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All relationships have their ups and downs, whether it’s struggles with a partner or difficulties in the family. Our Relationship Stories section shows the unique features of relationships in gloriously written technicolour.
Cleverly and playfully-formed, this is a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel of love, heartbreak and second chances. Eugene and Tatiana are 27 and 24. They’re both unsettled by a fortuitous encounter on the Paris Metro ten years after they last met, and the significance of the moment is made potently clear when the omniscient narrator interjects, “Look how shaken they are to see each other again. Look at their eyes”. Throughout, the all-knowing narrator directs readers’ responses in this way, introducing episodes with foreshadowing commentaries that tell us what to watch out for. It’s the narrator who announces “it’s time to go back about ten years into the past, back where it all began.” And so we’re presented with the origin of their connection, when Tatiana was a self-conscious bookish fourteen-year-old, and Eugene was the enigmatic, pessimistic seventeen-year-old friend of her older sister’s boyfriend. The narrative slips between the frisson of their re-acquaintance and the tragedy that struck their teenage years. In some ways, reading this is like observing an intense play. In others, it’s like being granted access to Eugene and Tatiana’s innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires through their impassioned soliloquies. In every way, it’s a unique and emotionally honest portrait of the grip and ache of young love.
Gosh, just stunning! For me, this is the very definition of a must-read… eloquent, absorbing, absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. I thought The Last Hours (which you really do need to read first) was exquisitely engaging and satisfying, and I enjoyed The Turn of Midnight just as much, perhaps even more as the characters were known to me, beloved by me. Lady Anne and educated serf Thaddeus have joined forces to prevent the Black Death from decimating their community. As they attempt to secure the independence of Develish however, trouble continues to haunt them, to hunt them down. Maps and a summary of the people, places and events from The Last Hours ensured I was able to step straight into the story. Minette Walters has the most beautiful voice, my soul became at one with the words. I sank so fully into the story that I was surprised at the end of each chapter when I suddenly came to and became aware of my surroundings. The time, the place are vibrantly alive, I could touch kindness, smell bitterness, taste fear. Please, please, please let there be more! The Turn of Midnight is a powerful, gripping read, and yes I am gushing most effusively over it, that’s because it really is rather wonderful and I highly recommend buying yourself a copy.
What a lovely, charming, friendly read this is, an enticing ‘will they, won’t they’ romance is equally matched by the story of animals in need and children requiring an alternative learning environment. Molly Baker runs her beloved farm as a school, when a new student arrives, Molly’s life is turned thoroughly upside down and in to a roundabout spin. I adored the explanation at the beginning of the novel by Carole Matthews that Hope Farm is based on the real Animal Antiks Farm. The first sentence had me chortling and I settled further down into the comfort of my sofa to enjoy the read. Molly tells her own story, I could really hear her voice and her personality shines through. Can I say that the animals very nearly steal the show for me, having had a downright grumpy (read that as flesh tearing vampire) rescue cat myself, their individual quirks made me smile. ‘Happiness for Beginners’ is entertaining, heart-warming and ever so readable, I raced through in one sitting and enjoyed every second.
I absolutely adored this very special, surprising and exquisitely written novel focusing on the period between the First and Second World Wars. In 1925 Selina Lomax regularly appears in the papers as she and her friends attend parties and live life to the full. When Selina meets struggling artist Lawrence Weston her life changes beyond all recognition. I entered ‘The Glittering Hour’ expecting the beautiful relationship tale that I found. However I also left having experienced so, so much more. Iona Grey has created sentences that caught and transported me with their stunning descriptions. The story slinks through time and space, effortlessly revealing links from the past that become present in the future. As I read, moments of understanding speared my awareness and left me reeling. I felt joy, tenderness, aching sadness, and I cried, really, really cried at the beauty in front of me. I wield my highly recommended stamp of approval all over The Glittering Hour, it really is the most wonderfully heartfelt and meaningful read, and so sits as a LoveReading star book.
