Another good month for reading and listening this month, with a change of methodology for selecting my reads. Last month I decided to go with the ‘6 Degrees of Separation’ approach ie reading books linked by author, title words, concept, format, etc. That worked to some extent but the flaw in that approach means I still need to think too much about what I’m going to read next – the very thing I’m trying to avoid. Plus, without reading a book, I don’t always know what it’s about to make a connective link. So, this month I tried a more simplistic approach – colour. I decided to read the rainbow so this month started with red. I’ve also incorporated what in our house is also known as ‘Repair Shop’ red, which to my eyes is very much more a shade of pink (Dom would disagree).
As for my listening, you’d be mistaken for thinking my reads have been based on muscle appeal! Now I’m not exactly complaining, but to be honest I haven’t a clue half the time which author I’m listening too as a naked torso seems to be the go to option for many US romances. My OH is convinced I’m reading/listening to soft porn (not helped by the fact he uses my tablet and Amazon is constantly recommending more of the same). Admittedly some stories are spicier than others, but the covers really don’t do the contents justice some times. I feel a blog post simmering on the topic of covers so watch this space.
Probably not necessary to point out that the focus was still very much on romance (with a side order of spice in some cases). I have a feeling that next month will be more of the same unless my ‘orange’ books take me elsewhere!
Books I Read This Month
(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)
The Start of Something by Miranda Dickinson
Two lonely people.
One note in the window.
And what happens when they reach out…
Lachlan Wallace is stuck at home after a car accident stalled his army career. With months of physiotherapy still to endure and only his rescue dog and cat for company, he’s taken to gazing out of the window, watching the world spin on without him. And then he notices a vase of flowers on the windowsill of the apartment opposite his. Drawn to their hope and colour, he decides to reach out and sticks a message in his window…
Bethan Gwynne is a stranger in a new town. Bringing up her son Noah by herself, she is slowly rebuilding her life, but loneliness is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of her neighbour in the apartment across from hers – and then, one evening, she sees a message in his window just for her:
WHAT ARE THOSE FLOWERS CALLED?
And so begins a love story of two people reaching out, daring to trust a stranger…
Rescue Me by Sarra Manning
Margot doesn’t have time for love.
Will is afraid to love.
And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.
After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.
Can they put their differences aside to become successful “co-pawrents” and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?
Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks
EMILY JUST WANTS TO KEEP THE WORLD AWAY.
After getting into trouble yet again, she’s agreed to attend anger management classes. But she refuses to share her deepest secrets with a room full of strangers.
JAKE JUST WANTS TO KEEP HIS FAMILY TOGETHER.
He’ll do anything to save his marriage and bond with his six-year-old son, Alfie. But when he’s paired with spiky Emily, he wonders whether opening up will do more harm than good.
The two of them couldn’t be more different. Yet when Alfie, who never likes strangers, meets Emily, something extraordinary happens.
COULD ONE SMALL BOY CHANGE EVERYTHING?
The Book of Love by Fionnuala Kearney
A gorgeously romantic novel you will fall in love with and tell all your friends about!
One love. Two people. Twenty Years.
From the moment their eyes met across the room at a house party, Erin and Dom were meant to be.
If only it could be so simple. Over the years, the highs and lows of life conspire to keep them apart.
But a notebook can bring them together. On the blank pages of their love story, they write down everything they can’t always say – the secrets, the hopes and the love.
Falling in love is easy but staying in love is where the story begins…
Love & Other Mushy Stuff by Lyndsey Gallagher
I need a man. Not in my bed, but for my radio show. I’m an eternally single agony aunt responsible for dishing out romantic advice to the nation. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. I desperately need to up my ratings. What better way than to employ one of the country’s hottest rugby players to offer his take on love and other mushy stuff to the frenzied females of the nation?
Callum Connolly is the classic example of male perfection. He’s everything I need for my show and everything I don’t need in my life…
I’m not looking for the one, merely for the next one. That is, until my teammates bet I can’t keep the same woman long enough to bring to my best friend’s wedding. How hard can it be to date the same woman for three months?
When I bump into a beautiful DJ in a hotel spa, we strike an unlikely but alluring deal. I’ll feature on her show and help up her ratings, if she fake dates me until after the wedding.
I don’t bank on falling for her, especially when nailing her proves harder than nailing the most elusive touchdown ever…
Will she pass by me?
Or can I persuade her to finally take her own advice?
Anything Could Happen by Lucy Diamond
Your big secret is out. What next?
For Lara and her daughter Eliza, it has always been just the two of them. But when Eliza turns eighteen and wants to connect with her father, Lara is forced to admit a secret that she has been keeping from her daughter her whole life.
Eliza needs answers – and so does Lara. Their journey to the truth will take them on a road trip across England and eventually to New York, where it all began. Dreams might have been broken and opportunities missed, but there are still surprises in store…
The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn
One small act can make a big difference
Violet Strong is strong by name but not by nature, or so she thinks. She listens but never talks about herself. She’s friendly but doesn’t have many real friends. She’s become good at keeping people at a distance ever since she left home at eighteen and never looked back.
