Jill Shalvis: The Family You Make

The Family You Make
Published: William Morrow
Date: 11th January 2022

Source: Publicist via NetGalley

During the snowstorm of the century Levi Cutler is stranded on a ski lift with a beautiful stranger named Jane. After strong winds hurl the gondola in front of them into the ground, Levi calls his parents to prepare them for the worst…but can’t bring himself to say goodbye. Instead, wanting to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish, he impulsively tells her he’s happily settled and Jane is his girlfriend—right before his phone dies.

But Levi and Jane do not.

Now Levi’s family is desperate to meet “The One.” Though Jane agrees to be his pretend girlfriend for just one dinner, she’s nervous. After a traumatic childhood, Jane isn’t sure she knows how to be around a tight-knit family that cherishes one another. She’s terrified, and a little jealous. But an unexpected series of events and a host of new friends soon show Jane that perhaps this is the life she was always meant to have.

Right on the first page of The Family You Make Jill Shalvis engages us with action. Serious action as two people face that they might not come out of a dangerous situation alive.

Levi and Jane meet in a scary gondola, buffeted by a storm. Well obviously they do come out of it but one thing leads to another and this pair are falling for each other, in spite of what they both espouse. Jane never stops long in one place, her family history is one of what she experiences as rejection. Levi does have a warm hearted family, but he too has escaped as he was that bit different and felt he wasn’t understood.

As well we have Charlotte and Mateo, two doctors who work at the local hospital. Both fantastic people who are finding their way to each other. Charlotte is working at letting Jane know she has a home with her. At the moment Jane sees herself as a guest renter, but Charlotte is showing her otherwise. Part of the book’s appeal is the journey that Jane makes from “no family” to plenty of “found family”.  Charlotte herself has a past history that makes her hold back with Mateo, and so she too has a journey to make.

There is plenty of romance, delightful characters, a quirky family and a Cat that knows its place. A book for those who like an engaging read with these kinds of ingredients.


Incense and Sensibility. Sonali Dev

Incense and Sensibility

Published: William Morrow
Date: 6th July 2021
Source:Avon Publicist via NetGalley

Yash Raje, California’s first Indian-American gubernatorial candidate, has always known exactly what he wants—and how to use his privileged background to get it. He attributes his success to a simple mantra: control your feelings and you can control the world. But when a hate crime at a rally critically injures his friend, Yash’s easy life suddenly feels like a lie, his control an illusion. When he tries to get back on the campaign trail, he blacks out with panic.

Desperate to keep Yash’s condition from leaking to the media, his family turns to the one person they trust—his sister’s best friend, India Dashwood, California’s foremost stress management coach. Raised by a family of yoga teachers, India has helped San Francisco’s high strung overachievers for a decade without so much as altering her breath. But this man—with his boundless ambition, simmering intensity, and absolute faith in his political beliefs—is like no other.

Yash has spent a lifetime repressing everything to succeed, including their one magical night ten years ago—a too brief, too bright passion that if rekindled threatens to destroy the dream he’s willingly shouldered for his family and community . . . until now.

Sonali Dev takes up the life and times of the Raje family with the story of Yash who is in the middle of a campaign to be governor of California. He has himself in a bit of a tangle as he his along with Naina made it appear that they are a couple, but they are not, just friends mutually helping each other out. Yash really has only eyes for India – a very wise yoga teacher and reiki healer.

What a tangled web we weave when we set out to deceive! Well that should have been Yash’s lament, and at times I wanted to shake him. However reading on and finding out his back story I had sympathy for him and was hoping he’d find his way through the maze.

India is a lovely person, but sort of carries the weight if not of the world at least of her family. Her mother is unwell and her sister has herself involved in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be good for her.

Speaking of mothers I enjoyed the mothers in the story. Especially Yash’s mother when she came all over “mother”. She eventually sized up things well.

There is a stinky dog, a body guard or two who took my heart and numerous other members of Yash’s family we have met previously.

As all romances do, it ended well, but far too abruptly. I wanted just a tad more from the ending. A little more hoop la!


Love For Beginners. Jill Shalvis

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Published: William Morrow

Date: 8th June 2021

Source: Avon Publicist via NetGalley

When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive she starts over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer. 

Love for Beginners by Jill Shalvis was an utterly delightful read.

From the beginning it just wrapped itself around me and gave me such a great reading time.

Emma is such a gritty character, she just doesn’t give in, she has to start over completely again, and she still has things to cope with left over from her accident. For quite awhile she struggles to find her path, but let me just let you know find it she does.

She has this enormous big dog who is scared of everything and everyone – mostly. Hog – the dog’s name, gave me so many laugh out loud moments.

Emma meets up with Alison – they have a history from high school. Alison did one or two stupid things and plus she blamed Emma for some things. I loved how the relationship develops between them. 

Simon is the physio and more than that. He is caring for his Dad – Dale who has had a stroke and as well he has had to take over the running of his Dad’s company. I loved Dale too and his outbursts and antics often had my both sympathising and smiling.

Of course there is some romance, which doesn’t go smoothly to begin with, but as it develops so do the people involved evolve.

