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    GUEST REVIEW: The Hopeless Romantic’s Handbook

    The Hopeless Romantic’s Handbook by Gemma Townley – reviewed by Nic

    The Hopeless Romantic’s Handbook: A Novel by Gemma Townley was released in the U.S. on March 27, 2007. It is currently available online in paperback and eBook formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Ballantine Books, the print edition is 268 pages.

    Goodreads description:

    Knight wanted. Must have shiny armor and own horse, preferably white.

    When it comes to romance, are magic, fireworks, and a dashing knight in shining Armani really too much to ask? Apparently so, since Kate Hetherington has yet to find an appropriate mate in all of London. Her lifelong friends (and confirmed pragmatists) Sally and Tom tease her endlessly about her hopeless romanticism. But Kate knows that she’s right to want her own fairy tale.

    After stumbling upon an old tome titled The Hopeless Romantic’s Handbook, Kate decides to give its advice a whirl. Incredibly, the book lives up to its money-back guarantee, because before Kate can say “Cinderella” she meets Joe Rogers, a drop-dead-gorgeous American actor. Frankly, he’s perfect–and Kate thinks she might have finally found The One. He certainly has the muscles required to sweep her off her feet. But Sal and Tom are less thrilled with Kate’s dreamboat. Are they just jealous, or do they know something about love that isn’t in Kate’s handbook? Kate’s pretty sure that finding true love isn’t supposed to alienate you from your friends, but what she doesn’t know is that her real knight is still waiting for her–and he’s closer than she ever imagined.

    ***

    Nic’s review:

    Kate is a girl after my own heart. I, like her, am a hopeless romantic… And just when I was starting to feel “pragmatic” – I read this.

    A fun, happy and oh-so-predictable read about Kate, Tom and Sal. Three childhood friends, now 30 years old and at different stages in their life. Kate wants a knight in shining armor on a white steed. Tom doesn’t want a relationship because he’s broken. And Sal is married and “settled.”

    Kate buys a book on eBay to help her find her true love, it’s money-back guaranteed, after all. Townley has “quotes” from The Hopeless Romantic’s Handbook to help Kate get what she wants.

    Here are 2 outlooks…

    “No such thing as perfect. You want to aim for about eighty percent. Eighty-five percent and you’re onto a serious winner… like shoe shopping. The ultimate pair simply doesn’t exist, so you just have to decide where your twenty percent compromise will be – color, quality of leather, cut, fit, shape of heel…you know.”

    “If everyone compromises, then what’s the point? If all you’re ever going to get is eighty percent, then why not take seventy-five percent, or seventy? Why not just marry the first person you meet and hope for the best, and if they end up cheating on you or leaving you for someone else, then hey, no big deal. I mean, why not just forget all about love?”

    Kate is obviously the latter – and more power to her! She wants what she wants and that’s it. But does she get it or does she fold and give up her ideals? You’ll have to read to find out.

    A note from Fiktshun009:

    First let me say that I used to love Gemma Townley. I still do…though I haven’t read any of her books since 2008 – since the day I discovered young adult paranormal. And, I know I’ve read this. I gave it three stars on Goodreads, so, it clearly wasn’t my favorite book from Ms. Townley, although I don’t wholly trust my rating system from back then as I may have rated this book in comparison to her other works.

    I was a huge fan of Gemma Townley back when I was reading Chick-Lit. I still remember two of my favorites from this author – When in Rome and Little White Lies – but nothing is ringing a bell about this book from the description or Nic’s review.

    It sounds like a light and fun book that will most likely end on an up note within the last few pages as is the norm in the genre, but as I can’t recall how it ended and don’t have this on my eReader, I don’t make any promises.

    But Gemma Townley is a delightful writer and if you are a fan of Chick-Lit, as I had been, I’m sure this one will be an enjoyable read.

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    GUEST REVIEW: Alphabet Weekends

    Alphabet Weekends by Elizabeth Noble – reviewed by Nic

    Alphabet Weekends by Elizabeth Noble was released in the U.S. on January 23, 2007. It is currently available online in paperback and eBook formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Harper Paperbacks, the print edition is 425 pages.

