Maybe the title should have clued me in…

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, Balli Kaur Jaswal

Published June 13th 2017 by William Morrow
Hardcover, 304 pages
Source: Library!
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Every woman has a secret life . . .Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

I’m pretty positive the delightful Reading with Hippos pointed me to this book.  The title is amazing – but really it should have tipped me off that that there were actual – you know EROTIC STORIES.  I was expecting the family dynamics, marital stress, the complicated lives of immigrants living in London.  I wasn’t shocked by the racism experienced, the religious bias, or even the question of possible murder.  But some of those stories – whoa were those a surprise!
Yes things got a bit cheesy or moved too quickly maybe – but overall this was just a fun read with more depth than you’d expect to go with the erotic stories.  When you need a book that will make you laugh and reconsider all the produce in your fridge check this out.
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Review: A Change of Heart

A Change of Heart, Sonali Dev

Published September 27th 2016 by Kensington

Paperback, 352 pages

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley

28439392Dr. Nikhil ‘Nic’ Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy.  She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

I give Sonali Dev a ton of credit just for the premise of this book.  It is extremely brave to start out by murdering a character that was so great in your last book – The Bollywood Bride.  I think it was pretty brave to make Jen a less than perfect character.  Jen’s perspective is told in very brief snippets of her journal entries and she’s not all warm and fuzzy as one might expect a newlywed to be.  This this contrasted sharply with Nic’s crushing grief and memories of his beloved – again a really bold route for a romance.  So we find Nic trying to drink himself to death on a cruise ship  2 years after her murder when Jess comes and tries to snap him into action to find Jen’s killers in India.  

Honestly the truth of Jess’s story was pretty easy to figure out and once I knew what was coming I just couldn’t get past it.  Also as much as I liked Jess, to be truthful I didn’t want Nic to get past it either!   The poor guy was suffering enough and I was anticipating some painful moments when he found out why she was really there.  That kept me from feeling all the love between Nic and Jess the way I was meant to.   Based on the other reviews I’ve seen though I’m in the minority here – maybe maybe I just need lighter overall when I’m feeling like a romance?  Romance reading is an total escape for me so I need happy.  This was busy with sexy romance, mystery, and past heartbreaks and other readers are loving it.   

I do hope Dev continues with the Bollywood books in the way that I’m guessing because I like her characters and I like seeing the interaction between books.  I will absolutely read whatever she writes next!  I’m going to have to reread The Bollywood Affair though to get back to my own original Sonali Dev love affair.

Thank you Kensington and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review! 

Review: June

June, Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Published May 31st 2016 by Crown

Hardcover, 400 pages

Source: Blogging for Books

 

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Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery’s vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal.

I absolutely loved Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s last book, Bittersweet, a dark and kind of gothic summer romance and mystery.  I couldn’t wait to dive into more family secrets in June.  I’m always fascinated by a plot with a mysterious will.  When it’s the will of a movie star with a fortune – even better!  

When we meet Cassie she’s living alone in her grandparents mansion in rural Ohio.  She’s inherited the home after her beloved grandmother’s death and she’s holed up and letting the world pass her by.   I admit I  was a bit frustrated with Cassie at first.  I wanted her to do something – anything! So it was much easier to be drawn back into the past to the story of the young and beautiful June, Jack the movie star, and Lindie the girl across the street. As I became more caught up in the past it helped me to become more interested in Cassie’s modern mystery and I was glad when Cassie started getting caught up in the past as well.  I liked getting June’s story through Lindie rather than June herself.  Lindie was quite the observer and I think gave a much richer perspective than June would have. 

This was a slow burn, but Beverly-Whittemore ended in directions that I didn’t expect at all with both the past and modern stories.  What I really loved was the personality that the old house had.  Not in a creepy haunted house way at all – more a romantic and mystical presence.  This is definitely a good book to sit and finish the summer with!

Thank you Blogging for Books for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Therapeutic Reading: The Obsession

The Obsession, Nora Roberts

Hardcover, 464 pages

Published: April 12th 2016 by Berkley

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Source: ARC won from publisher giveaway

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

It’s all very well and great to read deep and intense books like Hausfrau or Fates & Furies but sometimes all I really want is a Happy Ever After.  A glass of wine, alone time and a good story with romance and happiness in the end.  When I want reading for mood therapy I almost always turn to Nora Roberts.  Opening the mail to find this ARC a few days into January was like Christmas Day all over!

