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’.
Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge ... An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles. Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships. Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner's young son, following a devastating tragedy. When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need. And yet, someone is watching. Someone who has been scarred by past events. Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge... Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder...
This thought-provoking and exquisitely written novel has touched my heart. In 1923, Esme Nicholls travels to Cornwall in the hope of learning more about her husband who died in the First World War. This is the first book I’ve read by Caroline Scott, and it won’t be my last. Her debut The Photographer of the Lost set in 1921 was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, and When I Come Home Again set in 1918, was one of The Times Best books of 2020. The Visitors is so eloquently emotional and earthy it will stay with me for some time. The Cornish setting just sings, the house full of former soldiers where Esme stays made me feel welcome. The garden and natural surroundings soothe and act as a foil for the feelings of the people who reside there. Diary entries and articles add hidden thoughts and an awareness of the war. I adored the ending, the closing information so simply imparted, yet so satisfying and fulfilling, made me smile. The Visitors is beautifully expressive and heartfelt, and I’ve chosen this gorgeous novel as both a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month.
The One Hundred years of Lenni and Margot is so special, it’s gentle yet pointed and warmly amusing as it highlights life within sight and touching distance of death. To celebrate their joint 100 years, 17 year-old Lenni and 83 year-old Margot paint their life stories while in hospital. Singing of friendship, love, and family, we discover how they can all be found in the most unexpected of places. This is Marianne Cronin’s debut novel, and I’ve added her to my list of authors to look out for. While Lenni and Margot are the stars, the other characters add essential energy. She brings these characters to vibrant life with a few perfectly chosen words. The smallest of details matter, in fact are vital. This book is so visual, slipping backwards and forwards in time, snapshots of the years appeared like magic to paint their own picture in my mind. The pages dance with joy and hope, while being realistic about death. I laughed and I cried, yes this novel is emotional, yet it also delivers the most heart-warming hug too. A well-deserved LoveReading Star Book, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot comes with a 'must-read' label of recommendation from me.
Greed, envy, covetousness, lust, anger - Karen Hamilton’s The Ex-Husband is an enthralling, exquisitely plotted thriller that gets to the heart of a host of base human drives, pretty much running the gamut of the seven deadly sins. Sam and Charlotte loved the good things in life - luxury locations, jewellery, villas, yachts - but as cruise ship workers (he a croupier, she in retail and, later, events), their wages don’t bring them the lifestyle they feel they deserve. So, when Charlotte is seduced by Sam and they marry, they hatch dozens of seemingly harmless plans to relieve wealthy passengers of their money and luxury possessions. Years later, now separated and trying to move on, Charlotte’s past comes back to haunt her big style while on a new job aboard an ultra-swish private yacht in the Caribbean. The sense of closing in and conspiracy is feverishly, cleverly created as a tsunami of twists leads to a thrilling, unexpected finale. Hamilton has a huge talent for page-turning plotting, and her psychological insights are as sharp as a pair of luxury Louboutin stilettos.
Billed as a paranormal romance for young adults, a missing person and a murder mystery theme sit centre stage, and actually friendship plays a key part in this novel. Elise can see how everyone she touches will die, the Veil sends vampire Claire to help Elise grow into her powers. Isabel Sterling has created a supernatural world championing LGBTQ characters, and it feels beautifully organic and straightforward, people (or vampires) are who they are. The two main characters narrate their own story ensuring a wider overview of thoughts and feelings. The vampire threat of compulsion is handled thoughtfully as is the theme of consent. Murder, violence, greed, and obviously death are major topics, the romance doesn’t exactly take a back seat, but it feels as though the author has so much to say, that there are times when the plot bubbles with all the different possibilities. I was fascinated by some of the supporting characters and wanted to know more about them. I felt as though there was still more to discover when I reached the end, is this the start to a new series? The Coldest Touch is a readable, engaging story perfect for paranormal loving older teens searching for LGBTQ centred characters.
