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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Great Mistake!

by Anna Campbell

Wonderful Aussie author Sarah Mayberry  has ventured into self-publishing with HER BEST WORST MISTAKE, a sequel to her 2010 Blaze HOT ISLAND NIGHTS. I loved HOT ISLAND NIGHTS so much that I gave it a glowing review here on the Romance Dishes in September 2010.

In that book, repressed English girl Elizabeth Morgan discovers her father isn’t dead as she believed but is very much alive and living on Phillip Island outside Melbourne. This turns her life upside down. She ditches her polite, decorous life and her polite, decorous fiancé and takes off for the other side of the world where she finds love with gorgeous surfer (and tortured hero) Nate.

HER BEST WORST MISTAKE tells the fiance’s love story and is mostly based back in chilly London during the winter that Elizabeth is in Australia soaking up romance and sunshine. Sarah writes beautiful friends into lovers stories. This one is a twist on that – it’s an enemies into lovers story and it’s brilliant.

Martin St. Clair is one of my favorite sorts of heroes, the stuffed shirt who discovers his inner fire when he falls in love with the last person he ever saw himself wanting. Laura Lee Guhrke does a great line in this sort of hero too and it’s always delicious watching their pompous ways melt away to reveal the passionate man beneath the buttoned-down facade. What’s lovely about this style of hero is that he starts as a man of principle and he remains that in essence; he just discovers his inner tiger along the way!

Elizabeth’s best friend Violet Sutcliffe and Martin have always hated one another. She thinks he’s an old-before-his time stick-in-the-mud. He thinks she’s a flighty, promiscuous flake who’s been born with a silver spoon in her mouth and has had life far too easy. But when Elizabeth runs away, Violet and Martin are thrown together and it rapidly becomes clear that all that sniping and hatred was outward manifestation of frustrated attraction. The first kiss in this book is a doozy – all that repressed longing comes out and how!

The dialogue crackles – I love the way Martin and Violet snark at each other, neither giving an inch. And all the time while they’re fighting so hard to keep the other one at a distance, they’re falling helplessly and completely in love. It’s also wonderful to watch how both Martin and Violet reluctantly and sometimes inadvertently reveal their vulnerable souls. This book could be retitled Pride and Preconceptions! And man, are the love scenes hawt! Martin and Violet can’t keep their hands off each other. No matter how unacceptable they both find this heady attraction, neither can resist the sizzling chemistry between them.

HER BEST WORST MISTAKE is funny, wildly sexy, surprisingly moving as emotional truths emerge when a relationship that’s meant to be purely physical develops in directions neither Martin nor Violet imagined, and beautifully wise. One of the best books I’ve read in ages and I highly recommend it. You can buy it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Her-Best-Worst-Mistake-ebook/dp/B00807FKPA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338160417&sr=8-1 For other stockists, check out Sarah’s website: http://www.sarahmayberry.com/herbestworstmistake

So are you a fan of enemies into lovers books? What about books featuring repressed heroes who break out into a whole new world when they fall in love? Any favorites in either style?

40 comments:

  1. Wow, this review is phenomenal. I want this book now

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  2. Sallie, I just loved it. I've loved all Sarah's books but with this one, she just smashed it out of the park. Seriously, run and buy it!!!

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  3. Great review of a great book. The enemies into lovers in this book was SO believeable. Brilliant pick, Anna. One of my favourite enemies to lovers is All Jacked Up by Lorelei James. And Jack is a bit of a stuffed shirt too.

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  4. Kylie, you've read this? Isn't it great? And doesn't it sizzle? All that repressed passion, oh, my! I must check out the LJ. I hadn't heard of it but I love enemies into lovers stories.

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  5. Heh! Anna, GREAT review for a fabulous book. Sarah has long been one of my favorite writers--she does the enemies to lovers SO well, especially the co-worker/enemy to lovers... *sigh* Can't Get Enough and Her Secret Fling are so delicious and re-readable. And ah, the stuffed shirt is such a delight! It's such fun to see them get a little mussed up, isn't it?

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  6. Fedora, this one was a delight. And I loved that he was still true to himself at the end, as was Violet. They were richer characters and more fulfilled and a lot wiser, but they were still essentiall the same people. Really skilful writing! Actually you're right about Her Secret Fling - that's an enemies into lovers one too, isn't it? It's a trope I really like - apparently you do too (you have SUCH good taste, LOL!). Love mussed stuff shirts too!

