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

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My Map of You
My Map of You
by Isabelle Broom
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully depicted on the cover, 8 May 2016
This review is from: My Map of You (Paperback)
Disclaimer: I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You had me at ‘Greek island of Zakynthos’. The setting for this book, beautifully depicted on the cover, hooked me at once. What a perfect backdrop for romance.

I was expecting this novel to be a love affair with the island, and in some ways it is; but there is so much more on offer.

First, Holly’s love life. Strictly speaking, there should be no developing romance in the book, because Holly already has a boyfriend, the affable Rupert. But early on the author signals that their relationship is on a shaky footing, because Holly has become very adept at playing the part of good-little-girlfriend, rather than herself.

Enter Aidan, her next door neighbour on Zakynthos. It is easy to see why Holly is attracted to him, and not only because he is handsome, friendly and delightfully Irish: with Aidan, she is more herself than she has been for a long time; perhaps ever.

The romance story that unfolds has plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages, and plenty of emotion. What I liked best about it was its realism; this isn’t a fairy tale, it is real life, and sometimes that is ugly and messy. The stark reality serves to heighten the moments of romantic connection, so that by the end of the book I was really rooting for Holly.

Alongside the romance, a second, and to my mind even more compelling, story unfolds, concerning Holly’s family. I was gripped by this aspect of the book, and profoundly moved in places. Poor Holly, who grew up so isolated and wounded by her mother, and has missed the chance to get to know her aunt in person. The island, however, offers her a new path, if only she can be brave enough to follow the clues to uncover the secret that tore her family apart.

That leads me to Holly’s personal journey through the book. This was the element with which I most identified. It is so easy to like Holly, and to wish her a brighter future beyond the shadow of her mother’s legacy. Over the course of the story, she warms up, as if the Zakynthos sun is infusing her with light and hope.

The denouement of the novel had me flying through the pages; it really is the perfect ending to the story, and an honest one. I closed the book satisfied and feeling each minute I’d spent in the reading was time well spent.

In all, this is a memorable debut novel with a good mix of poignancy and ‘feel-good’, and I look forward to reading more books by the author.

Touched to the Depths
Touched to the Depths
Price: £3.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and romantic, 12 Feb. 2016
Throughout reading the series, I had been wondering about Hannah’s story - there is an undercurrent relating to her character that had me anxious.
This book delivers fantastically. Such suspense and drama! I loved the relationship that developed between Darryn and Hannah, but most of all I loved the gritty realism of the story: neither character is perfect, and their love is not without obstacles.

I must also mention the cover artwork – so passionate!

This series is a real tour de force; congratulations, Elsa, and I look forward to your next book.

Touched to the Core
Touched to the Core
Price: £3.23

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful addition to the series, 12 Feb. 2016
Elsa writes books that are near impossible to put down; that entertain and entice; and that stay with you long after you’ve read the last page.
This addition to the ‘Touched’ series certainly delivered in touching my heart. I found the story passionate and poignant, and I loved the backstory and the quest to uncover the truth.

This delivers all you could want in a contemporary romance. Well worth reading!

A Paris Apartment
A Paris Apartment
by Michelle Gable
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the ending of the book, 12 Feb. 2016
This review is from: A Paris Apartment (Paperback)
I absolutely loved the premise of the book. The Parisian apartment on which this story is based captured my imagination when it was discovered some years back, and I was thrilled to discover an author had been inspired by it for a fictional work.

Of the two women’s stories, Marthe’s most enthralled me. I absolutely loved the depiction of her era – the Belle Epoque– and all the colourful characters and behaviours that characterised it. It was a little like the setting for the movie Moulin Rouge, only much more detailed and lively. Don’t expect lyrical beauty, though; there is gritty, and sometimes necessarily indelicate, description of the times. But I was impressed by the author’s research; I really felt like I was plunged into the past.

