The Inn at Eagle Point – Sherryl Woods

Abby has spent a number of years away from her home town of Chesapeake Shores only popping back when is needed for family celebrations. However her sister, Jess has always been at home. Being the youngest of the family and the one who was affected most by their parents separation, she feels she has something to prove to everyone.

Jess has a dream of running the Inn at Chesapeake Shores and that dream is becoming a reality but it is coming at a cost a financial cost. Figures and money are not Jess’ strong point. The only place she can turn after the bank issue an ultimatum is her sister Abby.

Abby is the high flying financial whizz and returns to help Jess. Everything should be fine, but the bank’s ultimatum was issued with one simple prerequisite and it is that which suddenly keeps Abby in Chesapeake Shores for longer than a day. Not only does the upheaval affect her, but her children and her ex-husband. Family tensions are stretched to the limit. Will the Inn ever have the grand opening it deserves?

This is a lovely escapist novel where rather than featuring on a number of community characters it is a family orientated one and Abby O’Brien Winters is obviously the choice for this novel. To tighten the setting of the novel, the O’Brien’s  had a hand in building the community and the escapist descriptions of the area, washes over you in delight as you start to get involved with the characters. You can see as the book progress how each of her siblings, her parents and related family will all become stars in their own right as the series of books progresses.

If you are looking for a new series of books in the vein of Debbie Macomber then I can see this series will be ideal for you and The Inn at Eagle Point is the first.

I am torn with this novel. It covers some serious issues such as divorce and family breakdown, disabilities as well as good old fashioned romance and it is done well. Why am I torn? I think it is because I don’t think I can get into another “series” at the moment. Much as I want to. 

For me at the moment the similarity to Debbie Macomber is quite strong and it has reminiscent of her Cedar Cove series. I do know that Macomber has now released the first in a new series of books (her Cedar Cove one is at an end and I only have a few to catch up on) and that book is called The Inn at Rose Harbor (American spelling). Mmm can you see what I am thinking? 

I think the decision to be made here is that I need to finish the Cedar Cove series (one of my 2012 challenges) and then perhaps see what I feel like in reading another series so similar. I can always keep Sherryl Woods in my back pocket for the  future! 


Taken – Niamh O’Connor

Jo Birmingham, is the feisty female detective that you first meet in If I Never See You Again. She is a single mother with two boys, one a mere baby, the other a mere teenager. Not only has she to deal with juggling this family life that was not really of her choosing. Her ex also happens to be her boss. Now she has even more to prove.

Jo’s choice of career makes all the challenges perhaps even harder – she is a Detective Inspector and in this novel, she goes into some rather dark and seedy places to get a result. Justice. 

A child goes missing from the back seat of a car, whilst their mother is in the petrol station. A mother’s worst nightmare, you turn your back for two minutes. But this mother is famous in Ireland, she has it all. Beauty, money, an ideal life; on the surface. Underneath it is darker place full of drugs, corruption and sex as a resource. When she wants no publicity for the missing child, there is obviously more to this than a simply case of a child being taken.

It is now up to DI Jo Birmingham to bring the pieces together. And when a video tape is left for her at the police station, does the evidence point to a much bigger case where more people will want to keep their names out of the spotlight? But surely the first most important thing to do is to reunite child with mother? So why is there a reluctance to put the resources onto this case? A question for her ex-husband?

This is a crime novel which from the moment you start reading, draws you right into the plot, the setting and the characters. It is not a nice world that we live in and this book demonstrates that for me quite effectively. Niamh O’Connor draws on her research from as a true crime editor of a newspaper to weave a story that looks like it could have stepped straight out of a Sunday tabloid and a glossy magazine combined. In fact Niamh, admits in her foreword that this is probably based on something that cannot be proved.

This in itself intrigued me as a reader, and how the power of celebrity and the power of power can sometimes fall apart around you. A good read.

I say at the end of my review of Niamh O’Connor’s first book that I would not actively go and buy another one but would still read one if I was given the opportunity.I was when the publisher sent me this and her latest novel Too Close for Comfort. This book for me was better than the first, and it shows that O’Connor has found her flow in terms of writing a crime story. I think also the reference to something that may well have happened in ‘real life’ may have contributed to the storyline as well. 

