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The Wardrobe Mistress By Natalie Meg Evans

The Wardrobe Mistress‘The Wardrobe Mistress’ is the latest book by Natalie Meg Evans.

London 1945. A young war widow steps aboard a train in search of a new life. Clutching the key to a mysterious inheritance, Vanessa Kingcourt can no longer resist the pull of the old Farren Theatre – an enchanted place seeped in memories of her actor father. Now owned by troubled former captain Alistair Redenhall, The Farren is in need of a Wardrobe Mistress and a new lease of life. With no experience and no budget for supplies, Vanessa must use her intuition to create beautiful costumes from whatever scraps of silk and thread survived the blitz. It’s a seemingly impossible task, but a welcome distraction as she struggles to resist her blossoming feelings for Alistair. What Vanessa discovers could unravel family secrets sewn deep into the very fabric of the London theatre scene . . . but will she repeat the same terrible mistakes her father made? And can she dare to love a man who will never be hers?

Natalie is back with another gripping read set in the aftermath of the Second World War.

In this story, we meet Alistair and Vanessa, an unlikely pair who forge a professional friendship when they work at The Farren, a popular theatre.

After her father left when she was child, Vanessa was consumed with wondering what became of him. She knew he had an acting career at The Farren, so she returns to the old theatre after his death and takes on the old of wardrobe mistress even though she has absolutely no experience in the trade. Meanwhile, Alaistair is the husband of Vanessa’s best friend whose marriage is falling apart, having left the navy after the war, Alaistair takes over the The Farren and prepares for their first performance.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the background of war ridden London trying to recover itself made for atmospheric reading. The characters are engaging and complimentary with each other, with Vanessa’s humour and outspoken nature and Alaistair’s charisma, they made an entertaining couple, even though they both tried to deny their attraction to each other. There are two parts to the story, as Vanessa delves into her father’s past and tries to solve the mystery of the tiny key that she was given as a child and as she tries to find her place in life.

Filled with flamboyant and dramatic characters, beautiful fashion and riddled with suspense and mystery throughout ‘The Wardrobe Mistress’ is a romantic and luxurious tale that made for memorable reading

You can buy The Wardrobe Mistress from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Night Visitor By Lucy Atkins

The Night Visitor‘The Night Visitor’ is the latest book by Lucy Atkins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

‘The Night Visitor’ is a gripping and sinister tale, that held me in its clutches over the last couple of nights as I delved into the twisted and complicated relationship of Olivia Sweethorn and Vivian Tester.

The story is written in a dual narrative seen from the perspective of both women in alternating chapters, travelling swiftly and neatly from past to present tense, bringing the reader up to speed about their status.

Olivia is a beloved historian who longs to share the compelling story of Annabel Burley, a renowned woman in British medicine and with the help of Vivian, a researcher the pair of them write a successful bestseller. But, just as the book hits the shelves, Olivia begins to realise that Vivian isn’t quite the person she was led to believe and regrets the woman’s involvement in the creation of the book.

The two women are polar opposites of each other, which makes their relationship and the drama surrounding them so intense and chilling. Olivia comes from a bustling family, mother of three children and married to fellow writer David, her life is a hive of activity whereas as Vivian has no one, other than her dog, Bertie for company. She leads a lonely life, an only child with no family and she sometimes finds it hard to deal with human relationships.

She’s a simple but guarded woman that I sometimes found myself sympathising with. Where, Olivia shines in all her glory, Vivian prefers to sit back and watch and what she observes certainly makes for haunting reading. As the story develops, secrets are revealed and tragic events occur that effect both women.

Suberbly researched, this book is cleverly and chillingly written. This intense story observes the somewhat twisted relationship between women, a story of obsession and jealously, ‘The Night Visitor’ is a menacing tale riddled with deceit and an intriguing plot line that made for creepily atmospheric reading.

