*Blog Tour Review: “The Magic of Stars” by Jackie Ladbury

 

The Magic of Stars Full Tour

Earlier in January, I took part in the cover reveal of The Magic of Stars.

Today, I’m delighted to be reviewing the contemporary romance by Jackie Ladbury as part of a blog tour for Rachel’s Random Resources.

I really enjoyed this novel, not because it broke any romantic stereotypes, but because it was just hilariously funny.

The Magic of Stars Cover

 

Sapphire Montrose always felt like a loser in the struggle of life, but when she becomes the airline manager of a run-down airline she starts to believe she is a winner – until she unwittingly propositions her new boss and all her hard work is undone.

In a moment of recklessness air stewardess, Sapphire Montrose throws caution and her dress to the wind by propositioning a handsome stranger in a hotel in Florence, only to find herself waking up alone and embarrassed in her hotel room.

Unfortunately for Sapphire, it turns out that her new boss, Marco Cavarelli, is the man she failed to seduce and she is now fighting for her job and her self-respect when he tells her there is no place in his revamped airline for an alcoholic woman with lascivious tendencies. To make matters worse she is increasingly attracted to him and he seems to be giving out the same vibes. Or is he simply testing her? One wrong move could be the end of her career. But what if he really is offering love – and is he worth the risk?

Quill ReviewsSapphire Montrose is not the greatest role model of a strongly independent female. The author falls into the familiar trap of having Sapphire run herself down for being plain and uninteresting, while in actuality she’s a stunning beauty. This is one of my pet peeves in romances, and in writing in general, so it says a lot for the rest of the story that I was able to ignore it.

Ladbury writes with a typical deprecating British sense of humour, and I laughed out loud several times throughout the book. I think I also maybe shed a few tears at the right moments.

The hero, Marco Cavarelli, was a typical macho man, but he wasn’t unbearably overpowering. In fact, he actually went out of his way to be a decent guy, despite his initial misgivings about Sapphire.

I did feel that the misunderstanding between the two was a bit contrived, and put there more because it needs to be present in a romance novel, than for any legitimate reason.

Having said that though, the way it was resolved was interesting and I thoroughly appreciated the message about love and relationships that’s revealed near the end of the story.

Also, the last page was just brilliant and as a creative myself, I can totally relate!

The Magic of Stars gets four out of five feathers.

A laugh-out-loud romance that explores the hidden depths of self-worth in relationships. Grab your copy here

*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

 

IMG_1071Jackie Ladbury was desperate to become a journalist when she left school but was ousted within minutes on the day of the exam at her local rag because she’d forgotten to bring a pen.

Short and sharp lesson learned.

Her budding writing career was not on hold for long, though, as Jackie found herself scribbling love stories of pilots and ‘hosties’ while she flew in aeroplanes of various shapes and sizes as a flight attendant herself.

Fast forward a good few years and, after being short-listed in a couple of prestigious romantic writing competitions, Jackie decided it was time to discard her stilettos, say goodbye to the skies and concentrate on writing romantic novels, where the only given is a guaranteed ‘happy ever after.’

Find her on social media at: 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jackie.ladbury

Website – https://jackieladbury.com/

The Write Romantics –  https://thewriteromantics.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JackieLadbury

 

*Blog Tour Review: “Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride” by Sun Chara

Recluse Millionaire - Full Banner

The opportunity to take part in my first blog tour hosted by Rachel’s Random Resources, with a Harper Impulse romance to review, thrilled me.

I love romance novels. As a teen, I devoured Mills & Boon paperbacks at an alarming rate. They were a light-hearted escape from reality and now, in my early thirties, I’m still a romantic at heart and happily ever afters give me warm fuzzy feelings.

As a general rule, modern romances have grown in depth and meaning since I was a teen. They tend to have a heroine that attempts to be strong while still submitting to a dominant male. Sometimes authors will get it right and their characters will actually sit firmly in their femininity and still be strong and independent.

Generally though, the plot is fairly obvious, and it’s unlikely that there’ll be too much thinking going on, so I’m not super critical of plot and characters when I deliberately pick up a romance.

That being said, Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride by Sun Chara left me with mixed feelings.

Recluse Millionaire

Is his reluctant bride a business risk or a personal necessity?

Stan Rogers, recluse millionaire, must negotiate a risky deal with Stella Ryan, the exotic beauty from his past, to gain custody of his son. But how can he close the deal with her, the one and only woman who flips his switches and pegs him as the enemy?

