Books

Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies

There is something very atmospheric about this book, as the heat of India becomes intense as they wait for the rains to break the searing heat, to bring water and life to the land it also reflects the tension within the palaces, within the British position and with the main characters of this story.

Photojournalist Eliza returns to India, it is 1930 she is widowed and she is escaping her life with her work. Given the opportunity from a family friend, Clifford Salter and a member of the British Government, Eliza gets the chance to spend a year taking photos, to create an archive of a royal family in one of the states.

The last time she was in India, she watched her father die in tragic circumstances.

Eliza hopes that she may well be able to put some ghosts to rest. Although she cannot guarantee she will not in fact raise some ghosts from the past.

She meets Jay, the second son and not ever destined to become the Prince. There is a spark of something more than the respect that develops for each other.

Jay shows Eliza parts of India, for her project but Eliza shows Jay through her pictures, her eyes exactly what his people are living like, the poverty that they endure day after day. Jay shows how that British Rule is perhaps causing more trouble that it is worth and that the people of India are capable of forming their own destinies without colonial rule.

Eliza and Jay, clash as two very different worlds collide, through that collision that spark begins to develop. But it can never be. Can it?

This rich evocative novel is a love story, a love story that is forbidden in a land where love is not considered the reason for relationships to form. It is all about power, money, alliance and land.

As with all her novels if you have ever read them, the author paints a picture of a place where the colour leaps from the page, the smell wafts past as you immerse yourself in the culture which form the background of the story. But of course it is now always the background it actually is the story as well as the characters.

With intrigue, deception and mistrust within the palace walls and all over India, Eliza is there at a time when perhaps barriers could be broken down…..

A compelling historical fiction novel which will evoke some rather upsetting emotions within the reader as the follow Eliza and Jay’s story. Vividly descriptive and beautifully written this is a book you must read.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

Before the Rains is out now. 

Please check out my blog for other Dinah Jefferies novels, I recommend them all. 

 

Books

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Trisha Ashley

Alice always knew that her parents were not her real parents, her step father said she was discovered in Haworth outside the Bronte Parsonage. The story of her discovering was added to over the years until one day her stepfather dies.

It is only then that Alice discovers that her stepmother has always loathed her and never even wanted her. Suddenly adrift and alone again Alice tries to find a place to settle and maker her home and find some identity within her self.

In Cornwall she finds friendship with Edie who takes her under a wing and provides perhaps the motherly figure she has always been missing in her life. When Edie moves to Scotland, it isn’t long before Alice thinks that she will follow, her life in Cornwall not turning out to be very much.

In Scotland she starts to settle, meets Dan and helps in a local cafe where she can perfect her baking. But then tragedy strikes and Alice is adrift yet again. Now is the time to find out where she really belongs and so she heads to Haworth.

Making an impetuous purchase on an unseen cafe in Haworth Alice takes the bit between her teeth and decides to open a teashop with the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire. She does of course have many hurdles to overcome and has many doubters along the way but Alice’s determination to do something and make a mark is strong.

Hoping that she may well also discover the truth about her birth, as well as pursue a part-time career in writing fairy stories with a twist, Alice discovers that not all fairy tales are straightforward and they don not all have a happy ending.

As with any Trisha Ashley novel, this is well written, the characters fully formed and developed and there is always more than one plot line weaving its way through the book. In fact with this book you could almost say you were getting three stories for the price of one! I loved so much about this book because I cared so much for the main protagonists, I want to eat in the teashop and stay at the lovely Bed and Breakfast where Alice is made to feel at home. The short vignettes of one of the stories are no more than a paragraph and in that short space of time, I took a complete dislike to a character – that is the charm of Trisha Ashley’s novels and especially this one. There is so much packed into the pages.

One of my favourite reads of 2017 and of Trisha Ashley novels. Go buy and read it, you will not be disappointed and like me you will not want it to end.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is put now in hardback.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and of course to the wonderful Trisha Ashley for writing it. 

Books

A Spring Affair: Willow Cottage – Bella Osborne

I was so excited to be able to read the next part in Beth and Leo’s story. I have grown to care for Beth and Leo and only want what is best for them especially as in this book we find more about what Beth is running from and why.

The cottage is really starting to take shape and trying to save money, Beth is determined to do as much as she can on her own. Even though Jack has helped she realises that she is getting too close to him especially when she learns something about his past. Bella puts two and two together and sadly makes five, and it is this which sets her on a path to alienate herself from everyone again. She is not planning on staying at Willow Cottage for long and it seems she may have to move quicker than she first thought.

When a rain-soaked day ends up with her kitchen flooded, she has no choice but to turn to Jack.

In this part we see more of Carly and her boyfriend, Fergus which was great as it added more depth to the book. Of course Carly and Fergus knew little of what Beth was running away from but as they learn so do we. As backgrounds are filled in on the characters as the story progresses it made me want to keep reading but now I will have to wait for the final part.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

Willow Cottage : A Spring Affair is out on 23rd March.  The final part is due out in May with the complete book out in August. 

 

 

Books

The Vets at Hope Green – Part 3

Getting involved with a serialised novel can be a blessing and a curse, especially when the story is strong and you want to keep reading.That is the case with The Vets at Hope Green – I first talked about the book here when the second part was due out.

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley the third part was sent to me

Sam is settling into life and her unexpected pregnancy, but she is trying her hardest to hide it from her crotchety boss, Joe.

Joe seems to be hiding something and when a chance encounter at some stables, Sam begins to see a different side to this man, but his secrets still remain hidden. It begins to remind Sam of something she is trying to forget, another secret no one knows about.

Sam might well be able to hide some secrets, but her past she left behind in London, returns with some rather unwelcome news.

As this part closes, there is a shock and it seems that everything at Hope Green is going to change.

I am looking forward to reading the final part.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to continue to read this story. 

The Vets at Hope Green: Part Three is out on 16th March on kindle. The final part in April and the full novel (the best way to read this story) is out in June. 

Books

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove – Sarah Bennett

Attracted by the cover and nothing more really, I picked this book up. Not knowing what I was going to get, after having read some rather weaker women’s fiction I was a bit wary with this choice.

Within the first couple of pages, all doubts were thrown away as I settled into this wonderful novel. Right from the beginning you are swept up into Mia’s life.

Mia is heartbroken, her future was taken away from her when her husband died. She has not moved on in any way apart from doing one thing, buying a run down guest house by the sea and singlehandedly renovating it. Whilst not quite estranged from her family they have taken other paths and routes through life and Mia has now distanced herself from them all.

The only family she has is Madeline and Richard, local residents at Butterfly Cove who have taken her under their wing and been helping with the house.

That is until Madeline stumbles upon Daniel Fitzwilliam, newly arrived from London and looking for a place to stay. Madeline just knows the prefect guesthouse for him.

Trouble is the guesthouse is not finished and Mia is not looking for any guests yet.

Daniel is running from something and seems hurt by the actions and decisions he has made.

A friendship begins to develop and they both recognise something in each other and slowly a healing process takes place.

As relationships heal, move forward so does the renovations on the guest house and it becomes very much a feature of both Mia and Daniel. The future is held within the walls, decorations, colours and the photographs.

Whilst you could say it was inevitable what was going to happen, I think the story has a lot more depth to it and a lot of raw emotion and love is contained in the short amount of pages than can be found wanting in some much longer novels. It is this which kept me reading, kept me awake to see the guest house develop, to see Mia grow stronger, to see Daniel forget his past and for everything to come together. All the characters are fully developed and this is what makes it a real strong story.

And the best bit of the novel – this is in fact the first in a trilogy. Which means I can go back and visit Butterfly Cove.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove is out now. 

Books

The Beachside Sweet Shop – Karen Clarke

Marnie is determined to get away from the village she grew up in. Trouble is there is a lot that is keeping her there.

