher, HQ, in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green #BlogTour #Guestpost

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Thank you Aria for inviting me for the blog tour of Erin Green’s new novel ‘The Single Girl’s Calendar’, a wonderful novel about overcoming heartbreak. I’m sharing a lovely guestpost today where Erin gives her special recipe to mend a broken heart!

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What’s it about?

A task a day to cure a broken heart.

Esmé Peel is approaching thirty with some trepidation, but hope in her heart. If she can just get her long-term boyfriend Andrew to propose, she will have ticked everything off her ‘things to do by the time you’re 30′ list. She didn’t reckon on finding another woman’s earring in her bed however, and soon she finds herself single, homeless and in need of a new plan. Her best friend Carys gives her the perfect present – The Single Girl’s Calendar – which has a different cure for heartbreak every day:

Day 1: Look and feel fabulous with a new hair style.
Day 2: Step out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Day 3: Reconnect with friends and enjoy!

Despite thinking it’s a bit of a gimmick, Esmé hasn’t got any better ideas, so she puts the plan into action. By the end of week one she has four new male housemates, and despite a broken heart she is determined to show Andrew she can do more than survive, she can thrive.

About the author

Green_ErinErin was born and raised in Warwickshire, where she resides with her husband. She writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and copious amounts of tea. Erin was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017 and previously, Love Stories ‘New Talent Award’ in 2015.

Contact Erin Green

Twitter (her favourite) @ErinGreenAuthor
On Facebook: @ErinGreenAuthor
Web Page: http://www.eringreenauthor.co.uk

Buy Links

Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

Guestpost

Erin’s recipe to overcome a broken heart

  • A handful of genuine friends that care about you is essential.
  • A tonne of chocolate helps to dull a painful heartache.
  • Carefully peel away, delete and disconnect all social media connections with the recent partner – why torture yourself following their away days and nights out?
  • A pinch of self-indulgence doing what you like and when you wish, is essential.
  • Unmeasurable amount of time spent doing interests/pastimes that you previously participated in and enjoyed.
  • Add a guilt-free pass to hibernate from all social situations, but only valid for the duration that is absolutely necessary, trust your instinct regards how long.
  • A huge dollop of me-time to reflect and heal before venturing to pastures new.
  • Add a brand-new outfit that makes you feel fabulous and wonderful – in preparation for the day when your renewed faith wishes to take flight.

I had lot of useless suggestions during my twenties when broken hearts seemed to be my penchant. Age-old advice revolved around red wine, match-making suggestions and fly-fishing amongst the bountiful fish in the sea were all totally unhelpful. If anything, they resulted in more heartache than the original situation.

As time went by, along with various beaus, I learnt what was best for me. It usually involved a damned good cry where I got to choose all the rules in relation to the duration, the frequency and the moping about on sofas. Seriously, I literally gave myself permission to grieve for what could have been, might have been and for the hurt that had been caused to me in the process. A diet of Cadbury’s chocolate and Lucozade is perfectly fine in such circumstances! A balanced diet of vegetables and fish can wait their turn!

I used to withdraw from social occasions too, I literally couldn’t abide doing the whole glad-ragging events where I was supposed to wear a huge smile and chat about inane subjects while dragging about a heavy heart that was smouldering inside my chest. All I’d do was watch the clock until I could escape to go home. Sadly, I found that the more I put on a brave face, others would incorrectly assume ‘oh she’s back on her feet’ – er, no, I’m simply going through the motions to please everyone else. Left to my own devices, I’d have chosen to be in my pyjamas for a stint of hibernation and reflection, with plenty of wound licking.

It would take a little while, sometimes a few weeks, on a couple of occasions nearer a few months but hey, I knew what was best for me. I only ever put my best foot forward when I knew I was ready to face the world and rejoin the party.

During my hibernation, I did usually return to the things that made me truly happy. The reading of favourite books was one such treat – Fitzwilliam Darcy has rebuilt my faith in others on more than one occasion. On the most desperate days, I’d simply adlib Elizabeth’s lines… guaranteed to make me feel better every time!

I valiantly fought and refused to attend those situations where people have secretly match-made during their lunch hours – thinking they know what’s best for you. I remember being invited to a house party where the host had virtually promised my hand in marriage to a police officer. It made for an uncomfortable evening, as everyone in the room knew and so watched as he chased, attempted to chat-up and woo me with an audience of twenty. Thankfully, I had a loyal friend who told me before the event as she felt it was unfair that this damsel-in-distress should be violated to grace another with match-making bragging rights and an unwanted date. It’s one reason why I never match-make, I know the downside.

And finally, when you are back on your feet don’t forget to tread carefully, there’s no race, simply take your time and be happy. The best things in life are worth waiting for, I promise.

Don’t forget to check out out the other blog stops too. There’s another stop today at Dash Fan Book Reviews !

The Note by Zoe Folbigg #BlogTour #Guestpost

 

What’s it about?

As featured on ITV’s ‘This Morning’…

Based on Zoë Folbigg’s true story comes an unforgettable romance about how a little note can change everything… One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably, that he is The One. But the beautiful man on the train always has his head in a book and never seems to notice Maya sitting just down the carriage from him every day. Eventually, though, inspired by a very wise friend, Maya plucks up the courage to give the stranger a note asking him out for a drink. Afterall, what’s the worst that can happen? And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it.

The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything…

Available on NetGalley

Buy links

Amazon | Kobo |iBooks |Google Play

About Zoë Folbigg

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Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. This is her debut novel.

Follow Zoe

Website: http://www.zoefolbigg.com/
Twitter: @zolington
Facebook: @zoefolbiggauthor

Guestpost

What inspired me? Me! 

They say everyone has a book in them, and for me I didn’t have to look far for inspiration, because people kept telling me that the story of how I met my husband sounded like a novel.

It all started on a dreary and drizzly July morning, at my local train station. I was waiting for the 8.21am train to King’s Cross when a handsome stranger walked past me, heading up the platform. He wasn’t looking around, he wasn’t looking to fall in love: he was fixated on getting the train, nervous about starting a new job. I looked up and saw he was unlike any of the other commuters I was used to seeing every day. He was beautiful with wide, lovely eyes, and he looked like he had a good soul. I’m not sure how you can tell something like that about a person in a quick glance, but I knew. Suddenly everything in the world seemed right, and I gently edged up the platform towards this glorious new Train Person.

Train Person turned into Train Man. At work, I’d talk about him to my colleagues; they’d ask me if I’d spoken to him yet. But I could never engage in conversation with him in the grumpy gridlock of a morning commuter carriage. This went on for almost a year, until a friend looked at me in exasperation and asked: “What’s the worst that can happen?”

And so I wrote a note – the note – three sentences and a friendly sign-off, asking Train Man if he’d like to go for a drink. After a few days with the note burning a hole in my pocket I eventually plucked up the courage to give it to Train Man, and he emailed me later that day to say thank you, but unfortunately he had a girlfriend.

I was gutted – but carried on commuting as normal. He always lost in a book; me with my face buried in a book or magazine out of embarrassment.

Eight months later Train Man – Mark – emailed me on a Friday afternoon to say his circumstances had changed, and would I still fancy that drink? We met at a local pub that Saturday night, and from the Monday we started commuting together. We’re now married with two boys.

A few years ago, I wrote about my experience in a magazine, and the response I had was amazing. I received emails from people all over the world saying my little act of bravery had touched them, and made them want to do something brave too. That galvanized me to sit down and turn my story into a novel.

In my book, Maya sees James on a humid July morning and feels those same feelings I did, and so ensues a story of sliding doors and missed opportunities. Although the path to true love doesn’t run quite smoothly for Maya.

It was strange fictionalising my story. It needed to be juicier: my job on a teen magazine was great fun but Maya’s working world had to be even funnier; the characters more extreme, and writing her colourful colleagues was great. But sometimes I’d feel self-conscious: if wrote that Maya was beautiful, would people think I was saying it about myself? It was easy to describe James though. All those feelings I first felt were easy to put down for my leading man.

So here it is. A work of fiction based on something very real. I’m obviously glad I plucked up the courage to give Mark the note, and I’m so glad I took the plunge to ride the rollercoaster of writing, editing, and knocking on doors to get The Note published.

Self-limiting beliefs almost stopped me from doing both things, but like Velma, the sage septuagenarian friend to Maya’s more cautious twentysomething, says: “What’s the worst that can happen?” And I couldn’t shake them from my head.

I hope you enjoy The Note and find it as heartwarming and authentic as I intended.

Follow Aria

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Check out the other tour stops too! Next up tomorrow: A Sky Filled With Sparkling Stars

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton #BookReview

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Milly loves her sisters more than anything – they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix …

Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke …. Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn’t about Luke at all … is it?

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star three and a half

Three sisters and their mother are going on vacation.. a happy occasion, a wedding, in the land of ‘amore’, Italy. This sounds like the perfect light summer reading and it is, the atmosphere, the people in Italy, the food, the sights, the Trevi fountain.. it was all easily imaginable and what’s more, it made me want to be there!

There’s only one thing that’s obvious right from the start of this novel, this family is dealing with the grief of losing someone. They all deal with it in their own way. I was happy to see that it didn’t weigh the story down at all though, it wasn’t written in a depressing way but more through the sharing of funny stories and reminiscing about their father. Even when hearing about the good and joyous things, you can feel how someone is missed so much. He seemed such a nice man and a good father. He was the life of any party, he listened to his daughters, he was the jokey dad, he wasn’t there anymore but through everything that was said it was easy to feel the emptiness he left behind.

Dad was sunshine and music and laughter.

I really liked this little family, the three sisters looking out for each other. I felt Leonie was sometimes more mature than Milly even though she was the youngest. I liked Luke as well, allthough I didn’t feel like I really got to know him. But he’s a good guy and someone who doesn’t go running from someone else’s grief. He knows what to say, he knows how to listen.

Maybe this wedding won’t be such a horrible event after all?

One Italian Summer was a very enjoyable and perfect summery read. There was room for much more than just the romance part and it was just as much about all the other family dynamics and relationships.

I received a free copy of this novel from my great blogger friend Nicki from the blog SecretLibrary. This is my honest opinion.

The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon #BookReview

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What’s it about?

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture… Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole’s grieving husband, Charlie…

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Review

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The problem with giving your heart away to someone is that you never fully get it back. Long after you’ve fallen out of love with them, they still own a little piece of you. That’s why first love is always the strongest: it’s the only time you ever love wholeheartedly.

These are the first three sentences of the novel. Kind of sets the tone, right? I was enamoured right from the very first pages, especially when I saw what kind of swoonworthy beginning the story the author had in mind.

It wasn’t all sunshine and hearts though, my feet were put firmly on the ground again when Bridget suddenly finds herself miles away from her boyfriend when she takes up a job writing as a ghost writer in lieu of the deceased bestselling author Nicole Dupré who left behind an unfinished manuscript.

Bridget has to deal with Nicole’s grieving husband Charlie and his 8-month old daughter April while she trawls through all of his late wife’s notes and diaries. Babies freak her out, they don’t seem to like her and she doesn’t particularly like them. She’s also working on her blog in between in hope of publishing her own book about her past lovelife after writing a book she didn’t really want to write.

This story had its moments of grief and its fun moments. I really loved how she gradually warmed up to little April, it was heart-warming to see how much they started to interact and how much love there was between them and along with it she helps Charlie to start living again. A difficult and delicate plotline, and it really takes quite some time before Bridget starts to acknowledge her feelings and even then she knows better than to rush things.

This novel felt like I was reading a story in a story. It’s not very hard to notice, Nicole was writing about a travel writer who falls in love with two different men on two different continents. The cool part is that Bridget can read about Morris and Timo (the fictuous characters) in Nicole’s diaries because she obviously found her inspiration in real people close to her. Did she really love them both in real life as well? Then there’s Bridget who has a boyfriend she left behind in another country as well and she’s kind of bonding over time with Charlie, even though it’s just ‘friendship’. It’s not hard to see some similarities. So how will she end Nicole’s story? Is she going to end up with good dependable Morris or with rock-climber Timo from Thailand? You’ll have to read to find out.

Paige Toon made me really care for the characters with her excellent writing and she didn’t rush the romance, it was perfectly paced so that I could really enjoy this contemporary romance. I wanted to read at least one really great summer romance novel this year and I believe this is the one!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Hooker and the Hermit by L.S. Cosway and Penny Reid #BookReview

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What’s it about?

New York’s Finest – Blogging as *The Socialmedialite* – April 22

LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement!
You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy. Well, I have a confession to make…

THE HERMIT
Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.

THE HOOKER
Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…

THE PLAN
When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

The Hooker and the Hermit is a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is a full length 110k word novel, and is a standalone

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Review

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I adored Six of Hearts by L.S. Cosway and that novel even made it into my top 10 reads of last year because of how original and hot it was so I really wanted to read another novel by L.H. Cosway and I went back to read the first one, The Hooker and the Hermit, which she’s co-written with Penny Reid. Of course I’ve had it on my e-reader for so long that I didn’t remember what it was about and it seems I had a bit of a misconception about the title there.. It’s not often but this time it would have been a good idea to read the blurb :-), just saying.

I absolutely loved the first half of the novel but then I got the feeling the second part wasn’t exactly in line with the first one. At first it was so incredibly witty and really funny as hell and I recognized myself even a little bit in the hermit that Annie Catrel was. What’s more, nobody knows she blogs (don’t I know it) as The Socialmedialite where she spouts her unabashed opinion about popular celebrities. This is what she likes to do most, this is where she can be herself. She doesn’t hold back in her comments on clothing styles and only days after she featured a Colin Farell lookalike on the blog and made fun of his lycra shorts and toe-shoes (really, who wears that ?!) she meets him in real life and HE sets his sights on her.

This novel is filled with quite a few clichés, like shy girl who falls for a famous guy and he of course finds a way to get her to come out of her shell. There’s the crappy childhood and the inevitable commitment issues. It was kind of predictable but even that didn’t bother me all that much. I also really liked their budding romance.. Ronan is deliciously foul-mouthed and he’s not afraid to push her bounderies and make her blush again and again, going further by being very suggestive every time they meet and have to talk business.

All was well, it was definitely getting hotter by the minute.. and then the story takes on some sort of 50 shades of grey shape (complete with safe words although they were funnier than in the original version, luckily there wasn’t a contract, at least in that sense) and the cute feel of the novel was stumped immediately. Gone were the jokes and the tension. I didn’t know what I was expecting but this wasn’t it. Annie didn’t feel like the Annie I got to know anymore and I’m not only talking about her nympho tendencies but also because she seemed so composed in the beginning and suddenly she’s anything but collected.

What started out as a really funny read didn’t end in the same way for me but if you like it funny but you don’t mind some bdsm later on, you should definitely read this one. I’m still happy I read one of her later novels and I think it’s wise to leave the earlier work and pick up again with the sequel to Six of Hearts (Macabre Magic #Hearts 1.5 and Hearts of Fire #Hearts 2).