A Girl's Best Friend by Jules Wake

A Girls Best Friend

I have read other books by Jules Wake (try From Italy with Love) and this is well up to her usual standard.

Ella is in a bad place at the start and just wants to hide away and get on with her book illustrations. To her horror, she discovers that looking after a dog is part of the deal when she agreed to house-sit for her godmother, Magda, who has gone travelling.

I’m more of a cat person but found myself won over by Tess and the beneficial effect she has on Ella’s life. Despite her best intentions, she is not allowed to hide away; the locals are extremely friendly and, of course, there is a handsome vet.

Ella’s backstory is gradually revealed and it becomes apparent why she had to flee to the country. The characters are well rounded, the setting is convincingly real and Tess will steal your heart. I really enjoyed A Girl’s Best Friend and will be looking out for her next one.

 

All That's Dead by Stuart MacBride

All Thats Dead

I’m a huge fan of the Logan McRae series of novels and they just keep getting better.

All the familiar much-loved characters are there – Steele, Rennie and Tufty – in this topical political story about extreme Scottish nationalists.

The dark humour offsets the gruesome nature of their discoveries in this case. There is a vivid sense of place and the use of local dialect adds colour and realism – I have previously lived in this part of Scotland and Aberdeenshire jumps off the page in all its glory.

This is crime writing at its best and I hope it’s not the last we see of Logan McRae. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC to review.

1932 by Karen M Cox

1932

This is a loose reinterpretation of Pride & Prejudice set in rural Kentucky during the Depression. The Bennet family, now in straightened circumstances, returns to live in the house where Mrs Bennet grew up. It has little in the way of modern conveniences (literally!), and they all have a lot of adjusting to do.

Some reviewers have bemoaned the fact that 1932 does not slavishly follow Jane Austen’s original plot, but surely that is the point. Karen M Cox has taken the bones of the original story, let her imagination run with it, and come up with this very enjoyable, and very different, homage to Jane Austen. Obviously, having moved continents, and more than a century in time, people in 1930s America behave and talk a lot differently than they did in the original story, so it’s not so easy to compare them; this is a good thing as nobody wants to read a pale imitation of such a beloved classic.

The main focus of this story is the relationship between Darcy and Lizzie Bennet, with most of it occuring after they marry, but Lydia and George Wickham still manage to cause havoc. However, Jane and Bingley’s relationship is not as prominent, and Mr and Mrs Bennet are a lot more ‘normal’.

To be honest, if you changed the names, 1932 would work very well as an independent novel, enabling it to reach a wider audience as not everyone has read, or is a fan of, Jane Austen.

I really enjoyed this and thought the characters were believable and convincing in their own right. Darcy and Elizabeth’s behaviour did change for the better, and they overcame their pride and prejudice.

Thank you to the author for a copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. #RBRT #1932 #karenmcox    

The Driftwood Girls by Mark Douglas-Home

The Driftwood Girls

The Driftwood Girls is the fourth novel in the ‘sea detective’ series featuring Cal McGill, an oceanographer and a very unusual investigator. I read and enjoyed the first three books several years ago, and was delighted when NetGalley accepted my request to read this one. While it works fine as a standalone, as there is enough backstory, introduced in a natural way, to make sense of what is going on, I would suggest you start with The Sea Detective, and read them in order, for a much more rewarding experience.

Told from multiple viewpoints, the novel begins slowly as Mark Douglas-Home introduces us to all the characters involved in this intricately plotted and fascinating tale. It is hard to fathom just how all the disparate strands of the plot could possibly be connected, when Cal starts to investigate the disappearance, twenty-three years previously, of Flora and Kate’s mother. No spoilers here so you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

The characters are well drawn and believable, especially the female ones; the sense of place of the various geographical locations (Edinburgh, NW Scotland, Texel island, the Suffolk coast) adds another layer to the narrative; the science is convincing and well-researched.  

If you are looking to read something a bit out of the ordinary, then I thoroughly recommend The Driftwood Girls. The complicated but entirely plausible story will keep you reading long into the night. Cal McGill is unorthodox, a bit of a loner, but makes a compelling investigator who leaves no stone unturned until he gets to the truth. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy in return for an honest review #thedriftwoodgirls #markdouglashome #netgalley

The Love Child by Rachel Hore

The Love Child

As is usual in Rachel Hore novels, The Love Child has a dual time-line. In 1917, while nursing in France, Alice falls in love with Jack. He is killed before they can marry and she discovers she is pregnant. With no choice but to have the baby adopted, Alice still finds it hard to forgive her step-mother, Gwen. Unusually for a woman at that time, Alice goes on to become a doctor. She never tells anyone about the baby she had to give away, even her husband Fergus.

The baby, meanwhile, is adopted by Philip and Edith, who have not been able to have any children of their own, and is named Irene. They then go on to have a son called Clayton, who is his mother’s favourite. Irene has a difficult relationship with her adopted mother, especially after the death of her father. She knows she was adopted and tries to find her birth mother, but this was not an easy task back then.

We follow their stories in the period between the wars as Alice becomes a GP and Irene moves from Suffolk to London to work in an art gallery. The historical detail is fascinating and makes you realise just how much women’s lives have changed since then, and how much they have not. Alice and Irene both have difficult relationships with their mothers, but they eventually make peace with the past. I really enjoyed reading The Love Child and will go back and catch up with a couple of books by Rachel Hore that I have not read yet. She writes such believable characters and gives you a history lesson into the bargain. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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