Instant Karma by Donna Marie Oldfield

Published: 19th July 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Sonic Pop Publishing
Pages: 325
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Do you believe in karma? Materialistic, selfish estate agent Siena Robinson doesn’t – until she hits a disastrous run of bad luck that makes her wonder if she has brought it upon herself.

In Instant Karma, Siena moves to the quiet village of Fenville, where the locals are opposing a development that will see a beloved hall and library replaced by new flats and shops. What her neighbours don’t know is that she is one of the developers and stands to make millions from the deal.

But then Siena discovers that her high-school sweetheart, Aiden, is leading the protest and she finds herself acting as a double agent who is torn between her neighbours’ plight and making lots of money.

Will Siena betray her new friends and let greed ruin a second chance with Aiden? And will she ever find out who or what is behind her run of bad karma?

Note: I was given a copy of this book for review.

After having time to think about it this is more 3.5 stars than 3 I think. The story Oldfield has created is all about the effects of karma and the message that what goes around comes around and bad karma comes to those who deserve it. While this idea could be very moralistic for the reader it works because Siena is a character who is very stubborn and selfish and can’t really see or accept that her bad luck is caused by her own behaviour. This brings the focus more on Siena’s character than on the karma itself so you can ignore the “you get what you deserve” message that flows through it.

Siena is a person you do kind of dislike, but without disliking her you can’t understand why she does what she does. You wouldn’t like someone who acts the way Siena does and to do so means the story does not work. It is not a strong dislike, more of an intense judgement about her and her behaviour. You judge her actions and get a nice feeling when she gets her comeuppance.

Siena has an attitude along the lines of “if they don’t care about me I won’t care about them”, but even if they do she brushes them off, finds the bad in people and always assumes the worst. She has her group of friends but they are similar to her and she cannot see the problems with herself as a result. The few realisations she has come after she tries to improve her attitude and a few home truths slowly start to change her way of thinking but it is a long road and she falls more often than she succeeds. But as much as it irked me it took her so long I liked that there was no instant turn around. Doing one nice thing does not change Siena; it takes time and some severe bouts of bad karma for her to truly start to change, and not just for her own benefit, real genuine change. And it is the attempt that makes you start to hope for her, that maybe she is better than the selfish and nasty person she has turned into.

When she reconnects with Aiden Siena tries to improve herself but this is purely for selfish reasons, to make him think she was a better person rather than to actually improve herself. But in doing this Aiden helps her remember the person she was eight years ago when they were together, the nicer, kinder person rather than the snobby and judgemental person she has become. Siena tries to be good for Aiden, to impress him and to show him she is a nice person, but her desire to do better is also powered by her attempt at better karma, but when there is no instant gratification she feels she deserves, she falls back into her old ways.

What I liked was that Oldfield gives us a hint at how Siena became she person she was, and how she gradually changed from the person Aiden knew to the person she becomes. Events in her past and conscious decisions have shaped who she has become and this helps understand her more, and makes you pity her slightly.

One review I read described this story like A Christmas Carol in modern real estate which is the perfect description, but with fewer ghosts. There is definitely something that keeps you reading even though Siena gets up your nose. I think I kept waiting for her to come to her senses and realise the impact her bad decisions and selfish ways were having on her life. I kept expecting that the next chapter would be where she changes her life and sees her fortunes improve.

The changes do come about though and I think at just the right time. Oldfield concludes the story pretty well with some surprises but it works in a way, without being too incredulous or unbelievable. The ending is dramatic but exciting and after the gradual build up in anticipation about the development as well as Siena’s bad karma, it all comes to a head in a wonderful fashion. There are some unexpected surprises that add a bit of mystery to the mix but they manage to work out well. There are a few things left unanswered at the end that I would have liked to see outcomes and consequences of but other than that there is a good concluding sense about Siena’s future. She knows it is not going to perfect but she is going to face it and embrace it as it comes.


Purchase Instant Karma via the following

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

 Amazon Australia

 Amazon Canada

The Boyfriend Sessions (City Love #1) by Belinda Williams

Published: 23rd October 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Momentum
Pages: 339
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Please take your seats. The journey to happiness may involve some turbulence.

Christa Morrison has commitment issues, a fact that quickly becomes apparent after she flees a romantic proposal in Paris, the thunder of impending wedding bells ringing in her ears.

Back in Sydney, she turns to her closest friends for reassurance. Instead they offer her a startling and painful diagnosis: she’s a relationship junkie. The cure? An extreme rehabilitation program guaranteed to reform even the most L-word illiterate.

