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“Shirley Valentine, eat your heart out Ven, Roz, Olive and Frankie have been friends since school. They day-dreamed of glorious futures, full of riches, romance and fabulous jobs. The world would be their oyster. Twenty-five years later, Olive cleans other people’s houses to support her lazy, out-of-work husband and his ailing mother. Roz cannot show her kind, caring husband Manus any love because her philandering ex has left her trust in shreds. And she and Frankie have fallen out big time. But Ven is determined to reunite her friends and realise the dream they had of taking a cruise before they hit forty. Before they know it, the four of them are far from home, on the high seas. But can blue skies, hot sun and sixteen days of luxury and indulgence distract from the tension and loneliness that await their return?”

Ven’s had a really tough couple of years but as her 40th birthday approaches she’s determined to celebrate it with her dearest friends, exactly as they’d planned they would whilst they were still in their teens.

And soon it’s pretty obvious that it’s not just Ven who needs to get away for a bit. Poor Olive has been married for years to a lazy bum of a man; when she’s not cleaning other people’s houses she’s running around after her husband and his demanding mother. She originally says she won’t come on the cruise as her family can’t do without her, but when she discovers they’ve been conning her it’s the final straw and she packs her bags and leaves.

For Roz, the holiday is make or break time for her relationship with Manus – a man who completely adores her, but whom she’s unable to forgive for something he did years ago. She wasn’t expecting Frankie, whom she’s fallen out with, to be invited, but agrees not to spoil Ven’s birthday by arguing with her. Everyone else is hoping that the holiday will be the perfect catalyst for the two to finally make up but Roz is still of the opinion that some things are completely unforgivable.

The four women starring in this fantastic romp were wonderful, vibrant characters – I loved reading about them and their escapades. Ven was my favourite of the ladies – she’s got to be one of the sweetest and most generous characters ever invented. The protagonists’ personalities are perfectly exhibited by the author’s use of the third person narrative, and this also worked very well with the frequent changes of character viewpoints.

Johnson’s obviously done a great deal of very thorough research into life on a cruise liner, particularly when it comes to the food! I was actually salivating at several points during the novel; the author’s descriptions of the meals onboard were just divine. I also enjoyed the little titbits of information given about the various places the ladies stop off at during their holiday; they were absolutely fascinating and really added something special to the book.

Johnson keeps the pace going throughout the story: there really isn’t a dull moment. She has a real knack for writing comedy and there were some extremely funny moments – I particularly enjoyed the scenes with Olive’s awful husband and mother-in-law coping by themselves after Olive leaves.

Another of the author’s great talents is her ability to create absolutely yummy love interests for her characters. When I was reading about Vaughn, Frankie’s Viking-esque object of desire, I actually felt like I was intruding; if there was ever a character created as the author’s perfect man, then I suspect he was it!

With ‘Here Comes The Girls’ Johnson has created a wonderful romp of an adventure, full of gorgeous potential love interests, hilarious moments and an original and glamorous setting, all topped off with an extremely satisfying ending! It’s my favourite Milly Johnson novel to date.

5 stars

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Hannah Boyd has been crowned the youngest Independent Financial Adviser in the UK. She has kicked out her boyfriend whose idea of romance is leaving skid-marked boxers on the bedroom floor, or sharing a chillie-kebab in front of the football game on a Saturday night. She is successful, single and about to secure one of the wealthiest men in England as one of her clients. But then the one person she never wanted to see again reappears as her biggest rival.

Life is looking pretty good for Hannah Boyd – she’s finally managed to get rid of Mark, her useless live-in boyfriend, and she’s been promoted: she’s now the youngest Independent Financial Advisor in the South-West. She’s off with her boss to attend her first conference and is preparing to meet a very important prospective client there.

Unfortunately when Hannah arrives she discovers that her main competition is none other than her first love, Jamie Young, the man who broke her heart years before.

Hannah needs to keep her head, and her heart, together if she’s going to get her client and prove that she is worth her promotion.

