For those who like their romances short and sweet, here are two I’ve recently read by Australian authors that deserve a “short and sweet review”. If you’re on the look-out for something to top up your e-reader, give these a try. Note, the format of these reviews is different to normal – a blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
PLAYING BY THE RULES
Author: Imelda Evans
Penguin RRP eBook $3.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Kate Adams expected to return home from Paris with a ring on her finger. Instead, her French boyfriend, Alain, breaks up with her right before she leaves for Australia. Unwilling to show up at her high school reunion desperate and dateless, Kate asks her best friend’s brother, handsome Josh Marchant, to pretend to be her fiancé. Josh has always had a soft spot for his sister’s friend and happily takes on the role. And as they spend time together, the lines between fact and fiction blur and they’re soon struggling to remember it’s all just an act. But will the arrival of an unexpected visitor shatter the illusion they’ve created?
Playing by the Rules is a light-hearted, frisky romp set in Melbourne up to and following a school reunion. There’s plenty of sexual chemistry between Kate and Josh; there’s a lot of teasing, touching and almost … and then, for various reasons, they back away. Through this, Evans sets up a nice tension in the reader (as well as the characters), but without spoiling things, the reader is ultimately denied access to the bedroom. It’s on the sweet side of romance fiction. I did find the ending rushed and the storyline was predictable, but overall, it was a fun read and a good way to pass an hour or two.
THE KISSING SEASON
Author: Rachael Johns
Harlequin RRP eBook $4.59
Review: Monique Mulligan
Every family has a black sheep…and Hannah Elliot is it. It’s no surprise to anyone when Hannah Elliot makes the spontaneous decision to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. But when she finds herself pregnant and her new husband files for an annulment, she dreads having to tell her family. Returning to her Australian hometown of Wildwood Point, Hannah is determined to become a devoted mum and put her baby’s needs ahead of her own. She’s also set to prove to her family she can actually be responsible. This means putting her wild past behind her and accepting a job back in the family business … while keeping her pregnancy a secret! Except, when gorgeous Italian Matteo Della-Bosca walks through the shop door, Hannah finds her resolve slipping fast…
The Kissing Season is a Christmas novella from the author of Man Drought and Outback Dreams, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s very short – I read it in about half an hour, determined to finish it. It’s steamier than Evans’s Playing by the Rules … the attraction is immediate and there’s not a lot of time to get to know the characters first – that happens on the way. The initial meeting of Hannah and Matteo certainly showed the promise of sizzle, which given the book’s length, was necessary, but it didn’t really sit right with me. However, the building sexual tension, as the two cross paths, is believable, spicy and full of conflict (the scene where Hannah tells Matteo she’s pregnant is a perfect example – it made me cringe). I don’t think it’s as good as Man Drought and Outback Dreams, but it is a fun read with plenty of Christmas spice, plenty of “gift” unwrapping, and some goodwill thrown in as two families share Christmas together.