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Lisa Hill

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House of Secrets (Choc Lit)
House of Secrets (Choc Lit)
Price: £1.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immersing themselves in Emily Ennis’ love story with her sweetheart Eddie brings Maddie and Bandit ..., 22 July 2016
Full of suspense and mystery yet sexy and heart-warming; Lady Chatterley’s Lover meets Sleeping with the Enemy!

When widow Madeleine Frost realises just what a threat her new partner, Liam O’Grady, is to herself and her three-year old daughter Poppy (plus their Springer Spaniel puppy Buddy) she knows she needs to get away from him. But where to go? Her mother has recently passed away, sister Jess’ one bedroom flat is too small so with little other option Maddie finds herself knocking at the door of her estranged father, Morris Pocklington. Recently widowed Morris welcomes his daughter with open arms, even if he is a little confused having received a letter from Maddie around the time his wife, Josie, passed away stating that Maddie never wanted anything to do with him again. Still, that doesn’t matter to Morris when he’s lonely and in need of help running his hotel, Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. Maddie, Poppy and Buddy settle quickly into the hotel and before long are getting to know its residents including the rugged game keeper, Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless; an ex-marine who grew up on the estate. When Maddie discovers an old diary belonging to a past resident during the second world war both Maddie and Bandit are intrigued. Immersing themselves in Emily Ennis’ love story with her sweetheart Eddie brings Maddie and Bandit closer together. But Liam isn’t finished with Maddie yet. He considers her to be his and will stop at nothing to have her. Literally nothing.

When I began this novel I had no idea what a rollercoaster of a ride it was going to take me on. At first I thought it was going to be a contemporary romance, then I realised there was the welcome addition of a time slip and finally I realised there was a suspense developing too, encouraging me to turn the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen next. For a debut novel Lynda Stacey has set the bar high. Her illustrious writing builds a clear picture of not only the beautiful setting of House of Secrets but also her characters. Liam has a manipulative, manic edge to his character which is cleverly written and not two-dimensional; you begin to understand this anti-hero, not forgive him but comprehend him. And Bandit, ohhh, Bandit. If you are fond of physically strong, sexy, assertive heroes then you won’t be disappointed!

I would personally like to commend Lynda too. I lost out to her in the Choc Lit Search for a Star competition and I can see why. Her writing is compelling, her setting and characters are believable and she has cleverly weaved both suspense and a time slip story into a compelling, romantic read. Congratulations Lynda!


Getting Away With It
Getting Away With It
by Julie Cohen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive, powerful, emotional, heart-warming and sexy... you really won't want to put it down!, 27 May 2011
This review is from: Getting Away With It (Paperback)
Growing up in the quaint, idyllic Wiltshire village of Stoneguard was a claustrophobic experience for Liza Haven. Especially when there was a gossipmonger on every street corner, you were under constant scrutiny from success driven - and the 20th Century's answer to Deborah Meaden - mother Abigail and felt you just couldn't compete with your perfect twin, Lee.

Plus if you hate ice cream, it's rather unfortunate to have been born into an ice-cream emporium; Ice Cream Heaven.

No wonder Liza was keen to take-off at eighteen, travel the world and build-up a fantastically successful career as stuntwoman, reaching the dizzying accolades of credits on Hollywood Blockbusters.

Twelve years on life could be perfect for Liza if she didn't have the niggling guilt at the back of her mind that she isn't quite pulling her weight. Not since the `Horrid Christmas' two years ago anyway. The Christmas where Abigail announced she had the onset of Alzheimer's and would be handing the running of Ice Cream Heaven over to Lee so Abigail could become a recluse and Liza and Lee ended up having a huge row. Now they're down to exchanging emails of what they've had for breakfast. Not good.

So when Liza pushes the boundaries, becomes out of control and manages to crash an almost priceless Ferrari Enzo writing off the car and her career into the bargain, she finds herself back in Britain and back in the one place she's been fighting for years to stay away from.

But Liza's not the only one out of control. Running the family business has taken its toll on Lee and suddenly Liza's not the only one who wants to runaway. And when Liza turns up at the Stoneguard School Reunion she finds herself not only covering for the absent Lee but pretending to be her perfect sister into the bargain.

Can she get away with it? Possibly... but she hasn't bet on Lee having a boyfriend. The handsome, sexy, and upper-class, Will Naughton of Naughton Hall. Someone Liza detested as a teenager. And discovering you have dangerously strong feelings for the man who's your sister's boyfriend? That's where all the fun begins...

It sounds like a cliché but this is the best book I've read in a while. It's like romance (my favourite genre) meets action packed-thriller... okay that's probably a bit over the top, but the plot is so pacy that you are carried along with the story and won't want to put the book down!

I've read several Julie Cohen novels and what I most like about her writing is her focus on emotions; you really get to feel what the character is feeling. She doesn't disappoint in this novel, I could really identify with Lee's need to escape and Liza's past feelings of oppression and her fear of giving in and letting people into her life. What also touched me was the theme of Alzheimer's in this book and how this can affect not just the person suffering but everyone surrounding them.

And if a strong heroine determined to achieve isn't enough for you, Will makes a most drool-worthy hero. And we could all do with one of those.

The Hating Game
The Hating Game

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turning, heart-stopping, romantic read!, 30 Nov. 2010
This review is from: The Hating Game (Kindle Edition)
Mattie Johns is a girl rather down on her luck. Actually scratch that; she's hit rock bottom and even had to sell her beloved mini cooper to keep the bailiffs from the door. And it's not as if it's her fault either. If it hadn't been for her ex, Kyle - really the only long-term boyfriend she's had and the only man she's ever loved - running off with the receptionist and stealing all her clients from her now-not-so-successful recruitment agency then she wouldn't be in this mess. No clients, no money and no man - not that she needs the latter anyway. As Mattie's mother says; financial independence is the key to happiness and that's what Mattie needs to focus on - getting her bank balance back in the black. And thank goodness she's got Jess. Best buddies since secondary school, the only person to have stuck by Mattie and her fiery ways and understands all her idosycrancies (like her addiction to prawn cocktail crisps).

But Mattie's not the only one down on her luck. Nate O'Reilly is desperate to break out of children's television production and make a name for himself in the dog-eats-dog world of television ratings. Seeking a chance to become an Executive Producer he makes an appointment to discuss his career opportunities with Mattie. Well aware of Mattie's man-eating ways, when Nate overhears Mattie and Jess discussing a school reunion and old flames he has an eureka moment and comes up with an idea that will give him the chance he's been looking for and Mattie one too; a Second Chance for Romance. If he can just convince scary Silver, his boss at SiniStar Productions then everyone could be on to a winner....

Desperate for the £200,000 prize money which will save her and her business, Mattie signs up to Nate's dating game show concept, unaware of just what he's got in store for her. It was tricky tracking down four contestants but with the help of a private detective Nate discovers four ex-boyfriends of Mattie's all keen to take part and find a way back to Mattie's heart. Only Nate hasn't banked on Silver bringing meddlesome Baz on board to stir things up and with all exes signed-up the scene is set for madness and mayhem where Mattie gets to play The Hating Game.

Talli Roland - in my humble opinion and without wanting to sound too gushing - is a literary genius. The Hating Game combines a fast-pace, page turning plot with humour and love. I couldn't ask for more in a book. But what I love about this story more than anything is that for once I was unable to predict the ending. So often you read a romantic story, identifying with who the heroine and her hero are and knowing that whatever happens they will end up together in the end. With Talli's original and imaginative plot of a dating game show - and what a twist! - I was hooked on finding out who Mattie might eventually end up with, if she ended up with anyone at all. One of my favourite aspects are the little statistics which open every chapter such as `Seven per cent of married couples met at secondary school reunions. Twenty per cent of these were married to others at the time'.

If you're looking for a read to make you laugh, make you cry and make you believe that truelove will out then look no further. Because contrary to what the title suggests The Hating Game truly is a loveable read.

The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton
The Boy with the Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton
by Sathnam Sanghera
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like looking into my childhood but from a completely different perspective., 15 Sept. 2010
On the cover of my copy of The Boy with the Topknot the story is described as A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton. I've prevaricated over this review - and not because I didn't enjoy the story, on the contrary I found it to be an emotional journey - because as the cover suggests there's quite a bit of intrigue and I don't want to give the game away...
So here's the deal: I'm going to tell you how I've identified with Sathnam's story and why I think everyone should read this culturally significant account.

Sathnam's journey begins five years before he actually puts backside-to-chair-fingers-to-keyboard when he finds out a secret regarding his father's health and later the same condition relating to his sister. Deciding he needs to confront the issue of why his family have kept it from him for so long he goes on a journey into his family's past, discovering how exactly they came from the Punjab to settle in Wolverhampton. My description probably doesn't sound very inspiring but you have to read Sathnam's account and immerse yourself in his family, his past, his culture to really appreciate the significance of this story.

Not only is this a narrative about Sathnam's family and their past, it's very openly about him and his need to confront the difference between himself and the generation above him. The difference of being raised by one culture (Sikh Asian) submersed in another (British). Interwoven with the present and his struggle to find answers to the past are many beautifully detailed, humorous accounts of his childhood. And here's where the real identification happened for me.

It felt like looking into the past but from a completely different perspective.

I couldn't have had much of a different upbringing to Sathnam Sanghera. I was raised in the aforementioned Laurie Lee countryside in a quaint little village where the likes of Jilly Cooper were our neighbours. Sathnam was raised in urban Wolverhampton. I'm an only child. Sathnam has three siblings and a wealth of cousins that as an only child I can only envy. And yet there was the mention of the Michael Jackson and George Michael obsessions, recording the Sunday chart show to make mix-tapes and my most funny account - which made me laugh out loud and wake my children up - the Barclays Bank Account folder of which I had one too and was my most treasured possession (there is quite a bit of talk of obsessing over stationery in this book and I can only sympathise!).

So what has this book left me feeling? Well I have to confess, one thing is guilt. Guilt at my ignorance. I went to secondary school with quite a few Asian girls and if I'm perfectly honest I couldn't tell you which religion they were. Okay so I could say that I was a teenager and I was far too interested in boys but I sat next to Rume and Ruma for four years in German and they quite often talked about festivals and fasting and I find it embarrassing now that I didn't consider the world from their perspective.

But what touched me most is Sathnam's feeling of responsibility to his family, especially his mother and that has left me with a feeling of reassurance. I've always felt a similar honour bound duty to my parents. Psychologists could have field day at the insecurities I have with my mother - even at thirty I often seek her approval of my actions. What The Boy with the Topknot has made me realise is that I'm not the only one who feels that way.

And it doesn't matter what faith or culture you come from. Families are most important.

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