Thursday, 25 July 2019

Review: The Wallflower Wager (Girl Meets Duke #3) by Tessa Dare

I do love reading historical romances, especially the funny ones! Tessa Dare wrote one of my all-time favourites, When a Scot Ties the Knot, but this one comes a close second!

The Wallflower Wager is the third in the Girl Meets Duke series but it can also be read as a stand-alone. While the heroes of the first two books were a duke and a duke's heir, the hero of this one has Duke as his surname (a neat twist!). Being a self-made man also made a nice change!

Lady Penelope lives alone in a large house in London, apart from her servants, her elderly companion, and a positive menagerie of rescued animals. The house next door has been bought by Gabriel Duke, who intends to renovate it and sell it at a vast profit. While one huge selling point is the aristocratic neighbour (Lady Penelope) an equally huge minus is her mini-zoo. But the only way Penny will agree to part with her pets is if Gabe promises to find new owners for them. How hard can that be?

The thing I enjoy most about Tessa Dare's books are her lovable, engaging characters and their funny banter. I also loved Delilah the parrot - her language is a running joke throughout the book - and I thought the ending was a nice twist on what usually happens in romantic novels (no spoilers!).

Recommended if you love your historical romances modern, funny and sexy, and enjoy reading authors such as Julia Quinn and Lisa Kleypas. I thoroughly enjoyed The Wallflower Wager and have no hesitation in giving it five stars.

Thank you to Tessa Dare and Mills & Boon for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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Friday, 19 July 2019

Review: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier

I adore Tracy Chevalier's books and couldn't wait to read this one, which jumped straight to the top of my TBR pile.

A Single Thread is set in the 1930s, when single women were considered 'surplus' because so many men of that generation had died during the First World War. Violet Speedwell lost both her fiance and her brother. After years being worn down by her mother's relentlessly negative comments and outlook, Violet realises she has to make some drastic changes to her life. She starts by moving from Southampton to Winchester and taking on a new job. At first she is lonely, as the women in her office are much younger and they don't seem to have anything in common. But she relishes her independence and soon makes friends with a group of women who embroider kneeling cushions at Winchester Cathedral. Yet soon the threat of another war looms.

While I love historical novels, I hate sewing and anything 'crafty', so in theory I'm not the target audience for this story! However, Tracy's skill at creating fascinating characters soon drew me in and I couldn't put the book down. I particularly loved Violet's fellow 'broderers'; Gilda and her sweet love affair with Dorothy, and also Louisa, who rebelled against the Nazis in her own unique way. I know Winchester and the cathedral very well, and enjoyed reading about all the familiar landmarks. The only thing I wasn't so keen on was the man Violet became obsessed with, as I didn't feel he deserved her. I did like the ending though!

I really enjoyed reading A Single Thread, which is almost a love letter to Winchester Cathedral and the unsung heroes who have worked there over the centuries. I can see it appealing to anyone who enjoys historical novels, particularly those set in the early 20th century.

Thank you to Tracy Chevalier and The Borough Press (Harper Collins UK) for my copy of this book, which I requested via NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Review: Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby

I've always loved Chrissie Manby's books, so I couldn't resist downloading Three Days in Florence - particularly as I'd just returned from spending three days in Florence! The book wasn't quite what I was expecting - it's more behind-the-scenes rather than touristy - but I enjoyed it very much!

Florence has always been a bit of a legend in the Courage family. Kathy's parents spent their honeymoon there and always promised to take her back, but it never happened and now her father has died. When Kathy and her boyfriend are invited to Florence to attend a family wedding, Kathy is thrilled - but it doesn't turn out the way she's expecting and it's a disappointing trip. Then a mix-up with the flight home means Kathy is unexpectedly stranded alone for three more days. Will she hole-up at an airport hotel? Or head out to discover if Florence really is the city of her dreams?

Although we don't see Kathy tick off visits to all the tourist hotspots in Florence, we get to see the 'real' city as she's adopted by an adorable Italian family (I LOVED Manu, Henry and Faustino!) and she ends up literally having to sing for her supper. There is a sweet romance and humour - little Manu's attempts to teach Kathy Italian don't go quite the way she is expecting, and Kathy rediscovers the person she was always meant to be. 

I loved Three Days in Florence. It's the perfect holiday romcom and one of my favourite reads this year. I wish the Innocenti family would adopt me! Oh, and I love that cover!

Thank you to Chrissie Manby and Hodder & Stoughton for my copy of this book, which I requested via NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Review: The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman

I love Rowan Coleman's books, particularly The Summer of Impossible Things, which is one of my all-time favourites! I particularly enjoy that each of her stories are slightly different to each other, so I never know quite what to expect!

The Girl at the Window is one of those novels with several timelines cleverly woven together. In the present day, Trudy Heaton returns to her family home, Ponden Hall, after several years away. Running alongside this is a glimpse into Ponden Hall's past, plus the story of how Trudy met her husband - he's been missing a year, presumed dead. There are also mentions of Emily Bronte, who visited Ponden Hall, which is a real place in Yorkshire and allegedly the inspiration for Wuthering Heights.

I love history, so I particularly enjoyed the story of the Hall's past (I'd have liked to have known more about the lady balloonist!) and the ghosts that live there still. I loved the developing relationship between Trudy and her blunt, eccentric mother (they had not previously got on). There is also a mystery involving a lost library of valuable books and Emily Bronte's missing manuscript - one of my favourite bits is where Trudy decides to go 'digging for treasure' in the mud! Ironically, as much as I love old houses, another favourite scene was where Trudy visits an ultra-modern house and her son becomes lost - heart-stopping!

I really enjoyed The Girl at the Window and can't wait to read what Rowan writes next! I'd thoroughly recommend this to anyone who loves stories about spooky old houses where the former residents haven't quite moved out, and gothic mysteries.

Thank you to Rowan Coleman and Ebury for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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Monday, 1 July 2019

Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

I loved Riley Sager's earlier novel, Final Girls, which was a take on those old 'cabin in the woods' stories (where a bunch of teenagers are killed off one by one, leaving a sole survivor), so I was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy of Lock Every Door.

Jules Larson has recently split up from her boyfriend, effectively making herself homeless. She is down to her last $500 and is delighted to unexpectedly land a job as an apartment sitter in the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most exclusive apartment blocks and home to the rich and famous. However, there are a few drawbacks. She's not allowed to talk to any of the residents, or invite anyone to stay over, or leave the apartment empty... Oh, and the original inhabitant of her apartment was famously murdered seventy years ago...

Lock Every Door reminded me of one of those classy thrillers from the 1950s/60s. Is the heroine's apartment haunted, is her friend really missing, is everything all in her mind, etc, etc. And because I love spooky old buildings, I particularly loved the Bartholomew and its gargoyles - especially the one outside Jules's window, which she affectionately nicknames 'George'!

I love Riley's style of writing and the way he really gets inside the head of his female protagonists. I loved the creepy old apartment building, especially the history of the place, and the dash of romance, and that not all the characters are whom they appear to be! Jules's visit to a homeless shelter also provided a good contrast with the super-rich people she's now neighbours with. 

I really enjoyed Lock Every Door and I've already bought Riley's next book, which I am looking forward to reading. Lock Every Door would suit anyone who likes a slow-burning mystery set in a classy/glamorous location. Although mystery fans might not like the dashes of horror towards the end.

Thank you to Riley Sager and Ebury for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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