Wish List (#4) by Belinda Williams

Published: 26th May 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Momentum
Pages: 280
Format: ebook via the publisher and NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Could the wrong man on paper be the perfect man in real life?

Cate Harmon likes lists. While this may serve her well as a financial planner, her girlfriends think that creating a checklist for her ideal man is going a step too far. But she has one, and she’s sticking to it.

Cate has always dreamed of starting a family and settling down and yet she’s the only one of her close-knit friendship group still unattached. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to lower her standards.

Enter Dave, a reformed bad boy with gorgeous hair and eyes the wrong colour. Dave doesn’t tick any of the boxes on Cate’s list. It’s unthinkable that she would develop feelings for him, and yet … Cate finds herself being drawn to Dave in a way she’s never felt before.

Will Cate confront the reasons behind her list? Or will she risk losing a man who could be better than any list she could ever dream up?

I legit had a massive smile on my while reading this book, even in the rocky parts. I think I said something corny when I started reading it saying it was like coming back home but it was true; I love these women so much and I love Williams’ stories about their lives and as soon as I started reading Cate’s story I was back in their world with Maddy and Scarlett and Christa. It was like I hadn’t left.

It’s not all big smiles and excitement though, Williams did bring a few tears to the surface in some part, but just for a moment. I’m not saying the book is 90% happiness and frivolity, but it was just so wonderful to read that every little thing made me happy, the conflict, drama, Cate’s frustration and denial, the SURPRISES! It was the perfect package and balance.

I’ve realised through this series that there’s a little bit of me in each of these women, possibly all the wrong bits to identify with but all the same there’s something in each of them I adore. I adore because despite them feeling insecure, having a duty of care, a desire to do the right thing, and having hidden secrets, they still get up and have a great life with beautiful friends. They don’t let themselves or their past stop them (well, eventually anyway).

Wish List is the final in the City Love series and after seeing Christa’s, Maddy’s, and Scarlett’s stories we finally get to explore Cate’s. Williams has been great at dropping snippets of information through all her books about each woman, and with Scarlett’s story Cate was given a closer look, just enough to tease you and build anticipation. Justified too because the Cate we discover is totally unexpected from the Cate we’ve gotten to know. Delving into her mind and life is wonderful and finding out more about her secretive past and seeing that she isn’t always the cautious and structured girl she seems to be is fantastic, like all the girls we see her grow.

Williams’ starts off the story slowly, almost as you’d expect, meeting a guy who isn’t the guy you expect to fall for, but even if you think you know what may happen, that it will follow some clear set of events, it won’t. Williams brings a whole new story to the table and brings complexity and depth and drama that doesn’t feel over the top or too messy, it feels real and justified and intense.

That isn’t even the biggest twist as Williams has five or six more up her sleeve that continually surprise you when you least expect it. She lulls you into feeling safe before pouncing and makes you remember all the little details you’d forgotten about because you were caught up and recovering from the last surprise. It’s easy to think this story is one big issue but it’s a bigger, deeper, more complicated situation that twists and turns and shocks and delights you. By the end you can’t believe you ever thought it was just going to be that simple. It’s not even close to being that simple.

For me this is the best and most wonderful ending to a series and a book I’ve read. Williams has always treated these women well and given them stories that suit them and that they deserve, this is no exception, and being the final book it also manages to be a farewell and big finale for the four of them. The continual surprises and little bits of joy and intensity are an emotional ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. As I read my heart was pounding, I had knots in my stomach, a smile on my face, continually holding in gasps and squeals as my eyes fled across the page trying to read faster and possibly physically immerse myself in the story.

One thing I admire about William’s writing is she makes wonderful romantic stories that are heart-warming, heartbreaking, and satisfying without making them overly sweet and mushy, or too innocent or risqué either. Getting inside the heads of these women helps balance that out because you see their reservations, their developing feelings and their reasoning behind what they do. You also fall in love with new characters and reacquaint yourself with the old ones. Dave is my favourite of all the boys in this series, even for his faults. With Cate’s narration we can see how he causes her so must frustration and angst, how his few words annoy her and confuse her. But through Dave’s actions we see a bit more of Cate as well, they balance each other out.

I could go on forever and talk about every little thing in this book but I won’t, I’ve gone on enough already, but I will say that there’s 101 things to adore in this story, it’s got everything, love, drama, friendship, excitement, the works. William’s has done a truly marvellous job and had wrapped up the City Love series spectacularly.

You can pre-order Wish List via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble

Google Play | iBooks Store

Kobo

AWW16

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Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

ReadingThere are so many great books due to come out in 2016, I know I will not get a chance to read all of them, I’m behind the ones I wanted to read for last year and the year before, but I will add them to my TBR pile all the same.

