Les gentilles filles vont au paradis, les autres là où elles veulent [Elie Grimes]

Zoey est la sœur de Dalton et la meilleure amie d’Adrian, à qui sa tante Vic voudrait bien la voir mariée. À trente ans à peine, elle a monté sa propre entreprise de traiteur avec son assistante, devenue amie, Sally, qui aime bien Dalton.
Elle n’écoute jamais les conseils de Fran, sa mère, ou de Nana, sa grand-mère adorée, car elle préfère se confier le soir à son chat, Sushi. Sinon, la vie de Zoey n’est pas compliquée. Encore moins quand elle rencontre Matthew Ziegler, le critique gastronomique le plus influent de New York, un type parfaitement imbuvable qui semble bien décidé à mettre sa cuisine à l’épreuve, jusque dans les moindres détails…
Voici une comédie cent pour cent new-yorkaise, sexy et efficace ! Ce chassé-croisé amoureux contemporain porté par des dialogues vifs et percutants, rythmé par mille et un rebondissements, révèle une héroïne au caractère volcanique.

Un roman d’amitié, une histoire familiale, une passion torride : et si Elizabeth Bennet s’était réincarnée au XXIe siècle dans une jeune cuisinière américaine ?

Ce que j’en ai pensé : Entre la couverture attrayante, le titre accrocheur et le résumé prometteur, ce roman féminin avait piqué ma curiosité. Comment résister à une histoire qui comporterait apparemment une héroïne de type Elizabeth Bennet ?

Bon, en toute franchise, j’ai mis un peu de temps à me plonger dans l’intrigue. Je crois que cela est dû en partie à la scène d’ouverture — la réception chez les parents de Zoey — que j’ai trouvé longuette. Dès le départ, j’ai aussi eu du mal avec le personnage de la mère de Zoey. Je l’ai trouvé tellement caractérielle et caricaturale que cela m’a un peu refroidie. Elles ont de toute évidence de gros problèmes en termes de relation mère-fille.

Toutefois, après cette période de flottement, tout s’est plus ou moins décanté. Les imbroglios et les trios (ou quartos) amoureux ont enfin pu se dérouler. De manière générale, j’ai trouvé les protagonistes intéressants et complexes. Tous cachent des blessures secrètes et un caractère bien trempé, ce qui se traduit par des scènes piquantes et rythmées.

J’ai lu ce livre en très peu de temps, ce qui est plutôt positif. Même si j’ai bien aimé ce roman, il ne m’a pas pour autant transporté outre mesure. C’est pour cela que j’ai mis deux cœurs et demi (il se situe quelque part entre « j’aime bien » et « j’aime beaucoup »).

Ce roman offre un bon moment de détente. Mais je n’irai jusqu’à le classer dans la catégorie comédie. Tout reste assez sérieux — on ne compte plus les disputes, les rivalités amicales, amoureuses et familiales, les blessures cachées des uns et des autres, les rancœurs datant de l’enfance/adolescence ou à l’égard de la famille. Il y a quelques scènes cocasses, mais globalement, on a davantage affaire à des histoires humaines profondes et émouvantes où le but final demeure l’octroi du pardon et l’acceptation. J’ai trouvé particulièrement intéressant le fait que tous les personnages clés finiront par découvrir un « récit » différent des événements qu’ils ont traversés en écoutant le point de vue de leurs amis et proches. Au fond, ils ont tous des préjugés les uns sur les autres. On retrouve ainsi un petit clin d’œil à l’œuvre Orgueil et Préjugés de Jane Austen.

En lisant ce livre, vous découvrirez des amitiés qui traverseront de graves tempêtes, une histoire familiale complexe avec des personnages d’origine italienne très colorés, et enfin une romance torride qui apporte une bonne dose de piquant.

Tous les ingrédients sont réunis pour se laisser divertir par ce scénario qui se prêterait sûrement aisément à une adaptation cinématographique (sous réserve d’intégrer des scènes vraiment comiques !).

Ma note : ♥ ♥ et demi !

The Tenth Kingdom [Kathryn Wesley]

308039Do You Believe In Magic?

The Tenth Kingdom is a contemporary drama, set in a world where fairy tales, folklore and traditional myths come to life.

The story follows the fortune of Virginia, a New York waitress, who unwittingly finds herself in the fantasy world of the Nine Kingdoms, where she must save a prince from the clutches of his evil stepmother, and restore him to the throne.

This is a modern, epic tale of good versus evil that will grip the imagination and leave you spellbound.

