The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

The Work of ArtSet in the Regency period, The Work of Art is the first book I have read by Mimi Matthews, but it certainly won’t be the last! I love finding a new writer and knowing there are lots of books to catch up on.

The Work of Art was such a delight to read. The main characters, Philly and Arthur, jump off the page fully formed; they are not the usual stereotypes, but slightly unconventional and therefore much more interesting to read about. All alone since the death of her grandfather, Philly is in London to find a husband (or so she thinks). What she doesn’t know is that her Uncle has promised her to the Duke of Moreland, a despicable character, who only wants to add her to his collection of unique objects, due to the unusual colour of her eyes.

What starts out as a marriage of convenience, to save Philly from the clutches of the Duke of Moreland, works out so well because of the foundation of friendship, trust and mutual support between her and Arthur. Their romance blossoms but the author manages to avoid the kind of explicit descriptions that would have made Georgette Heyer blush!  In London, both Philly and Arthur are not in their natural environment – they are both much more at ease in the countryside, horse riding, walking the dogs, away from the superficial restrictions imposed by society.

The ending is a real surprise; I won’t say any more but I don’t think you’ll see it coming.  I am looking forward to reading many more books by Mimi Matthews.

Thanks to the author for a copy that I have reviewed as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT #TheWorkofArt #MimiMatthews

There She Goes by Lynne Shelby

There She GoesThere She Goes is the second in Lynne Shelby’s series of novels set in the world of the theatre, but it is not a sequel, and you can easily read them independently of each other. Told mainly from Julie’s point of view, with occasional glimpses of Zac’s thoughts, we learn what everyday life is like for struggling actors trying to break into musical theatre, with the holy grail being a part in a show directed by Joe Garcia. I’m not a fan of any kind of theatre, but I was drawn into the world Lynne has created here as it seems thoroughly convincing.

The story is well written and the characters are likeable and believable with brief appearances of some from the previous book – The One That I Want; my particular favourite is Nadia – no spoilers here, so I’m not going to tell you why! I enjoyed reading There She Goes but felt it would have benefited from slightly more dramatic tension; none of the obstacles in the way of Julie and Zac’s relationship seemed that serious, and they were easily overcome. In some ways, this story is more about friendship than romance, as the young actors all support each other in their quest for recognition.

I review this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT

Brothers in Blood by Amer Anwar

Brothers in BloodThis award-winning debut novel from Amer Anwar had me hooked from the start. It tells the tale of Zaq’s search for his boss’s daughter who has run away to escape an arranged marriage. Not a trained investigator, Zaq seems an unlikely choice for this task. He is the only Muslim working for a family of Sikhs and not long out of prison, so Mr Brar threatens to frame him for theft and send him back to prison if he does not comply.

Right from the start he is hampered by not having all the facts. It gradually emerges that this is about much more than a runaway daughter – drugs, kidnapping and armed robbery combine to put Zaq’s life in serious danger. Every time he thinks he is making progress in the investigation, a new twist sends him off in a completely different direction. Zaq is subjected to several brutal beatings but gives as good as he gets, having learned to take care of himself in prison. The violence never seems gratuitous but part of the world he is now involved in.  

The relationship between Zaq and his friend Jags is a joy to behold; their support of each other and humorous banter provides light relief from the dark conspiracy they are being drawn into. By the time we find out why Zaq went to prison, we have already seen his true nature and are on his side.

The characters are well written and the dialogue is convincingly realistic. The sense of place in the sights, sounds and smells of this area of South London is very vividly evoked. This would be great as a film or TV series, making a refreshing change from the many formulaic programmes currently on our screens. It is hard to believe that this is his first novel as it seems so assured.

Thanks to the author for providing a free copy of his book that I review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Under the Cherry Tree by Lilac Mills

Under the Cherry TreeJenni owns a dog grooming parlour – Telling Tails – and would dearly love to expand her business to include dog behaviour and agility classes, but for this she would need larger premises. She can afford it but would have to spend her share of the compensation money she received following her dad’s fatal accident, something she is reluctant to do. Until one day her mum brings her a brochure for the perfect property – Cherry Tree Farm – and she just has to take a look…

The main character in this story is really Jenni’s dog, a Westie called Millie; she is a great judge of character, spotting the true nature of the men Jenni gets involved with long before she does.   

This light-hearted romantic comedy is well written with a believable range of supporting characters and would be a very enjoyable way to pass the time, especially if you love dogs.

Thanks to the author for a free copy that I review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Zenka by Alison Brodie

ZenkaI had not read anything by Alison before so (being a fellow Scot) thought I’d give it a try. I was very impressed. The title character is a Hungarian pole-dancer who was promised a good job in London but had actually been sold into the sex trade by Romanian gangsters. She is saved from a fate worse than death by Jack Murray, ‘top gang boss’ in London and owner of the club where she now works. Jack is ruthless but a big softie where women are concerned.

He finds out that he has a son by someone he knew at school but is too frightened to make contact in case his enemies harm the young man in retaliation. Without giving too much away, what follows is a hilarious attempt to help his son anonymously and toughen him up (Zenka thinks he is a bit of a wimp) before he feels it is safe to introduce himself.

The plot is hilarious, full of dark humour with many twists and turns that you don’t see coming. The characters are well written and believable; you care what happens to them. There is also a cinematic quality to the story that would make a very entertaining film; a combination of black comedy, crime thriller and love story.

Thanks to Alison Brodie for the ARC of this novel that I review as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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