commercial fiction · fiction · Women's Fiction

The Idea Of You by Amanda Prowse

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With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

I read this book without having actually read much about it, though knowing it was women’s fiction, that was just about all I knew. This book focuses on a couple that are trying to get pregnant and follows their journey through a few heart-breaking misscariages. I’ve not read much or thought so much about what it must feel like to have a misscarriage but Amanda captures the pain and heart-broke so beautifully through her protagonist Lucy. I really feel for Lucy because she feels a strong desire to get pregnant and every time it happens for her, she ends up loosing the baby and I can only imagine how difficult and strenuous that can be for a couple.

An extra layer of difficult is added for Lucy when her step daughter, Camille from France comes to stay for a few weeks in the holiday. Lucy struggles to form a relationship with the sixteen-year old and slowly starts to feel like an outsider in her own home. She does everything she possibly can to make Camille feel welcome and at home, but the effort and respect is not reciprocated as Lucy had hoped. When Camille meets Dex from her part-time job, we learn that she falls pregnant – and this news turns both Lucy’s and Jonah’s world upside down. Nevertheless, Lucy finds the strength to support Camille through the pregnancy, even though she has to watch another woman go through exactly what she has yearned for. This had to be the most exciting part of the novel for me because it was unexpected and gaged my interest (I only wish it came a bit sooner, as the plot started to feel stagnant half way through). I think it’s very mature and kind-hearted of Lucy to support Camille and give her all the tiny clothes (she had kept onto of her wardrobe for her own baby) to Camille.

We learn that Lucy has secrets of her own, and this ties in very nicely with the structure of the book – after each chapter, Lucy writes a small section about her thoughts and feelings about getting pregnant. But later on in the novel, we understand the reason for this as it does have a wider purpose and I thought it ties in beautifully with the wider plot – won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

I liked Lucy and Jonah’s characters as I think Amanda portrays marriage realistically though them – it’s not a bed of roses and it can get quite complicated and it was nice to be given the truth rather than a fairytale. I also liked the portrayal of a woman going through misscariages and Lucy’s journey in accepting  not having a baby and finding happiness in all that she currently has. It was nice to see that  Lucy  could  nurture and mother Camille once their relationship strengthened that she realised that she didn’t need to give birth to feel like a mother after all.

The Idea Of You was published in March 2017 by Amazon.

 

 

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HarperCollins Publishers · Women's Fiction

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

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Every woman has a secret life…

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…

I had seen the book cover of this beauty filling my twitter feed and was first attracted to read it because of the cover and the title, which immediately screamed: THIS IS A BOOK YOU WANT TO READ AIYSHA!

I’m very grateful for HarperCollins who allowed me to review this title.

Set in Southall the book explores the lives and stories of Sikh immigrant Punjabi widows through a writing class that sparks their creativity. Balli effortlessly creates a protagonist stuck in the middle of two cultures: Punjabi  and British. I immediately clicked with Nikki as I too find myself in a similar position and therefore found it very easy to relate to her struggles and desires for both independence and acceptance in both worlds.

Balli breaks the boundary between eroticism and Punjabi widows so beautifully by bringing these two ideas to the forefront and equally showing us that even older women have desires for love and sexual fulfilment. And to read these women’s stories is also hilarious!

Reading this book was effortless, the chapters explore the main plot concerning the writing class for the widows, but this then also beautiful explores the lives of some of the women in the community, especially that of Kulvinder and her past. Alongside this, we also have the  narrative of Nikki’s personal life between herself and her family and her relationship with Jason. These subplots merge seamlessly together and provide a gripping read. I believe we need more books like this, focusing on the asian community in order to crush taboos and bring life experiences and perspectives of immigrant asian women to the forefront.

A brilliant read and a fantastic cover. I’ve already recommended to friends and family.

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows was published by HarperCollins in March 2017.

 

Bookouture · fiction

Revenge by Nigel May

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If you keep dangerous secrets you’ll pay the ultimate price…

In the South of France, playground of the rich and famous, world renowned chef Dexter Franklin is organising a night to remember. As he opens the doors to his exclusive restaurant for the first time, he’s handpicked a list of guests, as hot and dazzling as the St Tropez sun itself:

Mew Stanton: Fashionable, beautiful and a notorious TV chef, Dexter’s ex-girlfriend has all the ingredients for success. As her books fly off the shelves, a secret from her past is about to surface with explosive consequences. 