This for me was the right book at the right time.


The Path to Sunshine Cove. RaeAnne Thayne

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Publisher: Harlequin

Date: March 30th 2021

Source: Publicist via NetGalley

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne takes us to a beautiful spot in the American North West and a gorgeous spot on the coast. Here we have a house in need of decluttering, or so Eleanor the seventy year old owner declares.

Jess has a business that declutters. She arrives in her Airstream for the work to begin.  At first Nate’s son is a little anti when he finds a strange Airstream parked beside his mother’s house, but soon comes around. Living in Cape Sanctuary is also Jess’s sister Rachel. The women were once very close but now the relationship is strained. As well Rachel’s life all round seems strained – what is going on there? The two women have a past that is tough and haunts their lives still.

Nate has a thirteen year old daughter, Sophie who at the moment is rather put out by her Dad and is rather short and even at times surly with him. According to her it’s his fault.

So lots of relationships that seem to be in crisis. But of course when we face into a crisis there are always two paths we can take at least. What will Rachel and Jess do about each other? Will Nate and Jess embrace their growing attraction for each other? Oh the choices!

This a sweet, gentle story that touched me the more I read and I really enjoyed the way things worked out. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Book Connections

Romance Books : Reading Joy.

I was once a very avid romance reader, although now its women’s fiction that has taken its place. I happen to like a happy ending kind of book, and at least a promise of happiness.

These are some of my favourite contemporary books that  I have copies of sitting on my shelf, mostly from the past. I still read the occasional recent romance but nothing that really fully satisfies.

Since its February and I missed out on the Valentine theme last week I thought I’d take it up this week.

book coverLong before Virgin River became a Netflix series I had read Virgin River and… all the books that followed. Quite a few as three came out every year for awhile. Robyn Carr writes a good story and there was lots of romance along the way.First Lady

I’ve also read all Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, every single one of them. I think First Lady would be my favourite. The First Lady escapes and journeys around the country with a Dad and two daughters in a motor home. SEP does have a new romance out this year and of course I’ll buy and read it!

book cover I loved all Judith McNaught’s books, and this is one of her contemporary romances. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years along with a number of others written by her. I have no idea now about it so should really reread it to see if I still love it.

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Well this is one by Jessica Bird.  Later on she writes as J. R. Ward. I found all her Jessica Bird books and loved them. Another one I should reread to see how I feel about it now. I think this was her debut book, according to someone on GR. I am not sure but anyway I have them and they still sit on my shelves.

book cover This one is more recent and is YA and contemporary romance. K. A. Tucker has hooked me with a number of her books and I loved this one when I read it in 2019. I have to admit I could easily read it again now, and its why I saved it on my shelf.


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Love at First. Kate Clayborn

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Published: Kensington

Date: February 23rd 2021

Source: NetGalley

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

Love at First by Kate Clayborn is a delightful story of love and friendship and found family.

It has a bunch of quirky characters who share an apartment block and who look out for each other. Into this group Will finds himself when his uncle leaves him his unit  apartment. Will has only been there once before when his uncle rejected him. So of course Will wants to do nothing more than clean the place up and let it. However… that’s not accounting for the fact that the girl/woman he saw on that first visit is still there.

What follows is a delightful story of two people who have been wounded by their upbringing, where they had learned certain things about life, that maybe no longer stood them in good stead. It was delightful to see them changing and growing and finding their way.

One of my favorite characters was Will’s boss, Gerald. He too undergoes change and finds his way in life and love in a heart warming vulnerable way.  

This book shows us what it’s like to live with a diverse group and be accepting and caring. To find love in all its facets.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Way Back Home

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Published: 1st October 2020

Source: The author.

The Way Back Home is the second in the trilogy by Emilie Richards – Homecoming. In the first book we met Krista looking for her sister Rosie, a runaway. Krista felt really ashamed that in the moment Rosie needed her she let her down.

Now in The Way Back Home we meet the lovely Anna Fitzgerald, a staff member at First Day, a place that takes in runaways and offers them the chance of taking a new start in life, and even if they don’t take up that offer, a roof and a bed in the meantime. The runaways are tough, yet Anna is tough herself. Having been on the streets for a number of years, she knows the tricks of the trade. Not much gets past her. She has a wonderful four year old – Ryan and they live in a very small apartment.

And so of course we come to Rosie’s story. I don’t think it takes much deduction for the reader to work out who Anna was in her past. We learned in book one why Anna left home and now we learn of her heartbreaking years on the street. We see her partially back together but not fully healed.

As the story progresses there are a number of twists and turns. Anna is going to find the going challenging, the invitation to take more steps right there. Of course there is a love interest. This is a romance, with taste of women’s fiction and some suspense.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to the final in the trilogy. In this book I met characters I loved and cheered for and a story I wanted to keep on reading. While this is a republication of a book written back some time ago, I think readers will find it stands up well to 2020 reading.

