The Prince’s Nine-Month Scandal by Caitlin Crews

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The Prince's Nine-Month Scandal (Scandalous Royal Brides #1)

Not for me, couldn’t get into it. HOWEVER I’m looking forward to reading the twin sister’s story. She was so much more INTERESTING & EXCITING in her one and only scene.

Summary – Twins separated at birth, swap place – one rich, the other struggling. However the boring twin and boring hero’s story come first. So looking forwarding to the more interesting and exciting twin’s story who hooks up the badass boss.

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A Ring to Secure His Crown by Kim Lawrence

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A Ring to Secure His CrownBoring. It started off with so much promise but fizzled out. This is extremely rare but I found this book boring and didn’t finish it. Why? I think the romance started in the wrong place, and a lot of boring subplots about the hero’s boring family. Too much.

So basically Sabrina the heroine is getting hitched to Luis, the hero’s brother (the hero is called Sebastian). Fine. Luis jilts her at the altar blah blah blah yawn yawn but the actual romance between Sabrina and Sebastian doesn’t get started until like midpoint. I think if the story had started at the point when Sabrina was jilted at the altar, it would have much more interesting.

Please read other reviews for a balance view.
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The Definitive Job Book: Rules from the Recruitment Insiders by Anne Watson

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The Definitive Job Book: Rules from the Recruitment Insiders
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Don’t be deceived or seduced by the cover. Even if you are desperate. If you are so desperate you can find better advice online. I bought it years ago and found it while I was clearing my bookcase and now I’m chucking it out.

Anyway in my experience, recruiters tend to change your resume to their own house format. And even if your resume/CV is rubbish, if they think you’ll have a chance at getting a job, they’ll tell you what to put in or how to format it.

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The Sicilian’s Defiant Virgin by Susan Stephens – the silent game changer

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The Sicilian's Defiant Virgin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great job, Susan Stephens, in tackling such a sensitive reveal/twist! And credit to HQN for taking on such a risky project and not bragging about it. Once in a while, HQN produces a book that defies its critics (haters) and shows why the brand has evolved and survived this long. Risky project but well done.

The story is probably a 3-4 star, very sweet, and to be fair after the big reveal, I’d say in this particular book the epilogue was over-kill. Saying that I think this book is a silent game-changer on what issues can be mentioned or tackled – and definitely one for the critics (and haters) who keep on looking down at the brand. See if you all can do better. Gosh, I feel like a Harlequin Presents activist…

So an average romance story, with good and sweet moments but big reveal/twist makes it a game-changer! It’s an LGBTQ twist….I know, very unexpected but I can’t reveal anyone.

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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

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The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story is about Baba Seji – an arrogant and self-important hero- and his four wives. Its set in south-west Nigeria. The story revolves around his four wives and the domestic situation that surrounds all of them. The plot is about Baba Segi’s concerns that the four wife hasn’t fallen pregnant and this then has repercussions for the rest of the household.

I’m giving it five stars because I was hooked by Lola Shoneyin’s writing (she is also a poet), and the way she told the story. I was engaged with all the characters even the nasty ones. Actually they are all nasty apart from the oldest son – Akin. HOWEVER if you know a bit about Nigerian culture, the big reveal/twist and consequences will be slightly predictable.

Also this novel feels trapped in a time-warp with a few bits were updated for 2000’s however most of narrative feels it was set in 50’s/60’s/70’s/80’s – there is a sense of timelessness. Maybe a bit of mythic realism? Please don’t judge modern Nigerian culture by this- this is fiction, and I suspect this domestic situation wouldn’t happen in today – not the polygamy bit but the set up. Even the author mentioned in an interview it was inspired by her grandfather. A few customs seemed outdated and the Shoneyin also put her own twist on things.

Also there is a lot of violence, bitterness and jealousy – A general mood of unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life – so if you find that unpalatable in a book, this may not be for you. It’s not a feel-good read at all, even at the end, however it is a satisfying read.

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A Chase for Christmas by Candace Shaw

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A Chase for Christmas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading this is like overloading on holiday chocolate/candy but I guess we are allowed to gross out on chocolate once in a while. Saying that there’s hot chemistry between the characters despite a few over the top sickly sweet moments. Nicely written, and a good read.

So seasoned player Preton aka Prez had been hankering after his sister’s bestie, Blythe. Blythe is wary because like the way some believe ‘you can wife a ho’, Blythe also believes ‘you can’t husband a playa’. But Prez ain’t going down like that, so he shows her his moves – like he’s into other things not just chasing and banging skirts, and he also has an adorable dog called chick magnet…sorry I mean Hope – who even gets her own action. Ugh. I just felt the dog was overkill.

