Archive for the ‘romance’ Category

An icon in the world of television news, Blaise McCarthy seems to have it all: beauty, intelligence and courage. But privately there is a story she has protected for years . . .

Blaise’s daughter Salima, blinded by juvenile diabetes, lives at a year-round boarding school. But when the school suddenly closes, she returns home to Blaise’s New York apartment with her new carer, Simon. As new challenges change the way they see one another, the bond between mother and daughter deepens as never before.

Then Blaise’s personal and professional worlds collide, and the well-guarded secrets of her home life are exposed. Suddenly her life is no longer perfect, but real. Can mother and daughter together learn how to face a world they can’t control?

A Perfect Life

Danielle Steel


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Blaise is a top notch journalist at the top of her career.  She’s an elegant, quiet woman who everyone loves who has a perfect life.  Then her daughter, Salima, comes home when her school is unexpectedly closed.  A teacher, Simon, comes with her to be employed as a babysitter, though he is determined that she learns to do things by herself.

Simon is drop dead gorgeous, smart, a good guy, cordon bleu cook, and 20 years younger than Blaise.  They slowly become friends… then sparks happen!  They’re happy for a while, then Blaise gets cold feet about the age difference and Simon has to leave while he sorts his feelings for a past lover out.  Will he return?

This is a Danielle Steel novel, so while true love has a rocky path, it wins in the end.  I’m bemused by the author’s view on disability though, which seems to suggest anyone with one is content not to function as independent.  A previous book had a wheelchair-bound woman who had to be carried everywhere.

 In this one being blind means you need to be lead everywhere and helped to bathe, dress, eat food.  The blind daughter is 19 and she lets someone brush her teeth?!  Two days after meeting the hero she’s doing everything for herself perfectly?  Yeah right.  And a school for the blind would let this babying happen by a staff member?

Ignore that and it is a fun read while curled up in front of the fireplace this winter.  A good book to escape with.

A moving novel about learning to find happiness in the face of uncertainty and discovering a love that transcends the boundary between life and death.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange.

Some people believe in love at first sight, and some don’t.
I believe in love in four days.
I believe in falling.
Both teenagers have big dreams, but also big obstacles to overcome.

‘Promise me you won’t try to die,’ I said. ‘Ever.’
‘Promise me you won’t either,’ he countered.
‘It’s not really something I can control.’

Catch me when you fall

Eileen Merriman

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

Alex is 17, her leukaemia has returned, and she is falling in love with Jamie Orange. Set in Christchurch, this is a young adult novel of first love. cancer and bi polar disorder.

Yes Alex and Jamie fall in love fast, not only are they teenagers with a teen sense of living in the moment but they don’t have time for a long drawn out romance. Really they ….don’t.

Which makes this book all the more poignant. When you could be dead tomorrow, plus you are a teenager, plus you battle depression; all life becomes one explosive powder keg!

Such a moving story.  I emptied a box of tissues but am glad I read it.  It’s very well written and deals with mental illness sensitively and honestly.

Twin boys grow up in the same family, in the same town. Dramatically different, they become bitter enemies, even as children: one good, one bad. One leaves his peaceful hometown, but when the prodigal son returns twenty years later, the brothers’ reunion will expose shocking revelations…


Supplied by Penguin Random House

Reviewed by Jan

Peter loses his Wall Street job as a result of the financial market collapse. His wife moves back home to LA with his sons and suddenly he’s paying alimony and child support and looking for work.  He has a strained relationship with his twin brother, who was the golden child growing up, and heads back home to regroup and mend fences.

Michael is a small town doctor with a disabled wife, Maggie, he’s devoted too and a hoarde of elderly patients who adore him.   Eventually Peter and Michael make amends and regret the hatred they had shared for so many years.  Then Peter meets Michael’s son, Bill, in London and it turns out things are not as they seem.

Which brother is the prodigal son?

