‘Georgetown Glen: Queermunity Living At Its Finest’ by Annette Mori is a book you’ll want to devour. Lucy and Bea buy an old ghost town, with the hope of turning the ramshackle old buildings into a retirement village for sapphic ladies of a certain age. As they make plans, they hire Fi, an expert in architectural restoration, and Saville an electrician. With the help of Lucy’s niece they begin to knock the old town into shape – until the resident ghost objects. As the group are forced to deal with the spirit in their midst, they uncover secrets and start to investigate the history of Georgetown. And there might even be time for a love story in there too.
Mori has a winner on her hands here. Her trademark humour shines through, and she has managed to weave a fascinating tale encompassing love, friendship and sapphic history. I loved the multigenerational nature of the story and the historical aspects too. I think Saville was my favourite character. She tried to come across as confident and a player. But she wasn’t. She was caring and sensitive underneath it all. I love the fact that there can be many more stories to tell with this group of characters and those who end up living there.
I know Christmas was months ago, and it might seem strange to be reading a Christmas romance in March, but ‘The Christmas Proposal’ is a book I would recommend reading any time of the year.
Grace Dawson might be over her ex, Christina, but the thought of planning her proposal to another women makes her want to run for the hills. She has found a way past the hurt of their break-up and is ready to find that special woman of her own. Working for ‘Tie the Knot’ brings her face to face with romance every day, but so far she has yet to find love for herself.
Bridget Cartwright is Christina’s new PA, and has been tasked with organising a romantic proposal for her. But Bridget doesn’t have a romantic bone in her body and doesn’t have a clue where to start. When she hires Grace for the job, the pair become stranded on Mistletoe Mountain, and it is there, in the most Christmassy town imaginable, that they begin to realise change is possible. Will they each be able to escape the past and find true love?
‘The Christmas Proposal’ is like a lesbian Hallmark movie. I wallowed in the wonderful Christmas feeling and forgot about the outside world for a few hours . Mistletoe Mountain was a beautiful small town, with warmth from Grace’s family and the townsfolk. It made me smile. It made me happy. I don’t believe Christmas novels are just for Christmas. In this case I would read Grace and Bridget’s story year round. It was the tonic I needed.
Lisa Moreau writes heart-warming stories of love and romance. She makes me love her characters and the wonderful settings she chooses for them. I have read all of her books and adore them all. They are like a giant hug and a comforting escape when we need it most.
I was delighted to be asked to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ by Patsy Trench. Having spent over twenty years working in the theatre and television as an actress, Patsy now spends her times writing, fiction, non-fiction and also scripts for The Children’s Musical Theatre of London. ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ is the fourth in her ‘Modern Women:Entertaining Edwardians’ series, and is set in the world she knows and loves best.
‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ is a funny, light and gentle story set in Edwardian London. Violet Graham finds herself producing a new play by Robbie Robinson, the man who would give anything to be her beau. As the pair try to pull all the strings together, we are given an insight into exactly what it takes to stage a show. First of all they need backers to put the money up. Then there’s the problem of who to cast, and a theatre to hire. The subject matter of the suffragette movement isn’t to everyone’s taste either.
I found this story delightful. It was humorous, had engaging characters and managed to deal with a serious subject in a different way. I loved the historical truths mixed in with the story of how to get a message across in the play without alienating the audience. I enjoyed following Violet as she became more confident in her role. Society wasn’t quite ready for women in positions of power. Neither were they ready for women to get the vote – until they were. This book was just the tonic I needed.
‘The Cornish Captive’ by Nicola Pryce is the sixth novel in her historical series set in Cornwall. The year is 1800 and Madeleine Pelligrew has been imprisoned for the past fourteen years. Falsely accused of being insane, she has been moved from one mad house to another, until one day a man appears with papers feeing her. But she has suffered so much at the hands of men and finds it impossible to trust any of them. Can this man be trusted?
As she hides her true identity, she attempts to find out exactly what happened all those years ago. Who was really responsible for her incarceration? The friendship of a French prisoner on parole, Captain Pierre de la Croix gives her some hope for the future – but can she believe him? Against the background of the French Revolution and its aftermath the people of Cornwall are unwittingly drawn into the actions of the secret resistance, never really knowing what side their neighbours and friends are really on.
I have always loved historical fiction, so jumped at the chance to read ‘The Cornish Captive’. Although part of a well-established series, it can easily be read as a standalone. The Cornish setting is beautifully described, with the sweeping landscapes of Cornwall an integral part of the story. The historical background of the French Revolution and the years following it, make the story all the more fascinating. Reading about such an important event from the viewpoint of the ordinary people affected made it feel more relevant. It was about more than Mme. Guillotine.
Madeleine’s story is the story of one woman, but also the story of so many women, whose lives were controlled and ruined by powerful men. I wanted to know more about this woman who had been damaged by the treatment of others and by her past. She had strength and determination and this saw her through many trials. One could not help but sympathise with her plight and also fear for her future. Could she trust Pierre de la Croix? Was he the answer to her prayers?
This thoroughly enjoyable epic story took me through a range of emotions. Not just fear and suspicion, but love, joy and hope too. The writing was immersive and kept me hooked until the end. It left me happy, and so glad to have spent some time in Cornwall with these characters.
