Love Like the Movies by Victoria Van Tiem

There is something so innocent and sweet about romantic movies. The world doesn't always make sense, but in a good romantic comedy, I'm guaranteed a happily ever after. 


Title - Love Like the Movies
Publisher - Pan Macmillan
Publication Date - February 24th 2014
Format - Paperback (Provided by publisher) 
Pages - 288

The blurb

Kenzie Shaw knows the plot of her life down to the last line - the career she's building as an up-and-coming marketing exec, the gorgeous fiancé (Bradley) she'll marry in a fairytale wedding, the children they'll raise in her dream home. But when heart-breaking ex Shane comes back into her life, life starts going off script...

Shane tries to win Kenzi over by re-enacting all the rom-com movies they used to watch together - Sleepless in Seattle, Bridget Jones's Diary, Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing to name a few. He's just a guy, standing in front of a girl, asking her to trust him again. But has he really changed? Not only is her head in a spin over Shane, but now her job is on the line. And with her perfect sister-in-law showing up every tiny thing Kenzi does wrong, she feels like she's permanently in the corner. 

Should she risk her sensible life for the chance of a Happy Ever After? One thing's certain, when Shane meets Kenzi (again), she's suddenly not so sure who her leading man is... 

Perfect for fans of From Notting Hill with Love... Actually and You Had Me at Hello. Grab some popcorn, hit the sofa and enjoy this feel-good and very funny novel. 

Becca's thoughts

Thank you to the fabulous publishers Pan for sending me a gorgeous copy of Love Like the Movies by Victoria Van Tiem in the post. I was overjoyed when I opened up the parcel and this slipped out. One look at that stunning cover and I just knew that I was going to bloody love it! So, thank you Pan, you spoil me rotten!

I LOVE rom-com movies. Absolutely love them. Pretty Woman is one of my all-time favourites, alongside Ten Things I Hate About You, You've Got Mail, and all those classic movies that as females we just can't get enough of. And so when I read the blurb of Victoria's novel, and spotted those films being mentioned, I was instantly interested. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the girl get the guy, or the marriage going ahead, or the two people who are complete opposites of each other finally falling in love. Those films make us swoon, and smile, and cry, because deep down, that's kinda' what we all want, isn't it? That perfect Happy Ever After? Well, let me introduce you to Kenzi Shaw...

Like us, Kenzi Shaw wants that perfect Happy Ever After. She adores rom-coms, and that all-consuming love that can completely take over a person. She's always said that she wants love, but it has to be "love like the movies." And who can blame her really? Love in the movies is just so incredible, am I right? Kenzi pretty much has a perfect life when Victoria introduces us to her. She's a marketing exec, making her way, rung by rung, up the career ladder, and her fiancé Bradley is a dishy catch, no less. It's fitting then, that Kenzi is soon to be married to the man of her dreams, right? Back at Kenzi's parents house are Kenzi's mum and dad, her brother, and his wife, who I really couldn't stand, Ren. I loved the bitchy tenseness between Kenzi and Ren, one of those typical sister-in-law battles that are sometimes found in rom-com movies. Point-scoring and Ren making Kenzi feel like nothing she does is good enough really ground my gears. I cannot stand people like that, and Victoria got Ren's character down to a tee in that department. So many times I wanted to drag Kenzi into my arms and squeeze, because from personal experience, I know it can be downright annoying. Rather than having her own engagement to celebrate Kenzi and Bradley's news, Kenzi's mum incorporates some good news of Ren's into the party too. Anything Kenzi can do, Ren can do it it better, and DAMN, it drove me insane! Overall, Kenzi's life makes sense for the time being. That is of course until one of her ex's pops up into the picture... 

Shane was a bit of a heartthrob, let's be honest ladies. I mean, a man who wants to re-enact all of the famous scenes with you, from these incredible movies is bound to get your heart and emotions all tangled up, isn't he? He's not just a heartthrob though; Shane and Kenzi have history, of the best kind. A love that she could never shake off. So now he's back, all those old feelings begin to bubble to the surface once more. One thing that I adored about Shane was how well he knew Kenzi. Although they had been apart for quite some time, it was like he knew her inside out. All of her likes and dislikes, and of course her favourite movies and the lines, that they once watched together, side by side. With a history so warm and unforgettable, Kenzi cannot stop herself from viewing the re-enacting of the movie scenes as something more than helping Shane's newest business venture. 

As well as the brilliant characters, the author Victoria created such a damn romantic story! I have to say, adding in all of my favourite scenes from Pretty Woman pretty much made Love Like the Movies an instant winner with me. It was just so clever and I believe that I was CONSTANTLY grinning and swooning and wishing I could be in Kenzi's shoes, especially during the shopping scene! ;) It was so BEAUTIFUL! I loved waiting for the different scenes to be acted out, and Shane's creativity just blew my mind. It made me feel all a-flutter and afterwards, I wanted to have a movie marathon and watch all of the films that were mentioned within the pages. Victoria, it was incredible.  

Love Like the Movies is certainly a feel-good read, or should I say a "feel-incredible" read. It had everything that a fabulous girly chick-lit should have; the romance, the dilemmas, the gorgeous male! If Victoria Van Tiem had the chance to make her book into a movie, I just know that it would be one of those films that I would watch over and over again. It had such a fantastic atmosphere about it, and Kenzi was incredibly easy to relate to. I feel like I've known her all my life! I couldn't wait to see how her ending played out, and whether it would be that much-desired Happy Ever After that she had dreamed of for so long...

Becca's Books is rating Love Like the Movies by Victoria Van Tiem with five delicious cupcakes! One of those books that you continue to love endlessly, long after saying goodbye. Unique and lovable, I'll be recommending this one to all of my romance and rom-com loving friends!