The modern-day heroine, Alice, didn’t initially intrigue me in the same way as Marthe did, although I found affinity in her deep emotional attachment to the apartment and to uncovering, through Marthe’s journals, the story behind it. But as Alice’s story unfolded, a powerful poignancy emerged which really affected me; I was quite moved by the revelation of her backstory and I gelled a lot better with Alice once I understood what had shaped her actions and attitudes.

Heroines aside, I enjoyed the character of Luc, the solicitor, in the book; indeed, he reminded me of several French men I have met, so I think he was perfectly painted. But in truth the men of this book are secondary; it is the women who dominate, placing this in the women’s literature genre.
Beyond the characters and the setting, another element of the book really shone for me: the collection of precious objects in Marthe’s apartment which Alice’s firm must catalogue for auction. As a collector myself, I was fascinated by the descriptions of the many weird and wonderful treasures and their provenance. Central is a painting by Boldini of Marthe, and the author beautifully showcases this art in the novel. I only wish this novel came with photograph inserts! But a quick Google search can lead the reader to several news stories about the real-life apartment of Mrs De Florian, with accompanying pictures. The Boldini is a must-see.

Finally, no review of this book would be complete without touching on the connections the author draws between characters. Without wishing to include any spoilers, I will simply say that the denouement had me entirely gripped and tearing through the pages to learn who the owner of the apartment is and how every loose thread in Marthe’s story ties up. I loved the ending of the book; I’d go so far as to say it is the most satisfying and delightful ending I have read in a long while. And the very final page... c’est magnifique!

I would highly recommend this book for readers who love historical context and clever re-imaginings of the past; who like colourful and realistic descriptions; who enjoy interesting and honestly flawed characters with depths; who delight in a well-written book with cleverly interwoven connections and revelations; who want to read a book with heart.

Suddenly Mrs. Darcy
Suddenly Mrs. Darcy
Price: £4.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing style blends beautifully with the original, 4 Jan. 2016
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Suddenly… I have come over all Austen! In truth, my favourite romantic work of English literature has always been BrontŽ’s Jane Eyre. I have read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice in the past, but I never quite caught the Darcy fever. Until now…

I thoroughly enjoyed this re-imagining of Pride and Prejudice, in which Darcy and Elizabeth are plunged into marriage after a misinterpretation that leaves Elizabeth’s honour in question. I love that the author takes the ‘happy ever after’ point of the original book and turns it on its head, bringing the two characters together long before love has kindled.

The author’s knowledge of the Austen classic is superb; any Austen fan can read this book and entirely relax that no sacrilege of their beloved book will occur on the pages. I found so much of the reworking very clever against the original; the plot is imaginative and intricately crafted, and the understanding and interpretation of Austen’s characters is sound.

The writing style blends beautifully with the original, so I felt I really was reading classic literature, albeit there is a more modern pace that kept me turning the pages, eager to find out what would happen next. I loved the focus on dialogue, which is lively and brings the characters to life, and it felt true to life for the era to me.

Most of all, I enjoyed the lead characters, Mr and Mrs Darcy. Elizabeth is just as I’d expect her to be, had the twist of marring Darcy early on happened in the original story. She is impossible not to love, even as she makes wrong assumptions and mistakes; her heart is so good and honest. But it is Fitzwilliam Darcy who shines most in the book, which any Darcy fan will adore. He is himself absolutely, and so attractive for that!

I found the book to be a surprisingly emotional read, more so than Pride and Prejudice, due to a very painful time that Elizabeth and Darcy go through (which had echoes of Gone with the Wind, I think). I was very moved by the connection between the characters at that time, and especially by Darcy’s care. The love that grows between them is beautiful and powerful, and it was a delight to be able to experience this along with them in a way that the reader cannot in Pride and Prejudice.

My only complaint is this: when the book ended, I wanted more! Please write another, Ms James, and make it longer still. It is an absolute pleasure to visit a story world of your making.

Other Daughter, The
Other Daughter, The
by Lauren Willig
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.58

5.0 out of 5 stars This book is just fabulous:, 9 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Other Daughter, The (Hardcover)
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have this book to blame for being very tired today – I stayed up so late reading it; I was completely gripped. There is no better feeling than being completely immersed in a story world – and no sadder feeling than the book ending! But I have the comfort that all of the author’s other books await me. I have discovered, through The Other Daughter, a new author to add to my favourites list.

This book is just fabulous: witty, indulgent, pacey escapism. I adore the author’s rendering of the post-war era, and the upper-class society. The fashion (the cover pulled me in!), the drinks, the parties, the style of speech – all have the feel of luxuriant, epic writing, but there is such a poignancy that grounds the novel. I was very moved by the author’s unmasking of various characters to show what pain and uncertainty lies beneath their jolly, confident, devil-may-care veneers. Ultimately, the heroine feels like a fraud, but is no less of one than any other in the circle she has infiltrated.

Rachel is a really refreshing heroine in the genre. At first, I was a little taken aback by her decision to be deceptive, but I soon settled into the subterfuge; I think, like her, I was sucked into it. It made me remember being a young woman experiencing independent life for the first time – parties, men, friendships; and it struck me as authentic that the world appeals to her so. So, too, did her inner struggle with the lies she was telling. No matter her plan for vengeance, it is impossible not to care about Rachel and forgive her for her actions.

Because Rachel isn’t the easiest of characters to fathom, I didn’t easily predict the direction of the plot, which kept me eagerly turning the pages; I just had to find out more. When I reached the denouement I was astonished: I hadn’t seen the twists coming at all, and how I loved them!
The other characters in the book are just as interesting, especially Rachel’s half-sister, who is also playing a part in a sense, and the fabulously cheeky Simon, who is Rachel’s partner in crime. I was also very interested in Rachel’s father, and his motives for having left Rachel’s life, and the character of Cece, who seems at first glance to be entirely vacuous, but is carrying a terrible pain.

And the pain… oh the pain! The author so sensitively weaves in real agonies that people were dealing with in the aftermath of war, and this is the greatest element of the writing. All the romance, all the frivolity, all the humour (and there is plenty of it) work beautifully because they are the supporting acts of the great emotion of the piece.

When I read the last sentence, my first response was, ‘No… I need more!’, and then quite simply, ‘Brava.’ I would love to read a sequel, following the heroine in her next life. Given her propensity for adventure, it would be a riveting read! For now, though, I have settled for buying Ms Willig’s entire backlist. That’s how much I loved The Other Daughter.

Touched to the Soul
Touched to the Soul
Price: £3.19

5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulously passionate, evocative read, 4 Sept. 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed Elsa’s book Touched to the Heart, and so I picked up this book excited to immerse myself back in this story world. The book did not disappoint at all: I was delighted to meet Zoe and Dale and follow their journey in love.

A real strength of this series is the family aspect. Zoe is one of the Sutherland sisters, and Dale one of the Cavallo brothers. In the first book, Touched to the Heart, these two families are united by one of the Cavallo brothers and one of the Sutherland sisters falling in love. Which leaves the other Cavallo and Sutherlands in close proximity to each other, and fighting their feelings!

I love that we see the characters of Touched to the Heartin this book, both those who’ve already found love and those who are yet resisting it; it was like visiting with old friends. I especially love how the sisters and brothers contrast; they each have their own foibles and flaws and drivers, and are quite different in outlooks and personalities, which makes for interesting reading.

I must especially mention the Sutherland mother – a romance novelist with a passion for happy-ever-afters. I love her character the most; she reminds me of myself.

In this book, I found the story really compelling. We launch straight in with smouldering attraction between Zoe and Dale, but both are determined to resist the other, due to deep-seated trust issues. The chemistry between them is fiery and vivid, and I was soon rooting for them to find away to be together.

