Occasionally I buy, download or borrow a book I want to read just for pleasure, not for review. The plan is to just read them and enjoy; this works most of the time, but sometimes, if I particularly enjoy them and want others to know about them, I write up what I call a “short and sweet review”. Can’t help myself! Following are two short and sweet reviews of books by Australian women writers, both of which fall into the romance/chick-lit genre. Is there a laugh out loud genre? There should be. Note, the format of these reviews is different to normal – a blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).
1. Fairway to Heaven by Lily Malone (contemporary romance RRP $3.46) – self-published
When Jennifer Gates drives to Sea Breeze Golf Club to kick off date-night with her boyfriend, the last thing she expects is to find Golf-Pro Jack giving one of his lady students a private—and very personal—lesson in bunker-play. Lucky for Jenn, her best friend gives her the keys to the Culhane family’s beach shack on the white-pepper shores of Western Australia’s Geographe Bay. Jenn hopes a weekend on the coast with her young son will give her the space she needs to rebuild her confidence after Jack’s betrayal. But she’s not the only person seeking sanctuary by the sea. Brayden Culhane is there too, and Jenn can’t look at Brayden without remembering the tequila-flavoured kiss they shared on the shack steps years ago. As long-buried feelings are rekindled, and a friendship is renewed, Jenn knows it is more than lazy summer days bringing her mojo back. Romantic sunsets, ice-cold beers and the odd round of golf can only go so far, because this time, trusting Brayden with her heart won’t be enough. Jenn has to learn to trust her body, too.
What a fun read! Last year I reviewed The Goodbye Ride (click here for review) and loved that, so I was keen to read Fairway to Heaven – I wasn’t disappointed. Lily Malone has delivered a book that has a lovely sense of familiarity to it (not because of the location, although since it’s set in Perth and the south-west of Western Australia I felt quite at home), because the characters feel authentic, both in their descriptions, reactions and dialogue. They’re not glamorous and they have issues; Brayden has a serious legal matter to deal with, while Jenn is dealing with a recurring health issue that’s damaging her self-worth and ability to enjoy sex. Expect sizzles, sighs and laughter as the friends-to-lovers scenario is teased out, as well as a desire to read more from Lily Malone. Here’s a writer who has a bright future in the romance field … somebody sign her up, quick! Big thumbs up from me – if you like romance with that’s sweet and saucy at the same time, this will hit the spot.
2. Hindsight by Sarah Belle (contemporary fantasy RRP $4.99) – Escape Publishing
The universe has sent Juliette a sign. She wishes it had been an email instead … Juliette’s career is on fire, her marriage and family are in melt-down, and a red-hot goddess wants her husband. But those are the least of her worries when she wakes up on her lounge room floor in the year 1961. Without any of her modern conveniences — nanny, housekeeper, surgically attached mobile phone, designer wardrobe, and intravenous lattes — Juliette is just over fifty years out of her comfort zone. But as she takes on the role of a 1961 housewife, with gritted liberated teeth, she discovers an unexpected truth: slower doesn’t mean boring, at home doesn’t mean dull, and priorities don’t mean sacrifices. As she finds unexpected friendships, a resuscitated love life, tragedy and triumph, Juliette begins to wonder if she really wants to return home after all.
I laughed so much reading Hindsight – it’s hard not to laugh at a comparison of pubic hair with a furry animal, an old-fashioned alarm clock that must be destroyed (‘Shut up! Shut up! … Shut up you little f*****’) and being up to the elbows in poo soup. Yes, that actually happened. The storyline is entertaining and well-written, but the laughs aren’t the only thing I liked about this book – while it’s a fantasy in one sense, it also explores, albeit lightly, the commonplace contemporary dilemma of work-life balance, and touches on the issue of mental health. These elements balance out the humour, paradoxically creating a believable fantasy, as well as injecting the story with sadness, humility and growth. This book was a recommendation from another writer (she knows who I’m talking about) and I’m happy to recommend it further for those who like an escapist read.
If you’re on the look-out for something to top up your e-reader or sagging bookshelf, give these a try.