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 simply glorious reading feast awaits in this crime novel that I'd describe as warm and cosy with a healthy dose of feisty attitude and smirky humour. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron find themselves on the trail of stolen diamonds and before too long, a murderer. I roared my appreciation of the first in this series, the best-selling and LoveReading Star Book The Thursday Murder Club, so I’ll admit to approaching Richard Osman’s second novel with an intriguing mix of excitement and apprehension. I am absolutely thrilled to say that The Man Who Died Twice more than exceeded my expectations. The superb introductory chapters sucked me straight in, and this is one of those books that I wanted to read in one sitting. I cackled and read with glee as I ran to keep up with these four septuagenarions. While I adore all of the main characters, Joyce is a particular favourite, quite possibly because we continue to get an outpouring of her thoughts, I so wish I had this woman in my life! The relationships evolve beautifully, and the humour tickles and flirts as the plot just hums along. The ending is rather wonderful and I predict that Richard Osman’s second novel will be just as big a hit as his first. So, of course The Man Who Died Twice comes with the LoveReading Star Book stamp of approval, and sits as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month, what are you waiting for, go grab yourself a copy!
Taking in the cultural complexities of the Ottoman Empire through the compelling, criss-crossing stories of Levantine, Greek, Turkish and Armenian characters, Defne Suman’s The Silence of Scheherazade is an astounding feat of historical fiction - tremendously ambitious, and dazzlingly realised through the author’s exquisitely-threaded plotting and lush storytelling. It’s September, 1905, and one moment seals the fates of four very different families. This is the moment Scheherazade is born in cosmopolitan Smyrna to a mother numbed by opium. Though her namesake is the legendary storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights, she’s mute. A silent girl who grows up to bear witness to the brutality that eventually besets her city - the death and destruction, the expulsion of communities, the impending outbreak of WWI, and the burning. The magic of the city is dazzlingly evoked and intertwined with both the socio-political context and the very moving, very personal stories of this novel’s vast cast of characters. This is a novel to savour, to be dazzled by, to learn from, and reflect on. It invites utter immersion. The LoveReading LitFest invited Defne to the festival to talk about The Silence of Scheherazade. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Defne in conversation with Deborah Maclaren and find out why this is such a sumptuous tour de force of a book that everyone needs to read. Check out a preview of the event here.
Co-written with Mills and Boon historical novelist Marguerite Kaye, Sarah Ferguson’s Her Heart for a Compass is an expansive fictionalised account of the life of the Duchess of York’s great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott. Part romantic epic, part energetic exploration of wealthy women’s lives in Victorian England, it’s sure to satisfy fans of historical fiction who like their novels to be big in heart (and length), and based on real-life intrigue. It’s London, 1865, and Lady Margaret Montagu Scott cannot face the prospect of entering a marriage arranged by her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch. Given that her parents are close friends with Queen Victoria, this is nothing short of a scandal, and so Margaret must be banished from polite Victorian society. Margaret’s journey sees her venture to Ireland and America before returning to Britain. It reels with romance, historical detail and the protagonist’s indomitable spirit of adventure against a backdrop of grand-yet-stuffy drawing rooms and stifling societal conventions.
Helen Stancey’s Relative Secrets is a highly readable story for readers who like to get lost in the drama and intrigue of other people’s relatable lives. Told in a straightforward style, with domestic detail and emotional ups and downs to heighten engagement, three generations of women are at the heart of this saga of family secrets. It’s set in 1999 and follows the family from the 1920s through to the millennium. The eldest of the women, Mary, is in a care home, her mind deteriorating. During a visit from grand-daughter Lucy, Mary makes strange statements that arouse Lucy’s curiosity. She tries to put them out of mind - until she finds a locket while clearing out Mary’s former room. Not wanting to upset her mother (not with her father gone, her elder brother away, and her little brother misbehaving), Lucy takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of the mystery - risking discovering truths that might unsettle the very foundations of their family. The drama builds slowly at first - there’s a considered, unhurried build-up, with lots of family backstory delivered before the revelations come. Then tension builds as Lucy delves deeper, and the questions keep coming - not merely what the secret is, but why it was covered-up. And, a question with universal resonance - is it sometimes better to simply let things be?
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.