I can see that perhaps I have come across something when I say in my review of her first novel ” Everything is wrapped up in the end but there is plenty of scope for more from Birmingham and I am sure her ex husband will prove to be her nemesis”. That applies to this book,  but perhaps now I will have to find another word to describer her ex-husband. I am glad I have the next one to read, as I actually want to know more about the personal side of DI Jo Birmingham, because I am sure it is this which makes her a detective that you do not want to mess with either as a criminal or as a colleague!

Books · Jottings

Jottings #8 Culling, Collecting and Challenging.

It has been a while since I have done a jottings post and I try when I do them, to combine many things and if there is alliteration then all the more pleasing.


Holiday time always gives me the urge and/or need to actually do some sorting out. Whether it be kitchen drawers, wardrobes, craft basket, book shelves it always seem to me more relevant to do at this time. I think it is because I have the time to spend on it. So I have done quite a lot of culling from the wardrobe which I had not intended to do. The kitchen drawers are sort of half done, but I am currently going through all the recipes I have torn out of magazines etc that I had stuffed in a drawer. They are now out of said drawer, sorted into piles of mains, cakes & puddings and everything else and are going  to be stuck in a lovely book I bought in Paperchase. Cutting, glueing and sticking – it is like the summer holidays I used to have as a kid. In fact sorting out my late nan’s belongings we have found an old scrapbook where I used to cut things out, glue them and stick them in. It has gone to be recycled, what on earth possessed me to pick some of the pictures who knows. Childhood innocence perhaps.

But culling bookshelves is always a difficult task. I have books there, that get moved about in the vain hope that they will jump off the shelf at me because I want to read them. But no, for these few it is just not happening. It is time for them to go. I have tried in the case of one of them to read it, but it was not doing anything for me in which case it is perhaps not the time for me to be reading that particular book.

Not that many have been culled compared to how many are left (and those that are coming in – more about that shortly) but it was a start, small easy steps. These have gone to the pile for the charity shop and I hope someone else enjoys them.   Next time I do another shuffle and rearrange of the book shelf, more might need to be culled but in the meantime that space has been filled up by….


I tend to buy my books in splurges, (I love that word, reminds me of Bugsy Malone) at three points during the year and I am sure I have mentioned this before on here. It is related to my three main holiday periods from work. That is not to say that I don’t buy books at any other time, but they are invariably a one off purchase. So here is the summer splurge if you will, from a different bookshop (still a W) than normal, but I liked the way it was laid out and was airy. I am fussy about such things, there is a W near me which I cannot abide because it makes me feel very claustrophobic, but the normal one I go to is spaced out well, and I can browse at my pleasure, something which I do with list in hand when looking for books.

As you can see my ratio of books leaving the house is nowhere near in line with books coming in. If anything the wrong way round! But these are books which I have coveted for a while and I took the opportunity to purchase them whilst some of them were on offer. I also looked at a lot more on my list and had a brief read of the first few pages whilst I saw them (The reason it takes so long in bookshops) and I could see they were not for me, so they have been struck through.

Since buying these, I have my eye on another couple of books and will peruse my normal W for a couple of them as well as the fantastic charity bookshop for some others. I go armed with lists of ‘to look for’ and the lists of read/to be read by certain authors. I have not listed any of the books in the pictures but if you cannot make any of them out, let me know.


I love reading other blogs about the challenges that they are doing. I am always amazed at not just how many are out there, but the variety and also the number which people participate in. I have really avoided challenges and at the end of last year decided that I would set myself my own challenges, which resulted in the challenge tab at the top of this blog. Nothing too enormous on there and all fairly manageable without putting myself under any pressure.

However, earlier in the year I did think I would try and have a go at the Crime Fiction Alphabet challenge after seeing it on so many blogs last year and thoroughly enjoying it and getting lots of new reads.  However, life got rather stressful and I was finding that I did not want to read much crime at all and was being far more called towards other directions which resulted in me falling a bit behind. No matter I thought I would keep at my own pace and still finish it but just be a week behind. However, life got more difficult with the death of my grandmother and I was still not in a place for reading crime fiction and am now too far behind to even be a week behind so I have decided not to carry on with this challenge. My reading has taken me elsewhere, which I probably knew in my heart of hearts that it would but I wanted to give it a go nonetheless.

