Author: Sarah Williams
Title: The Outback Governess
Genre(s): Contemporary romance
Sweet family-focused romance with a rustic vibe
This is the second novel I have read by Sarah Williams. She also wrote The Brothers of Brigadier Station, which is a steamy and sensual romance that takes place in the outback of Australia. After reading that book I was super excited to read The Outback Governess, which follows a young woman as she begins her new post teaching two little girls and a little boy with autism after their mother passed away. I found the overall feel of the novel to be sweet, caring, and sensual. Paige comes across as a lovely young woman who truly has a passion for teaching children. It was amazing to watch her affection for Logan's children grow at such a quick rate and I also enjoyed reading how the children took to her so well after losing their mother so young. This part of the book was so incredibly touching, especially learning how compassionate and competent Paige was with Scotty, despite his difficulties with having autism. Sarah's descriptions of Scotty's autism were so on point for a high functioning individual. She created a character with all the hallmark symptoms, so it made that aspect of the plot feel genuine and authentic.
Logan suffered a tragic loss when his wife passed away at an early age from cancer. He buried himself in his work and it became clear that it was difficult for him to engage with his children after her passing. Initially, Logan comes across as cold and aloof when it comes to his family. I found this somewhat irritating because I have a huge soft spot for kiddos. However, this start gave his character a lot of room to develop over the storyline and he definitely fulfilled all the expectations I had! His relationship with Paige also started out rocky, but his children and the love they both shared for them ultimately healed a lot of their difficulties. Overall, I found The Outback Governess to be the perfect summer romance if you are looking for something lighter in density. What I mean by this is the story was told in a quick way, therefore making it a fast-paced read.
That being said, this is what I did not like about the book...Compared to Sarah's other work, I found it hard to be fully committed to these characters. I am not sure if it was because there was not enough pages (under 180) to get all the necessary details down, but I felt like I was lacking a connection despite how much I enjoyed their story. As I mentioned earlier, it came across as sweet. There were so many moments where I wanted to have a greater reaction, but the characters briefly had a description of their own emotional reaction. This made it hard for me to connect and feel what the characters felt.
When special-needs teacher Paige, takes up the position of Governess for three young children in the Queensland outback, she has no idea just how much and how quickly she would come to love the dusty, dry country, and the family who desperately need her.
Logan was heartbroken when his wife died, leaving him to raise their three children with the help of his aging parents on their remote cattle station. To avoid the constant reminder of the love he lost, he works on a mine in Mt Isa, meaning he only sees his family week on, week off.
But then tragedy strikes and Paige and Logan are forced to work together to look after the children, alone on the station. As well as being their teacher, Paige also becomes a substitute mother and teaches Logan how to be a parent again. A role he has avoided since losing his wife.
Can Paige bring the family back together or have the wounds of the past cut too deep?
Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Title: Save the Date
Genre(s): Women's fiction; Chicklit; Romance; Fiction
Relatable and inspiring story of perseverance and love
If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh out loud, feel frustrated, feel hopeful, cry, and feel inspired then look no further. Save the Date is an expertly written tale of a woman who has faced much adversity and still manages to strive for purpose and success. The main character, Cara Kryzik, has experienced significant loss in her life in a variety of ways. However, she shows such strength as she pushes through the tragedies and maintains focus on her goals. Her character is strong-willed, passionate, kind, insightful, and inspiring. If you enjoy reading about women who push through anything and everything that comes their way then I think you will find Save the Date and Cara's character to be right up your alley.
The setting of this book takes place in Savannah, Georgia. This happens to be one of my favorite cities, so I found that aspect of the plot to be fun. Mary Kay did the southern lifestyle justice with her authentic perspective of ladies who lunch, southern belles, and handsome gentlemen. Her description of the city itself was spot on as well, which made the novel feel more genuine...almost as if I was truly watching a scene unfold in the historic district of downtown Savannah. The supporting characters were such a hoot and added a lot of depth to the plot. Mary Kay's portrayal of southern brides and their mothers was right on the dot. It was hysterical to read about the situations Cara encountered as the florist when it came to pleasing her privileged brides. For the entirety of the book, I found myself rooting for Cara and hoping she would find love that would lead to her own wedding. Her relationship with Jack Finnerty will keep you entertained and hopeful. He has his own turmoil to navigate through, but his southern charm and desire to please Cara made him a winner in my book.
The thing I did not like about this book...Over the years I have read a lot of Indie books from authors who I know could not afford expert editing. However, those same authors paid a lot of attention to minor mistakes and developed novels that were edited in a way I could expect for a professionally published novel to be. There were so many grammatical mistakes and oversights that Save the Date had that I could not go without saying. This rating would have been five stars if it were not for those mistakes. I will note the majority of them were towards the last quarter, but they were significant enough that I would have to reread a paragraph because the error changed the entire meaning at times. For me, this is unacceptable and frustrating when I spend money to purchase a book that was not given enough attention to detail.
Up-and-coming floral designer Cara Kryzik is about to score the wedding of a lifetime—one that will solidify her career as the go-to-girl for Savannah society nuptials. The only problem is, life seems to be conspiring against her. Cara's implacable father, "The Colonel", doesn't believe in Cara's business savvy and is about to call in his twenty-thousand-dollar loan. Then, on the morning that someone steals her dog, Cara's refrigerator goes on the blink, turning twelve thousand dollars' worth of gorgeous blooms into road kill. And if that's not enough, the dog-napper, Jack Finnerty, turns up at her latest wedding and then mysteriously leaves her stranded on the dance floor.
All this turmoil will be solved if Cara can pull off the lavish Trappnell-Strayhorn wedding. The payday will solve all her problems—even the looming problem of a celebrated florist named Cullen Keane who is moving into her turf from Charleston. But the wedding is in six weeks, the bride is acting strangely (even for a bride) and the stepmother of the bride is becoming Cara's biggest headache. What Cara needs is to focus, but that's not easy when Jack is turning up at every wedding in Savannah (the man seems to know everybody), with Cara in his sights and seduction on his mind.
When Brooke Trappnell spirals into a shocking crisis and the wedding is in jeopardy, Cara must come to the rescue and figure out what she really believes in. Is it love? Is it her own strength? In the end, for everyone, "Save the Date" has more meanings than one. Told with Mary Kay Andrews's trademark wit and keen eye for detail, Save the Date is one you won't want to miss.
Author: Deanna Browne
Genre(s): Science fiction & fantasy; Action & adventure
A perfect concoction of a well-manufactured plot, engaging characters, and setting descriptions
When I first began reading Hooked I felt like I was in a mixed world that was inspired by Divergent and Ready, Player One. Ari (our main character) is a teenager trapped in a society that has been taken over by virtual reality. However, she does not fit in well with this facet of the world for many reasons. Ari's father was caught in a virtual reality coma, which leads her to fearing the same thing may happen to her. Additionally, she is incredibly bright and intuitive, therefore making it difficult for the virtual reality scenes to feel authentic for her. During the beginning of the book, readers learn that Ari tends to run away from anything that makes her uncomfortable. In a way this is her defense mechanism or coping strategy when things become too much for her to handle. Surprisingly, she finds herself in a position of power when the day of her assignment comes. Ari's character is one that I found myself rooting for because she naturally goes against the grain of what society expects of her. She has a different perspective from her peers and this makes her stand out.
Looking at the novel from a bird's eye view made me realize how scary it would be to live in a world that was ruled by virtual reality and neglected the basic ideal of what it means to be alive and to be human. I think Deanna did an amazing job at pulling this theme throughout the book without making it sound preachy. Readers will get a glimpse into the dangers of living on the edge of human reality and virtual technology. Additionally, the dynamic characters made it a fun ride as they each contributed to the plot and to the world that was created.
What I did not like about this book...I think there were some aspects that seemed a little dry when it came to inspiration. For example, when Ari is given her assignment I felt I was literally reading Divergent. I obviously don't know if this story was inspired by that series, but I would be surprised if it was not. This part could have used a little more creativity from my perspective, but it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.
I would highly recommend Hooked if you are a fan of technologically savvy young adult dystopian novels.
When virtual reality surpasses people’s wildest dreams, many struggle to remain in the real world. Sixteen-year-old Ari has watched the financial and emotional cost of virtual reality addiction for years as her father continues barely existing in a VR coma. Unfortunately, her only option to help her family escape poverty is if she studies the one subject she hates and fears: virtual reality programming.
Despite her misgivings, Ari soon develops a rare talent that makes her question everything. Now she must hide her ability or risk becoming a priceless commodity that governments and corporations will fight, steal or even kill to possess. As officials tighten the shackles surrounding Ari, she rebels against her imposed future and searches for a way to save those she loves. Yet, running proves impossible, when the government is always one click away.
Author: Jack Lauriger
Title: Clarissa Awakening
Genre(s): Contemporary; Women's fiction; Sensual erotica
A quick beach read with a relatable plot
When Jack first reached out to me for a review I was really excited to dig into Clarissa Awakening because I've never read a novel from the perspective of a female lead that was written by a man. I think it is quite a difficult task to write from any perspective that is vastly different from one's own and Jack was able to accomplish this in a way that felt effortless. As I was reading, there was no indication that Clarissa's character was written by a man and her womanly qualities never felt diminished or out of touch.
