Book Review: The Deserter’s Daughter.

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When the paperback version of Susanna Bavin’s debut, The Deserter’s Daughter, arrived in the post I Tweeted this photo with the caption: “That’s my weekend reading sorted.”

In reality, I turned the first page on Friday night and the next thing I knew it was 24 hours later and I was breathing a happy sigh as I closed the book. It is THAT GOOD.

I’m sure I didn’t sit reading the whole time – there is a four-year-old in the house, after all – but Mark did comment, ‘Is that book attached to your hand?’.

I wanted it to be. I fell asleep (way after my bedtime) worrying about the lead character, Carrie, and I woke up desperate to see where the story would lead her. Where it would lead all of them, really.

Here’s the blurb:

1920, Chorlton, Manchester. As her wedding day draws near, Carrie Jenkins is trying on her dress and eagerly anticipating becoming Mrs Billy Shipton. But all too soon she is reeling from the news that her beloved father was shot for desertion during the Great War. When Carrie is jilted and the close-knit community turns its back on her as well as her mother and her half-sister, Evadne, the plans Carrie nurtured are in disarray

Desperate to overcome private shock and public humiliation, and with her mother also gravely ill, Carrie accepts the unsettling advances of well-to-do furniture dealer Ralph Armstrong. Through Ralph, Evadne meets the aristocratic Alex Larter, who seems to be the answer to her matrimonial ambitions as well. But both sisters put their faith in men who are not to be trusted, and they will face danger and heartache before they can find the happiness they deserve.

I’m going to let you into a secret, I was really worried about reading this book. Usually I am open to new genres but family saga is one that I thought wouldn’t float my boat. Not only that, I have got to know and like Susanna over the last year or so – since she appeared in my second Behind The Book post – and I really wanted to love her book. (Not that I think she would have cast me aside if it wasn’t my cup of tea).

I feel a bit daft now that it took me so long to read it (the hardback came out in June last year).

If Susanna’s book is an accurate representation of the family saga then sign me up. She has created nuanced, believable characters, who I was invested in from the start, along with an absorbing and colourful narrative – all elements I enjoy in contemporary books.

And, far from distracting from the story, the historical aspect only added to it. She writes with honesty and sensitivity about what it must have been like to be a deserter’s daughter. I felt the shame of the family as sure as if they were my relations.

This is an accomplished book and an incredible debut. I can’t wait for her next one, which I will definitely be reading as soon as possible.

Format: Paperback.

Price: £8.99 (via Amazon).

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to Susanna and her publishers, Allison & Busby, for the paperback in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan.

cover119479-mediumIt’s like Sarah Morgan has been inside my head.

She’s had a rummage about, moved some tumbleweed aside, picked out every single thing I like in a romance and then put them all in her latest book, Moonlight Over Manhattan.

It has the brave yet troubled heroine, the handsome, hot, brooding hero (who also happens to be an ER doctor), chemistry between the two that’s almost palpable, a charming supporting cast, a storyline which keeps you engaged from page one, and, as an added extra, a cute dog.

Tick, tick and tick.

Here’s the blurb.

She’ll risk everything for her own Christmas miracle…

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family.

But when dog-walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list – dealing with Madi’s temporary dog-sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi – how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple – he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide 24-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over, and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all – letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

I’m no stranger to Sarah’s books (this is book six in this series alone, although they can all be read as individual novels) and they would automatically be on my must read pile but I’ve really been looking forward to Harriet’s story ever since her first mention.

Sarah has really delivered with this one, it’s a lovely warm story with plenty of emotion and the romance between them is so well written.

I felt instantly connected to shy Harriet and loved the way she tried to overcome her difficulties. In fact, Harriet and Ethan both seem very real which meant I was invested in their tale and stayed up later than I should have done for several nights while trying to finish it.

A well deserved five stars.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £4.49.

My rating: Five stars.

With thanks to HQ via NetGalley for the ARC in return for my honest opinion.

Book Review: One Day In December.

shari.pngWith a cast list as long as the one in Shari Low’s latest book, I was worried my poor, weary brain wouldn’t be able to cope but One Day In December is so well written, engrossing and entertaining that I was more than able to keep up.

As the title suggests, the story follows a day in the lives of four different characters whose fates are intertwined – even if they don’t know it.

It is a proper page-turner, which gets all the more thrilling as it speeds towards its utterly perfect, highly emotional (seriously, real tears), conclusion.

Here’s the blurb:

By the stroke of midnight, a heart would be broken, a cruel truth revealed, a devastating secret shared, and a love betrayed. Four lives would be changed forever, One Day in December.

One morning in December…

Caro set off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father had been based on a lifetime of lies.

Lila decided today would be the day that she told her lover’s wife of their secret affair.

Cammy was on the way to pick up the ring for the surprise proposal to the woman he loved.

And Bernadette vowed that this was the day she would walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years and never look back.

One day, four lives on a collision course with destiny…

There’s a full character list at the start, which I actually found a little overwhelming, but once you begin reading it soon becomes clear who everyone is.

Shari is a master of characterisation and I was soon captivated by their different tales. I even felt sympathy for Lila, who is probably the least likeable of the four, because we learn through her thoughts (and how other people view her) the cause of some of her behaviour.

The chapters switch between the characters which keeps things moving along at quite a pace and makes it really hard to stop reading (and I mean REALLY hard).

While it flowed beautifully, I can only imagine the planning that went into it to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together.

From start to finish, there isn’t a single thing I would change about this book, it is perfection.

Format: Kindle.

Price: £2.99.

My rating: Five stars.