My thoughts on the novel: The Tenth Kingdom is one of my favourite fantasy books. It’s based on a successful Hallmark mini-series. Famous fairytales, myths and legends are revisited in this captivating story where magic and reality merge beautifully.
The characters are very endearing, the intrigue is action-packed, and carefully sprinkled with a lovely sense of humour. Will Virginia and her father manage to find the traveling mirror to return to New York? Can they defeat the Evil Queen and help Wendell take his throne back?

It is an emotional journey from down-to-earth Manhattan to the incredible, multifaceted lands of this magical realm where you’ll meet trolls, fairies, princes and princesses, among many other fascinating creatures.

It will appeal to both the young and the young at heart.

My Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Romance [Ed McBain]

« C’est plutôt la vie qui imite l’art, non ? » fait observer la costumière à l’inspecteur Kling.

Et de fait, Steve Carella et ses collègues du 87e District peuvent se poser la question quand la vedette d’une pièce de théâtre intitulée Romance se fait poignarder à la sortie du théâtre, exactement comme le personnage qu’elle incarne sur scène.

Coup du pub ou véritable agression ? Carella s’interroge encore quand se produit… un coup de théâtre ! A peine sortie de l’hôpital, la comédienne est retrouvée chez elle lardée de coups de couteau. Et bien morte cette fois.

Une nouvelle enquête commence pour nos fins limiers, dans cette ville d’Isola, agitée par les émeutes raciales, dans laquelle le fidèle lecteur reconnaîtra sans peine New York City…

Ce que j’en ai pensé : Publié dans sa version originale en 1995, ce polar est un étonnant voyage dans le temps où les policiers saisissent les dépositions à l’aide de machines à écrire, où les cours de gym sont accompagnés de chansons enregistrées sur des cassettes audio et où les relations amoureuses interraciales sont encore très tabous. En lisant ce roman plus de 15 ans après sa publication, on se rend compte à quel point les technologies et les mœurs sociales ont évolué et ont bouleversé notre société occidentale.

De manière générale, il s’agit d’un thriller mené tambour battant avec de nombreux rebondissements. Au fur et à mesure que l’enquête avance, les doutes s’installent quant à l’identité du meurtrier de l’actrice Michelle Cassidy, les suspects étant relativement nombreux. Je tiens à souligner que le dénouement était très soigné et crédible. Toutefois, je suis obligée de nuancer mon propos en précisant qu’il y avait tout de même quelques longueurs et certains moments où la narration patinait.

Romance est un polar dont le titre est à double sens — cela renvoie au nom de la pièce et à la romance entre un enquêteur blanc et une femme médecin/policière noire. À l’époque où se déroule le récit, la question raciale aux États-Unis est un sujet ultra sensible. En proie aux émeutes raciales, la ville est loin d’être un modèle de tolérance et de vivre ensemble.

Romance demeure un polar de bonne manufacture, rythmé et bien ficelé.

Ma note :  ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Il neige sur Central Park [Nora Roberts]

Il neige sur New York et ses lieux magiques.
Central Park, Manhattan : tout l’enchantement de l’hiver est là !

La fantaisie, le caractère, l’humour… Les héroïnes de Nora Roberts possèdent toutes cette qualité propre aux personnages des œuvres de fiction réussies : on aimerait qu’elles franchissent la frontière de l’imaginaire et entrent dans la vraie vie, pour l’illuminer de leur charme.

Il n’y a jamais rien de mièvre chez Nora Roberts, qui excelle à rendre vibrantes et uniques des histoires d’amour intemporelles.

Il neige sur Central Park est un recueil de trois romans (Si près de toi, Le secret de Kergallen, Un envoûtant rendez-vous).

Ce que j’en ai pensé :

Le premier roman intitulé Si près de toi ouvre ce recueil en beauté. Empreint de romantisme, ce récit traite avec beaucoup de subtilité et d’élégance de grands classiques de la romance, à savoir les secondes chances en amour et l’importance de savoir (se) pardonner.

Hester Wallace et son fils Radley viennent d’emménager dans leur nouvel appartement new-yorkais, prêts à commencer leur nouvelle vie dans la grosse pomme. Banquière réputée, Hester est un personnage farouchement indépendant qui aime l’ordre et la sécurité. Fortement marquée par un divorce difficile, elle préfère se concentrer sur le bien-être de son fils et ne pas s’embarrasser de sentiments amoureux trop éphémères pour être fiables. Toutefois, elle ne reste pas insensible aux charmes de son voisin, Mitch, créateur de bandes dessinées à succès. Avec son apparence un peu négligée et son métier artistique, cet homme un peu fantasque et étrange pourrait dangereusement menacer le quotidien bien huilé qu’elle a créé pour sa petite famille. Lorsque Mitch noue une forte amitié avec Radley, petit garçon passionné par le célèbre héros qu’il a créé, Mitch sait qu’il pourrait avoir sa place à leurs côtés. Saura-t-il convaincre Hester ? Parviendra-t-elle à oublier ses peines passées afin de laisser une chance à l’avenir ?

