Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.
The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught.
K.J. Charles is one of the romance authors that I found out about on Twitter and now is an autobuy for me. I was thrilled when she offered ARCs of this book to readers.
A lot of her books that I’ve read previously have focused on people who aren’t part of the gentry. That has been a major part of the appeal for me. This one crosses class lines into upper crust society and I think that wasn’t as enjoyable for me as her previous books. Still, the premise is inventive.
An upper class man has abandoned his children because they vocally opposed his second marriage. The children are adults and they are living in poverty with some terrible consequences. Alec decides to get back at his father by hiring thieves to steal the showy anniversary present that his father plans to give his wife. However, to get close to his father he’ll have to pretend to abandon his principles to get back to a life of leisure. This is going to alienate him from his siblings who don’t know that he has another motive.
This conflict between what he believes and the pretense that he needs to keep up tears at him. He has no practice or talent at being underhanded at all. For help he’s reliant on the con man he hired to coach him and who he is very drawn to.
I like more slow burn and not much sex on the page in my romance books. That’s definitely not what you get in these books. This relationship has a dominance-submission aspect to it. It is handled well and respectfully to both parties. I would recommend this book if you like historical romances that aren’t just ladies looking for dukes.
Sandi Ward's shrewdly observed, funny, and wonderfully touching novel tells of a fractured family, a teenage boy, and a remarkable cat whose loyalty knows no bounds . . .
A boy and his cat. It's an unconventional friendship, perhaps, but for Charlie and Lily, it works beautifully. It was Charlie who chose Lily from among all the cats in the shelter. He didn't frown, the way other humans did, when he saw her injured back leg, the legacy of a cruel previous owner. Instead, Charlie insisted on rescuing her. Now Lily wants to do the same for Charlie.
She's the only one who's seen the bruises on Charlie's body. If she knew who was hurting him, she'd scratch their eyes out. But she can't fix this by herself. Lily needs to get the rest of the family to focus on Charlie--not easy when they're wrapped up in their own problems. Charlie's mother kicked his father out weeks ago and has a new boyfriend who seems charming, but is still a stranger. Oldest son Kevin misses his father desperately. Victoria, Charlie's sister, also has someone new in her life, and Lily is decidedly suspicious. Even Charlie's father, who Lily loves dearly, is behaving strangely.
Lily knows what it's like to feel helpless. But she also knows that you don't always have to be the biggest or the strongest to fight fiercely for the ones you love . . .
Praise for Sandi Ward's The Astonishing Thing "A beautiful and touching look into the intricacies of marriage and family life, all seen through the loving and unique perspective of the family pet." --Modern Cat "The Astonishing Thing feels like a bit of a miracle and we all could use a miracle." --Holly Chamberlin, author of The Summer Nanny
This story about a family in crisis isn’t something that I would normally be drawn to without the twist of having it narrated by the family cat.
This isn’t a cutesy cat story. Lily doesn’t have magical powers to be able to solve problems or talk to the dog or send messages to humans. She is just observant and knows what anyone who is truly watching what is going on would know. The problem is that her humans just aren’t paying attention to each other enough.
This is a simple read that compels you to keep reading to find out what is going to happen. I read it in a day because I wanted to know what was going on in this family. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with all the choices the humans make at the end of the book but that’s humans for you. Sometimes they should listen more to their pets.
Because I know this is a major concern with animal characters in books, I’ll let you know that nothing bad happens to either Lily or Gretel the dog during the book. Both of them have previously had human-inflicted injuries that they have recovered from at the start of the book.
About Sandi Ward
Sandi Ward writes books about love, family, forgiveness…and cats.
Sandi grew up in Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts, and received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University. She’s the author of book club novels published by Kensington Books, stories of dysfunctional families told from the point of view of the family cat. She’s also a medical copywriter at an advertising agency. She lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a large black cat named Winnie.
On December 18, 2018 her latest novel, SOMETHING WORTH SAVING, will be on sale (available now for pre-order) in trade paperback, e-book and audio book.
What if Time Travel were real? What if Time Travelers from 300 years in the future told you that there was a chance that you could prevent catastrophic climate change, plagues, and wars by going back in time to key Pivot Points and ethically altering the outcome of rigged elections? What if failure would result in the destruction of the biosphere? Would you go?
In post-plague 2050 Britain, palm trees tower over the rice paddies of Stonehenge. Tara MacFarlane, a weary 96-year-old anthropologist originally from Taos, New Mexico, longs only to finish out her life in peaceful Buddhist meditation, and rejoin the great love of her later years, the humanitarian Scottish-Afghan doctor Xander, in a future incarnation. Suddenly one stifling autumn day Tara, her great-granddaughter Leona, and Leona’s boyfriend Janus are faced with a trio of Time Travelers from a future alternate Timeline where humanity and the eco-system survived and thrived.
