The Secret to Falling in Love [Victoria Cooke]

Status Update: I’m going offline for a while… Wish me luck! xx

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.

That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.

If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

My thoughts on the novel: If you’re looking for a feel-good, romantic novel, The Secret to Falling in Love will not disappoint you. It is a lovely, bubbly rom-com about Melissa, a thirty-something journalist who cannot wait to settle down and put an end to an endless stream of fruitless dates. She spends an incredible amount of time online and up until now, it has failed to provide her with a good partner. Has Tinder really killed romance?

The writing style is lively, the characters endearing and the plot interesting — going offline and trying to live life the old-fashioned way. Will Melissa find life better when she’s unplugged? Has technology really become an obstacle to social life? If you’re looking to know what Melissa’s conclusion will be after this enlightening experience, don’t forget to pick your copy of The Secret to Falling in Love due to be released on February 9th.

It is a vibrant chicklit novel that will appeal to those who enjoy a good read with a happy ending.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage [Suzanne Venker]

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage shows women who have a dominating personality how to love a man.

America is in love with the alpha female. She’s the quintessential modern woman—assertive, razor sharp, and fully in control. Her success in the marketplace is undeniable, a downright boon to society. But what happens when the alpha female gets married?

She becomes an alpha wife, of course.

An alpha wife is in charge of everything and everyone. She is, quite simply, the Boss. The problem is, no man wants a boss for a wife. That type of relationship may work for a spell, but it will eventually come crashing down. Since 1970, just as women became more and more powerful outside the home—more alpha—the divorce rate has quadrupled. And it is women who lead the charge. Today, 70% of divorce is initiated by wives.

Do men just make lousy husbands? Not at that rate, says Suzanne Venker, bestselling author of The War on Men. The truth is that women don’t know how to be wives. Why would they? That’s not what they were raised to become.

But women can learn. There’s an art to loving a man, says Venker, and any woman can master it. An alpha female herself, Venker learned how to be a wife the hard way—through trial and error. Lots of error. And here’s what she knows today—the set of skills a woman needs to pursue a career, or even to raise children, is the exact set of skills that will mess up her marriage but good. No man likes to be told what to do. And no woman respects the man who does.

The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men and Marriage gives women who are used to being in charge the tools they need to make their marriages less competitive and more complementary. Part memoir, part advice, this brave manifesto argues that while marriage is more challenging for the alpha female, it is possible to find peace in your marriage. In fact, it may be easier than you think.

My thoughts on the book: I don’t usually read many self-help books, but at times it’s quite interesting. You can always get some things out of them. I believe the important thing is to always exercise your critical thinking and not take every single thing at face value. Take what you feel applies to you and leave the rest. They offer one truth, not a universal truth, just “a” viewpoint.

When I discovered this book in the NetGalley catalogue, I felt intrigued and as I’ve always considered myself relatively “alpha” (because of my entrepreneurial spirit and need for independence), I thought I might learn a thing or two about improving relationships dynamics. However, granted that the book is filled with valid points and interesting tips, there were some things that didn’t quite sit well with me. I believed it lacked a bit of perspective when it comes to “temperaments” (I’m referring to extrovert people vs. introvert ones). The Alpha women described in the book often come across as loud, somewhat bossy personalities, which is what led me to try the Alpha/beta test the author mentioned was available online. And apparently I’m a “purple” (low Alpha/mid-beta), basically an emotional person (a spot-on result). It made sense that I didn’t necessarily recognize myself in this self-help book. So, now that this matter was clearly established, I can say that I might not have been the main target audience.

But, again, it is always enlightening to learn about others’ experiences and this guide fulfills its mission. I recommend it because it’s important to form your own opinions based on a wide range of facts. Read it, pick what you deem necessary and leave what felt at odds with your own life. I think that, in the end, it is the purpose of a “self-help” book.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥

The Secrets of Second Wives [Kerry Fisher]

Two husbands. Two wives with a secret. One devastating betrayal.

