Straight as a Jalebi by Ritu Bhathal

I was offered a copy of Straight As A Jalebi to read in return for a review quote. As you know, I try to keep up with any new romance novels that feature South Asian characters, so I was delighted to read it.

Sunny is the ‘good’ son. He works in the family business and is generally very straight-laced. His niche shop in Birmingham has started a collaboration with the Indian clothing designer Milan, whose dazzling wedding clothes are bringing UK desi brides to the shop in droves.

Milan is the polar opposite of Sunny. He’s flamboyant and over the top, playing to his campy designer image.

Sunny and Milan are drawn inexorably towards each other, but neither of them can come out to their families. Before they know it, they’re both engaged to nice, suitable girls to be married. What are they going to do now?

It’s nice to see South Asian rep. It’s even nicer to see queer South Asian rep. I also liked that Sunny’s side of the story was rooted firmly in the diaspora, so that you got to see Indians with all sorts of different outlooks on life.

This is a delightful male-male sweet romance. Sunny is just adorable and Milan is the perfect guy for him! I raced through this book in one highly enjoyable weekend. 

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Book review: Do You want to start a scandal by Tessa Dare

Sometimes, you’re just in the mood for something light, fast paced and funny. This book delivers on all of those promises.
Charlotte is the youngest of three daughters and her mother is basically Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice – anxious to marry off her daughters to rich men. Charlotte tries to save Piers from her mother and inadvertently stumbles into a scandal and an arranged engagement.
Piers has his own secrets, which means that he is in danger. He can’t protect someone like Charlotte.
I really enjoyed the interaction and the respect between the two main characters. As with all books by Tessa Dare, it was very funny.

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Premade romance book covers (with titles generated by ChatGPT)

A collection of ten illustrated book covers for romance novels

Over the Christmas period, I spent some time playing with ChatGPT, just like everyone else did. I wanted to challenge myself to make some book covers, but I needed inspiration. On a whim, I asked ChatGPT to give me some chicklit/ romcom titles. It came up with a huge list.

Eventually, out of 200 titles, I picked 25 which sounded like they could be on real books and made book covers for them all.

One of the reasons for setting myself this silly challenge was so that I could practise my Canva skills. If I’m going to do YouTube videos showing authors how to use Canva for their marketing, I should know what I’m talking about. I taught myself how to use Canva (and the basics of graphic design) by watching YouTube videos and just messing about with it for years.

Here are 24 of the covers in all their glory (25 looks messy). So … do you want to buy one? I’m selling them as premade ebook covers on my Etsy site. Each cover will be sold only once. If you buy one you get a jpeg of the book cover (with the title and author name changed to your title and name). You also get a link to the editable Canva template – so that if you want to tweak something, you can do.

Use them for an existing book that you’re self publishing. Or as inspiration for one you haven’t even started yet.

For those who are curious about animated book covers (where the cover is animated to start with and you use a static version as your ebook cover) the Love and The Internet cover has animated hearts. (If you buy this one, you’ll get a static jpeg image to use as your cover and a link to the Canva file so that you can use the MP4 video.

If you want me to make you a bespoke book cover, just email me.

A ghost In Shining Armour by Therese Beharrie

This was a fun book. Gemma can see ghosts. She has to help them finish their unfinished business so that they can pass on to wherever it is they go after that. If she acknowledges them openly, then other people can see and hear them (they appear to be normal people, apart from they know that they’re dead).
When she accidentally kisses the ghost Levi, she’s surprised to find that he’s been sent to help her, rather than needing her help himself.
Levi wants to get back to his old life, so that he can save his sister from feeling guilty about his death. If he succeeds in his task of helping Gemma reconcile with her long lost sister, then he will cease to exist in Gemma’s timeline but go back to his sister. If he fails, he will never see his sister again.
I wasn’t very well when I read this, and struggled to get into it at first – but that’s on me, not the book. I didn’t see how on earth they were going to get through to a happy ending, which was a really nice thing. It’s not often you have a conflict that genuinely feels insurmountable. Levi is such a kind (if grumpy) hero and Gemma is definitely the sunshiney one.
I like this new(ish) genre of cosy paranormal romance with less fangs and claws. It leads to some interesting and thought provoking dilemmas. I hope there’s more.
I received a review copy from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest review.

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Book review: Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

This book made me so hungry!
Reena loves to bake. She doesn’t particularly love being out of work though, or the fact that her parents are trying to set her up with a husband. Again. Only this time, he lives across the landing from her and the first time she met him (before she knew her parents were intending for her to marry him), she liked him.
Nadim likes a lot of things. Reena, for one. Also, bread. He really likes food.
When Reena’s career hits a snag, she spots a cooking competition that would let her fulfill her dream of becoming a baker. But you need to be a couple to do it. After a night with too much beer, she and Nadim film an entry and send it in. When they get through to the next round, they agree to pretend to be engaged for the duration of competition.

