Cass Leigh is a writer of horror books but her life is far more interesting than a book. Her lover of twenty years has moved to California with his wife for a year, leaving her behind to wonder about their relationship; her estranged God-fearing father leaves messages on her machine damning her to Hell; her sister uses her as an excuse when she is visiting her lover; she dresses up as a vampire to earn more money; she yearns for a baby so badly that she is considering her friend Jason as a donor despite his temperament and his strange son; she can't stand Dante, the new guy in the village, but she can't seem to be able to stay away from him; and, last but not least, she pretends to be a ghost in a haunted house to scare visitors.
It took me a while to get into this book but, once I did, I found it quite captivating. Previously published in 2003 as Singled Out, this is a very enjoyable novel with a pinch of fantasy and religious elements and full of very colourful and weird characters - there is not a normal person in the whole book. Add the small village atmosphere and the ridiculous situations that Cass keeps getting herself into and you have an hilarious and engaging novel. (NP)
Alice was abandoned on the Yorkshire moors on a cold winter night but she was found and raised by a loving adoptive father and a wicked mother. After her father’s death, her relationship with her mother deteriorates and she spends the next twenty years baking her way around England. After losing her fiance in a climbing incident, Alice decides to go back to the place where she was born in search of her birth mother. Things don’t look so good when the lovely coffee shop she was supposed to buy turns out to be a grim diner. Luckily, her bossy but handsome neighbour offers to help and his siblings and mother become the family she never had. In addition, a publisher is finally interested in her fantasy novel and she needs to finish it while organising the opening of her teashop.
This is an entertaining story of love, friendship and family with colourful, humorous, and (mostly) likable characters and an enjoyable plot. Add witty dialogues and a brontesque and atmospheric setting and you have a refreshing and amusing read full of baking ideas. (NP)
Izzy Dane has decided to break off her engagement to her fiance Kieran, and return to the small English village she grew up in, Halfhidden. When she was just sixteen years old, Izzy was involved in a horrible car accident together with a few other teens from the village. Due to a serious head injury and memory loss, Izzy has never managed to find out what exactly happened that night and it's something that is still haunting her. Now she's back in Halfhidden, she wants to question everyone who was involved to finally discover the truth.
Creature Comforts has a captivating storyline, a gorgeous scene setting and a colourful cast of characters to keep readers thoroughly entertained for a few hours. It didn't take long for me to warm to the main protagonist, Izzy Dane, who has returned to her home village to find answers to something that happened to her when she was a teenager. There are quite a number of characters in the novel; I have to admit all the different names that were introduced were a bit daunting to me at first, but as the story progressed I managed to connect all the different names and got to know all the characters. All of them are quite different from one another but really add something to the story, such as Izzy's former best friends Cameron and Lulu, Izzy's aunt Debo, handsome newcomer Rufus, and the big loveable dog Babybelle, whom I couldn't help but develop a soft spot for. The author's writing style is incredibly easy to fall into; it's well-paced and flows really well. Trisha Ashley's scene setting skills are also fabulous, with vivid descriptions of the almost enchanting village of Halfhidden. Also typical for this author are the delicious recipes at the back of the book. Overall, Creature Comforts is a warm, delightful, well-written story that had me captivated from start to finish. (JoH)
Cally's life revolves around her little girl Stella, who needs a live-saving operation. Unfortunately, the only doctor that can do the operation is in Boston, which means it's going to cost a fortune. Putting Stella first, she gives up her London life, selling her flat and moving in with her mum. Romance is the furthest thing from Cally's mind as she starts to fundraise to pay for Stella's operation but then she meets fellow baker Jago. Will Cally find a way to let him into her life?
I loved the way this book was written in the main from Cally's perspective as it gave it a warm and cosy feel. Stella's story is so tragic and you couldn't help but emphasise with the family from the get-go. It's set in the village of Sticklepond, which is an idyllic Lancashire village that features in a few of Ashley's novels, and there are some nice nods to the previous residents who have had their stories already told. The only downside, if you can call it that, is that Cally is a recipe writer and there are a lot of cakes mentioned which will have you craving them all. It's a real heart-warming, uplifting story and a perfect winter read. (AB)
When Tansy needs to start again, she heads to her home village of
Sticklepond (from Chocolate Wishes) to set up her dream shoe shop Cinderella's Slippers. She gets caught up in listening to the recordings of the life story of her great-aunt, uncovering long-lost family secrets. With moody actor Ivo Hawksley, and her two evil step-sisters meddling in her life, Tansy wonders if she'll ever get her own happy-ever-after.
This was a nice, easy, light-hearted read. You immediately bond with Tansy and feel the warmth of her great-aunt Nancy. But for me, the story of Justin her ex doesn't work and it let the book down. (AB)
Ever since Holly Brown lost her husband, Alan, she's been avoiding
Christmas time. It's just too hard for her to celebrate when he is no longer with her. And the festive season becomes even harder for Holly to bear when she loses her gran just before the holiday. So, when the chance comes up to housesit an isolated stately home during Christmas, Holly jumps at the chance. However, there are many things about the job that Holly didn't expect. First off, the house is huge, far too big for one person to take care of alone, and there is also a horse to care for, which Holly has no experience with. But, she's not going to give up that easily. Even the homeowner, famous sculptor Jude Martland, who is difficult to deal with, can't put her off of doing the job. Things change though, when Jude is forced to return unexpectedly and some nasty blizzards set in. If Holly and Jude were looking to avoid Christmas ... they sure are in the wrong place!
In this wonderfully heartfelt story, Holly and Jude are forced to come to terms with all of the pains of the past and begin a new future, whether they'll do it together or separately is entirely up to them. While reading, you may find yourself looking for a cozy blanket and a warm mug of hot chocolate so that you can let yourself be completely absorbed by this touching story. (AS)
Romantic novelist Tina has published several books but makes her real money from critiquing others' manuscripts. With her ex husband Tim the Suit taking over the list at her publisher, Salubrious Press, Tina is threatened with being dropped if her latest erotic gardening story Dark, Passionate Earth doesn't sell well. Meanwhile she is seeing her occasional lover, former Russian ballet dancer Sergei, who is plagued by rumours that he's actually gay. This is a short novel - less than 200 pages in my edition. Read it for the hilarious letters to and from aspiring authors.
Tish has found the perfect husband in James; good looking, a steady career, dependable and would make a great father. He is poles apart from her teenage sweetheart, Fergal, who broke her heart by leaving her to chase his dreams of becoming a famous rock star. Tish is a romantic novelist, whose books feature a leading man with more than just a leaning towards her first love. Her chauvinistic husband treats her success as little more than a hobby and would rather she dressed and behaved more conservatively. Tish finds her perfect cottage in the country and is convinced that this will be what it takes for James to want to start a family. Unfortunately a certain rock star also decides to move to the village and turns Tish's world upside down. This is a light frothy read, with a likeable heroine that you can't help rooting for. (EH)
A Christmas Cracker
A Winter's Tale
Every Woman For Herself
The Urge to Jump