If you’ve been following this fabulously enjoyable series by Lindsey Kelk, then just to let you know that this is the eighth and last book about Angela. While you could read ‘I Heart Hawaii’ as a standalone, you will have so much more fun if you join Angela and her friends at the beginning with 'I Heart New York’. Jenny invites Angela on a press trip to Hawaii, as is normal, chaos and havoc accompany them. Our leading lady is gorgeously relatable, even though she lives a covetable life. Part of her charm, as well as her huge heart, is her tendency to stumble from one mess to another. Her friends and family are a gorgeously readable bunch, even the one or two who could charitably be described as frightful. ‘I Heart’ is an entertaining series from start to end, and I smiled, smirked and ahh’d my way through this engaging, toasty-warm read.
The past has a habit of tracking us down. And tripping us up. When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she'd never get over it. Seventeen years later, life has moved on - Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all. But then Kate meets Callum again. And they are faced with a choice: to walk away from each other . . . or to risk finding out what might have been. Second chances are a rare gift in life. But that doesn't mean they should always be taken . . .
When Frankie stumbles upon an unopened letter from her late mother, she's delighted to have one last message from her . . . until she reads the contents and discovers the truth about her birth. Brimming with questions, she travels to York to seek further answers from the Mortimer family, but her appearance sends shockwaves through them all. Meanwhile, Robyn Mortimer has problems of her own. Her husband John has become distant, and a chance remark from a friend leads Robyn to wonder exactly what he's not been saying. Dare she find out more? As for Bunny, she fell head over heels in love with Dave Mortimer when she first arrived in town, but now it seems her past is catching up with her. She can't help wondering if he'll still feel the same way about her if he discovers who she really is - and what she did. As secrets tumble out and loyalties are tested, the Mortimers have to face up to some difficult decisions. With love, betrayal and dramatic revelations in the mix, this is one summer they'll never forget.
This highly readable thriller-cum-domestic drama tingles with intrigue when a single mother is drawn into a world of violence. Single mom Nicole Adams is approaching forty and entirely focused on her sixteen-year-old son, Justin, and her budding career as a ceramicist. Nicole’s story opens at a thrillingly pivotal moment in her life - the Contemporary Crafts Museum of Los Angeles has just offered her a place in their upcoming show. “This was my chance, an incredible opportunity. I was an artist!” she enthuses. Pivotal Moment Number Two takes place shortly after, when Justin brings home a girl for the very first time, Daniela, who was “as young and fresh and lovely as a rosebud from my garden”. A girl whose presence was also entirely unexpected, for Justin had never previously shown any interest in the opposite sex. More bombshells follow, first when Justin announces that Daniela needs a place to stay, and second when he reveals that she’s pregnant. Nicole does the only thing she can and takes Daniela in – she’s a big-hearted woman, 100% committed to doing the right thing, especially when it comes to doing the right thing by her family, including her grandchild-to-be. But, as a result of this, she becomes embroiled in the violence of Daniela’s family. Nicole is an appealing character many readers will for, and her predicaments pose some “what would I do in her position?” questions for readers too. It’s also well-paced, and includes engaging sub-plots around her sister and relationship history. Joanne Owen
In Brexit Britain, a young transgender doctor called Ry is falling in love - against their better judgement - with Victor Stein, a celebrated professor leading the public debate around AI. Meanwhile, Ron Lord, just divorced and living with Mum again, is set to make his fortune launching a new generation of sex dolls for lonely men everywhere. Across the Atlantic, in Phoenix, Arizona, a cryonics facility houses dozens of bodies of men and women who are medically and legally dead... but waiting to return to life. But the scene is set in 1816, when nineteen-year-old Mary Shelley writes a story about creating a non-biological life-form. 'Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.' What will happen when homo sapiens is no longer the smartest being on the planet? Jeanette Winterson shows us how much closer we are to that future than we realise. Funny and furious, bold and clear-sighted, Frankissstein is a love story about life itself.
