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Hannah Fielding "Hannah Fielding, romance novelist" (Deal, Kent, United Kingdom)

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Something Like a Lady: 2 (Lady Series)
Something Like a Lady: 2 (Lady Series)
by Kay Springsteen
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollercoaster of a story, 26 July 2013
Something like a Lady is a rollercoaster of a story. Whilst you are genuinely sure it will all work out in the end for the couple, Annabella and Jon, you just can't quite work out how they are going to get there. The book is a real page-turner that draws you into the fascinating love story of this couple whom fate seems to have pulled together, despite each of their best efforts to avoid marriage. In fact, you can't help but fall in love with the pair yourself: Annabella, who is headstrong, determined, vivacious and quick-witted, and Jon, who is everything a male lead of this genre should be: strong, handsome and honourable.

Despite being set in the regency period, and thus coming up against all the rules and regulations that young single people had to follow in this time, the book does manage to break away from that a little, and the personality and wittiness of the characters shows through. In fact, that is probably one of my favourite aspects of this book: as well as the haughtiness of the period, you also see the humanity of the characters. The way that description is used in the book accentuates this light-hearted approach:

Unsure whether to turn around and stalk off or grab Annabella by the shoulders and give her a good shake, Jon simply stared. Candlelight limned her face and gilded the honey-gold curls that cascaded about her shoulders. Her skin glowed peachy soft and her unusual dark green eyes gleamed like twin pools at midnight. She should have made him think of an angel. What she brought to his mind, though, was his gran's favourite cat - the disagreeable brown tabby that hated everyone, particularly him, and never failed to spit and hiss whenever he got too close to her favourite perch.

The characterisation of this book is fabulous, leading to characters who not only seem real but are a joy to learn more about. My favourite character has to be Jon's somewhat eccentric grandmother who steals the limelight at times and provides another humorous dimension to the book.

It is not very often that the main characters of a book of this period find themselves married before they fall in love, and the journey they take to find that love - or at least acknowledge it - provides a unique and enjoyable approach to the period romance genre.

When she looked up again, her expression was unreadable. "I... need to ask... what are your intentions as regards our marriage?"
His intentions? To Hold you and never let you go. To care for you. To worship you in every... He tamped down his baser urges.

This book is the second in a series (Lady Series) by these two authors, and I am now intrigued to read the first in the series, A Lot Like a Lady, which describes what happens to the maid who took Annabella's place in London.

Kiss Me
Kiss Me
by Jan Romes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great summer romance, 18 July 2013
This review is from: Kiss Me (Paperback)
A thoroughly enjoyable witty contemporary romance. Having read Jan's books before, I knew I was in for a fun, passionate read, and this book did not disappoint.

I love Jan's lively writing style; for example:

She looked dejected and something stirred deep inside of him. He shook his head. She stood no chance of rescue since she was related to trouble-with-two-legs. The reminder made him swing back to the ballgame so fast he should've suffered whiplash.


Her sister had gone for gold this time and was probably off somewhere hugging her medal.
I often found myself smiling or laughing as I read.

I really enjoyed the storyline, which is a perfect blend of emotional and cheeky, and I was most swept away by the romance and passion between Jared and Lacy. Angela and her mother are the perfect villains who throw up all the conflicts in the book, and I was rooting for Lacy to roll her sleeves up and deliver some justice there. I also loved the secondary character of the father and Lacy's feisty aunt Grace, and all the exploration of how difficult families can affect a relationship.

For me, the ending was perfect - just what I'd hoped for. A suggested twist was not acted on, and I liked that: nothing like keeping readers on their toes!

In all, a great summer romance; one to devour in a day ensconced in a shady spot with a cool drink.

Wish You Were Here by Connelly, Victoria (2013)
Wish You Were Here by Connelly, Victoria (2013)
by Victoria Connelly
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Light, easy reading and a sweet romance., 12 July 2013
It was the cover - or to be more exact, the beautiful blue of the cover - that attracted me to this book. At once I thought `Greek islands', and because I am so very fond of this part of the world, I found myself reading the blurb and then, of course, buying the book.