Si près de toi est un roman captivant et touchant qui aborde avec beaucoup de tendresse les questions de la famille et de l’amour véritable.

Ma note : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Il est suivi par Le secret de Kergallen. Après l’enthousiasme suscité par le premier roman, cette deuxième histoire m’a vraiment déçue. Serenity est une jeune femme américaine qui se rend en Bretagne pour rencontrer une grand-mère bretonne aristocrate dont elle n’a jamais entendu parler. Madame la comtesse de Kergallen est un personnage très guindé, à l’image de Christophe, le comte de Kergallen, un homme autoritaire, brusque et condescendant. La série Downton Abbey revisitée à la sauce bretonne mais en moins bien, malheureusement.

De manière globale, l’intrigue est certes relativement divertissante, mais les personnages trop caricaturaux et irritants. La fin reste satisfaisante et crédible, mais ça ne rattrape pas les faiblesses de tout le reste du récit. Des secrets de famille au potentiel narratif intéressant sont dévoilés en temps voulu. Mais, je crois que le plus dérangeant dans toute l’histoire reste la personnalité des personnages principaux. Malgré un caractère apparemment bien trempé, Serenity est trop souvent indécise et faible. Quant à Christophe, son machisme est poussé au paroxysme dans des scènes qui se veulent romantiques, mais qui deviennent davantage gênantes et brutales, frisant la tentative de viol ou l’agression.

La lectrice que je suis a bien eu du mal à s’identifier à ce couple à la dynamique bien étrange. Il n’y a rien de divertissant ou de romantique à voir une jeune femme se faire malmener sous des prétextes d’attirance physique contrariée.

Ma note : ♥

Le troisième roman qui s’intitule Un envoûtant rendez-vous a fort heureusement rattrapé tout cela en concluant le recueil avec une jolie histoire d’amour marquée par des thèmes émouvants — l’enfance difficile, la confiance et les deuxièmes chances.

Brooke, réalisatrice dans la publicité, est une jeune femme ambitieuse, forte et indépendante qui, malgré des débuts difficiles dans la vie, est parvenue à trouver sa voie et à se forger une carrière fructueuse dans un milieu pourtant dominé par les hommes. Profondément marquée par une histoire d’amour malheureuse, elle s’est construite une carapace bien solide qu’un certain Parks, joueur de base-ball adulé, va tenter de fissurer en faisant tout pour la séduire et obtenir sa confiance.

La narration est fluide et agréable. Les descriptions sont dynamiques et vivantes — qu’il s’agisse des scènes se déroulant au stade pendant les matches, pendant le tournage des publicités ou bien encore les passages intimes entre les deux personnages — le lecteur se laisse aisément transporté dans cette histoire d’amour qui parvient à dégager un vrai parfum de romantisme et de délicatesse.

Ma note : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Dressmaker [Kate Alcott]

Torn between her dreams and the truth, she was faced with an impossible choice . . .

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, is stunned at her luck when the famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon hires her to be a personal maid on the Titanic‘s doomed voyage. When disaster strikes, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat – her employer also survives. On dry land, savage rumours begin to circulate: did Lady Duff Gordon save herself at the expense of others?

Tess’s dream of becoming a skilled dressmaker is within her grasp but now she is faced with a terrible choice. Suddenly she finds herself torn between loyalty to the fiery woman who could help her realise her ambitions and the devastating truth that her mentor may not be all she seems.

My thoughts on the novel:  The Dressmaker isn’t just another book about the Titanic. Much has already been said and written about the tragic event, but this novel offers a fresh and compelling new perspective by focusing on the aftermath of the shipwreck — especially the U.S Senate hearings, the inquiry and all the press scandals. From the characters to the plot and the writing style, everything is of top quality. The reader cannot but feel as though he/she were travelling back in time one chapter after the other. It is a riveting, engrossing novel that cannot leave you unmoved.

The part taking place onboard the Titanic is beautifully written, and deeply emotional when the actual sinking occurs. But, the rescue on the Carpathia isn’t the end of troubles for the main characters. From New York to Washington, they find themselves dealing with press scandals, public humiliation and political turmoil. The context is very much detailed, you can almost sense how it must have been like living there at the beginning of the twentieth century.

