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Stories from the heart. This category combines Romantic Fiction with Sagas and Romance to create a collection of lovely tales. From rags to riches stories to tales of tight-knit communities, this carefully curated collection is bound to have the perfect match for you, and as the Beatles said, ‘love is all you need’.
A beautifully gentle yet pointed, and amusing yet thoughtful, feel-good relationship tale. When head teacher and separated mum of two Lucy, meets butcher, babysitter, and aspiring DJ Joseph, their age gap is just one of the obstacles in their path to finding love. This isn’t an overly sensational or dramatic tale, it’s more subtle than that, though it does cover three years during and after the EU referendum. Don’t groan, as Nick Hornby looks back in the most mindful way possible. Thoughts are provoked and rich pickings are to be found, as lots of little lightbulb moments clicked on as I read. The plot settled in the lightest of dances through some pretty weighty subjects. It’s not shouty, or finger-pointy, a relationship is created within a set of circumstances that allows you to form your own thoughts. I feel Nick Hornby has written the perfect story for anyone suffering from Covid 19 blues. Just Like You is an incredibly uplifting, engaging and stimulating read, and I absolutely loved it.
An evocative and satisfyingly engaging story focusing on family, friendship, and hope. Ellie knows she needs to step beyond the sanctuary offered by her home and garden, but she hasn’t left it for over two years. Sitting alongside the main story in 2018, we also visit Romanian state orphanages with journalist Harriet in 1990 and the two stories begin to merge. I so love Catherine Isaac’s writing, she has the gift of transporting you both in heart and mind. She encourages a connection to her characters, and makes them relatable, even when exploring darkness. This is as much about Ellie’s relationship with herself as it is with others. The story explores trauma in an open yet balanced way and encourages thoughts to expand. I similarly adored Messy, Wonderful Us which journeys to Italy and I described as both heart warming and achy. The World at my Feet just has so much heart, it really is a lovely read.
November 2017 Book of the Month A sharp, edgy, yet lovely romance for young adults. Hildy and Paul are paired in a college psychology study about relationships. They are asked 36 questions over the course of the story, and through their answers begin to learn about each other and themselves. As the sparks began to smoulder and then fly we discover heart-ache and strength in unexpected places. Vicki Grant uses various methods to tell the story, including drawings, texts and instant messages. This form of communication ensures the story is quick witted and bounces like a tennis match between Hildy and Paul. The other characters, including a certain fish remain in the background, yet set the scene and give flesh to the main pair. ’36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You’ is an extremely readable and satisfying romance full of spark and attitude. ~ Liz Robinson
Danielle Steel has once again delivered a thumpingly good story that brings together what seem a number of disparate characters into the life of a woman spurned - she has lost her man and her beautiful old home is falling to rack and ruin. And yet perhaps with these new people in her life Francesca can once again open her heart to others..
Enchanting, colourful, delightful… a quirky absolute joy of a read (yes I fell in love with 59 Memory Lane). At 110 years old, and quite determined to reach 111, May Rosevere is a collector of memories. However, a new friendship brings an added sense of awareness, just what happens within the gap of a memory doomed to be lost forever? May quickly took root in my heart, and the rest of the characters followed. From the oldest to the youngest, each person matters, and adds to the distinctive nature of the story. Celia Anderson encourages each relationship to grow, to exist, to be of consequence. There are no labels on show to create diversity, each person is an individual, behaving as such. There is intrigue and a bewitching charm to be discovered along the way, weaving a glorious spell. Be aware though, this is not a gooey overly sweet confection. Yes this read is wonderfully charming, it also holds a nettle-sting prickle of warning. Just that little bit different, and so very readable, 59 Memory Lane is a reading treasure trove of delight and must sit as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month.
Does a good deal make a marriage? Widower Connor Maguire advertises for a wife to raise his young daughter, Bridget, work the homestead and bear him a son. Ellen O'Sullivan longs for a home, a husband and a family. On paper, she is everything Connor needs in a wife. However, it soon becomes clear that Ellen has not been entirely truthful. Will Connor be able to overlook Ellen's dishonesty and keep to his side of the bargain? Or will Bridget's resentment, the attentions of the beautiful Miss Quinn, and the arrival of an unwelcome visitor, combine to prevent the couple from starting anew. As their personal feelings blur the boundaries of their deal, they begin to wonder if a bargain struck makes a marriage worth keeping.