The fate of Earth’s biosphere falls squarely on the shoulders of Tara, Leona, Janus, and Tara’s small gray cat, Georgie, who shows a surprising aptitude for telepathy. Time is short to reverse catastrophe that will bleed through into the alternate Timeline, and the Time Travelers must first determine the ideal Pivot Points by reading Time Code vibrations off the great standing stones of Avebury. Unexpectedly joined by the brave and wise cat Georgie, the six plunge into the Time Circle of Stonehenge on their mission. Where and when will they go, and will they succeed in restoring the Earth and humanity to balance?
There is a lot going on in this book. The Earth has lost most of its population due to plagues and climate change. A group of humans living in the now-tropical area of Stonehenge are suddenly visited by people claiming to be from the future.
The story is told in flashbacks and in the current timeline to show how humans managed to destroy the planet in such a short period of time. The main characters are Buddhists who have invested a lot of their lives into meditation and spiritual practice. They apply what they have learned through that to help try to heal the planet. A lot of this isn’t explained in much detail, if at all. The visitors from the future have a lot of special powers that they are unable to explain. They explain it as using readily available technology in their world but it can come across as sort of lazy story telling like, “Oh, look, she can project holograms of different timelines from her head. How, you ask? Um, technology…”
The group needs to go back to key points in history to change things. (They basically need to prevent the 1980s.)
There is a cat who plays a vital part in the story and is able to speak mind to mind with his people. He is known forever as Georgie, the first Time Traveling cat. I approve of cats with good communication skills.
This book reminds me so much of The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. Both books feature a very elderly woman as the main protagonist. She joins forces with her chosen family to prevent a disaster through spiritual/magical means.
About the Author
Debra Denker has been writing stories since she learned to read. Although novels and poetry were her first loves, she turned her talent to journalism in the ‘70s and ‘80s, writing about Afghanistan and the refugee situation in Pakistan for National Geographic and many leading newspapers. She has specialized in social documentation utilizing journalism, photography, and film to convey the experiences of people in war torn areas, with the intention of stimulating the empathy necessary for humans to stop violence against people and planet.
Denker is the author of two published books, the non-fiction literary memoir Sisters on the Bridge of Fire: One Woman’s Journeys in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and the novel War in the Land of Cain—a story of love, war, and moral choices set during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980’s.
Denker now writes for the award-winning conservation media website, Voices for Biodiversity, raising consciousness to help ward off the Sixth Great Extinction.
She currently lives in Santa Fe with her family of cats, Dorjee Purr-ba, Yeshe Gyalpo, and Samadhi Timewalker, but travels frequently in earthly space, and hopes to travel in time and galactic space.
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The hysterical, clever, and unforgettable sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.
What's next for Allan Karlsson? Turns out this centenarian has a few more adventures in store . . .
It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined that the captain of the ship would be harboring a suitcase full of contraband uranium, on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un. Yikes!
Soon Allan and Julius are at the center of a complex diplomatic crisis involving world figures from the Swedish foreign minister to Angela Merkel and President Trump. Needless to say, things are about to get very, very complicated.
Another hilarious, witty, and entertaining novel from bestselling author Jonas Jonasson that will have readers howling out-loud at the escapades and misfortunes of its beloved hundred-year-old hero Allan Karlsson and his irresistible sidekick Julius.
I read the previous book, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared several years ago. I would sum it up as sort of Swedish Forrest Gump. Allan Karlsson managed to be a part of most of the major events in the 20th century. I don’t remember much more that that.
That didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this book. In fact, I think you really don’t have to have read the first book in order to pick up this one. All you need to know is that Allan escaped his nursing home in Sweden and through a series of adventures has found himself in Bali accompanied by a petty thief named Julius and a suitcase full of money that is rapidly running out due to the rate at which they are spending it.
This book focuses on Allan and Julius and their interaction with current events. My husband wandered in at one point when I was reading and asked what the book was about. That’s a hard question. Here’s what I told him.
“A hot air balloon ride goes wrong which leads to them being picked up by a North Korean ship smuggling uranium. They convince the captain they have the ability to fix the North Korean nuclear program but actually escape with the uranium and head to New York. There they meet Donald Trump but decide not to give him the uranium because he seems unhinged. So they give it to the German ambassador under false pretenses along with a note to Angela Merkel written on three napkins telling her not to be too mad that they tricked the ambassador.”
He just nodded and walked away.
That was before they started dealing in coffins caskets. If you like books full of absurdity, this is for you. If you like books that work in lots of anti-Trump rhetoric, you’ll love this one extra. There is a joke very early on about how polar bears should start walking south to stay ahead of the ice caps melting but not all the way to the U.S. because although they are white, they are still foreigners. That made me laugh hard and settle in for the ride.
About Jonas Jonasson
Jonas Jonasson is the author of the international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, now a major motion picture. Prior to his success as a novelist, Jonas was a journalist for the Swedish newspaper Expressen for many years, and later became a media consultant and founded a production company specializing in sporting events for Swedish television, which he sold before moving abroad to work on his first novel. He is the author of the internationally successful novels The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All. He lives on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.