Holly Lydon: Ex girlband star who has fallen on hard times. Forced to make ends meet she’s having to sleep her way to the top. Now she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Rosita Velázquez: Brazilian actress extraordinaire and girlfriend of Dexter’s brother, Leland. When she’s in town everybody needs to know about it, but this is one show-stopping entrance she’ll live to regret.

Three women have a past with Dexter and a grudge to bear against him. As fireworks ignite in the jet set capital of Europe, there’s murder on the menu. Who will be served their just desserts?

The sun is setting in the South of France. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and sit back for a read of revenge, regrets and shocking revelations that will have you hooked to the very last page.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Nigel May as it was one of the books I was helping to represent at the literary agency I was working for. This is by far one of those drama-filled, very character-drive and action-packed book that you can’t seem to put down and you even miss your tube stop (happened to me) because of it!

Revenge has a deep element of mystery woven throughout. It begins by Dexter Franklin sending invites to a whole host of versatile characters to her newest restaurant opening in the hear of St.Tropez. Determined to make the eve of the restaurant opening a success, he invites the right mix of people. The five characters which the entire book focuses on all have a hidden past which gets pulled to the forefront as we’re told why they’re each invited by Dexter.

Though each character is distinct in their own ways, they each have had encounters with each other and a past that begins to piece the present plot into making much more sense. I thought focusing on five charters might get a bit confusing and messy but trust me, it was put together so eloquently and because the characters were unique, it worked very well. The chapters were Nigel goes back into the past to explore the characters past adds to the present and also allows us to get a better understanding of each of the five characters – as nobody is perfect, no matter how much they may appear to be on the surface, everybody has skeletons hidden in the closet.

Throughout Revenge, there is a real sense of tension building up and towards the end of the book, Nigel indeed, finishes with a big bang. Nigel has a talent for taking universal themes: love, betrayal, dreams, desires and weaving these ideas seamlessly through well-developed characters and plot.

I can’t wait to see what else comes from Nigel May. I’d recommend Revenge for anyone who is prepared to jet off to St. Tropez for some action-packed tension and drama.

Revenge was published by Bookouture in 2017.

 

 

Avon · fiction · Women's Fiction

If Ever I fall by S.D Robertson

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Is holding on harder than letting go?

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. All he’s ever wanted is to keep his family together, but everything seems beyond repair and, try as he might, he can’t turn back time.

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered, unable to connect with the real world.

In the face of real tragedy, can this couple find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through? 

I’d heard so much about this book that I knew I had to get my hands on it. It’s been a long time since I’ve been touched by a genuine, emotionally-gripping and beautifully written story and it was effortless to read. The story reveals and centres around a broken family that are trying to get through the storm of loss and devastation.  This is achieved by having three very distinct narrative threads and it did take a while to understand that all three were deeply connected to one another.

There is Maria who writes letters to Sam as a way of dealing with the tragic loss that she is struggling to come to terms with. She also writes these letters as a means to explore her marriage with Dan and to also calm her OCD. Each time Maria writes a letter to Sam, the plot moves forward in time, which allows the plot to unfold.

Then there is Dan and each time we meet him, the time is going backwards leading up to a very specific, tragic event (that would be every parent’s nightmare) that happened a couple of years ago. In the book we get to see how both Maria and Dan deal with this tragic event, but in their own  unique ways. We also see how this event alone has strained their marriage and their family dynamics, as everything from that point onwards feels as though it is falling a part.

There is also a man named Jack who is suffering from severe amnesia and is being looked after by a retired Dr. Miles in a remote part of Wales. Jack tries to regain his memory and does sometimes gets flashes of memory but fails to understand how they’re connected to himself. I thought the exploration of amnesia through Jack’s character was very insightful as I knew very little about the illness and it helps to bring awareness to the severity of it.

Towards the end of the book, these three separate strands come together by looking at the tragic event itself, as Dan relives the devastation (not going to say what happens, but it would be most parents’ nightmare to have to go through this.) As the threads are woven together, everything begins to make perfect sense.