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Before the Fall by Juliet West

"When spring comes, I'll buy you violets."


Title - Before the Fall
Author - Juliet West
Publisher - Mantle (Pan Macmillan)
Publication Date - May 22nd 2014
Format - Hardback (Provided by publisher)

The blurb

Guilt laps at me like a rising tide, but I won't let it seep in. Wicked or not, I can't be sorry. How can I be sorry when I feel like this, as if my life has started up brand new, sharp and colourful, a swirl of terror and bliss...

1916. Across the channel, the Great War rages; in London's East End, with her husband away fighting, Hannah Loxwood struggles to hold everything together. But when Hannah takes a job in a cafe, she she discovers a glimpse of freedom away from her needy young children, her spiteful sister and desperately ill father. 

While the conflict drags on, Hannah battles with the overwhelming burden of 'duty'. She has sacrificed so much for a husband who left her behind, a husband who may never come home. Then, when she meets Daniel - thoughtful, intelligent, quietly captivating - Hannah finds herself faced with the most dangerous of temptations. 

As the war grips tighter and bombs fall down upon the streets, the stakes for the couple are raised even higher. Soon Hannah and Daniel will realise just how precarious their happiness is, as their destiny rushes towards them...

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a twist that will leave you breathless, Before The Fall, inspired by a true story, hurls you into a London torn apart by the First World War and paints a vivid and haunting portrait on one woman's struggle. 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, major thanks to the publishers for sending me a hardback copy of Before The Fall to review! There's nothing like the glossy feel of a book being held in your hands as you lose yourself to the hundreds of pages. So, thank you! 

Reading back through the blurb, now that I've finished the novel, makes me feel all tingly inside. Before The Fall has affected me in a way that only an epic story can achieve. By that I mean that I'm still sitting here, wondering about the characters and their lives. It was absolutely incredible, from the vivid unmistakable setting of dreary grey East End London, to the character of Hannah and the weight that she began to take upon her shoulders. Everything about this book moved me. Juliet West's writing is so powerful, so fierce, I just can't stop thinking about the intensity of emotion that overtook me as I filled myself up on the words that West offered. Her characters have invaded my head-space. It's all I have thought about since turning the last page, and I'm still thinking about it now. Every now and again, I like to dip into a historical novel. I love to imagine the settings from time ago and try to place myself with the characters in the stories. It had been a while since I'd chosen to read a historical work before beginning Before The Fall, and I was a little bit wary, due to the amount of chick-lit and romance that I had been reading previously! Turns out, Before The Fall was just what I needed to drag me from out of a nasty reading slump. Not only did Juliet West NAIL the settings of London during the war, but she managed to capture the atmosphere of the place, the frightened people, the bombs, the whispers in the streets. It was just OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! I could imagine myself walking down the street, alongside Hannah and her two children, the dust and smog clouding my view. Every scent, sound, every tiny little detail was picked up on, and it was like reading with a high definition mind. Never have I been transported back in time in the way that Juliet West achieved. Never have I walked the streets of East End London, with the worry of a bomb dropping right on top of me. When readers talk about escapism, Before The Fall provides that. I forgot about reality and took Hannah's problems as my own. I became part of her story. A person watching over her in the background, worrying and waiting. Juliet West has talent, I'm telling you. I would gladly re-read Before The Fall again and again and again, just to experience the thrill of it. Not only was it an incredible novel, but it was informative too. I truly realised what the women of London would have gone through whilst their husbands were off fighting in the war. Their problems, their thoughts, the letters sent to and fro. It was absolutely amazing. I just couldn't get enough of it. 

Juliet West chose to split Before The Fall into four main parts. She begins Hannah's story in 1916, and takes it all the way up to 1918. Between those two years, from beginning to end, Juliet West allows an air of mystery to overtake the reader. Within the pages, every now and again, there are documents included, statements from a police station. At first, these statements are quite vague, but as the novel progresses, the statements begin to make more sense to you, and you begin to put names to the characters that you meet as you read on. This was such a intriguing way to start off the novel. Instantly, my brain started ticking and I was desperate to know what the hell had gone on beforehand. And then, in that powerful way that only certain writers are able to achieve with such perfection, the story begins to unfold and you are enveloped within Hannah Loxwood's world. Another thing that I always enjoy when reading is letters. Sounds silly, doesn't it? I don't know what it is, but it always seems to make me feel more involved with the characters. You feel a little nosy, delving into the characters lives like this, in such a private way, but you just can't stop yourself from feeling that little thrill! Hannah's husband, George, is off fighting in the war, and the letters are sent back and forth between them. Juliet didn't forget to include the aspect of having letters in those days censored, and so for the most part, George and Hannah just didn't seem that intimate. The customary things are written, such as George being fine, and Hannah telling him that the children are doing well, but there's no passion, no love, and I just felt that the relationship between Hannah and George was a little too flat for my liking. I do wonder that if the censoring hadn't of been in place, whether the letters would have told a completely different story. But anyway, the whole aspect of the letter sending added to the authenticity of the time and I just adored it. With the police statements appearing now and again, and the letters, it made for one extra special read that had me feeling completely and utterly involved. 

The majority of Before The Fall was written from Hannah Loxwood's point of view, but there were smaller parts where Daniel put his part of the story across too. Hannah was a brilliant character and I instantly took a liking to her. From the get go I could just tell that she was a little worn down and rather annoyed with her husband George for charging off to war and leaving her with the children, to pick up the pieces after moving in with her sister Jen and Jen's creepy husband Alec. Squished up into a tiny home and feeling as if she had nowhere to turn, I was elated for Hannah when she went looking for a job and found one in a little cafe. Suddenly, she was unleashed from her tiny home and allowed to make a living for herself. It wasn't much but it was something, that's for sure. I felt like the world opened up for Hannah once she took that job, and I couldn't help but feel like that was the moment when things took a turn. Let's face it readers, if she had just stayed at home with the children like a good wife and mother, the story probably wouldn't have needed to carry on any further. Hannah was tired, in need of something to lift her up and make her feel alive again. 