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The Friendship List. Susan Mallery. Blog Tour

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Published: Harlequin
Date: 4th August 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirty something widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

Unity and Ellen have been best friends forever.  Whatever is going on in their lives, they’ve been there with and for each other. When they recognise that their lives are in a bit of a rut they make a list of all the things they could do to move them from that rut.

When Ellen heard Cooper saying he was worried about his Mom and he wasn’t sure that it was right for him to go away to college, she was devastated. When Unity had a few important people in her life point out she was living in the past – she got shirty, then she got working on a list in the meantime. Still not sure she was ready to move on.

I liked both the men in the book – Thaddeus and Keith. They were honest good men, and had a lot going for them. I loved how Thaddeus treated his great aunt and Keith loved and sweated over his daughter Lissa.

The story ambles along, alternating between the two couples mainly, with some falling out and falling in. There were some funny, laugh out loud moments. It’s about friendship, moving on and growing up and second chances. In places somewhat saucy. While I prefer a women’s fiction book I am going to place this right into the romance genre.


Twitter: @susanmallery
Facebook: @susanmallery
Instagram: @susanmallery
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Book Connections, Review

Five Diverse Books I’ve Read in 2019


Reading can take us beyond what we experience from people and events and culture immediately around us. These books did that for me. I think after the mass shooting we saw happening in the mosques in Christchurch New Zealand, I challenged myself to be more aware of picking up books that helped me explore the wondrous diversity existing in our world.

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Ayesha at Last is set in Toronto, Canada and is about Ayesha and Khalid, both belonging to a Muslim community. It’s a romance that is full of twists and turns, has humour and a tad bit of revenge which I always enjoy when a baddie gets his desserts. Ayesha and Khalid have a love/hate thing going on, plus interfering relatives to add to it. I loved the diverse aspect of the Muslim religion, how they live and what’s important to them. Not everything in the story is completely wrapped up for every character, which really just made it feel more real. I’ll certainly want to read another book from this author – this is a debut novel, with flavourings of pride and plenty of prejudice.

book coverPride Prejudice and Other Flavors is set in California, however it involves a high ranking Indian immigrant family and DJ Caine a chef who is a mix of Indian/African. While the two main characters have their share of pride and prejudice, the book also touches on the prejudices white people have towards those with darker skins. The many tasty flavours of Indian cooking is a large component. I enjoyed this read, it explores the roles in family, sibling relationships, illness (Trish the heroine is a neurosurgeon) and betrayal. It does have romance but its more mainstream than outright romance. My kind of read.

book coverThe story of three sisters, who visit India, in response to their dead mother’s request. Each has a secret or challenge they are hiding from the others. While they have not been that close, due really to growing up circumstances, the trip eventually bonds them together. I liked the Indian setting and the cultural values shown. Some very shocking from my viewpoint. I liked though how the book highlighted and dealt with the issues raised. The only question I still wonder about is the sore ankle the eldest sister had. It went nowhere. Excellent on audio -the narrator did a very good job on the whole and added to my enjoyment of the book.

Book coverField Notes on Love has  two delightful main characters who come from diverse backgrounds. Hugo is bi racial and has throughout his life had to put up with slurs, but with the support of his siblings (one of sextuplets) Hugo has come through it well. Mae is the wonderful daughter of two Dads and with the side support of a special Nana she too is a well balanced individual. They both have dreams and throughout a week long train trip they will discover what that really means. It is YA and I loved the read.

Book CoverThe Stationery Shop of Tehran is partially set in Iran and shares the story of the coup of 1953. A prime minister who had been elected democratically was ousted by the Shah,and foreign powers! All because of oil! This story gives insight into a family life and the love of two people whose lives are disrupted by this event. It’s sad because two young people who love each other are separated by others. Who? Well it will take them many years to realise. In the meantime they have lived good lives but what might have been? I liked this story even though it was a little outside my usual.  I especially liked the insight into Persian life and cooking.


The Lemon Sisters Jill Shalvis

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Published: William Morrow
Date:  18th June 2019
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss


The Lemon sisters are at a crossroads. Mindy turns up at sister Brooke’s LA apartment with three children – one not potty trained, saying she has had it, she is tired, her husband is stepping out on her and she needs a break. Some of that is true, some of that she’s making up stories in her head.

Brooke works on making travel movies but in these later years she has  been  in the studio, not out in the field. It turns out she has some PTSD from a traumatic event that has left her fragile, anxious and heart sore. She hasn’t been back to Wildstone for a long time. But when Mindy appeals for help, she finds herself wending her way there minus Mindy and three children in tow.

The men are good guys, Linc is a hard working guy, but clueless about his wife and what is happening to her.  Garrett the next door neighbor has a history with Brooke that ended in heartbreak for both of them, he has a whole growing up situation too that has left him with issues.

Of course we have the cats, a likeable dog and balloon that denotes the travels of a pet to sweeten the deal. Plus three children who are mostly adorable. They made the book for me, and I laughed at the toilet seat difficulty that Millie points out about of her youngest brother. Who hasn’t been caught out by that!

This has all the trademarks of a Jill Shalvis – some humor, some sizzling romance with misunderstandings, and a well told happy ever after story.