As a whole ‘The Sharp Points of a Triangle’ was well-written, but the language contained in it was too vulgar for my liking. For me, some of the descriptions were unnecessarily sexually explicit, which I found a bit off-putting – perhaps my constitution is a little delicate. The majority of the novel is set at the conference which Hannah attends, and whilst this takes place in a nice country hotel I didn’t find this to be a particularly romantic or inspiring location – it would have worked better for me had the setting contained more variety. I also had trouble with Hannah’s character, and as hard as I tried I just couldn’t bring myself to like her. I found the way she acts at the conference very juvenile and extremely unprofessional. The main problem for me was that Hannah comes across as being completely self-absorbed – as is perfectly shown by her relationship with her friend Sam, who is constantly supporting Hannah but is never asked a thing about herself or what’s going on in her life.

A character I did enjoy was that of Hannah’s ex-boyfriend Mark: he was incredibly persistent, bless him, and very funny – especially when he becomes friends with Hannah’s new swinging neighbours. I thought that Brimble did a great job of writing his character; I felt a bit sorry for him but knew that Hannah had made the right decision in dumping him.

Whilst this book wasn’t really my cup of tea, Rachel Brimble has published several other books, including some historical romances; I’d be very interested to see how she tackles this different style. For more information on Rachel Brimble and her work see her website – http://www.rachelbrimble.com/home.html

2 stars

A perfect summer, sun lounger read or luxurious, fantasy escape in darker times.

Storm’s Heart is a sexy, sophisticated romance with a dark, brooding centre. When Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides and bistro-manager Kizzy Dean clash over the executing of his mother’s final wishes, he takes matters into his own hands and Kizzy back with him to Ancient Greece. Tension runs high on the sun baked Greek Island of Rhodes amidst the ancient myths and alleyways of Lindos village.

Kizzy Dean is desperate: she’s in danger of losing everything if she can’t get hold of her boss, a very handsome, wealthy and powerful Greek lawyer named Andrea Lazarides. She’s never met him, but she’s already formed a rather bad opinion of him through his business dealings involving the restaurant he owns and Kizzy manages and lives above.

Kizzy has no partner and no family left, her life focuses on this restaurant which Andreas is going to close down. Kizzy needs to convince Andreas that she can save the business; the problem is that Andreas isn’t interested in her ideas, he has his own, very private, reasons for closing the business, and he is completely unwillingly to change his plans.

In return for her co-operation in not telling certain people about what’s going on with the restaurant, Kizzy is promised a job – only she doesn’t get a chance to check what the job will be before she’s whisked off by Andreas to Greece, where Andreas shows that he’s more than a little interested in becoming closer to Kizzy – by making her his mistress. Kizzy knows that she could never bring herself to be just his lover and so vows not to become emotionally attached, but it soon becomes apparent that this is one vow that will not be easy to keep.

Both of the main characters are brilliantly infuriating, and it’s only towards the end of the book that the reader understands completely why they are this way. Andreas is most women’s idea of a tall, handsome, brooding hunk: it’s no wonder that Kizzy falls for him so quickly. Kizzy, meanwhile, is immediately likeable for the way that she stands up to Andreas, determined not to allow herself to become his mistress, despite her feelings for him; she wants to work and be able to support herself, something that Andreas finds hard to cope with.

It would have been nice to have seen Kizzy in her home environment, which might have further emphasised how quickly and dramatically her life changes once Andreas is on the scene. But one of the challenges of writing romance is keeping to the very strict guidelines on length, meaning that it just isn’t possible to include everything

The book contains some truly inspired locations, including a wonderfully dramatic scene on the London Eye. What makes these settings even more spectacular is that Rachel Lyndhurst’s descriptions of the landscapes are so very good; you can practically feel the heat of the sun blistering over the beautiful Greek landscapes.

Romance books are not perhaps my favourite genre, but I have been known to indulge from time to time, and ‘Storm’s Heart’ is certainly one of the best I have read. . Something I particularly loved, and my favourite aspect of the romance genre, is very apparent in this novel – the perfect happy ending! If pure escapism is what you’re after then you really can’t do much better.

And finally, a word of warning to readers: there are some very, shall we say, racy scenes in this book. Be wary of Chapter 6 if you tend to go very red when embarrassed in public places – it even made my husband blush when I read some out to him!

4 stars

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