Before Daniel and Hannah's worlds collide, we get to read into Daniel's past, what he's been through before strolling to the cafe where Hannah works. It was interesting, to see a character before they're introduced to the main character of the story itself, and such a wonderful technique that made me fall in love with reading all over again. We see Daniel from being a young lad, right up to being a fully grown man, and I imagined this tall, rugged, dark, handsome man with a mysterious but attractive edge that made you want to get into his head and see what was going on in there. At first, he didn't say much, but Juliet West gave the impression that the thoughts whirring around his head held a ton of meaning for Hannah and the novel itself. He was, without a doubt, a temptation that was too damn good to pass up. Even I could see that from my spot outside of the pages. Whilst Hannah's husband was away from home, Daniel was exciting. He was a spark, something new, and something completely different from what she was used to. Daniel was perfect. I was intrigued by him just as much as Hannah was. Don't get me wrong though, Hannah was constantly warring with herself about right and wrongs, about her place as a woman in society, about what was expected of her. It was an emotional battle and I felt worn out by it on Hannah's behalf. Her sister Jen, her mother, Jen's husband Alex; they were always lurking in the back of Hannah's mind. It drove me wild. But, again, adding to the authenticity of the time when the novel was set, it was believable and just so effective. 

As well as Hannah and Daniel, there's Hannah's sister Jen. Jen was a bit of weird one, and I wasn't quite sure on how to feel about her. Sometimes she seemed fine and almost likeable, and then other times I just couldn't stand the woman! Jen looked after the children and cooked a lot of the time, so for the most part of the novel she was kept out of the way, but her husband Alec really got on my nerves. As awful as it sounds, I was completely expecting him to force himself upon Hannah. Juliet gave him such a slimy, creepy persona, always watching and touching. I really wanted Hannah to turn around and slap the man upside the head, cos if she didn't then I would have! It was stupidly obvious that Alec had a "thing" for Hannah, but in my eyes, he just came across as a slimeball. And that was all. There's also Hannah's mother who ends up moving into Jen's house too, due to their father being taken into hospital. If the plot didn't seem dreary enough already, the sadness surrounding Hannah and her father definitely added to it! There was Hannah's best friend Dor, who was a crazy free spirit. She was funny and bright and smoked like a chimney, and I could see the differences between the two women straight off. I really took a liking to Dor, she was sassy and cute, and a brilliant best friend for Hannah to have. 

Before The Fall honestly had everything that an epic novel should have. There was drama, passion, bold and brilliant characters, and of course, love. Never before have I read a novel so incredibly moving and real. Juliet West has such a raw talent, and I still, to this very second, cannot get Hannah out of my head. In case you didn't notice in the blurb, there's also a twist added to Before The Fall, too. A twist that will blow your bloody mind! Everything enthralled me, entranced me, and I am going to miss Juliet's characters so damn much now that I have finished. I truly believe that this author is one to look out for. I've found escapism before, but not like this. Powerful, startling and passionate, Before the Fall by Juliet West will remain within my mind for a very, very long time. 

Becca's Books is rating Before The Fall by Juliet West with five gorgeous cupcakes. If I had a higher rating then I would be giving Before The Fall the highest rating in the world, but for now, five cupcakes will do just fine. It's still playing on repeat inside my head. I'm still wondering how I'm going to manage to begin reading another novel any time soon, and I still cannot believe the twist that Juliet West managed to create right before my very eyes. Incredible. ABSOLUTELY MIND-BLOWING. Even if you don't like historical novels, I'm going to recommend Before The Fall to you, because it's just one of "those". 


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Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons

Life doesn't always turn out how you expect.


Title - Not Quite Perfect
Author - Annie Lyons
Publisher - Carina UK
Publication Date - July 18th 2014
Format - Paperback 
Pages - 384

The blurb

Sometimes having it all isn't enough...

Emma has everything she's ever wanted. Her boyfriend's just proposed and her career has finally taken off. And so what if her latest client just happens to be downright gorgeous? She's getting married. Isn't she? 

Rachel's married with 2.4 children (well, actually, 3) and life is all about trying to leave the house in a non-stained top. Once it was about skinny cappuccinos, cocktails and dynamic ad agency meetings. She wants her old life back, but can it ever be the same? 

Becca's thoughts

I suppose it would be fitting if I were to say, "This novel was #NotQuitePerfect..." but if I were to say that then I would lying, because this novel was perfect in every sense of the word. Annie has created the most gorgeous 384 pages, full of family drama, two sister's with very different lives and a countless number of problems that crop up along the way, rocking Emma and Rachel's boats very firmly from side to side. It was chaotic, charming and incredibly moving. Most definitely one of my favourite reads of 2014, without a doubt.

Rachel and Emma are the leading ladies in Annie Lyon's Not Quite Perfect, and what a brilliant pair of women they are. Right from the get go, I loved the both of them, despite the very different lives that they so obviously led. Annie chose to split the narrative between the sisters, so you get to see a glimpse of life from both sides, which really highlighted the contrasts between them. 

Emma is the working girl with a job in a publishing house, whereas Rachel is a stay-at-home-mum with three children who she loves dearly but who drive her completely up the wall. Annie did a fantastic job of putting across Rachel's chaotic mornings and Emma's own personal dilemma that crops up within the story and it was just such a bloody pleasure to read. The women, both with their own problems, were just incredibly easy to love and understand, and at times I wanted to throw my arms around them and SQUEEZE! 