Fireworks of both the fractious and romantic kind flare and spark through Ruby Basu’s The Twelve Wishes of Christmas, a sure-fire treat for fans of Heidi Swain and Sarah Morgan. Feeling a telling mix of “excitement and slight sense of unease… ever since she found out she’d be spending Christmas in the quintessential small US town of Pineford”, 30-year-old Sharmila has been given a somewhat unusual gift by her late friend Thomas. First up, a free trip to spend the festive season in the picturesque place he grew up in. Secondly, as she only discovers later, the chance to inherit Thomas’ Holly House estate, should she manage to complete the list of festive tasks he’s set her. Enter Zach, Thomas’ nephew, who knows about the inheritance long before Sharmila does, and is doggedly determined to stop it from happening: “Trust me on this, Lucas. She’s an opportunist. She doesn’t know about the inheritance yet, but maybe she was disappointed all Thomas left her was this all expenses-paid trip. I bet she was expecting something more for her efforts”. Then, little by little, as Pineford glows with snow and sparkling lights, so Sharmila and Zach feel the glow of something neither of them were expecting.
This emotionally intelligent and perceptive novel is hand-on-heart gorgeous. Diana finds herself alone in the Galapagos during the early months of the pandemic while her surgeon boyfriend is back in New York. This is Jodi Picoult at her best, what seems like a simple tale is full of richly beautiful and provocative imaginings. The natural world, our world, sings with celebration. The torment of the pandemic echoes with heartbreak. Relationships, love, awareness of self, the focus is intimate and penetrating and yet feels immense and inclusive to all. I experienced a meaningful connection with the characters and plot, as though I was a part of this story somewhere in the world. And though I had that awareness, the author has the magical ability to open your thoughts and then send them in an entirely unexpected and breathtaking direction. I absolutely adored this book and felt as though it had been written just for me, and yet also for everyone. It connects us all in a time of uncertainty and fear. In a welcoming arms-open-wide hug, the Author’s Note from March 2021 explains her writing story during Covid-19. Charting the raw immeasurable pain of the pandemic, and yet also administering hope and love, Wish You Were Here sits as a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month.
From betrayal and a broken heart, to heart-warming blossoming romance (with jingling bells on), Katie Ginger’s The Perfect Christmas Gift might just be the perfect self-gift for fans of light-hearted rom-coms. To take the lyrics of the Neighbours theme tune to the next level, this feel-good festive story reveals that neighbours can become a whole lot more than just “good friends”. Primary school teacher Bella is a huge fan of the festive season - “the excitement of the end-of-term play, posting Christmas cards into the little post box made out of cardboard in the corner of the classroom, making decorations during wet play.” Beyond the school gates, Bella adores the festive ambience of her rural Kent village, and can’t believe her good fortune to have a home in such an idyllic spot, with a devoted boyfriend at her side: “How did she get so lucky?” she muses. As the saying goes, pride (even a small dose) often comes before a fall, and Bella is in for a pretty big fall when said devoted boyfriend announces he’s leaving her for another woman. As a result, broken-hearted Bella throws herself into village life, coming up with the idea of a community Christmas giving tree, with cute single dad Nick on hand to help. While the path of Bella and Nick’s budding romance doesn’t exactly run smooth, fans of feel-good fiction are in for a readable (and sometimes rocky) ride that’s big on romance and festive fizz.
If you’re looking for some festive sparkle, teasing romance, and a gorgeous setting then hello, you can stop right here. A fortune teller tells three friends they will meet the love of their life by Christmas, each scoffs and moves on while the prediction lingers in their minds. While I adore a beautifully written romance at any time of the year, there is something really special about cosying up with one at Christmas. Phillipa Ashley takes the beauty of Cornwall, the energy of a rock and roll dance group, and the atmosphere of a boat yard cafe then creates a scrumptious love story. The characters feel entirely real and pop with vitality, friendship also plays an important role. The plot again has that authentic edge, where you remain a firm part of the tale as it sings along. A Special Cornish Christmas is a truly lovely treat and I’ve chosen it as one of my Liz Picks of the Month for December.
A nourishing and engaging Christmas relationship story with friendship at its heart. This is the sequel to The Guesthouse at Lobster Bay, Emma is now in a relationship and looking for a challenge, however a demanding build project just before Christmas might be a step too far. While Emma is the lead, this almost tips into an ensemble piece with a number of interesting smaller stories sitting within the main plot. I particularly adored Peggy, the 81 year old cook at The Guesthouse, her character adds a lovely edge. And then of course there are the dogs, I always love the addition of man’s best friend! Speaking of friends, as Emma stumbles into trouble, the importance of friendships sits as a central theme within this story. While the overall tone is happy and bright, Annie Robertson has several thought-provoking subjects awaiting your perusal. If you’re looking for a warming, reassuring wrap-you-up-in-a-festive-hug read, then I’d recommend adding Christmas at Lobster Bay to your list.
Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it’s all about Pip. Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? And it’s not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . . . A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is The New York Times No.1 bestselling YA crime thriller and WINNER of The British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year 2020.
The BRAND NEW Christmas read from the bestselling author The gloriously festive sequel to readers' favourite and Sunday Times bestselling novel Happiness for Beginners SPEND THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR AT HOPE FARM . . . Christmas is fast approaching at the new Hope Farm. Owner Molly Baker has been convinced to organise an open day to raise some much-needed funds ahead of the New Year, but the nativity tableau is proving challenging. With anti-social sheep, awkward alpacas and a seriously sequined Santa Claus to assemble, Molly is feeling overwhelmed, and in desperate need of some Christmas spirit . . . Despite the chaos of the farm getting in the way of her event planning, Molly is looking forward to spending the holidays with Shelby and Lucas, hopeful that a happy family Christmas is exactly what they need to draw them all together. But while she is busy making plans on the farm, Shelby, it seems, has ideas of his own. As the nativity draws near, the team are working hard to pull off a spectacular festive fete - and make sure the animals and humans remain on their best behaviour. Will this Christmas be merry and bright, or is there more than one surprise in store for Hope Farm?
The day I truly started to live, I sentenced him to die. At twenty-four, I'd resigned myself to a simple life following in my mother's footsteps. I would manage the antique shop she left me and marry a kind, stable man. Most importantly, I would never tell a soul about my psychic abilities. But with a single, intentional touch and a vision of the past, I set events in motion that expose my secret. I'm part of a world I never knew existed, and my new allies are dismantling my carefully constructed walls. Except, those walls had a purpose-they kept me hidden. Now, my abilities make me a target. And my mere existence is endangering everyone I care about. My name is Adele Rose, and I know nothing but regret. Contains mature themes.
The author of the Sunday Times bestselling Outlander series returns with the newest novel in the epic tale. Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising of 1745, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same. It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser's Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible. Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell's tea-kettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his own tenants are split and the war is on his doorstep. It's only a matter of time before the shooting starts. Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father's identity - and thus his own. Lord John Grey also has reconciliations to make and dangers to meet . . . on his son's behalf, and his own. Meanwhile, the Southern Colonies blaze, and the Revolution creeps ever closer to Fraser's Ridge. And Claire, the physician, wonders how much of the blood to be spilt will belong to those she loves.
Pacey, racy and reeling with real-life struggles, comforts and joys, Juno Dawson’s Stay Another Day is a cracker of a Christmas novel, with a compelling home for the holidays set-up - if you watched the TV series Why Women Kill, you’ll also appreciate how the novel is framed through the 120-year history of the family home. Sparkling with the author’s trademark talent for writing authentic dialogue (funny, thought-provoking, always on the mark) and rounded characters, this seasonal story is as satisfyingly-formed (and moreish) as a chocolate orange. When the three McAllister siblings convene at the family home in Edinburgh for Christmas, secrets, lies and lusts come together to create an absolute banger of a novel. Star student Fern, a self-professed embodiment of Lisa from The Simpsons, arrives from London with her stunning boyfriend, Thom, while her twin Rowan (gay, an aspiring actor, and consumed by FOMO) brings his best friend Syd. Though Fern is, as always, determined to enjoy the perfect family Christmas, she notes that “Christmas with a mixed-race boyfriend and a non-binary and mixed-race best friend is a potential minefield. Where are you from? But where are you really from?” Then there’s the twin’s younger sister, Willow, still living at home and constantly scrutinised due to her anorexia. As the big day draws closer, past liaisons and unfolding secrets envelop the family like a tangle of Christmas tree lights, setting the scene for a series of snowy showdowns and a whole lot of soul-searching. Hearty, satisfying stuff, with seasonal cheer shining bright through the real-life strife.
A wonderfully merry and bright Christmas romance with oodles of heart-warming love, in the many different forms love takes, on offer. A host of new kitchen staff, including a moody chef, petulant kitchen assistant, and badly behaved dog, throw the opening of a new hotel into complete disarray. I adore the Mure series by Jenny Colgan, it’s just so welcoming. Yes, you could read this as a standalone, but do go back and start with The Summer Seaside Kitchen if this is your first visit. Oh how I wish the fictional island of Mure in Scotland was real, it would go straight on my list of places to visit. While the series focuses on the MacKenzie’s, the wider population of the island play an important role. One of the younger MacKenzie’s is a particular favourite of mine, five year old Agot rules the roost at home, school, and with her friends. This is a series that feels inclusive, from the characters to the sub plots, you’ll find life in all its glory on offer here. Christmas at the Island Hotel is another hug-filled engaging read to add to an already gorgeous series.
Deliciously rich and dark, this reimagining of The Story of a Nutcracker by Alexandre Dumas is loaded with recognisable elements yet is as delightfully individual as can be. Set in Nottingham in 1906 ballerina Marietta’s family have proclaimed that she should stop dancing and take her place in society, when she meets neighbour Dr Drosselmeier she is thrown into a new world full of magic. This is the debut adult novel by M. A. Kuzniar, she draws enchantment and menace together and allows them to walk hand in hand. The beauty and strength of friendship sits centre stage while a relationship slowly blossoms. This most definitely isn’t a sugary sweet confection, a hint of the nightmare echoes through the pages. The traditional dark elements of folklore and fairytale scuttle and scurry with a fabulously modern edge. The characters crackle with energy, the setting sparkles with light and shade, and the ending, oh, that ending! Potently sharp and beautifully magical, Midnight in Everwood dances in to sit as a LoveReading Star Book, and Liz Robinson Book of the Month.
Anyone who has charted the progress of “Scandi Noir” and “Nordic Noir” will be aware that Iceland has inherited the cold crown of crime through the writing of Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, Ragnar Jón, Arnaldur Indridason and, of course, multi award winning, critically acclaimed and hugely bestselling Lilja Sigurdardóttir. Her well deserved success comes from an enviable ability to create truly credible, compelling situations, with such engaging characters and a strong sense of place that readers are drawn into her worlds from the opening line, and Cold as Hell marks a new high water mark in Lilja’s superb writing. Sisters Áróra and Ísafold aren’t on speaking terms and live in different countries. When their mother loses touch with Ísafold, Áróra returns to Iceland to realise that not only has her sister disappeared without trace, but that she has a life more complicated and much darker than Áróra could have imagined. So far, so noir, but what sets Lilja’s work apart is her ability to thread dark atmospheric tension throughout her writing and to keep the tale so taut that, once you’ve started reading and are drawn into her perfectly weighted web of intrigue and manipulation, putting Cold as Hell down is just not an option. Translated from the Icelandic by Quentin Bates, himself a crime writer of note, Sigurdardóttir’s crisp writing style – perhaps due in no small part to her second talent as a playwright – scintillates like sunlight on ice as the twists and turns of Áróra’s investigation reveal ever more darkness. Books two and three of this series have already been written and Sigurdardóttir’s very canny English publishers. Orenda, will doubtless be getting them translated for us. So my advice is this, if you haven’t discovered Sigurdardóttir’s books yet, get started now and read Cold as Hell. It’s a slick, refreshing, glacial blast of a thriller and there’s more great work coming down the line from this uber-cool Queen of ice-cold crime.
Offering a huge burst of escapism this romantic comedy from the winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2019 skates along with attitude. When Clem’s identity is stolen she is determined to foil the thief, along the way with her life thrown up in the air, Clem discovers friendship and romance in unexpected places. The synopsis describes Clem’s adventure as a: “madcap quest”, which perfectly expresses how I felt about this reading journey. 30 year old Clem is an irrepressible, unstoppable, somewhat rebellious woman and at times I sat open-mouthed as she charged into danger. Natalie Cox (a pseudonym) co-owns a bookshop in London and has two Great Danes, which sounds like a perfect combination to me! A large dog called Charlie Bucket rather steals the show in It Takes Two, and several friendships bloom into being while romance flirts along. Friendship (which comes in many guises) was for me a really successful part of this entertaining novel. Incredibly easy to fall into and read, It Takes Two is a bouncy, occasionally bonkers, fun-filled romantic comedy with gumption.