Her grandmother Celia, having fallen and broken a leg needs looking after.

Her best friend Beth, soon to have a baby.

Her grandfather’s inheritance  – the sweet shop of the title.

Despite all of this Marnie is determined to get away. Others think differently.

When The Beachside Sweet Shop wins a local business award and is then thrust into a debate that sugar is poison, it seems that Marnie cannot leave her grandfather’s shop until she has preserved his legacy.

The task is going to be harder than she first thought, when she has to deal with protests, graffiti and some failed attempts at sugar-free sweets.

Marnie is rather indecisive and I was rather frustrated by her as a character, however the humour she had with her grandmother, beth and Josh the shop helper made her slightly more warm and friendly as the book went on. Though I did wonder why she just did not leave – she seemed to be so determined to prove that life in Shipley on the Jurassic Coast was the end of life for her.

Beth was fantastically funny as she waddled around helping Marnie in the shop, writing her thesis on Katherine Parr and incubating the baby that she was convinced was going to kill her.

Josh who arrives in Marnie’s life and into the sweet shop just at the right time, seems to be the answer to her prayers in sorting out the future of the shop. Trouble is he is rather evasive as to his surname, his address and even his bank details for his wages. Josh has a kind heart and they worked well as a team i the shop, but it was not meant to be because Marnie was determined to leave.

As events take a different turn, Celia gets better, Beth goes into labour, Marnie’s mother reappears, as does her ex boyfriend, it seems that Marnie needs to start listening to those that care about her.

The book lacked a bit of substance on occasions, to make it an excellent read for me. The animosity between Beth’s husband and Marnie, perhaps needed to have been set up differently from the beginning so at least we were aware there was a background to it as opposed to this automatic dislike he had of Marnie. More background on Isabella Sinclair would have given her campaign against the sweet shop more reality than it was shown as. It was these areas that I think the book began to lack reality as if the reasons for their behaviour only came to the author as the book was written.

However, despite my observations it is an entertaining read and makes your mouth water with the thought of all those delicious sweets that we all remember from our childhood, the author painted the picture of the sweet shop well to hold my attention.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

The Beachside Sweet Shop is out on 2 March

Books

Ambulance Girls – Deborah Burrows

First of all I am going to answer the question as to why I chose this book? The simple reason is that I wanted to read something which had a background of history, of reality. In this case it was the Second World War, I was in London and I was in the midst of the Blitz. What made this book stand out for me from others I have read in the past was the fact that it was covering something I had not read much about. Those that drove the ambulances whilst war was raging around them.

A sense of common purpose when those working for the ambulance service had a common goal – to help. But in Ambulance Girls we are introduced to Lily, an Australian far from home who has come to do her bit and she is not feeling that sense of community at all. Which made me want to keep reading.

Lily drives the ambulance whilst her colleague David treats the patients. A friendship has developed and Lily cannot understand the hostility towards David from the other workers. She is different she has an accent, but she is not treated like him. David is a Jew.

When David disappears, everyone blames the Blitz. Everyone os displaced, but when his body appears in a place that you would not expect and when others at the Ambulance Station insist on blaming the fact he was a Jew, Lily begins to get suspicious.

She is determined to find out the truth, not just for herself but for David’s parents.

She is helped coincidentally by a good looking pilot who also happens to have been a school friend of David’s. However as Lily begins to fall in love with the pilot, she fears he knows more about David’s death then he is letting on.

Lily decides on her own investigation which puts her in danger. Can she find out the truth?

This was not your typical saga novel which I thought it was going to be when I did pick it up. I would have enjoyed it if it was but I enjoyed it more because there was a much deeper level to  the plot. Three displaced people in war who are trying to survive and find out the truth, no matter what their background.

A novel you can lose yourself in and learn from. Well worth a read as it has been thoroughly researched and I felt I was on the ground during the blitz as hell rained down around me.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book. 

Ambulance Girls is published tomorrow 23rd February. 

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