Always You – Erin Kaye

Back in their university days Sarah and Cahal were the Romeo and Juliet of their time, plotting to marry despite opposition from their very different families. Fast forward twenty years to the present day and we wonder why it never happened, why Sarah is a divorced mother of 2 and Cahal is a divorced father of 3 in Australia. When Cahal is seconded back to Northern Ireland for a few months the past is faced and family mysteries solved. Can Sarah trust again?

Kooks for your Kindle?– There are some lovely characterisations, it really seemed like the characters existed first and then determined the plot, rather than the other way around (not always the case!). Standouts include Sarah’s former mother-in-law, who is in a care home and still adored by Sarah. Her ex-husband Ian and his ill-chosen new wife are well done too, especially as Ian misconstrues Sarah’s caring for his mother as an indication of another chance for them. Sarah’s little sister is no longer so little but that doesn’t stop Sarah from mothering her, keeping a promise made years before.

Cahal has changed a lot since being the teen bad boy, he’s a loving Dad torn between his kids in Australia and the love of his life in Ballyfergus. The state of his parents and siblings is pretty horrifying, as is their desperation. It was good to have some parts of the story told from his point of view, as well as that of Ian.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Sarah struggled to rebel against the disapproval of her family back in the day, and old habits seem to die hard. It’s hard to see her bow down when faced with what seems to be unreasonable demands from her father and aunt, but as it turns out, there’s more to it. Thankfully she’s more assertive in her dealings with her ex-husband, while somehow remaining supportive.

Painting a Picture for your Paperback?– Geographically speaking, we are set in Ballyfergus, Northern Ireland, same as we were for Second Time Around, a pretty coastal town (and possibly fictional). We also have snippets in Australia, but the main image left having finished the book is that of modern families, how parents separate and join with other parents to make big combined families. The tale also touches on the logistics of such a set up, especially when spread across the world.

Evaluation of your eBook?– It’s something of a present day retelling of Austen’s classic Persuasion, with added step-families, emigration, substance abuse and other more timely issues. Ultimately though, the essential questions remain; are the couple still meant to be, and can they overcome their differences. The characters were very well done, with rich detail in the history of their relations with each other, and lots of development over the course of the book. Although the romantic outcome wasn’t a surprise, the details of it and the underlying mystery were unpredictable. Totally recommended for a gripping romance/mystery/family drama.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Currently 99p on Amazon, not sure how long for.

US: Amazon for $1.99.

Second Time Around – Erin Kaye

Jennifer may be 44 years old, but she looks and feels a lot younger- especially when she discovers the adage is true: You’re only as old as the man you feel! Smalltown Ballyfergus is scandalised- Ben is 28 years old AND he’s her son Matt’s new boss. Singleminded Ben won’t take no for an answer, he’s got it bad, but his Dad’s not about to let his hopes for grandkids pass, especially when there’s the Crawford business empire to hand down.

Unfortunately Jennifer’s own daughter is equally disapproving; Lucy is miserable on her university course and has developed a gambling problem. But finally Lucy has a boyfriend, Oren, who has shown her the joys of being a born again Christian of the Young Earth Creationist persuasion. How can her mother disgrace her so, just when she’s found her path?

Kooks for your Kindle?– Luckily Jennifer had a best friend Donna who was supportive of her new relationship, because most of her family were extremely disapproving- her controlling ex-husband David and his wife, Jennifer’s former friend Maggie, were more concerned about appearances. Matt took it surprisingly well, especially considering he had to work for Ben and was only a few years younger, but he had a sweetly tolerant disposition. The most memorable character had to be Oren, charismatic, manipulative and evangelical. His hold over Lucy caused a rift between her and her mother that looked to become beyond repair. Ben made a strong leading man, mature for his age, but haunted by an older brother whose shoes he’s reluctant to fill.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– I enjoyed Jennifer’s strength and independence, as well as the way she spoke her mind to Oren, if it had been otherwise, those parts would have been too hard to accept! Her treatment by outsiders as Ben’s girlfriend was heartbreaking, but real, as were her reservations about their future.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The small town itself wasn’t as scandalised as I had expected, only really the families concerned. The author aims at the warm Irish humour market, which fits the bill, but there were a lot of negative characters to overcome, attempting to thwart the happy ending. Jennifer works in interior design, whereas Lucy and Ben are unknowingly trying to swap places, Lucy hates being in education and would prefer the real world, and Ben is the opposite.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Second Time Around has such an effective ‘bad guy’ that you’ll keep turning pages just to make sure his gets his comeuppance, especially as the world seems to turn against Jennifer. The romance is sweet, while the practicalities of it are realistically dealt with. Oddly, this is the second book I’ve read this week in which someone’s struggling with an addiction to online bingo, which is a bit spooky, but interesting to see how differently they’re handled. It’s a satisfying tale of finding love at any age, and how families come in all shapes and sizes these days.

Frothy Ranking: 3.5/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: On Amazon for £3.99, although recently it was only £1.99, click the price for the latest.

US: Amazon for $6.64.