So I am back to my own challenges, which you can see I am plodding away at and that is just the way I like it. I am one of life’s plodders!

Now talking about challenges, I am not sure who of you has even been across to Karyn at A Penguin a Week but if you have the time, do pop across and have a look. Her basic mission is to have a copy of every Penguin book ever published before the death of Allen Lane, this is before ISBN on books. (Collecting!) Anyway, whilst my mum was doing some culling (see it all comes full circle) she came across a number of old copies of Daphne du Maurier’s. They were actually at her mum’s house and we would obviously have had to do something with them, she gave them to me just in case I wanted any. They have remained in my spare room for a number of weeks now.

One day out of curiosity I had a look at them to see if any were of the pre 1970 variety and some were. So a quick picture and a tweet to Karyn to confirm that she did not have these books and they will now be on their way to the other side of the world! I did check with my mum that she was more than happy for these books to go on such a journey never to be seen again, she was quite excited and is looking forward to seeing how long it takes for them to arrive.


The Darling Girls – Emma Burstall

Victoria is first and foremost a mother to Ralph, a surly teenager in the midst of his A levels and Salome. Eight years old and  full of life. Victoria used to be a cellist, it was this that brought her into contact with the father of her children and the man she loves, her husband.

Maddy is the epitome of strong independent single mother. Her daughter Phoebe, has the best of everything that Maddy can provide. No one is going to help her, she is a successful event manager and thinks nothing of buying the best when she wants because she can. Maddy does not need handouts from the man she loves and the father of her daughter.

Cat, is very young and struggling to find her place in the world. Looking after her sick mother who has never got over the death of her husband, Cat’s father. Something which even Cat is still struggling with means Cat has never focused on anything in her life other than her job, in a book shop where she is not going to go anywhere. Then someone comes in and asks her a question and suddenly Cat is experiencing something else. Cat falls in love with the man.

Victoria’s man is called Leo.

Maddy’s man is called Leo.

Cat’s man is called Leo.

But Leo has died.

These three women are suddenly forced together after his funeral.

Victoria knew about the ‘other’ women and accepted it. But now Leo is dead and left more than a legacy behind she may need to think about what she has put up with the last twenty years and accept the real reason why Leo would not marry her despite her protestations.

Maddy, knew about Victoria and accepted it. She knew nothing about Cat.The legacy Leo leaves is the daughter he fathered and wonderful memories, but is that enough to sustain Maddy.  She continues with her life, not relying on anything from anyone, but then something happens to her and she finds herself brought down to a different level.

Cat, knew about them both and believed Leo when he said that they meant nothing. Leo leaves a legacy which no one can believe and Cat suddenly has a whole different future to worry about.

Leo managed to split himself at least three different ways with these women. Experiencing only certain things with each of them; a love of takeaways; Amy Winehouse music; Classical Music to name a few. But Leo’s legacy is the trust that he obviously never truly had with these women and complete honesty and intimacy which meant he behaved as he did.

This book follows the three main female characters as they come to terms with grief, dishonesty and the acceptance of love in differing circumstances. Life has to go one for many reasons and Victoria, Maddy and Cat suddenly find the strength to do this through the support and help of each other. A unique situation.

The characters are strong, wilful and believable and although Leo could have been cast as the ‘baddie’ because of his actions there came a fleeting moment or too when I actually felt sorry for him. Fleeting though, as I personally could not excuse such behaviour but then that is easy for me to say, being on the outside looking in. Being the reader totally absorbed by this story.

All three of Emma Burstall’s books are excellent and they deal with such differing dynamics of groups of people, in the main women. They are more than fluffy chick lit they make you want to think, they make you want to cry and laugh in equal measures, they are simply good well structured and constructed books.

Thank you to the author Emma Burstall for the opportunity to read her new book. It is available to buy now on Kindle, along with her other two novels Gym and Slimline and Never Close Your Eyes. Links take you to my Amazon reviews. 