The Obsession continues my Nora streak of total happiness in a book.  Romance, murderous tension, just enough smut, plus talk of books and a true and loyal pooch.  I liked the slow buildup of the romance and the friendship between Naomi and Xander.  I think there could have been more to the mystery – it was actually a pretty short part of the book itself – but it was still satisfying in the end.  So when you need a happy read, I highly recommend the Obsession and a glass of wine – that’s my book therapy prescription!

4 stars!

Thank you Berkley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Review: Between Everything and Us

Between Everything and Us, Rebecca Paula  (Sutton College #1)

Amanda

Published January 20th 2015

Source-e-ARC from author

23257933From Goodreads

Matisse Evans is determined to make her sophomore year of college successful after failing out of a prestigious art school and spending a horribly boring gap year at home. Despite her focus, time isn’t on her side as she struggles to hold down three jobs so she can afford her first apartment while juggling course work. In the chaos of it all, Beau Grady moves in and shakes up her world. A college dropout and tattooed bad boy, the rumors about Beau mean one thing for Matisse—trouble. Paralyzed by the fear that she’s missing out on life, Matisse discovers plans may unravel, but what rises in their wake can be worth the uncertainty.

After spending the summer couch surfing, Beau Grady moves into an empty room at his ex-girlfriend’s Portland bungalow, skipping his senior year of college to spend his days working at a Vietnamese food cart instead. Once a star hockey player and gifted student, he’s put his life on hold after receiving a life-altering diagnosis, complacent to live in the moment. Hiding behind false rumors and bad habits, Beau falls for Matisse, letting her believe the worst until their relationship blooms into something they both can’t ignore. Falling for her means having to face a future he’d rather forget, but loving her just might be worth it.

I reviewed Rebecca Paula’s debut Everly After last year and I could not have loved it more.  I felt like I found a bit of my beloved Beckett in Beau Grady.  Beau has all the right appeal for a college girl looking for romance a) he’s hot, b) he’s a hockey player, and c) he’s got a motorcycle. Enough said. However, there’s more to Beau that meets the eye, and the rumors on campus don’t begin to get to the truth.

Matisse- Mati, is trying to prove she can make it as an art student after failing out of her first school. She tries – really tries! – her hardest to avoid the distraction in her hot new roommate.  She has an eye on a prestigious internship and is trying to keep her parents happy with her performance at school.

There’s a slow burn between Beau and Mati which I loved.  They annoy each other into flirtation and some serious sexual tension.  I loved the back and forth- will they or won’t they?  Beau hides behind the rumors about his reasons for dropping out of school. He doesn’t feel like he’s good enough for Mati:

Mati is a someday-girl, the one you’re supposed to meet later when you’re less of a prick and have your shit together.  Someday girls are lost to idiots like me now, and if I’m being honest, they don’t’ exist in the future either.  Because there’s a guy who is ready, who does know how to be an adult and can love a girl like Mati as much as she deserves.  And those guys turn someday girls into forever girls and leave us losers to keep chasing after a string of hookups while we’re stuck remembering the one perfect girl who got away.

Sigh – after all the build up I wanted more.  It felt like Beau and Mati went from interested in each other, to cooling things off, then straight into a relationship -and then on their way out again .  Give me the pay-off for the slow burn!  I wanted less fighting and more flirting!  Paula definitely does write hot romances though-that you can count on.  Rebecca Paula is an author I will for sure keep reading and I am curious to see what else goes on at Sutton College!

3 stars

Thank you Rebecca for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

Top Ten Tuesday: One Thing I Dislike in Book Romances

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (from the Broke and the Bookish) is Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes to Romance in Books.