“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
I love historical fiction that pulls you in from the beginning. This is the story of two women from very different backgrounds who meet in the embroidery workshop of a dress designer in London immediately after World War II.
Ann is English. She lost her parents before the war and her brother during the Blitz. She lives with her sister-in-law, trying to scrape by.
Miriam is a French Jew who was in a concentration camp for part of the war. No one in England knows about this part of her life. All they know is that she is a skilled embroiderer who worked in a design house in Paris.
Fast forward to 2016 and a woman in Toronto gets a box of pictures and embroidery from her recently deceased grandmother. She knew her grandmother was from England but she never talked about her life there. She also didn’t know how to sew as far as her granddaughter knew. Why does she have all this?
This is a great story of female friendship and support. It also shows you the amazing amount of handwork that goes into couture dresses. I like stories based on unknown women who have had a part, however small, in historical events.
I had never really looked at the dress before. It is so detailed with both embroidery and applique. I can’t imagine doing that day in and day out. (I hurt my hands just trying to hand sew one quilt.) They only had a few weeks to get that all finished. It is amazing.
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France, After the War is Over and Moonlight Over Paris. She holds a doctorate from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.
A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.
Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters.
Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all.
And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.
I adored the characters in this story.
Granny is a titled lady who was a failed debutante. (What she did to Queen Victoria sealed her fate.) However, she is an excellent poacher and that has been most useful in keeping the family going during World War I rationing.
Mother is a reclusive author who doesn’t function well in the real world so keeping her out of it is the best course of action.
Alix is the oldest daughter. Her twin brother died in the war a few months ago. She volunteers at the neighboring hospital to get a look at any potential husbands but she hasn’t been impressed yet.
Christy is the responsible one who works out a plan to take in lodgers without her mother knowing about it. She also publishes stories that no one knows she writes.
Addy is a genius who has been kicked out of school again for talking back to the teachers.
Father was a con man who came in and out of their lives until he had the decency to sink with the Lusitania three years ago but now it seems that that might have been a con too.
Even the secondary and background characters are well developed. I especially liked the detail of the woman who named her children names that she’d seen in the newspaper but never heard pronounced so Nigel is called Niggle and Penelope is Penny-lope.
When I started reading this book, I didn’t remember what it was supposed to be about and I found that I didn’t really care. I enjoyed spending time with this family as they navigated the grief over their brother’s death that is just starting to lift a bit and as they find ways to support themselves. The book is funny and warm with a mystery or two thrown into the mix. I will definitely look into more books by this author.
Author Bio – Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola’s 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames Social Media Links – www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com www.nicolaslade.com Twitter: @nicolasladeuk https://www.facebook.com/nicolasladeuk/ https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nicola8703 (I have a board for each book)
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Set in the lush Big Band era of the 1940s and World War II, this spellbinding saga from beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani tells the story of two talented working class kids who marry and become a successful singing act, until time, temptation, and the responsibilities of home and family derail their dreams
Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?
From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love and the pursuit of the American dream.
You know what you are getting into if you’ve read this author previously. This is the story of an Italian family told from the time the protagonists are teenagers until their deaths. The writing is sparse. Small pieces of time will be discussed in detail and then years will pass between paragraphs.
I was intrigued by the premise, especially this line from the blurb – “Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career?” I was hoping this was going to be a book that discussed the stereotypical gender roles of a post-WWII marriage and possibly subverted them. My hopes were high as the beginning of the book shows Chi Chi was infinitely more talented and more ambitious than Tony.
All this was swept aside quickly though once the marriage happened. I’m not even sure why it happened. I found their “courtship” incredibly uncomfortable as he basically badgers her into giving up her dreams because he decided that he was in love with her when in her mind they were just old friends. This is followed by affair after affair until a divorce and then she still supports him through several more marriages all the while closing herself off completely to the idea of finding love.
“Duty-bound love is the Italian girl’s area of expertise. The Italian woman is a master craftsman at the art of sacrifice.”
I don’t think that this is a good thing. This story is about a woman who sacrificed everything that she was to a man who couldn’t be bothered to care. I found it infuriating and ultimately depressing to read about. I understand that this is much more likely to be historically accurate than a book about people supporting each other in their careers. That is part of the reason why this book made me so angry. This is about a time and attitudes that we have hopefully begun to move past.
About Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.
Jan Risher took the long way to get from Mississippi to Louisiana with stops in between in Slovakia, Mexico, China, Burkina Faso, and more than forty other countries. Since moving to Lafayette in 2001, she has been a Sunday columnist for The Daily Advertiser and has written a column every single week since March 2002.
Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short is the collection of these columns written over fifteen years. Arranged in chronological order, the collection creates a narrative of one woman's aim to build her family, build up her community, and weave the stories and lessons learned from the past into the present.