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  7. Wow, great review, Anna! I've read some of Sarah Mayberry's books before and she is a good author.

    I'm not usually a fan of enemies to lovers stories because I usually think about the Harlequins in the mid-70s where the hero was downright mean and even a jerk.....But, your review has me wanting to pick this one up.

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  8. Hey, Deb, thanks for saying you liked the review. Seriously give this one a go, it's not like those older books at all - well, apart from all the passion, but we LIKE that! ;-)

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  9. Since when do you go to the dark side and get an e-reader Ms Campbell??? :-)

    I loved this book but the I've loved everything Sarah has written - I am a true Mayberry fan girl!

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  10. Amy, m'dear, of COURSE I didn't get an e-reader. I love Sarah's stuff so much I bought it as a digital file and printed it out - not ideal but this was such a good book, I couldn't let it go unread just because it's only digital! Isn't this a great book?

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  11. I love Sarah Mayberry's stories. The first Blaze I ever read was 'Can't Get Enough'. I still sometimes think of Claire and Jack in that lift! Can't wait to read 'Her Best Worst Mistake'. Sarah is so wonderful at dialogue.

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  12. Anna, this sounds like a fabulous book! I love the sound of the stuffed shirt hero loosening up and turning fiery for the right woman. I want to read this one!

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  13. Jennifer, I really think this is one of her best ones. You'll love it. Like you, I'm a long-time fan (Sharon Archer put me onto her - you gotta love it when friends share great books!).

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  14. Annie, you'll love this book. I think it's such a classic romance but with that zing of modern pizzazz that Sarah does so well.

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  15. lol - aha!
    Come to the dark aside, Anna....Come to the dark side......

    Brilliant book!

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  16. Amy, I think I'm going to have to - a lot of stuff I want to read is only coming out in digital format and I've got to say the loose manuscript page jive gets a bit much!

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    1. yes - there's a great digital category romance coming out in a few weeks time from Entangled. Taming the Tycoon??? You should definitely get a device for that one!! :-)

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  17. wow.. nice review Anna

    I'm so happy I just won Sarah's book and cant wait the book :)

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    1. Congratulations on winning, Eli! You'll love all of Sarah's books.

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  18. Anna, I can't thank you enough for introducing me to Sarah Mayberry's writing. Her books are among some of the best out there. I haven't read this one yet but with one of my favorite romance tropes and an author whose writing I adore, how can I go wrong with HER BEST WORST MISTAKE? It's going on my must buy list. Pronto!

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    1. Hey, PJ, really? I didn't realize I'd made a convert - I LOVE to make a convert! LOL! So glad you love Sarah's books - they're just so real, you know? And the characters live in my memory long after I've finished the story. I want them to live next door so I can swing by and ask them how they're going! Seriously, grab this one, it's one of her best and at $2.99, an absolute bargain!

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  19. Anna, this book sounds really cool! I love enemies into lovers books. The first example that comes to mind is Connie Brockway's Dearest Enemy, which tells its story mostly through letters the hero and heroine exchange. Going much farther back, Elswyth Thane's Yankee Stranger, set in Williamsburg, VA, during the Civil War, is a longtime favorite.

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    1. Nancy, this one's great. The characters are just so vivid and it's beautifully written. Really worth picking up. I've read CB's Dearest Enemy - there's a wonderful strain of early feminism in that one too. I haven't read the Yankee Stranger. I'm addicted to enemies into lovers books going right back to the Wolf and the Dove which was the first modern-style historical romance I ever read as a teenager. Normans and Saxons? Classic!

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  20. Great review, Anna! I never miss a Sarah Mayberry book, and I loved Her Best Worst Mistake. I just finished an eARC of her newest one, Within Reach, very different from HBWM but equally wonderful. In fact, it may be my favorite Mayberry ever.

    For me, enemies to lovers is a trope that I either love or hate, no middle ground. A lot of my DNFs have employed this trope, but so have some of my all-time favorites. Nancy mentioned one, Brockway's My Dearest Enemy, my favorite Brockway and an all-time, all-genres fave. Then there's my favorite historical by Lisa Kleypas, Lady Sophia's Lover, Lorraine Heath's Always to Remember, and Miranda Neville's Confessions from an Arranged Marriage. Loretta Chase's classic Lord of Scoundrels could be labeled with this trope. Among contemporary romance authors, in addition to Mayberry, Julie James and SEP both seem to use the enemies to lovers trope with frequency and great skill. SEP's Ain't She Sweet is a marvel.

