This book makes for perfect reading at this meteorologically challenged time of year as it takes us from the cold, snowbound days of Christmas into joyous, warm springtime and then summer. Ellie Browne, landlady of the Dog and Duck, and her partner Max, owner of the country mansion Braithewaite Manor, are our central characters. There’s great excitement at the beginning of the book, when their baby Noel makes his precipitous entrance into the world, but the action keeps going as life is busy for Ellie and there’s also Polly’s wedding coming up. Polly is Ellie’s best friend so she wants to put on a really good show. However, deep down there’s another wedding she’d rather be planning for, but she’s the one who keeps throwing the spanner into the works where that one’s concerned.
There’s a fascinating cast of characters in the book. We get to meet Ellie’s parents, now back from Dubai, and they add some drama of their own to proceedings. Max’s family supplies a few surprises too.
As well as the feel-goodness of the story, the author’s writing raises your spirits as it’s warm and inviting. Jill Steeples tells her romantic comedy in a friendly, flowing fashion. There’s humour, drama, tension, heartache and joy, all the compelling ingredients we need to keep us hooked to the very end.
This is the last in the Dog and Duck trilogy, and it’s been a pleasure to read them all. The previous books were ‘Christmas at the Dog and Duck’ and ‘Summer at the Dog and Duck’. What’s more, all three have wonderful, eye-catching covers. Author and publishers have worked hard to produce a real treat for their readers.
Help yourselves to a festive feel-good freebie from me!
Anna is house-sitting for family friends in a very cold cottage in the middle of snowy France. She’ll be there for a fortnight over Christmas. It’s all rather quiet and unexciting until, on Boxing Day, a pheasant gets tangled in the pear tree in the garden. Anna can’t possibly leave it there but her rescue attempt goes wrong, leaving her the stuck one. All she can do is wait for a knight in shining armour, or at least a passing Frenchman…
Anna Partridge in a Pear Tree is available in a variety of ebook formats for free from Smashwords here. And please spread the word!
I came across this book via Twitter (so take heart, indie authors, it does pay to Tweet regularly about your books!) and I’m so pleased I did. As a keen cyclist I was immediately attracted by the inclusion of ‘peloton’ in the title. Actually, I liked all of the catchy title with its alliteration, rhythm and assonance. The cover is also not a run-of-the-mill romcom cover, with quirky artwork and fancy italics for the typeface. This one is fresh and clear,and also intriguing. Why when we have ‘two’ in the title do we only have ‘one’ in the image? The hint is that this is a resourceful, independent heroine, who’s bound to be interesting. I had to read this book.
‘Peloton of Two’ is a light-hearted romantic comedy set mainly in rural France. Catherine Pringle, a journalist, has the chance to write her own column whilst cycling around France with her explorer boyfriend Nick. The tour will further her career, she hopes, and also improve her slightly shaky relationship with Nick. However, the tour gets off to a shaky start and most definitely does not go as planned. But all isn’t lost for our empathetic, well-meaning heroine. Life has a way of throwing up surprises.
We get to see a lot of France and human nature on the way, and there are many entertaining characters to meet. It’s a super read, well written and thoroughly entertaining.
Available at all the Amazons for Kindle and as a paperback.
Nine Ladies Dancing by Cat Lavoie is a complete delight!
It’s everything you want from a Christmas novella – a seasonal setting (the office party in this case), charming and quirky characters, a handful of mishaps but a happy ending. The bonus is that the writing is sparkling and witty. The author comes up with some wonderful words – adorkable and Quinn-tervention (they’ll make sense when you read the book!) – and gives us, I suspect, an insight into her own creative process when Casey, the heroine, who is a closet would-be novelist, talks about how her characters ‘take on a life of their own … and move on to another story’!
This is a little gem of a Christmas book and your twelve days of Christmas just won’t be complete if you don’t read it.
Available as an ebook from all the Amazons for 99 cents or as a Kindle Unlimited book to ‘borrow’.
Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard (Bookouture) is the second book in the La Cour des Roses series. I hadn’t read the first book in the series, but it didn’t take long to work out who was who and what was going on. (However, a quick ‘story so far’ by way of introduction would have saved a bit of head scratching! But that’s only a minor thing.)
This books weaves together engaging personal relationships with the details and atmosphere of life in France. As someone who’s run a gîte for ten years, this appealed very strongly to me. The author shows what this way of making a living is actually like i.e. not the bed (or cours!) of roses so many think it is. Exactly as in this book, there are demanding guests, unfounded expectations and one-sided reviews to contend with. And that’s on a good day…
The characters are many and varied in the novel, all of them fascinating and rounded. Our heroine, Emmie, is very attractive and realistic: she’s strong but has her vulnerabilities, is kind and caring, and is friendly and enthusiastic but sometimes tries too hard. We’re quickly on her side and want to see her succeed in the hospitality/hostility trade she’s attempting to make her way in. But when you’re up against the likes of Geoffrey Turner, the blogger/reviewer, and Julia Cooper, the guest who wants everything and then a whole lot more, well, it’s not an easy ride.
The novel announces on the title page that it is ‘A feel good read to make you smile’ and it certainly does that. It’s a beautifully written, thoroughly readable and entertaining book.
One Last Class by Karen Mueller Bryson is from the ‘Short on time book’ series, characteriesed by fast paced, fun novels for readers on the go. And that’s exactly what this book is – entertaining, absorbing romantic comedy that keeps you happily busy for an hour or two. Zak, ex-Malibu Boy and TV star, suddenly realises he’s a has-been, now that he’s 32. Should he cling desperately to his previous fame or head off in a new direction? He eventually decides to enrol in school to finish the studies he abandoned to become famous. He plumps for English so he and Elvis, his dog, move into a student flat. Chay, another ex-Malibu boy but without Zak’s angst, moves in too. Enter the love interest in the form of roller-skating free-spirit Nora and slightly prim Amy, the English teacher. But out of the blue Zak gets offered a part in a movie that will ensure a successful comeback for him. What should he do?
This is well written story, told with a skillful, humorous touch but actually includes some pretty deep issues. Facing up to the thought that your best years are over is never easy, especially when you wonder if you spent them that wisely after all. Making a major change in the direction your life is taking is also a huge deal, and we have both these elements in this story. The characters are rounded. Even the initially po-faced Amy proves to be an interesting person. But Chay and Nora are the most engaging couple for me, although Zak develops through the book too. Highly recommended for amusing yet thought-provoking escapism.