Oliver Foxley is an acclaimed movie star and global heartthrob. But under the glare of the spotlight his ‘perfect’ life – and marriage -is slowly starting to crumble.
Cara Penhaligon is a struggling young Cornish artist and widowed mother of two children. Life has been unbearably harsh to Cara, but meeting Oliver might just give her a second chance at the happiness she deserves. As each begins to heal the other, the pieces of Oliver’s frustrating jigsaw puzzle effortlessly fall into place. But as the Cornish summer draws to a close, Oliver faces the toughest of choices, and no one emerges quite as they were at the start.
This story is so much more than the holiday romance the title suggests. The cove is a special place, aesthetically beautiful but with a tightly knit community looking out for one another. Not all of the inhabitants were born there, but they all recognise its importance.
Oliver is a famous actor, but like most people, he has both a public and private face. He battles endogenous depression, so at odds with his extrovert persona as an actor. His wife fiercely protects his image and their family but doesn’t understand this side of him. Cara is a working artist, whose talent knows no bounds but is restricted by her need to be there for her young family since the untimely death of her young husband.
The storytelling in this book is first class, instantly drawing you into the cove’s community, visualising the coastal setting and wanting to know more about the people who live there. The intricate plot reveals Cara and Oliver’s stories until serendipity draws them together. Internal conflict is paramount in this story but interspersed with mystery, suspense and romance. The characters are well written and believable, and more than one is a little sinister.
The final chapters are heartrending and poignant and maintain Cara and Oliver’s authenticity.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Kate Ryder has worked in a number of industries including publishing, mainly as a proof-reader/copy editor and writer for a national newspaper, magazines and publishing houses. A member of the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists Association, in 2013 she published her debut novel, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, a timeslip romance and mysterious ghost story, which was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2016 “Search for a Star” and also honoured with a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” Award. Kate lives in a renovated 200-year-old sawmill in the beautiful Tamar Valley with her husband and a collection of animals.
Tabitha Thomas gave up on a happy family life with Michael her absent, high-flying husband long ago. Instead, she concentrated her energies on their daughter, Rosie, and her career as a head teacher at a local primary school. However, trouble looms on the horizon…
While Rosie struggles with the most important exams of her life, Tabitha’s eco-warrior mother is protesting outside the school gates to save some trees from the bulldozer. And best friend, Clodagh, a top TV news broadcaster, is self-soothing with Baileys, as she’s edged out of a job by an ambitious flame-haired weathergirl. Finally, with the return of an old flame and a political expose to deal with, Tabitha is forced to confront a decision she made a long time ago and face the life-changing consequences she has lived with ever since.
A lovely story with warm, believable characters who demonstrate the true meaning of family, friendship and community. There is a reassuring continuity in this story which focuses on a mother and her daughter but encompasses both of their grandmothers too.
Tabitha is a pillar of the community, a primary school headmistress in the village she grew up. Her daughter Rosie is studying for a pinnacle exam and her mother Nora is still an activist despite her advancing years. Tabitha suffered a tragic loss in her early twenties which changed the course of her life when someone from her past returns is this a good thing or bad? Tabitha’s marriage is not happy but convenient she has Rosie her purpose for marriage, but everything else is missing.
Red’s return ruffles her calm life, but they only have past memories, not future ones. There is a liberal amount of serendipity in this story which gives it special magic and makes it enjoyable escapism reading. The plot is simple, and there is a sinister antagonist who threatens the community. There are lots of complex characters who bring the village to life and a touch of romance.
A story of everyday people touched with a little of life’s magic.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Sian was born in Ireland, is an RTÉ radio producer and lives in the seaside suburb of Dalkey, Dublin with her seven nearly-eight-year-old daughter, Ruby.
Catherine Carlisle is trapped in a loveless marriage, and the threat of World War Two is looming. She sees no way out… that is until a trusted friend asks her to switch her husband’s papers in a desperate bid to confuse the Germans.
Soon Catherine finds herself caught up in a deadly mixture of espionage and murder. Someone is selling secrets to the other side, and the evidence seems to point right at her.
Set in a fascinating historical period, where Nazi Germany’s nationalistic aims created unspeakable dark times for many. In stark contrast, the British establishment turned a blind eye to the interwar years’ atrocities, until powerful, forward-thinking people forced them to act. The Carlisle family is wealthy and influential, but the glossy exterior hides emotional cruelty, festering anger and secrets that would rock the society they live in.
Easy to read this is an absorbing novel, the historical detail gives depth to a simple plot, but I would have liked more, to let me feel what living at that time was like. The first chapter set in Germany is pivotal and underscored with menace. What follows is well written, but the danger Cat the heroine faces is narrated rather than demonstrated by the protagonist through actions and emotions. Espionage is a dangerous world, but I didn’t feel the threat, just knew that it existed.