    Nancy, I always feel a kindred spirit vibe when someone mentions one of Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg books. I've been rereading those books with great pleasure since I was in my early teens.

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    1. Janga, so glad you loved this book. I'm so looking forward to Within Reach. A new book by Sarah is always a red letter day in my house. I loved MDE but I think my fave Brockways are probably As You Desire and So Enchanting and The Bridal Season and none of those are enemies into lovers. You're right about Lord of Scoundrels! Loved Miranda's Confessions - only read it in the last few weeks. Wasn't sure she'd be able to redeem Blake and she did it in spades. Actually I was thinking last night it's a while since I read a Shana Abe - my favorite book of hers, The Smoke Thief, is definitely an enemies into lovers story. I think they don't work for me when I feel that when they fall in love, the thing that kept them apart ceases to matter. Makes them both seem shallow then. When there's genuine growth, it's one of my favorite tropes.

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    2. By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

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  21. It's always fun to see characters at odds with one another in a novel yet know that the chemistry between them is so hot it's ready to spark a huge fire! I couldn't help but grin as I read your wonderful review, Anna, knowing that "Her Best Worst Mistake" is obviously a terrific novel that I just have to put at the top of my Wish List. Thanks so much for sharing this today. I really enjoyed it!

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    1. Hey, thanks, Connie! So glad you enjoyed the review - this one basically wrote itself. I was going to do a round-up of category length romance and then suddenly found I had a complete review just on this one book, I loved it so much. Definitely worth picking up this book!

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  22. Anna, what a fantastic review!

    I've seldom seen you go on so about anything, and your recommendations are always good.

    I haven't read this author before. I'm getting this.

    Lovely cover, too!

    Oh, and Happy Birthday Janga!

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    1. Cassondra, how fantastic that I've introduced a wonderful new author to you. I've read EVERYTHING Sarah's written - she's one of my favorite authors. I'm in awe of how she fits so much emotion in such a short length. Thanks for swinging by!

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  23. Anna!!! I love this review!!! Enemies to lovers is my favorite theme in romance! There is always so much tension which escalates as the story goes on...and I love me some sexual tension. ;-) I must get this one!!

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  24. Hey, Andrea, fantastic that I've got you interested. You'll love this one!

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  25. The enemies to lovers trope is always good. It is nice seeing the blinders come off as they see each other in an entirely different way.
    The repressed hero discovering a new world through love is more of a sweet thing. They usually have a good reason for their attitude and have had to suppress their desires and carefree side. They usually more than deserve the happiness they find.

    Thanks for the review. I'll be looking for this one, too.

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    1. Pat, that's exactly it. There's such risks in an enemy into lovers story - I mean, what if they really ARE enemies and meant to stay that way? Love your description of the whole arc of the plot. Give this one a go, it's great!

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  26. Thanks so much, everyone and especially the Dishies, for letting me share a book that I really loved with you today. I'm doing an old Linda Howard that's also a favorite next month. Call by and let me know what you think!

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    1. Thanks, Anna! I look forward to the 24th of every month to see what you have in store for us. It's always a treat!

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    2. PJ, love sharing old faves and new discoveries with you guys! Thanks for having me.

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  27. Hi Anna! I'm late I know - we've just arrived at Mt Surprise so I thought I'd pop in here and "surprise" you!

    As you know I am a big fan of Sarah's stories and Her Best Worst Mistake is my new favourite! Actually, Sarah's done another enemies to friends that I adore too - Dylan and Sadie's story in Take On Me. Mmmm, must be time I visited my keeper shelf for another read!

    :)
    Sharon

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    1. Hey, Sharon, did you see you got a mention as the woman who is responsible for my Sarah Mayberry addiction? Well, apart from Sarah herself for writing such addictive books. Oh, you're right about Take On Me - good point. There's also Her Secret Fling where they're pretty hostile at the start. Hey, surprised to see you're at Mt. Surprise! What will you say if I tell you I'm at Mount Glorious? LOL!

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