When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?
Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.
Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review
Part three of ‘Wildflower Park‘, aptly called ‘Oopsy Daisy’, follows on from the cliffhanger at the end of part two, Heavily pregnant Sophie, Anna’s best friend has left her husband. The early chapters are emotional, but there are plenty of funny moments too, as Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage. There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.
Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?
A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears and this part of the story ends with something unexpected. I’m off to read part four, I can’t wait.
Angela keeps a roof over her head, albeit a leaking one, by writing romance novels. But, Angela’s never really believed in the traditional happily ever after ending. So, she begins writing the story of Grace, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer shortly after finding out her husband Rick is having an affair. Again.
As she writes the story to dispel the myth of happily ever after, Angela begins a relationship with Mark, the contractor who comes to fix her leaking roof, and ironically, it looks like she may be on the way to her own happy ending. But Angela’s had a difficult past and has a cynical outlook, while Mark’s life has just gotten messy. Angela wonders if this is all going to work out.
Grace lies in bed at night, wondering if what Rick wants to give her, and what he is capable of giving her, are two different things. She asks Rick to move out temporarily, while they try to assess their marriage. She wonders how she can get such comfort and security from a man who cheated on her.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
As with her previous novel ‘ A Path to the Lake’, the author delivers an original plot, believable characters and a story with a unique charm. ‘Full of Grace’ is told from two points of view. Angela, a romance writer, never seems to find the ‘happily ever after’ she writes in her romances, and Grace, the character created by Angela as a conduit of her new writing style.
Through writing Grace’s story as she searches for her new purpose in life, Angela finds challenges in her own life, which make her realise that romance is possible in the real world too.
This is an engaging read, the characters are easy to empathise and you become invested in their lives. The pacing is perfect and the story easy to read. This is a story of ordinary people facing life’s mercurial challenges. It is the strength of the characters and the relatability of the plot that makes it such an enjoyable read.
Wedding bells ring out in Budbury as the Comfort Food Café and its cosy community of regulars are gearing up for a big celebration…
But Auburn Longville doesn’t have time for that! Between caring for her poorly mum, moving in with her sister and running the local pharmacy, life is busy enough – and it’s about to get busier. Chaos arrives in the form of a figure from her past putting her quaint village life and new relationship with gorgeous Finn Jensen in jeopardy. It’s time for Auburn to face up to some life-changing decisions.
Settle in for a slice of wedding cake at the Comfort Food Café – a place where friendships are made for life and nobody ever wants to leave.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Comfort Food Cafe has been a favourite read, since its inception. There is so much to love, with its quirky characters looking for someone to love them and give them a second chance. Cake to die for, and a wonderful sense of community and friendship that symbolises the ethos of these heartwarming, humorous and ultimately happy stories.
The final book in the series has a very special wedding. Laura was our first introduction to the cafe and her story is still one of my favourites. It made me cry, laugh out loud and empathise will her trials and tribulations. Auburn is our narrator for this final book in the series, and even though she fits right into the Budbury and the cafe community, she is keeping secrets and somehow feels she doesn’t deserve the friends, lover and life she currently enjoys.
The wedding is a delight and colourful, typically amongst the fun, love and romance there is conflict, thankfully not for the bride, but Auburn has to face her past. Even in this last book, there’s more to learn about the characters, and they continue to baffle and delight in equal measure. The ending is romantic and rightfully quirky. Even though we have read the last line, you can imagine the antics, hear the laughter and tears and almost taste the cake as the cafe’s comfort lives on.
She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.
It was to be a new beginning…
It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…
Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.
Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.
With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
There’s a certain addictive charm about all of Fern Britton’s stories. The description of Cornwall and village life are part of this, but the uniqueness stems from her characters. She explores everyday situations and leaves behind the mundane, teasing out the courage, fear, passion and secrets, which hide behind their public face,
This story draws you in with a tragic event, before taking you back six months to the arrival of a newcomer to Pendruggan. Angela is a newly ordained vicar, Pendruggan is her first, albeit temporary parish, and she wants to succeed. You meet the village characters, some of which are familiar, and Angela’s family. Her husband is a television political correspondent, on a temporary sabbatical from a career he loves, her daughter Faith, is much loved, but unhappy to be uprooted from her friends and the life she loves, Then there’s Aunt Mamie. A wildcard, she is an important influence in Angela’s life, and her maverick nature brings laughter and excitement to the village and its inhabitants.
The plot is fast-paced and easy reading, it has the ethos of a cozy mystery, with its cast of character and a mystery to solve, but it’s more than this. The complex characters are flawed and realistic and give the story emotional depth and interest. The plot is simple but believable, and its resolution authentic. There is a lovely medley of angst, faith, humour and poignancy. It’s an emotional journey for Angela and those who care about her and she leaves the village with memories that resonate.
A lovely book that is both entertaining and sincere.
A forbidden love affair. A long-buried secret. A journey that will change everything.