Martial artist Stella knows she should steer clear of Stan, the man who had shattered her heart and could still destroy her. Four years have passed since their hostile business deal, and now, the American financier is proposing holy matrimony…but she’s the reluctant bride wondering, what’s he up to?

Quill ReviewsUnfortunately, Stella Ryan falls just short of breaking romantic stereotypes, and Stan Rogers behaves like an ass for much of the book, not a role-model for masculinity at all.

On my initial reading, the opening chapters confused me and I wasn’t quite sure what was happening in the story. I went back to read them again after finishing the book, and it made a lot more sense, my confusion seemed to come from the rapid shifts in timing and perspectives. Not only did the scenes confuse me though, Stella’s reaction to it enraged me. She tried to be angry and then just gave in to Stan’s demands.

As per the blurb, it turns out Stan needs Stella to be his bride so he can gain custody of his son as a stable, married father. From the way the author plays it out, it originally seems that his son has been severely traumatised and may have been emotionally or physically abused. Unfortunately, the meaningful impact this could have had on the overall story was lost, because the foreshadowing goes nowhere in the end.

Stella, as a martial artist running her own school, has so much potential to be an amazing heroine! She’s strong, her career choices break stereotypes, she’s independent and business minded. Then she falls madly in love with Stan and suddenly she loses all sense of herself.

As for Stan … I fell a little bit in love with him when I saw his interaction with his son, and the way he truly seems to care for him. It’s beautifully written and I was starting to hope he may be redeemed, but no. He made some lousy decisions and ruined it all, among them – his refusal to take “no” for an answer to his kisses. He does stop when she insists, but with a little dig at Stella for saying one thing while her body says another.

Ice Cube - Nope

A friendly note to romance authors: physical arousal is not dependent on mental agreement. Having characters make snide remarks about another’s decision to maintain his/her dignity by refusing to sleep with someone they’re physically attracted to, is an indication of the worst type of passive-aggressive behaviour. It’s not attractive at all.

Those are the things I didn’t like about the story, and a lot of it can be excused by the fact that it is a stereotypical romance and most of them are bound to have one or two of those flaws. Onward then to the redeeming features.

Stella is a strong heroine as far as stereotypical romances go. She is independent, and she doesn’t completely collapse at the separation typical in these books. She misses Stan, but her life goes on. Yay, Stella!

The adults’ relationship with Stan’s son. It’s never quite clear how old Troy is, but he’s sweet and both Stella and Stan have an amazing relationship with him. For all that Stan is an overbearing jerk with Stella, he does love Troy and will do anything for him, and that’s beautiful. They both try to protect Troy from the turmoil in their relationship, and don’t try to play sides with the child which I really appreciated.

The fact that there wasn’t a love triangle! I cannot even begin to express how tired I am of misunderstood relationships between the two main characters and a side affair that so obviously means nothing except to the desperately jealous and insecure lover. The fact that Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride doesn’t have a hint of this was so refreshing!

Sun Chara’s writing style. Although the first couple of chapters were jerky and confusing, it improved later on. The author writes well and it was easy to keep reading. Her description of scenes and character emotions are engrossing and easy to visualise, and she leaves enough to the imagination that it’s showing, not telling.

I normally measure a romance novel by the butterflies I get at the end of the story when the characters get their happily ever after. While Sun Chara’s new novel may not be entirely my cup of tea, I was happy that they managed to resolve their differences, and the happily ever after made me smile.

Overall, I can excuse the disappointments based on a fairly well-written attempt at a romance that only falls short on stronger characters because stereotyping took over.

Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride gets three out of five feathers.

If you enjoy strong heroines and romances that deal with some real obstacles to happiness, I’d recommend grabbing a copy of Sun Chara’s new book here. 

*I received a free copy of the book from Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Sun photo-1

Sun Chara, an Amazon top 100 bestseller, writes sexy, hip ‘n fun contemporary romance for Harper Impulse. JABBIC winner, Manhattan Millionaire’s Cinderella launched her writing career, spinning the ‘global millionaire’s series’. She makes her home in southern California, and has appeared on stage/film to rave reviews in How the Other Half Loves, General Hospital, and McGee and Me. With a Master’s Degree in Education, and membership in SAG/AFTRA and Romance Writers of America, she enjoys sipping designer Frappuccinos topped with whipped cream/sprinkles, and dancing on the beach…making everyday a celebration!

Sun loves to hear from her readers on Facebook or Twitter