But when Violet is forced to return home to care for her estranged mother, Glenys, she quickly finds out that life as a carer isn’t easy. Feeling overwhelmed, she’s forced to turn to the other local carers, including childhood friend, Adam, for help.
Although returning home still feels like a mistake, maybe it will help Violet right some wrongs. After all, she can’t keep running from her past forever, and in learning to look after others, perhaps Violet can start to finally love herself…
Twelve Labours of Love by Laura Stewart
What would you do for love? Three people find out in this delightful contemporary romantic comedy . . .
Three friends come together in the hope of finding love.
Caz is determined to find The One and, keen to speed up the process, believes in “asking the universe” for help in matters of the heart. Her friends Mallory and Olly think it’s a lot of nonsense.
When Mallory accepts a job designing the interior of a new Greek restaurant, she is horrified to learn that she accidentally handed in a CV that she wrote as a self-help exercise. It’s filled with skills and accomplishments she’d like to have . . . but doesn’t. So when co-owner Alex, the sexy son of a millionaire, asks for her help preparing a gourmet meal, she has no choice but to start trying to live up to her fictitious résumé. Even if she can’t cook!
Meanwhile, Caz and Olly have their own to-do lists—and Olly’s includes either telling Mallory that he is her One or learning how to move on from his unrequited love.
Caz is certain that the gods move in mysterious ways, and romance is just around the corner. Although it may lie in the most unexpected places . . .
The Love Experiment by Kitty Wilson
He can’t date, she doesn’t date…but what happens when they fall in love?
A heartfelt romance that isn’t afraid to tackle serious issues for fans of Ali Hazelwood, Colleen Hoover and all the best ‘Tiktok made me buy it books’!
Dr Lily Galbraith solves her city’s love problems with wisdom and wit every week on her widely popular Love Doctor podcast, but her own approach to romance centres on one goal: staying single. So when a meet-cute in the sauna brings gorgeous Jay Hooper into her life she knows she needs to run the other way.
Having just agreed to a bet with his sister that he’ll stop dating and searching for ‘Mrs Right’ for at least six months, Jay tries to ignore the attraction he feels for Lily, which is only intensified when they find themselves working together.
He can’t date, and she doesn’t date…but then again, rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?
Stranger Than Fiction by Piper Sheldon
Rule number one of former child stardom – never Google yourself in the midst of a pity party because you’ll inevitably do something stupid. Case in point, me falling for a writer on a different continent who has no idea that I’m the star of her fictional fantasies.
I can’t stop thinking about Kate Dubois even as we talk every day. I should have told her the truth of who I was before things got this far. In my defense, celebrity comes with a lot of baggage and it is nice to be seen (figuratively) for who I really am.
Now, I have a chance to actually meet her in person and there’s no way I can pass that up.
Just one harmless look at the woman who has changed my life and I can go back to hiding in English countryside obscurity.
What’s the worst that could happen?
The 24 Hour Dating Agency by Mary Jayne Baker
Tinder, Hinge, Bumble – thirtysomething journalist Saffie has tried them all. Now she’s wondering whether it’s time to throw in the towel and give up on love for good – and she’s not alone…
Saffie’s boss Tamara has been single since her divorce four years ago, but at forty-five, running her own magazine and with three kids at home, she doesn’t feel she has the time, energy or confidence to go through the dating mill again. Meanwhile, Saffie’s best friend Milo has just been dumped – again. A hopeless romantic with terrible taste in men, this is his fourth break-up in six months. There must be a secret to finding Mr Right, surely – but what?
Step forward The 24-hour Dating Agency, a matchmaking service with a difference. Instead of wasting months on casual dates, they promise to send you on an intense twenty-four-hour date with your perfect match – like speed-dating but in reverse. And even better, the agency offers a soulmate guarantee: meet The One or your money back.
Figuring they have nothing to lose, the three friends sign up. But when their matches turn out to be not what they were expecting, it seems like even the soulmate guarantee can’t find them what they’re looking for. Or can it?
Books I Listened to This Month
The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan
The rules: No kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all…. No falling in love.
Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy, right?
Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule….
Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: She’s shut him down. Completely.
That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It’s a good thing Drew knows all about winning.
Single Dad Seeks Juliet by Max Monroe
Dear Internet: I (33F) work at a local paper, and two months ago, my editor assigned me a huge project – run the upcoming, highly anticipated Bachelor Anonymous contest.
Men from all over Southern California, vying for the coveted bachelor role, submitted their personal ads to my paper. The readers voted, and Single Dad Seeks Juliet won by a landslide.
Enter Mr. Bachelor Anonymous (40M), the single-dad Romeo seeking his Juliet. Blah, blah, blah, right? Wrong.
This guy is the ultimate man in a six-foot-three, chiseled-muscle, freaking Adonis package with aquamarine eyes. He’s a former Navy SEAL, successful business owner, motocross-riding, charming, supportive, funny-as-heck single dad, and the more time I spend with him, the more I want to bring this contest thing crumbling to the ground for an entirely different reason.
Real talk: I think I’m falling for him.
Me, the woman who despises love, might be falling for the completely off-limits bachelor who I’m ironically assigned to help find love, while five other women think they’re the only contestants competing for his heart. So, Internet. Am I scum? Or is all fair in love and war?
Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Fall in love with Vermont in this USA Today bestselling series.
The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.
At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.
Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.
They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.
Steadfast by Sarina Bowen
She’s the only one who ever loved him – and the only one he can never have.
Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there is no way he can ever right that wrong. He would forever steer clear of Colebury, Vermont, if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.
Sophie Haines is stunned by his reappearance. After a three-year absence, the man who killed her brother and broke her heart is suddenly everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he has changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he would never volunteer in the church kitchen.
No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s father, the police chief. But it’s a small town – and forbidden love is a law unto itself.
UnZipped by Lauren Blakely
Picture this – I’m ready to win back the love of my life, and I’m going big this time. We’re talking boom box, sing her name in the rain, let the whole damn neighborhood know I’m good and ready this time around. After all, if you’re going to grand gesture the ever-loving hell out of a second chance, you need to pull out all the stops.
There’s only one little problem.
My college girlfriend isn’t the one who shows up when I play my “I’ll do anything to win you back” tune.
The woman who flings open the second-floor window tells me my ex doesn’t live here anymore. But she’ll help me win her back. Anything for romance, anything for a guy so willing to go big for love. And that’s what I want at first. Until I get to know my new “romance coach” and discover she’s funny, clever, and keeps me on my toes. And boy, do I ever need that.
Now I don’t want to win anyone else’s heart. I want the woman who’s been helping me all along.
Trouble is – she thinks I’m in love with someone else, and when we take off on a road trip, everything I think I know about women is about to be unzipped and turned inside out.
Consumed by You by Lauren Blakely
Dog trainer Cara Bailey wants to find “the one,” but fantasizing about her sexy-as-hell client, firefighter Travis Jansen, is getting in the way. Her only option? Get the confirmed bachelor out of her system-in every position possible-so she can settle down with Mr. Right. Starting right now.
Travis doesn’t do relationships, so no matter how badly he wants the pretty little brunette, he keeps his distance. Until Cara goes and changes the game. She’ll fulfill all of his fantasies if he agrees to walk away when it’s over. But when the wildfire between them blazes out of control, it will consume everything-and everyone-in its path…
Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
A British accent is my weakness…
Good thing I can avoid that kind of temptation in my new job in Paris. And when my company hooks me up with my own personal translator, I should be on the fast track for success. Except, he’s charming, witty, and, oh yeah, he just so happens to be British, which means everything he says melts me.
Don’t mix business with pleasure. I do my best to resist him as he brings the city to life for me. Soon, I can navigate the streets, discuss perfume with my co-workers, and barter at the outdoor market. But I also learn how to tell the sexy man by my side how much I want him to kiss me under the streetlamps.
Except there’s a catch — I can’t have him.
Seat Mate by Cara Bastone
I have exactly 5 hours and 10 minutes to get from Boston to New York City or the professional opportunity of a lifetime disappears. My only travel option? The second to last seat on a discount bus. Across from the bathroom. Wearing last night’s clothes (don’t ask). All worth it if I can make it in time.
My nerves almost get the best of me, but then there he is, sitting down in the seat next to me. Tall. Friendly smile. Bright indigo streak in his brown hair. The perfect distraction. Turns out he’s on his way to reconnect with an old flame. The one who got away. We can both make it on time – just barely – if the traffic keeps flowing.
Playing road-trip games, avoiding calls from his mother, and effortless conversation keeps us from clockwatching…until the bus breaks down. And my seatmate turns into my copilot as we wrangle a ride in a car three decades old. And hit all the traffic. And oh, Lord, the detours. And somehow I end up careening cross-town on the handlebars of a Citi Bike carrying a box of kittens. (Yeah, don’t ask.)
He’s my hero every step of the way…and I might be falling for him. But what happens when we reach our final destination? Could my seatmate really be my soul mate?
That’s me for this month so all that’s left to say is : Happy Reading!
I hope you do a post about book covers Jill, as those torso do nothing at all for me! 😂 xx
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I’m definitely thinking about it, might have to do a bit more research first 😂 xx
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Nicki has a great idea Jill. It would be um exciting to see them, lol! Happy Thursday 🙂
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I’ll make sure there a few illustrations in for you Jody 😂 xx
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I often steer away from books with those torsos on the cover, but they are nice to look at. I don’t like too steamy, but sometimes I don’t realize it is there and I am enjoying the story, so I continue. A post about covers would be very interesting and get a lot of comments I’m sure.
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I’m thinking of how to approach it, as right now you sort of know what you’re getting with these covers but the introduction of ‘discreet’ covers and cartoony covers will muddy the waters between the closed and open door approach.
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It sure does. That is how I stumble into some open door romance.
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Oh Mercy! Yeah, soon as I see the torso, I flip to another page. Not that I don’t appreciate the view, but know that’s not a genre I’m likely to read.
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I can understand that, I used to be the same.