What Rosie Found Next by Helen J Rolfe

This is another lovely story from Helen J Rolfe. I loved Magnolia Creek and could picture it very clearly in my mind, thanks to her beautiful descriptions of the town. I’m delighted to see that there will be further books set in this lovely location.
Rosie is a great character. She arrives in Magnolia Creek for work reasons – she is looking after a house while its owners are away, and will have the place all to herself. Except, the owners’ son has different ideas. He has arrived back home, knowing his parents are out of the way, and he is on a mission. Owen knows there is a secret that his parents are keeping from him, and he wants to know what it is. While he has the house to himself, he is determined to find it. When he finds Rosie installed in the family home, it’s a huge inconvenience to him.
Rosie’s not that keen on sharing the house, either, particularly with this stranger who doesn’t seem particularly welcoming. Things between the two of them start off quite awkwardly, understandably, but as time goes on they begin to develop a rapport. The arrival of Rosie’s boyfriend, Adam, throws up some interesting questions that she has been trying not to dwell on. Is Adam the right man for her, after all?
With Owen still intent on discovering what his parents are keeping from him and Rosie trying to sort out her feelings for Adam, both are on a hunt for the truth, and their search ensures they become ever more entangled with each other. Then a bush fire breaks out close by and the action cranks up a further gear. Danger is coming closer. Will there be a happy ending for Rosie and Owen?
I have never read books set in Australia (apart from The Thorn Birds) until I started reading Helen J Rolfe’s books, but I’ve really enjoyed both this one and Handle Me With Care. The setting is so well described, and the terror of the ever present threat of bush fires is really brought home in What Rosie Found Next. The actual fire scenes were gripping. I could feel the heat on my skin and the smoke choking my throat as I read. I would definitely recommend this novel, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in Magnolia Creek. 5/5

Buy What Rosie Found Next here12096481_1638621659719346_6916021426667884177_n.

Among a Thousand Stars by Jo Bartlett

Having loved Jo Bartlett’s novella, The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come, I was pretty sure I would love this book. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. The plot kept my interest throughout, and the characters were so well-drawn that I wanted to know more about them. The combination of romance, humour and poignancy ensured that I kept turning the pages, desperate to know what happened next.

Ashleigh is a freelance photographer, who is assigned by Glitz Magazine to take photographs of PR supremo, Tom Rushworth, and his dreadful, pregnant fiancee Susie-Ann. It’s hardly the usual first meeting for a romantic couple, and it’s certainly not ideal, but from that first moment, sparks fly between Tom and Ashleigh. Of course, things are not going to run smoothly. Even without Susie-Ann in the equation, there is another huge obstacle in their way. Tom does not believe that love exists. Having seen the catastrophe that was his parents’ marriage, he is certain that love is an illusion, and Ashleigh, wounded by a previous relationship, is happy to go along with his suggestion of a no-strings relationship, at first. But when her feelings start to change, how can she possibly find happiness with a man who is adamant that they will never be anything more than friends with benefits?

I loved Ashleigh, who felt like a friend from the start. I also grew to love Tom. At first, I was a bit uncertain about him, as he appeared to be one of those alpha male heroes who is totally in charge of his life and everyone else’s life come to that. But as the story progressed and I saw the off-duty version of Tom, I really warmed to him.

Both Ashleigh’s and Tom’s mothers feature quite heavily in the book and I really liked both of them. They couldn’t be more different, but both played an important part in defining their children’s characters and in deciding their destiny. Two characters who deserve a special mention are Stevie and Zac. Neither grabbed me at first, but boy, did they grow on me! They added a wonderful dimension to the story and played a pivotal role in the events that unfolded. Not forgetting Bertie – the gorgeous, loyal and very sensible dog who understood far more than anyone else and made his feelings on the matter very clear.

From the glamorous celebrity photo shoots and the nightclubs populated by the rich and famous, to the windswept beaches of Kent at Christmas, and on to the crazy whirlwind that is Las Vegas, the novel leads you behind the scenes of Ashleigh’s life as a celebrity photographer, demonstrating the contrast between her professional and personal lives. In the author’s capable hands, you find yourself laughing out loud one minute and in tears the next. She writes humour magnificently, but she can also pack a powerful emotional punch.

With beautifully described settings, fabulous characterization, and a storyline full of twists, turns, laughter, warmth, and real depth, Among a Thousand Stars is a gem of a novel. I look forward to reading the next offering from this talented author. 5/5

You can buy Among a Thousand Stars here.

You can buy The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come here and read my review here


book cover

Four Sides to Every Story by Valerie-Anne Baglietto

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl called Lily Rose. Lily Rose was so beautiful that some people thought her touched by magic, but, as is the way with the world, other people thought she was far too pretty and perfect, and didn’t look behind the facade to the real beauty within.

Lily Rose lived with her grandmother, until one day her grandmother died, and then Lily Rose was heartbroken. But she knew that she couldn’t spend the rest of her life grieving, that she had a job to do, and it was time to get back to it. So Lily Rose went out into the world to perform her next task, and found herself in the Cheshire village of Fools Castle.

Now, in most fairytales, the castle that gave the village its name would be beautiful, and inside there would live a handsome prince. But this is not your average fairytale and, sadly, the castle was ugly and out of place, and the man who lived there – Sawyer Ellis – was distracted, unkempt and withdrawn. A hermit-like writer, he was trying his best to care for his late wife’s children, but feared he was failing spectacularly, even with the help of his mother-in-law, Veronique.

Fortunately, Lily Rose could see past the thick, fair hair that needed a good trim, the stubble that needed shaving, and the tatty old shorts and t-shirts. She saw the heart that needed mending. She could also see past the brittle, vain, thoroughly independent veneer that another new arrival in the village – Sophie – showed to the world, and recognised that, like the man in the castle, there was a vulnerability behind the hard exterior. Lily Rose knew that Sophie and Sawyer would make the perfect couple, if only they had a little help. Luckily for Sophie and Sawyer, Lily Rose just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and she knew exactly what to do to give them both a happy ending. So Lily Rose worked her magic and they all lived happily ever after. Except…

What happens when a fairytale refuses to unfold the way it should? What happens when a fairy godmother goes rogue? What happens when two people destined for each other refuse to behave in the way they’re supposed to? As Alexa – Sawyer’s young stepdaughter – watches with increasing wonder, this fairytale starts to meander away from its smooth path to the castle, and twists and turns through increasingly unfamiliar territory, to take the characters on a journey to a destination they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams. In this new land, is a happy ending even possible?

I have loved every one of Valerie-Anne Baglietto’s previous modern-day fairytales but, I have to admit, this has become my new favourite. It’s very difficult to review this properly without giving anything away, and it’s very important that nothing is revealed! Suffice it to say that, by the end of this novel, I was literally in tears, and realised I had invested so much in the outcome of the story that I had been holding my breath, desperate to believe that there could be a happy ending when all seemed lost.

Lily is a fabulous character and I loved her immediately. Sophie intrigued me from the start. Despite her prickly exterior I wanted to know more about her. Sawyer was a hero I fell in love with quite quickly. Despite his failings, he deserved something good to happen to him, and I was rooting for him throughout the book. The children are just delightful. Antony is a typical teenager, and Alexa is an absolute darling. I could see what they’d suffered, and I so wanted them to have a happy ending. I wanted everyone in the book to have a happy ending!

Valerie-Anne writes so beautifully, and I absolutely adore her books. I’m in awe of her talent, and I honestly think that the only criticism I have of this book is that I’ve finished it now and will have a long wait for the next one!

If you haven’t read The Little Book of Lost Hearts, I suggest you also try that. It’s a stand alone prequel to Four Sides to Every Story, and it’s a delightful novella. You can read my review here and buy it here.

As you will come to realise when reading this enchanting tale, anything is possible, and magic really does exist. That being so, I give Four Sides to Every Story 6/5!  🙂

Buy Four Sides to Every Story here.51j4FxTrR-L._AA160_