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Not together but?

Separated Book Cover Separated
(In Midsummer Book 2)
Jessica Frances
LGBTQIA | Romance
Pub Date 03 Jul 2020

One jealous sheriff. One pushy Hollywood hunk. One threat. One undeniable attraction. One messy situation. One chance to fix it.

I’ve guarded my heart the same way that I’ve guarded my hometown of Midsummer—with unwavering compromise and integrity. I’ve never even once been tempted to let my guard down. That is … until I met Conner Sherwood.

It didn’t matter that I swore off all romantic relationships. Or that I wasn’t interested in opening myself up and likely getting hurt. Like a moth to the flame, I can’t resist him. I can’t stop myself from wanting something I shouldn’t. Even pushing him away didn’t stop me from wanting him. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one who wants Conner. He has caught the eye of a Hollywood heartthrob. How can I compete with that?

But when Conner starts to receive death threats and an attempt is made on his life, I begin to realize that there is more at stake here than having my heart broken. Conner is in danger being in Midsummer, and whoever is threatening him won’t be satisfied until Conner is no longer breathing.

What I know for certain is that I won’t stop until I catch the person responsible for harming the man I’m coming to realize that I cannot live without.

Authors Note:

Separated is the second book in a steamy m/m romantic mystery series. There are sex scenes between two men, occasional violence and coarse language. It is recommended for readers 18+. While this book ends with the mystery solved, the romance will develop over several books. It is recommended that each book in the series be read in orde

This is a romance in the LGBT format with a bisexual hero.

It follows much of the usual trope but the interesting part is how ‘macho’ the author shows the hero to be – ie he is a small town sheriff, tall and brawny – with a moustache – and very apt to use his strength and muscles. His lover is a photo journalist in social media with blogs etc. the background to Conner And what he was doing before he arrived by invitation into this very small town is not clear and I found this rather annoying. Also, there is a Hollywood film star thrown into the mix plus some stalking/threats to Conner.

The issue of course is that our bi-sexual sheriff had a previous relationship with his high school sweetheart which led to marriage and a child, of which he is very protective. Especially since his wife left him with the child after a noticeably short time, to bring her up on his own.

While this was a normal romance with a little suspense, I want to read the next story of these two as they cope with the surprise they are given right at the end of the book! Which I think will make a better and more humorous story.

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London stores

Meet Me in London Book Cover Meet Me in London
Georgia Toffolo
Fiction, romance,
HarperCollins UK
October 15, 2020
320

What do you do when your fake engagement starts to feel too real…

Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.

Oliver Russell’s Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family’s new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.

When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria’s past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for…

Ooh, Shiny!

There has been, it seems to me, a sudden rush of books about department stores. This is my 3rd in 2 weeks. All about renovations and the staff and machinations and…

This is nicely written book and as it happens  Portobello Road is under renovation at the moment and under pressure from developers who are trying to buy up the area with the antiques – not for a department store though, but for flats. Small developments are permitted as we are so short of living accommodation here in London.

This is another warm book again. Victoria is a very giving person and Ollie comes across as someone who has been trained to the that English reticence and inability to express emotion that comes from the boarding school and rigid upbringing that older parents, with a very large business empire to manage, can impart.

I loved the closeness of Victoria’s friends and how they had all found he best life for them after their teenage tragedy. But small coastal villages are somewhat over romanticised in my opinion and lead people to think it is all happy living, when often it isn’t – too many people and no privacy and rather inbred. That said, I totally agree about Chelsea Physick Garden – it is a wonderful place.

