Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Perfect Match by Katie Fforde


Hardback: 357 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction 
Publisher: Century 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: Bella Castle took a breath and put on a smile she hoped would hide her frustration.
Review Quote: “A lovely sit-back-and-relax number that whisked me from my poky London flat to the rolling Cotswold hills … twenty novels in and Katie Fforde has still got it.”
Daily Express
My Opinion: Perfect relaxation reading.


Regular readers of my reviews may remember that I admit to having been a fan of Katie Fforde's writing since 1995. Picking up her latest novel is always a guarantee of finding a story to provide one with perfect relaxation reading, romantic plots with a feel good factor.  'The Perfect Match' is her twentieth romantic contemporary novel written in her inevitable warm and witty style with the sort of  ending one has come to expect! Cannot say that this was a favourite though as it felt superficial with no depth to the storyline, although I did enjoy the characterisations, particularly of 'wimpy' Bella and 'fiesty' Alice. Bella irritated me no end with her behaviour, yet Alice I admired, maybe as being of a similar age I thought go for it girl!       

I will just give you a brief synopsis of the storyline, to tempt you to pick up 'The Perfect Match' if this is a genre you enjoy. The female protagonists are Bella and Alice, the former is Alice's god-daughter and they share a delightful home together in the Cotswolds. Bella had moved in with her god-mother three years previously when she left her home town after a disastrous affair, if one could call it that. Now successfully working as an estate agent in the area and dating her boss, Bella may well have thought she was settled but the balance is about to be upset. She finds her boyfriend is not all she thought and her ex love turns up in the village! As for Alice, in contrast to Bella a much more likeable character, still single at 60 she suddenly finds herself falling for a younger man after a chance meeting. Alice finds the situation difficult especially when she has to meet her lovers adult children, but she is a strong lady, who proves it does not matter how old you are when you fall in love. 

To say more would spoil the story line, so I just recommend to Katie Fforde fans and fans of the genre if you have not yet discovered her writing. Her novels are perfect for when you are in the mood for a touch of romance, presented in a readable novel with the inevitable happy ending that one can relax with. 


Author Profile


Catherine Rose Gordon-Cumming was born on 27 September 1952 in Wimbledon, London, UK.  She has lived near Stroud, Gloucestershire  for over twenty years, with her husband and three children. It was after the birth of her third child that she started writing using her married name of Katie Fforde.  She is founder of the Katie Fforde Bursary for writers who have yet to secure a publishing contract. She was for many years a committee member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and was elected its twenty-fifteenth chairman (2009–2011) and later its fourth president. In June 2010 she was announced as a patron of the UK's first National Short Story Week.

I am also sharing here what she has to say about herself on her website as she says it so well.

About Katie
I was born and brought up in London but I am basically a country girl. I’ve lived in Stroud with my family for thirty years and while I love London and visit it frequently, I don’t think I could actually live there.

My husband Desmond and I started married life on the water, where we took two 70’ x 6’10 narrowboats around the canals as a hotel. It was very hard work! From there we went to Wales where we had two baby boys and narrowly avoided keeping goats. It was while we lived in Wales that I became addicted to Mills & Boon novels. My husband was away at sea for a lot of the time, leaving me with two small children who didn’t sleep well. I loved the fact that you could pick up a Mills & Boon and be able to follow the plot and enjoy the escapism even if you’d had little sleep. They were my reward for every household task. I’m so glad I was addicted to reading and not chocolate or Valium.

I did have the idea that I wanted to write Mills & Boon novels but didn’t do anything about it until my mother gave me a writing kit for Christmas. By now we lived in Stroud, and I also had a daughter as well as the two sons, Irish Wolfhound and two cats we had in Wales (although not the hens.). I didn’t think I had time to write but my mother thought differently and I took up the challenge. Ten years later I had a book on the shelves. It wasn’t a Mills & Boon, although I had tried to write one for eight years; it was Living Dangerously.

I had met an agent through the Romantic Novelists’Association and, when I was about to give up my ambitions to become a writer, she convinced me I could write something else. I was extremely lucky that the novel was chosen as part of a WHSmith’s Fresh Talent promotion, which gave it a terrific start in life.

There have been over seventeen novels since, as well as some grandchildren and a few stone of extra weight. However, I love being a writer. It gives me the chance to have all the jobs I couldn’t get now even if I did know anything about horses or pottery or indeed almost anything else. I love doing the research, although it has taken me way out of my comfort zone at times. I have been a porter for an auction house, learned how to gut fish, and taken part in a Ray Mears survival course. I loved it!

My hobbies, when I have time for them, are singing in a choir and flamenco dancing. Watching television is research and so I call it work.

