Teashop of Horrors – Blog Tour

 

Little Teashop of Horrors – Jane LoveringJane Lovering 2

Cover

Secrets, lies, carrot cake and an owl called Skrillex!

Amy Knowles has always been the plain sidekick to her pretty best friend Jules. And whilst the tearoom they both work in on the Monkpark Hall estate in Yorkshire is not exactly awash with eligible bachelors, it’s obvious where the male attention is concentrated – and it’s not just on the cakes!

There is one man who notices Amy. Joshua Wilson also works at Monkpark, where he flies his birds of prey for visitor entertainment. He lives a lonely existence but he has reasons for choosing isolation – and, in Amy, he may have found somebody who understands.

Then a management change brings slick and well-spoken Edmund Evershott to Monkpark. He’s interested in Amy too, but for what reason? Josh suspects the new manager is up to no good – but will Amy? Because Edmund could leave her with much worse than a broken heart…

Let me say upfront, that I really enjoyed this book. The characters are very relatable and  very real. A couple are annoying, horrible, selfish, and downright revolting. They do not, however,  take away from the fact that this odd, idiosyncratic romance is an absolute delight, and is a great anti-dote to the standard sickly sweet romantic tropes churned out ad nausea.

I found the title to be a little misleading; the ‘Little Teashop of Horrors’ led me to expect something very different. I’m not exactly sure what the ‘horror’ was meant to be, maybe it was the new boss…

Amy is a character that makes you want to shake her, but only because you are rooting for her to stand up for herself. The two people closest to her, her grandmother and friend Julia, are more concerned with themselves, and don’t appear to see the negative impact they have on Amy’s life.

Her Grandmother has brought Amy up within a confining set of rules and behaviours to the extent that Amy’s gentle character consistently buries her anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction. The behaviour and strictures are the product of Grandma’s generation, class, and upbringing, and from having lived and worked all her life within the small community on the estate. Though I wouldn’t put up with the tea-making shenanigans, Amy must also deal with the early symptoms of her Grandmother’s dementia.

Amy’s childhood friend Julia knows how to manipulate and sway Amy to get her own way. I found her to be selfish and ego-centric, and given what happened between them in the past, I would have questioned their friendship except that Amy is so used to burying any irritation or grievance,  her life has become governed by other people’s wants and needs rather than her own. She sees nothing in herself that would be attractive to the opposite sex, or make her of more value to those around her.

Evershott is brilliantly drawn as one of those men who plays with the emotions of people he perceives to be ‘weak’, in order to get what he wants. His manipulation of Amy is almost textbook and very unpleasant. Gaslighting springs to mind. As the new boss who holds the future of the estate’s employees in his hands, and by extension their homes, he is in a position of power, and he uses it for his own ends, especially with Amy.

Josh is the unlikely hero of this tale, and by far one of the best characters in the book. He is a loner, a bit odd, and is plagued by his past. In Amy, he sees someone he can relate to. He is attracted to her but not sure what to do about it. His behaviour at one point is totally un-hero-like, and I loved it. None of that ‘man to the rescue’ stuff we are plied with repeatedly. The other great characters are Josh’s birds. They are such a refreshing addition, and I love their disobedience! The relationships between humans and birds are terrific – Skrillex is just a delight!

Written slightly tongue-in-cheek, it is gentle and warm with a most liberal sprinkling of humour. I read it in two sittings (I do sleep occasionally), and thoroughly enjoyed how the story panned out. Peopled by refreshingly real characters, this isn’t a fast-paced read, but it doesn’t need to be; the story unfolds around the characters and the romance builds naturally. Lovely!

Read and enjoy.

Buy your copy here

http://www.rachelsrandomresources.com

She’s Bad News – Blog Tour

Shes Bad News Banner

She’s Bad News – Elle Spellman

What would you do if you woke up with super powers?
For Bella Brown, life hasn’t gone according to plan. She’s almost thirty, still living in her uneventful hometown, and her dreams of becoming an investigative reporter have fallen by the wayside.
That is, until she wakes up one morning to find she’s been gifted with some amazing new abilities. What’s a girl to do with heightened senses, super speed and the ability to lift a truck one-handed? Bella quickly discovers that her new powers can easily help her land front-page leads at local newspaper, The Hartleybourne Gazette. 
Soon Bella’s out every night chasing down local criminals for stories, while keeping her powers a secret from everyone besides flatmate Chloe. But when a burglary-gone-wrong accidentally turns her into the mysterious Hartleybourne Heroine, Bella finds herself on the front page for the wrong reasons. Her secret becomes harder to keep as she tries to track down the source of her powers, and especially when crime reporter Matt Gilmore is intent on unmasking the town’s new vigilante…
Suddenly, having an extraordinary life is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBSIt would be very easy for any reviewer to classify this story as a nice easy read with nothing much to think about, or that it is a silly book, and over the top. Yes, it is all those things, but it is also much more. It very subtly addresses weight issues, the diet industry, workplace bullying, amongst other things.

Elle Spellman has written a fun superhero novel, where an ordinary girl accidently acquires some super-powers. It is funny, cringeworthy, sad, and scary. Yes, there are sections that could have been edited more tightly, others that should have been cut or condensed, but all in all this author has given us a book that covers some interesting issues and does it within the confines of a delightfully eccentric, entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable story.

Bella, our heroine, can be irritating, but is adorable. She is the girl who left her mundane life, went to university and graduated with a journalism degree, and hoped for a bright future in London with a national newspaper. Sadly, she finds herself locked into a job with the local newspaper where she writes the Better Self column, covering slimming aids, the health benefits of asparagus, and such trivia, but not anything she regards as journalism. Layla, her boss, is a bitch, and belittles Bella at every opportunity. No matter how many article idea Bella tries to get approval for, Layla cruelly shuts her down, telling her that she is overstepping, and to leave the journalism to the reporters.

‘You’re responsible for Better Self, not Bella Brown Investigates…read the PR, write the reviews and the copy. It’s all I want you to do.’

Alice, Bella’s sister, doesn’t treat her much better. Everything is about Alice. She contacts Bella at anytime she deems fit, ignoring the fact that Bella is at work, for example, or anything else Bella may be doing. Bella may as well answer her mobile at work, she not a reporter, after all she failed at journalism.  As Bella tells us:

‘She would either call my desk phone all day, hire a sniper to take me out, or worse, take a three-hour drive…and turn up at my office just to make a point.’

Chloe is a health and fitness trainer and Bella’s best friend. She’s as mad as Bella, and though a bit annoying and ‘preachy’ at times, she has Bella’s best interests at heart, and helps and supports her. Add to the character mix the attractive crime reporter and the mysterious CEO of the company that produces NARCIS Ultra-Boost, the slimming pill that Bella must review, and the stage is set for madness, mayhem, and mishaps.

She's Bad News Cover HSBSShe’s Bad News is pure escapist fun, with a subtle lifting of a mirror to reflect the insanity of our world. A world that bullies, denigrates, and belittles those who don’t meet the standards of others. One of the things I liked about Bella and her acquisition of superpowers, is that she remained the same – a curvy overweight, awkward, sweet, down to earth girl. The superpowers gave her back the confidence and self-worth that was being slowly chipped away by her boss, her family, and others.

There is plenty of laughter, plenty of action, and some scary moments, as Bella uses her powers for crime-fighting investigative good. I just couldn’t read the last few chapters fast enough. Whatever the need for editing, She’s Bad News is a one of the most fun and enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I’m keen to read whatever Elle Spellman writes next and I hope she’ll bring us a Bella sequel.

Highly recommended.

Spring and thoughts of love…

In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love (Tennyson)

I’ve often thought it would make more sense to start the New Year in Spring. It’s the most wonderful time of year when, as we creep slowly from the cold and dark of winter, we change the clocks a second time, and greet nature’s new and renewed life in both the plant and animal worlds.

So as the poem says, turning to thoughts of love, here are some great new titles being released in April, and one or two older titles being re-released for a new audience. I hope you’ll find at least one book amongst them that you’ll want to read.

Mornings on MainMornings On Main – Jodi Thomas

When Jillian James lands in the small-town Texas community of Laurel Springs, she’s definitely not planning to stay, just long enough to find a few clues about the father who abandoned her and destroyed her faith in family.

Connor Larady is a single dad, and the only one caring for his grandmother, Eugenia, who has Alzheimer’s. Now he has to close Eugenia’s quilt shop, and when Connor meets down-on-her-luck Jillian, he’s out of options. Can he trust the newcomer to do right by his grandmother’s legacy?

Jillian is done with relationships, but as she grows closer to Connor and Eugenia, she must consider giving up her nomadic life for a future with those who need her.

Scandalous HeiressA Wedding for the Scandalous Heiress – Elizabeth Beacon

A stolen kiss from a dashing stranger at her own betrothal ball!

When Isabella Alstone receives a shockingly passionate kiss from a handsome stranger at her betrothal ball, she scandalously ends her engagement. She is even more surprised when she discovers exactly who the stranger is! Ruggedly striking Wulf FitzDevelin is illegitimate, penniless, and her ex-fiancé’s half-brother—their match is wholly unsuitable. Yet Isabella cannot escape the burning longing to feel his touch again!

Second Chance FamilySecond Chance Family by Margaret Daley

Savor once again this story in the Fostered by Love series, from top-selling author Margaret Daley.
Dedicated teacher Whitney Maxwell gave up her dream of a family years ago. But she’s about to get a lesson in faith and family from an unexpected source—a brave little boy named Jason. Jason and his dad are dealing with his autism the best they can, but Dr. Shane McCoy can’t put his tragic past behind him. As Whitney and Shane work together to help his son, could these two lost souls open their hearts to love again and become a lasting family?

Mail Order Bride SwitchMail Order Bride Switch – Dorothy Clarke

Garret Stevenson must find a bride or forfeit his newly built hotel. With his deadline approaching, he plans an in-name-only marriage with a maid who’ll cook and clean for his guests. When a pampered, pretty heiress arrives instead, the deception confirms Garret’s distrust of women, but Virginia Winterman has more substance than her elegant clothes suggest.

Fleeing West to escape a cruel suitor, Virginia finds a business arrangement with Whisper Creek’s brusque hotel owner is mutually beneficial, and she relishes being useful. Yet what was once a practical solution soon blossoms into a deeper union. Can Garret get past old betrayals before his future with Virginia slips away?

Love and Other WordsLove and Other Words – Christina Lauren

The heart may hide, but it never forgets.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. When she runs into Elliot Petropoulos – the first and only love of her life – the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world – growing from her gangly teen friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother . . . only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends into much more – spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco reading books, sharing favourite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Family GatheringThe Family Gathering – Robyn Carr

Can he forget the wounds of his past? 

Dakota Jones had a difficult upbringing but he escaped to the military as soon as he could. Now, after several tours of duty he has finally been discharged. Refusing to return home he arrives in Sullivan’s Crossing where his brother Cal and sister Sierra have found a home. Nestled at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide Trails, the area attracts those looking for answers or direction or a new lease on life. Dakota will come to terms with his less-than-perfect family and will plant the roots he’s never had.

Annas Forgotten FianceeAnna’s Forgotten Fiancee – Carrie Lighte

An accident leaves Anna Weaver with no memory of her Amish hometown’s newest arrival—her fiancé! After a whirlwind courtship, their wedding’s in six weeks…but how can she marry a man she can’t remember? Carpenter Fletcher Chupp takes her on a walk down memory lane, but there’s one thing he wants to keep hidden: a secret that might just lose him the woman he loves.