There’s so much food in this book. I kept having to get up to have a snack.
I liked that they discussed the Afro-Indian diaspora and Afro-Indian food in particular. I also liked that, during the course of the book, Reena healed her relationships with her family too.

Overall, this was a tremendously fun book to read. Just expect to need to eat while reading.

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Book Review: The Practice Kiss by Sara Martin (My K-Drama Life Book 1)

I picked this up after reading an article about books influenced by K-Drama. I love K-dramas, but when I watch one, it takes up all my concentration. I’m a bit busy right now, so I figured I’d get a quick K-drama hit by reading this book.
Chloe goes to Korea for a job – which turns out to be a scam. Penniless and drunk, in the rain, she gets spotted by a talent scout and offered a job. She’s cast in a K-drama alongside a handsome actor … who knew her when she was a teenager.
I wanted a quick K-drama hit and that was exactly what I got. I enjoyed reading this book and zipped through it. The only downside was that it didn’t fully end. I think you need to read all three books to get the full story with the happy ending.

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New covers for the Trewton Royd books

Last month, I went to the RNA conference where there were many excellent talks. One of the talks I attended was on book covers. It was led by Stuart Bache, who is an expert cover designer. He offered to critique some covers that people had submitted. I sent in my cover for Snowed In. Stuart’s comments were:

The covers for small town romance have moved on a bit – here’s what the book covers in that genre have in common now:

  • The countryside takes up the lower third of the cover. The sky makes up the rest.
  • Interesting fonts, not always swirly ones, but always eye-catching.
  • Seasonal elements or foliage around the edges and at the top to ‘frame’ the image.
  • The author name is also in an interesting font and not always small. Sometimes it’s at the top of the cover, sometimes at the bottom.

He also suggested that I remove the banner behind the author name because it looks amateurish.

There was a lot more useful stuff in the talk. He’s an expert at what he does and his comments were insightful. So, I came home and spent some time trawling through Depositphotos trying to find the right sort of images to make covers that looked more like the covers I was seeing in the book charts right now.

This is where I ended up. If you wanted to try any of the books, just click on the cover and it should take you to a page that lets you choose your shop:

If you read on a device that’s not an Amazon one, I have news. I will be moving these books out of Kindle Unlimited and putting them on Apple, Kobo, Google Play Books etc over the next few months.

Playing For Love (by Jeevani Charika) is out today!

My alter ego, Jeevani Charika has a new book out today! Playing For Love is a romcom. Here’s a tweet that tells you all about it (in the style of a Reddit post):

I (28F) am in love w my computer game buddy (??M) but he’s not interested because he’s in love w someone IRL. Also, there’s this IT guy at work (30M) who’s asking me out. He’s cute, but he’s not gamer guy, is he? Advice please. PLAYING FOR LOVE. Out NOW:

‘LOVED it… Romantic, witty, insightful and engaging.’ Sue Moorcroft, Sunday Times bestselling author of A Home in the Sun

When Sam’s not working on her fledgling business, she spends her time secretly video-gaming. Her crush is famous gamer Blaze, and she’s thrilled when she’s teamed up with him in a virtual tournament.

But what Sam doesn’t know is that Blaze is the alter ego of Luke, her shy colleague – and he has a secret crush too.

Luke has a crush on Sam.
Sam has a crush on Blaze.

How will this game of love play out?

A fun, feel-good romance for fans of You’ve Got Mail, Helen Hoang, Jasmine Guillory and Lindsey Kelk.

‘Fabulous… A perfect lazy Sunday read… Such a treat!’ Sarah Bennett, bestselling author of the Mermaids Point series

‘A sweet, witty story… Delightful.’ Farah Heron, author of Accidentally Engaged

Book reivew: Murder Most Cornish by Kate Johnson

Murder Most Cornish (A Molly Higgins mystery)Murder Most Cornish by Kate Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ned is running a murder mystery weekend in his crumbling old mansion. Kitty, a well known actress, playing one of the roles in the cast. Everyone is expecting a fake murder, but they get a real one instead!

This is the second book in the series, but you could read it as a standalone. Molly and Connor, who are the main characters in book one are in this one too. Molly is the one who solves the mystery. Ned and Kitty are the romantic subplot for this book. Kitty is smart and outgoing and the perfect foil for Ned, who is rather shambolic. I love Ned. He’s such a delightful mess.

There’s a big house, glamrous guests and a murder. There’s also romance and jokes and quite a lot of Cornwall. I really enjoyed this book.

Usual disclaimer. I know the author in real life. We belong to the same writers organisations. I received a review copy of this book from Netgalley.

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US Buy link