    Goodreads description:

    Natalie and Tom have been best friends forever, but Tom wants them to be much more. When Natalie’s longtime boyfriend walks out on her just when she thinks he’s going to propose, Tom offers her a different and wildly romantic proposition. He suggests that they spend twenty-six weekends together, indulging in twenty-six different activities from A to Z, and at the end of that time Tom’s convinced they’ll be madly in love. Natalie, however, is not so sure.

    As Natalie’s touring the alphabet with Tom, her mother’s going through her own romantic crisis—while Tom’s unhappily married sister-in-law, Lucy, struggles with temptation. And over the course of six amazing months, three generations of passionate dreamers are going to discover that, no matter how clever they are, love—and life—is never as easy as A, B, C . . .

    Nic’s review:

    This is the second novel I read by Elizabeth Noble and the second one I adored.

    Anna and Nicholas, Lucy and Patrick, and Natalie and Tom – they each have different problems and joys of their own, and their relationships are all at different phases in their lives. Alphabet Weekends follows the stories of each of these three couples.

    The main couple is Natalie and Tom. Natalie was dumped by Simon, and her lifelong friend, Tom, sees it as his duty to help her pick up the pieces and finally make her see the light that he’s the one for her. He proposes that they spend the next twenty-six weekends together going through the alphabet experiencing something fun and different. Will his romantic plan work or will seeing him in this new light backfire?

    Noble gives you butterflies, makes you smile, yet also brings you to tears and crushes your heart. You’re happy. You’re sad. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions. With the assortment of moods, feelings and characters, you’re bound to relate to one or more of the characters and/or situations. It’s a quick, fun read and you will be very pleased.

    Comment from Fiktshun009:

    I read this book a few years ago, just after release, at the tail end of my Chick-Lit phase. It was actually Nic that said I should check out Elizabeth Noble, which I did. And as is the norm with me, I decided I would read every single book she had written. I managed to read three of her books before I got into my young adult craze and so haven’t read her two more recent books.

    Although I don’t remember the specifics, I see that I did give it five stars on Goodreads. (As this was well before I was reviewing, my ratings were a bit more up and down depending upon my whim.) However, I do recall that I very much enjoyed the writing style of author Elizabeth Noble and that of the three books of hers I did read, that this was my favorite.

     

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    Review: Dirty Situation

    Dirty Situation by Layla Moon was self-published in eBook format on January 17, 2011. It is available from Smashwords in a variety of electronic formats.

    Category: Contemporary Romance/Chick-Lit

    Audience: Adult

    Smashwords description:

    Never has a case of mistaken identity gone so wrong!

    Carly is taken on a whirlwind journey through trauma and tribulations. While none of it was easy, she wouldn’t go back in time and change anything.

    Who would have guessed that one chance encounter had the power to alter her entire existence?

    Cleaning houses may not be the most glamorous way to make money, but for Carly and her friend Stacy, running their business Dirty Situation was the perfect way to finance themselves through grad school.

    But when Carly runs late one night cleaning the home of her well-to-do client Gregory Price she will learn that cleaning houses isn’t the only dirty situation she can find herself in.

    ***

    Dirty Situation is a short self-published novel in the contemporary romance/chick-lit genre by author Layla Moon. It is the story of a young woman, Carly Wright, who runs a cleaning company with her friend Stacy to help pay their way through graduate school.

    One night while dressed for a date, Carly has to step in for Stacy and clean the home of their elusive but wealthy client, Gregory Price, whom she has never previously met.

    Little does she know that their very first meeting will be an event that will change the course of both their lives. A simple misunderstanding that will lead down a path that she could never have imagined.

    Dirty Situation shows great promise although it would have read much better as a full-length novel. For such a short story there was a lot going on, that had there been that additional length the story would have had better flow.

    The concept of the story, a girl who cleans houses gets caught in a case of mistaken identity and a series of unfortunate events follows, is a terrific idea. Even the play on the words with the name of the cleaning company, Dirty Situation, and the events that take place show the author’s irony and sense of humor.

    While Dirty Situation initially had the light and flirty feel of a chick-lit novel it took a number of dark turns shortly into the story and made it read more like a contemporary romance, giving it a bit of an identity crisis. It would have been great to see some of that humor carried through the story to tie everything in with the beginning.

    The author created an interesting and diverse set of characters that worked well together. Again, had the story been longer readers would have been able to get more background on them to get a better sense of their actions and motivations.