This year has been another difficult one, but authors have stepped up and given us some amazing stories. I struggled to whittle my favourite books of the year down to a reasonable number. There was no way I could stop at a Top Ten, but I managed a Top Fifteen. These are the books that made my year, and I highly recommend each and every one. Here they are, listed in no particular order:
The Tell Tale by Clare Ashton
2. A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry
3. The Island Between Us by Wendy Hudson
4. The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan
5. Ignis by KJ
6. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
7. Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R Austin
‘Humbug’ is the Christmas cuddle we all want and need this festive season. Once again Amanda Radley has given us characters we can love, a gentle romance and a setting we never knew we needed. Ellie Pearce is ‘Christmas Girl’ to everyone in the company she works for. Although an accomplished and brilliant statistician, she has, through circumstance, ended up in the marketing department of a recruitment firm. It’s not her ideal job. The CEO of the company, Rosalind Caldwell, is the archetypal Ice Queen – or is she? She may like to come across that way in business but as Ellie soon discovers, there’s a heart of gold underneath. When Rosalind is left in the lurch a few weeks before the big Christmas party, she needs someone to organise it from scratch – and who better than Christmas Girl? Despite the fact that Ellie has never been a PA or organised anything in her life, she is promoted upstairs, to the very top floor of a Canary Wharf building. Her extreme fear of heights is just the start of her worries. A growing crush on the boss is the last thing she needs, but try telling that to her heart.
This was a lovely story, full of kindness and joy. It was fun to see the thawing of an ice queen as the temperatures plunged in the corporate centre of London. Rosalind was firm, but fair. She needed the right person to let her see that love was possible. Ellie was completely adorable – the kind of friend we’d all like to have. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I couldn’t help but get into the Christmas spirit with her. This sweet story will open your eyes to the wonder of Christmas. I loved it.
‘Misfit Christmas’ by Anne Hagan is a lovely Christmas themed romance. Sophia is a social work student who volunteers time at a recreation centre in Denver, helping disadvantaged kids. When Lacie is sent there to finish her community service the pair clash. It appears they have different ideas about how things should be done, and about life in general. But they both realise that they are there to help the kids and that must come first. Will the magic of Christmas bring them together and will they be able to give the community a holiday to remember?
I enjoyed finding out about the community they were helping. It brought into focus the true meaning of Christmas. Seeing the women change and realise what they wanted in life was sweet and romantic. But ultimately it was about being honest and being true to oneself. About accepting love and happiness. A perfect Christmas read.
‘The Last Conception’ is a feel-good multi-cultural romantic comedy directed by Gabriela Ledesma and written by Gabriel Constans. Savarna’s family want her to settle down and have a family – especially as she is the last in her ancient bloodline, and must produce a baby to prevent the line dying out . The only problem is, she is gay and hasn’t told her parents. How will her Indian family react when she brings girlfriend Charley to dinner? Will the idea of a female partner stop their desire to get Savarna married off and pregnant?
First of all I was impressed by the quality of the acting in this film. It could have been a Richard Curtis romcom. I especially enjoyed the performances of Lovelee Carroll as Chitra, Savarna’s sister, and Marshall Manesh as her dad. It was funny and poignant, and had a touching family dynamic that brightened up my day. The cinematography was lush and bright, adding to the happy tone of the script. And the upbeat Indian music score was a delight. I loved it and will be adding it to my ‘must-rewatch’ list of movies
‘Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes’ is the wonderful debut novel from E.V. Bancroft. It’s a story told over two time periods, with two couples. Starting in pre-war 1939, Maud and Bea find love at a time when lesbian relationships were completely taboo. How can they find a way to be together when the world is against them? In the present day Hannah may be open in some areas of her life, but convincing the woman she loves, Suki, to do the same is not easy. It seems prejudices remain and they can be hard to push back against. Maud and Bea are now old and forced apart in different nursing homes. As the two stories intertwine, the women must fight those who would keep them apart – and fight their own pre-conceived ideas.
I was surprised this was a first novel, as the storytelling was so skilful and appeared effortless. The prose flowed beautifully and the characters were believable and brought truth to the story. It was the most compelling story of love, of fighting to be see and heard. I went through so many emotions reading these two love stories, each with problems to be overcome. The writing was powerful, emotional and exceptional.
I left it feeling happy and joyful. Highly recommended.
‘The Fair Botanists’ by Sara Sheridan is the standout novel of the year for me. It’s the wonderful story of two women and the connections they make in Edinburgh in the early 1800s. Elizabeth is a widow moving to Edinburgh to live with her husband’s family, and hoping for a better life. Her interest in botany and especially illustration, brings her into contact with those working at the new botanical gardens. The imminent flowering of a special tree has the city fascinated, as has the expected visit of the King. Belle has a secret identity and a plan for the future. She knows her present career will be short lived, so is using her interest in botany to ensure her comfort later. These two very different women find a common bond, forming a friendship that defies society’s expectations .
Elizabeth and Belle’s stories weave in and out with those of other prominent and not so prominent members of Edinburgh society. It is this that captured my attention and did not let go until the last page. Sara Sheridan builds each layer, and connects each strand, with beautifully written descriptive pose. It’s a story of life, of friendship and of love. Highly recommended.