Tess lives with her grandmother, Edie, in a small flat on Heyworth Street in Norwich. She has recently returned from Bell Farm, where she was evacuated during the war, and is being bullied by her schoolmates, but when the handsome Snowy White comes to her rescue she thinks her troubles are over, and returns for a working holiday to Bell Farm and her old friend Jonty. This leaves Edie to her own devices, however, and Tess is jealous of the friendship which blossoms between her grandmother and the tobacconist. Yet though Tess resents Albert, it is to him she turns when things start to go wrong.
June 2013 eBook of the Month. Following on from her bestselling debut, The Cornish House, Liz Fenwick's A Cornish Affair is touched with intrigue and romance, a bewitching, escapist read that is certain to delight readers. Jude runs out of church, before her marriage and escapes to a crumbling cliff top mansion in Cornwall. She gets a job cataloguing the library in the mansion and learns of a family riddle that hints at hidden treasure. But time is running out as the house has been put up for sale.
Three short stories with the link the Cornish village of Pendruggan. Fern has used characters from her previous Cornish novels so those familiar with her work will feel at home. Those new to her work are not left to flounder for sufficient back story is given. The first, A Cornish Carol, is a modern day Christmas Carol, this is followed by The Beach Cabin where a London married couple sort out their lives and The Stolen Weekend closes the book. It tells us of a couple of female friends escaping to London but missing the events of the village. Warm, funny and engaging the collection is perfect with on a cold winter evening, to be transported to the sun, golden beaches and a lovely welcoming group of individuals.
Grace has been best friends with Ella and Flick forever. The late-night chats, shared heartaches and good times have created a bond that has stood the test of time. When Ella invites them to stay for a week in her cottage in South Wales, Grace jumps at the chance to see her old friends. She also hopes that the change of scenery will help her reconnect with her distant husband. Then Flick arrives; loveable, bubbly, incorrigible Flick, accompanied by the handsome and charming Noah.
Cleverly using the alleged love triangle of Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and his wife Amy, Emily Purdy takes the reader on a passionate, treacherous and highly informative journey through life in 16th century England. Whether Amy died by fair means or foul we will never know but making her one of the central voices of the book is delightfully refreshing. Fans of Philippa Gregory, or just the Tudor era will love this story of ambition, lust and jealousy.
April 2017 Debut of the Month. All aboard for an Agatha Christie-esque mystery set on a ship bound for the distant shores of Australia in 1939. As the world teeters on the edge of another war, working class Lily is about to plunge headlong into a new life. She’s leaving her family and her little room in Hammersmith to work in domestic service in Australia. While she’s on a lowly assisted-passage scheme, once aboard the ship she “feels like a person of substance”, enjoying cocktail parties in the company of flirtatious Edward Fletcher and the decadent Campbells as they stop off at the likes of Pompeii, the Pyramids and Colombo. But, as Lily’s Jewish friend Maria remarks, “on a boat like this everyone is running away from something”, and that certainly turns out to be true when a succession of misdemeanors strike; an assault, a disappearance, and then murder. All in all, this is a scrumptiously entertaining, read-in-one-sitting mystery that fizzes with glamour, romance and intrigue and the sting of an unexpected twist, while also exploring sexual, racial and class prejudices. ~ Joanne Owen
A fantastical romance, with an interesting blend of history and present day. 29 year old Katharina works for a magazine, has a rather annoying fiance, and tells her own story as she meets the occupants of Northfield. Simply told, this is an easy reading romance, however the fantasy element means you need to throw reality aside for a few hours. I quite happily shouted at Katharina from the sidelines as I urged her to see what was in front of her. The dependable and rather lovely George was a breath of fresh air. I did feel that ‘A Different Reflection’ was an incy wincy bit longer than perhaps it needed to be. There is a fairytale feel to the story, of the ‘happily ever after’ rather than ‘Grimm’ variety, ensuring this is a sweet, charming story. ~ Liz Robinson
When the travel agency where Maggie works is taken over by a larger firm, Maggie has no idea how much her life will change – in every way. This is a novel of love and self-discovery from a much-loved writer.
We all love a good saga. From Wuthering Heights and Jamaica Inn, to the modern works of authors like Katie Flynn, Katherine Webb and Nadine Dorries, there is something so captivating about the journey of a romantic heroine through an unfamiliar world, where the hearts and desires of all around her form the centre of everything. These stories can take place on grand settings: on the High Seas and foreign lands, or on a small cobbled street in a northern mining town. It doesn’t matter, as the journey of the heart is the most important of all. Get your tissues at the ready and find yourself happily shipwrecked on the ragged rocks of epic romance.