Annie really brings their lives to life within the novel. Every up, every down, and everything in-between. It felt like I was right there with them both, living through the tough times with them, as well as the good times. I felt, strangely, like I was involved in their decision making too, and I was shaking the book in frustration as well as clapping with glee. It was a roller-coaster of a read, and it made me want to gather my sisters around me and tell each one of them that I love them to pieces! 

Not Quite Perfect spoke right to my heart. Not only does the story focus on Rachel and Emma, but Annie involves their entire family too. It was warm, it was homely and it was just such a superbly put-together story, I would happily read it again and again and again! 

Annie, Becca's Books is giving your fabulous novel Not Quite Perfect a twinkling rating of five cupcakes! I loved everything about this book, EVERYTHING!!!


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HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY ANNIE LYONS!


In case you didn't know, today is publication day for the fabulous Annie Lyons and her absolutely gorgeous novel #NotQuitePerfect, which is out today in beautiful paperback! 


Firstly, I need to say a MAHOOSIVE thank you to the publishers for sending me my very own copy of Not Quite Perfect in the post, along with some adorable tea-bags and chocolate! What is more perfect than that, eh? ;)

As well as writing my review for Annie's novel, I have also been invited to be part of a brilliant blogging chain, which I was emailed about beforehand! I chose the absolutely lovely Jo from @Cometbabe to be the person I linked the chain too, just for the simple fact that she is one of the most BEAUTIFUL people I know, inside and out. She is always there a chat, she always reads my crazy chunks of writing that I send her way, and she is always ready to talk books with me. She has been such a brilliant addition to my blogging experience, and I value her so bloody much. So, my message to Jo (using the #NotQuitePerfectBut hashtag) was this...

"You're #NotQuitePerfectBut you're an amazing friend, who always supports me. There's no showy-offy layers to you! You're just you and I think you're incredible!" 

You can find the links to the fabulous Jo's blog and Twitter below ~ 

As well as the #NotQuitePerfectBut blogging chain, I have also read & reviewed Annie's gorgeous title Not Quite Perfect, and you can find my review here! 

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If you haven't heard the commotion about Not Quite Perfect then I have the (beautiful) cover and the blurb to tease you with, as well as the lovely Annie's bio and links!


The blurb

Sometimes having it all isn't enough... 

Emma has everything she's ever wanted. Her boyfriend's just proposed and her career has finally taken off. And so what if her latest client just happens to be downright gorgeous? She's getting married. Isn't she? 

Rachel's married with 2.4 children (well, actually, 3) and life is all about trying to leave the house in a non-stained top. Once it was about skinny cappuccinos, cocktails and dynamic ad agency meetings. She wants her old life back, but can it ever be the same? 

A sparkling, funny tale of two sisters and how often you don't know what you've got until it's gone. 

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Annie Lyons is the best-selling author of Not Quite Perfect (now available in paperback) and Not Quite Perfect Christmas (A Short Story). Her new novel Dear Lizzie is published by Carina and available as an eBook. 


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Lastly, a MASSIVE happy publication day to Annie Lyons. What a wonderful, gorgeous story, full of love and warmth and everything that a captivating novel should have! 

xxx












Season to Taste by Natalie Young

Always let the meat rest under foil for at least ten minutes before carving... 


Title - Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband
Author - Natalie Young
Publisher - Tinder Press
Publication Date - July 3rd 2014
Format - Paperback
Pages - 276
(Copy provided by Bookbridgr)

The blurb

Meet Lizzie Prain. Ordinary housewife. 
Likes cooking, avoids the neighbours. 
Runs a little business making cakes. 

No one has seen Lizzie's husband, Jacob, for a few days. That's because last Monday, on impulse, Lizzie caved in the back of his head with a spade. Now she needs to dispose of his body, and her method is not for the faint-hearted. 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, a massive thank you to Ben Willis from Bookbridgr for sending me a copy of Season to Taste in the post after I requested it. I'm going to take a moment to admit to the fact that when this book first caught my attention on Twitter, I wasn't quite sure whether people were being serious about it or not. I have never read a book about a woman eating her husband before, therefore I wasn't too sure whether it was actually based around that, or something else entirely. Apparently, that was exactly what Season to Taste was about and I'm not ashamed to admit that I was very interested to see what it was all about. 

I feel a little shaky about writing this review. I think that's mainly due to the fact that the subject of Season to Taste is a very strange, "forbidden" one, if you like. I was worried about people thinking that maybe I was a weirdo because I enjoyed reading the book, but afterwards I realised that was stupid. It's only fiction. I think that maybe a few people will be scared to admit that they enjoyed reading it, and there will also be people who just couldn't get past the first few pages, and I do not blame them at all. 

Throughout reading Season to Taste, I went through a roller-coaster of emotions. There was disbelief, shock, horror, disgust, fascination, bewilderment, the need to gag, the need to look away, the need to hurl the book at the wall because I just couldn't cope with what was happening. Time and time again I found myself wondering what on earth I was reading, and whether it made me a bad person because I was just so intrigued! It's definitely not the kind of book that falls into my typical genre. In fact, it's so far away from my typical genre I don't even know why I requested it, but I finished this book in a matter of hours, because it's just SO crazy and strange, and I was dying to see what happened in the end. 

When it says on the blurb, "... and her method is not for the faint-hearted" it is not lying to you. It is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. It is vile and detailed, yet Natalie Young writes with such a down-to-earth vibe that she makes it seem almost normal. Which it's NOT, obviously. It's insane. I'm looking back now and wondering how I managed to read it all so quickly, but it drags you in, and it's almost impossible to look away. She cooks him, readers. Bit by bit, Lizzie Prain cooks her husbands body. That's right. His hands. His legs. His elbows. And then she eats it. Forces part by rancid part into her mouth to dispose of the evidence. I completely lost my appetite. I had to keep swallowing because the saliva in my mouth had dried up to my mouth hanging open in horror. My stomach was turning. My eyes couldn't quite believe what the hell they were reading, and I still don't think I can fully believe it now, either. 

Within the plot itself, Lizzie writes little numbered notes about her progress. I got the feeling that these were mainly to herself, trying to keep herself sane, but then they also sounded like directions, as if Lizzie was directing any other housewife's out there just in case they too felt like cooking their husbands. As much as it was horrifying, there was definitely dark humor in here. It was clear Lizzie had lost her mind. She was an absolute freaking nut-case but she just seemed so SANE as she went about her business. It was absolutely CRAZY. As the plot progressed, Natalie provided little tidbits of information about Lizzie's and Jacob's marriage. Their life before. Their history. Readers, it just seemed so surreal. 

I hate to say it (but I kinda' don't) that this is book that I think you should read just for it's sheer gruesomeness. I don't know if there are already books like this out there, but this is the first one of it's kind that I have read and I know for a fact that it will stay with me for a very, very long time. It's shocking, disturbing, and completely outrageous, and I'm sure it will get a lot of mouths talking. 

Natalie Young, you've created something that I don't think I could forget. I'm definitely going to be telling people about Season to Taste, just to see the look of horror on their faces. I can guarantee that they won't believe me when I tell them what it's about. Five cupcakes from me. Without a doubt.


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The Beekeeper's Daughter by Santa Montefiore

The love she carried in her heart was as shiny as new and would remain so for as long as her memory clung onto its radiance.


Title - The Beekeeper's Daughter
Author - Santa Montefiore
Publisher - Simon and Schuster UK Fiction
Publication Date - July 17th 2014 
(First published April 1st 2014)
Format - Kindle Edition 

The blurb

England, 1932: Grace Hamblin is growing up in a rural idyll. The beekeeper's daughter, she knows her place and her future - that is until her father dies and leaves her alone. Alone, that is, except for one man who she just can't shake from her thoughts...

Massachusetts, 1973: Grace's daughter Trixie Valentine is in love with an unsuitable boy. He's wild and romantic, and in a band that might be going somewhere. But when tragedy strikes and he has to go home to England, he promises to come back to Trixie one day, if only she will wait for him. 

Both mother and daughter are searching for love and happiness, unaware of the secrets that bind them. To find what they are longing for they must confront the secrets of the past, and unravel the lies told long ago...

  Becca's thoughts

On a scale of one to five billion, how romantic was this novel? Five billion, without a doubt. Oh my goodness, book lovers, I finished The Beekeeper's Daughter by Santa Montefiore in the stupidly early hours of this morning, and I do not regret it one single bit, because it was absolutely incredible, and I freaking adored it. 

Firstly, a huge thank you to the author Santa Montefiore and her fabulous publishers Simon and Schuster UK. I requested this wonderful title on Net Galley, and I screamed when I received the email that told me I had been accepted. I was so bloody excited, and trust me when I say that this novel was worth that amount of excitement, and so much more, too.

In the Beekeeper's Daughter, Santa Montefiore introduces the reader to the present day, where Grace is a mother to her unruly teenage daughter Trixie, and married to Freddie, who she has known since she was a young girl. Straight away, there was an obvious hint of wistfulness about Grace and I was just dying to know what it was that Grace was remembering so much. As if reading my mind, the incredible author takes us back in time to Grace's teenage years, where she lives with her father Arthur in the Beekeeper's cottage back in England. I loved this transition and it was achieved effortlessly. The author's beautiful vivid descriptions of the cottage that Grace called home and the surrounding areas were just divine. I felt like I was right there with Grace, tending to the bees and running my fingers along the flower heads. From there on, Santa Montefiore unveils the breathtaking story of Grace, Freddie and Rufus, and the tangled web that takes hold of them all. I knew from the beginning that I was going to fall head over heels in love with this story, and boy was I right. It took hold of me and shook me up, and I loved each and every second that I spent with my head in this novel. 

Santa Montefiore told Grace's story in such a beautiful way, I couldn't help but sit there and stare at my Kindle in awe. It was incredible. Not only does the author bounce between the past and the present, but she also switches between narrative too, resulting in a tantalizing read and a peek from all corners. I must also add that the novel is split into three main parts, too! This constant switching only made Santa's storytelling efforts seem so much more incredible, and I LOVED seeing the differences between Grace's life in England with her father in the Beekeeper's cottage, and then her life in the present day with her daughter Trixie, her husband Freddie and the wistful longing that I was constantly picking up on. 

In The Beekeeper's Daughter, there were a number of major characters that Santa introduced to me. Even though the author switched the narrative between certain characters, I felt like Grace was the main character within this story. When Grace was first introduced to me, it was in the present day, and she entered the Crab Cove Golf Club with her good friend Big, and strolled past a bunch of gossiping, wealthy women. My first impressions of Grace were all made due to this sentence. 

"Grace Valentine looked as out of place in the clubhouse as a shire horse in a field of thoroughbreds."

Compared to the group of women that were gossiping about Grace's daughter just moments before Grace entered, she really stands out against the backdrop of their pink cashmere sweaters and perfectly styled hair-dos. Grace didn't fiddle around and try to make herself appear to be perfect. She had her hair loosely pinned up at the back of her neck, and was dressed in cotton trousers and a loose fitting shirt. I felt like Grace didn't give a damn about what the other women thought of her, or about what they thought of her daughter either. Grace was too wise to take any notice of them, I felt, kinda' like she was above that sort of tittle tattle. After Grace and her husband Freddie got up and left England, they moved to a small island called Tekanasset, where gossip was ripe. Grace's hands were rough from constant gardening and tending to bees, and she was just such a breath of fresh air comparing to the first encounter of the island gossips. Grace seemed to me rather like a wise woman; she had lived such a long life, as the story progressed, it also became apparent that she had lived through some harsh things too. I really admired her, and although the island gossips thought badly of her daughter, Grace didn't seem too bothered. It was as if she wanted her daughter to live and enjoy her youth, and it was so lovely because where Trixie was concerned, Grace was soft and just wanted her daughter to have a full and exciting life.

When it came to Trixie, Grace's daughter, I felt like she also held her mother in the highest respects too. Trixie had no idea of her mother's incredible past, and I found this brilliant because it made me want to sit down with my own mother and really dig deeper into her life before I came into the picture. I found Trixie to be a bit of a tearaway. If she had been told by either of her parents that she was grounded, she would climb out of the window and still go out anyway. When the novel really begins to take off, you find out that Trixie is in love with a young man called Jasper who has came over from England with his band. Trixie is absolutely besotted with him, but when tragedy strikes back home, Jasper has to pack up and return to the stately home that he came from. But before he leaves, Jasper makes a promise to Trixie, and he tells her to wait for him, because he'll come back for her. Trixie is heart-broken when he leaves, but little does she know that Jasper is intrinsically woven into her mother's past, and it's almost as if the cycle is happening once more, and Trixie is following the same path that her mother once trod. As the novel progresses, Trixie waits for Jasper to return, until finally, as her tears cascade down her face, she comes to the realisation that Jasper isn't going to return to her.

As well as Grace and Trixie, there is also Freddie, who Grace has known for almost all of her life. Grace and Freddie were friends as children back in England, and before Grace's father passed away, he told Grace that Freddie was the kind of man that he would like his daughter to marry. Before that point, Grace had never looked upon Freddie in that way, but when Freddie returns to the plot at one point, Grace blinks and suddenly Freddie is a man and no longer a boy. The chemistry between them was most definitely off the chart, and what made it seem even more beautiful was the fact that they had been such dear friends before their relationship got to that point. Freddie and Grace embark on a relationship together, but there has always been one person that Grace has never been able to rid from her mind. One man that she thought would become her's one day, but it never happened. From afar, Grace watches this man, and can't help but let the longing course through her veins. Grace loves Freddie, she truly does, but nothing can stop the longing that she feels whenever she catches a glimpse of Rufus, who resides in the big stately home with his stunning wife. 

There are so many incredible things that happen in this novel, it's hard for me to pinpoint them all in this review. What I can say though, is that this novel is one hell of a journey, and once I had finished, I felt like I could finally stop holding my breath. It was a rush of passion, grief, sadness, hope and most importantly, love. With so many wonderful characters and Grace and her daughter's lives intertwining, I couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like to actually live this amazing story out for myself. There was definitely a ton of heartache that had my tears threatening to escape, but then equally there were moments of passion that had me catching my breath. 

Readers, I would recommend this to you if you love it when authors cause the past and the present to collide, if you love hard-hitting powerful romances that make you bite your lip in frustration, if you love history and beautiful settings and scenery, if you love watching the worlds of separated societies come together because two people just can't help themselves...

I absolutely adored this novel. I truly did. I do hope you decide to give it a read and then you can see for yourselves just how damn beautiful this story really is. 

Becca's Books is rating The Beekeeper's Daughter by Santa Montefiore with FIVE cupcakes. Powerful, moving and absolutely beautiful, you won't want to return to reality. 


***



          




High Heels & Bicycle Wheels by Jane Linfoot

"The times when we're vulnerable can be when we learn most." 


Title - High Heels & Bicycle Wheels
Author - Jane Linfoot
Publisher - HarperCollins UK, HarperImpulse
Publication Date - July 17th 2014
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 306

The blurb

Meet Bryony: she's a fun-loving, very single TV production assistant whose idea of sport is the Jimmy Choo sales scrum. 

Meet Jackson: Cycling's bad boy superstar. Injured and out of a certain race this summer, without his training, he's looking for another distraction... 

Bryony's facing a double whammy - her last single friend just named the day, her mother's offering to have her eggs frozen, and the guy she's loved from afar, forever, has just got hitched. So she's more than happy to accept the offer of a totally out of character but seriously steamy one night of no-strings fun. Especially when the guy in question is so attractive he even looks good in Lycra!

Jackson's on the lookout for a new career but if the opportunity to work on TV means a fortnight with the most uptight woman in the world, he'd rather not bother. He never goes in for seconds - and who in their right mind would head off in a campervan, with a woman who irons her knickers? 

Add in a tandem (yes a tandem) and fast forward to double trouble for a summer neither of them will ever forget!

Becca's thoughts

High Heels & Bicycle Wheels by Jane Linfoot was so bloody steamy, I wouldn't have been surprised if my Kindle had started smoking.  

Huge thank you to the fabulous author Jane Linfoot, and of course, her publishers HarperImpulse for providing me with a copy of High Wheels & Bicycle Wheels via Net Galley. After reading The Right Side of Mr Wrong, I was completely smitten with Jane's writing style. Her fun, exciting characters, her hot and sexy love sessions and her exhilarating plots make for one fabulous read that you just can't stop enjoying!