This is a touching book that explores the complexities of a nuclear family and how a family can cope with loss. This book also focuses on marriage and the complexities of a marriage fizzling out when children are involved. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every part of it as the plot and characters was well developed and I love losing myself in other people’s lives to take the pressure off of focusing on my own life so much, and this book allowed me to do just that.

If Ever I Fall was published on 9 February by Avon.

 

 

 

 

 

Avon · fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · psychological thrillers

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

perfect-remains-800x528Devoured in three days, it was that brilliant!

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Perfect Remains has all the right amount of ingredients for a chilling page-turning psychological thriller. It has a complex yet original plot and an intriguing lead that keeps readers hooked from the very first page.

Helen was able to really develop each of her characters, which played an integral role in the plot. The nameless killer who we meet at the very beginning was developed so beautifully and realistically. Dr. King is a university lecturer, a very normalish looking man and you wouldn’t think he would be capable of going to such extents to torture the women, (I would say) he could never really have.

The character of Luc Callanach was also very interesting due to his sordid past and saucy attitude. He became a likeable detective quite early on in the book and the relationship he shares with Ava Turner is also likeable, though I wished there was a bit more of a romantic thread there – maybe in book 2, fingers crossed!

The book is narrated by alternating chapters between Callanach and his department, and by the murderer himself as he uncovers his hidden tracks for abducting his female victims. My favourite chapters had to be (hands down) when Dr. King gets to work in capturing and torturing his victims. I also found it really creepy how he wanted them to learn German and recite German to him. What a sick guy but still couldn’t stop reading as the plot was so dark and compelling.

Helen was able to run multiple story lines at the same time, which also added more tension to the main plot. I was extremely happy when the investigation came to a close and all was solved. I’m looking forward to reading Perfect Prey and have high expectations of it.

Perfect Remains was published in January 2017 by Avon.

new reads

A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt | Book Review

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A  cute little read that was finished in one sitting. Fed up with her superficial family, Claire decides to avoid the ‘perfect’ Christmas with her family in American and decides to take residence of her godmother’s cosy cottage in Yorkshire. Having her own emotional baggage from the past, Claire yearns nothing more for a peaceful and quiet Christmas.

After her car skids into a snow bank, Claire has the fortunate pleasure of meeting Noah and eventually his daughter Molly – the family and love she’d craved for a very long time. Claire helps Noah to push the back end of one of his sheep out of the icy mud, even if she’s going to ruin her brand new pair of Prada boots, the meeting between the two begins the early stages of their romance.

Hewitt combines and develops the characters of Noah and Claire by allowing the third person narrative to focus on both character’s viewpoints.

The writing was engaging, descriptive and effortless to read. I loved that both Claire and Noah had past relationships which still had an impact on them in the present as they seemed like realistic characters, one that I could relate to.

I found the ending to be a bit rushed for a novella. I would have liked to read a bit more of a realistic ending. But if anything, it was a pleasure to read that I wish it wasn’t a novella and that I could read more about the relationship of Claire and Noah.

Would recommend to anyone that wants a light and easy read.

 A Yorkshire Christmas was published by Tule Publishing.

Women's Fiction

November Reads | Christmas titles

https://allthingsbooksweb.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/christmassy-reads.jpg?w=663It’s that time of year again. The lights have gone up in Oxford Street, christmas decorations will soon be in most of department stores’ displays and I’ve been itching to get my hands on fiction centred around the festivities.

I’ll be starting the month with these three titles: A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt, Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson and Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson.

Below are each book’s blurb. I will be reviewing as soon as I’ve finished reading and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on them.

A Yorkshire Christmas 

Wealthy New York City girl Claire Lindell isn’t looking for a Christmas miracle or happiness when she abruptly decides to hole up for the holiday at her godmother’s cottage in a little Yorkshire village, and lick her wounds from a near disastrous romantic decision.

After her car skids into a snow bank, Claire may have accidently found her perfect Christmas and the family and love she’s craved when she offers Noah Bradford of Ayesgill Farm help to push the back end of one of his sheep out of the icy mud, even if she’s going to ruin a brand new pair of Prada boots during the rescue.

What’s a little leather when love’s on the line?

Mistletoe on 34th Street

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe 

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

Inviting readers new and old to pull up a cosy armchair, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe is the novella-length follow-up to the 2016 best-seller Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe.