20 May 2022

Book Review: 'Struck by Love' series by Syrie James

Struck by Love series

Floating on Air by Syrie James
I was delighted when Syrie James asked me to read and review the two books in her Struck by Love series of short contemporary romances. Both stories, set in the 1980s, concern themselves with strong heroines trying to carve out their places in the world (usually male-dominated worlds) and heal from past relationships.

The settings are very evocative and help drive the plot. In Floating on Air, our heroine Desiree is a radio DJ and lives in Anaheim, California. The local beaches and Catalina Island feature prominently in her journey to love with successful businessman Kyle. I used to work in radio so liked that side of the story as well.
Two Week Deal by Syrie James

Music is also a key theme in this book, which is beautifully done.

In Two Week Deal, we are off to Lake Tahoe and Heavenly mountain. I love to ski and spend time on the water so the setting appealed to me very much. Kelli is trying build a freelance career as an illustrator in the cutthroat advertising industry. An impulsive decision leads to an irresistible proposition which could jumpstart both her career and her love-life. The hero's domineering ways didn't sit well with me, although Kelli decides in the end that he can compromise after all. Kelli is Kyle's younger sister, and it's great to see his story continued in this one.

Syrie's prose is so gorgeous and lyrical that sometimes it feels like poetry. A joy to read.

Both stories quickly progress from attraction, to infatuation, to love and talk of marriage (in a matter of days!). I am not a fan of insta-love, but after reading the author's note I see it's like a family tradition which is so lovely. You can read more about the real-life inspiration behind Floating on Air on Syrie's blog.

Both books also wrap the endings up quickly, with not much time between the black moment and the end - but I suppose this must be common in shorter romances.

Overall, these are two marvellous books with plenty of spice, strong heroines and incredible heroes. Highly recommended as escapist reads with tons of heart.

21 February 2022

Hearts of Amberley: An Update

The Hearts of Amberley series

Hello, my dear readers!

I do hope you are all well in these strange times.

It's been a while since I've provided an update on where I'm at with book 3 in the Hearts of Amberley series. I assure you, this is far more frustrating for me than it is for you!

Progress on the third book has been hampered by a few things: the birth of my second child and the subsequent madness which ensued, various Covid lockdowns requiring full-time childcare and exhaustion, and of course just various life tasks and events which pop up along the way. It is still my hope that one day, I will have some "day-job" time to devote to writing, but at the moment that's not possible.

And so, book 3 has been limping along - always at the back of my mind, and more often lately, at the forefront and on my fingertips. It look a huge effort to get the headspace to finish plotting it out, but now that is done I am doggedly working through the draft, about two thirds of the way through. I hoped to have it done last year (or the one before lol) but come hell or high water it will be done this year.

I do have considerable uneasiness about writing a book about an established villain who has sinned so absolutely. But his story begged to be told, the WHY behind his actions nagging at my conscience. And the lady who would challenge him became a potent force in my imagination. As I have written, the tone of the book has changed somewhat, and I have changed the title from "Mr Barrington Meets His Match" to "Heart of a Gentleman". When you read the book, you'll see how fitting this is :) I hope with all my heart that you will find it a sensitive and satisfying read.

I am also looking at release the first two books in other formats - Hardcover and Large Print. I'd love your feedback if you like to read either of these formats.

I hope to be able to reveal the cover of "Heart of a Gentleman" before too long! Make sure you're signed up to my email newsletter or following me on Facebook for any updates.


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30 January 2022

Book Review: The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews

This is exactly the type of book I like to read – and write! There’s a heroine who is intelligent and independent, an unlikely yet swoon-worthy hero, a vivid period setting, and plenty of delicious romance without gratuitous love scenes. The Siren of Sussex is book one in a new series of Victorian romances entitled “Belles of London”.

The story centres around Evelyn Maltravers, a country miss attempting to save her family from scandal by making a good match. She enlists the help of habit-designer Ahmad Malik, who takes a chance on the dowdy bluestocking after he witnesses her unparalleled horsemanship. Their escalating chemistry is as both tantalising as it is forbidden – he is in trade, after all. Will Evelyn be able to save her family’s fortunes and find true love in the bargain?

Like my own books, Matthews doesn’t take the well-worn route of writing about Dukes (the period equivalent of billionaires), and I applaud her for writing about an immigrant of a different race. It is much more interesting to read about characters who face true challenges in a multi-layered society and come to depend upon each other for their happiness. The author draws you into their world with lots of historical details and equine knowledge. A cast of rich supporting characters complete the picture – although it is obvious from the outset that Evelyn’s friends will be the heroines for future books. There is a plot element relating to spirituality that isn’t my cup of tea, but apparently a fascination with these elements of the occult is historically accurate.

Overall, this was a complex and satisfying romance with delightful characters and an original plot. I’d give it 4.5 stars and will definitely be seeking out more books by Matthews.


About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

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Thank you to Laurel Ann from Austenprose for asking me to participate in the blog tour for The Siren of Sussex.

The Siren of Sussex Book Tour Schedule