Book Review: Blank Space by Jennifer Young

blank-spaceBronte O’Hara lives an unremarkable life in Edinburgh, working for the Caledonian Bank. Her world is thrown into confusion when she returns home to finds an injured and bleeding man in her kitchen. Marcus is suffering from memory loss, so she has no way of knowing whether he means her harm, or who attacked him. However, their paths are destined to cross again, and when they do, Bronte begins to realise that everything is tied into her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Eden, an anarchist who’s part of the anti-capitalism movement. With the G8 summit due to take place in Edinburgh, the city’s about to become a hotbed of not-so-peaceful protest, and as Bronte’s feelings for Marcus deepen, she’s left wondering who, if anyone, she can really trust.

Blank Space is one of those novels where it’s best to know as little about it as you can before you read it, so you can best enjoy the twists and turns as they arrive, though it’s not spoiling things too much to reveal that almost everyone in this book is hiding major secrets. Jennifer Young uses contemporary political and economic events as the backdrop for a fade-to-black romantic suspense storyline that explores questions of identity, trust, and moral principles. Bronte’s dilemma is simple and believable– given how badly her relationship with Eden ended, how can she love Marcus when she’s not entirely sure who he really is or what his true motives are? The “ooh, banks are evil” sentiment is occasionally ladled on a little too thickly, but it’s contrasted with some wry comments about those with anti-corporate sentiments who need people to work for banks and the like to give them something to protest against. Bronte is an appealingly feisty heroine, her budding attraction to Marcus is low-key but realistically handled, and there are moments of genuinely scary tension in a story will keep you gripped to the end. The book is billed as the first in a series, so it will be interesting to see whether Book Two develops Bronte and Marcus’ romance, or, as the previous Lake Garda series by Jennifer Young has done, introduces new characters to the set-up. Either way, it’s bound to be interesting.

Blank Space is available from Amazon UK and US. I was given a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Running Man By Jennifer Young

Giorgia Manfredi has been groomed to work in the family’s hotel on the shores of Lake Garda, and has never reallyrunning-man experienced a life outside its walls. When she’s the victim of an attempted mugging, she wants to thank Danny Davies, the mysterious man who returned her bag. Danny has secrets he’d rather Giorgia didn’t know about, and so he runs into the shadows where he feels more comfortable. As the fortunes of the Manfredis and the Davies grow increasingly entwined and the differences between Danny and Giorgia come sharply into focus, can a boy from the wrong side of the tracks really find happiness with a girl who’s never known anything but luxury?

Running Man is the third book in Jennifer Young’s Lake Garda series, and while this story concentrates on Giorgia where the previous books, A Portrait of My Love and Coming Home, have featured her older sister, Leona, you really need to read Coming Home first, as Running Man deals with the fall-out from the big revelations in that book and so contains plot spoilers. Taken in isolation, Running Man is an enjoyable and twisty thriller that has fun with the well-worn trope of opposites attracting. Danny is smitten with Giorgia at first sight, and the attraction is strong and mutual, but there’s a rival for her affections in her fellow hotel employee, Matt. However, Matt’s intentions may not be as honorable as they seem. He’s in danger of losing his beloved boat, the Rosaria, because he’s overstretched himself financially to pay for her, so getting involved with a wealthy heiress could be the answer to all his problems. Throw Danny’s brother and petty crook, Will, into the mix, and things become darker and even more complicated…

For fans of sweet romance, and readers who are keen to find out how the events of Coming Home have resolved themselves, this is the perfect light read. Danny and Giorgia have realistic problems to overcome, rather than the artificial conflicts that are so often used to keep a couple apart, and their romance is played out against a backdrop of compelling family tensions. Running Man feels like a natural conclusion to the Lake Garda series, but given the Manfredis’ sprawling family structure, who’s to say new relatives couldn’t be introduced for future books.

Running Man is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK and Smashwords, and you can find out more about Jennifer Young on her Tirgearr author page.

Book Review: Going Back by Jennifer Young

GoingBackbyJenniferYoung-200Leona Castellano has only just returned from an eventful trip to Italy where she was the victim of a kidnapping , but she’s already planning her return. She hopes she can end the feud between her own family and that of the man she’s falling in love with, Nico Manfredi, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to bring about a reconciliation. However, she hasn’t counted on the Manfredi family’s bitter old patriarch, Faustino. The last thing Faustino wants to see is his grandson in love with a Castellano, and so he reveals a shocking secret that threatens to destroy Leona and Manfredi’s relationship almost before it’s begun…

Going Back is Book Two in the Lake Garda series, but it doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the first book in the series, A Portrait of My Love, because Jennifer Young swiftly fills in the events that have brought Leona to this point.  The story offers two romances for the price of one, as Leona’s mother, Alexandra, who has her ow n troubled history with the Manfredis and a desire to keep Leona and Nico apart, is coming to realise the true extent of own feelings for the man she married on the rebound, Simon Smart, and believes there’s still a chance for them to find love even though they’ve been divorced for years. Their gentle but sincere attraction is in contrast to the hotter burn of the passion between the feisty Leona and  the equally impetuous Nico, who both tend to act first and consider the consequences afterwards.

A good chunk of the action is set in and around  the town of Verona, including a visit made by Alexandra and Simon to Juliet’s balcony, and the tale of Romeo and Juliet is a strong influence on Going Back. But Young gives the concept of warring families a contemporary twist or two, making you root for both Leona and Nico as they attempt to thwart Faustino’s evil plans.

My only quibble is that the chapters from Leona’s point of view are told in the first person and those of the other characters in the third person, a stylistic choice I’ve never been very keen on – I’d rather see all first person or all third person. But that’s a personal preference and one that doesn’t really detract from the gripping storyline and the satisfying emotional resolution. For fans of sweet romance with a dash of suspense, and those who dream of love under the Italian sun, Going Back is a recommended read.

Going Back is published by Tirgearr and is available from retailers including Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords, and Apple.