In High Heels & Bicycle Wheels, Jane introduces us to Bryony Marshall and Jackson Gale, two incredible forces of nature managing to collide into each other at just the right moment. The entire plot is written in a third person narrative giving us a taste of what both Bryony and Jackson are thinking which I freaking loved. There's just something thrilling about getting into a guy's mind! 

Bryony Marshall was pure brilliance. I loved her right from the get-go. She was smart, determined, fierce, and a whirlwind of high wheels and precision. Bryony was a little bit of a control freak, which really got on Jackson's nerves, and she definitely didn't stand for any crap off anybody. After a heart-breaking past of losing two men in her life that she wasn't ready to lose, Bryony is completely against the idea of getting serious with any man. She doesn't do relationships, she doesn't get close enough for her emotions to become all tangled up and she definitely doesn't do rude, arrogant, cocky men who drive her to the brink of insanity, which basically just defined Jane's main male character, the deliciously confident Mr Jackson Gale. 

Urgh. Well, the first time you meet Mr Gale is when Bryony stumbles upon him stripping off and slipping into some tight, revealing Lycra. Jane captures Bryony's reaction perfectly. Bryony wants to look away, but she just can't... and I mean, who can blame her? Would YOU have been able to look away? 

"This guy was ripped enough to double as a super human - one hell of a toned back, broad shoulders bursting with muscles under that slippery Lycra top he was finally dragging on."

Yeah. No. I didn't think so. Jackson is the definition of frustrating. His cocky devilish arrogance is something that Bryony can't stand yet it's also everything that she loves. His smirk, the amusement that is almost always evident in his eyes, and that body? Jackson has ridden bikes all of his life and it's something that he loves. He loves to win, he loves to push his body to it's limits and he doesn't eat ice-cream. Ever. But after an accident that left his knee in dreadful condition, Jackson's biking fate is hanging in the balance, and he's not sure what he's going to do with himself if his biking career comes crashing to an end. He is driven, sure of himself and has the reputation of a dirty, filthy bad-boy. When it comes the ladies, Jackson has one rule.He never goes in for seconds. Ever. What would be the point? The whole marriage and children thing is definitely not for him and he doubts it ever will be. He doesn't want to be tied down to a needy woman who wants his attention 24/7. That is of course, until he clocks Bryony Marshall all wrapped up like a Christmas present in hot pink Lycra approaching him to take the place of the woman who would have been riding on the back of the tandem with him, if that woman hadn't been sent home sick. Jackson can't take his eyes off her, and Bryony finds herself in the exact same position, although she's not stupid enough to admit it. Being this close to him whilst they pedal together isn't what she had in my mind. In fact, what she had in mind was to stay as far away from this bad boy as possible. 

From the moment Bryony joins Jackson on the tandem, she knows she's in trouble. Jane forces her two main characters together, and then let's the magic between them unfold. There's passion, there's intense attraction and there's throwing caution to the wind and hoping and praying that when tomorrow comes around, any feelings between them will have disappeared and they can forget all about each other. Unfortunately for them, Jane had other plans.... ;)

Jane is absolutely incredible at creating passion and zipping chemistry. She does so with such detail and emotion and excitement! I love the need, the want, the tense yet buzzing atmospheres that she so easily creates. I also adore the way her characters are yanked together as if Jane is saying, "You're going to like each other and there's not a single damn thing that either of you can do about it." I found Bryony and Jackson to be made of the same thread. They were both full of determination and failure isn't an option, and so between them, there's just way too much stubbornness for them to ever get along. They argue, they insult each other, and they can't stand each other's need to have the last word. But of course where there's a flame, there's bound to be a fire, and between me and you readers, this isn't just a fire, this is an explosion. 

Another thing that I just want to touch upon is that if you have read The Right Side of Mr Wrong by Jane, you'll get to see Brando and Shea again! WAHOO! I loved this! I loved catching up with her previous characters and seeing them settled into their new lives. It's magical, and makes them seem so much more real and a million times less fictional. 

Becca's Books is rating High Heels & Bicycle Wheels by Jane Linfoot with FIVE delicious cupcakes. I loved it from back to front. I was completely bowled over by the chemistry and the characters and their impulsive desires for each other. It was incredible, and again, Jane has SUCH a talent when it comes to writing. It was a perfect flirty, fun read and I would recommend this to anyone and everyone. Not only will you fall hard for Jackson Gale and his cheeky arrogance but you'll be wishing that you were Bryony Marshall on the receiving end of it. It was exciting, addictive and EVERYTHING that defines Jane writing style. MASSIVE congratulations from me, Jane! I absolutely bloody loved it!


***










Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

"I was in trouble. Big, disastrous, Maddox trouble."


Title - Beautiful Oblivion 
Author - Jamie McGuire
Series - Maddox Brothers #1
Publisher - Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date - July 1st 2014
Format - Kindle Edition
Pages - 448

The blurb

The Beautiful Disaster phenomenon continues in the first heart-pounding new adult romance in The Maddox Brothers series. 

Fiercely independent Camille "Cami" Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn't have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with her first weekend off in almost a year. 

Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt. 

Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlour to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red. 

As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she'll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever - even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart. In the first instalment of The Maddox Brothers series, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again. 

Becca's thoughts  

Okay, okay, okay. Let me just calm myself down, take a few deep breaths and collect my thoughts. Actually, no, let's not, BECAUSE BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION BY JAMIE MCGUIRE WAS SO DAMN GOOD I FEEL LIKE CLIMBING ONTO MY ROOF AND SCREAMING ABOUT IT. AS LOUDLY AND AS CLEARLY AS FREAKING POSSIBLE. 