From her family's move to Louisiana, adoption of a daughter from China, covering Hurricane Katrina, travels near and far, author Jan Risher attempts, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, to do her small part to make the world a better place.
Meet the Author:
Jan Risher is an award-winning journalist and investigative reporter. She was managing editor of The Times of Acadiana. Before and after her time as a full-time journalist, she was an English teacher. She has taught English near and far, in its most basic and most lyrical forms. She continues her career as a freelance writer and now owns Shift Key, a content marketing and public relations firm. She, her husband and their two daughters have made their home on the banks of the Vermilion River.
1. What inspired you to collect these columns into a book?
Through the years, I’ve been blessed to gather a large following of readers, primarily across Louisiana and Mississippi. Readers have asked for a collection through the years, but finding the time to do so has always been an issue. When the University of Louisiana Press spoke with me about the possibility, I believed in the care they would offer the collection — and had a deadline, which is really the main thing I need to get something done!
I thought I had easy access to all my columns but was wrong. Even though this collection finds its beginning in the early years of this century, I ended up having to go to the local university library and digging through microfilm to locate some of the early ones. I had not done as good of a job as I believed in keeping up with them all!
2. When reviewing the columns did you find that your opinions had changed on any subjects?
Surprisingly, I found that my views on most issues had not changed very much, which I found to be comforting. In a couple of rare instances, I was even proud of myself for certain word choices or insights gained. Going back and reading nearly a thousand columns to select the 182 that were eventually used for the book was a head trip. I relived so many of the experiences I had as a younger mother — things I thought I had remembered, but in fact had forgotten. The experience was very powerful. I was grateful to have a team of editors working with me who were able to take a more objective approach in which columns to include or not.
3. What did you hope your newspaper readers gained from the columns? Is it different for book readers?
When my daughters were younger, we said night prayers together every night. Each evening, we would pray to do our best to make the world a better place. In writing each piece for the newspaper, I had the same hope and prayer — that each could serve to and find the right readers who needed a certain tidbit to do his or her part to make the world a better place. Though I failed on occasion, I never wanted to come off as preachy. This is not a how-to book. As a collection of columns, I do believe it connects some of the dots of my hopes. I continue to pray that it serves readers and the lives they touch in a positive way.
An elegant collection of the best artwork and photography from the National Geographic archives depicting the magnificence of birds.
Bird, nature, and art lovers alike will treasure this sumptuous visual celebration of the colors, forms, and behaviors of the winged wonders who share our world as they have been explored, displayed, and revealed throughout the years by National Geographic. The book moves chronologically so readers witness the tremendous growth in our knowledge of birds over the last 130 years, as well as the new frontiers in technology and observation--from luminous vintage paintings and classic black and white photographs to state-of-the art high-speed and telephoto camera shots that reveal moments rarely seen and sights invisible to the human eye. The wide diversity of pictures captures beloved songbirds outside the kitchen window, theatrical courtship dance of birds of paradise, tender moments inside a tern's nest, or the vivid flash of a hummingbird's flight. Readers will delight in seeing iconic species from around the world through the eyes of acclaimed National Geographic wildlife photographers such as Chris Johns, Frans Lanting, Joel Sartore, and Tim Laman and reading excerpted passages from Arthur A. Allen, Roger Tory Peterson, Douglas Chadwick, Jane Goodall, and other great explorers. Exquisitely produced and expertly curated, this visual treasury displays as never before the irresistible beauty, grace, and intelligence of our feathered friends.
The first thing I realized about this book is that it is absolutely massive. There will be no laying leisurely in bed holding this above my head while reading. I drop books and iPads on my face all the time. If I drop this book, I would do myself an injury.
The second thing I realized is that it is absolutely amazing.
This is a history of National Geographic’s coverage of birds from the 1800s until now. It is the best of their wonderful photography. There are sections about how birds have been covered in the magazine. There are articles comparing and contrasting articles on similar topics many years apart like this spread of what was known about hummingbird flight in 1957 and 2017.
This isn’t a book that you are going to sit down and read right through. It is a book to dive into a little bit at a time so you can savor the pictures and the knowledge. I’m looking forward to reading slowly through this book to properly enjoy it.
This is a high quality coffee table book that is perfect for anyone who loves birds and/or photography.
Claude Monet painting is stolen
Of all the things Harry Chase had imagined in his life, being a drummer on a cruise ship band was not one that would have occurred to him. And yet, there he was. Centre stage, behind a young female singer along with his mates, Dave, Tony and Steve.
Which meant that getting involved in a jewellery theft, an on-board massage parlour and the hunt for an Old Master was even further from his mind as he cracked the snare drum.
And yet, this was exactly how he found himself being questioned by Interpol …..
This is the third book in a series but enough context is given to allow you to pick up the story if you are starting with this book.