A dramatic incident breaks down the wall between them, but it is too easy to erect it once more. Ultimately, the characters must let go of their inner demons before they can be truly ‘touched to the soul’.

Speaking of soul, there is so much in the setting as well. I really enjoy learning a little about this part of the world, and imagining the characters living there; it makes a refreshing change to visit South Africa.

The wonderful ending left me happy and smiling – and eager for the next book. As I read, I kept wondering about the other Sutherland sister, who appears to be in the midst of some kind of ominous drama we don’t fully understand. I am very keen to read her side of the story next.

In all, a fabulously passionate, evocative read, with loveable characters, a true-to-life story and all the drama, emotion and smouldering tension one could wish for in a romance novel.

Valens the Fletcher and His Captive [Medieval Captives 2] (BookStrand Publishing Mainstream)
Valens the Fletcher and His Captive [Medieval Captives 2] (BookStrand Publishing Mainstream)
Price: £1.98

5.0 out of 5 stars I finished the book with a wide smile on my face, 21 Aug. 2015
I read this book in a single – blissful – sitting. Pure, wonderful, indulgent escapism; I was drawn into 1132 and the characters’ lives so thoroughly that the tea I’d brewed to sip as I read grew cold, forgotten at my side.

Having very much enjoyed Sebastian the Alchemist and his Captive, I knew I would like the premise of this book: the captive falling for her captor. There is always the risk in such a set-up that the situation is contrived, or that the captor will be aggressive and threatening, but the author diffuses such tension from the outset. Valens may have kidnapped Katherine, but he does so in such a gentlemanly way – and he is in fact saving her from a far worse fate.

Valens is a hero par excellence. I love the balance of qualities the author bestows onto him: talent in his arrow-making; determination to protect his orphaned nephew; a great deal of honour and respect; a tenderness that made my heart melt; and a dash of male ineptitude when it comes to matters of the heart that made me smile and like him so much. I especially like his physical appearance, a break from the mould of ‘tall, dark and ravishingly handsome’. I also enjoyed learning about his work as a fletcher; there is some fascinating and well-researched historical context here.

Katherine is a very engaging heroine with powerful drivers: love and a lioness’s protection for her son; a maternal quality that sees her bond at once with the orphan Edith; a desire to work in her own craft, weaving; an untamed passion that she worries is shameful; and, above all, a fear of being hurt as she was by her lying husband and her treacherous step-son.

The story that Ms Townsend expertly weaves is a fantastic mix of romance, intrigue, drama and the unification of new family. I love how each thread is retained; for example, throughout a serious conversation about their relationship Valens and Katherine constantly break to talk to and play with the children. The pressure put on Valens to marry Katherine by his canny lord, Sebastian (it is so wonderful to see him and his lovely bride back!), drives the story forward, forcing the characters to get to know each other quickly. But trust cannot be forced, and poor Katherine struggles greatly to trust Valens, who has, after all, kidnapped her and who admits to being a spy for Sebastian. And yet, she admits that she has gone from being ‘necessary wet nurse to well-loved wife’.

I must also note the writing style: effortless, and full of wit. There’s wonderful grounding in the era; Valens wonders whether the girl he is to kidnap will be ‘as pretty as a beech nut or as ugly as a gall apple’. I especially loved the use of bathos. For example, poor Valens is imagining what a handsome man Katherine’s husband must have been compared to him; in the next line, Katherine states matter-of-factly: ‘Eric had missing teeth and he limped whenever it rained.’ That made me laugh!

The ending delivers everything you could want in a romance novel, with plenty of drama and a great deal of emotion. I wouldn’t want to spoil it here, but suffice it to say that I finished the book with a wide smile on my face – and eager to read the next in the series. I look forward to seeing what captive situation the author will weave next time.