Emma Burstall has written extensively for national newspapers and women’s magazines including the GuardianIndependent on SundayRedGood HousekeepingWoman & Home and Woman. She read English at Cambridge University and began her career as a cub reporter on the Western Morning News in Plymouth, later becoming features editor of Woman and Family Circle. Emma lives in South West London with her husband, the political commentator Kevin Maguire, and their three children, aged 25, 20 and 10. She’s currently working on her fourth novel.

(Taken from her website)

I am looking forward to seeing what her fourth novel is all about. This is an author who is probably not as well known as many and I hope in future years and books that changes considerably.

Books · Witterings

What are people reading?

I do not deny that the title of this post would give answers that could and would go on forever. But actually I think I am trying to sum up a few days recently where I had the chance to observe more than normal.

I spent five days away at a health farm. A place I have visited many times before to relax, sleep, eat, be pampered and also heal. It gives plenty of opportunity for me to do even more reading than I normally do. This post is not about them books, numerous though they were, their reviews will feature in the coming days.

One of my favourite places to sit and read whilst away.

No what intrigues me is what everyone else is reading? It is not just me who goes away and takes a book (or 6) to read.

First off there were plenty of kindles. I am not against them, I have one, it is a boon when it comes to books and I finished one book on it within a day of being there and started another the night before I was due to come home. However, I probably counted at least 6 – but this does have a downside. I could not see what they were reading! Not sure how this can be overcome on a Kindle – a screen on the back showing the cover? But then I think all the Kindles that I saw, had fancy covers on, so that would be no good. I am Kindle coverless, mainly because it annoys me for some reason. So I am not sure how to overcome this and I worry that in the future everyone will have them and we will not be able to see what others are reading. I am always intrigued to see if I have read the book or do I need to look out for it, if it looks like the reader is particularly engrossed in it.

Now of course on the Kindle, you can be reading books that you do not want anyone else to know you are reading. Bet you know where this is heading……… Yes there was a plethora of ladies reading Fifty Shades (Grey, Darker and Freed) to the point where I did think of for goodness sake.  One lady was particularly upset when she got to the end of the book (Grey) and blamed her friend for making her read it. Another lady’s husband was interested to see his wife reading the book, and kept asking her where she was up to and what was going on. I felt like telling her to let him read the book for himself. Then there was the discussion, between a group of ladies who had moved on to other erotic fiction and was rating and comparing it to Fifty Shades.

Whatever you think or say about this book it has people reading and discussing. For that it must be commended.

So what else was being read, whilst others relaxed. I saw plenty of Katie Fforde (Going Dutch – read that) which I was thrilled about as I have only discovered her books this year. An Alexander McCall Smith, which caught my eye because of the colourful cover and was the latest No 1 Ladies Detective novel. Ironically enough I took one of these with me, but did not pick it up this particular visit, but it has now made it to my bedside table.  Elizabeth Noble, The Girl Next Door (oo read that I thought!) S.J. Watson; Before I Go to Sleep (Got that on my shelf to read!) Philippa Gregory; The Other Boleyn Girl (read it but must get round to reading more of Gregory). A couple of Jill Mansell (tried but never got on with them) and a Carole Matthews (never got round to reading this author). Mary Higgins Clark(that is who my mum is reading at the moment) and only one “celeb” autobiography (why on earth would you want to read about her?).

It is amazing how seeing what people read (and surreptitiously doing it whilst reading yourself) evokes reminders of books and authors to read and discover or ones to perhaps avoid?

I wonder what makes these people choose them particular books at that particular time? Are they conforming (Fifty Shades) or are they just reading for sheer enjoyment of a series (McCall Smith). And what did they think of my choice of books which ranged from an Agatha Christie, to a young adult book, a début novel and a kindle? Well I hope they have gone away with some suggestions at least.


The Book of Summers – Emylia Hall

An afternoon in the park, everyone is going about their lives. People are sat chatting, catching the sunshine, groups of boys playing football.  But one lady sat in that park is absorbed in the past, not in the present.

That lady is Beth Lowe.

A parcel had arrived via her father in person to London her now home. Something he never does. The parcel was important.

It told of seven summers that Beth experienced in Hungary. It told us through Beth’s memories of the summers what Beth experienced. The angst of the age between nine and sixteen.

The angst of warring parents who were not actually fighting.

The angst of first love.

The angst of the truth – “…anyone could learn the truth. It was what you did with it that mattered.”

This debut novel is subtly written that you have to absorb every moment that is beautifully described. The richness of Hungary, the landscape, the colours, the smells all brough to life on the page. The author’s own experiences of the country come through strong and clear,making it richer and more evocative. You can see Beth, running through the hills, tasting the food, eating what she wants when she wants, trying new ideas, meeting new people in fact everything.

All in complete contrast to Beth’s life in Devon. Regimented, organised. Bland and boring. Ordinary.

The book brings a conclusion. But can Beth reach her own conclusion to enable her to move on with her life. Can she reconcile herself with ordinary days and those not so ordinary?

“Little did we know how happy we were then. If only we could learn to celebrate the ordinary days; the ones that begin unremarkably, and continue in un-noteworthy fashion.”

This book cleverly weaves the adult perspective as well as the child, interestingly enough both perspectives from the same person. Does time change memories? Or does knowledge as an adult make us reflect differently. It is all done so gently and feels like you have peaked inside someone else memory and had the huge privilege of being allowed in; to see life so differently.

A book for the summer in many ways. It evokes memories of childhood summers gone. It will be a book which lasts in your memory having finished it into the dark winter nights that follow summer.

Thank you to Amazon Vine for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

I first spotted this book on another blog and coveted it for a while, but did not select it to read from Vine. Then I did, then I spotted that it was one of the Richard and Judy Summer Read choices and I knew I was going to be on to a winner. I was. In fact this book was voted the favourite. 

This is Emylia Hall’s first novel. I will be interested to see what her second novel (due out in 2013) has between the pages. 


Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen

Catherine Morland is obsessed with Gothic Novels and on her first visit to Bath, with family friends Mr and Mrs Allen she finds herself obsessed with something new – love.

All of a sudden her small familiar circle is increased. She befriends Isabella Thorpe a rather self obsessed girl who enjoys the conversation with men in the pursuit of the correct marriage (more financial, than romantic). One of these chosen men actually being Catherine’s brother who she has met previously. Catherine is enamoured by Henry Tilney in a short space of time and this causes some distress to Isabella’s brother John who is enamoured by Catherine himself. What transpire are the imaginations, hopes and dreams both coming true and brought to an end of young men and women in the pursuit of happiness and love.

John (and his family) tries to put obstacles in the path of any sort of relationship between Henry and Catherine. Catherine attempts to appease and please everyone without anyone’s feelings getting hurt. A task she finds most difficult. Isabella now betrothed to Catherine’s brother, feels Catherine’s own burgeoning friendship with Henry Tilney’s sister Eleanor treacherous to their own friendship and she also tries to come between.

Catherine eventually escapes Bath and goes to stay with the Tilney’s at Northanger Abbey. Catherine thinks all her dreams of gothic novels will be played out in a place called Northanger Abbey.

The night was stormy; the wind had been rising at intervals the whole afternoon; and by the time the party broke up, it blew and rained violently. Catherine, as she crossed the hall, listened to the tempest with sensations of awe; and, when she heard it rage round a corner of the ancient building and close with sudden fury a distant door, felt for the first time that she was really in an abbey. Yes, these were characteristic sounds; they brought to her recollection a countless variety of dreadful situations and horrid scenes..

But the visit which was to be a long one is suddenly cut short when news of James having broken off his engagement with Isabella and still the vindictive behaviour of John Thorpe reaches out as far as Northanger Abbey. Despatched back home, Catherine is forlorn and love struck but then an unexpected visit changes everything…..

A neat little novel in my opinion which reflects as much of life in terms of youngsters as it did when it was published more than two hundred years ago. The settings have changed and no doubt the interests, I suppose not many young girls are obsessed with gothic novels now? But I remember being young and worrying about the boy that likes you, the boy that you like. If they smile, if they don’t and all the worries in between. Close friendships with other girls in similar situations and the unity of one sex against another. Reflections on how devious women can be in the pursuit of men.

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.

This book made me smile and chuckle in places as Austen address the reader direct about such matters as well as the importance of the novel reflected by herself and in her characters.  How could Catherine even contemplate taking up with John Thorpe with his obvious distaste of novels;

“I never read novels; I have something else to do”

Catherine, humbled and ashamed, was going to apologise for her question, but he prevented her by saying, “Novels are all so full of  nonsense and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one come out since Ton Jones, except The Monk; I read that t’other day; but as for all the others, they are the stupidest things in creation.”