The story line was inventive. The mystery was complicated enough with enough red herrings to sustain the whole book. There was a fairly large cast and I was able to keep the male characters straight because they each had distinct personalities and character traits.
It did drive me batty that every time they went into a new country on this cruise all they did was shop. Who does that? You are supposed to go sightseeing. But that story choice leads into my main problem with this book — its lazy characterization of women.
At heart this is a male fantasy where all the women are attracted to the main character and try to get him to have sex with them even though they know his partner.
One of the first things I noticed about this book is how many breasts were in it. I know this because they were pointed out every time they appeared in a scene. I sighed and reminded myself that I don’t read a lot of male fiction authors and sometimes these authors are distracted easily. Also every female character was introduced not by her purpose in the narrative or her relationship to other characters but by her appearance and sexual desirability. Then I got to this line.
“Like Clem, Liz was blonde and although approaching her mid-forties was still a very attractive woman.”
No, sir. Nope. Done. Automatic DNF from this 45 year old hag. It puts me in mind of this:
But alas, this is not the real world, this is a review book so I soldiered on.
“I looked at the five women sitting around the table and realised that any man would give his eye teeth to spend a night with any one of them;”
At the time the people were having important conversations but that’s ok, ignore that and focus on reducing them to your sexual fantasies.
The resolution of the plot isn’t even allowed to escape.
“Within minutes two squad cars containing plane (sic) clothes detectives had arrived along with two cars carrying uniformed police; one of whom was a very attractive WPC, and I made a mental note to somehow get Cara a police uniform.”
At one point there is this description:
“The barman was small and effeminate, his head was shaved at the sides, and he wore a black ponytail tied up in a top knot. The badge on the lapel of his bright red waistcoat said Sam. He seemed vaguely familiar. “I haven’t seen you guys in here before,” he said holding out a limp wrist. His accent was either American or Canadian.
I shook his hand, and his fingers collapsed in my grip; a similar experience to squeezing a soft rubber ball. “No, first time,” I replied surreptitiously wiping my hand on my trouser leg.”
If that isn’t bad enough, he is referred to later in this conversation.
“It’s a good picture of that bloke’s arse,” Steve added, “maybe we could take it to Sam, the barman, he might recognise it.”
Contrast this to the treatment of one of the main characters who is a lesbian. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in this book, except for one character’s repeated attempts to sleep with her because all lesbians just need a man to show them what they are missing, right? /sarcasm. Even she is interested in having the main character watch her have sex. (Sadly, not even joking.)
If you like your mysteries served with a large topping of sexist banter on top, then you might enjoy this one.
The rain in Spain doesn't mainly fall on the plain…
Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.
Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town's flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?
One thing's for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again
This book tells the story of British people behaving badly in Spain.
Belinda is on the run with her husband Jez. They are living on the yacht that is all they have left after their business collapsed in England, probably because of her husband’s shady dealings.
Julia lives with her husband and daughter. She’s the type of ex-pat who refers to all other foreigners as immigrants and is angry that people in Spain want her to speak something other than English.
Laura lives in a super wealthy English enclave with her husband and mother and children. She spends her time lunching with other wives and is bored out of her mind.
Georgina has been dumped in Spain after a bad breakup and an even worse rebound fling. She’s working in a bar and has just learned that she is about to be kicked out of her housing.
These four end up joining an unorthodox flamenco class in a small town. The first lessons involve learning to step out of your comfort zone. A lot of this happens around eating churros. Most of these women are horrified at the idea of eating anything with so many fried carbs covered in chocolate sauce. But each little act of rebellion against the lives that they are living leads to larger steps until their lives are changed forever.
There is an element of magical realism in this story. The flamenco teacher Carmen is able to determine exactly what push each of them needs. She’s a mysterious figure. You never learn much about her. She never even teaches them to dance. They can just magically do it perfectly. This fits into the stereotype of the “exotic” person who teaches white people to fix themselves and then disappears, presumably to go help others.
I never really warmed up to the characters, except for Laura. She realizes that she is living in Spain and not some English colony. She starts to want to get out more and learn some Spanish and interact with the real country. She moves away from the overwhelming fakeness of her life. I wanted to back away slowly from the other characters. Even as the story progresses and you are supposed to start to feel for them I couldn’t get over the horribleness of how they are first described.
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Author Bio – Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing. As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One). She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’! Costa del Churros is her third novel with Crooked Cat Books, following on from the hit sensations, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar.
Social Media Links – www.isabellamayauthor.com Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/ Instagram – @isabella_may_author
Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar's Abbey isn't the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill--though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome--is anything but a romantic hero.
He Needed Redemption...
Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household--and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.
Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena's past threatens, will Justin's burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?
I have pretty strict rules about the historical romances that I will read. Generally they need to be recommended by some trusted sources on Twitter. When I pick them myself I tend to get horrible books that I DNF. That’s why I’m so excited about this book. I chose this one from the description on the book tour and I absolutely loved it!