Keeping Kylee (Texas Boys Falling Fast Book 2)
Keeping Kylee (Texas Boys Falling Fast Book 2)
Price: £2.12

5.0 out of 5 stars The writing is effortless, 29 May 2015
I very much enjoyed the first book in Jan Romes’s ‘Texas Boys Falling Fast’ series, Married to Maggie, and I knew this next book wouldn’t disappoint. Still, having met Quinn in Married to Maggie, I couldn’t quite see how Jan would make him a likeable hero – he really is deplorable in that book! But my goodness, she expertly achieves it.

I just love a story in which the main characters go on a journey to conquer their fears and, though finding who they really are, find the person they want to be with. This book delivers at every turn, and by the end I was rooting for Quinn to get his girl.

I love the set of characters in the story. Through realistic dialogue and believable interactions, they live and breathe beyond the pages. It was great to check in on the hero and heroine of Married to Maggie, and also to get a sense of where the next book may lead – I really like the interconnections; clever and original.

Maggie, for me, was a heroine par excellence, but she was a little upstaged at times… by her cute three-year-old daughter. She made my heart melt! She was also a sobering element of the story, because she never let me forget the reason Maggie can’t afford to get hurt again, and must protect her little family at all costs.

The writing is effortless – witty, sassy, memorable ¨– and the pace kept me turning the pages long after I should have put the lights out and gone to sleep! And the passion… perfectly executed and sizzling hot. But for me it is the tender moments that are most moving; there’s a vulnerability to the characters beneath their talk-the-talk exteriors, and I loved getting to know that side of them.

Definitely a book to put on your holiday reading list this summer. Now I’m off to download Book 3, Taming Tori (and she sure needs some taming!).

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive [Medieval Captives 1] (BookStrand Publishing Mainstream)
Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive [Medieval Captives 1] (BookStrand Publishing Mainstream)
Price: £1.67

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful novella,, 1 May 2015
As soon as I read the description of this book, I couldn’t wait to start reading. So much emotion and intensity! This book is an absolute gem, so much so that I read it in a single sitting.

First, the setting: dark, wild, rooted in the medieval time. Perfectly executed. The tower seemed so real to me as I read.

Then the story: so much to keep you gripped and wondering, and to pull at the heartstrings. The author expertly sets up mystery, so you are compelled to read on and discover the motives for the characters’ actions, and the idea that ‘someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa’ had me on the edge of my seat.

How about passion? Well, be still my pounding heart! The love scenes are so beautifully and vividly described, without outweighing the story. I was entirely taken into the world, and loved the passion that built up between them. I especially like how Sebastian respects Melissa, knowing when to be masterful and when to be understanding.

Then the characters themselves, who we get to know well thanks to dual point of view in the book:

Melissa is a very likeable heroine, a mix of innocence and spirit. Her childhood sufferings really moved me, and I was so glad to find her willing to try to make a life for herself with Sebastian and see beyond his prickly exterior. She may be young, but she is mature; so much so that she is willing to probe to find the facts of who exactly her lost parents were.

Sebastian, for me, dominates the book; he is a romantic hero par excellence! A wonderful mix of power and force, courage and brawn, intelligence and, deep down inside, hurt. He reminded me of a hero from classic romance literature, like Heathcliff – not pretty, not always polite, but eminently male. He awoke in me, as in Melissa, that desire to find the truth beyond the mask, the man beyond the weapon-wielding warrior. Most of all, I loved his characterisation as an alchemist, which brings such depth to his character and adds a fascinating dimension.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to include in this review Lindsay’s fantastic writing style, which makes reading such a pleasure. Her descriptions are just exquisite. For example:

‘Where he was tall and lean and intense, large-jointed and craggy, precise from years of deliberate, often hard-won control, this tiny girl shimmered like a flame. Where his hair was black, dull and fine as silk, hanging straight to his broad shoulders, hers was the color of brimstone and treacle, long heavy ropes of shining curling waves, sunset brown shot through with chestnut.’

In sum, this is a wonderful novella, and well worth reading.

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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