I apologise for the excessive use of upper-case letters there, readers, but right now I'm just too excited. I would just like to say a massive thank you to the publishers Simon and Schuster UK for accepting me for a copy of Beautiful Oblivion via Net Galley. I wasn't expecting to be accepted to tell you the truth, and then I was, and then I went mental, and yeah... So thank you! And of course, major round of applause to the oh-so-brilliant author Jamie McGuire for yet again catapulting me into the intoxicating, sexy world of a Maddox boy. Nothing can beat that feeling. Nothing. 

In Beautiful Oblivion, we meet Camille Camlin. Young, independent woman, standing on her own two feet whilst holding down a job behind the bar at The Red Door, paying for her own apartment which she shares with her best friend Raegan and driving her own car to wherever it is that she needs to be. I instantly took a liking to Cami's character. I loved her determination, her independence, her friendship with Reagan and also the fact that she had four older brothers. She was smart, at times fierce and always ahead of her game. Cami had a difficult and troublesome past, coming from a rough home-life with an abusive father, hence why she left home just after finishing her freshman year and spread her wings. She was a brilliant addition to McGuire's characters and the kind of young woman that you can't help but admire. She was easily likeable and a great person for Trenton to collide with. 

Also in Beautiful Oblivion, we get the pleasure of meeting the undeniably sexy, confident Trenton Maddox, and boy have I been waiting a long time to meet this guy. Trenton was off the chain, although I have to admit that Travis from the Disaster series is still my number one, and my breath caught in my throat each and every time Trenton made an appearance. Trenton, just like Travis, had that swaggery confidence that held me captive, that smirk and arrogance that I hated but oh-so-dearly loved. It was that feeling of wanting to punch but kiss, of wanting to slap but take to bed and ravage. Urgh, I was thrown right back into the emotional mess that I was in when I was reading the Disaster series, and readers? I freaking loved it. Trenton was everything that I hoped for. Cocky, always got his own way but still had that angry/sexy protectiveness over anything that he claimed as his. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, like seeing a ruthless bad-boy fall head over heels in love. A million women want to tame Trenton and be the one to make him settle down. Unfortunately for them, a Maddox boy may take women to bed, but they only fall in love once, and it takes more than an easy lay to get their attention. Trenton was everything that I was hoping for, and then some. 

As can clearly be seen in McGuire's previous novels, she is a BEAST when it comes to that fizzing, popping chemistry between her characters, and Beautiful Oblivion did not disappoint in that department at all. That intense feeling of want and need, the fierce passion, the sexual tension, the looks, the sly touches, EVERYTHING was just perfect. I couldn't get enough. Trenton and Cami were brilliant with each other and I was gripping my Kindle so damn hard whenever they were alone. It was intoxicating, I was pulled into the scenes and I was egging the characters on. I couldn't cope with the waiting. I was holding my breath, running my hands through my hair and biting my lip. Seriously, it was driving me crazy. McGuire does these scenes so incredibly well she makes me want to scream with impatience! Every touch, every look, every word, perfectly designed and placed to make me shiver. I devoured everything that McGuire offered. What made it have even more of an effect on me was the fact that Cami was actually in a relationship, so of course she spent a lot of her time holding back. You know when that happens? And you're sat there silently screaming, "Just do it!" But obviously the characters can't hear you so you're left feeling out of control? Yep. Seriously readers, McGuire has got this whole thing down to a fine art. THIS WAS INCREDIBLE. 

The plot in Beautiful Oblivion had everything that a plot should have. Drama, passion, a little bit of everyday life, a blow up, shouting matches... It was more than enough to keep my eyes eating up the pages at a rapid speed. I read the entire novel within 24 hours and I didn't regret it at all. It was exciting, it had my blood pumping, it held me captive, and the characters were holding my heart in their hands. I was completely taken by McGuire's words and dramas, the passion held me captive and I felt like screaming into my Kindle at some parts. It had my emotions running wild and doing whatever they felt like doing with or without my consent. I honestly had no control over myself whilst reading and it was such an incredible feeling. As the plot progresses, you are invited to watch Cami and Trenton's relationship thicken. You get to see what happens with Cami's boyfriend and how her life begins to take an unexpected turn. It was all-consuming and my mind was constantly on their story. 

Another thing that made me grin insanely was when Travis was mentioned. Oh my life, it was awesome. I've missed Travis so much, and the Disaster series is on my list of books that I'm dying to re-read, but when McGuire would include him in the story, I just couldn't help but smile. Travis would hop up on the bar, and he'd talk about Abby and it was just SO FREAKING CUTE. My heart jumped each and every time. It was fantastic, and I couldn't get enough. I adored how McGuire stayed within Cami and Trenton's own story but she still managed to incorporate scenes that you first read about from the Disaster series. I'm hyperventilating just thinking about it. I want to re-read already. The Maddox world is so delicious and over-powering. I manage to completely lose myself to it and the characters each and every time. 
    
Overall, ladies and gentleman (if any gentleman out there enjoying visiting a blog full of cupcakes and polkadots), Beautiful Oblivion is one of those incredible novels that you really don't want to miss. Even if you haven't read the Disaster series, you can still read this and enjoy it just as much as I did. It was AMAZING. The characters, the plot, the secrets and dramas, the passion, the hotness, it was everything that I hoped it would be. Twists and turns, bumpy rides and the most INSANE moments that take your breath away. It was incredible, and I would gladly re-read it again and again and again. I will never tire of the Maddox boys and their ridiculously sexy ways. I loved Trenton and Cami. I loved their story. I loved EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

Becca's Books is giving Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Oblivion a rating of FIVE CUPCAKES. I was completely taken with it, it turned me inside out and I always hate having to turn the last page when reading a book by McGuire, because I just can't bear to be released back to reality. Incredible. Well done Jamie, you know just how to blow my mind, every single time.