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London stores

Meet Me in London Book Cover Meet Me in London
Georgia Toffolo
Fiction, romance,
HarperCollins UK
October 15, 2020
320

What do you do when your fake engagement starts to feel too real…

Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.

Oliver Russell’s Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family’s new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.

When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria’s past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for…

Ooh, Shiny!

There has been, it seems to me, a sudden rush of books about department stores. This is my 3rd in 2 weeks. All about renovations and the staff and machinations and…

This is nicely written book and as it happens  Portobello Road is under renovation at the moment and under pressure from developers who are trying to buy up the area with the antiques – not for a department store though, but for flats. Small developments are permitted as we are so short of living accommodation here in London.

This is another warm book again. Victoria is a very giving person and Ollie comes across as someone who has been trained to the that English reticence and inability to express emotion that comes from the boarding school and rigid upbringing that older parents, with a very large business empire to manage, can impart.

I loved the closeness of Victoria’s friends and how they had all found he best life for them after their teenage tragedy. But small coastal villages are somewhat over romanticised in my opinion and lead people to think it is all happy living, when often it isn’t – too many people and no privacy and rather inbred. That said, I totally agree about Chelsea Physick Garden – it is a wonderful place.

Chelsea Physick Garden

As its name implied, it is all about medicine and was set up in 1673 as a botanical  garden for the doctors of the time with a wonderful collection of  plants for all sorts of uses from medical to dyeing to…

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And the fairytale retold?

From Cinderella To Countess Book Cover From Cinderella To Countess
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Annie Burrows
Fiction, Historical, Romance
HarperCollins UK
May 28, 2020
368

From Cinderella in the shadows To Countess in the spotlight?

Lady’s companion Eleanor Mitcham longs to escape her unhappy life. Having been told she’s too lowly to speak to Lord Lavenham, Eleanor defiantly accepts his challenge to teach her employer a lesson—by marrying him! He is an eligible earl after all! However, his determinedly cynical view of marriage makes her dissolve their convenient betrothal and flee—leaving the drama of the household behind and Lord Lavenham hot on her heels!

A sweet and sappy romance that lifts the spirit with its daft dowager who has servants who adore her.

And a naive beyond belief heroine, and the cynical hero – who recognised the truth of most of society’s  marriages – that they are purely for gain – wealth or land ,and that after the production of the heir and spare, the two ‘combatants’ need rarely see each other and can continue with their own amusements.

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Mystery Surrounds her like the Night?

The Mysterious Miss Fairchild Book Cover The Mysterious Miss Fairchild
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Sarah Mallory
Fiction
HarperCollins UK
April 30, 2020
368

An accomplished beauty…

But a most unsuitable match!

Natalya Fairchild can’t help but be drawn to Tristan Quintrell, Lord Dalmorren, with his effortless charisma, even if he’s not her intended bridegroom. Tristan is an eligible society catch…whereas Natalya’s unknown heritage could label her ruined! As he helps Natalya investigate her mysterious past, she starts to hope the truth of her conception won’t destroy her prospects…of a life with Tristan!

This was a Regency romance in much of the usual format except for Miss Fairchild herself.
Her education was clearly not that of the usual female of her time - and her reading materials were so limited that she could come to a completely erroneous conclusion. Aided by the type of school she attended and many of its pupils of course.
I’m afraid I had guessed her birth ‘secret’ well before half way through the book and thus she wasn’t quite as mysterious as she could be.
Also, she was too compliant for me. I prefer my heroines to have rather more life in them and to be more rebellious. She was too easy to keep constrained.
Other than that, it was typical of its genre with not enough to warrant to a 4 star rating.

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Steele by name

Claimed By A Steele Book Cover Claimed By A Steele
(Forged of Steele, Book 13)
Brenda Jackson
Fiction
HarperCollins UK, (Mills & Boon Desire)
April 2, 2020
192

Is this playboy ready for the wildest ride of his life? A PR stunt would be good for business so trucking CEO Gannon Steele invites reporter Delphine Ryland to hitch a ride cross-country. But soon the trip turns from strictly business to strictly pleasure, and the consequences might be more than this rough-and-ready bachelor can handle….

Well I thought that these weren’t the first in the series about the Steele family, and checking on Amazon I find that they are books 12 and 13 in the series...
But that in the Kimani imprint (African American novels only) there is a number 89 in the series! So the story goes on...
These 2 novels take on the romances of the 2 youngest of the 6 sons of the family.
Whilst I thought these 2 books were reasonable for their genre, with gentle humour and nice story-telling, I found them rather short. But then if Brenda is turning out the numbers of books she is, she can’t write a longer length novel each time. And it may also be the norm for this imprint.
This left me wanting more depth from the characters and the stories.
Adequate but not exceptional.

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Not so much a Rake – more a Beau

My Fake Rake Book Cover My Fake Rake
(The Union of the Rakes, Book 1)
Eva Leigh
Fiction, romance, historical
HarperCollins UK, Mills and Boon
January 31, 2020
384

Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to create the perfect man, to act as her suitor, and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.

To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing—albeit fake—rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…

Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future—and his heart.

This is a Regency Romance with a difference.
@ There is plenty of bawdy talk and swearing and sexual escapades occur.
The author does not pretend that all society young women are innocent or
inexperienced.
@ The young women are scientists.
They write papers that are published- though I am not sure how accurate
this is.
@There are mixed races married in respectable’ society. Again, I
would like some evidence.
But there are some excellent academic points made about
hypotheses. That they only stand until there is evidence that
they must change if evidence dictates it. And that our biases
influence our beliefs and how we explore the world and science.
And that people (The author says men) only value what
others possess…

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