Helena is on the run but she isn’t flighty or impetuous. Her escape from her family has been well planned. She needs to get married in order to wrest control of her inheritance from her relatives. She is unable to control it herself because she is a woman so she is in desperate need of a husband.
Justin returned from being a prisoner of war in India and in an act of pure spite, managed to seize control of the largest house from its impoverished gentleman owner. Now he is hated by the community and just wants to be left alone. His secretary and a lawyer friend though have advertised for a bride for him. He’s ignored them up to now when his friend in London sent him a woman who is obviously in trouble.
I loved that these were both sensible, no-nonsense people. There was a real threat that Helena was running from based on newspaper accounts of the time. This was a great way to get actual historical issues into the story.
This book felt comfortable from the opening pages. I was pulled directly into the story. This is the type of historical romance that I love and I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.
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Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath's premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.
Determined to break from her father's iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington's into a new decade, embracing woman's equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.
This book takes place in 1910 in Bath. I read a lot of historical fiction but I don’t see many books set in this time period. I was interested to read about a woman who is trying to take over her family business at a time when this was not an acceptable thing to do. This is also a time of great changes in retail. Ready to wear clothing is becoming more popular. Being able to touch the merchandise without a clerk helping you is a new idea.
I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book. In the beginning the writing was a bit clunky. There was a whole lot more description of what people were thinking than showing their actions on the page. I set the book aside for a while because of this. I don’t know if I would have picked it back up if it wasn’t a review book for me and if I wasn’t really interested in the premise.
I’m not sure if the writing improved as I got into the story or if I just accepted it as I went along but it didn’t bother me as much as I got deeper into the book. There are several conflicts here:
The heroine who wants to run the store versus her father who wants her to marry and live the life of a rich housewife.
The hero who wants to expand from a small family store to selling their merchandise in department stores over his father’s objections.
There was conflict between the heroine and hero’s families in the past.
Should department stores continue to cater to the wealthy or should they bring in lower price clothing for the new middle class customers? Would the wealthy continue to shop there if you let lower classes in the same stores?
It was interesting to see the ideas that were considered so progressive (and potentially alarming) that are commonplace now. The anti-woman rhetoric was as expected. Women aren’t smart enough to be in business. Suffragettes are just rabble-rousers causing the downfall of society.
This is a good book for anyone who loves historical fiction where you learn a lot about a topic.
Meet Lucy, master wedding cake baker, idealistic school canteen crusader, and someone whose broken heart just won’t seem to mend…
Lucy is quietly confident that she has made the right choices in life. Surrounded by friends and family in a small town by the sea, Lucy can easily suppress the feeling that something is missing from her life.
But when a blast from the past arrives in the form of her estranged husband, international celebrity chef Oliver Murray, Lucy’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble beneath her like overbaked meringue.
Is Oliver’s return all business or is it motivated by something more?
A Recipe for Disaster starts long after most love stories would have ended, proving it is never too late to offer someone a second slice of cake or a second chance.
Perfect for fans of Carole Mathews, Mhairi McFarlane and Carrie Hope Fletcher.
Second chance romance stories are not my favorites. I figure if you broke up before there was probably a good reason. Especially if you break up for the incredibly stupid reason that the couple in this book did. They are both chefs. She’s a pastry chef. He gets a job offer in Paris. She decides to stay at home in Australia because there is no work for her. As a PASTRY CHEF. IN FRANCE…
At this point I was muttering to myself about agreeing to review this book, but the book surprised me. There wasn’t a magical fix to the relationship as soon as her estranged husband reappeared. She is still insanely jealous of what he’s been able to do. He is still prone to running over everyone else’s thoughts and feelings in pursuit of what he wants. They can’t communicate at all about anything other than food.
They both need to grow up and decide if their relationship is more important than their businesses. Can they work together and have professional disagreements without it hurting their personal relationship?
This book turned out to be deeper than I expected from the first few chapters. It shows that life is messy and complicated and that you need to learn to work through it to get what you want.
"Wow!!! A genuinely bespoke city guide!!!" - Tommy Sponge, Chairman, The Bespokist Society
One of the most curated city guides ever created. As the first travel book produced by the hugely influential Bespokist Society, this handy guide takes you to a London you've never seen: a London of challenging Etruscan restaurants, edgy branding parlours, emoji hotels and hidden Icelandic communities; a London where 8-ply toilet paper is a thing.
On the way, meet an eclectic band of inspiring Londoners - from scriveners to socialites via urban wordsmiths and coffee preachers - and see why London is now the global epicentre of Bespokist consciousness, community and culture.
This is a tiny book that packs a punch. Even if you’ve never been to London, if you’ve lived in a place inhabited by hipsters, you will understand this book.
In this guide you will find out about the latest and greatest restaurants that require you to make all your own food. You will find out about bicycling groups that never end. You will find tailors that use only archaic tool and refuse to discuss a price.
