‘Highland Whirl’ by Anna Larner is the third book I’ve read by this particular author and I’ve loved every one. Although this is a follow up to ‘Highland Fling’, there is no need to have read the previous story as it works as a standalone too. In this novel we spend time with Roxanne Barns, best friend of Eve, who is paying a long anticipated visit to Inverness, and Alice Campbell, stepdaughter of Moira, Eve’s partner. The pair did not hit it off at all when they first met in Leicester a few years before, so when Alice is asked to host Roxanne for the night, neither are happy about it. Roxanne’s apparent nonchalance regarding women and relationships annoys Alice no end. And Roxanne finds Alice stuck-up and immature. Can either of them get past that now? As a growing attraction builds it becomes more difficult to keep to their own corners.
I was so glad to be back in Newland, with Eve, Moira and their neighbours, especially Angus and Elizabeth. Life had moved on and there were new issues to deal with involving all of them. The tension between Roxanne and Alice was skilfully done, as was the story involving the whole group. The writing was beautifully descriptive and one could almost imaging being in the Highlands with them. The setting was perfect and the characters exceptionally well imagined. Anna Larner writes in a gentle, kind and loving way, and I look forward to every book she brings out. A wonderful story.
I’m just back from my first ever Bold Strokes event in Nottingham. What a weekend! After a delay getting there (due to a cancelled flight and subsequently four cities in a day to make it), I attended the ‘Meet and Speak’ at the Five Leaves Bookshop in the city. As soon as I was through the door I was greeted by a sea of friendly faces – Brey Willows and Robyn Nyx, Valden Bush, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz, Anna Larner and her wife, Jen Silver, Jane Fletcher and her lovely wife Joanie, Jody Klaire, Em and Ferb, Sam Skybourne, Lise Gold and her wife, Anne Holt and many more. After listening to some wonderful readings a few of us headed off to the Pitcher and Piano for drinks and chat. We sat outside in the warm night air until the early hours talking until we realised we had an event to get up for in the morning and headed off to our various hotels.
Saturday morning started with a welcome from the lovely Brey Willows. The room filled up quickly and we were treated to some fascinating panels – Challenging the Norms, Flowers and Wine, Playing with the universe, It’s a Writer’s Life and reading from the authors. I found hearing the authors read their own work made me want to buy more books. We were all able to mingle throughout the day and chat to the authors and get our book purchases signed. The After Party at the Pit and Pendulum nearby gave us a chance to socialise more. As we moved around the tables we all got to know some new people. The banter was fantastic.
Sunday brought some more panels, readings and a hilarious quiz. We all headed off to The New Foresters bar afterwards for a BBQ and lots of chat. Hours passed quickly as we met new people and old friends. The conversations brought us all together and made us realise just how much we all have in common. Getting to spend time together was energising and affirming – and I cannot wait for next year to do it all again.
‘Love’s Portrait’ is a perfect mixture of love, romance and belonging. Molly Goode is a fine art curator in Leicester, wishing to bring more diversity to the museum where she works. Georgina Wright is an important benefactor, albeit a reluctant one. She comes across as a bit of an Ice Queen but spending time with Molly begins to thaw her cool exterior. When Georgina needs help to research a painting in her collection, Molly is instructed by her boss to take on the task.
I liked Molly from the start. She was sweet, a bit ditsy and completely unaware of how wonderful she is. She worries about saying and doing the wrong thing and I found her completely adorable. Georgina was a woman in pain, dealing with grief and hurt, and I had high hopes that Molly would be the woman to see her through that. I felt compelled to follow their story. The mystery behind the painting drew me further into the story and I loved the historical aspect of it in regard to the research on the painting. Anna Larner’s writing has a gentle beauty to it, an engaging tone throughout. Her characters feel real to me and she makes me want to know more about them. This is the second book I have read by this author and I must admit she has become a favourite of mine. A lovely story.
I was given this ARC for review by Bold Strokes Books and Netgalley.
I really enjoyed the story of Eve, a twenty-something librarian who goes on holiday to the Scottish Highlands and falls hard for Moira, the older woman with a few secrets. Moira seems reluctant to admit her attraction to Eve, but why? Although she came across as grumpy at times I liked Moira. I wanted her to be who she really was. Eve was caring, emotional and determined. There are some powerful scenes between them, sometimes devastating. Some beautiful, romantic and passionate encounters as well as a wonderful setting made this a must-read. Highly recommended. I was given this ARC by Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books in return for an honest review.