When crusading lawyer Vikram Pandey sets out in search of a missing youth, his investigations take him to Holywell Street, London’s most notorious address. He expects to find a disgraceful array of sordid bookshops. He doesn’t expect one of them to be run by the long-lost friend whose disappearance and presumed death he’s been mourning for thirteen years.
Gil Lawless became a Holywell Street bookseller for his own reasons, and he’s damned if he’s going to apologise or listen to moralising from anyone. Not even Vikram; not even if the once-beloved boy has grown into a man who makes his mouth water.
Now the upright lawyer and the illicit bookseller need to work together to track down the missing youth. And on the way, they may even learn if there’s more than just memory and old affection binding them together...
I read this book immediately after A Gentleman Never Keeps Score. The two fit together nicely because they share the theme of sexual abuse/exploitation of teenage boys due to poverty.
Gil is a bastard child of a rich family. When his father died, his older half-brother cut off his education and funds. In order to survive he was a prostitute. Now he runs a bookstore that sells pornography, which is illegal.
Vikram is a lawyer who takes some pro bono cases in London’s Indian community. He knew Gil at school where they bonded over being the only dark-skinned people. He has always wondered what happened to his friend when he suddenly left school but no one would answer his questions. Vikram is investigating the disappearance of an Indian teen who worked as a prostitute. The only clue is a studio photo that the boy’s parents had. There is no way he could afford to have bought it. Vikram guesses he may have been modeling for erotic photographers and was given the formal portrait as partial payment.
There is a bit of over the top serendipity in the main characters meeting. It is like, “I’m searching for this lost boy because it reminds me of my former best friend who went missing. I’ll go to this bookstore. Oh, look! There is my missing best friend. Imagine that!”
Vikram wants to renew his friendship with Gil but has a very hard time accepting the world Gil lives in. He is uncomfortable with the life his friend was forced to lead while he continued his comfortable life in school and university. Gil is cynical about Vikram’s desire to help people because in his life he hasn’t seen many people with that motivation.
This is a novella but there is a good amount of character growth in it. It was interesting to find out all about the Victorian pornography trade. I haven’t seen that as a basis for a romance before.
Once beloved by London's fashionable elite, Hartley Sedgwick has become a recluse after a spate of salacious gossip exposed his most-private secrets. Rarely venturing from the house whose inheritance is a daily reminder of his downfall, he’s captivated by the exceedingly handsome man who seeks to rob him.
Since retiring from the boxing ring, Sam Fox has made his pub, The Bell, into a haven for those in his Free Black community. But when his best friend Kate implores him to find and destroy a scandalously revealing painting of her, he agrees. Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.
Content Warning from Author: This book includes a main character who was sexually abused in the past; abuse happens off page but is alluded to.
It is not strictly necessary to read the first book in this series to understand this book but it helps to gain understanding of the family background. Hartley is the oldest brother. He tried to make a prosperous life for his brothers by attaching himself to a rich man who was interested in him. At the time Hartley was a teenager and the relationship was abusive. At the beginning of the book, he has inherited his abuser’s house in London. Relatives of the abuser let details of the relationship out and Hartley is now shunned in society. He is living in a house where most of the servants have left because of the scandal. He is dealing with the psychological aftermath of an abusive relationship.
I love Cat Sebastian’s writing. Her plots are original and include people and situations that aren’t often seen in traditional historical romances. Sam is a black man who formerly was a boxer. He is trying to make a living running a pub but he is being harassed by a policeman who is convinced that there are illegal boxing matches in the bar. His brother wants to marry a woman but she is stalling. She tells Sam that she once posed for a naked painting for a rich man. She doesn’t feel right marrying a respectable man when that painting is still out there somewhere. Sam decides to track down the painting to steal and destroy it. The trail leads him to Hartley’s house because it was painted for his abuser.
This book highlights found family. Hartley assembles a rag tag staff of people from London’s underworld who have nowhere else to go. His valet is a former male prostitute. The valet brings home a cook/maid who was thrown out of her house for being pregnant. Slowly he realizes that piecing his life back together doesn’t mean that it has to look the same as it did before. He looks to rebuild his ability to trust and love that was severely damaged in his previous relationship. He needs to deal with the anger he has about being forced to prostitute himself for his family, who are uncomfortable with him now because of it.
I love all the characters in this story. The author does a wonderful job of making them each well-drawn, three dimensional people. No one is just a side character there to advance the plot. I’m looking forward to the next installment of this series.
Michele's lack of focus in life hasn't bothered her, until the day she finds herself with mounting credit card debt, unable to afford her rent, and without a job. While her meddling family questions how she can end up in this predicament, at the age of 29, and single to boot, Michele doesn't want to admit the truth. All she wants to do is sew.
