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December Meetings

We Met in December Book Cover We Met in December
Rosie Curtis
women's fiction, romance
Harper Collins, Avon

his December, unlucky-in-love Jess is following her dream and moving to Notting Hill. On the first night in her new house-share she meets Alex, the guy in the room next door. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but there’s still a spark that leaves Jess imagining how they might spend the year together – never mind the house rule against dating…

But when Jess returns from her Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started seeing Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into the man of her dreams – and, apparently, the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and spend the year falling in love with London, not Alex – but what if her heart has other ideas?

A gentle love story set in London across 12 months of the year.

A great reminder too of how difficult it is to live in London on a nurse’s salary or even that of a publisher’s operational organiser.

I loved the walks around and about as this is something I like to do too. There is so much hidden history that we forget about – Battle Bridge for instance – not a Civil War battle as so many thing, but Boudicca’s last stand, and then the places where there were spas – eg Sadler’s Wells. And if you look closely, you can find the rivers that used to flow into the Thames and that the Victorian’s culverted over but one still is visible under glass – if you know where to look.  And I do!

And yes, Little Venice is pretty but for me Camden Lock and the canals further along are better – Little Venice is too touristy and well aware of its idyllic setting..

So back to the book.

Nicely written, in a good style, gently telling how people learn to know each other and that friends make great romance buddies.

Cozy but understanding the life of the singleton at 30 and the difficulties of making ends meet when you change careers later in life.

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Let me eat scones

Cornish Cream Tea Bus Book Cover Cornish Cream Tea Bus
Cressida McLaughlin
Romance
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
Pub Date 08 Aug 2019

Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, inherits a vintage bus in her late uncle’s will and is keen to give it a new lease of life. Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, so she heads to the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, hoping for a new start. However, Daniel Harper, the owner of the posh spa up on the hill isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel. Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could take them somewhere wonderful?

I just wish I had been on holiday in Cornwall when the weather was so good – in one place. I remember holidays when we chased the sun across the peninsula and others where we sheltered from the storms in a fish and chip shop. It is true, when the sun comes out, it can be the most magical place with wonderful landscapes and flowers – the gardens are spectacular.

This story was better written and with more content than so many of the Cornish fantasies. It had nice characters and we felt for Gertie when she got stuck in the mud and would have liked to have a tour sitting upstairs with tea and scones. I thought more could have been made about the various wonderful small towns and villages in the tour and was sad none of the stunning gardens were visited.

Overall a nicely written story in clear language.

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I want a kitten!

The Wallflower Wager Book Cover The Wallflower Wager
Girl Meets Duke
by Tessa Dare
Romance , Women's Fiction
Mills & Boon
Pub Date 13 Aug 2019

The addictive new Regency read from the New York Times bestselling author that’s perfect for fans of Georgette Heyer!

They call him the Duke of Ruin.
To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbour demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Rising to the challenge, Gabriel, who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse, is bewitched by the shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. But now she’s set her heart and mind on saving him…

Not if he ruins her first.

What if you really really don’t want to be married and are waiting out your Seasons until your parents are too bored to keep paying for them? But you would really like to keep every sad or hurt animal that you find. Especially kittens – lots of them. And will even go so far as to rescue a man!

But then your parents decide to do something about you? Send you away… because you are not really trying to get a husband are you? Or will you try?

I like this style of fiction – always have since Georgette Heyer times and these series of novels are only reminding me of her but with a small diversion towards modern times – the heroines are less missish and more feisty and not afraid to have sex with their suitors.

I am also, always a sucker for stories with cute animals and hedgehogs in pockets are the best yet.

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And the cottage isn’t: Family begins with a capital eff.

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5 Book Cover Why Mummy Doesn’t Give a ****! 5
Why Mummy
Gill Sims
General Fiction (Adult), romance, family, women's fiction
HarperCollins
27 Jun 2019

I’m wondering how many more f*cking ‘phases’ I have to endure before my children become civilised and functioning members of society? It seems like people have been telling me ‘it’s just a phase!’ for the last fifteen bloody years. Not sleeping through the night is ‘just a phase.’ Potty training and the associated accidents ‘is just a phase’. The tantrums of the terrible twos are ‘just a phase’. The picky eating, the back chat, the obsessions. The toddler refusals to nap, the teenage inability to leave their beds before 1pm without a rocket being put up their arse. The endless singing of Frozen songs, the dabbing, the weeks where apparently making them wear pants was akin to child torture. All ‘just phases!’ When do the ‘phases’ end though? WHEN?
 
Mummy dreams of a quirky rural cottage with roses around the door and chatty chickens in the garden. Life, as ever, is not going quite as she planned. Paxo, Oxo and Bisto turn out to be highly rambunctious, rather than merely chatty, and the roses have jaggy thorns. Her precious moppets are now giant teenagers, and instead of wittering at her about who would win in a fight – a dragon badger or a ninja horse – they are Snapchatting the night away, stropping around the tiny cottage and communicating mainly in grunts – except when they are demanding Ellen provides taxi services in the small hours. And there is never, but never, any milk in the house. At least the one thing they can all agree on is that rescued Barry the Wolfdog may indeed be The Ugliest Dog in the World, but he is also the loveliest.

I loved this series so far, and this book didn’t disappoint. It is written in such a way that you can hear her voice and understand her emotions as they are exposed. And Simon having an affair was just the icing on the cake Ellen didn’t need.

And then there is the issue about the lasagne. The lasagne that Simon loves. That Ellen has struggled to make even though it is complicated (the béchamel sauce, the mince sauce, the layers, the cheese) and that Simon thinks is easy to make.

And finally all the various bad, and good things that happened over the year, between the not so chatty chickens and the wolf puppy and Ellen’s marriage problems. All of which are etailed and explained in a somewhat ‘foul’-mouthed way with great humour and insight.

Whilst I hope, that not many of us have had years Like Ellen’s, most of us have had some parts of it – including the lasagne!

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The witness

The Last Widow Book Cover The Last Widow
Karin Slaughter
General Fiction (Adult) , suspense, thriller
HarperCollins
13 Jun 2019

Michelle felt her mouth drop open. A van slid to a stop beside her daughter. The side door rolled open. A man jumped out. Michelle gripped her keys. She bolted into a full-out run, cutting the distance between herself and her daughter. She started to scream, but it was too late. Ashley had run off, just like they had taught her to do. Which was fine, because the man did not want Ashley. He wanted Michelle

Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite authors but this time she served up a book that was very dark indeed and delves into the psychoses of several people including her hero and heroine as well as their foes. A gripping book that goes to the wire.

The story shows just how mad can some Americans get in their belief in how the original and entitled inheritors of the land are white men – yes, women are only useful for providing children and looking after the men. So a complete patriarchal society and selective memory as to who ‘owned’ the land they claim.

And then there is the belief that young girls really do want to be raped by fathers and other males from a very very young age – yes, according to paedophiles they are sexually aware and ready from babyhood.

So we have a man, a paedophile in fact, who is a cross between a prepper – in that he wants to live off the land and in a very basic ‘biblical’ manner, whereby the patriarch has many wives (even if they are all his female children); that all other ‘adult’ males can be used as cannon fodder but shouldn’t be near his females unless he has absolute control over them – and a person who reasons that society has become corrupt and needs to be cleansed, violently, and as completely as possible, and is willing to sacrifice everyone else to his beliefs. I am not American but I do believe that there are white supremacists who believe similar things about society and that being white is to be the world’s inheritor.

The last widow is to be the witness to this sacrifice to ensure that society knows who performed the cleansing and why.

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