Family Other CastastrophesFamily and Other Catastrophes by Alexandra Borowitz

Emily Glass knows she’s neurotic, but she’s got it under control. Sort of. She dons compression socks when she flies (because, you know, deep vein thrombosis) and responds to people routinely over-estimating her age with more Life-spin classes and less gluten. Thankfully, she also has David, the wonderful man she’ll soon call husband—assuming they can survive wedding week with her wildly dysfunctional family.
Emily’s therapist mother, Marla, who’s been diagnosing her children since they were in diapers, sees their homecoming as the perfect opportunity for long-overdue family therapy sessions. Less enthused are Emily and her two siblings: ardently feminist older sister Lauren, who doesn’t think the wedding party should have defined gender roles, and recently divorced brother Jason, whose overzealous return to single-hood is only tempered by his puzzling friendship with David’s Renaissance Faire—enthusiast brother.
As the week comes to a tumultuous head, Emily wants nothing more than to get married and get as far away from her crazy relatives as possible. But that’s easier said than done when Marla’s meddling breathes new life into old secrets. After all, the ties that bind family together may bend, but they aren’t so easily broken.

Bachelor's Perfect MatchThe Bachelor’s Perfect Match – Kathryn Springer

He loves adventures…
She only reads them…until now!

Maddie Montgomery, Castle Falls’ shy librarian, has always played it safe. Enter Aiden Kane, the town’s resident adventurer, on the mend from an accident and in need of Maddie’s help. As Maddie assists Aiden with his search for a long-lost relative, the handsome outdoorsman coaxes Maddie out of her safety zone. Can Maddie take the biggest risk of all—giving in to love?

 

Heros returnHero’s Return – B J Daniels

Tucker Cahill disappeared from Gilt Edge, Montana, hoping to escape a secret that has haunted him for nineteen years. Then, when a young woman’s remains are found in the creek near his family’s ranch, he has no choice but to face his demons. The truth that sent him running years ago could take away his freedom now.
Kate Rothschild came to town looking for vengeance—and Tucker Cahill. What she finds is a tortured and irresistible man who’s more than meets the eye. Caught up in the past, they are drawn deeper into a twisted game that’s not over yet. And the consequences could prove fatal for them both…

Flirting with DisasterFlirting with Disaster by Sherryl Woods

There’s a fine line between desire and disaster.

At least, that’s what improper Southern belle Maggie Forsythe thinks when she’ unceremoniously dumped by a fiancé even her mother approved of. Maggie has never cared what anyone thinks, so why is she hiding away from her South Carolina Low Country home?
Then an intervention by friends shows her she has options. Lots of them! And one includes a man who can make her forget all about being jilted.
But one look at Maggie convinces project foreman Josh Parker that he’s corn bread to her caviar. Sure, they have enough sparks to ignite a bonfire, but growing up broke has made him wary of sweet-tea-swilling debutantes. So why is he suddenly singing “Tea for Two”?
Originally published in 2011.

Ready for RomanceReady for Romance by Debbie Macomber

At fourteen, Jessica Kellerman was madly in love with Evan Dryden, one of the boys next door, much to the amusement of both their families. Now, ten years later, she’s about to start working for the Dryden brothers, Evan and Damian. But no one will let her forget her girlish infatuation, and Jessica finds it frustrating in the extreme. Because she’s in love with a Dryden, all right—but it’s Damian, not Evan. And this time she knows it’s not puppy love; it’s the real thing.
How can she convince Damian of her true feelings when he’s still trying to push her toward his brother?

Originally published in 1993

 

Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe

JohnsonSunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson

My name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the menu. When a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever.  Perched on a windswept cliff on the coast at what feels like the edge of the world, the café and its warm-hearted community are a haven for lost souls who happen to wander by with a heavy heart and a story to tell. Serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes, there’s nothing a cup of tea and a delicious treat won’t fix. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.

When I started reading this I didn’t realise it was part of a ‘Comfort Food Cafe‘ series. I had a quick look at the synopsis for each of the other titles, and they all sound fabulous. That said, Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe works just as well as a standalone,  certainly  I don’t feel that I have missed anything, in the way that you do sometimes with a series. It took me a while to settle into the book, but once we got going, I was glued to it.

Willow, the central character, doesn’t have it easy as not only does she work cleaning as well as waitressing at the cafe, but she is also she is her mother Lynnie’s carer. Sadly, Lynnie has early onset dementia, and as this progresses, Willow’s struggles and issues are heartbreaking.  I could make a long list of the things that pulled me into the heart of this book, here are but a few. Willow’s pink hair, Doc Martens, piercings, and tattoos (very close to home…); the journals they both keep, one to remember, one to unburden;  the dogs; the colourful array of characters. There is something a little magical about it.

Then enters Tom, a boy from Willow’s childhood; an inventor and rich, but still geeky and awkward, yet totally on Willow’s wavelength – let’s just say Zombie Apocalypse. Read and you’ll understand.

It would be easy to go down a clichéd and superficial route, but the author has dealt with issue of dementia in a real yet sensitive manner, and is to be applauded for that. She’s written a lovely book full of love and optimism, humour and tears. I’m going to arm myself with the previous books, and will read them all at some point – that’s how much I enjoyed this one. Seriously, just go and get a copy and read it.

BE WARNED: you’ll need a supply of tea and cake, and tissues to wipe your damp eyes….

Pets and Romance : Purrfect recipe or Howling mistake?

We all love our pets; I certainly adore my dog.  Like some I’m allergic to cats, and that has caused some disruption in my early days of dating. Since then I’ve known a few budding romances falter and fail when it comes to pets – I’ve heard that clichéd phrase more than once –  ‘love me love my dog’ (or cat).

So to celebrate pet’s month, here are a some great romances with additional pets. What’s not to love!

Getting Rid of BradleyGetting Rid of Bradley – Jennifer Crusie

Lucy isn’t sure who’s more dangerous, Bradley her ex-husband who may be trying to kill her, or Zack the detective who’s assigned to keep her alive.