Faced with the prospect of moving back into her parents' house, Michele throws a Hail Mary pass and applies for a TV design contest, Made for Me. In order to win the contest, Michele will have to compete with nine other contestants to design the new wardrobe for Duchess Maryn Medrovovich, who's about to marry Prince Stephan of the United Republic of Montabago.
While in the seclusion of the show, Michele starts to realize where her focus in life should be, and what's truly important to her. However, a dashing competitor might just cause her to lose her focus once and for all. Can Michele keep her eye on the prize while being true to herself?
I’ve mostly been reviewing very serious books lately so I decided to throw in some lighter fare to prove that I haven’t lost my love of pink books.
Made for Me starts this series of related books. Each one features a secondary character from the previous books.
This book was pure fun. It is set on a Project Runway knock-off reality show called Made for Me. (The contestants aren’t allowed to mention Project Runway by name.) Every challenge is to make a look for a commoner who is about to marry into the royal family of an European country. The winner will win a job as her designer for a year.
The fun of this book is mixing in the competition aspect of the reality show with the chick lit standards of finding yourself and maybe finding love.
What I didn’t like was the attitude that the main character had about a bisexual contestant. She voiced a lot of stereotypical thoughts about him. She assumed that he would be unfaithful in an monogamous relationship purely because he was bisexual. That’s a stereotype that I thought we were all moving past but it still lives here. It is challenged lightly.
Besides that, this one was cute and fun. I’d recommend it.
As if it's not bad enough that I didn't win the reality design TV show I was on, try coming home to a one word note indicating that my ten-year marriage is over. So here I am, a suddenly single mother in my mid-thirties, doing what everyone advises me to do—have a fling. Except it doesn't go as planned, so I do the next best thing, which is sit on the couch and mope. But having to provide for a five-year-old doesn't let me stay home for too long. Before I know it, I'm back to dying my hair wild colors and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
Except Tony, the fling that wasn't, keeps popping up in the most unlikely places and won't leave me alone. I'd like to be strong—I'm way too old for him—but he's cute and funny and sexy and oh, my ex is getting married to a girl named Bambi. All I know is the way I'm doing things isn't working. If I want to be happy again, I'm going to need to get a new attitude.
This book follows another contestant from Made for Me when she goes home after the show. Her husband has left her and she needs to decide what to do with her life.
Starting out I liked this book more than the first one. Kira is older and has a child. She has to get herself together and act like a grown up. I appreciate that in a book.
I wasn’t thrilled about the end of this book. It took the plot to a place I’m not fond of. The book also seemed to treat the main character of Made for Me as more flightly and unprofessional than she was made out to be in the first book.
Ten years ago, the Sassy Cats were at the top of the charts until Callie Smalls walked away to pursue her career in fashion and television. The other four members—Angie, Tabitha, Mandy, and Daphne—were left to fend for themselves and continue on with their lives.That is, until the day when Callie decides to book a gig for the group at a major music festival, without talking to her former band mates. Scattered across the country, at different points in life, can they rekindle the magic in the music?A soccer mom who's husband doesn't know about her past. A fading star, sacrificing all to stay in the spotlight just one second more. A party girl, challenged with her most important role yet. A tiger mom, fighting for her son. A desperate woman, unhappy and alone. A lot can change in the course of a decade. Will it be harmony or hatred for the Sassy Cats?
This book looks at the life of the host from the Made for Me TV show. This was a more difficult book for me to get into because of the completely unlikeable main character.
I also wasn’t a fan of some of the romance here. It seemed very forced. The relationship was argumentative and somehow that was supposed to clue us all in that they loved each other. Not a story line that I’m very fond of.
The relationship that I did like was the mother of the autistic child. She had to let go of her attempts to control the situation and accept help from her husband. That felt very realistic to me.
Overall, I’d say read Made for Me and maybe skip the other two.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life--great friends, family, and successful career--aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, quitting her job as an optometrist, and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love.
Georgia’s life is turned around when she finds out that a person she loved in college has died. She decides to get in touch with the men she has loved to tell them that she appreciated them.
I decided to download this book on a whim before a long road trip. It was fun and laugh at loud funny in parts. Georgia is trying to decide what to do with her life. Her children are grown. Her job is boring her. She wants to make a change but isn’t sure what that will look like. In the meantime, she is dealing with her mother’s remarriage, her daughters’ marriages and pregnancies, and her friends deciding that they too will be making big changes. Facing the men from her past feels like too much at times.
The first thing Georgia wants to do in her new life is to take a solo train trip from San Francisco to Vancouver and then across Canada. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do too. I’d love to just look at the scenery and read for a week. It sounds like the perfect introvert trip.
