Violet Howe

Diary of a Single Wedding Planner [Violet Howe]

25765182Wedding planner Tyler Warren left heartbreak behind when she ran away from her small Southern hometown and started a new life in a big city. Years later, she wants to believe in the fairy-tale endings her job promotes, but the clients she meets day after day seem to be more “Crazily Ever After” than “Happily Ever After.”

Meanwhile, her own attempts at romance play out as bizarre comedies rather than love stories, and she’s starting to think Prince Charming either fell off his horse or got eaten by a dragon. When unresolved issues from Tyler’s past complicate things even further, she discovers she may yet have some things to figure out before she can find her own happy ending.

My thoughts on the novel: When I picked up the book, I was attracted to the girly cover and the light subject matter which made me think of countless Hollywood movies about Bridezillas. I thought I would get a funny, witty, entertaining rom-com. In the end, I felt mostly frustrated and bored. Poor Tyler has to deal with brides and grooms who seem to be blatant clichés of the worst-case scenarios for any wedding planners (except for one or two exceptions). On the personal front, Tyler doesn’t fare better with a smothering, borderline hysterical mother who just never seems to stop ranting about how inconsiderate her daughter is. On top of that, Tyler finds herself dealing with her ex-boyfriend/love of her life (Dwayne) who is back in her life completely out of the blue, five years after cowardly dumping her to marry another one — almost right after their breakup, basically. A betrayal of great magnitude. I mean, there were just too many major caricatures to be a credible narrative.

BUT, not all the characters are caricatural. I must admit that Ty’s best-friend Cabe is an interesting protagonist with a credible personality. So, not all was bad.

The book is less than 300 pages and it felt like it took me forever to finish it. I just couldn’t believe what I was reading, especially the way Tyler deals with the pathetic ghost of boyfriend past. It was so frustrating to see her get sucked into a toxic relationship and actually allocate precious time to a guy who broke her heart in one of the cruellest ways. The author tries to sugar-coat in a “I-have-to-get-a-proper-closure” kind of way, but to me, it was just plain clichéd and hard to believe, especially the way Dwayne addresses Tyler: he sounds oh-so-very pathetic almost the entire time. I couldn’t understand why Tyler would put up with that; “for old time’s sake” has its limits.

Maybe the subject of wedding planners and bridezillas has just been receiving too much coverage in books and films, and now it all seems like déjà-vu?! Who knows, maybe. What I know is that I really hoped to have a good time enjoying a light story, but I ended up hating the way Tyler navigated the curveballs fate threw at her. She rarely could catch a break. Even the dates she goes on are mind-boggling (in a negative way).

To be fair, the final chapters were more to my liking. Tyler finally gets to tell Dwayne how she really feels and she gets her happy ending after all. Although it was predictable, it was nice to end on a positive note after everything else.

I’ll conclude by saying that even though the book definitely didn’t appeal to me for a wide variety of reasons, it seems that it gets some very good reviews. So, don’t just take my word for it, by all means.

Like the author mentions at the very end, there is no such thing as bad publicity. 😊

My score: ♥ (= Quite so-so)

Victoria Cooke

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: ♥ ♥ ♥

Katie Fforde

Candlelight at Christmas [Katie Fforde]

Fenella and Rupert are organising the perfect Christmas, surrounded by their friends in their beautiful Somerby house.
Until Fenella gets a phone call from her ghastly parents-in-law asking if they can join them for the holiday. Fenella couldn’t possibly refuse and besides, it could be worse.
But when they arrive and the house is suddenly plunged in darkness thanks to a power cut, Fenella knows she has her work cut out to keep everyone happy and pull off the perfect Christmas feast.

My thoughts on the novel:
Published by Cornerstone and written by Katie Fforde, Candlelight at Christmas is a lovely, family-oriented Christmas tale that should be read while being comfortably tucked in by a fireplace, holding a warm cocoa. The major gathering at Fenella and Rupert’s is hectic and sometimes made me think of the early scenes from Home Alone when the whole family is gathered under the McCallisters’ roof.
With many kids around and even an unexpected French guest for an exotic touch, the Christmas dinner doesn’t unfold without a few hiccups along the way. A power outage leads the hosting couple to invite their neighbours over because their cottage relies solely on electricity. It wouldn’t be in the Christmas spirit to let a family go cold and without a proper Christmas dinner, that’s for sure. To wrap this all up, Fenella may have a wonderful piece of news to break to everyone, and nanny Meggie isn’t immune to Etienne’s charm, the French guest with a family who lives in a castle across the sea, no less!
With a turkey cooked on a barbeque and a possible Cupid’s arrow moment, the book is fun and festive, a bit predictable but still enjoyable.
Score: ♥ ♥

Caroline Roberts

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: ♥ ♥ ♥

Nic Tatano

The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift [Nic Tatano]

The night her house catches fire, kick-ass lawyer Tish McKenna’s neatly ordered life is thrown into chaos. At least she’s alive—thanks to her adorable cat, Socks!—and after her near-death experience Tish realises she wants more in her life than late nights and case files…

Professionally speaking, hot-shot attorney, Spencer Capshaw hadn’t realised how far off track he’d come. Sure, he had his reasons originally—saving his dad’s life required more money than the DA’s office paid him—yet helping corrupt corporate bigwigs was not why he became a lawyer…

With a little help from a furry friend, these two lost souls find each other in the heart of Manhattan. But when Tish and Spence are pitted against each other in a trial that pushes them both to their limits, can their budding relationship survive?