Lucy Savage is finally getting rid of Bradley—and his hideous green recliner. Bradley is out of her life for good. Or so she thinks. Turns out Officer Zack Warren wants to arrest the very same Bradley for embezzlement and figures the lovely Lucy can lead him straight to his target. Good thing there’s a cop around. Because someone shoots at Lucy and then blows up her car. Zack insists she needs twenty-four-hour protection. What does he think her three dogs and attack cat are for? Still, he insists on moving right in to Lucy’s house. Now there’s danger lurking outside and in her own kitchen, bathroom—and bedroom. Or maybe Zack is just what Lucy needs.…

Nerds Pocket PetsThe Nerd’s Pocket Pets – D R Grady

Shelby Conroy has always had a thing for Mr. Clean and now she’s met his look-a-like.  Sam Welby is an oncology paediatrician, former Navy SEAL, and all around yummy man, except she’s supposed to be working for him, not drooling over him.  Sam has managed to fight his attraction to Shelby so far, but he’s a little confused as to why her lab coat pockets wriggle.

The Secret WeddingThe Secret Wedding – Jo Beverley

At the age of seventeen, Christian Hill impulsively defends young Dorcas Froggatt’s honour–and finds himself forced into marriage. That doesn’t stop him from pursuing his military career abroad, where he swiftly puts his young bride out of his mind–until the past comes back to haunt him. Not long after her traumatic marriage, Dorcas hears that her new husband, Hill, has died in battle.

Home from a decade of war, Christian wants to enjoy bachelor pleasures, but his father is wooing a rich woman on his behalf. Awkward when he doesn’t know for sure if Dorcas Froggatt alive? He heads north to the industrial town of Sheffield to find out. She’s shocked to discover that her husband is not only still alive but searching for her. She’s determined not to sacrifice her independence, not expecting the true dangers she’ll soon face and, even less, the true love she’ll discover with the man who rescued her all those years ago.

Soon he’s on the run from the law with a woman who’s nothing but trouble, especially when they’re joined by a very peculiar cat.

Anyone But YouAnyone But You – Jennifer Crusie

Part basset, part beagle, all Cupid…

For Nina Askew, turning forty means freedom—from the ex-husband, freedom from their stuffy suburban home, freedom to focus on what she wants for a change. And what she wants is something her ex always vetoed—a puppy. A bouncy, adorable puppy.

Instead she gets…Fred.

Overweight, middle-aged, a bit smelly and obviously depressed, Fred is light-years from perky. But he does manage to put Nina in the path of Alex Moore, her gorgeous, younger-by-a-decade neighbour. Alex seems perfect—he’s a sexy, seemingly sane, surprisingly single E.R. doctor—but the age gap convinces Nina that anyone but Alex would be better relationship material. But with every silver-haired stiff she dates, the more she suspects it’s the young, dog-loving doc she wants to sit and stay!

 

Take a Chance on MeTake a Chance on Me  – Susan Donovan

They’ve Got Nothing In Common… For animal behaviourist Emma Jenkins, romance has been at the bottom of her daily “to do” list since making it through a messy divorce. But everything changes the day six-feet-of-gorgeous Thomas Tobin walks into her office with a quivering Chinese Crested named Hairy, a canine that looks more like an underfed rodent than a dog. Sure Thomas is sending her mixed signals-but that charming smile just sent Emma’s dormant sex drive through the roof… 

But Animal Attraction…Thomas isn’t looking for a fling. In fact, he wants nothing to do with women. He just wants to know if Hairy witnessed his owner’s murder. But something tells him that asking Emma to help him with the case will spell nothing but trouble-trouble in the form of serious temptation.

And the Willingness To Take A Chance On Love…Thomas knows that relying on Emma’s expertise-and her soft touch with a weird dog that has somehow become his-may be a crazy way to track a killer. Especially when Emma’s down-home warmth makes him want to believe that anything is possible-even true love. 

Chocolate Cake for BreakfastChocolate Cake for Breakfast – Danielle Hawkins

Helen McNeil is a vet in a small rural Australian town. While taking evasive action from a dull girl at a party one night she falls over—and fails to recognize—national sports hero, Mark Tipene. For some mysterious reason Helen never really grasps, Mark finds this charming and the chemistry between them sky-rockets, aided by a glass of wine or six. Still suffering the after-effects of the wine, Helen is both horrified and delighted when Mark appears the next day at the front counter of the vet clinic to ask her out. Her coworkers are just the first of many friends, family, and acquaintances to be agog at the identity of her date. Love soon blossoms between the two, but when Helen finds out that she is pregnant, things start to get seriously complicated. . . Full of warm, witty, and well-rounded characters, Chocolate Cake for Breakfast is a hugely entertaining romance set in the middle of nowhere.

 

St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick WindowPreparing for a great day.

Before I get to the recommended books, I’d like to think a bit about the actual day.  It’s unfortunate when a Christian feast or holy day becomes disconnected from its meaning. St Valentine, Easter, Christmas, Whitsun, have been broken on the rocks of secularisation. I hold no great desire to make anyone adhere to any religious belief, and while March 17th is still known as St Patrick’s Day, it has been buried under a tsunami of drinking, dressing in silly hats and costumes, leprechauns, and colouring everything from faces to drinks and food in vivid shades of green.

Saint Patrick and Ireland, in terms of celebration, are practically synonymous.  Patrick was born in the 4th century and captured by slavers when he was a young man. He went on to become a great missionary. His conversion of the Irish people was swift, and most importantly, peaceful.

So whether you celebrate the day in the time-honoured manner, or spend it in a more chilled and relaxed way, how better to do the one or recover from the other, than with some great Irish romances, and some food and drink from our Book Bites page to help you read and/or recover.

BinchyFirst book is from the wonderful writer Maeve Binchy, and I’ve chosen a favourite of mine, Circle of Friends.

It began with Benny Hogan and Eve Malone, growing up, inseparable, in the village of Knockglen. Benny—the only child, yearning to break free from her adoring parents…Eve—the orphaned offspring of a convent handyman and a rebellious blue-blood, abandoned by her mother’s wealthy family to be raised by nuns. Eve and Benny—they knew the sins and secrets behind every villager’s lace curtains…except their own. It widened at Dublin, at the university where Benny and Eve met beautiful Nan Mahlon and Jack Foley, a doctor’s handsome son. But heartbreak and betrayal would bring the worlds of Knockglen and Dublin into explosive collision. Long-hidden lies would emerge to test the meaning of love and the strength of ties held within the fragile gold bands of circle of friends.

OBrienNext is an equally brilliant author, Edna O’Brien, and her classic, Country Girls. Published in 1960, it broke through some of the silence on sex and social issues. After the Second World War, Ireland was particularly repressive in these areas, and the Irish Censor banned the book. Indeed, her family were shamed and it is alleged that their parish priest publicly burned copies of the book.

It is the early 1960s in a country village in Ireland. Caithleen Brady and her attractive friend Baba are on the verge of womanhood and dreaming of spreading their wings in a wider world; of discovering love and luxury and liquor and above all, fun. With bawdy innocence, shrewd for all their inexperience, the girls romp their way through convent school to the bright lights of Dublin – where Caithleen finds that suave, idealised lovers rarely survive the real world.

AherneFor a more modern taste I have chosen the fabulous Cecelia Ahern’s, Love, Rosie.

What happens when two people who are meant to be together just can’t seem to get it right? Rosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S. She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She’s pregnant by a boy she’d gone out with while on the rebound from Alex. Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn’t done with them yet.

Roberts 1Nora Roberts is a prolific and bestselling author who has many novels set in or about people from Ireland. In this case, I have chosen a trilogy about the Concannon sisters. Born In Fire  is the first.

Maggie and Brianna Concannon are two very different sisters. The calm and gentle Bri seems able to weather any storm, even the constant criticism that rains down on them both from their mother, but Maggie is a passionate and fiery artist whose temper is as bold as her art. Their mother’s bitterness is a mystery to Bri and Maggie, until secrets from the past challenge everything they’ve come to believe. It’s Maggie’s skill as a glass blower that brings Rogan Sweeney, the international gallery owner, to her small cottage in County Clare. His interest in her is purely professional, until their personalities clash and sparks begin to fly . . . As her career takes off, how will Maggie cope with the heat of the spotlight and feelings for Rogan that she would rather ignore?

Born in Ice is the second book, and Born in Shame is the third.

LaniganSusan Lanigan’s White Feathers is on my to read pile as it was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I value, so I have no hesitation in passing on the recommendation.

Two lives in danger – her lover’s and her sister’s. But she must choose only one. In 1913, young Irish emigrant Eva Downey is trapped in London with a remote father and hostile stepmother. When she is awarded a legacy from an old suffragette to attend a finishing school in Kent, she jumps at the chance. At the school, she finds kinship and later falls in love with her teacher Christopher Shandlin, her intellectual equal. But when war does break out, her fanatical and disapproving stepsister Grace forces a choice on Eva. She must present Shandlin, who refuses to fight, with a white feather of cowardice, or no money will be given for her sister Imelda’s life-saving treatment in Switzerland. Caught in a dilemma, she chooses her sister over her lover, a decision which will have irrevocable consequences for both her and Christopher and haunt her for the rest of her life.

GeraghtyThis Is Now by Ciara Geraghty is perhaps a little different from the run of the mill romance. Another one recommended to me which I am passing on to you.

An ordinary day. An ordinary bank. An ordinary street in an ordinary town. Nothing ever happens, until, one day, a shocking robbery turns life upside down for five people:

  • Cillian, a police detective
  • Martha, the woman he thought was the life of his life
  • Tobias, who came to Ireland after WWII and now lies in a coma, shot in the bank robbery
  • Roman, the young Polish teenager who is suspected of pulling the trigger
  • his mother Rosa, the cleaner, who dreamed of a better life for herself and her son

Things will never be ordinary again. Ciara Geraghty’s writing has that rare ability to make you laugh out loud as well as cry. She combines tangled human relationships with humour, romance and warmth to create something truly special.

GaynorA romance with a difference in The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic—a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants. Ireland, 1912. Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again. Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harboured for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

I’m a great lover of Teen/YA/NA fiction, and it would be remiss of me to leave these great books out of the list. I have to say that some of the best and greatest writing is for this age group and younger. Sadly I’ve seen and heard people mock adults for reading these books. It happens less frequently these days, but I am of the firmly held belief that anyone who denigrates or mocks adults for reading these books is an idiotic book-snob. 🙂

Kevin and Sadie 1 and 2The first is by Joan Lingard, an award-winning writer of both adult and children’s fiction. I read the Kevin and Sadie books many years ago, and as someone from Northern Ireland, with an Anglo-Irish background who was brought up to hate no-one, they resonated with me most deeply. I’m recommending the first two, The Twelfth of July and Across the Barricades. I actually recommend the entire series.

  • The Twelfth of July (1970)
  • Across the Barricades (1972)
  • Into Exile (1973)
  • A Proper Place (1975)
  • Hostages to Fortune (1976)

The Twelfth of July was published in 1970 by Penguin and received mixed reviews. There was certainly disapproval of the subject of the book, dealing as it did with a romance between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant.

  1. Sadie is Protestant, Kevin is Catholic – and on the tense streets of Belfast their lives collide. It starts with a dare – kids fooling around – but soon becomes something dangerous. Getting to know Sadie Jackson will change Kevin’s life forever. But will the world around them change too?
  2. Kevin and Sadie just want to be together, but it’s not that simple. Things are bad in Belfast. Soldiers walk the streets and the city is divided. No Catholic boy and Protestant girl can go out together – not without dangerous consequences. 

 

FoleyStill with Teen/YA, I recommend  Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley.

It’s 1993, and Generation X pulses to the beat of Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement. Sixteen-year-old Maggie Lynch is uprooted from big-city Chicago to a windswept town on the Irish Sea. Surviving on care packages of Spin magazine and Twizzlers from her rocker uncle Kevin, she wonders if she’ll ever find her place in this new world. When first love and sudden death simultaneously strike, a naive but determined Maggie embarks on a forbidden pilgrimage that will take her to a seedy part of Dublin and on to a life- altering night in Rome to fulfill a dying wish. Through it all, Maggie discovers an untapped inner strength to do the most difficult but rewarding thing of all, live.

Carrier MarkIrresistible romance collides with dark prophecies in Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon. This is an interesting book in that the author found a website for those who wanted to write teen fiction, and within weeks her story was in the top five. The site was called Inkpop, and her book was seen by an editor at HarperCollins. The rest as they say, is history.

99p Books

When Megan Rosenberg moves to Ireland, everything in her life seems to fall into place. She makes close friends with the girls in her class, her relationship with her dad is better than ever, and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to gorgeous, mysterious Adam DeRis.

Adam is cold and aloof at first, but when Megan finally breaks down the icy barrier between them, she is amazed by the intensity of their connection. Then Adam reveals a secret about the magical destiny that will shape both of their lives but also threatens to tear them apart.

Irish Blessing

The Exact Opposite of Okay

The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

Exact OppositeIzzy O’Neill here! Impoverished orphan, aspiring comedian and Slut Extraordinaire, if the gossip sites are anything to go by. Izzy never expected to be 18 and internationally reviled. But when explicit photos involving her, a politician’s son and a garden bench are published online, the trolls set out to take her apart. Armed with best friend Ajita and a metric ton of nachos, she tries to laugh it off – but as the daily slut-shaming intensifies, she soon learns that the way the world treats teenage girls is not okay.

It’s The Exact Opposite of Okay.

Well, there is nothing like tackling an issue head on, and Laura Steven does just that. It’s a very powerful book, and given the media spotlight on how young women and girls are abused and bullied on the internet, it is extremely apropos. What Laura does, is take the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions; laughing and crying, happy and despairing. How do you deal with the fact that one day you are with your friends, happy and loving life, the next the internet is awash with very explicit photographs of you?

The social judgement, revenge porn, slut-shaming, victim blaming, male entitlement and more is  terrifying. Yet no matter how low and despairing it gets, you come away feeling emboldened and encouraged.  If  you do not know much about feminism or maybe are unsure what it means, this book will give some the reader some illumination.

On a less serious note, I spent a lot of time laughing; this book is riddled with humour!  The characters are well drawn, their voices are fresh and immediate, and you cannot help but become invested in them. Izzy comes across as a tough, strong girl, but in fact she is as vulnerable as everyone else, which we discover as the story progresses. As this book is aimed at an audience of teenage girls and young women, pulling away the layers of Izzy ‘front’ is a really great device to show that underneath, there is another Izzy who is just like the rest of us. Her friend Ajita provides the best friend support, and their relationship feels real and relatable. Anita’s development as a character is also excellent, but most of all I liked how her background, ethnicity, culture (call it what you will) impacts on her decision-making. Equally, well drawn are two good women;  Betty, Izzy’s Grandmother, and Mrs Crannon, Izzy’s teacher, who provided her with essential love and support.

It is astounding to think that this is a debut novel. If Laura Steven keeps this standard in her next novels, she is going to be a writing force to be reckoned with.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 

Ottercombe Bay – Part One

Ottercombe Bay, Part One – Bella Osborne

OttercombeEscape to the Devon coast, with Part One of a brand-new four-part serial from the author of Willow Cottage.

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?

There are only 9 chapters, and as I found myself so irritated by Daisy, the lead character, I nearly gave up. She’s selfish, arrogant, self-important, and ungrateful. So annoyed was I, that I wondered what in the name of romance the author thought she was doing. Then bit by bit it inveigled its way in, until I hit chapters 8 and 9. What a turn!What a twist! So now I’m invested, intrigued, enthralled, and have to keep going.

I like Jason and Tamsyn. I have high hopes for Max; annoying, but not quite at the same level of irritation as Daisy.

Part 2 here I come. Clever ploy, dear author, I hope it lives up to expectations. 🙂

 

10 Delicious March Releases

Wartime Brides and Wedding Cakes – Amy Miller

Paperback – 7th Mar 2018

MillerJanuary, 1941: As Charlie Barton tiptoes silently out of the house one cold winter morning to go off and fight for his country, his wife Audrey is left to run the family bakery on her own. Times are tougher than ever, but at the Barton Bakery in Bournemouth, Audrey is determined as always to serve the town with love, loaves and cakes, even as the town is reeling from the struggles of the Blitz. 

Audrey’s brother William has returned from battle with serious wounds. His fiancé Elsie is waiting for wedding bells, but William is a changed man, and will her hopes be in vain? Bakery helper Maggie has her heart set on dashing officer George. But will George still want to marry her when he discovers the truth about her family? And Lily, Audrey’s stepsister, is struggling to raise her illegitimate baby and facing judgement from many in the town. The man who broke her heart returns with an offer, and Lily faces a hard decision about where her future lies.

When disaster strikes the bakery, Audrey fears that everything she has worked for may be ruined. With her shop threatened and her family in turmoil, can she fight to save everything she holds dear? 


The House of Hopes and Dreams  – Trisha Ashley

Kindle Edition – 8th March 2018

AshleyWhen Carey Revell unexpectedly becomes the heir to Mossby, his family’s ancestral home, it’s rather a mixed blessing. The house is large but rundown and comes with a pair of resentful relatives who can’t be asked to leave. 
Still, newly dumped by his girlfriend and also from his job as a TV interior designer, Carey needs somewhere to lick his wounds. And Mossby would be perfect for a renovation show. He already knows someone who could restore the stained glass windows in the older part of the house…
Angel Arrowsmith has spent the last ten years happily working and living with her artist mentor and partner. But suddenly bereaved, she finds herself heartbroken, without a home or a livelihood. Life will never be the same again – until old friend Carey Revell comes to the rescue.
They move in to Mossby with high hopes. But the house has a secret at its heart: an old legend concerning one of the famous windows. Will all their dreams for happiness be shattered? Or can Carey and Angel find a way to make this house a home?


What Fresh Hell – Lucy Vine

Paperback – 8th March 2018

VineWhat do you get if you cross a dozen drunk hens with one shiny Butler in the Buff?

Meet Lilah Fox. She’s on the hen do from hell. Then she gets a message (44 of them, actually) from her best friend with big news: she’s getting married in six months. Oh, and Lilah’s her maid of honour.

Which means she just got signed up for:

  • A military schedule of wedding fairs and weekly planning meetings
  • Excel spreadsheets and endless hen emails
  • All the enforced, expensive fun you can imagine…

What fresh hell is this?


Sunshine at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson

Paperback – 8th March 2018

JohnsonMy name is Willow Longville. I live in a village called Budbury on the stunning Dorset coast with my mum Lynnie, who sometimes forgets who I am. I’m a waitress at the Comfort Food Café, which is really so much more than a café … it’s my home.

For Willow, the ramshackle café overlooking the beach, together with its warm-hearted community, offers friendship as a daily special and always has a hearty welcome on the menu. But when a handsome stranger blows in on a warm spring breeze, Willow soon realises that her quiet country life will be changed forever.


One Cornish Summer – Liz Fenwick

Paperback – 8th March 2018

FenwickAgainst the beauty of Cornwall, a story of two women struggling with their past: one cannot remember hers, the other cannot forget…

When Hebe receives a life-changing diagnosis at only 53, she struggles to make sense of what it will mean for her, her job and the man she loves. With memories slipping away by the day, she flees to the one place she has always felt safe and peaceful – Cornwall, and the house her family spent so many summers in.

Lucy is having her own crisis, and seizes the chance to follow her aunt to Cornwall. Curious about what has driven Hebe there after so many years, she also has to battle with the secret she has kept since her family’s last summer there more than ten years ago.

Both women will learn that memories live in our hearts and that sharing secrets can set you free… But can they find their way back to the things that are truly important to them?


The Summer of Secrets – Tilly Tennant

Kindle Edition – 14th March 2018

JamesCan new love grow when you dig up old secrets?
Harper Woods wakes up every morning on Silver Hill Farm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. She’s engaged to the tall, dark dreamy Shay and just downstairs are the gorgeous tea rooms she’s always dreamed of owning. 
But Harper is about to discover something that will change her luck forever. For better or worse? She has no idea. Not until an expert can identify whether the stunning collection of jewellery she found hidden in the farm’s foundations is priceless, or more trouble than it’s worth… 
As news of the discovery spreads through the Silver Hill, it seems everyone has a secret history making them the rightful owner. In particular, Will Frampton, stubborn and irritatingly handsome Lord of Silver Hill House, the crumbling stately home the other side of the hill. Too busy trying to untangle the truth, Harper doesn’t notice Shay getting rather close to his ex from the village. 
Harper thought she had everything she ever wanted. If she solves the mystery of her sparkling prize, can she hold onto her dream, or will she lose it all, and be left broken-hearted?


The Cafe at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

Kindle Edition – 15th March 2018

ClarkeWelcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…
When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.
But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.
Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirely successful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…
Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?


The Allotment Girls – Kate Thompson

Paperback – 22nd March 2018

ThompsonDuring the Second World War, life in the iconic Bryant & May match factory is grimy and tough. Annie, Rose, Pearl and Millie carry on making matches for the British Army, with bombs raining down around them.  Inspired by the Dig for Victory campaign, Annie persuades the owners to start Bryant & May allotment in the factory grounds. With plenty of sweat and toil, the girls eventually carve out a corner of the yard into a green plot full of life and colour.

In the darkest of times, the girls find their allotment a tranquil, happy escape. Using pierced dustbin lids to sieve through the shrapnel and debris, they bring about a powerful change, not just in the factory, but their own lives.  As the war rages on, the garden becomes a place of community, friendship – and deceit. As the garden thrives and grows, so do the girls’ secrets . . .


Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery – Cathy Bramley

Paperback – 22nd  March 2018

BramleyThirty-two-year-old Hetty Greengrass is the star around which the rest of her family orbits. Marriage, motherhood and helping Dan run Sunnybank Farm have certainly kept her hands full for the last twelve years. When her daughter Poppy has to choose her inspiration for a school project and picks her aunt, not her mum, Hetty is left full of self-doubt. 
Hetty’s always been generous with her time and until now, her biggest talent – baking deliciously moreish short crust pastry pies – has been limited to charity work and the village fete. Taking part in a competition run by Cumbria’s Finest to find the very best produce from the region might be just the thing to make her daughter proud . . . and reclaim something for herself.
Except that life isn’t as simple as producing the perfect pie. Changing the status quo isn’t easy, and with cracks appearing in her marriage and shocking secrets coming to light, Hetty must decide where her priorities really lie . . .


Spring at the Café at the End of the Pier – Helen Rolfe

Kindle Edition – 22nd March 2018

RolfeA feel-good novella and the start of a brilliant new series…
Jo has settled into running her grandparents’ little café at the end of the pier in Salthaven. She’s given it a spring-clean and a spruce-up and she’s getting to know the locals and starting to enjoy life by the sea.

But when Harry, her ex-boyfriend, turns out to be her new accountant, feelings from the past start to flood back. He’s here to help sort out the café’s finances, which Jo’s grandparents left in a mess, but Harry seems to have a hidden agenda and Jo isn’t entirely sure spending time with him is a good idea.

Jo throws herself into her new plans for the café – turning it into a real café of love by arranging blind dates for some of the regulars. Her own love life might be non-existent, but it doesn’t mean she can’t bring a little bit of magic to the locals who have made her so welcome. This time she chooses single-dad Ben and doctor Jess. Will they find love at The Café at the End of the Pier? And will Jo manage to put aside her feelings for Harry in order to give the café the future she dreams of for it…?


 

 

Little Pink Taxi

Little Pink Taxi – Marie Laval

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline. 
Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too. 
On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

Maybe its the historian in me, but Laval’s Little Pink Taxi turned out to be NOT what I was expecting! In fact, it was so much more, and the synopsis does not do it justice at all.

Starting with all the elements that make this book so good and kept me reading.

Firstly, genres. Little Pink Taxi is a crossover/genre mix in my opinion.  It is in essence one romance between 2 people, however it encompasses several other romances,  between people, with home, with landscape, and with heritage. It is a mystery, a thriller, a fantasy, and a historical romance novel. The menace of strange phone calls, a very unpleasant bully, and ‘road rage’ incidents add to the atmosphere and appeal. Who can be trusted? Who can’t? The characters have to deal with their pasts and the people in them; they have to learn and to accept that their perceptions may not be the full picture, that perhaps they’ve got it wrong. Not everything is black and white, and they must accept that they didn’t really know those people fully. The mythology that pervades this book, that surrounds and motivates the characters, is fascinating, and rooted in history. It informs the present, giving us historical characters and another love story. Of course, this historical aspect pulled me deeper into a story  that already had its hooks in me. Deep hooks.

Secondly, the growth and development of the characters. They suffer loss, betrayal, cruelty, and deception. They have to recognise elements within themselves that need to change, no matter how subtly, especially Marc, and to a lesser degree Rosalie. The staggering, stumbling  journey of their romance is excellently written. I found Marc a difficult character to like, so rude, distant, and unfeeling, however the author gradually peels away the layers and you find a man with feelings and issues that he represses.  He initially fights the change that he actually wants, eventually he becomes the man he hoped he would.

Rosalie appears to be very much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get character; sweet, kind, loving, and caring. She still hurts over the loss of her mother. There are elements to her that are not so nice. She easily takes advantage of one relationship which is unkind of her. It’s easy to say she’s not aware she’s doing it, but I’m not convinced. This doesn’t make her a terrible person, it makes her real. She works hard to keep everything going for everyone’s sake, and I did wonder if and when she would finally face the facts about her business.

I can’t say more without revealing really interesting plots and sub-plots. The great mix of genres and various plot-lines suggest it is a mish-mash of a story, but Marie Laval handles it all with great aplomb, and I loved every page of it. I don’t often use the phrase ‘page-turner,’ but this book was for me. I loved the Danish/Viking connections. I wanted to know how and where everyone’s story would end. I had to know about the secrets and mysteries, the crimes and the threats. By the end I couldn’t read fast enough, to the last we are kept guessing even though we are sure this will be a happy ending.

Read this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a scary, thrilling, romantic ride, and I loved it!

BIG THUMBS UP! 


Lipstick and Lies

Lipstick and Lies – Debbie Viggiano

Viggiano LipstickI’m not going to put a plot synopsis in as I don’t like spoilers. Suffice to say that Lipstick and Lies is a sequel to Stockings and Cellulite, and it’s just as mad and hilarious as its predecessor. In fact, I downloaded this one immediately I had finished the first, I enjoyed it so much.

Cassandra’s  a good mum, though her cooking is not so good, she is permanently exhausted, and life is noisy, chaotic, and utterly recognisable. Cass is convinced an ex-girlfriend is out to split up Cass and her husband. He thinks she’s misreading the situation because she’s tired and has issues with the woman anyway. He’s stressed because it all connected to his job. In the middle of this, the ex-husband goes missing. We end up on a veritable high-speed, joyride trying to prove Cass is right. As always aided and abetted by her equally daft but adorable friends.

I love its portrayal of life with babies, the screaming, puking, pooing, and general inability to sleep when you need them to or stay awake when you don’t. There are no yummy mummies in this book; kidnapping and murder are the order of the day, with side dishes of hormonal kids, insane sex lives, ‘silver’ romance, and general mayhem.  If you liked the first, you’ll like this too.

Again, it would have been great to have had more of the relationship between Cass and her husband. I feel that I knew more about Morag and Matt than them.

As before, this is a light, hilarious book, and so much fun to read. I definitely recommend giving it a go. I like being made to laugh out loud, (it happens so rarely when I’m reading), so I’m also going to have a read of some of Debbie’s other books.

Stockings and Cellulite

Stockings and Cellulite – Debbie Viggiano

Viggiano StockingsCassandra Cherry’s life takes a turn for the worse when she catches husband Stevie in bed with a 45-year-old divorcee called Cynthia. Suddenly single, Cass throws herself into the business of getting over Stevie with gusto. Then, when Cass is least prepared, and much to Stevie’s chagrin, she falls in love with the last person she’d expect.

I was in two minds about this book, and read a sample. Then immediately to get the whole book. Debbie Viggiano had me laughing from the very start. When you consider the awful events that kickstart the book, this is surprising. What I love is the honesty. Women temporarily escaping the confines of domesticity, breaking loose, and getting absolutely paralytic. Insisting they are strong, independent women yet desperate for a man and marriage.

C’mon. Who hasn’t been there? Friends and I used to joke that it would be far less exhausting, and a damn sight cheaper, if we could just go to a jewellers buy the rings and get the man free.

There is a part of me that totally identifies with Cassandra. Many of the circumstances she finds herself in had me giggling and reminiscing, as they reflected so many daft and embarrassing situations I have found myself in.  (Leaving home without my purse and hubbie having to drive two hours up the motorway at 11 o’clock at night, as I was almost out of petrol  and sitting in a service area with no money). So, those who have said these situations are far-fetched are people who have never experienced them. Her scenes regarding finding dates and meeting them, had me in equal parts cringing and laughing.

As for her characters, spend any Saturday night watching a group of female friends out on the town, and you will find these women. Debbie may write them in a slight ‘caricature’ style, but I think that makes it all the better. They’re funny, bubbly, and outrageous, as well as vulnerable, desperate, and emotional.

I would have liked more of the accidental meetings between Cass and the hero of this tale, and a little less of the women. I don’t think that was given enough depth. I’m not sure about the title, and not finding the whole surname thing funny, BUT I do recommend this if you want something light,  enjoyable, and hilarious. I loved it enough to get the sequel, Lipstick and Lies.