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Well, I really only have one thing that drives me batshit crazy related to romance in books, and that’s when books, particularly novels geared towards young adults, present unhealthy, domineering, emotionally abusive relationship patterns as completely normal. The most well-known recent examples are, of course, a certain teenage vampire series and then the bestselling trilogy which it inspired that is about to open as a movie this weekend (and yes, I know that second one wasn’t geared toward YA readers – at least I hope not. Right? I haven’t read it…but I did read this review)

Anyway, rather than further espouse on this topic right now, I will simply direct you to this post comparing Edward Cullen and Bella Swan’s relationship to the National Domestic Violence Hotline criteria.

Creepy much?

Creepy much?

If you have any suggestions for books with healthy relationships, please by all means share them in the comments!

Review: Everly After

Everly After, Rebecca Paula

Amanda

Published October 21st 2014

Source: e-ARC from Love Between the Sheets Blog Tour

Book Cover - Everly After v4Synopsis:

All truths burn bright and clear. I’m still waiting in the dark.

Everly Monteith has traded her life of glitter, parties, and self-destruction for waitressing at a Parisian café. She’s put the tragedy that sent her across the Atlantic in the past—until her toxic ex shows up and sends her reeling once more. Her fresh start begins slipping away until a smug British war correspondent crashes her party. But falling for Beckett means letting down her guard, something that might pull them both into the dark.

There are beautiful lies in this world, and it takes me being chased through a hallway at a rave to decide this girl is one of them. But even the most beautiful lies aren’t worth chasing.

Twenty-five-year-old Beckett Reid is forced into sabbatical after being kidnapped on assignment in Afghanistan. Back in Paris, he locks himself away to work on a novel, focused on saving his budding journalism career. But when he meets an enigmatic American heiress, his plans are quickly neglected. Everly is the perfect replacement for dangerous war zones, even if she does leave glitter on everything he owns. Reckless and wild, she runs through life making more mistakes than anyone he’s met, but Beckett is determined to fight for her, even if he must face the messy truth that he must fight for himself first.

*This New Adult romance is recommended for readers 18+ due to mature content.*

I’m going to start you off with the messages I sent to my friend Christina while reading this book:

Holy shit this book is intense.

This is so much more than I expected!

I don’t even know what to say. I’m totally on edge and am going to have to finish tonight.

And if I read this book for Beckett to die ** ***** I am going to be supremely pissed!

I even tweeted at Rebecca Paula that she had better not break my heart!

So now almost a week later-my heart is recovered from the stress and I can tell you that I loved this book. Everly After is about two very different kinds of romantic love–love that makes two people bring out the best in each other and those that only bring out the worst in each other.  This story was a battle of who would win out in the end.  Paula did an amazing job of wrapping me up into Beckett and Everly. They felt completely real to me and their emotions were often so raw.   I wanted to reach through and shake them both on occasion (ok mostly Everly), but in the end I think things worked out perfectly.  I felt like I was right there with them-and my goodness-I felt the heat between them coming out of the book!

I don’t read a lot of New Adult (NA).  I expect NA to be fluffier books -romance, some sex and some light drama perhaps.  Just not what I gravitate towards first.  Everly After-not what I expected of NA and I am so glad I was proved wrong.  This was not light and fluffy but it was a book with depth and heart.  If this is her debut, I cannot wait to read what else Rebecca Paula is writing.

Thank you Rebecca Paula for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!

Here’s a link to a super fun giveaway including a copy of Everly After

Buy The Book

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vwJNUy

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1pd6jdQ

KOBO: http://bit.ly/1w3SZ0y

About The Author

RebeccaIt began with a boy who survived a plane crash in the wilderness.

I discovered my love of writing during a fifth grade writing assignment for Hatchet. After that, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Always the hopeless romantic, I write late Victorian and Edwardian historical romances as well as contemporary New Adult romances.

I am a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), as well as the New Hampshire chapter (NHRWA) and the New England chapter (NECRWA). I contribute regularly to the Modern Belles of History blog, a site dedicated to writing, reading, and researching 20th century women’s historical fiction.

When I’m not writing, I’m most likely reading or daydreaming about my next travel adventure. I live in New Hampshire with my husband and our cat, Bella.

Website: https://rebecca-paula-esmo.squarespace.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccapaulaauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/beckapaula

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8442728.Rebecca_Paula