Sarah Morgan’s trademark lightness of touch and romantic warmth are on full Christmas window display in this Lapland-set story of female friendship, and letting down your guard to find (or reaffirm) love in all its forms. The Christmas Escape features a literal escape through a family and friends fleeing to Lapland for Christmas, but it’s metaphoric too, in that most of the characters have been hiding truths about themselves. This novel tells the story of their respective journeys to happiness through honesty in a romantic snowy setting backlit by the northern lights. Christy has her heart set on enjoying the perfect Christmas in Lapland with her husband Seb, five-year-old daughter Holly, and best friend Alix. It’s a big emotional trip for her too, for they’ll be staying with her estranged aunt, and she has a whole lot of questions about why her aunt was cast from the family bosom all those years ago. But as the big trip (and big day) looms ever-closer, Christy has big concerns about her marriage, and things aren’t quite right between her and Alix either. When Christy delays her flight to try to get to the source of her and Seb’s problems, Alix accompanies Holly to Lapland with her one-time lover and now-time nemesis, ruggedly handsome Arctic explorer and academic Zac. As the story stomps on through the snowy Lapland landscape, Zac becomes a mouthpiece for life advice: “There is an element of risk involved in everything worth having”, soon reiterated by “You’re only scared of the things that are important. The things that really matter”. Meanwhile, Seb brings Christy to self-realisation as she tries to repair her relationship with Alix. With lots of recaps of characters’ quandaries and fears in the manner of TV shows (almost like “previously on The Christmas Escape…” montages), the characters are 100% transparent to the reader, even when they’re hiding the truth from each other, which also makes it something of a scream-at-the-TV kind of read - “tell the truth! Admit you fancy him! Admit you were wrong!”, and so on, until things come together in a satisfying seasonal hug.
A spellbinding fable for adults from the award-winning and bestselling author, Sally Gardner. 'This heartbreaking, brilliantly written novel is the most original publication for years' The Times on Sally Gardner From an award-winning author, whose books have sold more than 2.5 million copies worldwide Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt. Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all. Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her. As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.
A simply joyous and magical relationship story to brighten up the darkest of times. Carmen’s sister Sofia comes to her somewhat reluctant rescue when Carmen is made redundant. The Christmas Bookshop goes to the top of my favourite books by Jenny Colgan, she is one of the most consistently fabulous romance writers out there, and if I need a boost I know just where to head. Yes there’s romance, you’ll also find intruiging family relationships and inviting new friendships. When we meet Carmen she’s not at her best, she’s definitely not perfect (who is!), and because she’s multi-dimensional it adds extra layers to this Christmas tale. I particularly loved the cast of characters, even the smallest part has depth, and then of course there is the Bookshop, which is divinely intriguing and welcoming. Edinburgh becomes a winter wonderland, with snow, beautifully decorated shops, and even if you’ve never been, the descriptions ensure a spellbinding sparkle. With a plot that weaves and twists its magical course with charm, The Christmas Bookshop is a truly lovely festive romance, and we’ve added it to our Star Book collection.
'Tis the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and magic under the mistletoe... Flora loves Christmas more than anything else in the world, so she's gutted when her Scrooge-alike boss fires her from Deck the Halls Christmas emporium. But now she finally has a chance to follow her dreams - and what better place to start than the home of Christmas? Before she can say 'sleigh bells', Flora's on her way to Lapland in a campervan-cum-Christmas-shop. She can't wait to spend her days drinking hot chocolate and taking reindeer-drawn carriage rides, but something Flora didn't expect was meeting Connor, a Norse god of a man who makes her heart flutter and snowflakes swirl in her stomach. There's just one problem: Connor hates Christmas. Can Flora convince Connor of the joys of Christmas - and will she find a festive romance along the way? The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Debbie Johnson, Holly Martin and Jenny Colgan.