Chelsea Physick Garden

As its name implied, it is all about medicine and was set up in 1673 as a botanical  garden for the doctors of the time with a wonderful collection of  plants for all sorts of uses from medical to dyeing to…

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Whirlwinds go around…

Warpaint
OhSoBoutique! Series Book 1
J.J. Maya
Romance | Women's Fiction, Romantic Comedy
BooksGoSocial, Michelle McDermott
3 Apr 2020

WARPAINT IS THE SIMPLY SPARKLING ROM COM NOVEL OF 2020 - WILL WILLOW STEAL YOUR HEART? Readers are falling in love with Warpaint!  Scottish Makeup Artist Willow meets dashing New Yorker, Rick, and marries him after a whirlwind romance. But her new life in NYC is far from the perfect fresh start she imagined. Ignoring the warnings of her colleagues on the beauty hall floor, Willow headed off into the sunset with Rick...but his “Manhattan” loft is a bedsit in Queens and his ex, Isabella, appears to be in residence. Scorned Isabella alerts the authorities of a suspected “Green Card Marriage,” setting off a chain reaction with dramatic consequences. Now, faced with the threat of deportation and her marriage over before it had the chance to begin, will Willow find the courage to stay in New York and make all her makeup artistry dreams come true? Warpaint is Book One in the heartwarming OhSoBoutique! Series.


Are whirlwind marriages always deigned to go wrong? Can you fall in love (not lust) within a matter of weeks and marry and give up everything you’ve ever known to follow your new spouse into a new country and culture?
Well this heroine thought she could.
Willow is not the youngest heroine, nor is she the most beautiful, and so when Rick – a dashing American who appeared to have plenty of money – claims to have fallen in love with her, asks her to marry him and move to his Manhattan loft, she accepts. With trepidation its true. Which was justified as Manhattan lofts are not quite what she expected – especially when she finds remnants of Rick’s girlfriend in evidence. Seems she had only just left the ‘loft’. And wasn’t best pleased about it either and was determined to let Willow and Rick know.
This is a sweet tale of misguidedness and naivety and how difficult it can be to settle into a new culture and worse – to get a job in the States. The legal requirement of a valid and happy marriage being one of course.
With some finagling we manage to get to a happy ending through tears and struggles and stubbornness which makes one fall for Willow in her innocence, even not so much Rick. But her choice. And Willow finds she has some lovely co-workers who are prepared to put themselves on the line for her, demonstrating their depth of friendship.

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Breeding a champion

Guarding Cat Book Cover Guarding Cat
(The McKenna Curse Book 5)
by Patricia Rosemoor
Mystery & Thrillers, Romance
Dangerous Love Publishing
Pub Date 7 Jul 2020

Horse trainer Aidan McKenna has the ability to glimpse into the future. So when the dreams begin—searing, erotic dreams about his new partner, Cat Clarke—he knows the dangers of ever falling in love again. Aidan and the beautiful horse breeder had staked everything on their racing venture. But when Cat's missing stable manager turns up dead, it becomes clear they have more to lose than races. Aidan knows he has to find a way to defeat the curse to save the woman of his dreams.

Cat owns a horse breeding farm. Now I knew very little about this aspect of horses so I researched it. I found an article in the Horse magazine which was informative of how a large breeding facility operates.

What they are attempting to do is to provide a controlled environment for the breeding. Artificial insemination is not used, so they use live stallions for the breeding. It is a high cost business. As well as the controller- to keep track of ins and outs, there is the agronomist whose job it is to produce pastures that are both balanced in their nutrients and palatable to the horses. There are the vet and their technician, who take bloods, ultrasounds and check on the health and ovulation of the mares. Including palpating/ultrasounding mares for breeding soundness and estrous cycle timing; using that information to plan breedings; checking for pregnancies and problems; administering treatments; and monitoring stallion fertility. They also handle preventative care such as plasma administration for foals; deworming; vaccinations; and caring for sick animals; confirming ejaculation occurred; evaluating sperm motility via dismount semen samples after every breeding; and evaluating sperm morphology (physical shape).  Mares will undergo uterine bacterial culturing prior to the breeding season. This allows time to treat any infection present and avoids “wasted” breedings. Mares are also cultured if they don’t get pregnant on the first cycle; the samples are evaluated at the farm, as are foals’ immunoglobulin levels. Amazingly technical and complicated work to ensure a successful pregnancy that will produce a foal that can win races and then – if male – earn lots of dosh at stud.

Then there is the barn manager who looks after the mares and foals general care; and marketing – of the stallions and facilities available; plus someone for all the following roles: assistant controller; stallion administrator; certified public accountant; farm manager; seeding of pastures; projects coordinator; landscape architect; director of bloodstock services; insurance; sales coordinator; and transport.