So my five star? Yeah despite thinking bits were overkill, like not everything has to be candy sweet, it was a good read.

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Bound by the Sultan’s Baby by Carol Marinelli

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Bound by the Sultan's Baby (Billionaires & One-Night Heirs #2)
I was really looking forward to reading this book. I loved Gabi & Alim from their brief scenes in the Innocent’s Secret Baby. I liked the story but…

I found the whole ‘real but fictional’ culture around the hero – a sultan – and his roots was way too prejudiced and presumptuous for me. His half brother and his father’s mistress and all the assumptions that were around it. The hero’s attitude was a bit off. This isn’t a problem if it’s about his personality, but it can be uncomfortable reading if one thinks it’s making a lot of assumptions about a certain culture. And excusing his piss-poor behaviour as a culture thing. Nah, that’s just stereotyping.

Unfortunately this culture element also made the book drag. All this ‘made up’ but based on ‘real’ culture sunk the book to boring. Also little details, Yasmin a Sultan’s daughter would have never touched the champagne. So I just think in writing about different cultures a little sensitivity never goes amiss.

Overall if you aren’t sensitive to culture, it will be a good enjoyable story. If you are sensitive to cultures then approach with caution as some bits may offend you.

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My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

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My Name Is Lucy Barton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was browsing my local Waterstones bookstore when a bubbly and enthusiastic bookseller recommended it as an awesome read, so I bought a copy. How could I resist?

It was superbly written as expected with a very strong start. And I was hooked until I reached a certain point in the book and realised it wasn’t really a story per se, more a fictional biography of musings. At that point it lost my interest and I took me about six months before I decided I needed to finish it.

At first I thought it was a relationship between a character and her mother (in my opinion the blurb fooled me too), but then it broadened into life. So I guess it’s just a book about a woman’s life during a certain period in her life. However Elizabeth Strout’s strength is in her powerful subtext. In summary, Lucy Barton goes up in rural poverty, escapes it and marries well. However she marries a man her family hates, and in the end she divorces him for those reasons.

There are strong themes of lack of understanding, procrastination and lack of reconciliation. Like Lucy Barton’s parents loved her very much but couldn’t reconcile the fact to who she married there for making her estranged from them. She didn’t understand that until very later in the book, and for the same reason divorced the man. It’s interesting because what haunted her father, came to also haunt Lucy. And is a twisted parallel of modern times, also ended her daughter’s childhood phase.

So a very powerful book where it’s not only about love but also being able to live with one’s self and conscious while loving. Sometimes love isn’t enough.

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Crowned for the Drakon Legacy by Tara Pammi

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Crowned for the Drakon Legacy (The Drakon Royals #1)
Strong start, plenty of angst, conflict, passion – I was hooked but then SOCCER got in the way. Not on TV but in the book. 5 stars for originality as the heroine was an international soccer (footie) player. But nothing bores me more than watching football, worse still reading about it in a book.

I don’t mind reading about the glamour of sports in a book but it was way way way too much.

I confess, I did skip lots and lots of pages as the story dragged on – however I did like characters Nik and Mia. I’d may read the others in the series since I like Tara Pammi’s style.

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Wedding Night with Her Enemy by Melanie Milburne

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Wedding Night with Her Enemy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve giving it 5 stars because I picked it up knowing I was going to read a Melanie Milburne book so I couldn’t really fault it for quirks typical of her heroines and a bit of originality pushing the boundary of a typical HQN Presents – plus there were lots of sweet moments deserving this.

This is a typical Melanie Milburne story for her fans. They will love this book- a career driven inexperienced (but non-virgin) heroine who is making it on her own terms in the world. Hooks up with a hero, then starts to question if having a successful career is all is cracked up to be with out love. Then as she falls in love and wants more – like a loving hubby and babies.

There is a very sweet moment in this book that nearly had me in tears. It was so sweet that I thought I’m giving it a 5 star just because of that gesture. Yeah, I’m an emotionally reviewer. It just proved without words by that simple gesture that hero loved the heroine. And the book is littered with a few.

There are a few unresolved issues in the end but I think this is the first of series – which in a weird way may involve Allegra’s stepmother (read the book to find out but I suspect it will as I said Melanie Melbourne pushes boundaries) and also the heroine’s her best friend.

Fans will love it, new readers will get a taste of Melanie Milburne’s typical style and storylines, and regular HP readers will have varying opinions on it.

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