Books/book review/fiction/Romance
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From Rugby Scrums to Business Fights

Rock Hard Book Cover Rock Hard
Rock Kiss #2
Nalini Singh
Businessmen, romance
Tka Distribution
2015
387

Wealthy businessman, Gabriel Bishop, rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he'll go after it no-holds-barred. And what he wants is Charlotte Baird. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, Charlotte just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO clearly has other plans.

‘The Bishop’ was a rugby legend in New Zealand but he was injured and then this career was finished.

This book is where Gabriel Bishop goes after his rugby career is over – he goes into destroying – and rebuilding – in the stock market and company world.

Note that Gabriel is the older brother of Sailor Bishop in Cherish Hard – different series by author.

So now he has a different reputation and still not such a good one – as people only think about his destruction and not his re-building.

This is a fun romance with the usual hot scenes and well written story line  from this author. She transitions well from Fantasy into Romance – or the other way round… Overall, all her books are fun to read.

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art/Books/book review/fiction/London/flowers
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Dress fabric to lust after

Blackberry and Wild Rose Book Cover Blackberry and Wild Rose
Sonia Velton
Historical Fiction , Women's Fiction
Quercus Books
10 Jan 2019

For fans of Jessie Burton and Tracy Chevalier, a rich historical debut set among the Huguenot silk weavers of Spitalfields in the late 18th century.

WHEN Esther Thorel, the wife of a Huguenot silk-weaver, rescues Sara Kemp from a brothel she thinks she is doing God's will. Sara is not convinced being a maid is better than being a whore, but the chance to escape her grasping 'madam' is too good to refuse.

Inside the  Thorels' tall house in Spitalfields, where the strange cadence of the looms fills the attic, the two women forge an uneasy relationship. The physical intimacies of washing and dressing belie the reality: Sara despises her mistress's blindness to the hypocrisy of her household, while Esther is too wrapped up in her own secrets to see Sara as anything more than another charitable cause.

It is silk that has Esther so distracted. For years she has painted her own designs, dreaming that one day her husband will weave them into reality. When he laughs at her ambition, she strikes up a relationship with one of the journeyman weavers in her attic who teaches her to weave and unwittingly sets in motion events that will change the fate of the whole Thorel household.

Spitalfields is an area of London that has always fascinated me, with its tall houses topped by glassed in roofs.

I knew that it had been settled by the Huguenot weavers when they came to Britain fleeing religious persecution in France, but knew little about the actual people other than their religion and that they wove silk.

This was also the time of the East India company’s explorations and settlement into the Far East, India, Alaska and North America. When they brought back furs, exotica and fabrics never before seen in England – and cheaper than silk too. Which is where this novel comes in.

I really enjoyed this faction/fiction about this period in history but would have been more impressed with the knowledge and storyline if I hadn’t heard about the book published just a year ago by Liz Trenow The Silk Weaver which is the (fictionalised) story of Anna Maria Garthwaite (as her real history has not been fully documented), who was the person who came to London and produced the realistic and beautifully detailed designs for silks, that in this story by Sonia Velton, is Esther’s role. Anna even persuaded a weaver to work on her silk as his Master piece. The flowers are amazingly detailed and must have taken a very long time to weave, stitch by stich, by hand, as mechanized weaving was not yet available for these fabrics, and the designs are woven in and not printed on.

This is an example of Anna Maria’s silk as held in the Victoria and Albert’s collection.

This is designed by an unknown silk weaver – held in the V&A’s Collection

Sonia’s story takes some of the facts about the Combinations, the Cutters’ Riots, and the hangings (there were 2 men hanged historically) and the known riots by the weavers as a direct result of the bringing in of printed calico and thus the drop in demand for silk, and the resultant loss of work and pay. But as my husband would say, there was always a small riot in London, they just never managed a big enough one to rival the French!

I enjoyed Sonia’s story nevertheless and found it well written and I did invest in the characters and the difficulties of life as a woman in this time – and how bad life was in London if you were poor – this is the time Hogarth painted his Gin Lanes and women feeding children gin to keep them quiet as they lacked food or milk.

But 2 novels published in the same year effectively about the same period with a similar cast of characters brings down the ranking of the second one.

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Books/book review/fiction/law enforcement/crime fiction/net galley
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Taken for an unusual reason

The Taken Girls Book Cover The Taken Girls
GD Sanders
Thrillers, Crime, British Detective, Police Procedural
Avon; Digital original edition
(21 Feb. 2019)

Someone is watching them…

When a missing teenage girl reappears unharmed but pregnant, the case falls to DI Edina Ogborne, the newest recruit of Canterbury Police. But Ed’s already got her hands full with a team who don’t want her, an ex who won’t quit, and terrible guilt over a secret from her past.

As Ed investigates the case, she discovers Canterbury has seen this crime not once, but several times before. And when Ed and her detectives encounter missing historic police files, falsified school records, and Ed’s new lover as a prime suspect, it becomes clear that the system has been corrupted.

Can Ed find the kidnapper behind these depraved crimes before he strikes again? Or has time already run out?

This is a solid police procedural with the frustrations of modern policing and the requirements for solid evidence well portrayed. Not to mention the fact that the senior officers want good press coverage even when what you have is more speculative than fact and contradicts the above …
I found this new DI (a debut novel) to be a believable character – and fallible too, and was intrigued by the perpetrator and motives.
This is a series I think that will develop well and I look forward to reading more.

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Books/book review/fiction/humour/Romance/Cooking
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What happens under the tree?

Mistletoe And Mystery Book Cover Mistletoe And Mystery
The Paradise Cookery School
Daisy James
contemporary fiction, romance, humour
Canelo Escape
(10 Sept. 2018)

Welcome to the Cotswolds Festive Feast cookery course...

Fresh off the successful opening of the Paradise Cookery School in St Lucia, Millie Harper is headed to the Cotswolds for Christmas!

Co-presenting Claudia Croft’s famous Festive Feast cookery course at Stonelea Manor is a dream come true for Millie…as is reuniting with gorgeous estate manager Zach Barker.

But arriving in a winter wonderland Millie learns the manor is under a mysterious threat. It’ll take a holiday miracle, but Millie is determined to save the school and get Zach under the mistletoe to finally finish what they started in the Caribbean!

Cosy up with this fun, festive visit to the Cotswolds premier cookery school! Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver and Sarah Morgan


This was sweet in all meanings of the word! Unfortunately there were no illustrations or recipes. But then who could compete with a pastry chef with a Michelin star…

I was hungry all the way through the descriptions of the cookery course – the only thing missing was the description of what they ate at the Xmas day meal – apart from Yorkshire puddings – which is a bit strange and very Northern. And they seemed to make different items form those described as being on the menu that day, but perhaps the chef rustled them up for them as extras?

Generally a nice book and very suitable for all cozy readers and everyone who likes to read about cookery.

I’m giving it 4 stars for making me hungry – the descriptions were delightful, and I agree Parkin is heavy – but so gingery…

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aka Hedgehog

Needlemouse Book Cover Needlemouse
Jane O'Connor
women's literature
Ebury Digital
(1 May 2019)

Time to come out of hibernation...

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it's no wonder she's a little prickly...

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays - and it makes people think she's nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she's been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she's sure he's just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

(actually a hog – a pig relative)

Whilst I quite liked this rather sweet novel about obsession and its consequences – and how stalking can come about – I wish stories about universities were a little more realistic.

Unless ‘her’ Professor was working in an Oxbridge university or was a ‘name’ and thus bought in for prestige, the whole concept of a personal administrator has long gone. Universities just can’t afford them. Nor can they afford Professors who sit around their offices all day writing without producing. It would be nice – but generally speaking, Professors are busy on committees, holding seminars, seeing multiple research students, and networking, as well as lecturing. Administrative staff are usually not required to submit students’ work to any conference – and a conference would require several months notice of submission due to the peer reviewed process it would need to go through. Sometimes they will book flights and accommodation but often these days, staff do this themselves and then get reimbursed.

So a lovely view of what university life must have been like some 20-30 years ago perhaps?

That said, I liked the hedgehog component. It was the saviour of the story really – they really are blameless creatures who are totally dumb, and sanctuaries deserve all the support they can obtain. We once found a nest of babies in our greenhouse. The mother had gone in there, late in the year and had got herself killed by getting tangled in support wires for tomatoes. The babies were too small for hibernation and we took them to Tiddlewinkles and gave a generous donation for their care.

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