Novels

  • Living Dangerously (1995)
  • The Rose Revived (1995)
  • Wild Designs (1996)
  • Stately Pursuits (1997)
  • Life Skills (1999)
  • Thyme Out (2000) aka Second Thyme Around
  • Artistic Licence (2001)
  • Highland Fling (2002)
  • Paradise Fields (2003)
  • Restoring Grace (2004)
  • Flora's Lot (2005) aka Bidding for Love
  • Practically Perfect (2006)
  • Going Dutch (2007)
  • Wedding Season (2008)
  • Love Letters (2009)
  • A Perfect Proposal (2010)
  • Summer of Love (2011)
  • Recipe for Love (2012)
  • A French Affair (2013)

The biographical information photo and video used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Twitter Profile   Goodreads Author Profile  Katie Fforde - Official Website   Katie Fforde - Wikipedia

Amazon Profile    Katie Fforde - Facebook           

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How To Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman



Paperback: . 273 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Picador - April 2014
Source: 
Lovereading Reviewer Panel
First Sentences: Today, somehow, I am a smoker. I did not know this about myself. As far as I remember, I have never smoked before.
Review Quote: 
‘On the surface the book is a highly competent, creepy little chiller, but beneath, like a silent, bolted and half-dark room, there’s a much bigger, equally disconcerting story about the nature of feminine experience. It’s an accomplished début from a writer who shows insight and emotional power’. Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize winning author of Wolf Hall.
My Opinion: Completely lacking in storyline and tension.




I cannot say this was a boring novel as it was far from that, in fact it is an extremely erudite début from an obviously talented young lady. However it was just not for me, I found no pleasure in reading this novel and probably should not have done so, but I do like to keep my reading material eclectic!  When I was offered the opportunity to read this I had expectations of it being along the lines of Room which I really loved. So I was extremely disappointed to discover that to me, as I know I am in the minority, this was completely lacking in storyline and tension. The character of Marta, just annoyed me, maybe I missed the point and she was meant to and as for Hector, well I thought he was a horrid man! Let me give you a brief synopsis and you can decide for yourself if this thriller is for you.

Marta is married to Hector, twenty years her senior and the man who apparently helped her through a traumatic time during her teens and then eventually took her as his wife. The relationship seems extremely cold and unloving to the reader with Hector controlling her every move. She is not allowed to venture beyond the limits of the village they reside in and has to take medication deemed necessary for her well being by her husband. It is her decision to stop this medication that leads to Marta, starting to recall little by little a past life. Or maybe this is all in her imagination after all? Deliberately vague in the telling the reader is ultimately left to make up their own mind.

As I am very much in the minority with my thoughts on 'How To Be A Good Wife' I am not able to recommend it to you but hope that my review will help you make a considered choice, if this is a genre you normally enjoy.


Author Profile




Emma Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in Manchester. She studied English Literature at Edinburgh University, followed by a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. After university, she travelled in Scandinavia, and she currently lives in Perth, Western Australia. How To Be A Good Wife is Emma's first novel.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.


Goodreads - Author Profile     Picador - Emma Chapman  Website - How To Be A Good Wife

Twitter - Emma Chapman   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Summer House by Santa Montefiore


Paperback: 473 pages
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: The beginning of March had been glorious. The earth had shaken off the early-morning frosts and little buds had emerged through the hardened bark to reveal lime-green shoots and pale-pink blossom.

Favourite Quote: It's very hard to accept that he's gone and will no longer be part of my life. However, I have no choice but to accept it. Fighting it won't bring him back, nor will it make me feel better; it'll just make me miserable and fill me with resentment.
Review Quote: 'A gripping romance... It is as believable as the writing is beautiful' (Daily Telegraph) 
My Opinion: A perfect summer read.


I first took an interest in this author’s writing in 2001 when her first novel Meet Me Under The Umbo Tree was published. I went on to read the next two as they were released The Butterfly Box and The Forget Me Not Sonata.  It was another five years before any more of her books came my way when in 2008 I read two more of her novels  Last Voyage of the Valentina and The Gypsy Madonna. It was to be another three years before I read two more of her novels, The Swallow and The Hummingbird and The French Gardener



 With this latest one it seems I am still only half way through her novels.  I have two more on my TBR bookshelf and do not think it will be long before I read them as they are the perfect type of novels for summer afternoons reading in the shade. Character driven contemporary fiction with story lines that are feasible if not always totally believable, but that is the joy of losing oneself in a good book. As expected I found the characters and the setting much more engaging  than the story which is really just a gentle ramble to a happy ending.  


Fairfield Park, a country estate that has been in the same family for generations is the setting. Think Downton Abbey but in a modern setting and you have the Frampton family, whom the author does an excellent job of describing to the reader with all their quirks and foibles. There are those you will hate instantly and those that you will love, but keep an open mind because all is not as it seems. Lady Frampton's husband has just died in a tragic accident and the day the family gathers together for his funeral, the family get a very unexpected shock!  Put your disbelief aside and let the story unfold whilst you enjoy the beautiful landscapes and well portrayed characters.

Recommended to fans of Rosamunde Pilcher, especially as she is often referred to as the author who took over her place in writing contemporary fiction. By coincidence Rosamunde Pilcher retired from writing in 2000 not long before Santa Montefiore's first novel was published. She has just published her 14th so plenty to read if you have not yet discovered her writing and are a fan of contemporary romantic fiction.

The Woman from Paris' is the American title of 'The Summer House' 


My Previous Reviews:

The Swallow and The Hummingbird    The French Gardener


Author Profile




Santa Montefiore was born Santa Palmer Tomkinson in 1970, either in January or February, the websites I used for research differ on this point! Growing up on farm in Hampshire and educated at Sherborne School for Girls, she went on to study Spanish and Italian at Exeter University. She later spent time in Argentina where her mother grew up, giving her inspiration for her early novels.  She now lives in London with her husband, writer and historian Simon Sebag Montefiore and their two daughters.

She has fourteen published novels to date, the first one published in 2001 and the most recent was published on July 17th 2014.
  • Meet Me Under The Ombu Tree(2001)
  • The Butterfly Box (2002)
  • The Forget-me-not Sonata (2003)
  • The Swallow and the Hummingbird (2004)
  • The Last Voyage of the Valentina (2005)
  • The Gypsy Madonna (2006)
  • Sea of Lost Love (2007)
  • The French Gardener (2008)
  • The Italian Matchmaker (2009)
  • The Affair (2010)
  •  The House By The Sea. (2011)
  •  The Summer House (2012)
  •  Secrets of the Lighthouse (2013)
  •  The Beekeeper's Daughter (2014)

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Goodreads - Santa Montefiore    Santa Montefiore Official Website     Wikipedia - Santa Montefiore

Twitter - Santa Montefiore    Facebook - Santa Sebag-Montefiore   Amazon - Author Profile




Friday, October 31, 2014

The Villa by Rosanna Ley



Ebook: .1115KB, 577 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Romantic Fiction.
Publisher: 
Quercus (31 May 2012)
Source: Amazon
First Sentence: Tess didn't open the letter until later, when she was sitting on the beach.
Review Quote: 
'Beautifully written, warm and romantic ... The perfect holiday read' Rachel Hore, author of A Gathering Storm.
My Opinion:
A perfect summer read and set in Italy, what more could I ask for.


I was not aware of this author until very recently, when her writing was recommended to me. Unfortunately I cannot recall who it was that suggested I might enjoy her novels. Well whoever it was you were right! As soon as I looked her up I immediately purchased the three titles available on Amazon. This is the first one I have read, earliest one published in 2012. A perfect summer read and set in Italy, what more could I ask for. A delightful read and I will be reading the next two just as soon as I can. 

Three intertwining stories of three generations of women, Tess Angel the main protagonist, her mother Flavia and her daughter Ginny.  The novel begins as Tess receives a solicitors letter telling her that she has inherited a villa in Sicily.  Despite her mother being Sicilian this comes as a complete shock as her mother Falvia left the island as a young girl and has never returned, so why has Tess been left a villa.  One of the conditions of the inheritance is that she has to go over there, despite her mothers reservations this is of course what she does. She falls in love with the villa and meets some interesting Sicilians that will be able to help her unravel the mystery of why her mother cut all ties with her homeland during World War II. Meanwhile back in the UK we have the parallel stories of Tess's mother and daughter both of whom are stressed out, the former with secrets she has long kept from her daughter and the latter with the difficulties of becoming a young woman with lots of questions that she cannot get the answers to. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this very readable story devouring it on the plane on a recent trip and am already planning to read two more novels by this author, that I have already purchased for my Kindle. Bay of Secrets and Return to Mandalay what more recommendations do you need to try this author for yourself.


Author Profile



I have been able to find out very little biographical information on Rosanna Ley, the information shared here is taken directly from her biography on her website.

Rosanna Ley has worked as a creative writing tutor for over 15 years. Affiliated to several colleges and universities in England, she also runs her own writing courses in the UK and abroad. She has worked with community groups in therapeutic settings and completed an MA in creative writing for personal development in order to support this. Her writing holidays and retreats take place in stunning locations in Italy and Spain and whilst not teaching or writing she mentors and appraises the work of new writers. Rosanna has had numerous articles and short stories published in UK magazines, and 12 novels of contemporary fiction published in the U.K, Germany, Greece and the U.S.A under a pseudonym. Her books are inspired by the culture and landscapes of Italy, Sicily and the Canary Islands and feature strong female voices from the past and present, along with an intense undercurrent of mystery and romance. Rosanna spends some time every year travelling around Europe looking for writing inspiration and more tranquil settings for writing holidays. She loves cliff walking and her favourite writing place is somewhere with a sea view. When she is not travelling, Rosanna lives with her artist husband in a Victorian cottage in West Dorset by the sea. 

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and her writing.

Facebook - Rosanna Ley Novels  Author's Official Website   Rosanna Ley - Twitter  

 Goodreads Profile  Amazon Author Profile