The Romance Reviews

Monday, 10 January 2022

"The Texts Before We Met" - Contemporary Romance by Matilda Swinney



Tilly dreams of becoming an oscar winning actress. She also dreams of something far less family-friendly. She has always longed to be dominated. During an acting course in Brighton, she decides to embrace her desires and makes a risky decision. She agrees to meet the stranger she has been talking to online for a mere few weeks.

As the acting course progresses and Tilly begins to make friends, her texts with her online mystery man accelerate too. She worries whether she has made the right decision. Should she listen to her heart’s desire or pay attention to the warning signs? Is she in over her head?

On the day they are due to meet, she races to the five star London hotel her date has arranged. She's running late, but she's ready to finally find out who he is. Will he live up to her expectations and be the sexy dominating guy she has always wanted?


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I looked up at the polished skateboard sign above my head. It read Happy Hostel. 

The thing was, I wasn’t exactly feeling happy. My fragility could be down to three main reasons.

1.    It was too early in the morning. Seven a.m. was a sickening time to get up.

2.    It was day one of my acting course. I always got nervous when starting something new.

3.    My recent love mission. My new dating venture was highly risky and completely out of my 

comfort zone. It was taking over my mind. I couldn’t think about anything else.

As I washed my spoon and bowl in the industrial hostel kitchen sink, my phone pinged.

I jumped in fright. It was him.

What are you doing today?

I texted back quickly. He didn’t like waiting.

I’m starting my acting course today.

I want to buy you lingerie.

That was intimate. We’d only been texting for a few weeks. Should I tell him not to? 

But I could do with some new knickers. My favourite ones had lost the elastic in them and 

my nude bra’s lining had started coming out. My underwear was in a sorry state.

You don’t have a matching white set, do you?

No. I don’t. Thank you.

My texts felt wooden but I knew he preferred it that way. He liked me to be straight to the point 

and just answer questions rather than talk too much. He had so many rules already.

 Are we still at 97%?

I smiled. We had a secret code already. Ninety-seven meant how much I was thinking about him. 

If it got to one hundred it would mean I was totally consumed and had no other thoughts whatsoever.

Slightly less 96%. I thought I should be truthful. It’s only because of this course. 

Yes. I’m happy about that. It allows me to push you more when I meet you. 

Because my percentage is higher it allows you to push me more?

Yes exactly, I demand 100% for just one moment . . .

He was so intense. He was the only guy who’d felt right online. I’d chosen well. He made me feel

like we were in a film.

Have a good day beautiful.

Thank you.

I breathed out shakily. Why did this feel so scary? I couldn’t get distracted though. 

For now, I had to focus on my acting course. It was only a week long. I wanted to give it 

everything I had so I’d win an Oscar in two years’ time and nudge into the exclusive 

acting circle of Hollywood. I’d talk to Leonardo about dolphins and stand 

next to George silently. He’d appreciate silence. Plus, it would be nice to smell him. 

I bet his scent was intoxicating. I’d probably faint and have to be carried out on a stretcher. 

Hopefully, a famous film director would volunteer to accompany me to the hospital. 

Once I’d regained consciousness, we’d talk about my expressive face and how 

I’d be perfect in his next film.

Matilda Swinney

The Girl Who Jumped

Thursday, 16 December 2021

LILLIAN AND THE ITALIANS - Mystery and Romance by David Gee

Looking for her wayward son in 1960s Italy, an English widow encounters revelations and begins a dangerous romance.

 In Venice Lillian Rutherford meets the ex-gigolo who has shared the last four years of Andrew’s life; his disclosures force her to confront a side of her son that she never suspected. Going on to Amalfi, she meets the charismatic Prince Massimo Monfalcone, whose playboy son is being held to ransom in Corsica with Andrew. Massimo distracts Lillian with his life story: his first wife was murdered in a Sicilian blood-feud; his second wife killed herself because of his infidelity. As they wait for news of their sons, a bond grows between Lillian and the Prince... 




Venice 1966. Lillian Rutherford is dining on the island of Torcello with Carlo Marini, the ex-gigolo who has shared the last four years of her son Andrew’s life.


Lillian declined a dessert or a liqueur. She drank a cup of black coffee while Carlo ate a chunk of stale-looking local cheese and served himself from a bottle of grappa which the wine-steward left on the table.

She was sure there was more – much more – to be told. ‘You said something earlier about a scandal two years ago,’ she reminded him; ‘and some people leaving under a cloud. Was Andrew involved with these people?’

‘Well, yes, he was,’ Carlo admitted. ‘Except that he didn’t really get into that set until the year they left. For our first year we were busy just trying to make ends meet, although right from the start Andrew was sniffing out the local scene to see who was worth getting to know.’