This is a book that you can dip in and out of instead of reading like a story. This is a good gift book for anyone who is taking themselves a bit too seriously.
Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …
Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she’s been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.
Fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?
This novel explores the dynamics of people from different classes. Beth Jago lives outside a mining town in an cabin in a valley. She lived with her grandfather who recently died. Since then she has been receiving eviction notices. She is dealing with this by ignoring them until the threats become physical.
Many historical romances are about the English gentry but they don’t explore the often unsavory ways these people made and maintained their fortunes. This book looks at the motivations of the men who own the mines that the area depends on to survive. Closing a mine can look good on paper when you don’t care about the welfare of a town built around it.
I appreciated the fact that this heroine is allowed to make her own choices in this novel. She is able to prove to herself and others that she is able to provide a living for herself. It was important to her to know that she was going to choose to marry because she wanted to live with that man instead of marrying because it was an economic necessity. I believe this is one of the few historical romances that include characters in such extreme poverty that going into a workhouse at several points in their life is required. I’m finding that I like historical romances that feature working class main characters or other marginalized characters that don’t often feature in traditional historical romances.
There is a storyline about an adult mentally disabled man that will be disturbing to some readers. I don’t think that it is unrealistic for the time but it will be upsetting to modern readers.
This is the third book of a series but works as a standalone novel.
Every childhood lasts a lifetime. On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and placing him in a children’s home. Seven years later she went back but he had vanished. What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go? Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets and one of the most shameful episodes in recent British history. Can she find the vanished child?
This is the fourth book in this series of mysteries solved by a genealogical researcher. I hadn’t read the previous ones but I didn’t have any trouble following this book. I do think this is an interesting angle for a mystery. I love watching genealogy shows on TV and researching my own family history.
This book hits hard on one of my push button issues – the horrific treatment of unmarried women with children at the hands of Christian churches. I spent my whole time reading this book muttering to myself about how abusive the church is and how it always seems to be coming up with new ways to be awful. It was not unusual for unmarried women to be separated from their children because it was considered better for the children to be raised elsewhere away from their immoral mothers. This book looks at the practice of shipping English children to Australia to be trained as domestics and laborers. Yes, it was considered better for them to be raised as virtual slaves than to stay with their mothers. People were told they were orphans and they wanted to believe that so they dismissed the children when they talked about having mothers at home in England.
The whole book is pretty heartbreaking but it highlights some British history that isn’t well known. If you want to continue your outrage after this one, check out the movies Philomena or The Magdalene Sisters. The first one is sad but has funny moments. The second is just deeply horrifying.
Praise for Nicola May’s books
‘This book will twang your funny bone & your heartstrings’ – Milly Johnson‘A fun and flighty read’ the Sun‘A funny and fast-paced romp – thoroughly enjoyable!’ Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy. While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he - or she - has left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it. Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything she has into getting the shop up and running again in the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed - and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail? There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of self-discovery and unpredictable events. With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.
It seems like I’m going with the unpopular opinion based on the reviews I’ve read from other people. From the description I expected a light-hearted, funny read typical of the chick lit genre. This book is not that. It is surprisingly dark especially considering how it is being marketed.
The main character is self-destructive. She drinks excessively and can’t keep a job. Her main human contact is a series of one night sexual encounters. She uses sex to help make up for the fact that she can’t always pay for the rent on her flat. The only thing she loves at all is her dog, Hot. Getting an inheritance is a way for her to get out of her current life and start fresh.
Usually in this type of book the small town the heroine goes to is full of lovely characters. Here that isn’t the case. In short order she is scammed, sexually assaulted, and her secret is outed against her express wishes. Then she is threatened to provide someone with an alibi for a hit and run.
She eventually finds some nicer people but they have secrets too. Then people keep breaking into her house, she ends up with a pregnant teenager living with her, she gets scammed a few more times, she finds out about a decades old affair, and her dog gets hurt (but he’s ok). This isn’t a bad book but I didn’t read it anything like the laugh a minute romp I’m seeing other people review it as. I read it more as a cautionary tale about trying to keep secrets and the need to have someone who you can confide in. Rosa is very damaged emotionally and trying to move past that in her own way isn’t easy. Trying to open up and let other people in when you have learned over and over not to trust is hard. When those people then repeatedly violate your tentative trust, what do you do?
I read an ARC so hopefully things have been cleaned up but there was an error in my copy. She was reading letters about a person who was only referred to by an initial. But when she thought about the person she thought of them by their full first name. She had no way of knowing that.
A young man’s moving story of war, friendship, and hope in which he recounts his harrowing escape from a brutal civil war in Yemen with the help of a daring plan engineered on social media by a small group of interfaith activists in the West.
Born in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen, to a pair of middle-class doctors, Mohammed Al Samawi was a devout Muslim raised to think of Christians and Jews as his enemy. But when Mohammed was twenty-three, he secretly received a copy of the Bible, and what he read cast doubt on everything he’d previously believed. After connecting with Jews and Christians on social media, and at various international interfaith conferences, Mohammed became an activist, making it his mission to promote dialogue and cooperation in Yemen.