Maggie loves her husband Nico. He’s caring and thoughtful but the shadow of his ‘perfect’ first wife Caitlin, constantly hangs over her. Then Maggie discovers that Caitlin has done something terrible, which if revealed could change Nico and Maggie’s lives forever …

Lara is married to Nico’s brother, Massimo. Their lives appear happy yet behind closed doors Lara has a secret that she can never tell. When she comes face to face with Massimo’s ex-wife, Lara is suddenly forced to confront her deepest fears about her life.

For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.

My thoughts on the novel: The Secrets of Second Wives turned out to be an incredible literary surprise. It is a gripping, emotional novel about how complicated it can be to navigate married life as a second wife. Forget the fairy tale and the happily ever after. This book is a page-turner with a worst-case scenario but a satisfying ending.

Through the prism of Maggie’s and Lara’s own perspectives, the reader has access to their deeper, inner thoughts, and the alternation of discourse offers a different angle on the events they experience and sometimes share. Following their streams of thought, you can really understand how they wound up where they are, why they react the way they do and how it all unfolded to reach this particular point in their lives. You can really connect with these two women.

The novel is somehow reminiscent of the Desperate Housewives storyline. Not only do they all live on the same street, but keeping appearances is also important in this posh family. Whilst reading, I often had the impression of hearing Marie Alice as the voice-over. You are really looking forward to seeing how the deeply buried family secrets will finally blow up in their faces! And the ending does not disappoint.

As a woman, you cannot but feel sorry for both characters who have to endure quite a tedious daily life — Maggie is struggling with a rude teenage stepdaughter who lost her mother but she also has to live in the shadow of the presumably perfect dead first wife. Lara is dealing with her bully of a husband, Massimo, who clearly has a severe narcissistic personality disorder. Both have married into a rich family of Italian origins, so you also have to count on a mother-in-law (Anna) who truly embodies your worst nightmare. She’s half harpy, half dragon! As a reader, I found myself deeply rooting for Lara to finally speak up her mind and free herself (and her son) from this hell she ended up living in. I really enjoyed the character of Beryl, Maggie’s mother. She’s not afraid to say things as they are. It was refreshing and exhilarating to see how she would put Anna in her place.

The novel is beautifully written with a complex, yet easy to read prose. It’s an emotional read on interesting topics — the power dynamics in couples, the sacrifices women make for their families, the flawed nature of human beings.

I’m sure Lara is a character that will speak to a lot of women who also had to give up their careers to raise their families (voluntarily or not quite). But, on top of that, seeing that she’s financially and emotionally trapped gave a very gripping dimension to the intrigue. The novel conveys a strong message about female empowerment and mutual respect.

I strongly recommend The Secrets of Second Wives, a well written novel about family, personal choices and life struggles.

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Les ombres de Brocéliande [Lynda Guillemaud]

Gabriel, jeune architecte parisien, apprend qu’il hérite d’un manoir en pleine forêt de Brocéliande, en Bretagne.
Au début indifférent à cette bâtisse qui lui vient de ses grands-parents, Gabriel se laisse peu à peu séduire par la maison… et par Marion, la charmante notaire qui s’occupe de la succession.
Une fois en Brocéliande, il apprend aussi à aimer cette mystérieuse forêt légendaire, tout en découvrant graduellement une histoire familiale dominée par la figure d’Eugénie, sa grand-mère paternelle.
Pourquoi Gabriel ne l’a-t-il jamais connue ?
Que sait Pauline, la vieille dame qui a accompagné Eugénie jusqu’à sa mort ?
Et pourquoi le chat d’Eugénie a-t-il si spontanément adopté le jeune homme à son arrivée ?
En cherchant des réponses à toutes ces questions, Gabriel plonge dans un passé douloureux qui lui révélera des secrets bien gardés et le mettra face à lui-même…

Ce que j’en ai pensé : Les ombres de Brocéliande est un roman très agréable à lire. Essaimé de légendes celtiques, il invite le lecteur à se plonger dans les mythes du cycle arthurien et la magie bretonne. Les personnages sont attachants et la narration fluide. L’intrigue regorge de mystères et de secrets de famille. On se prend facilement au jeu, suivant le déroulement de l’enquête menée par Gabriel et Marion, deux trentenaires qui partagent de nombreux points communs, notamment sur le plan des peines de cœur.