Overwhelmed by grief, Matthew takes to his bed until he is able to see a way to deal with the loss he’s experienced. Semi-autobiographical, ‘Love & Loss in the Time of Covid’ by Phil Dourado tells the story of a man who has lost his wife, brother and best friend all within a short space of time. Set in a time where the whole world seems to be grieving, whether it’s for the loss of a loved one or for the loss of normality as the COVID-19 pandemic hits, we see one man working through his emotions, one book at a time. With references to, and a title inspired by ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, Dourado’s book explores in detail the multi-faced thing which is love as well as the many different forms that loss and grief can take. Although sad in places, there is a sense of hope running throughout the book, as Matthew confines himself to his bed until he has read every related book he can find on grief and many more besides, an act in itself that implies determination to make some form of progress or find a solution. ‘Love & Loss in the Time of Covid’ is an honest, vulnerable and relatable tale. One that I think will resonate with a lot of people, because of lives changed by the pandemic or the loss of a loved one for any reason. A story of reflection, grief and ultimately hope, I think. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Three stories, one life. ‘Certified’ by Roger Wilson-Crane details one man’s life by three important milestones: birth, marriage and death. I liked the writing style in this book, it reads almost like an autobiography but even though it is inspired by true events, it is a piece of fiction. The author does well to get a sense of each of the characters across succinctly without taking a detour away from the events of the plot. Taking us through some of the bizarre occurrences of family life, the author deftly offers humour one minute and handles sensitive issues the next. The entertaining stories within ‘Certified’ are told in a way that’s relatable and anyone who grew up in a small village will be able to remember or reflect on their own limited options pub crawl or Big Mac. Each story within this book has its own focus, yet sets up and provides some detail for the others. Although each story is separated and has its own chapter structure, I would still regard this book as one fluid narrative. ‘Certified’ is an entertaining family history that covers love, loss and life with humour and a deft hand. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
No. 36 Westeryk Road, an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A house of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it's what lies under the house that is extraordinary - Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what? Now in her thirties, Cat receives the shocking news that her sister has disappeared. Forced to return to Edinburgh, Cat finds herself irresistibly drawn back into Mirrorland. Because El has a plan. She's left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets... A sharply crafted mystery about the power of imagination and the price of freedom, perfect for fans of Erin Kelly and Tana French.
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone's failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows-and it's forbidden. Contains mature themes.
‘Supersized Blues’ by Roger St. John is a twisting and turning relationship story full of drama secrets and revenge. They say “Hell hath new fury like a woman scorned”, but I’d say Angel City Magazine contributing editor Hal Golan hell-bent on revenge is a serious contender. We watch his relationship with research analyst Mari Carlson develop, with the complications and miscommunications that entails, when everything starts to go wrong. I’d say this is almost a trilogy in a single book. We see the relationship of Mari and Hal develop then fall apart, with Hal being sent on a much darker journey, before the pair are reunited again with more revelations. And that’s just these two characters! There’s plenty of time given to the supporting cast of the book, with Deuce and Hal’s mother Vivian going through their own personal life dramas. I don’t want to say too much more about the plot to avoid spoilers, but I found it a complex drama of epic proportions with a tinge of thrill through the middle. All of the characters, though not entirely likable, are interesting and quirky in their own way and developed enough to make this an interesting and engaging read for those looking to read a dramatic story with edge. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
The game was over - but who had won? Mackenzie Miller thought his life was perfect. He had the woman of his dreams but there was one last piece of his life puzzle to fit. Could he do it in time? Lauren Perry thought her life was perfect. She had the man of her dreams but when humiliation comes full circle is she brave enough to face it head on? More importantly, what happens when your list of fantasies has been achieved? A new list has to be explored, of course. The Facilitator, part 2 follows on from The Facilitator - this erotic romance features graphic scenes of sex and very colourful language - you have been warned!
Being someone who searches the songs mentioned in stories, I loved the concept of ‘Everything All At Once’ by Ivy Cayden, combining a playlist with a storyline so that you can listen along with the characters. Telling a coming of age story of a group of friends, all excited for and heading towards their first relationships the plotline is full of romance, daydreams and teen angst. The story has been created without a fixed narrator, allowing the reader to get to know more about each character, hear their thoughts and let us know where the love triangles lie. I enjoyed the story, I found it a light and entertaining story that I think could be enjoyed by readers of YA fiction. The playlist included some songs I knew and some I didn’t and look forward to listening to more. I did feel that the ending was a bit abrupt, potentially this is to set up for a second book, but I would have preferred for Kila, Anna and Brixton’s stories to have reached a more definitive conclusion. I think this would also allow Timothy’s storyline to have a bit more relevance to the rest of the story. I found ‘ Everything All At Once’ a sweet and entertaining read that put me in mind of the YA I used to read as a teen. I liked the concept and the strong connection to music throughout. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
Oh what fun this is, written in diary form, the year in the life of Liz is a cackling, absolute fire-cracker of a read. Liz deals with all that life throws at her, from impossible questions from her two children, through to navigating family, neighbours, friendship, and work. I loved Lucy Mangan’s quick-firing and witty, yet compassionate and inclusive writing. I don’t have children, despite this, I fully participated in the family life on offer here. I could relate to the dilemmas and plights, joy and love, I sympathised, empathised, smirked, and on several occasions even laughed out loud. Although all the characters stand independently proud and fabulous, my favourite just has to be five year old Evie, who rules with an iron fist and is described as a gangster and anarchist. Author and journalist Lucy Mangan’s first novel is an absolute belter. Are We Having Fun Yet is a warm, uplifting, gloriously funny read and comes as highly recommended and a Liz Pick of the Month and LoveReading Star Book.
