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

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Venice in the Moonlight
Venice in the Moonlight
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book, 27 Mar. 2015
I’ve had this book on my ‘to read’ list for a while now, because I love Elizabeth’s writing and because I adore the setting: Venice. But I put off reading it until now because my last novel, The Echoes of Love, is also set in Venice, and I didn’t want to confuse myself in my writing. I’m so glad I kept hold of the book because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

There is so much emotion; from the opening, when we encounter the heroine trapped in a loveless and cruel marriage, I was so engaged that I could not put the book down. I very much liked Marietta, and her spirit in striking out alone in a man’s world and trying to seek justice for her father. So much passion and strength of character.

Thank goodness the horrendous husband does not stick around for long in the story, leaving the path clear for Marietta to find someone new – something worthy of her. I really liked Nico, the man she falls in love with. He has steel in him, but his own struggle to fight as well: he is losing his eyesight, and is desperate to seek out a miracle cure.

The Venetian setting is wonderful, so atmospheric and vivid that I could really imagine it in my mind as I read. I adored the use of Carnival masks, those iconic objects of beauty that allow all manner of subterfuge and passion. I also loved the cast of characters in Venice, which felt true to the time, especially Casanova. The Venice of 1753 that the author describes so well comes across as small, claustrophobic even, where everyone knew each other’s business and cunning and debauchery were rife.

Art is important in the narrative. Marietta is distraught when her mother-in-law burns her paintings (a terrible moment), and her poor father had struggled to paint after his wife’s death. I very much enjoyed the references to art; and what better location for a story around art than Venice, which has inspired so many great artists in history?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to those who, like me, love the city of Venice and are swept away by the intrigue and romance of the place, while also having a willingness to look beneath her beautiful, exotic mask to see what lies beneath.

The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.)
The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic (P.S.)
by Hazel Gaynor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The ending is sheer perfection, 27 Feb. 2015
A very poignant, moving, beautifully written book that had me utterly gripped.
The author has clearly researched the historical content carefully, and she strikes just the right balance between (often terrible) fact and fiction. I especially enjoyed her depictions of the class differences on the ship, and the descriptions of the ship itself, which really brought that world to life in my imagination.

The two timelines – in 1912 and in 1982 – are interwoven perfectly, enough to keep you intrigued by each. In 1912, I warmed to all of the Irish characters, but read with such a heavy heart, knowing so many of these girls with such hopes and dreams and fire in their hearts would not make it to America. I was concerned before reading the book that I may find the sinking of the Titanic scenes too painful to read (I struggle with the movie Titanic), but while I was very moved by the writing, I did not feel overwhelmed and in danger of having nightmares.

The 1982 narrative following Maggie and her great-granddaughter Grace is just as compelling as the past one. I found myself really rooting for Grace, a young woman weighed down by responsibilities and grief. I could picture her so vividly thanks to the author’s fantastically descriptive writing; ‘It was a warm day, full of blossoms on the trees and bees buzzing among the early-blooming azalea bushes’ – just exquisite.

I love the relationship between Maggie and Grace, and how Grace is able to see her great-grandmother as a young woman. How many elderly people do we know without really knowing them at all? All of her life Maggie has been a treasured member of the family, but the truth of her past, of what happened to her on Titanic, has been buried. There’s such a sense of poignancy and liberation in the book as she finally tells her tale, and it is so transformative for both Maggie and Grace.

Most of all, it was the romance in the book that swept me away. I don’t wish to provide any spoilers here, so I will simply say that if you are a romantic you must read the book. The ending is sheer perfection.

Overall, I found this to be a very well written and engaging book, with a story that will stay with you long after you read the final words on the page. Inspirational and beautiful.

A Little Scandal
A Little Scandal
Price: £4.34

5.0 out of 5 stars It’s full of action and twists and turns, 30 Jan. 2015
This review is from: A Little Scandal (Kindle Edition)
Having read and enjoyed Meg’s historical romance Ransom My Heart a couple of years ago ( and enjoyed it immensely, I was intrigued to try one of the newly presented Patricia Cabot titles. Meg wrote these early on in her career, and I wondered whether I would see a difference in her writing.But I was delighted to find that her voice and style are intact and as engaging as ever.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It’s full of action and twists and turns, and feels entirely plausible and realistic for the historical setting. The mystery had me gripped, and the author expertly drip-feeds information through the story so that you learn slowly the nature of the scandal that haunts Kate, and the truth behind the night that changed her life forever. I do love a book with a villain in it, and this one certainly delivers that!

Kate makes a wonderful heroine: feisty and strong-willed but endearingly vulnerable and inexperienced too. And Burke is man I couldn’t help but fall for. He reminds me of my own alpha male characters – powerful, handsome and masterful, but tortured by misdeeds and misunderstandings of the past. I especially loved him in his role as father; his attempts to control his headstrong daughter are quite comical at times. But most of all it is in the role of lover that he shines. Bright enough to blind the reader, at times!

This is a witty, exciting book to read, but it is the romance that really sets it apart. I’d give it a ten out of ten on the heat scale. At a certain point I wondered whether the story could possibly progress, so engrossed were Kate and Burke in discovering each other. The love scenes are beautifully written and very passionate.

The ending is wholly satisfying, exactly what you hoped for but couldn’t quite expect, so difficult are the circumstances in which the characters find themselves at the end. I was left smiling, but with that twinge of sadness deep down that the story had ended: a sure sign of a good book.

The Patricia Cabot novels are out now in ebook format, and I shall certainly be downloading the others to read now. I greatly admire Meg’s current works in the romance genre – paranormal and contemporary romance for adults and teenagers – but having read this novel I have to say that I wish she would dust her Patricia pen off and write more historical romances. I, for one, would read every one!

Where the Rainbow Ends
Where the Rainbow Ends
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good book to start the New Year, 3 Jan. 2015
If you’re looking to start the New Year in good cheer and keeping in mind what matters most in life then this is a good book to start with.

I would class this as a plot-driven book: there is plenty of story here, spanning quite some years, with lots of twists and turns and action to make you want to keep turning the pages. There’s darkness and light, and some laughter too, but foremost in the novel are two themes:

The quest to make something of oneself: There are plenty of characters to admire in the book for their grit and determination to find security and to build a prosperous life. The author also shows the other side to that quest, through those characters who are foolish or ruthless and will trample on others in the search for a fortune.

The search for real and lasting love: This is classed as a romance novel, but it’s not purely – the romance isn’t at the heart of the book, I don’t think. That said, it’s important. Amelia has her share of sorrows in love, and learns much about herself along the way, and I really liked the realism of her relationships – she and her partners felt vivid to me in how they interacted with each other and chased their own dreams. Across the sea in England, I enjoyed the story of Amelia’s brother James and his family; the dual perspective makes for interesting reading. And it is the family love that shines through the most, I think – the love between those who became a family when they were abandoned, the matron who became their mother figure and the next generation that is born to happier circumstances.

I liked the setting for the book. The era comes through clearly; I had a good sense of James and his wife in Liverpool, and of Amelia in the Klondike. I think Amelia encapsulates well the spirit of the times, and she’s a character you can’t help but admire for her work ethic and determination to succeed.

Ultimately, it is the symbolism of the rainbow that draws the threads of the book together, and I found that to be quite beautiful. Does Amelia find a pot of gold at the end of her rainbow? I will let you read for yourself to find out – but I’ll say this: she finds a whole lot more besides the security money can buy.

A Christmas Feast
A Christmas Feast
by Katie Fforde
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christmas is a wonderful time of year, 19 Dec. 2014
This review is from: A Christmas Feast (Paperback)
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, of course, but a busy one, and if you’re an avid reader like me, you can end up feeling a little bereft come the New Year: what happened to the time to yourself you dreamt of when you would curl up and get lost in a romance novel? This short-story collection is the perfect answer – offering quick-grab romance stories on a Christmas theme.

The author suggests in her foreword:

‘[T]he point of A Christmas Feast is that it’s full of little treats – stories you might have time to read while you’re waiting for the mince pies to brown or for the bath to run.’

Of course, I’ve devoured this ‘feast’ pre-Christmas, but I do think the book would lend itself well to offering a little escape here and there over the holiday season. The style is easy to read, and the stories easy to dip in and out of. Some are longer; some are like a magazine story.

I really like the feel of the writing: it’s not frivolous and silly, but warm and witty with the odd touch of poignancy. The stories just the right picks for the season. I especially enjoyed one that is centred on two strangers getting snowed in together in the wilds of Scotland. There’s quite a cast of characters through the collection, but I liked them all. I was intrigued by the professions the author incorporates – the publisher’s PR girl trying to handle a difficult author; the charity-shop worker dealing with what on first glance seems to be a very grumpy man; the newspaper reporter working undercover in a hotel kitchen. My absolute favourite story involves a rather uptight woman learning from a passionate Italian man how one should really eat – cue mouth-watering descriptions!

For me, the most wonderful part of the book is the theming. The stories have been pulled together to offer a Christmas feast to the reader, and so they are organised as courses:

Champagne and canapés
Main course
Coffee and chocolate truffles
That alone feels delightfully indulgent.

A lovely book to pick up as a gift for a female friend or relative this Christmas – or, better yet, a gift to yourself. Think of it as your sanity saver for the holidays!

The Prince Who Loved Me (Oxenburg Princes)
The Prince Who Loved Me (Oxenburg Princes)
by Karen Hawkins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing style is wonderful: witty and warm,, 5 Dec. 2014
An absolute delight to read – this book gave me a week’s worth of bedtime reading that left me falling asleep with a smile on my face.

The storyline draws from the Cinderella trope in a fun way, but isn’t weighed down by an attempt to faithfully retell the classic fairytale. For a standalone novel, the book has just the right amount of story, I think – plenty of action, but not so much that the author does not make space for great character development.

Alexsey makes for a wonderful prince. I love his self-confidence, his belief that he can just get what he wants when it comes to power and women, and also his humour and affection for his family and friends (and, ultimately, Bronwyn) which soften his character. Bronwyn is a brilliant heroine: smart, independent and strong, the kind of woman who’s undeterred by being locked in a room and simply climbs out of a window and down a tree. The secondary characters are also colourful and likeable; I especially enjoyed a second love story interwoven in the plot, and the machinations of Bronwyn’s prickly-but-not evil stepmother and Alexsey’s gypsy grandmother, Natasha.

The writing style is wonderful: witty and warm, and so easy to read. My favourite element of the book is the author’s incorporation of quotes from another (fictional) book, The Black Duke – a melodramatic romance novel that Bronwyn is reading. Cleverly, the author juxtaposes the story of The Black Dukewith that of The Prince Who Loved Me, which makes for a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant comparison. In doing so she helps the reader who is reading this romance novel to connect to Bronwyn, who is also reading a romance novel. The layering of the stories is fun, original and clever, and made this book really stand out to me as a treasure in the genre.

I eagerly await the next book in the Oxenburg Princes series.

The Love List
The Love List
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I knew from the first pages of the novel that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this book, 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: The Love List (Kindle Edition)
What woman can resist a novel that opens with a fashion calamity! I knew from the first pages of the novel that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this book. Poor Nora has managed to glue a shoe to her hand, right before meeting an important client – the designer of the shoe in question – and meeting Ethan; not exactly the first impression you want to make on a handsome man!

There’s an air of Bridget Jones style humour to the opening, and a witty tone permeates the writing. The dialogue especially reached out and grabbed me for its realism and, occasionally, had me laughing out loud, as with:
‘Is she always this hyper?’ Ethan asked Fran, as if she wasn’t there.

‘No way. Only when she’s done something…oh, good grief, Leonora, have you been multi-tasking again?’

But the fun in the book does not detract from the passion between the characters and a serious issue to explore: Nora’s grief over losing her father.

Nora is an eminently likeable character. I love her strength. When Ethan tells her to let go a little, that he’ll catch her, she bristles: ‘You can’t help yourself, can you—you want to save me? You want to rescue me?’ For Nora, independence is key; she buries her pain deep down and won’t let anyone – even herself – touch it. But Ethan has made a life out of helping people in extreme distress, and it’s obvious to him that Nora is hurting.

The pace of the novel kept me turning the pages, and I was delighted by the ending – by Nora’s father’s legacy to her, and how the author connects adult Nora, doing her best to get along and be a successful businesswoman, with the girl she once was and the dreams she had for herself then.

In all, this is a great read, and I think the author, as she describes herself in her bio, comes shining through: ‘a book-devouring, slightly melodramatic, romance-writing sassy heroine’. I’m delighted to have discovered Eve. She writes on her website ‘in a world where it's far too easy to settle back, opt out and be cynical, I like that reading romance redresses the balance a little’.

Well, with The Love List, she provides perfect material to help anyone redress the balance – read this book and you’ll come away with that warm, glowing feeling that makes the sun brighter, the sky bluer and your step jauntier.

His Island Bride
His Island Bride
Price: £2.84

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, moving, passionate – I heartily recommend this book., 21 Nov. 2014
This review is from: His Island Bride (Kindle Edition)
I requested this book on NetGalley because the cover is beautiful and the blurb intrigued me. I confess I’ve a soft spot for ‘forced to marry for convenience, not love’ storylines; you just know somewhere along the line business will dissolve into pleasure!

The book did not disappoint: so much emotion shines through in the storyline, and I found myself so gripped that I read the story in two sittings. I love the island setting (I found myself rather wistful and wishing I could live somewhere so idyllic and away from the hustle and bustle), and I love the idea of a wedding-destination hotel. What a wonderful establishment to set up and run – the very epitome of romantic; but of course how credible it is that a run of divorces could be bad for business!

For me, this book is character led, and both Jace and Brooke are the kind of characters that make you just have to read on to discover their pasts, presents and futures. I love the fact that both characters have a good deal of honour and loyalty to family and the local community – both will enter into a sham marriage just to protect those they love and ensure the hotel, the main source of income for the people, is secure.

There’s such an honesty to writing that it is impossible not to believe in these characters. For example, Jace and Brooke were together years ago, but Jace left Brooke without much of a thought, focusing instead on his own future, which is saddening but realistic. The realism extends into the character’s chemistry – such passion between them!

But above all the element of the book that really affected me was Brooke’s secret (I won’t spoil the plot by explaining that here). It’s heart-rending and terrible and so powerfully affects who she is and how she relates to Jace – poor, oblivious Jace. When a storm strikes and the characters are plunged into danger, will the truth out – and when it does, will Jace stand by Brooke? You see why I stayed up late to read to the end: I just had to find out!

Compelling, moving, passionate – I heartily recommend this book.

Price: £2.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable, 26 Oct. 2014
I was delighted to have the chance to review this book for the author. As soon as I read her bio I knew by these words she was an author I would connect with: “I would rather write than do just about anything else. After all, I get to make people (characters) do what I want, and design their happy endings. What power!”

There’s so much to love in this heart-touching romance novel:

The realism of the story world. Thanks to the setting, the characterisation, the dialogue and the stories, I felt quite transported to Ireland. There’s a grittiness to the book that I found powerful – the author doesn’t cushion her lovers in sweetness and light, but is bold in exploring how love can grow and be sustained in difficult circumstances.

The poignancy of the narrative. Without wishing to give anything away, I was very moved at times as I read. I found myself really rooting for Tess and Michael to overcome the demons of their pasts and build a brighter future together.

The wit that shines through. This is by no means a humorous book – at its heart are serious, weighty issues that tear the characters apart. But the author expertly weaves in the odd lighthearted touch that really lifts the narrative. For example, I laughed at loud at Teddy discovering his wife was in labour and struggling with a door, only for Gabrielle to say quite calmly, “It opens in. You have to pull it.” Little moments like this, reflections of everyday life, really make the book special.

The dual stories. I love that this is a book of two parts and two love stories. The first echoes through the second and acts as a foil, heightening the reader’s desire for a happy ending for Michael and Tess.

The drama. I was quite gripped by the dramatic sequences in the book. I found them to be superbly written to create suspense.
The exploration of trust and letting go. I loved where the author took the story – the journey the characters had to go on to face and then let go of the past, and to trust each other enough to share their deep, dark, tormented truths.

In all, I very much enjoyed reading the book, and look forward to the next MJ Schiller.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2014 6:00 PM GMT

The Italian Girl
The Italian Girl
by Lucinda Riley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating, beautifully written book, 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Italian Girl (Paperback)
This is exactly my kind of book – full of emotion and passion and hearts aching with need. The relationship between Roberto and Rosanna had me utterly gripped throughout, as I swung between wishing they would find a happy-ever-after together, and feeling unsettled by the obsessive quality of their love. I loved the honesty of this conflict – that the protagonists are flawed; that their love is not perfect.

But while Roberto and Rosanna are the focal point of the book, there are so many other poignant stories interwoven through the narrative – the pious man torn between his love for God and his love for a woman; the gentle and honourable soul who longs for Rosanna in the background; the aging father, wanting to hold on to his children; the desperate mistress and the depths to which she will go to manipulate and control; and for me, most moving of all, the mother who must let go of her daughter, and the daughter who never knew her father. I can’t tell you how many times I had tears in my eyes as I read, and how many cups of tea went cold, so lost did I get in the story!

I love the settings for the book – Naples and London – and how the author describes them so vividly I felt I was there. But most of all I love the importance of opera throughout the story. As I read, I felt I could almost hear Roberto and Rosanna sing, could picture them on the greatest stages of the world, bringing the audience to their feet. I so love opera for its drama and ability to stir emotion, and I think in this book Lucinda Riley has managed to create an opera on paper. Heavenly!

The writing style is exquisite – realistic dialogue, beautiful descriptions and just the right measure of pace, slow enough to allow the reader to really comprehend the characters and their emotions, but fluid enough to make me keep wanting to turn the pages. I especially love how the author’s use of the third-person narrator allows the reader free access to the story from all characters’ perspectives, so we are all-knowing and can make connections that the individual characters cannot. That means being privy to explosive secrets, and I spent a good part of the book questioning in my own heart whether I thought such secrets were best left alone or exposed, to the point that I was relieved when the author made the decision for me!

In all, this is a captivating, beautifully written, moving book. Romance as it should be written. Sheer bliss in the reading.

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