Weddings in Aspen

A Wedding In December Book Cover A Wedding In December
Sarah Morgan
romance, women's fiction
31st October 2019

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie's whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she's not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.

Another wedding story – yes Xmas seems to be the season for it… here with a sister who is a cynic and firmly determined to stop her flaky sister from going through with it. This sister cynic is also an A&E doctor (Emergency Room for US readers), and this really influences her view on life as she so often sees the train wrecks of lives that women have made with hasty marriages and unsuitable husbands who are lovely until the ring is on their finger!

The sister’s romance was a trifle predictable from the very first moment of meeting and rather unexceptional which down-grades the book from 4 to 3.5 stars.

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Marry in haste?

The Christmas Wedding Book Cover The Christmas Wedding
#1 Little Creek
by Dilly Court
Historical romance, women's fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
17 Oct 2019

The village of Little Creek, the long winter of 1867  The first flakes of snow are falling when Daisy Marshall, secretly engaged to her master's son, finds herself jilted at the altar. Heartbroken, Daisy flees to the small village of Little Creek, nestled on the coast of Essex. There she is warmly welcomed – but the village is poverty-stricken, suffering under a cruel Lord of the manor. And when cholera hits, the villagers are truly in dire straits. Determined to help, Daisy makes new friends in earnest doctor Nicholas and dashing smuggler Jay – but also dangerous new enemies, who threaten to destroy everything she’s built. Can Daisy save the village and find happiness in time for Christmas?

So what do you do if you are brought up as a Lady, and don’t have any skills other than keeping house? Or maybe, being a Governess.

The perennial problem facing young women back in the – well most centuries before women went out to anything other menial work.

And when you lose what little income you have, you fall back on your family – if you have one.

And this is the story that we follow here, but we have a dashing pirate – well smuggler, as so many were along the British southern coast (as my husband’s family can testify!) and a villainy lord of the manor – all good gothic elements for a romance story.

Nicely told with some good historical facts and descriptions of the poverty that so many villagers lived in where huts were basically mud floors and mostly mud walls and roofs..  with rents and work under the control of the local lord – even in the 19th century.

Gentle and cosy by the fire reading because it all works out in the end – as it must.

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Going Alone?

Plus One Plus None Book Cover Plus One Plus None
by Emica Mao
Women's Fiction, Romance
Pub Date 16 Jul 2019

Plus One Plus None is a candid monologue of a single introvert named Zita who expected to be married someday but instead ended up single in her 40s. Like most girls, when she was in her 20s, she felt like she had all the time in the world and everything would just fall into place within the usual timeline. Except that sometimes, things don't turn out the way you expect them to be which you may only realize after several years have slipped by.

In Plus One Plus None, Zita retells her story as how it unfolded. She shares her unfiltered thoughts, reflections, actions (and inactions), mistakes, imperfections and realizations at every stage in her life. Her musings and anecdotes include various topics from dating, pursuing personal goals, dealing with intrusive questions like "how old are you?" and "when will you get married?", to facing the possibility of not being able to marry and get pregnant within one's prime years, and coming to grips with the possibility of staying unmarried and growing old alone.

Who may learn from Zita's story?

- unattached singles in their mid-30s or 40s who sometimes wonder why they are still single or ended up single because it is when you reach this age when you begin to realize that there's a chance that some of the things you expected to happen in your life may not happen after all (versus when you are in your 20s to early 30s when you're brimming with confidence that everything would happen within your expected timeline);

- the single who complains about her single status and blames it on her busy schedule, lack of dating opportunities and other external factors;

- the shy single or the homebody single who doesn't go out a lot but expects to find a boyfriend;

- the choosy single who starts zoning out on the first date the moment she spots something she doesn't like about her date or who refuses to go out on a second date once the guy isn't her type but claims she's open to "dating";

- the praying single who asks God to send her The One but doesn't do her part to make it happen;

- the single who says she wants to get married and have kids someday but her actions and innermost thoughts say otherwise;

- the single who relies on pure hope and luck in meeting her Plus One someday; and

- the single who claims every new year is going to be "the year" but doesn't do anything new or different each year.

Just remember - each person has different values, fears, challenges, imperfections and reasons for being single and though Zita's fears, challenges, imperfections, circumstances and reasons for being single maybe different from yours, you may use Zita's story as a cautionary tale to reflect where you are right now in your single life and determine what needs to be done to make things happen in your life within your target timeline.

If you are single and you are already doing something about your single situation, or you never run out of dates, or you love to go out to mingle, or you already have a boyfriend, or you are right on track with your relationship goals, there is no need to read Zita's story unless you are naturally curious about other people's life stories or curious to hear one's story of unexpected spinsterhood.

Plus One Plus None is a short and concise read that gives a snapshot of single woman's introspection of 15 years of her single life in 140 pages (for paperback) and 178 pages (on kindle).

Don't let another year quickly slip away only to realize that you are a year older and nothing significant happened in your single life again.

 I rather liked this story and the way the story was told by the narrator - who seemed to be somewhere on the spectrum, but determined to live as normal a life as she could.
However, I do have some criticisms -one of which was on every page and nearly every statement - the use of LOL. Not only is this very outdated in terms of current language use, but it really irritated by the time it was repeated and repeated and repeated. 905 of these should have been cut out.
The bit about prayers was not for me and in my opinion seemed not to fit the the general trajectory of the story. Which led to the final chapter. Oh dear. Where did this come from? It turned into a self-help book. Which was not what it originally appeared to be, but reading the author’s comments it clearly was. This really reduced my admiration for the story as it turned each chapter on its head and even though it was not aimed at me, it felt too prescriptive as a self-help book.
So my star rating zoomed down to a 2.

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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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Who is to inherit?

Daring To Love The Duke's Heir Book Cover Daring To Love The Duke's Heir
The Beauchamp Heirs
by Janice Preston
Women's Fiction, Historical
Mills & Boon
Pub Date 27 Jun 2019

She’s totally unsuitable…

…to be his Duchess!

Part of The Beauchamp Heirs: Dominic Beauchamp, Lord Avon, is a powerful duke’s heir and it’s his duty to marry well. His bride must have impeccable breeding, manners and grace. But can anyone meet his exacting standards? Certainly not the irrepressible Liberty Lovejoy, who’s been thrust into society after years of being a provincial nobody. She’s too bold, too bubbly…so why is she the only lady he’s thinking about?

Oh the ‘Ton’ and their ideas that women should be seen and not heard – unless they agree with men of course – in  very simpering way.

A time it seems of true misogyny, at least in the ranks of the privileged few. Bearing in mind that very few women had any control over property, children or money. Let alone voting and politics. Not even the ability to pay bills it seems.

What therefore is a woman with a mind, a voice, and emotions going to do when her twin brother seems determined to fritter away their newly acquired fortune and she can’t control him or the money or…

Clearly she was not going to marry a Duke. Except that this is a love story and…

Nicely written and one feels for both the hero and heroine. The hero because he has been brought up in a world of expectations and the heroine because she has so little control over her life and yet is passionate and meddling..!

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