So compared to all these staff we can see that Cat’s farm is very small ‘fry’.

This story is a romance with horses, mystery and suspense, and some murder thrown in for good luck. We are not privy to the police side of things, but we do have a horse whisperer from Ireland, who also has second sight, who needs to get his colt to race and win well so that he can be used for stud – at exorbitant charges.

 Quite an insight into also just how many staff there are at a race course to look after the horses all of whom have a separate job – grooming; stall work; walking a ‘hot’ horse after racing; riding a horse to train him and so on. No wonder it costs so much to race horses! And to buy a Thoroughbred horse.

All the English classics are for three-year-olds, and are designed to establish which horses are the best of that generation, so they can then be bred from. As breeding has become more commercialised, with powerful studs such as Darley and the mighty Coolmore in Ireland, so racing has in some respects become secondary, a means to the end of producing commercial stallions. According to the Guardian newspaper, 2009 :

A really good stud could impregnate least 100 mares a year; the owner of each mare is likely to pay around £75,000 for the privilege; he thus stands to make at least £7.5m a year. He could cover 400 mares if the owners wanted to work him really hard.  And this happens for around 20 years!

Sea and Sand earned  $250,000 per mare! – or pregnancy in 2009. This is Uncle Mo- in 2017: The champion American juvenile of 2010, he has established himself as the dominant stallion of his generation.

His first two-year-olds earned $3,675,294 in 2015, a record figure for a North American first-crop sire that eclipsed the previous benchmark of $2.8 million set by Tapit in 2009. 

The most expensive stud – Galileo – in 2008 was reputed to earn over $600,000 per pregnancy!

So 4 stars for learning about thoroughbreds..

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Social media and Connections

Ghosts Book Cover Ghosts
Dolly Alderton
Adult, Women's literature
Fig Tree, Penguin General UK - Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business
October 15, 2020
336

***The first novel from the award-winning, bestselling author of Everything I Know About Love*** 32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she's starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother's desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her . . . Dolly Alderton's debut novel is funny, tender and painfully relatable, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships and the way we live today. ____________________________________________________ Praise for Dolly Alderton 'Hilarious and moving. Alderton is Nora Ephron for the millennial generation' Elizabeth Day 'I loved it so much, I wanted it to go on forever, Dolly Alderton is so gifted at making people care. A rare talent' Marian Keyes 'A wonderful writer, who will surely inspire a generation the way that Caitlin Moran did before her' Julie Burchill 'Deeply funny, sometimes shocking, and admirably open-hearted and optimistic . . . Mesmerising, brilliant ' Daily Telegraph 'Sensitive, astute and funny' Observer 'Alderton's wise words can resonate with women of all ages. She feels like a best friend and your older sister all rolled into one and her pages wrap around you like a warm hug' Evening Standard

Whilst they say this is her debut novel, I have read her previous book – which was semi(?) autobiographical. I really like her style of writing.

The concept of ‘ghosting’ – that is going silent after several dates is interesting and also nasty. When you’ve been meeting up and regularly talking to people and then they go completely silent on you, yu always wonder why they did it, was it your fault, what could have happened, how could they do this to you and so on. Whether it is a male date or a female friend – at least you thought they were a friend until.. it takes a lok of self awareness to realize it is not you but them that is at fault. You did not cause this – they did and it is their own emotions and lack of empathy that has done this.

I liked the idea of her cookery books, and as a student, could really have done with the one about cooking on a 2 burner hob – though that was my first introduction as it happens, to cooking for myself when I had a small room in a house. I learned very simple 1 pot meals – my favourite being hot dogs and rice and peas all cooked together with a good dollop of tomato sauce!

Taking on the difficulties of living with someone who has Alzheimer’s was good. It is a scourge that is affecting so many older men – more than women in our friends – I knew only one woman with it, but several men with either that or a form of dementia which was equivalent.

It can be very difficult to adjust to. The forgetfulness, the emotional highs and lows, the wandering and getting lost and sometimes the physical rage and hitting out from frustration.  Even more difficult when the woman is many years younger than the man and was looking forward to more years of companionship than this illness gave them .

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