Then came the death threats: first on Facebook, then through terrifying anonymous phone calls. To protect himself and his family, Mohammed fled to the southern port city of Aden. He had no way of knowing that Aden was about to become the heart of a north-south civil war, and the battleground for a well-funded proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As gunfire and grenades exploded throughout the city, Mohammed hid in the bathroom of his apartment and desperately appealed to his contacts on Facebook.
Miraculously, a handful of people he barely knew responded. Over thirteen days, four ordinary young people with zero experience in diplomacy or military exfiltration worked across six technology platforms and ten time zones to save this innocent young man trapped between deadly forces— rebel fighters from the north and Al Qaeda operatives from the south.
The story of an improbable escape as riveting as the best page-turning thrillers, The Fox Hunt reminds us that goodness and decency can triumph in the darkest circumstances.
I didn’t know much about the causes of the war in Yemen until I read this book. It still doesn’t make much sense to me because it boils down to “Those people look different than us and think differently than us.” It is that kind of mindset that Mohammed Al Samawi was working against prior to the war.
The stars of this story of the activists around the world who play a high stakes game of Six Degrees of Separation. Who do you know? Who do they know? Can you get one man from Aden to Africa?
What struck me while reading this is the problems that are caused by Yemen’s patriarchy/toxic combination of masculinity and religion:
The whole conflict could be put down to this
He was unable to shelter with his uncle’s family because his uncle wouldn’t let him in the house where his unmarried female cousins lived. How messed up is that? Your nephew is alone in an apartment in a war zone but you won’t take him in because you assume he wouldn’t be able to sexually control himself around his female relatives?
Because he was male he was completely unprepared to live on his own without women to care for him. He moved to Aden and was living alone. He ate out daily since he didn’t cook so he had minimal food and supplies in the house when all the shops closed down.
After he was out of Yemen due to the help of a group of interfaith activists he was still too afraid to tell him mother (still living in a war zone) that he had been talking to Jews.
I found the beginning of this book with his entry into interfaith dialogue more interesting than the story of his escape from Yemen. I think that is partially because the writing is very plain. It reads like “This happened and then this happened and then this happened…” Secondly, I mostly just wanted to shake the guy. This is not a heroic memoir. Mohammed Al Samawi isn’t brave. He isn’t very good at planning. He moves from Sanaa to Aden but neglects to bring his passport even though he travels for work. These things all make trying to flee the country harder. He uses the distraction of a Northern man like himself being publicly tortured to death in the street by Al Qaeda to escape from his apartment while wondering why no one tries to help that man. He even refers to himself occasionally as a man-child. He was in his late 20s in 2015 when this happened.
In the end there were so many different lobbying efforts going on that it is not clear who succeeded in getting the order given to let him on the ship from Aden to Djibouti. I wish this had been investigated. It seems to be a very strange thing not to know who allowed his transport in a book about arranging his transport.
In the absence of facts, he falls back on the idea that God arranged his rescue. While comforting for religious people, this makes nonreligious people want to pull their hair out. Basically he saying that his God ignored everyone else stuck in a war (about religion and power) to concentrate on giving him special attention. It also diminishes all the hard work that people did on his behalf.
Fleeing from a romance gone wrong, Ellie Farmer arrives in the pretty little village of Sunnybrook, hoping for a brand new start that most definitely does not include love! Following an unscheduled soak in the village duck pond, she meets Sylvia, who runs the nearby Duck Pond Café. Renting the little flat above the café seems like the answer to Ellie's prayers. It's only for six months, which will give her time to sort out her life, far away from cheating boyfriend Richard.
But is running away from your past ever really the answer?
Clashing with the mysterious and brooding Zack Chamberlain, an author with a bad case of writer's block, is definitely not what Ellie needs right now. And then there's Sylvia, who's clinging so hard to her past, she's in danger of losing the quaint but run-down Duck Pond Café altogether.
Can Ellie find the answers she desperately needs in Sunnybrook? And will she be able to help save Sylvia's little Duck Pond Café from closure?
Books set in cafes in England are my favorites. This story features both a bakery and a cafe.
This is the first of a planned series of three books in this small town. This section has the task of setting up all the characters and situations which is a lot to do in such a small space. As a result it felt a bit like the author was ticking off the boxes of what is expected in this genre.
A woman who just was dumped by her long term boyfriend for another woman
A conveniently single man at her new location complete with an adorable child
An aging proprietor of a failing cafe who wants to take in a total stranger
The story was enjoyable but it never rose above the predictable. There wasn’t enough depth of emotion in the story to draw me in fully. This may be a series read best when it is all completed so the characters have room to develop and grow.
I’m most interested in seeing the development of some of the secondary characters like the secret baker who is learning to stand up for herself.