The characters lack vibrancy. Much of Cat’s motivation is as a result of her crumbling marriage, and yet the reader knows little about her husband and the two rarely interact. Isobel and Cat’s relationship is toxic; you can feel the anger and envy. The other character interactions also need strong emotional depth to make them believable.
A good story but for me, it lacks authentic, believable characters.
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.
With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?
Part three of Ottercombe Bay – Raising the Bar sees Daisy finally opening her multi-purpose business in the old Railway building left to her by her Great-Uncle Reg. Daisy is joined by some quirky characters who she manages to employ on a part-time basis, now all she needs are the customers.
Romance is also in the air, but it’s not without its complications. Bug, the pug, provides a constant stream of amusement even though he did leave Daisy marooned at the end of part two. Daisy’s problems aren’t over yet, she has uninvited guests, things go missing, and the circumstances around her mother’s death remain mysterious.
This episode ends with a cliffhanger, so I’m looking forward to the fourth and final part of this humorous, yet poignant series.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child.
While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind.
Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a chequered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot’s shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to . . .
‘The Tea Planter’s Wife‘ is the first Dinah Jefferies novel I read and I love its atmosphere, poignancy and vivid characterisation. ‘The Sapphire Widow’ also takes place in 1930s Ceylon and has all of these qualities.
Louise born in Ceylon to a prosperous gemstone merchant loses her mother at an early age but now feels she lives a charmed life, with Elliot, her successful, maverick husband. Louise regrets the loss of her children to miscarriage and stillbirth and Elliot’s mysterious and frequent disappearances, but she doesn’t realise the true extent of his deceit until a tragic accident occurs.
Louise is a strong character but the revelations that follow her husband’s death make her wonder if anything in her marriage was true and threaten her willingness to risk her heart again. Louise shows great compassion by helping people whose very existence has caused her harm. It is this selfless behaviour that endears. Thankfully her forgiving nature and good works provide the tools for her broken heart and self-esteem to heal.
Leo, the cinnamon plantation owner is the antithesis of Elliot, self-reliant, serious and loyal, he has secrets in his past but Louise comes to realise it is present actions, not past ones that are important.
The cameo appearance of Gwen from ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ gives the story authenticity and provides Louise with the necessary support to rebuild her life, from someone who has suffered great loss.
The plot has twists and mysteries, which are not too hard to work out but it is the characters and setting that make this story memorable, especially Louise.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Viking via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Gigi and Tess aren’t the most obvious of friends. Gigi is a grandmother, Tess is pregnant for the first time. But when they meet, each one is coping with their own secret sadness. Tess is writing letters to her unborn baby with no one else to turn to, and Gigi has reached breaking point in her marriage. Little do they know how much they will come to mean to one another as both of their lives are turned upside-down.
Their story is about love in all its forms: the love between a mother and her unborn child, between a grandmother and her granddaughter, between spouses and between friends. Tess and Gigi will find what they need most in the place they least expect, and learn to understand the future by unlocking the past . . .
Believable, humorous and poignant ‘Letters to Iris’ is a beautifully written life study of three women and their families.
Tess and Iris are granddaughter and grandma, and they have such a strong bond that transcends Iris’s dementia. Grace or Gigi as everyone but her father-in-law knows her comes into Tess’s life serendipitously. They meet when Tess needs someone impartial and caring who knows the traumas associated with losing a loved one to dementia but as you read on you find even more serendipity in their meeting.
A story about everyday life and its momentous occurrences. The characters work well because they are realistic, full of flaws, indecision, selflessness and fear. Love is the overriding theme in this story, what happens when you’re not brave enough to grab it and the pain it can give you when it ends but the message is hopeful, and the story’s cyclic pattern makes the ending happy if tinged with sadness.
There is frustration, laughter, poignancy and tragedy but love is the mainstay of this lovely story which is sure to touch your heart.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Evie Gallagher is regretting her hasty move into a Dublin care home. She may be seventy-five and recently widowed, but she’s absolutely not dead yet.
And so, one morning, while the rest of Sheldon Lodge is asleep, Evelyn walks out the front door and never looks back. So begins a road trip that will take Evie first to Liverpool, then on to Brittany, where she buys a camper van and heads south on a Great Adventure.
But not everyone thinks Great Adventures are appropriate for women of Evie’s age, least of all her son Brendan and his wife Maura, who set off in pursuit, following a trail of puzzling text messages.
But when Brendan and Maura finally catch up with Evie, there are shocks in store for all of them … because while Brendan may have given up on life and love, Evie Gallagher certainly has not.
It’s always good to find a story with an original premise. Starting a whole new life at 75 definitely qualifies.
Evie thinks moving to a care home is the right thing to do when her husband dies; she realises as the youngest there both in years and outlook it’s not for her. She needs to escape before it steals away her remaining years. Evie is feisty, good-hearted and independent and likeable. Evie’s adventure depends on a lucky break, but that’s the beauty of escapist fiction. Her experiences span three countries, countless unlikely friends and an iconic campervan.
Brendan, Evie’s only son, is her antithesis, he is dour, dependant and downtrodden. His life doesn’t live up to his expectations, but he seems helpless to change it. His relationship with Maura, his wife, is in a rut and he jumps at the chance to leave his life behind when his mother goes missing, and he is duty bound to find her.
This story has many comic moments mostly related to Evie, but there are there are also some slow passages, which make the story drag a little. A charming autumn romance, an excellent assortment of characters, vivid and easy to visualise and beautifully described settings make this a worthwhile read. This hopeful, humorous and poignant story explores life, love and relationships.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Lizzie Sparkes should be the happiest girl in the world – she’s three months away from marrying The One in the wedding of her dreams! But then The One before the One walks back into her life with a bombshell.
Alex’s unexpected return changes everything, and now Lizzie faces an impossible dilemma. Because how can you leave the past behind you, when it’s standing right in front of you…asking you for one more chance?
‘The One’, is an emotionally intense story. From reading the blurb, I imagined a romantic comedy but there’s more angst than humour, and this increases as Lizzie’s wedding draws relentlessly closer.
In the beginning, Lizzie is happy finding the wedding dress of her dreams, but she cannot silence the echoes of her past life. The story counts down to her wedding day but chapters from her university life more than a decade ago are also explored, informing her current actions and state of mind.
Reading this story, Josh does not seem like the ideal partner for Lizzie, he has good qualities but doesn’t seem willing to let Lizzie be her true self, so even before Alex comes back, she has doubts. As the story progresses you discover her break-up with Alex is not straightforward.
Vividly written, the flawed characters compliment the realistic storyline perfectly. The believable ending is hopeful, if not happy and leaves you a little sad but satisfied.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Odir Farouk is about to become king—but to take his throne, he needs his errant wife by his side! Odir denied his hunger for Eloise, refusing to compromise power for passion. His rejection drove her away. Now Odir has until news of his succession breaks to win back his queen…and pleasure will be his most powerful weapon!
A little escapism is always lovely. Internationally themed, this contemporary romance allows the reader to see what life is like living with a prince and it’s not as romantic as it first appears.
Eloise accepts an arranged marriage because she likes Odir and believes they could grow to love the other. Odir, bound by duty ignores her after their marriage and finally sends her away when he thinks she has forsaken her marriage vows. She runs away, but now he finds her and wants her back, but she has other ideas.
Odir is afraid loving Eloise will weaken him and threaten his kingdom. Eloise will only be his wife again, without compromise and their rekindled passion seems doomed to fail.
I like the structure of this novel; each chapter covers an hour in their reunion, the sense of time slipping away from them increases the story’s dramatic tension and makes it fast-paced.
Character-driven, past tragedy and heartache are explored, making their actions more understandable. Loyalty and duty rule both their lives, everything they do is for others. To achieve the love they both desire, they must consider what they want as individuals, and at times this seems to be unlikely.
Sensual love scenes echo their poignant journey. Complex characters, both Eloise and Odir negotiate a problematic emotional path full of angst and pain before they realise what is truly important to them.
A fascinating snapshot of the professional and personal faces of a royal romance, which doesn’t stint on angst, drama and romantic sensuality.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Lainey Kline has one goal before she leaves Melbourne forever: transform herself into a sexy siren, sneak into the season’s most glamorous masquerade ball and seduce Damian McKnight. Only there’s a teeny little problem — one deliciously hot night isn’t nearly enough. Now Lainey wants more. But while getting naked is one thing, taking off their masks is quite another…
Masquerade balls evoke images of mystery, romance and secrets, ‘Unmasked’ encompasses all of these elements in a contemporary setting.
Lainey is leaving Melbourne and her friends for a fantastic career opportunity, but is she taking the next step in her future life or running? Her teenage crush on her best friend’s older brother grows into love, but he doesn’t see her that way? Damien has a failed marriage and hidden self-esteem issues, at odds with his successful career. Damien’s attraction for Lainey is inconvenient and something he is not going to explore despite her provocation.
The chance to act out her greatest fantasy before he leaves is something Lainey must do, and so she gatecrashes an ‘A’List, charity ball that the object of her desire is attending. The love scenes are sensual and explicit, but in keeping with the ‘Dare’genre and mirrored by the emotional intensity of the hidden feelings, Lainey and Damien have for the other. There is a lovely ‘Cinderella’ like twist after Lainey’s night at the ball. Passion, romance and steamy moments make this an enjoyable, fast-paced, sexy read.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.