Morocco, 1984. High in the Atlas Mountains, Hanane’s love for Irishman Gus is forbidden. Forced to flee her home with the man she loves, Hanane is certain she’s running towards her destiny. But she has made a decision that will haunt her family for years to come.
London, 2009. When Addy discovers a mysterious letter in her late father’s belongings, she journeys to Morocco in search of answers. But instead, she finds secrets – and is quickly pulled into a world that she doesn’t understand.
And when history starts to repeat itself, it seems her journey might just change the person she is forever
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Addy has survived illness and when her estranged father dies, she finds old photographs, one of which contains a happy image of her father Gus, and a woman she doesn’t know, The back of the photo is dated 1984 Morocco.
She sets off on a journey of discovery, hoping to get to know her father better. She falls in love with Morocco but finds more questions than answers and risks repeating history.
The setting for this story is beautifully described. The vivid images immerse the reader, in the culture and ethos of Morocco. I like the timeslip story best, but unfortunately, the plot doesn’t allow this to be explored to its full potential. Whilst this faithfully represents what Addy discovers, from a reader’s point of view it would have been preferable to spend more time in 1984.
The characters whilst complex and interesting are hard to empathise in most cases. The pacing is a little slow and there is perhaps too much emphasis on the setting rather than the characterisation and plot.
An interesting read of forbidden love in a different culture.
After Frank drops down dead in Heathrow Arrivals on Christmas Eve, his estranged daughter Jem is called in to identify the body. When Jem travels back to Frank’s house in France – a house she hasn’t been in since she was a child – she realises that Frank had a son too.
Frank has died of a congenital heart defect, a defect he may have passed on to his daughter – or on to his son. Jem must warn her brother, but in finding herself a family she risks ripping another apart.
I received a copy of this book from John Murray Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book has a great opening, it really catches your attention, and makes you feel sympathy for Frank who dies so painfully and abruptly. What follows reveals Frank as a destructive man who cared for no-one, and whose thoughtless actions had far-reaching effects on those he came into contact with.
The plot is not remarkable, although it is good, it’s the characters, the pertinent observations of what motivates people to react in certain ways, and most importantly how families work in a contemporary society that resonates with this story.
All the characters are authentically flawed and most are not particularly likeable, but they are understandable. Even though the family dynamics are magnified, the interactions between mother and son, father and daughter and husband and wife are recognisable.
The pacing suits this type of book and the characters and settings are full of vivid imagery, which makes this an easy but definitely intriguing read.
A stolen sister. A daughter determined to uncover the truth.
Belle Hatton has embarked upon an exciting new life far from home: a glamorous job as a nightclub singer in 1930s Burma, with a host of sophisticated new friends and admirers. But Belle is haunted by a mystery from the past – a 25-year-old newspaper clipping found in her parents’ belongings after their death, saying that the Hattons were leaving Rangoon after the disappearance of their baby daughter, Elvira.
Belle is desperate to find out what happened to the sister she never knew she had – but when she starts asking questions, she is confronted with unsettling rumours, malicious gossip, and outright threats. Oliver, an attractive, easy-going American journalist, promises to help her, but an anonymous note tells her not to trust those closest to her. . .
Belle survives riots, intruders, and bomb attacks – but nothing will stop her in her mission to uncover the truth. Can she trust her growing feelings for Oliver? Is her sister really dead? And could there be a chance Belle might find her?
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Such an evocative read, this story of loss, political unrest and a quest for the truth takes place in Burma during the 1930s, with slips back in time to 1911 and the 1920s.
Belle has left England, for a life as a singer in exotic Rangoon. She’s not the usual type of singer they have, but her talent and independent spirit bring her both admirers and adversaries.
Her mother’s failing mental health blighted her childhood, but after her father’s death, she discovers her parents once lived in Rangoon and had and lost a child there. Can this terrible tragedy explain her mother’s illness and what happened to her missing sister?
Belle’s search for the fate of her missing sister reveals more questions and answers, Oliver an attractive journalist offers to help, but can she trust his motives, or should she rely on the establishment to help her?
The plot is engaging. The perfect pacing adds to the story’s sense of mystery and menace. The political climate is dangerous, and Belle shows her emotional strength as she witnesses unspeakable violence and prejudice.
Full of powerful imagery, both in terms of the geographical and historical setting and the vivid characterisation, this story enthrals the reader. There is a mystery to solve a family tragedy to witness and empathise, and a lovely romance.
A lovely escapist read, which will touch your emotions and inspire your imagination.
55-year-old Georgie Turner doesn’t need a new man. Her daughter, aunt and sister are the most important people in her life (and the most infuriating). But it seems the older they get, the further apart they drift.
Georgie’s never been a fan of her sister Bonnie’s husband, so when she learns her brother-in-law has been up to no good, Georgie sees an opportunity to bring the women of her family back together. Along with her 21-year-old daughter and 80-year-old aunt, she packs Bonnie into the back of her car and they leave Liverpool to hide out on the coast of Sussex. With the help of some sun, sea and bottle or two of prosecco, this will be an adventure they’ll never forget.