You can buy The Night Visitor from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman By Mindy Mejia

The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman‘The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman’ is the thrilling new book by Mindy Mejia.

Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is the brightest star of her small town – until she is brutally murdered on the opening night of her high school play. Set across eight months before and after her murder, we flick between three narrators, Hattie, her high school English teacher Peter and local town sheriff Del Goodman, to find out what secrets this small town is hiding and what really happened to Hattie Hoffman.

For the last 24 hours, my head has been stuck in this book, it’s amazingly written, cleverly seen from the perspective of the victim, potential suspect and the police officer investigating the case and with these three very different narratives made for absolutely brilliant reading.

In the beginning of this story, we meet Hattie, she’s an aspiring young actress, who dreams of threading the boards on Broadway, but her dreams are cut tragically short when she is brutally murdered. The story begins on the night of the murder and then the following chapters, mix between both the past and present as her murder is investigated.

Hattie, is a confident young woman, she enjoys nothing more than stepping into character and begins to find over time, she is unsure of who the real Hattie is. But then Peter Lund steps into her life, as the new English teacher and she finally finds her true self as they embark on a secret relationship. Peter is unhappy in his life, he’s moved back to the small town as his mother in law is unwell and his wife Mary, wants to be close to her and be her carer. Feeling isolated and alone, their marriage becomes strained and Peter finds himself attracted to Hattie, a sharp and witty young woman who shares his passion for literature. Their relationship is fun and tentative, but also forbidden as they try to keep their feelings secret.

The story flashes back and forward between the narrative of the pair of them as they try to ignore their feelings towards each other and to when they finally give in. Whilst Sheriff Del Goodman, a gentle man who knew Hattie as a child is determined to find the killer of his friends daughter. His narrative in the story makes for interesting reading as he investigates the case, piecing clues together to find the killer.

An atmospheric psychological thriller that made for genuinely thrilling reading. The lead character is both likeable and unlikable in equal measures but also relatable in the fact that she is a small town girl wanting to escape to the land of opportunities. Riddled with twists and turns and a never ending list of suspects. A tragic love story with a cruel twist, ‘The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman’ is an absorbing story that was impossible to put down.

You can pre-order The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 9th March 2017.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Time By Joanna Bolouri

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Time‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Time’ is the third book by Joanna Bolouri.

Thirty-eight year old Emily has a satisfying job, fab friends and, most importantly, a wonderful flat, exactly 411 miles away from the judgemental, crazy, interfering family she reluctantly sees twice a year. In fact, the only minor stress in her life is her twenty-something neighbour Evan and his penchant for flirting, loud music and even louder sex, but he’s nothing she can’t handle. Emily also has a boyfriend called Robert and it’s going really well. So well, in fact, that this year Emily is hoping to take him home for Christmas to meet her family. Finally she won’t be subject to five days of nosy questions from her parents and pity looks from her younger married siblings. But when Robert breaks up with her a week before Christmas, Emily is gutted. How on earth is she going to face her family now? Enlisting the help of party boy Evan (in exchange for one month’s rent and the use of her convertible) Emily is determined to take Robert home for Christmas come hell or high water, even if it isn’t the real Robert.

When it comes to a brash and fun tale of love and disaster, Joanna is the one author who writes it perfectly, even though she is a relatively new author for me, having only read one author book by her, I have come to the conclusion, that she has quickly become one of my favourite authors.

In her latest story, we meet Emily, a woman who is content in her life, she’s happy in her teaching job, only is minimally annoyed by her temperamental housemates and has met the perfect gentleman called Robert, a man that she can bring home for Christmas and finally get a break from her braying family about why she isn’t married with children. But when her relationship falls apart and to save face, Emily employs the help of her annoyingly handsome neighbour, Evan to pretend to be her Robert. Packed with post-its of research, the duo head home to Scotland where they prepare to put on the performance of their lifetimes, as they pretend to be the most loved up couple in the world.

Right from the very beginning, we are introduced to Emily, a fun loving, outspoken Scottish woman who is loving life, the only thing that is annoying her, is her neighbour Evan, who’s sexy times are literally keeping her awake. He’s charming and handsome and really knows what buttons to push to get a reaction from her. So when she drunkenly asks him to pretend to her boyfriend, I knew this entertaining story was going to get a whole lot better. Evan is a sweetheart of a man, he’s kind and witty and it’s obivious that he likes Emily more than she realises.

A story is seen solely through the narrative of Emily and I loved it, her honesty and blunt nature had me laughing out loud on buses and in work. Joanna has a knack of writing such frank and enjoyable stories that makes it impossible for me to put the book down. The story flows at the fast pace, as the unlikely and reluctant friendship between Emily and Evan progresses and she begins to warm to him and see him less as a nuisance and more of a potential friend. Other supporting characters are as equally entertaining as Emily and Evan, Alice and Toby who are Emily’s housemates have a volatile relationship that rapidly changes from love and hate in a manner of seconds, whereas Emily’s family are an inquisitive and fun crowd who want nothing more than to see the oldest daughter happy but Iona, Emily’s youngest twin sister, is cynical towards the relationship and interactions between the two sisters do make for seriously fun reading.

A wittily written story that is packed with unfortunate disasters, reluctant heroines and hero’s, ’The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ is the most hilarious Christmas story that I’ve had the joy of reading this year, filled with witty one liners and raunchy moments, this book is the ideal distraction from life, the perfect book for fans of Mhairi MacFarlane.

You can buy The Most Wonderful Time of the Year from Amazon and ia available to buy from good bookshops.

Thursdays In The Park By Hilary Boyd

'Thursdays In The Park‘Thursdays In The Park’ was originally released in 2011 as an ebook and due to its phenomenal success, it’s been reissued as a book to mark its fifth anniversary.

Jeanie has been married for thirty years, but her husband George has become so cold and distant she may as well be alone. Surely, at just sixty, a loveless marriage can’t be the only thing left on the horizon? Then, one Thursday in autumn, Jeanie meets Ray in the park, and a chance meeting blossoms into a friendship. They talk, laugh, share hopes and secrets and heartbreaks.They offer each other a second chance at life and love. But will they have the courage to take it?

The story is seen solely through the eyes of Jeanie, a woman who is on the cusp of turning 60 and she’s far from wanting to slow down in life. Her marriage was fine until one day ten years ago her husband George suddenly left their bedroom without any explanation. For years, Jeanie wondered what happened between the two of them but George refuses to talk about it and is convinced that their marriage is still the same as it was. Upset and tired of being taken for granted, Jeanie stumbles upon a kind stranger in the park one Thursday when they are both out with their grandchildren. Ray helps Jeanie see the bright side of life, he helps her believe that life doesn’t end when she reaches 60 even though George thinks otherwise. The pair of them embark on a tentative friendship as they both deal with knew unexpected feeling.

Although I enjoyed this book and for the majority I found it made for pleasant reading, I did find elements of it frustrating particularly scenes with George. I found him to be a petulant and stubborn character, who treated Jeanie unfairly. He refused to tell her what changed between them that night even though he regularly proclaims declarations of love, also with calling Jeanie “old girl” all the time, I found him annoying. He thinks he knows what’s best for Jeanie and decides to uproot them to the countryside even though Jeanie is opposed to the idea.

Fortunately Jeanie finds solace in the company of little Ellie, her sweet granddaughter and her outspoken best friend Rita. Meanwhile Ray injects an element of tenderness to this tale, as he cares for Jeanie and has a genuine connection with her, he’s her escape from the unhappiness of her marriage.

Cleverly written from the beginning, this book provides a frank and honest account of when marriages become stale. ‘Thursdays In The Park’ is a poignant and lighthearted story about starting over and how life doesn’t have to end when you hit 60.

You can buy Thursdays in the Park from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.