The setting certainly proved to be a major element of why I enjoyed the book. I could almost taste the cuisines, smell the scents in the air, feel the sun on my skin. I defy any reader not to be swept up in the romance of the setting and secretly wish that they too could go and live on a quiet Greek island with Milo - such a simple, romantic existence:

When he'd returned to Kethos, he'd vowed never to leave again. The bruising, bustling city might suit his three brothers but it didn't suit him. He would rather walk through an olive grove than a crowd and he preferred a rocky mountain to a shop-line pavement.

I quite understand this perspective, being much more at home in rural Kent and the south coast of France than in a busy city!

I really enjoyed the links in the book with mythology, and the slight mysticism this creates. Also right up my street is the exploration of destiny and fate: do you choose your path, or does some invisible force guide you?

This is a wonderful book for those who enjoy a tale of liberation and growth in a heroine, from under-the-thumb and depressed, to free and loved for herself. It's also ideal for those who like a physically dreamy but also emotionally attractive hero - Milo certainly delivers on that score.

It's perhaps not a book for those who like a lot of depth and detail. The character of the sister, for example, is somewhat one-dimensional, and I wish we could have got beneath her veneer and seen from maturity develop for her also. But having said that, I found a lot of poignancy in the relationship between Alice and her infirm father; very moving, and makes you really care for Alice.

Overall, an ideal summer holiday right - light, easy reading and a sweet romance.

Love Virtually
Love Virtually
by Daniel Glattauer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5.0 out of 5 stars It is a real-page turner:, 5 July 2013
This review is from: Love Virtually (Paperback)
Love Virtually is a book originally written in German. After becoming a big success in that language it was then translated into English by translators Katharina Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch.

What is original about this book, and its love story, is the format in which it is written - an email exchange between two people, a man and a women, who have never met before. A thoroughly modern twist to an age-old custom; indeed some of the best period love stories have been centred on the romance of letter writing or diaries - the epistolary novel. That simple act of writing down your innermost thoughts - things you could never say whilst looking into your lover's eyes, which are given life by the simplicity of ink and paper and even greater power when you then give that note to your lover to read.

Yet I have to confess that despite my interest in the modern love letter email, I almost did not read this book. The idea of one of the main protagonists being happily married put me off somewhat. But without wishing to spoil the plot, suffice it to say that I am glad now that I did read the book, and I am definitely going to be reading the sequel very soon too.

Although this book is set in the virtual world of the email cyberspace, the protagonists - Leo and Emmi - both live in Austria. They `meet' quite by accident, when Emmi mistypes an email address whilst trying to cancel a magazine subscription. Easily done! Most such mishaps don't lead to friendship or even love, but soon such feelings are stirred for Leo and Emmi:

When an e-mail from you comes in, my heart begins to pound. I feel the same today as I did yesterday and seven months ago.

For me writing to you and reading your e-mails is like non-family time. It's a little island outside my daily experience, a tiny island which I'd much rather inhabit with you alone, if you don't mind.

The conversation between Leo and Emmi is relaxed and easy to read, even in the sometimes brief and interrupted email format - they flirt, they get angry, they tell jokes and they discuss their personal desires. Just like a true email exchange, you have to wait until after real-time events to find out what happened. You feel like you are snooping in on someone else's private email conversation - because you are - and the experience is curiously addictive.

Leo and Emmi soon begin to question where this `virtual' relationship is going and what each of them means to the other. Should they meet or would that be the beginning of the end for their relationship?

All in all, I am so glad that my curiosity over the writing style won over my concerns about the characters in this book. The writing was fun to read and exceedingly realistic as an email conversation, yet it was still descriptive and powerful when it needed to be. It is a real-page turner: I found myself so keen to know how the story would end, and I certainly did not expect the cliff-hanger ending that came.

If, like me, you enjoy listening to afternoon plays on the radio then you will be pleased to know that this book was adapted for BBC Radio Four, and read by David Tennant and Emilia Fox. You can get the MP3 of this here: [...] Now that I have read the book, I will certainly be listening to this very soon.

The Letter
The Letter
Price: £3.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, compelling, moving and memorable, 2 July 2013
This review is from: The Letter (Kindle Edition)
The Letter is a period drama which tells the tragic story of two lovers, Diana and Michael, who are torn apart by the deceit of Michael's evil and jealous cousin Leo. The night before their wedding, Leo publically fakes an intimate moment with Diana, disgracing her so that she is forced to marry him instead of Michael, leading to eleven years of psychological and physical abuse for Diana at the hands of her callous husband. A year after Leo's death, Michael receives a letter from Leo explaining his hideous deeds and the fact that he has left Diana destitute. Leo cruelly boasts that at his hands Diana is now afraid of any man's touch and that her son is in fact Michael's. These revelations force Michael to go in search of Diana and his long-lost child, and he embarks on a journey to restore her faith in love.

He deserved her formality, but there had been a time when she had whispered his name while speaking words of love. Her hands, red and raw, the nails broken, were clenched tightly. Rage burned deep in his gut, souring his stomach. Between the two of them, he and Leo had destroyed a beautiful woman. He should prostrate himself at her feet and beg forgiveness.

Sandra Owens' excellent use of description and characterisation really breathes life into the characters and settings in this book. From the reserved yet honourable Michael struggling to cope with the guilt of his actions, to the wicked and scarily evil Leo, Sandra has developed two male characters that, whilst representing the diametrically polar opposites common in period romances, are yet realistic and rounded within their world. Despite the horrors inflicted upon Diana, we are still able to see the strength of will and maternal vigour that will ultimately pull her through. In this way, I particularly enjoyed Diana's character, as whilst she is in need of rescue by the hero, Michael, it is her inner strength that ultimately leads to the satisfying conclusion.

He had been doing his best to impress her with his witty remarks. She'd looked up at him and smiled. He had stumbled and almost fallen from the wonder of it. Her smile was the sunshine. It would keep him warm on cold winter days. It was a diamond, a thing of beauty... But after her years in his cousin's hands, did she still smile?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Often period romances are characterised by an excess of sentiment, with a focus on wealthy beautiful girls living in a world of society balls and luxury; and of course this is why we enjoy the escapism of these books. However, whilst staying true to the principles of the genre, the fact that this book touches on the darker elements of the period - the forced marriage, the crippling poverty, the dominance of men and the dependence of women on their whims - gives it an edginess that makes it stand out as a real page turner.

Well-written, compelling, moving and memorable, certainly a book I recommend.

Baking Love
Baking Love
by Lauren Boyd
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars It is a great read, 24 Jun 2013
This review is from: Baking Love (Paperback)
Baking Love is Lauren Boyd's first published book and I was excited to read it when it was released earlier last month. It is a great read and a sweet, engaging story filled with fun and humour.

Baking Love is the story of Kate, who has recently inherited her grandmother's bakery in Hillsborough, and her love for her best friend, Eric, with whom she lost contact when he went to college in New York a few years before and got a girlfriend. The book is told entirely from Kate's point of view, with some amusing internal dialogue which really allows you to understand Kate's wit, strength and tenacity.

One day, while at work in the bakery, Kate meets with a bride to discuss her wedding cake and Kate cannot shake the bad air that sits between them - what is this woman's problem?

She opened one of the photo albums on the table and turned it around to face Cecilia and Loraine. "This album as pictures of the wedding cakes we've done."

"I'm not looking for something that's been done," Cecilia frowned. "I'm looking for originality."

"Of course." Kate opened the note book that was lying on the table and picked up the pen next to it. "Tell me what you'd like."

Cecilia's furrowed brows relaxed into a more satisfied expression. "I want my wedding cake to be unlike anything anyone's ever seen. I want white cake, white frosting, and white fondant. I want pale yellow beadwork, lacework, scrollwork, and fondant flowers. It goes without saying that the decorations should be tasteful and not tacky."

Yet you said it anyway.

When it turns out that Cecilia's fiancé is Kate's old best friend, Eric, Kate begins to understand - Cecilia does not want to use her bakery for her cake, it was Eric's idea. Kate resolves to put her feelings for Eric aside and give her best friend the best wedding cake ever, despite his fiancé's frostiness.

It is soon clear that there are some unresolved issues between Kate and Eric - not the least that Kate was in love with Eric before he went away, but was too afraid to tell him in case it ruined their friendship - and regret that they had lost touch since he left. It is clear that both of them want that friendship back and the friendly banter between them leaves them both at times confused about the status of their friendship. But are wedding rehearsals and preparations the best time to discuss these?

There are some great fun moments in the book, coming from awkward situations and wedding-related craziness which will have you chuckling away to yourself, and they really add to the depth of these characters and the connection between them. It really is a most enjoyable book to read and I look forward to reading more from Lauren Boyd. Although there is one warning for readers of Baking Love - it will make your mouth water with the most amazing descriptions of cakes and frosting...

The Summer House
The Summer House
by Santa Montefiore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such a delightful book, 14 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Summer House (Paperback)
Such a delightful book - deliciously thick and full of feeling. I love the maturity of the writing, and the fact that the author feels no need to gallop through at a fast pace, instead really exploring the emotions and thoughts of myriad characters in the aftermath of the death of George, the head of the family.

I found the characters likeable and believable, and I especially engaged with the two lead women, Antoinette and Phaedra (lovely names!). The author's use of the omniscient narrator means we get inside many characters' minds, although I have to say that at times I found the regular shifting about of perspectives mid-scene a little disorientating.

There's a mystery at the heart of the book, introduced early on - a discomfort surrounding the characters of Phaedra and the George's solicitor, Julius. The mystery builds to an explosive revelation towards the end of the book, though I must admit I had guessed the twist early on.

For me, the strengths of the book lie in the relationships between characters, and the poignant exploration of love and loss and moving on. The overall messages that come through are moving and meaningful, and one closes the book with a deep feeling of satisfaction.

The setting is also evocative - especially the scenes in Fairfield Park, Hampshire, the family's Jacobean mansion surrounded by land. I love the folly (the summer house) which acts as the focal point; a place that comes to symbolise new hope and forgiveness.

Overall, this is a book to add to your summer reading list and to pick up when you want a deeper, slower, more poignant book.

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris
by Jenny Colgan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

4.0 out of 5 stars One to read if you like grande tragédie, 31 May 2013
No prizes for guessing why I picked up this novel! Romance + chocolate + Parisian backdrop sounds like a recipe for a good love story to me.

I very much like the book's setting, and think the author encapsulates the Parisian well - though I'd have loved more description of this most romantic of settings, and perhaps a little more exploration of French characters beyond the stereotypical brusque ones.

The chocolatier element of the plot is delightful - really evocative and fascinating, and I confess I found myself craving a sliver of fine chocolate several times during the reading! I love the inclusion of recipes at the back, and will be sure to try out one or two.

One of my favourite elements of the book is the way the author blends together two stories - those of modern-day Anna and of Claire when she was young. I especially engaged with Claire's love story; she's a very likeable character, even if she frustrates us a little for having waiting so long to fight for love.

I love the character of Anna's roommate - exhibitionist, eccentric, very `Moulin Rouge'; just what a sad and lonely girl who's new to Paris needs to thrust her into the thick of life.

This is a romance novel, but different in the sense that it deals with some serious issues, and the undercurrent of the book is far from light and fluffy, but really quite dark and thought-provoking. Not a book to pick up for romantic light relief, but one to read if you like grande tragédie and love grounded firmly in reality. And Paris!

The Very Picture of You
The Very Picture of You
by Isabel Wolff
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly enjoyable and fulfilling book, 24 May 2013
I bought this book because I was attracted to the blurb - in my own book, Burning Embers, the hero, Rafe, paints portraits of the heroine, Coral, and I loved exploring in my own writing how art can express and heighten emotional connections.

The Very Picture of You is a thought-provoking collage of interconnecting romantic stories centred on portrait painter Ella, set in contemporary London. Brought up to believe that she and her mother had been abandoned by her father at a young age, Ella is scarred and unable to overcome her distrust of men. Told entirely from Ella's point of view, the story documents the loves and lives of a range of characters whose only apparent link is that they have commissioned her to paint for them. Despite this, each story has an impact upon Ella, challenging her viewpoints and causing her to look critically at her own life story and future.

... a competent portrait just catches a likeness and a good portrait reveals aspects of the sitter's character. But a great portrait will show something about the sitter that they didn't even know themselves.
Ella is forced to confront the truth behind long-standing family secrets -- her parent's long-past relationship was much more complicated than she has been led to believe, with implications for Ella's future. In addition, Ella finds herself torn when she falls for Nate, the fiancé of her half-sister, after she is asked to paint him.

I felt a burst of anger with ChloŽ: in asking me to paint Nate she had, albeit unwittingly, put before me a feast that I could never touch. I felt like Tantalus, neck-deep in water that he could never drink, grasping at fruit that was always just out of reach.
As her sister and Nate's wedding day looms events crescendo with an unexpected twist.

Isabel Wolff has an excellent writing style; the book flows seamlessly between stories and the reader is never abandoned as sub-plots twist and weave. The contrasting character back stories keep the reader engaged and the overlap ensures that this book is difficult to put down. Isabel's use of emotion within descriptive passages gives real insight into how it feels to be Ella as she struggles with her emotions and attitudes towards both Nate and her family.

The reader develops a genuine liking for the character and a real desire for her future happiness.

Overall, this is a truly enjoyable and fulfilling book, and I hope that Isabel Wolff will revisit Ella's character in the future.

The Merry Widows Collection: Lessons in Indiscretion\Her Christmas Pleasure\A Scandalous Affair (The Merry Widows (Carina))
The Merry Widows Collection: Lessons in Indiscretion\Her Christmas Pleasure\A Scandalous Affair (The Merry Widows (Carina))
Price: £3.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun, easy, satisfying read, 17 May 2013
This collection of three stories are all linked, as the title suggests, by the fact that each of the female protagonists is a widow. Each was widowed some time ago and each is now looking to move on with her life:

Lady Julia Renwick is thirty-one and her late husband was a lot older than her. After a suitable period of mourning she has decided to take a lover. She has her eyes set on Garrett, the Earl of Bedingfield, a family friend whom she has known for many years. What she doesn't know is that Garrett has also been watching her and wants to seduce her, and he does not care what society will think about it. So when she proposes that they spend the remains of the season as lovers and then go their separate ways in the summer, of course he cannot help but agree to the arrangements.

Celia Danver is made a young widow when her husband dies in battle. His best friend, Damien Morton, promises that her late husband he will look after her and her son. However, Damien realises that his feelings for Celia are more than that of just friends, and despite his promise he plans to run away. Celia is now also wondering if there is more to life than her son and her in-laws, and at a family Christmas get together the family prompt a kiss between Damien and Celia after they inadvertently have a conversation under the mistletoe. After the kiss, Celia realises that she too wants much more than friendship from Damien.

Daphne was also married to an older man and some time after her husband's death her brother suggests that she should find herself a new husband. Together, Daphne and her brother plan a masquerade ball so that Daphne might search for a suitable match. One dance with Lord Camden Hartwell and her heart is stolen. But why does Camden behave so oddly?

Each one of these female protagonists is a fun and feisty character that you cannot help but love. The men too are a wonderful mix of handsome, dark and mysterious, with arrogant and tortured souls. It is easy to see why these women fall for them so hard.

These stories are short, but full of intrigue, chemistry and passion. Karen Erickson has a wonderful way with description and creating action-packed stories that you cannot put down:

A quiver moved through her entire body at his husky voice, his breath stirring the hair at her temple. He lifted his head. His eyes were dark, his expression predatory, as if he wanted to throw her over his shoulder and carry her out of the room.

Triumph surged through her. She hadn't been mistaken. The attraction between them wasn't one-sided. He wanted her.

But could she seduce the renowned seducer?

"Your mind," he murmured, his deep voice washing over her, making her skin hum. Oh, she could drown in the sound of his voice. It rippled and flowed like smooth honey, and she wondered what she might do if he whispered wicked things in her ear with that voice.

The man could kiss, and kiss well. He might lack in social skills and behave as if he were being tortured when amongst a crown, but on a one-to-one basis? Hartwell was absolutely divine.

Overall, a fun, easy, satisfying read - ideal for quick-grab romance on the beach, on the commute or curled up in an armchair in the corner of your local coffee house.

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