The women in her life are very against her traveling solo. They even imply that she shouldn’t go on her trip unless she can take a man with her, even though Georgia isn’t in a relationship and hasn’t dated in years. That annoyed me.
Bad rep alert:
There is a minor storyline about a man leaving his wife for his boyfriend. This is discussed as the man being gay now. Bisexuality is never discussed. That’s a missed opportunity. The wife doesn’t want him to discuss this with their children until they are older. It seems to imply that homosexuality/bisexuality has to remain an adults-only conversation. This is refuted later when the kids talk about it very matter of factly. They obviously aren’t traumatized at all.
There is a man in Georgia’s life who seems to me to be very smug. He routinely overrides what Georgia says she wants. This is portrayed in the book as romantic and him knowing Georgia better than she knows herself. I found it a bit creepy.
Despite its issues, I really enjoyed this book. The depictions of female friendships are very well done. I love her friend Wanda and her outlook on Georgia’s life. This is a great light read when you want a book that will make you laugh.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.
When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew.”
Ellie has always wanted to bake for a living but her parents have encouraged her to get a steady and reliable job. Now she has a chance to run a seasonal tea shop in a castle in the northeast part of England. She is even allowed to live in – a fact that horrifies her mother. She doesn’t see how Ellie will survive in a remote area that is *gasp* over an hour drive from her parents’ house. Ah, bless the British and their warped sense of distance. It always makes me laugh in books when they discussed drives that Americans would do without thought to go to a restaurant as epic adventures requiring careful planning lest disaster fall upon them.
The owner of the castle isn’t a fan of business or of letting people come traipsing around his family home. He needs the money to keep the place up though. The castle isn’t a huge tourist attraction so keeping it afloat and learning how to make a small tea shop profitable isn’t easy.
Soon Ellie is scraping by and mostly eating left over pastries for every meal. She doesn’t want to admit to her parents that things aren’t going well. She determined to make a go of her little tea shop.
I couldn’t sleep one night and downloaded and read this book all in one sitting. It was sweet and cute. It was perfect for a light read. I would recommend this for any chick lit or light romance fans or anyone who ever dreamed of quitting their job and cooking for a living.
I’m jealous of British high tea. You can’t get anything like it around here. I torture myself by following Kelly Michelle on Twitter. She has gluten free high tea a lot. I just look at her pictures and drool. I’m going to Washington DC in July and you can get afternoon tea at a few of the fancy hotels. I’m taking the opportunity while I’m there.
When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.
Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?
So I couldn’t sleep one night and finished what I was reading. I looked for something to download from the library -because I don’t have a bunch of unread books just sitting on my iPad?? Anyway, I wanted something new and this fit the bill. Good for Foodies Read and light. I ended up staying up most of the night to read it.
Kelly’s life is undergoing some major changes. Her mother just died. She left Kelly a letter with her wishes for her. One of the main ones was to move out of the Midwest and take some chances with her life. When the opportunity comes to move to London for a year to ghost write a cookbook for a movie star she jumps at the chance even though it means breaking up with her long term boyfriend (also on her mother’s list of things for her to do).
When she gets to England she discovers that superstar Natasha doesn’t really want anything to do with the cookbook. She wants Kelly to come up with recipes from her vague descriptions of meals she remembers but doesn’t really even want to taste the food. The only person who does like the food is Natasha’s husband Hugh. This leads to flirting and then major attraction. He insists that he and Natasha have a marriage in name only but should Kelly believe him?
I really enjoyed this book. There are recipes in the back for some of the food discussed. I wish there had been a recipe for the kale burgers that she struggles to make for most of the book only to have them dismissed by Natasha every time. “Not green enough,” etc.
I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.
It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.
The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.
But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?
I loved the central mystery in this book. Why is October accident season for this family? Looking for that answer kept me reading through this book.
The mystery deepens when Cara is looking through pictures and realizes that a girl from her school named Elsie is in all of her pictures – even the ones taken outside the country. When she goes to ask her about it at school, Elsie can’t be found and no one remembers her.
I liked the idea that there is a typewriter in the library where people type confessions and put them in a box. They are used in an art installation at the end of each year.
But this book also hit one of my personal pet peeves. I hate stories that center around teenage drinking. I think that kids arranging their lives around opportunities to drink is so amazingly stupid that it takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the story. The kids in this book can’t seem to do anything if they aren’t drinking at the same time. It isn’t just that I’m an old fogey. I thought it was incredibly stupid and boring when I was a teenager too. I would have DNFed this one for that if I wasn’t intrigued about who Elsie was and the origins of the accident season.