De la Bretagne à Paris, ce récit offre un contraste intéressant entre le rythme effréné de la capitale et le quotidien tranquille au cœur de la célèbre forêt.

De manière générale, c’est un roman divertissant et rythmé, qui se lit facilement et offre un bon moment de détente.

Toutefois, j’ai quand même quelques réserves sur deux rebondissements (ATTENTION, SPOILERS) :

En premier lieu, les amours contrariées entre Alice et Jean à Paris. Leur rencontre relève de la pure coïncidence. Ce n’est pas inconcevable, certes, mais j’ai trouvé que cette relation entre deux personnages qui ignorent leur lien de parenté, était un peu étrange.

Enfin, l’histoire de la fille d’Eugénie. Partons du principe qu’un soldat des années 1950 puisse réellement partir en mission en Centrafrique avec un nourrisson (avec une gouvernante ? peut-être…), il relève de la plus grande des coïncidences que, après le décès du père, l’enfant soit finalement adoptée par un couple vivant dans la ville natale de l’enfant.

Ces événements contribuent effectivement à faire progresser le récit et à réunir les personnages principaux. Ils n’entravent en rien le caractère divertissant du roman, mais c’est assez surprenant.

Brocéliande exerce peut-être une force puissante sur ses habitants ?

Quoi qu’il en soit, je suis contente d’avoir eu la possibilité de découvrir ce roman. Il m’a beaucoup plu et je pense qu’il suscitera l’intérêt des amateurs des fées, du merveilleux et des fins heureuses.

Ma note : ♥ ♥ ♥

The Christmas Surprise [Jenny Colgan]

The Christmas Surprise par [Colgan, Jenny]Rosie Hopkins, newly engaged, is looking forward to an exciting year in the little English sweetshop she owns. But when fate deals Rosie and her boyfriend Stephen a terrible blow, threatening everything they hold dear, it’s going to take all their strength and the support of their families and their friends to hold them together.

After all, don’t they say it takes a village to raise a child?

My thoughts on the novel: It doesn’t take much convincing for me to pick a Jenny Colgan novel. A few years back, I absolutely adored the Cupcake Café series. However, when adding The Christmas Surprise to my Christmas book reading list, I hadn’t realised that it was another adventure from the Rosie Hopkins series which I haven’t read yet (although they are in my ebook waiting list!). But, I wouldn’t let that keep me from a Christmas story. So, I entered Rosie’s world as a complete newbie and thanks to the introductory note the author added at the beginning, I had enough background info to get my Ws straight: who, what, when, where.

Now, plot-wise, let me start by saying that the intrigue is as beautiful as the cover lets on. I admit that I didn’t expect such a deep, emotional story. The part set in Africa is very moving with vivid descriptions, you can almost feel the local atmosphere. The first major twist about Rosie and Stephen is touching and tearful. It marks the beginning of a rollercoaster of emotions for the couple. Can they weather this major storm? They’ll have to go through some difficult moments that will put the solidity of their relationship to the test.

It’s a very sensitive, family-oriented novel. It definitely convinced me to read the first installment, Welcome To Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop Of Dreams.

On a side note, I liked the recipes at the end of the book. I hope the author won’t mind too much that I’m correcting her on a teeny tiny mistake. Yule log in French is spelled “bûche de Noël” with a circumflex accent on the “u”. The dots for Noël are correct though. (I know it can be a difficult language at times!) 🙂

All in all, I highly recommend The Christmas Surprise. It’s another successful story from one of my favourite chick-lit writers.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥



The Cosy Christmas Teashop [Caroline Roberts]

From sleigh bells to wedding bells . . .

After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.

Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?