Clarissa is a strong female lead as a mother, wife, and hard working employee. She is in the process of navigating motherhood, a dwindling intimacy between her and her husband, and a difficult work force with big changes. A majority of the novel follows Clarissa as she makes her way through the journey related to each area of her life. Jack paints a truly domestic picture of Clarissa's life, which made her feel relatable and that I wanted to root for her progress. There were several scenes that made me laugh out loud, specifically when she is caring for her children. The overall vibe of this book felt very light, which makes it a great weekend or beach read. I found Clarissa's sexual exploration of herself to be genuine and Jack's scene descriptions of those situations felt easy and authentic. I would definitely classify them as sensual eroticism, as they were not "hardcore," but still descriptive enough to cross the line from sweet romance to erotica.
What I did not like about this book...There were several supporting characters that could have added so much more quality to the novel and plot. However, those characters were more talked about instead of having their own dialogue. This made it hard to connect with not only them, but with Clarissa and her life. If these characters had participated more through dialogue and their own points of view, the novel would have been more enriched and felt more alive. Additionally, there were several times when Clarissa had flashbacks or descriptions of her past occurred. There was not a smooth transition between the present and past; therefore, I often felt confused about the timeline and which part of her life I was reading about. More clear distinctions of the scene would have been helpful to follow her journey more easily.
Women’s romance – summer read vacation companion. A storyline which threads a perfect blend of provocative humour mixed with just the ocassional erotica. The launch of a six series of books.
Clarissa, the central character, a supporting wife, mother of two growing up children and successful career person, wakes one day to the reality that her life was once different; a time before a life dominated by responsibilities and social correctness. The pivotal moment is as she recalls her train journey shared with an incidental elderly woman.
Just as Clarissa calls her present life into question, things take a sudden and unexpected turn when she’s asked by her bosses to spend six months abroad. From that moment Clarissa’s life changes dramatically. The introduction to new friends has her embarking on a journey of intimate rediscovery; a journey which, by the end of the series, will ultimately introduce her to an entirely new and lasting understanding of personal happiness and fulfilment. A private life is a happy life.
Author: Julie Coons
Title: This Does Not Leave This House
Genre(s): Nonfiction; Autobiography; Memoir
*Not suitable for children under the age of 18
A bold and emotional telling that will leave a big impression on readers
I do not normally review autobiographies, but when Julie reached out to me with a description of her book, I could not resist taking a deeper look into her tumultuous past and how she overcame so much adversity. This book is most certainly not for the faint of heart, but I also know the experiences Julie outlines are incredibly common and should be talked about more in society. Rape and abuse are things we all cringe at and feel sorrowful about, but it has also become a taboo subject that does not receive the amount of attention it deserves. People who take a stand against these crimes and reveal their own experiences are incredibly brave and that is exactly what Julie did.
Julie illustrates her life events from the time she was a small child until she became an adult. Readers gain insight into the life of a victim and the consequences that occur of the mind, body, and soul when one is abused and taken advantage of. She creates vivid and painfully detailed descriptions of what she endured that at times made it difficult for me to read through. But the outcome of her bravery and strength to move forward was well worth the sorrow I had from reading about the abuse. This book is a true testament to the endurance a survivor must have to not only overcome their past, but to rebuild themselves into what they want to be and not what the abuse has shaped them into.
I would highly recommend for everyone to read this book to gain a greater understanding of what survivors of abuse go through. This is a harrowing story of a woman who was taken advantage of by multiple people, who was not shown the truth and goodness of love, and who despite all her adversities triumphed and came out on top. The memories of abuse will never go away, but they can be great teachers to motivate and influence us to make positive changes.
How does a little girl survive an abusive mother, Catholic school, rape, and a near-death experience?
Raised by an abusive, narcissistic mother (who once tried to trick her into having an abortion), Julie Coons was also raped in college by a stranger and later married an abusive man who threatened to kill her if she ever tried to leave.
Suffering from physical and mental torment resulting in very low self-esteem, Julie often felt so completely alone during the many struggles of her life that she tried to take her own life.
This book is her true story—telling all the secrets she was never allowed to tell to encourage and motivate others to heal their own lives and break the cycle of abuse.
Her story shows that there is hope and life after abuse.
Now that the secrets are finally out, Julie has found freedom.
So can you.
This Does Not Leave This House is a raw, poignant, and secret-revealing memoir written to lead a movement to break the silence of abuse and finally end its vicious cycle. With strength and resiliency, Coons provides a voice for the silent abused, letting them know they’re not alone. Justice and hope can prevail. The abused can become victorious.
Currently Reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
I am a lover of the written word. This is my space to pursue my love of reading through book reviews and literary discussions with my fellow readers.