A striking and compelling family drama where the past takes a ferocious bite into the present. The House on the Edge of the Cliff explores relationships, how they can alter, move with fluidity, ever-changing almost without realisation. The house in question sits on the edge of a cliff in France, a character in its own right, a sanctuary, utterly bewitching, and yet full of history, of memories. When Grace was 16 an event occurred which has affected and remained with her ever since, when the past suddenly rears its head, danger beckons. We first meet Grace in the present and within the first few pages, I became as hooked as a hooked thing can be. Heightened, in fact, frantic emotions dance across the page and left me feeling breathless. Time then begins a slide backwards, explaining just enough, setting more questions and encouraging more thoughts to flow. Carol Drinkwater writes with captivating eloquence, I find her books so wonderfully readable, I just slip down into the welcoming pages and enjoy. Full of secrets, tense moments, gorgeous descriptions, and emotional interplay, The House on the Edge of the Cliff is a truly beautiful read and one of my picks of the month.
Eighteen-year-old Birdie is fanatical about mystery and crime fiction, a world in which she immersed herself while being brought up by her strict grandparents following the death of her mom. Birdie’s perception of detectives reveals much about her own aspirations and personality: “Detectives were cool, calm, and capable. They were usually loners, helping people from a distance...underdogs that people miscalculated.” Now, following the death of her gran and with the support of her mom’s fabulously flamboyant best friend, Birdie tries to find her own way in the world by taking a summer job as a night clerk at a glamorous historic hotel. It’s here that she forms a swoon-some, life-changing relationship with Daniel, the hotel’s handsome, hearing-impaired night driver, as they try to solve a real-life mystery involving a guest. Then, alongside the edge-of-your-seat twists and turns of their investigation, and their fast-blossoming, fated romance, it turns out that Daniel is harbouring secrets of his own. Underpinned by relatable real-life complications and curveballs aplenty, this engaging feast of young adult fiction fizzes with multiple mysteries and the jittery joys of first love. Head here to discover the author’s previous novels, which come equally recommended for their compassionate championing of offbeat, authentic young adult characters.
A darkly glamorous tale of hedonism, shifting social sands and coming-of-age crises - think The Great Gatsby in colonial Kenya. Fourteen-year-old Theo’s first impressions of his new life in East Africa - a world away from England - encapsulates this novel’s intoxicating sense of place: “Across the bay was Zanzibar...a stretch of brilliant white sand dotted with palms and matched by the whitewashed palace and fort at its edge. To the left I could see an Indian banyan tree, alive with vervet monkeys, and behind that, the shaded labyrinthine streets of Stone Town.” And then: “Kenya was the Africa I’d dreamed of”. Soon after his family’s arrival, with his father appointed new Director of the railway, Theo fatefully meets twenty-something good-timers Freddie (Lord Hamilton) and Sylvie (introduced by Freddie as an “unsuitable woman”). Described by Sylvie as “absurdly handsome”, Theo is drawn into the decadent world of their notorious Happy Valley set. Against a backdrop of fluctuating politics, he finds himself caught in a web of compromising personal conundrums, while younger sister Maud comes to identify more with the colonised population than with her own colonial class. Steeped in exhilarating atmosphere, coming-of-age conflicts, and historical intrigue, and boasting brilliant characterisation, this is an exquisitely entertaining showstopper of a story, best read while reclining with a comely cocktail to hand.
More than just romance, Relationship Stories can really strike a chord with us, at every stage of life. Just like relationships themselves, these books and there authors come in all shapes, sizes, atmospheres and aspirations. So, if something was missing from your last relationship read … we’ll help you find it in your next one! Here you’ll find the warm and the wise (Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly, Rosamunde Pilcher), the deliciously sexy (Jilly Cooper, Veronica Henry), the humourous and honest (Nick Hornby), the insightful (Joanna Trollope) and the … Perhaps, though you’re looking for a new relationship? Why not try our’ Author Like for Like’ tool or make a date with our Book of the Month recommendations and find your perfect match … for now, at least!