    As with many self-published novels, this one needed just a few tweaks to give it a smoother finish and to correct some of the typographical and grammatical errors that tend to pull a reader out of the story.

    For a first novel, the author shows great potential. She is someone whose stories I will keep an eye out for in the future.

    Reviewer gives this book [rating=3]

    On a personal note:

    There were many moments in this story that I really enjoyed. Even a few that gave me that twisty knotted feeling I like when reading stories in this genre.

    But for a shorter novel there was just so much going on. One thing on top of another without that space and time needed in between to make these events feel more naturally occurring.

    While many of these situations were necessary to the plot, at least one could have been removed to give the characters some breathing room.

    The author mentions in her bio that her focus is young adult urban fantasy and PNR and I’d like to see what she does in those genres.

    With just a few changes I could easily see me going from a “like it” to a “love it.”

    To read an excerpt from the author’s blog, click here.

    ***

    I chose to read and review Dirty Situation for my Indie Author Spotlight feature here on the site. I received an eBook from Smashwords courtesy of the author, Layla Moon.

    About the Author

    Layla Moon lives with the safety of the Colorado Mountains at her back, far from the dangers of any ocean. She rests assured every night that Jaws will not find her.

    Somewhere in between a full-time job, worrying about zombie invasions, plotting how to handle devious vampires, planning for 2012, being a good spouse and hopefully an even better mother, she finds time to write.

    Her main focus is in young adult urban fantasy and paranormal romance. However, she has a soft spot for straight up romance and chick lit, which explains Dirty Situation, her debut novel. Look for other works coming soon.

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    GUEST REVIEW: Like Mother, Like Daughter

    Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jane Sigaloff – reviewed by Nic

    Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jane Sigaloff was published by Red Dress Ink as a paperback on May 1, 2006 and is 384 pages. It’s available as a paperback from Barnes & Noble.

    Category: Fiction, Chick-Lit

    Goodreads description:

    Imagine your mother being more determined to find a man than you’ve ever been.

    When single-again newspaper columnist Suzie Fletcher announces that her only wish is for her and her daughter to be dating someone by the time of her sixtieth birthday party, twenty-nine-year-old divorcee Alice Harrison wishes she could trade her mother in for a more conventional model.

    With only six weeks of her fifties remaining, Suzie is happy to try anything once and starts dating Tom, a wealthy boy toy, fifteen years her junior.

    Her mother hot on her heels, life-coach Alice breaks all the rules and falls for a client. Guilty about mixing business with pleasure, there’s a much greater shock in store for her . . .

    Alice and Suzie had always been close. Now they’re about to get closer. Forget about love triangles, welcome to the love circus.

    This book is exactly what it’s meant to be – a chick lit book. Although predictable – it’s fun and uplifting – as most in this genre are.

    Suzie is 59 years old and wants to share Alice’s life. She borrows her clothes, her bags, her shoes. She’s even staying with her, temporarily, while her house is being renovated.

    Unlike the title suggests, the two seem very different in their dating ways. Suzie’s very flirty and fun, while her daughter has kind of removed herself from the dating game.

    To shake things up a bit for Alice, Suzie suggests a dating challenge – to bring a man she is dating to her 60th birthday bash, in lieu of a present. And Suzie plans to do the same. And although Alice does NOT like this challenge, she accepts.

    With only six weeks to the big day – the challenge is underway. When Suzie meets a man on the Eurostar – they click. When Alice, the life coach, meets a client – they click. Then everything falls into place… Or really out of place. Zoe, Alice’s BFF, is also going through issues of her own.

    You will know the outcome when you start this book, but it doesn’t take away from its unfolding. Jane Sigaloff still manages to keep us giggling and lip biting throughout. Read it if you want a light, happy read to brighten these dark, winter days.

    A note from Fiktshun009:

    I love this review from Nic! I do not remember reading this book, but after checking out her review, I went to Goodreads and apparently have read five (all) of Jane Sigaloff’s books – rated from three to four stars – including this one. It must have been during my Chick-Lit craze. But now her review makes me want to read this all over again…if I have time.

    Yes, the book is a bit old, but if you like Chick-Lit, Jane Sigaloff is a delightful author to read.

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