What’s striking is how the author leads the reader to reflect on the notion of bravery, especially when a scandal broke about the almost empty Lifeboat One and some alleged bribes. How would one react if they found themselves in a profoundly distressful situation? Would they act as heroes or would they let fear dictate their behavior? Are there really villains or simply flawed human beings trying to survive a terrible ordeal? The Dressmaker offers an enlightening perspective on the choices we all make, especially in dire situations.

I have been deeply moved by the excellent narrative, the underlying messages and the complexity of the characters. Tess is an intriguing character. She’s as strong-willed as she is sensitive. I was particularly enthused about the ending she gets. Some would say that she’s a clueless ingenue for being distraught by having not one, but two love interests. If you look beyond the surface, the author is sending a strong message about women’s possibilities in life. She embodies a modern, inspiring female figure. As for Lady Lucile Duff Gordon, you might initially believe she’s a caricature because of how arrogant and condescending — borderline bipolar — she comes across. But, do read till the end, there’s more to it than you might think. Lastly, I’ll mention the character of Pinkie, a fearless, independent reporter who will make your day when you read the final chapters.

The Dressmaker is a vivid, touching, deeply emotional novel that I strongly recommend.

A true gem not to be missed!

My score:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Cutting Words [P.A Laver]

A war of words…

Assistant editor Annie McGuire has just been given the assignment of a lifetime.

Her boss, the Senior Editor of fiction at McMahon Martin Publishing no less, has chosen Annie to edit one-time, blockbuster author James Raymond’s new book.

This is the chance Annie has been waiting for and she’s desperate to prove her worth as a serious editor.

It’s time to make the leap to senior editor, after all if she doesn’t someone else surely will.

With her qualifications and experience, nothing could go wrong… right?

…wrong!

It turns out Annie is totally oblivious to the details and politics of how the motorbike riding, egomaniac author was enticed away from his old publisher.

When two ambitious chief editors of opposing New York publishing houses go to war, there is bound to be collateral.

But will Annie’s career take the full force of the damage?

With rumours swirling that Raymond’s new manuscript is a flop and his own agent publically voicing his concern at every opportunity, does Annie have any hope of turning this around?

Or is Annie’s own story destined to come to a tragic end…?

Set in the cut throat world of publishing, Cutting Words is a heartfelt tale about never giving up on your dreams.


My thoughts on the novel: Have you ever wondered what it is really like working in a publishing house? Having the opportunity to read and edit masterpieces while helping to bring new talents into the limelight sounds like a dream job for any booklover! Well, the reality may be quite different and Cutting Words gives an interesting take on this business where it’s not always about the arts.

Best-selling author James Raymond embodies the “villain”. The success of his previous book clearly went to his head and he’s coming across as rude and full of himself. His total lack of respect for people like assistant editor Annie is appalling. He believes his work is so good that it’s disrespectful to him to let it be reviewed by a mere assistant editor. After all, it can only require a few punctuation tweaks… at best ! So, how would a newbie like Annie know any better and dare to add a cascade of colourful tags everywhere there’s an issue? From reworking the structure to making sure that the timeline and the twists are taking place at the right time and in a credible manner, Annie spent a tremendous amount of time and energy dissecting the novel.

These initial chapters really managed to describe how editing really happens. I thought it was a major highlight of the novel, giving the reader a new perspective on the art of “making” books worthy of being published.

The confrontation scene was very vivid and heartbreaking because of Raymond’s condescending attitude. You end up feeling really bad for Annie because you’ve just read about how much work and dedication it took her to review a really poorly written novel. The impact of this key scene will last till the very last chapter where both characters are finally reunited. Will they bury the hatchet? Will Annie get back her self-confidence?

You could think that James’ narcissistic attitude is too pronounced at times, but somehow, the author makes it credible, even offering an interesting ending showing that James’ personality isn’t so black and white. His psychological profile is well written, especially in the final chapters where the readers finally understands why he behaves the way he does.

I was simply annoyed by a formatting issue with the Kindle version. Throughout the novel, a lot of words were glued together, which was quite irritating.

Cutting Words is a pleasant, entertaining novel that will give the reader a new appreciation of the important role of editors and their “professional” eye. But, it’s also quite eye-opening regarding the politics and arrangments happening in the cruel, harsh little world of publishing. Who knew?

My score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Interview with author Darcie Boleyn

Last weekend, I finished reading A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn, a great holiday novel I reviewed here. Darcie Boleyn kindly answered a few questions. Hope you’ll enjoy learning more about her!


Thanks for agreeing to this interview. First off, can you tell us more about yourself? How did you become an author?