However, there are a few exceptions, a select few books that I will be snatching up as soon as possible and reading right away. The first is The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman. This has no release date yet and a late 2016 publication is tentative at best, but I have been waiting for years for this book to be finally finished and so far from what I’ve read 2016 seems like the year it is possibly going to happen. There isn’t even a cover yet I can admire either which is entirely unfair.

The next one on my list is Awaken by Heather McCollum. The third and final in The Guardians series I cannot wait to read this. I adored the first two (Siren’s Song and Broken) and I have no doubt Awaken will be of the same exhilarating and captivating quality.

Third is Wish List by Belinda Williams. Fourth and final in the City Love series, I am eager to hear Cate’s story and revisit the amazing group of women and William’s engaging writing.

Finally, The Shadow Hour, the second The Girl at Midnight book by Melissa Grey. I wanted this beside me ready to pick up when I finished The Girl at Midnight earlier last year so I will be ready to grab a copy and keep Echo’s story going and find out where Grey is taking her.

Many of these are due later in the year, but it won’t stop me waiting eagerly for them in the meantime. I have a myriad of books to keep me occupied while I wait though which is a good thing in itself.

 

Modern Heart (City Love #3) by Belinda Williams

Published: 26th November 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Momentum
Pages: 246
Format: ebook
Genre: Romance
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Limited time only: Dream career! Perfect man! The catch? Emotional availability.

Scarlett Wong has a reputation for toughness. A talented and often feared Creative Director at an award-winning Sydney advertising agency, she doesn’t do relationships, she doesn’t invite men home, and she never stays the night. The only people who see her softer side are her three closest girlfriends, and they’re finally convinced they’ve found her perfect man: John Hart.

Scarlett’s never been one to back down from a challenge and she’s not going to start now. But when John secures Scarlett an invitation from one of New York’s leading galleries to exhibit her artwork, it means putting herself out there like never before. Scarlett’s perfect man wouldn’t interfere in her life like this – would he?

For a woman who thinks she’s not scared of anything, Scarlett is about to discover she’s not as tough as she thinks. Will she take the chance to turn her secret passion into a career, risk the safety of her advertising career, and let John in? Or will old habits die that little bit too hard?

Perfect for fans of Rachel Gibson, Susan Mallery, Victoria Dahl and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

I fell in love with Williams’ City Love series right back when I first read The Boyfriend Sessions. There is so much to admire about this series, not just the captivating and fascinating characters, but the way Williams explores female friendships, romance, and tells a story about the complexity of life and emotions all within an intricate and humour filled narrative is absolutely divine.

Modern Heart is the third book and focuses on Scarlett Wong, an artist who isn’t afraid to have a good time, but isn’t looking for a relationship of any kind. She speaks her mind but she also has hidden secrets and a painful childhood that she chooses to leave locked up. In past City Love stories Scarlett has come across as cold and judgemental, but getting to see things from her point of view allows a better insight into who she really is.

Scarlett keeps a lot to herself, she holds in emotions, puts on a tough exterior behind sarcastic comments and cynicism, but it is not all an act. Her tough childhood and critical parents have added to her seemingly cold nature. The walls she has built up over the years have stood fast, and it is only now that they are starting to crack. Seeing Scarlett address her fears and insecurities was amazing, Williams positions you inside Scarlett’s head beautifully so that you become a part of her, her own uncertainties and struggles feel like our own.

It’s hard not to fall in love with this group of women; they are close friends and help each other out, offering great advice, honesty, and tough love when it is needed. Each of them have a different kind of relationship with one other and different histories, and seeing these explored further was wonderful. Scarlett is not an outsider per se, but she keeps herself apart from the others a lot of the time. Seeing her form deeper connections and bonds with people who have previously been more or less friends of friends is sweet, and when secrets from her past and hidden details she has only shared with a certain few come to light it only makes these relationships stronger.

The romantic aspects are balanced perfectly, not overly romantic and not just focused on the sexual tension or “that chase”. John is cheeky and smart, and his good nature is a great contrast for Scarlett’s. The romance is real and natural, growing from friendship to something more, with just enough spark between Scarlett and John to make them ideal for one another and make you want them to be together. The connection between John and Scarlett is more rewarding, and seeing him help to open up to people and lower barriers is more satisfying than her finally getting into a relationship. More so because Williams makes you become invested in these characters, especially if you’ve read previous books. You become attached and protective and want good things to happen in their lives.

Watching Scarlett stubbornly fight against her feelings for John is heartbreaking but enthralling reading. Her complicated past and her ideals are hard to ignore, she knows what she wants from life and when things start to affect that she doesn’t know how to deal with it other than run. Together though they are a wonderful pair; John is patient and kind hearted, letting Scarlett work out her feelings for herself, but while also giving her the push she needs to embrace it.

It’s not all emotional baggage and intimacy issues though, Williams once again draws the fours lives together impeccably and mixes in enough drama and joy with romance and simple pleasures to keep the story flowing and your interest high from start to finish. Because it is a continuation, we also get to see what is happening in the lives of the others, where their stories have ended up and what they have been doing.

One thing I love about Williams is that she has a way of writing that even as you’re reading and falling in love with one character, she is piquing your interest about another. With The Pitch it followed Maddy’s story, but as I finished reading I was so eager to read about Scarlett’s life; now, having finished this one, I am looking forward to the final story with Cate. Not only is this a clever way to pull readers through the series, but it allows a gradual introduction to every one of the girls, from various character perspectives as well as their own. I can’t wait to finish the series and fall in love all over again with these four fantastic women and the interesting and complicated lives they lead.

You can purchase Modern Heart via the following

Publisher |Amazon

Amazon UK | Amazon Aust

Barnes and Noble | Google Play

iBooks Store | Kobo

The Pitch (City Love #2) by Belinda Williams

Published: 28th May 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher: 
Momentum
Pages: 306
Format: Ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

She’s in a long-term, committed relationship. With her business.

In three years Madeline Spencer has single-handedly grown her marketing agency, Grounded Marketing, into one of the country’s fastest growing companies. But her success has been at the expense of her social life, and her girlfriends have had enough. They’ll do whatever it takes, from speed dating to blind dates, to show her there’s more to life than work.

Only Maddy is having a hard time forgetting about her business. She’s about to pitch for her biggest client ever and the mysterious media mogul, Paul Neilsen, has volunteered to mentor her. Maddy might just be in with a shot of landing the account – if she can keep her mind on the job. Working with Paul is not at all what she’d imagined, and Maddy finds herself torn between her ever increasing workload and her feelings for Paul. She’s discovering playing in the big league means making sacrifices … and Maddy must decide what she can’t live without.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the publisher for review.

I truly and honestly can say I never was, nor ever thought I would be, a romance lover or someone who got excited and invested in a couple in a book but this book has momentarily changed that. What Belinda Williams has created her is a wonderful balance of clever writing, sweet but not sappy story, and real characters that feel like genuine people rather than stuck simply on a page.

Every aspect of this story feels so real, whether that is because I recognise the places and can picture it playing out, or just because Williams’ writing brings the story to life so incredibly well. There are surprises and bumps along the way and while you think you know how it will end, there are still surprises in store that make it an enthralling read and just the right kind of bumpy.

The characters are diverse, not just in their personality but with everything. Each revelation of character is a joy and Williams skilfully makes the characters complicated and deep yet simple on the page. Being the second in the series there are brief mentions about the events in the previous book but no more than passing references compared to a full recap.

With a new storyline and a new point of view there is a mixture of new faces to become acquainted with but also familiar characters that were introduced in the first novel. Williams makes you become involved with her characters and with each book focusing on a different friend there is a wonderful chance to get to know each of them and after reading about one it will certainly make you curious to learn about the others.

The friendship between the four women is divine and through dialogue and actions the writing captures and expresses the intense and loving relationship between the friends, but also the brutal honesty and tough love as well, sympathising and highly supportive while not enabling or mollycoddling.

Maddy is a wonderful character and a great narrative voice, she is strong and focused, but at the same time a bit unsure of herself at times and can be oblivious to what’s in front of her. Her determination makes her amazing, and whether it is work or her personal life, her confidence doesn’t overshadow her occasional doubt which what makes her so genuine.

I loved the complications in this story, and I loved how rooted in reality they were. It was nothing grand or overblown but different and unique, and the everyday nature of the story while still being climactic and dramatic made it intriguing.

This is a slow-burn romance, and while it seems like it is going to be a fast, wild, love story Williams paces it remarkably well. The romance is natural with understandable barriers, and without a love at first sight passion but still enough to start something. There is also restraint with things like sex scenes but Williams doesn’t make it plain either, nor does she skip over it like it isn’t important to the story or character relationship.

The story is clever, classy, and adult with real issues, but has the romance in it with style and heartfelt sincerity. With great characters and clever writing Williams has added to the City Love series a wonderful narrative that brings the realities of life with the dreams of romance together with resounding success. I look forward to continuing the rest of the series because I know it is only going to get better.

You can purchase The Pitch via the following

Momentum | Barnes and Noble

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Amazon UK | Google Play

iBooks Store | Kobo

 

Momentum’s Facebook Book Club: The Boyfriend Sessions by Belinda Williams

This Thursday is the first ever Momentum book club. The first book being discussed is Belinda Williams’ The Boyfriend Sessions. If you read my review you know all about it, it is a great book and one that is filled with laughter, friendship, and wonderful moments of seriousness that shows how relationships of all kinds affect us. Belinda will be stopping by to join the conversation and you can chat and ask questions about the bits you liked, loved, or didn’t with other people.

For all the information about where, when, and how to join in check out Momentum’s website, Facebook page, or on Belinda’s website. If you have read the book come and chat about it with others, if not there is still time to grab a copy and get reading!

 

 

 

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