Any reader would have I am sure taken an immediate dislike to John, as I did. I wanted to tell Catherine never apologise for reading and enjoying novels. It keeps a great many authors in work.

Luckily Henry had different views

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

I quite agree! But then in the pursuit of men it seems Austen thought that women “especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”

This is the second Austen I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did have to perhaps concentrate a bit more, the language after all is dated. However, I am glad I have read it and it has certainly not put me off reading other Austen. I see I have a couple more on my kindle for when I feel like drifting back to another time.

I have used this book as one for my own personal 2012 challenge.



Masked Ball

Readers of my blog will know that I tend to keep the focus on books, hobbies and interests and work does not feature very much. Not because my job is not interesting, it is although it has its moments – of which there has been a lot lately, but I am very conscious of sharing something I should not. Working on a naval establishment makes you more aware.

Anyway, last year I shared some pictures of our annual Summer Ball – last year’s theme was Alice in Wonderland. This year it would have been too obvious to go for say perhaps, the Diamond Jubilee or perhaps Olympics, common themes apparently according to our photographer. This year it was Phantom of the Opera, a Masked Ball if you will.

Now this year if you have noticed, it has rained. In fact it has rained quite a lot. More than a lot. Now this comes with problems. Our one for this year – a 500ft marquee on grass, with 750 chairs, 75 tables and 375 women wearing high heels. Can you see where I am going with this. Glastonbury springs to mind.

You need a back up plan, you always need a back up plan.

So with me already having completed the table plan for 650 in a marquee (numbers down on previous years – credit crunch? Olympics? No interest?)  I then (with direction from my boss) had to bring 650 people indoors.

Not a problem – we have our Christmas Dance indoors. It’s cosy. It’s Christmas. But then we have a maximum number for that – 450.

Now I hope you can do the maths – that was 200 people we had to find somewhere to sit. Then the week before the ball, the sun shone, it shone bright and hot. Had we done the wrong thing?

This was my major task for this year (amongst sorting out the people who cannot fill in an application form, the finances most importantly, ticket distribution, the list is somewhat endless)

So using my knowledge of Christmas layout here we go then.

One of the 7 rooms (the largest) used

Done, easier than I thought. Keeping people together and more importantly apart. A job well done. I do like logic problems and jigsaw which is what the task resembles. Then had someone check it through and no problems.


“I need to lose one room, Jo”.


“I need to lose one room, Jo”

“That is 50 people”


Okay I am not a magician but I managed to lose twenty into other rooms. I then had thirty people who had no seat, in fact they had no table, knife and fork, wine glass or napkin.

Table Centre

As for the grass outside – we still used the marquee, only a fifth of it for the dancing. It proved coming in was the correct thing to do. I sat on a chair on the grass (I was the test person – not sure if I should have been offended?) on the Thursday – the chair sank 3 inches. It was cold on the night. So even more the right thing to do.

But I am not sure if any of us that work there can cope with doing the same again next year indoors. It was hard work, physically for a lot, mentally for a few.

And as for them thirty people

They had a fabulous night and never knew that until three days before they had no seat…….


The Light Behind the Window – Lucinda Riley

Yet again Lucinda Riley has created and weaved a story which has you gripped from the beginning to the end. You have to keep reading, you have to know what happens you have to know if love will conquer all, if war will end, if all wrongs will be righted and that the light will shine again from behind the window where it has been hiding for many years of the main characters.

Emilie de la Martinieres is there when her glamorous mother draws her final breath. As the end comes, Emilie realises what a task she now has to face, as the sole remaining heir she has to sort a flat in Paris, her mother’s jewels and other remnants of her famous and glamorous life as well as the Chateau in the south of France, which her mother hated, but Emilie loved as a child when her father was alive.

The Chateau holds memories good and bad, and as Emilie discovers these she also discovers something of the past which has an immediate effect on the future. The reader goes on an emotional rollercoaster with Emilie, as it seems all is suddenly well with the sudden appearance of Sebastian Carruthers, an Englishman visiting the south of France because of a family tale from his grandmother. For Emilie suddenly life is going to be easy and full of light and love. Then everything builds to the top and most highest point of the rollercoaster, emotions are running high and the descent is rather fast and makes her relook at all she has. Does she need to once again reassess all that is left behind? 

