What We Read in May

Anne here, and it's that time again, where we share the books we've read and enjoyed in the last month. Brace your credit cards . . . 

We start with Christina: SummerFrenchCafe
My favourite read this month was Sue Moorcroft’s latest novel Summer at the French Café.  This story is an absolute delight and exactly what I needed right now to sweep me away from real life! It’s a wonderful tale of learning to trust, the importance of being open and honest with everyone, and the healing power of love. The reader can’t help but empathise with the hard-working heroine Kat from the start. She’s independent and capable, but with a positive outlook on life, and she never complains even when things go decidedly pear-shaped. A child of divorced parents, she has lots of emotional baggage, but for the most part, she manages to ignore it. Then the hero Noah arrives on the scene and he seems almost too good to be true. He has his own problems to contend with, but instead of charging in like a bull in a china shop, he stops to consider the best way of solving them. I fell head over heels in love with him – how can you not love a man as determined as he is to do the right thing for his very sensitive 8-year old daughter, while at the same time being the perfect boyfriend? Kat has to decide whether she dares to take a chance and believe that he is every bit as great as he seems, and I was rooting for this couple all the way. This is definitely the perfect summer story!  (If the links above don't work for you, try this one.)


I also very much enjoyed Under One Roof, a novella by Ali Hazelwood which she calls “STEMist”. The heroine Mara is an environmental engineer and extremely brilliant at what she does, but she’s fighting against sexism and prejudice in her workplace. She’s just been left a half share in a house by her former mentor, but she hadn’t reckoned with having to share it with the woman’s nephew Liam. At first glance he is everything she hates – a corporate lawyer working for a company that has no regard for the environment whatsoever. They try to co-exist as house owners, but drive each other nuts. But everything is not as it seems, and slowly but surely they begin to find common ground. I absolutely loved the chemistry between these two and watching the romance develop. This is only the first novella in a series of three and I can’t wait for the other two!

Pat Rice tells us about: SEVEN DAYS OF US by Francesca Hornak.

7daysofUsThe basic story here is that Olivia Birch has been treating some kind of plague in Africa and when she comes home for Christmas, she has to quarantine for a week. So her family quarantines with her in their stately old, crumbling manor in Norfolk. Olivia is the no-nonsense doctor out to save the world. Andrew, her father, was a journalist who once thought he could save the world. Now he’s a food critic. Emma, his wife, gave up her dreams to be a mother and has buried herself in tradition. Phoebe is the younger sister with no purpose other than getting married. Into this suffocating atmosphere drops Jesse, an American son fathered by Andrew while he was in a war zone. He had been given up for adoption and is now searching for his birth parents. Nuclear explosion ensues.

Make no mistake about it, this is a deliberately literary novel, so you won’t get your fun and games happy ending, but the writing is positively compelling. The reader is dragged into their mixed-up lives and really needs to know how all these good, but confused, people fix themselves or each other. We root them on as they grope about in their darkness. I can promise that they find a new kind of light at the end of their week of togetherness, so it’s well worth diving into for your escapism addiction.

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History of Detective Fiction

Rice_TheGoldenPlan_600x900Pat here:

As we all know, my Malcolm/Ives families started out in historical romance, took a wicked right turn at the Victorian Age, and crossed over into the contemporary market. With my new Psychic Solutions  series, they took another zig-zag and ended up in mystery. I’ve done romantic suspense, so it isn’t a total departure. But romance is where my heart and soul have been for so long, that I can’t quite let it go. So, of course, romance wraps its way around the mystery because it makes me feel good.

And I miss my historical research. I probably should have missed it enough to dig into the roots of detective fiction so I had a clue of what genre I was actually writing, but my characters are gonna do what they’re gonna do. So I probably saved myself a step.

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We Need to Talk – The Art of Conversation

Abbie 3I read last week that the art of conversation is dead. This is the era of the text and the tweet where we give and receive information in small doses. We communicate more but we talk less. Digital communication also lets you plan what you want to say whereas in real time we don’t know where a conversation is going to lead, and that makes us nervous.

Such claims are nothing new. Technology has often been blamed for having a detrimental effect on face-to-face communication. In 1889 a newspaper article suggested that telephones should not be allowed in private houses for fear of the damage they could do to “real” conversations. Way back in the 4th century BC Socrates was complaining that writing ideas down was not as good as talking about them one to one because the way to learn was through debate.

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