My thoughts on the novel: If you’re looking for a lovely, warm and festive rom-com, look no further. This novel is a combination of Ally McBeal and a typical Meg Ryan movie, all wrapped up with a magical touch of holiday cheer. What’s not to love?

Tish and Spencer are two charming characters with strong personalities. They’re brought together thanks to Benny, a very endearing secondary character, and also through the unexpected help of Tish’s cat. But, when the reader learns the pair already crossed paths years ago, you only want to keep turning the pages to find out whether the stars will finally align perfectly for them.

It’s particularly refreshing reading about Spencer’s frame of mind. He’s an astonishingly romantic male character. The way he depicts his relationship goals in life is utterly sweet. Any romantic soul indulging in this novel will really enjoy this part of the book.

As far as the narration goes, it flows really well with a series of vivid, well-paced twists, all set in wonderful, magical New York.

The author instills a good amount of humour in serious scenes like the court hearings where the female judge is worth mentioning. It’s an amusing character in all its seriousness. I really enjoyed the dynamic created between the two attorneys and the judge. I couldn’t help but think of episodes from Ally McBeal.

I highly recommend this novel. It will easily appeal to those who love a fun, heartwarming love story with a happy ending.

Score : ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Alexandra Potter

Love from Paris [Alexandra Potter]

Comme souvent avec les livres « rom-com » (comédie romantique), la couverture joue un rôle essentiel dans le choix final. Il faut que ce soit festif, coloré, fleuri… bref quelque chose de très fifille. Alors, entre les roses, la tour Eiffel et la promesse d’une histoire d’amour, inutile de vous dire qu’on ne tarde pas longtemps à se plonger dans cette histoire rose bonbon. (NB : livre disponible en anglais)

L’histoire : Terminal de Heathrow — Ruby Miller attend impatiemment son petit-ami Jack qu’elle n’a pas vu depuis longtemps. Mais elle voit tous ses plans romantiques tomber à l’eau lorsqu’elle réalise qu’il lui a fait faux bond à cause de son travail. Parti pour la Colombie où les liaisons téléphoniques semblent quasi inexistantes, Ruby rumine et fulmine, persuadée que sa relation longue distance ne tient plus qu’à un fil.

Par chance, son amie Harriett, l’invite à passer quelques jours chez elle à Paris. Ruby saisit l’occasion et saute dans le premier Eurostar direction la Ville Lumière où elle pense avoir l’occasion d’oublier ses peines de cœur. À la faveur d’une visite immobilière en compagnie de Harriett, experte en objets antiques, Ruby découvre un mystérieux appartement où rien ne semble avoir bougé depuis la Seconde guerre mondiale. Le mystère s’épaissit lorsqu’elle trouve un petit paquet de lettres d’amour passionnées et émouvantes dans la chambre aux allures de musée. Qui est l’auteur de ces lettres ? Qu’est-il advenu de cette histoire d’amour ? Pourquoi cet appartement est-il resté intact depuis toutes ces années ? Ses recherches mènent Ruby jusqu’en Provence en compagnie de Xavier, charmant avocat parisien chargé de régler les questions de succession avec la famille éloignée de la mystérieuse propriétaire qui avait fui Paris pour s’installer dans le sud de la France en raison de la guerre et des pressions familiales. Ruby se découvre une âme de détective et se démène pour lever le voile sur un secret vieux de soixante-dix ans.

Ce que j’en ai pensé : Cette histoire mêle habilement romance, intrigue familiale et récit détective. Au fil des rencontres et des péripéties de Ruby, un personnage attachant, on découvre progressivement les pièces du puzzle, mais l’auteur parvient à conserver le mystère jusqu’au dénouement final, offrant même une surprise étonnante et attendrissante. On retrouve un ressort assez fréquent dans ce genre de roman : l’utilisation de lettres d’amour pour résoudre une énigme, mais ce mécanisme est utilisé de manière efficace et pertinente car il sert de portail vers une époque révolue où l’on exprimait ses sentiments sur papier avec un raffinement indéniable. Ce lien avec le passé est manié avec intelligence et véhicule beaucoup d’émotion, au point même de vous tirer quelques larmichettes à la fin.

Mention particulière pour la dernière partie du roman particulièrement bien écrite et poignante à bien des égards.

Ruby parviendra-t-elle à faire toute la lumière sur cette mystérieuse histoire d’amour impossible entre une bourgeoise parisienne et un soldat américain ? Entre Xavier et Jack, quel homme gagnera le cœur de Ruby ?

Un récit romantique bien écrit, à la fois drôle et touchant, qui ne laissera pas indifférent.

Ma note : ♥ ♥ ♥