Don't miss the brand-new Christmas read from the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author Dilly Court! As the first Christmas snowflakes fall, Rosalind finds herself pregnant and alone... Christmas is coming to the village of Rockwood. But the happiest time of the year is marred by the news that Rosalind Blanchard's husband, Piers, is close to death after a shipwreck at sea. The fate of her beloved family home, the crumbling Rockwood Castle, is once more in her hands. She must find the strength to keep her family together. Pregnant, Rosalind comes face to face with the only man who ever made her heart truly sing: her husband's brother, Alex. As the Christmas bells ring, news of Piers arrives that changes everything. And another chance of happiness might be the gift Rosalind has been waiting for...
Wisely comic, soul-searchingly tender, and defiantly unsentimental, Bryan Washington’s Memorial is a brilliant bittersweet debut. Really it’s a story of many things that matter most in life, when it comes down to it - family, emotional closeness, physical closeness, the urge to break free, and the compulsion to return. It’s also about the unexpected experiences and discoveries that come in the wake of strangers being thrown together, in this case when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying as his mother is due to stay with him, and as his two-year relationship teeters into fizzling-out territory While Mike heads to Osaka, boyfriend Benson plays host to Mike’s mother in Houston. Benson’s never met straight-talking Mitsuko, but little by little they form an unlikely and profound bond. Meanwhile, after meandering memories and feeling the strange melancholia of being reunited with his dying, distant dad, Mike is transformed by his Osaka experience. Through all this richness, Memorial is an absorbing, funny, stirring achievement told in lucid, elegant style.
Rich with romance, mystery and family drama, Elisabeth Gifford’s A Woman Made of Snow is a delicious treat for readers who like their historic fiction seasoned with haunting atmosphere. It’s 1949 and Caro and Alasdair Gillan are newly married Cambridge graduates living near his Scottish family home. Though elegant, crumbling Kelly Castle has seen better days, and hides many secrets, as Caro discovers when she accepts her mother-in-law’s suggestion that she research the Gillan family history. Her academic career curtailed when she falls pregnant soon after marriage, Caro is glad to have something to occupy her mind, and the mystery of a missing bride is certainly intriguing. The woman in question was married to Alasdair’s great-grandfather, Oliver, whom we meet when the narrative slips back to the late 1800s. As a boy, Oliver resolved to explore the frozen north, and later read medicine at Edinburgh University. Then, as broken-hearted young man, Oliver signs up to board a ship bound for the Arctic. In the present, as a shocking find is made in the castle grounds, there are tensions between Caro and Alasdair’s family - she’s not the kind of woman they’d envisaged him marrying, yet she is the kind of woman who can uncover Oliver’s past, not least when she finds the diary of his voyage aboard the Narwhal whaling ship and pieces together a tragic and beautiful tale of love that exposes abhorrent Western notions of “savages”. With a fine evocation of time, place, and Inuit society, A Woman Made of a Snow is a moving, captivating read.
Fabulously inventive, and laced with evocative detail and intrigue, Clio Velentza’s The Piano Room boasts bite and a beautifully crafted plot. Taking inspiration from the timeless tale of Faust, this keenly accomplished debut sees an entitled young man make a deal with the devil in order to forge his own destiny, so intense is his desire to renounce the weight of his family’s musical genius. Sandor Esterhazy comes from a long line of formidably talented pianists. His family are also immensely wealthy - his father, for example, dresses in embroidered slippers, shiny tuxedoes, and soft leather gloves; the opulence and elegance of his background are tangible. Sandor, on the other hand, seems cut from a different cloth - “There was no spirit to his music: instead of rising into the air with warmth and spice, the melody clambered out of the instrument and lay on the floor like a lifeless thing.” And so Sandor decides to summon the devil himself to escape his fate. Relieved when nothing happens (“I’m such an idiot. It was all a joke. It’s all right. It’s over”), he’s overwhelmed when the devil later appears and promises, in return for his soul, that Sandor “will be free to lead the life you choose rather than the one laid out for you.” Sandor is left with a mysterious creature, Ferdi, whom he locks in his basement piano room, for a time at least. Exploring self-determination and what it is to be human with wit, delicious gothic atmosphere and a compelling sense of ennui, The Piano Room is an immersive joy.