With her girlfriends along for the ride, Christa commits to their radical plan and the chances of recovery look good. The only problem is Max Spencer. The one guy Christa—and her friends—never expected her to fall for. But he’s proving to be a temptation she may not have the willpower to resist …

For a shot at happiness, is being with Max worth betraying her friends? And will Christa have the strength to trust her heart when her colorful relationship history comes back to haunt her?

It might just be enough to make a poor girl leave the country (again).

Note: I was provided a copy of this book for review.

After fleeing Paris after being proposed to, Christa’s friends make her promise to be single for awhile and take a look at why her relationships have been unsuccessful. But what starts out as a fun and good-humoured discussion about Christa’s past boyfriends soon turns into a serious evaluation of her life and her past. With this story Williams has created something that is quite complex beneath a jovial exterior, and it isn’t until you are submerged in its characters and narrative that you realise there is a lot more going on, and is sometimes a lot more serious than first impressions suggest.

As soon as Christa promises to swear off men for six months you just know that is when she is going to meet someone but the way Williams explores it is clever and she doesn’t rush anything narrative wise or make it too cheesy or simplistic either. It is interesting to see how it plays it out considering the ban, and it does not always go in the direction you were expecting either which gives it another level.

Williams is very good at capturing the dynamic between the girlfriends and the relationship and friendship between them. The conversations are natural and Williams demonstrates the friend discussions well, each girl talking over the top of one another, interrupting one another, and getting sidetracked onto other things.

There are diverse personalities among them and the friendships differ in strength and style. Williams doesn’t try and make everyone perfect and she doesn’t make each woman a certain type, so different from the others that there are the four totally different people who happen to be friends. Instead she shows characters with unique personalities but who have a strong history and connection with one another, each with strengths and weaknesses and flaws of their own.

I loved that things are hinted at in Christa’s past that didn’t need a huge revisit or recapping. Details about her parents and her boyfriends get the right about of mention and detail. The reader does not need a huge, detailed, information overload about who they are as characters, instead Williams uses them to focus on Christa and expand on her character. Williams also uses this technique when providing information about Christa, her friends, and Max. Details and histories are skilfully woven into the narrative and are provided through Christa’s thoughts, casual remarks, and dialogue between characters. This adds to the realistic nature of the story and makes it feel more natural.

While there are times when Christa got on my nerves, especially concerning Max and her questions about his past relationship, most of the time she was great to read about. With her own ignorance about her relationships and her emotions it didn’t feel like she was intentionally being difficult and seeing the realisations slowly emerge was a great character development and one that made you understand her more.

This is not a typical romance novel where Christa’s past relationships are looked at and analysed adoringly. Williams has created a story that looks at how relationships affect people and how not understanding or acknowledging the impact that these cause can have lasting effects. There is a wonderful serious underside to the laughing and the wine and it brings the best out of the narrative. Seeing this switch from the informal and humorous discussions to a real reflection is great and it changes Christa for the better. I really enjoyed this novel because it didn’t go in any of the directions I thought it would and it is complicated, unexpected, and satisfying. Williams has managed to balance the light heartedness and seriousness wonderfully which has resulted in an engaging and thoughtful story.

Purchase The Boyfriend Sessions via the following

Amazon AU

Amazon UK





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Cover Reveal: Harbour by Penelope Louleas


I have got a wonderful cover reveal treat for you all. Penelope Louleas‘ debut contemporary romance novel Harbour, the first book in the Runaway Home series, is due out May 20th and I am here to give you a sneak peek with a few teasers and the wonderful cover.

Harbour Manning’s life wasn’t going to plan. 

After finding her boyfriend, Derek, between the thighs of another woman, she was forced to re evaluate her life. When an offer to uproot and move to New York is presented to her, she grabs it with both hands and runs with it. 

Lincoln Whitmore’s engagement to model Rachael started with fireworks, but soon the love they shared diminished. On his final night in the city before a much-needed escape, Lincoln meets a gorgeous and funny woman, a woman so refreshing he is torn between wanting to stay and wanting to run. 

A chance meeting has Harbour unable to forget the mystery man who captivated her instantly, and she once again finds herself thrust into his world. 

What would you do if you found the one? How long would it take you to realize you couldn’t live without them? And what happens when someone from your miserable past comes back with a reason for you to let go of your happy future? 

When all the odds seem against her, will she stay and fight or go running back home? 

Life doesn’t always go to plan, but that doesn’t mean you’re heading in the wrong direction.

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