D.B: I’ve always written, and as a child I used to enter short story and poetry competitions. This continued when I went to university but then, as life became busier, writing took a back seat. I nursed the dream to write for years when my children were young, and I tried to write a novel but spent far too much time procrastinating, which meant that it didn’t get finished. A few years ago, my husband encouraged me to really try again, and following a few false starts, I finally had that amazing acceptance email. Since then, I haven’t stopped!

Your latest novel A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is a festive, enchanting read whose main character, Lucie, has a very dark, heartbreaking past. Where did you find the inspiration to write such a poignant story that manages to combine both light and deep content?

Thank you so much! I try to combine comedy with reality in my writing. I want to create moments where readers laugh out loud but also ones where they feel other emotions, as, after all, life is a mixture of good and bad times. I also aim to give my characters motivation for their behaviour and decisions, whether linked to positive or negative experiences. I begin with an outline and character profiles, but as I write, these take off in all directions and the characters tell me things about themselves; it’s very exciting. Lucie was actually hiding her darkest secret from me, until I reached the point where she reveals it. I had an idea of what it was but when she actually spoke about it, even I was surprised.

What do you love the most about storytelling?

Creating new characters and watching as their lives unfold. It’s a very enjoyable process and the way I described it recently to my husband was like entering a dark corridor where the lights come on automatically, one at a time, as I move forwards. I don’t always know exactly what’s at the end, or even the next step, but as one light comes on, I can see more of the way ahead and this keeps going until I reach the end.

What do you find hardest in the writing process?

The fact that I have a day job too. There are days when I long to just stay home and write but I can’t and this definitely slows me down. Also, when you write, you’re putting yourself out there, and if you’re gentle and a softy like me, you do have to try to toughen up when it comes to some of the more critical reviews.

Can you describe your typical writing day?

I write whenever and wherever I can, although my most productive time seems to be early morning straight after breakfast. I make a cup of tea or coffee, read over my notes and the previous scene, visualize the scene I’m about to write, then off I go!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers willing to write a good Christmas story?

All stories are different and depend upon the author’s own views of Christmas and own experiences. For me, a Christmas story should include some traditional Christmas themes and activities but also create that all important festive setting. Elements such as the weather and music can all help to pull the reader into your novel, so really appeal to the five senses. In a more general sense, I would encourage aspiring authors to keep trying. The success of the ebook industry means that there are more opportunities to become a published author than in the past. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, you just have to sit down and write. You can edit later, but you have to get the words down on the page first.

Are you currently working on a new novel? If yes, can you tell us more about it?

I’m working on a summer novel right now and it’s set in beautiful Italy. I don’t want to say too much at this point because it’s early days, but I hope to have some very good news to reveal in coming months.

Thank you so much for hosting me at your lovely blog! Have a fabulous Christmas!

Love, Darcie XXX


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darcie Photo copy 2Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Connect with Darcie online:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/darcieboleyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/DarcieBoleyn

Blog: https://darcieboleyn.wordpress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darcieboleynauthor

 

You can purchase her books here:

CANELO: http://www.canelo.co/books/very-merry-manhattan-christmas/

AMAZON: http://lrd.to/A-Very-Merry-Manhattan-Christmas

manhattan-christmas-out-now-alternate

Warm your heart with this perfectly festive romance…

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas – Book Spotlight

In my writing, themes such as the importance of family and friends and the modern family unit often emerge. I’m a hopeless romantic; I believe in true love, and that it’s worth fighting for. I also adore Christmas and hope to spend it in New York one year. I went out to Manhattan in late October 2009 and my husband proposed to me in Times Square, so New York has a special place in my heart.

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas is about two friends, Lucie and Dale, who’ve always been there for each other. This year, Lucie has been asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Christmas wedding in New York. She asks Dale to go with her because they do everything together and because she can’t imagine going without him.

I wrote the story in the summer, as often happens with Christmas books. My family find the whole process quite amusing, as while the sun is shining outside the window (on those days when we get sunshine, of course) and others are jetting off on exotic holidays, I’m hidden away in my study humming along to Christmas tunes and yearning for a mince pie.

My inspiration for the story started as a seed of an idea that bloomed into a novel. I love festive stories, especially A Christmas Carol, and one day I started thinking about a character who might, in some ways, be a modern female version of Ebenezer Scrooge – but not as miserable or miserly. I thought, what if there were a few ghosts of Christmas past haunting her; a few events that she couldn’t quite get over? Then I added a very positive spirit of Christmas present – to help her learn to love the festive season – in the hunky form of Dale.

But will he be the spirit of Christmas future?

You’ll have to read A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas to find out!