But could the right man find Georgie while she’s stopping the wrong man finding her sister?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
After reading ‘A Grand Old Time‘, I was looking forward to reading ‘The Age of Misadventure’. but whilst the story follows a multi-generational family’s adventures, it lacks the laugh out loud and charm of the first book.
Georgie at fifty-five is divorced, running her own business. She doesn’t have the time nor the inclination for a man in her life trying to keep her family on track. Consisting of a petulant daughter in her early twenties, Jade, her aunt, known by the family as Nan, and her sister Bonnie whose feckless husband, Georgie has never liked, she finds they are drifting apart. When her brother-in-law’s actions threaten the family’s safety, Georgie takes them away from home to hide on the south coast.
I like Georgie, she is relatable, as are her family problems. The other characters are harder to empathise, Jade’s behaviour is immature and reminiscent of a teenager. Nan seems a little stereotypical for a woman in her eighties. She’s portrayed as absent-minded, stroppy and always complaining and this seems at odds with the story’s ethos of having fun and age being unimportant. Bonnie, should be the most complex of the characters, but she lacks authenticity.
There are laughable moments and lots of action, but the pace is slow in parts.
Overall, a lighthearted read, for those who enjoy satirical humour.
I received a paperback copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.
If like me you believe in fate and love the film ‘Serendipity’, you’ll enjoy this well-written ‘what if’ story. Most people in a long-term relationship wonder, whether they are with their soulmate, or if under different circumstances they would be with someone else. This story explores Liv’s decision taken at the cusp of the 21st-century, stay with Nate or split up and live their lives apart.
A story of two halves, the outcome of being ‘without him’ is explored first and then ‘with him’. There’s friendship, conflict, romance and sadness but the ultimate conclusion is satisfying in both stories. The setting and relationships are believable, and though flawed, the characters endear themselves to the reader, and you want them to find happiness and fulfilment.
The pacing of the story makes it easy to read, and even though the storyline focuses on ordinary, everyday life, it is full of suspense, poignancy, laughter and love and makes this a lovely lighthearted read.
Guest Post – Serendipity – Shari Low
Some may have said it was serendipity. Some
may call it love at first sight. But when a complete stranger walked towards me
one night 25 years ago, I smiled because I knew I was in the right place at the
right time. A week later we got engaged, and we’ve stuck together through a
lifetime of children, books, ups, downs, dodgy fashion choices (but perms were
so in!) and a labradoodle.
However, what would have happened if we hadn’t
met? Would someone else have been the love of my life? Would I never have found
this kind of happiness? Would I have married a rock star and settled for a life
of loud music, wanton behaviour and leather trousers?
Actually, I quite like the sound of that
Or perhaps that chance meeting was meant to
happen, and we were somehow destined to cross paths, if not that night, then at
some other point in the future.
Those thoughts were the starting point for my
new novel With Or Without You.
The main characters, Nate and Liv, have been together since they were teenagers. Now in their mid-twenties, their all-consuming love has faded to friendship and they’ve decided that their marriage has run its course. They agree to separate at midnight on the final day of 1999, but at the last minute, Nate wavers. The storyline then splits into two strands, one following the couple over the next eighteen years if they stay together, the other if they part.
Will they find each other again? Or will
they discover a greater love elsewhere? Does serendipity really exist, or is
everyone’s fate already pre-determined, our lives like tangled paths that will
end at the same destination no matter what choices we make?
As the stories unfold, Nate and Liv, and the people who share their lives discover the answers to those questions.
As for me? Excuse the uncharacteristic
sentimentality, but I’ll never regret being in that place at that time and
meeting that bloke.
Leather trousers go out of fashion. Soul
mates never do.
With Or Without You was published in
paperback by Aria on 7th Feb 2019
Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter, One Day In December, A Life Without You and The Story Of Our Life. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.
A twist that will break your heart . . . An ending that will put it back together
Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two but is also the one thing keeping them connected.
As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?
I received a copy of this book from Orion Publishing Group via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Audrey’s family appears irrevocably broken, and she doesn’t know why. Her greatest wish is to see her daughters talking again, but is it within her power to achieve this after thirty years?
Family drama is the main theme of this story but the tragic event that catalyses it is not what it seems. Told from three points of view: Audrey(Mother) Lily(Daughter) and Jess(Daughter). The story slips from the present to the past and back again, highlighting the family’s tragic history that blights their current lives, and hints at the secrets, which are tearing it apart.
The early chapters of the book suggest an obvious secret, but as you read on, something just as devastating but different is suggested, and finally revealed. The characters are flawed, tragic but relatable. Most will empathise with their predicament and their reactions to it.
The story flows well and enthrals. The twist is cleverly concealed and makes the sense of loss and waste even greater. The ending is believable, and hopeful and demonstrates that forgiveness makes anything possible.