The most deliciously moody, romantic, and enchanting tale awaits. Written for young adults, this is a book that will also quite happily sit on bookshelves belonging to adults too. Evangeline strikes a deal with an immortal Fate in order to stop the wedding of the man she loves and complete her own happily ever after. This particular Fate isn’t to be meddled with, and when Evangeline strikes a bargain, things don’t go according to plan. A new series by the best-selling Stephanie Garber is to be celebrated and there is a crossover from her previous Caravel trilogy (though you don’t need to have already read them). As you can probably tell by the title, there is more than a hint of fairytale contained within the pages, however, this is not the syrupy sweet kind, oh no, darkness plays its part with aplomb. The setting is fabulously enticing, the characters engaging, and the plot beautifully sets up this book as the first in the series. A Liz Pick of the Month, Once Upon A Broken Heart, is a captivating tale, perfect for lovers of romantic fantasy.
Nina George Dean on the surface has it all. Fantastic friends, a new home all of her own, a successful career as a food writer and a loving family. Saying that, her thirties thus far haven't been all they were cracked up to be...and so she decides to dive into online dating. This is a funny observational debut novel by Dolly Alderton, a voice we recognise from her best-selling memoir Everything I Know About Love and her podcast The High Low. But it's fresh, it's so relatable, so real. We've all been through it or know someone who has - and because of that it's so heartfelt and sad and tender and true. But funny; I chuckled, laughed and nodded along on every step of Nina's journey. And it's not an easy journey as love interest Max isn't quite what she hoped he'd be with his good looks and prepackaged charm and we hope she doesn't fall hard when after two hours she "wants to touch his face which looked like it belonged to a Viking warrior". Her doting dad shows more and more signs of dementia, and her friendships drift as friends become consumed with kids, love and moving out to the 'burbs. Whatever decade you're in, this will serve as a witty warning, a reeling realisation or a magnificent memory and I can't recommend it enough.
A whirlwind, transportative romance, ‘Wilde Type’ by HK Jacobs is a book to curl up and enjoy when you’re looking for unadulterated feel-good and romance. Dr. Alexandra Wilde has lived life with lots of walls up, driven and dedicated to her profession. But a chance encounter with Ian Devall, a rich playboy heir of a billionaire mining company may be enough to send Alex’s perfectly controlled life off kilter. This is a lovely relationship story, with obstacles and vulnerabilities that need to be overcome by the characters but with a cozy and reassuring feel to the plotline. ‘Wilde Type’ is well-written, all of the characters seem fully formed and each brings something unique to the book. A story focusing on self-discovery and a search for an all consuming love set amongst the backdrops of Botswana, Paris, London and Texas. As the story neared its end I couldn’t get through the pages fast enough to reach it’s inevitable conclusion. This is a great romance and relationship story to curl up with on particularly dismal days and days when you want a story to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador
He was supposed to be my first and only one-night stand. He was definitely never supposed to become my boss. I had always been the good girl-the workaholic with every second of her life mapped out to a tee. Then I got trapped in an elevator with Julian Hoult. He was . . . irresistible. Sophisticated sex in a crisp white shirt. His voice alone dropped me straight to my knees. What was I supposed to do? Well . . . I can tell you what I was definitely not supposed to do. I was not supposed to run into him ever again. I was not supposed to be desperately unemployed, and I was definitely not supposed to accept his dirty little job offer. But I couldn't resist. As CEO of the Hoult Media empire, Julian will stop at nothing to get what he wants. So for his next venture with Manhattan's most lecherous billionaires, he's hired me to play the role of bait. And while my official title is that of Executive Assistant, my actual job requires low tops, tight skirts, and flaunting everything I've got till his clients are easy to bend-till they can barely think for themselves anymore. It's sleazy and wrong. Against everything I've worked for. But with Julian as my audience, I can't help but enjoy every second. Thanks to him, I'm embracing the bad, and I swear . . . I've never in my life felt this damned good.
Love’s Labours Found
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