‘But why did these people leave?’ Lillian persisted.

Carlo paused for a moment, sipping his grappa, before embarking on a description of what he called ‘the moral climate of Venice’. In spite of all the nobility and the artists and the Jet Set visitors it remained, he said, a small and gossipy community, very provincial: ‘a lot like Hastings, according to Andrew!’ Lillian laughed at this improbable comparison. Every season produced its crop of scenes and scandals, he went on, and certain families were known to have outrageous skeletons in their closets; but for the most part the residents led circumspect lives in a town where it was impossible to keep anything secret for long.

In recent years a number of very rich new immigrants had settled in the city, buying and restoring apartments and palaces, entertaining and befriending the local nobility and expatriate artists. During the summer of 1964, one of these newcomers had exceeded the relatively elastic bounds of propriety by insulting the wife of the chief-of-police on the beach at Lido. The incident triggered a strong reaction from the normally easy-going questura.

The first victim of the ensuing ‘purge’ was not the man who had offended the questore’s wife but an art-dealer from London who, despite the intercessions of influential friends, was expelled from the country. He was put on a train to Paris where, within days, he committed suicide. Others were similarly ejected or had their residency permits revoked. A few more chose flight as the wisest course, resulting in a minor exodus in the autumn of 1964.

‘And was Andrew involved in this “exodus”?’ Lillian asked.

‘It was about then that we moved to Burano,’ said Carlo. ‘Although this really had nothing to do with it.’

‘But why did they leave?’ she enquired again. ‘This poor man who killed himself, what was he guilty of?’

Carlo poured himself another grappa. ‘Well, the questore – chief-of-police – was a strange and vindictive man, a Sicilian. He had a few bees in his bonnet: Communists –’ he shrugged – ‘and one or two other things.’

She gave a derisive laugh. ‘Come now, Sharlz – I’m sorry – Carlo – I know I’m just a country bumpkin, but you can’t expect me to believe that people who could afford to restore palaces were Communist sympathizers.’

Carlo drained his glass at a single draught. He looked straight at her.

‘They were homosexuals,’ he said.

A waiter refilled Lillian’s coffee-cup. She picked it up with fingers that suddenly trembled. ‘Are you trying to tell me that my son is a homosexual?’ She pronounced the word in the popular English manner, with a long first ‘o’: Homer-sexual.

‘I’m sorry, Mrs Rutherford,’ Carlo said.

* * * * *

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Romantic Suspense - "Rubble" by Skye McNeil. Third Biker Romance in the Macha MC Series

𝙎𝙝𝙚'𝙨 𝙨𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙛𝙛 𝙧𝙚𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙥𝙨. 𝙃𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙣𝙤 𝙙𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙛𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙖𝙩 𝙖𝙡𝙡. 𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙮 𝙘𝙖𝙣 𝙤𝙣𝙡𝙮 𝙛𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙞𝙧 𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙨𝙤 𝙡𝙤𝙣𝙜.

Jupiter Quinn is on the run from an abusive relationship. Finding shelter in Macha MC, her goal is to keep her head down until the divorce is finalized. What Jupiter doesn’t expect is to fall for the club’s toughest man who also happens to be a former MMA fighter.

Rubble Hardy is Macha’s sergeant at arms and enforcer for the club. He doesn’t date. Never has and never will. Women are trouble and he’s not about to let down his guard. But when Jupiter Quinn walks through the club doors, his heart shifts, and the powerful desire to protect her only outweighs his feelings.

When Jupiter’s past collides with her newfound future, she’s forced to either flee or face the danger.

Can Rubble keep her safe, or will they tap out? 

Author of Romantic Suspense & Contemporary Romance novels that are smart, sexy, and sassy.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

"Kevlar" - A motorcycle romance by Skye McNeil

Second chances only come once for an FBI agent and her bad boy biker in Skye McNeil's motorcycle romance "Kevlar" (Macha MC #2).


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Hunting down criminal motorcycle clubs is Nikita Stockdale’s job as an FBI agent. Her shadowy past is the reason she can’t let any MC slip through her fingers… until a case takes her unexpectedly to the man she thought long gone.

Kevlar Dorous is coasting. In his life and in the club. Recently home from deployment, he decompresses into his new normal. By chance, he sees the woman who kept him grounded in a rival MC bar, and Kevlar can’t help but want to save her.

When Nikita joins forces with Macha MC to take down a human trafficking ring, she has no choice but to return to her dark past in order to save the man she loves. Her well-thought plan goes awry and Kevlar must save her before it’s too late and she’s lost forever.

Will the club bring them together or tear them apart?

Thank you for your consideration. 

Skye McNeil
Author of Romantic Suspense & Contemporary Romance novels that are smart, sexy, and sassy.