Christmas is just around the corner, and a last minute booking threatens to snow the team under. Ellie and her hunky hubby Joe have their own Christmas dreams to chase, but they’re determined to pull through and give this special couple the winter wonderland wedding they deserve.

Will Christmas at the Cosy Teashop be a showstopper to remember?

My thoughts on the novel: Special thanks to HarperImpulse and Netgalley for letting me discover the sweet  world of Ellie’s Castle Teashop! I must admit that I had not read the first installment before delving into this Christmas sequel. But fear not, it’s not a prerequisite to actually understand the characters. Luckily, the author carefully introduced some background info here and there, so you do get to learn about past events occurring in the first book.

I thought the overall story was entertaining and heartwarming. It was great fun to read about the first full-blown royal-like wedding Ellie has to organise for a true unicorn-loving Bridezilla. Things turn emotional with the story of Lucy and Daniel, a young couple due to marry in the summer, but because of a dramatic unforseen event, they are forced to postpone their joyful ceremony.

I liked how the author describes the daily activities taking place in Ellie’s castle and teashop. The secondary characters have strong personalities and contribute to enriching the plot and subplots. Joe and Ellie’s baby struggle is also well written. You really get to see how it’s taking its toll on their relationship.

Overall, I enjoyed this festive, romantic read. The twists and turns are well thought out. And when it comes to food, baking and recipes, everything included in the novel will make your mouth water. I only wish the Christmas part started earlier. Indeed, it all begins in the summer and the plot slowly unfolds months after months until, finally, all the Christmassy actions start taking place, which is halfway through the book.
Score: ♥ ♥ ♥

Coup de foudre sous la neige [Sarah Morgan et Kate Hoffman]

Coup de foudre sous la neige : 2 romans (&H) par [Morgan, Sarah, Hoffmann, Kate]

Publié chez Harlequin, cet ouvrage réunit deux romans où se mêlent romance et magie de Noël, une combinaison idéale en cette saison !

Roman n° 1 — Un Noël dans ses bras, Sarah Morgan
Evie n’avait pas prévu de mettre son patron sur sa liste au Père Noël : le prince charmant milliardaire qui embrasse la femme de chambre, il y a longtemps que ça ne se fait plus, si ? Mais quand un paparazzi les photographie ensemble et qu’Evie se retrouve au bras de son irrésistible patron à jouer la comédie des fiançailles sous le sapin, elle se met à rêver du plus beau des cadeaux : l’amour…

Une romance façon « Coup de foudre à Manhattan ».

Ce que j’en ai pensé : La référence d’Amazon au film mettant en vedette Jennifer Lopez est particulièrement bien vue. Ce roman à l’eau de rose réunit tous les ingrédients de la comédie romantique et (un chouïa) érotique : c’est léger et pétillant, quoique cousu de fil blanc. On se laisse porter par cette histoire d’amour entre deux personnages issus de deux mondes différents. Prévisible mais divertissant.

Ma note : ♥ ♥

Roman n° 2 — Noël en Alaska, Kate Hoffmann
Pendant ce temps, Julia, elle, a décidé que l’amour, Noël et autres illusions, on ne l’y prendrait plus. Mais Sam, son fils de huit ans, veut sa part de magie : il se lance, tout seul, à la recherche du Père Noël, et se cache dans un petit avion en partance pour le Grand Nord… Un coup de fil furieux prévient Julia : à l’autre bout de la ligne, le pilote — il vient de trouver Sam et somme Julia de venir immédiatement récupérer son fils…

Un très joli conte de Noël entre deux personnages que tout oppose.

Ce que j’en ai pensé : Ma préférence va sans hésitation à cette deuxième histoire digne d’être adaptée en téléfilm de Noël comme ceux que l’on aime voir sur TF1 en cette période. Une histoire d’amour inattendue dans un décor magique tout ce qu’il y a de plus « Noël-esque ». Pas de scène de sexe graphique, mais des descriptions subtiles et « fleur bleue », ce qui était un choix pertinent compte tenu de l’ambiance générale. Une romance familiale qui vous fera fondre !

Ma note : ♥ ♥ ♥