Constance Carruthers is a young married woman, whose husband is missing in action. Not wanting to be idle, Constance goes to do some war work as an office clerk. However, something about Constance stands out and she is one of the few selected to the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and after fierce and extraordinary training she is landed in France, and has to make it to Paris to help the Resistance in Vichy France. However, contact is not easy and she is suddenly all alone in a foregin country, under an assumed name with no hope of ever returning home in the immediate future. It is a case of fight or flight. Constance chooses to fight and finds herself placed in the most extraordinary position in the house of Edouard de la Martinieres. Not how she envisaged spending the war.

Here the past and the present collide in Lucinda’s story as they have done in her previous novels and is a skill will she handles effectively with ease and no obvious break with the story.  Edouard is Emilie’s father. Sebastian is Constance’s grandson. So the links are complete. All you need to do now is sit back and enjoy the story, it captures you, it shines light in your heart, and it turns the pages long into the night.

The author has a skill in drawing you right into the characters lives so much so that you experience all that they do and just as you think you know the outcome or the next stage in their development, it is shifted again. A veritable tease in some ways a good skill of holding the reader’s attention in others.  I did not want this book to end, it could have been double the size and I still would have wanted to learn more about both the past and the present.

If you are looking for a story, perhaps something old fashioned but something with history, romance, big domineering houses that are as good as characters, conflict and resolution, love and loss, prejudice in race, in class then this book will tick all the boxes. Therefore buy it, read it and enjoy it.

Thank you to Sophie at Midas PR for sending me a copy of this book for review. Even greater thanks go to the wonderful Lucinda Riley who wrote this book and previous ones, Hothouse Flower and The Girl on the Cliff. All three of them are such good reads. 

I find the books such a joy to read that they have so many layers, in particular this one, they are quite difficult to review,so much is packed in you get so much per page, per chapter. Sometimes books like this are best left as word of mouth, as to review it fully could spoil it for so many more. The words from this mouth, are to go and read it. 

Before I picked this book up, I had read some rather poor books and really needed some solitary comfort with a novel. This book provided it. It also gave my history brain a good old wake up as I know very little about the SOE and now certainly want to learn more. 

I have no idea where Lucinda Riley is going to take us with her next book, although her books have dual story lines, a past and a present, they are not similar in any other way. Vastly different places, locations, subjects and characters mean you really do not know where you are going to go next. 


Weekend in Paris – Robyn Sisman

Molly has worked hard at her job, but she gets no thanks for it. Despite going above and beyond her role for her boss by even buying his coffee and collecting his dry cleaning. It all seems worth it for Molly; she is being allowed to accompany him to Paris for a conference. Perhaps now her hard work will be acknowledged. But overhearing a conversation about his real intention of getting her to Paris , Molly resigns in a fit of pique.

Continuing on this rather un-Molly like behaviour she decides to go to Paris , and ends up with a weekend completely different from any she has had before. Gorgeous food, wine, dancing and men in one of the most romantic cities of the world where your life can change. Perhaps not for Molly, but certainly her outlook changes and the past she has hankered after suddenly becomes the present.

I picked up this book because I wanted something light and easy to read. However I got a book which was too light and boring to read. I know you suspended disbelief when you read, with this book it is more apparent than normal. I did not believe in the characters, for me they were one dimensional and had no substance in them that I could feel any sort of empathy. Some of the scenarios were amusing but simply that. The one saving grace for the book is the descriptions of Paris . The author captures the city at night, during the day and the whole atmosphere; a veritable travel guide. For me it felt like I was in Paris, experiencing so much, it was just a shame the actual plot and characters made it seem like a seedy backstreet of Paris, not a glorious avenue which it could have been.

For me this book was disappointing. For others they loved it. That is the joy of reading.

This was a book, that I picked up in a whim in a charity shop. Seemed like my sort of book for escaping for a comfortable read. Never mind. Reading other reviews of the book, Robyn Sisman other novels are a bit stronger and perhaps one day I will pick up another one to read.