I usually rely on Danielle Steel’s book formula for a comforting HEA story but I did not enjoy his book at all.  I loathed the heroine for being a gutless wimp with no backbone and felt she played the victim.  Living in a 2 story house confined to a bed because your husband loves his family home?!  Missing out on your kids growing up because you’re confined to bed?!  Only going downstairs to join in family meals when your husband allows?!   Did she not see the big red flags waving about her husband?

I didn’t enjoy this book because I kept screaming at her to wake up; and think for yourself.



Nicolas and Alex are best friends, aristocratic German widowers raising children in 1930s Europe, both enjoy horses and Alex breeds Lippanzers.  When war breaks out neither are too worried as their prestigious ancestry protects them somewhat.  Then Nick finds out a devastating family secret that means death for him and his sons.  Forced to flee, they head to America with eight purebred horses – two of them Lippanzers – a gift from Alex.

The beautiful Lippanzer stallion Pegasus enables Nick to gain a new job with the famous Ringling Brothers circus, where he instantly becomes besotted with a graceful high-wire performer half his age. Terrified she performs without a net, he plain to move to California to breed horses but Christianna won’t leave the only life she’s known – the circus.

Back in Austria Alex his daughter face escalating danger and he smuggles her to the safety of England by bribing a Nazi official with a Lippanzer.  Alex then starts helping Jews escape to Switzerland and after a few years is caught blowing up a munitions train and shot.

The families lose contact and the circus stories become made-up legends, until a horse auction in England featuring a Lippanzer stallion named Pegasus causes Nick’s grandson – Alex – and Alex’s great-granddaughter – Nicola – to cross paths.

Another easy read following the Danielle Steel formula and with the mandatory HEA.  If you’re a Danielle Steel fan you’ll enjoy this book,a


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

blackpeak storms

Glencarin Station is in dire need of a housekeeper to run it and city girl Cally Jones leaps at the chance. Set just below Blackpeak Station in the rugged high country of the South Island, Glencarin is the home of the gruff Carr Fergusson and his son Ash, who has recently returned from Argentina. After a few disasters Cally settles in rapidly to high station life and even learns to ride. Then Ash’s girlfriend turns up…….

Ella is loving her new job as a job as a photography assistant and is constantly jetting around the world on assignments for weeks at a time. This makes it difficult to find time to enjoy her relationship with Luke, who has a life firmly embedded in New Zealand. Then Ella is offered the opportunity of a lifetime- in New York.

Another charming read by Holly Ford that continues the Blackpeak story and lets us see how favourite characters are doing (was amused to find out Richard’s latest project). The action is from one character’s POV then the next chapter rewinds the time period to show another’s POV, which takes a bit to get used to but quickly makes sense.  A great read, Holly Ford is on my must-read list and I look forward to her next book.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Review of Blackpeak Vines here

shards of hope


Aden and Zaira wake up in a dark cell, with their psychic abilities gone and, in Zaira’s case, seriously wounded. Breaking free from the prison where their gaolers are both human and psy, they find themselves at the mercy of the elements and far from civilisation. To survive they must make it to the hidden lair of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

A target has been put on the back of the Arrow squad and the leader, Aden, abducted to give up information, while Zaira was taken to show the world the squad isn’t invincible. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope as she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.
The plot was very complex, full of twists and turns and kept me enthralled till the very end. It set the scene for upcoming challenges in the post-Silence world. I really liked seeing seeing so many of the characters from the previous books and finding out more about them, like Miane and the water changelings, as well as totally new characters, like Remy and the RainFire pack.

It was so cute when Aden is figuring out how to alpha and watching clueless Arrows trying to figure out kids – changeling and psy – is sweet. The Arrows finally have a chance at life and Aden is determined they will become a family.

Can’t wait for #15!


Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

blackpek vines

Lizzie Harrington is a former television executive in England who, longing for a new life in the country of her homeland, settles on the vineyard below Blackpeak Station, a farm in the rugged high country of the South Island.

Enjoying her new career as a vintner, Lizzie has settled in and gets on with all the locals – except for her neighbour, the brooding Carr Fergusson. A visit from Lizzie’s glamorous friends including the aging heartthrob actor Richard Bourne, who she has had a secret love affair with for years, and her beautiful daughter Ella, bring changes to the valley.

Up at Blackpeak Station Charlotte Black is busy with sheep, a fashion shoot featuring Italian models, and planning a wedding with Rob. Ella lands a job as a photography assistant on the shoot though and is in danger of falling for an extremely unsuitable man and disrupting life at Black Peak.

Another charming read by Holly Ford that continues the Blackpeak story and lets us revisit characters we know and love, as well as introducing new ones. The setting is stunning and the plot is well thought out, with a few unexpected twists. A fun, contemporary romance.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

Review of Blackpeak Station here

blackpeak station

Charlotte Black is the fourth generation of the Black family to farm Blackpeak Station, a farm in the rugged high country of the South Island. Wanting to own the station Charlotte runs into a few problems, she has an older brother and a father who believes that daughters run families, not farms.

After her father dies Charlotte faces many struggles to keep her dream alive, including ending things with her first love Rob. She resigns herself to never having romance in her life, as the station came first.   Then the handsome, suave Luke turned up on her doorstep.

This was a good read, well written and an interesting story with plenty of twists and turns to keep things moving forward at a rapid pace. The setting was beautifully described and the challenge of living in a remote part of New Zealand laid out well.

The description of the Christchurch earthquake made me cry, as it brought back the same feelings the characters had watching it on tv, waiting for news, and hoping loved ones were safe, and finding out someone you knew was a casualty.

A must read for modern romance fans.


Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan


Lily Thomas is a talented competitive skier aiming for the Olympics. A horrific accident on the slopes leaves the 17—year-old paralysed and forces her to let go of that dream. Trying to learn to live again, Lily meets Teddy, a young man even more badly injured than she is. Teddy teaches her about hope and encourages her to find a new dream.

Dr Jessie Matthews lost her beloved husband in an accident the night Lily was injured. A top neurosurgeon, she operated on Lily and was blamed by her father for causing his daughter to be paralysed. Bill Thomas is a wealthy widower and his daughter is his life. He is devastated as she loses all she dreamed of and starts on the road to recovery.   He grows close to Jessie and together they survive their tragedies and begin to heal.

The story is of a father and daughter overcoming life’s curveballs and creating new lives for themselves, providing hope for others along the way.

A typically sweet Danielle Steel story where everyone ends up happy. I’m in a wheelchair myself and it irritated me how people carried on like it was the most horrible thing ever to be confined to one. I’m not an Olympic hopeful skier with the future suddenly being snatched away from me though. A good book for when you want to have warm fuzzie feelings about triumphing against all odds.

Transworld Publishers

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

archangels shadows

Finally Ashwini and Janiver’s story!

A gifted tracker, Ash has the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches.   Except Janiver.   The sexy Cajun vampire has worked by her side for years, infuriating and fascinating her by turns. Now they’ve been tasked to discreetly track down a sadistic killer who needs to be stopped, while their flirtation has turned into a serious risk to their hearts. But Ash has a terrible secret that threatens to destroy them before they’ve begun.

The archangel Raphael and his hunter consort Elena are dealing with the aftermath of a brutal war and the last thing they need is death – especially death that looks like the work of an insane archangel. It must be handled by those who can be trusted to stick to the shadows; Ashwini and Janiver.

There was a lot of fast paced action and several unexpected surprises that I did not see coming. There were the steamy scenes Nalini Singh excels at but also tender moments that were sweet and made the story touching. Of course the ending is a HEA but Ash’s secret was   handled very cleverly. Ashwini and Janiver have been in the background for years and I’m thrilled their story was finally told but there’s also quite a bit of Raphael and Elena and it was great to see them.

I hope Naasir is in the next book as we get to see a lot of him and I love the glimpses of his life and am dying to know more about his feral nature.


Supplied by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan