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Polly Atkins is getting married.

And her older sister Bella couldn’t be more excited. Not only will Polly be home after five years in New York, but she’s coming back to marry the most perfect man on the planet, Dev. Dresses, cake, first dance … Bella’s looking forward to getting stuck into the arrangements.

Polly’s best friend Grace is just as excited. She’s can’t wait to walk down the aisle behind her childhood ally, especially as the stylish Polly wouldn’t dream of dressing her bridesmaids in anything but the best, which will make a welcome change to the ‘mum-wear’ she’s adopted since her second child was born.

The only person who doesn’t seem to be bursting with enthusiasm is Polly. Which is why, before things can get any more chaotic, she calls the whole thing off. And there’s no way she’s going to tell them why. Some secrets are best kept hidden.

But she’s reckoned without Grace and Bella, who are determined to get Polly and Dev back together if it’s the last thing they do. After all, solving someone else’s problems has got to be better than dealing with their own …?

“There Goes The Bride” is the first stand-alone novel from Holly McQueen, the authoress of the ‘Isabel Bookbinder’ series. It begins with Polly Atkins returning to London from New York and announcing, without any explanation, that she’s breaking up with her fiancé Dev, the man she was supposed to be marrying in just a few weeks. Polly’s sister Bella is sure that Polly’s making a mistake and enlists the help of Polly’s best friend Grace to uncover what’s behind her change of heart.

Unfortunately, I found Polly to be completely self-absorbed and annoyingly flighty; indeed, I was thankful that the reader doesn’t actually see that much of her – I far preferred the secondary storylines concerning Bella and Grace and their awful relationships. The only time we know what’s going on in Polly’s head is via some rather ambiguous emails to the mysterious Julia in New York, and as such, I found that I didn’t really care about Polly or Dev, and I certainly wasn’t bothered whether they got back together again or not. The mystery of why Polly called off the wedding in the first place was also of little interest to me. In fact, I didn’t really understand Polly and Dev’s relationship at all – she’s been in New York for five years, but he’s working in a hospital in the UK? It just didn’t sit well with me.

Bella’s friend Anna however was a brilliant character – completely nutty, and her hilariously inappropriate comments about her sex life had me laughing out loud in places. Polly and Bella’s mother was also very amusing with her flirting with any man in sight and her bossing around of her husband and Bella. I just wish these two characters had featured more in the book.

My favourite of the main protagonists was Grace; I particularly enjoyed the way that in actual fact, she was such a completely different person to how she was perceived by those around her. Her husband is awful, but the characters were so well-written that I could both understand how she’d ended up with him in the first place, and have stuck with him for so long. The same was true of the relationship between Bella and her boyfriend – they are wrong for each other, but you can really see how conceivable it is that they’d not yet realised this.

I didn’t think that the widower in the story, Liam, was particularly well dealt with. Perhaps this was just because I’ve recently read Freya North’s ‘Chances’, which deals with a similar situation superbly, but I felt that Liam’s widowhood was treated almost insensitively.

“There Goes The Bride” was well-written and kept my interest through out, but, whilst it contained some very memorable minor characters, I felt that Polly, the character referred to in the book’s title, was a bit of a let-down. The best aspect of the story was undoubtedly the many funny moments; Holly McQueen writes comedic episodes brilliantly and I think that is where her true talent lies.

3 stars

For my review of Freya North’s ‘Chances’ please see:

https://girlyscribbles.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/review-chances-by-freya-north/

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Tory Brennan is as fascinated by bones and dead bodies as her famous aunt, acclaimed forensic anthropologist, Tempe Brennan. However living on a secluded island off Charleston in South Carolina there is not much opportunity to put her knowledge to the test. Until she and her group of technophile friends stumble across a shallow grave containing the remains of a girl who has been missing for over thirty years.

With the cold-case murder suddenly hot, Tory realises that they are involved in something fatally dangerous. And when they rescue a sick dog from a laboratory on the same island, it becomes evident that somehow the two events are linked.

On the run from forces they don’t understand, they have only each other to fall back on. Until they succumb to a mysterious infection that heightens their senses and hones their instincts to impossible levels. Their illness seems to have changed their very biology – and suddenly it’s clear that the island is home to something well beyond their comprehension. It’s a secret that has driven men to kill once. And will drive them to kill again…

“Virals” is the beginning of a new series by Kathy Reich, forensic scientist and author of the Temperance Brennan novels. The book stars fourteen year old Tory Brennan, great niece of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Tory lives on a small island near Charleston with her marine biologist father, a man that she only found out existed when her mother died less than a year ago. Whilst she and her three friends are visiting the research island where her father works, Tory meets a family of wolf-dogs; when one of the pack goes missing, she decides to investigate and ends up with a lot more than she bargained for, including a 40 year old murder to solve and a mystery illness.

The book is written in the first person, and Tory makes an entertaining and witty narrator. This style of writing means that the reader very quickly finds out a lot about her and the way she thinks, her background, and, in particular, how intelligent she is.

The paranormal twist in the tale occurs when Tory and her friends contract a newly developed and untested virus from one of the wolf-dogs, and are left with super-sensory powers. These abilities bind the group together as a ‘pack’, and come in particularly handy if you need to sniff out the odd hidden skeleton.

I liked the way that Tory and her gang were all gifted in different areas and worked well together as a group, with Tory as a rather bossy leader! As Tory is only fourteen I thought it was appropriate that there was no real love story in the book, although she does have a small crush. In fact, the four teenagers are brilliant role models for the young adults reading this book – they don’t drink or do drugs, but they’re cool, fun, and work hard at school. I’ll admit they do a fair amount of breaking and entering, but it’s all in a very good cause!

“Virals” is Kathy Reich’s first book aimed at young adults, and I found that I really enjoyed it. I liked the way that this novel worked well as a stand-alone adventure – the plot is tidied away neatly at the end, but the characters are compelling, and it’s so intriguing to imagine where their new powers will lead them, that I’m sure most readers will be anxious for the next instalment. This really was a fantastic mystery, which kept me hanging on right till the end to discover exactly who was responsible for the crimes. The addition of a supernatural element only served to enhance it to my mind.

4 stars

In a hospice in Bury St Edmunds, a man called Daniel is slowly fading away. His friend Maggie sits with him every day; she holds his hand and she listens to the story of his life, to his regrets and to his secrets. And then he tells her about the children he has never met and never will. He talks of them wistfully. His legacy, he calls them.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know each other. Yet. And they are all facing difficult changes. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood and although she is wealthy and successful, her life is lonely and disjointed. Dean is a young man, burdened with unexpected responsibility, whose life is going nowhere. And Robyn wants to be a doctor, just like her father – a man she’s never met. But is her whole life built on an illusion?

Three people leading three very different lives. All lost. All looking for something. But when they slowly find their way into each other’s lives, everything starts to change

‘The Making of Us’ describes the coming together of Frenchman Daniel Blanchard’s children as he lies dying in a hospice in Bury St Edmunds. Daniel donated sperm to a fertility clinic in London many years ago, but never told anyone. Now, as he nears the end of his life, Daniel tells his secret to his friend Maggie and asks her do one thing for him before he dies: find out something about the children he fathered.

Twenty-nine year old Lydia is the eldest of Daniel’s progeny. Her life has changed inextricably from her troubled upbringing in a small Welsh town; nowadays she’s extremely rich and living in a beautiful house in London. But money can’t buy happiness, and Lydia is lonely and unfulfilled. However, thanks to a mysterious letter, she’s discovered that the angry, bitter man who raised her was not actually her father. Some further investigation brings the news that she has siblings and Lydia wonders whether getting in touch with them make her life more complete.

Next is Dean who’s at a low point in his life: he’s only twenty one, but his life is a mess, and when his girlfriend Sky dies, leaving him to look after new-born baby Isadora, he doesn’t think he’s up the challenge. Can the support of his newfound sisters give him the strength to sort himself out and become a good dad to his baby?

The youngest of the trio, Robyn, has always known that her father was a sperm donor. If anything she’s enjoyed the faint air of glamour that her French parentage lent her during her pampered Essex upbringing. She’s determined to become a doctor like her biological father, and is off to study medicine at university. But something doesn’t feel quite right as she starts this new chapter in her usually perfect life.

The characters were delightful, and their worries and feelings were completely believable. And, although the main protagonists are very different, and come from widely contrasting backgrounds, they do, ultimately, gel. Lisa Jewell uses alternating viewpoints incredibly well and it’s lovely to see the characters through their siblings’ eyes. I thought the concept of the trio coming together and tentatively trying to form a relationship was very original and made for a real page-turner. Naturally flawed, the characters were so lovable and vulnerable that I was moved to tears several times.

I adored all of Daniel’s children, and Dean in particular. His actions at the beginning of the novel made me think he’d be my least favourite of the three, but he was frustratingly captivating and brilliantly written: he’s 21, but acts much younger and he’s so infuriating that you almost want to prod him out of his apathy and force him to pull himself together. It’s wonderful to see how he comes out of his shell as the book progresses; a turning point being his support of Lydia on a trip to uncover the truth behind her mother’s untimely death.

This novel has everything: an intriguing plot, wonderful writing, great characters and the ability to draw out of the reader all sorts of emotions. It contains some extremely funny moments, often concerning Lydia and her crush on her personal trainer, as well as very moving episodes, especially those set at the hospice. Lisa Jewell’s works really seem to have taken a step up in recent years, and I think she can be now very firmly placed in the same league as authors such as David Nicholls and Rosy Thornton.

4 and a half stars

It’s been ten years since the Wakefield twins graduated from Sweet Valley High, and a lot has happened.

For a start, Elizabeth and Jessica have had a falling out of epic proportions, after Jessica committed the ultimate betrayal, and this time it looks like Elizabeth will never be able to forgive her.

Suddenly Sweet Valley isn’t big enough for the two of them, so Elizabeth has fled to New York to immerse herself in her lifelong dream of becoming a serious reporter, leaving a guilt-stricken Jessica contemplating the unthinkable: life without her sister.

Despite the distance between them, the sisters are never far from each other’s thoughts. Jessica longs for forgiveness, but Elizabeth can’t forget her twin’s duplicity. Uncharacteristically, she decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to get revenge. Always the ‘good’ twin, the one getting her headstrong sister out of trouble, Elizabeth is now about to turn the tables…

 “Sweet Valley Confidential: 10 Years On” picks up the story of the Wakefield twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, ten years after they graduated from Sweet Valley High. The twins have had a major falling out: Jessica has stolen Elizabeth’s fiancé Todd, and it doesn’t look like Elizabeth will ever forgive either of them. Jessica and Todd still live in Sweet Valley and are planning to wed in just a few weeks, if, that is, they can bring themselves to overcome their terrible guilt at hurting Elizabeth. Elizabeth, meanwhile, has moved to New York and is working as a theatre critic. The eight months since she left Sweet Valley have done little to heal the hurt of her sister and fiancé’s betrayal, and, in very un-Elizabeth Wakefield like behaviour, she becomes hell-bent on revenge.

Although I never read the Sweet Valley books, I did occasionally watch the television series when I was growing up and was interested in finding out what had happened to the Wakefield twins over the years. This particular novel is written by Francine Pascal, the original creator of Sweet Valley High, not one of the ghost writers who worked on a lot of the books. I felt it was unfortunate that despite this, even I could tell that there were many frustrating inaccuracies apparent to anyone who knows the Sweet Valley High series.

Regrettably, I didn’t find the book to be particularly well written, and the word ‘like’ being added indiscriminately to everyone’s speech was, like, really annoying. Do people, like, really talk like that in California? They like totally didn’t when I was last there!

It was also a little disappointing that some of the classic Sweet Valley characters, such as Lila and Enid, who were so popular in the books and the television show, didn’t feature more in this novel. I’m sure there are plenty of Sweet Valley fans who would be just as interested to hear about these characters as Elizabeth and Jessica. However, it was good to see a darker side to Elizabeth, who I remember as always being a bit of a goody-two-shoes, and I’m sure that devotees will enjoy all the flashbacks contained in the book.

This really is one for hardcore Sweet Valley enthusiasts only; and even they would probably end up being very frustrated by the parts of the book which were inconsistent with the series and the liberties that have been taken with their favourite characters. It’s such a shame because this could have been a wonderfully nostalgic trip down memory lane; it just didn’t work for me.

2 stars

Thomas Nesbitt is a divorced American writer in the midst of a rueful middle age. Living a very private life in Maine – in touch only with his daughter and still trying to reconcile himself to the end of a long marriage that he knew was flawed from the outset – he finds his solitude disrupted by the arrival, one wintry morning, of a box postmarked Berlin. The return address on the box – Dussmann – unsettles him completely. For it is the name of the woman with whom he had an intense love affair twenty-six years ago in Berlin – at a time when the city was cleaved in two, and personal and political allegiances were haunted by the deep shadows of the Cold War.

Refusing initially to confront what he might find in that box, Thomas nevertheless finds himself forced to grapple with a past he has never discussed with any living person – and in the process relive those months in Berlin, when he discovered, for the first and only time in his life, the full, extraordinary force of true love. But Petra Dussmann – the woman to whom he lost his heart – was not just a refugee from a police state, but also someone who lived with an ongoing sorrow beyond dreams… and one which gradually rewrote both their destinies.

In this, his tenth novel, Douglas Kennedy has written that rare thing: a love story as morally complex as it is tragic and deeply reflective. Brilliantly gripping, it is an atmospherically dense, ethically tangled tale of romantic certainty and conflicting loyalties, all set amidst a stunningly rendered portrait of Berlin in the final dark years before The Wall came down.

‘The Moment’ begins in the modern day with travel writer Thomas Nesbitt living alone in his home in Maine. It was Thomas’ purchase of this house, without consulting his wife, which put the final nail in the coffin of their relationship: a marriage destined to failure as his wife would never live up to his first love, Petra Dussmann, a woman he fell in love with in 1984 whilst visiting Berlin – a chapter in his life which he’d thought was firmly closed. Thomas is now a content recluse, the only person he really goes out of his way to socialise with is his daughter; but his quiet life is turned upside down when he receives a parcel from Berlin, with ‘Dussmann’ as the return addressee. Kennedy then takes the reader back to 1984 Berlin and we experience Thomas and Petra’s love for ourselves; a love which was destined to end in tragedy and which defines Thomas for the rest of his life.

I thought the character development in this novel was very good: as we learn about Petra’s past, her actions and emotions when she’s with Thomas become perfectly clear, and I relished how twenty-five year old Thomas changed after he met her: before Petra he had no real direction other than his writing and had never been in love. His feelings for her are immediately all encompassing, and he instantly rearranges his life to have her as a major part in it. I felt that his hermit-like middle-aged existence was a throwback to his life before Petra, where he relied completely on himself and seemed to socialise as a means to an end rather than for the simple enjoyment of it.

This book really was completely mesmerising. The descriptions of post-war Berlin were absolutely fascinating, particularly those of the artistic communities which survived in East Berlin. It made an amazing, if bleak, backdrop to a very engrossing love story, and the dark nature of the setting combined with the sense of distrust surrounding everyone led to a gripping read.

I did feel that there were some sections of the novel, particularly before Thomas and Petra’s relationship, which seemed a little drawn-out and, perhaps, redundant. I appreciate that the author was trying to give the reader a real feel for Cold War Berlin (which he achieves, to great effect), but I think some tighter editing might have made for an even better read.

‘The Moment’ is a beautiful work of fiction that I’ll re-read again and again. The narrative was enthralling, it draws you in and compels you to read on and on with no idea of what’s to come, and is realistic enough for you to completely believe in the characters and what they’re going through. A truly romantic, and heart-rending, love story.

4 and a half stars

Vita’s gift shop would do better if she ran it as a business, not as somewhere to daydream. But she’s not one to tell herself off–she leaves that to Tim, her ex, who still co-owns the shop. He cheated on Vita and broke her heart. Could she ever give him another chance?

Oliver, an experienced and successful tree surgeon, runs his home as calmly as his business. However, his heart is still with the mother of his child, even though it’s been three years now. He won’t take a chance on love again.

Then a pear tree brings Oliver to Vita, and as spring turns into summer they are given choices and chances. Will they grab them or walk away?

‘Chances’ begins with leading lady Vita trying unsuccessfully to get over her cheating ex-fiancé Tim, the pair having separated almost a year ago. She isn’t helped by the fact that they own a shop together: as neither is financially able to buy the other out, they’re stuck as business partners.

Our heroine has recently moved into Pear Tree Cottage and is just beginning to feel settled when the fruit of the house’s namesake begins to grow. Grow and attract parakeets. Not only do these birds wake Vita up early each morning, they also cause the fruit to fall drawing a multitude of angry wasps. Vita’s terrified, and in desperation calls upon the services of Oliver Bourne, a widowed tree surgeon. She finds herself falling in love with Oliver, but is she destined to be hurt again, as she once more falls for a man with another woman on his mind- even if this time the lady in question died three years ago?

Oliver’s sorrow over his deceased wife is treated very compassionately: he’ll never forget his wife but is doing his best to move on with his life, something he’s not finding easy. Freya North does a beautiful job of describing how it’s often the simple, everyday things, which can cause the biggest waves of grief.

I liked both the main protagonsists, although I did find Vita a little childish – the woman needs be more decisive and stand up for herself! Childish, but very kind, as we see illustrated by her dealings with the delightfully dotty old lady who regularly pilfers things from her shop.

The character of Oliver’s son, Jonty, was wonderfully written; I really got a feeling of the love and support he gives him father, and of the gap left in his life by the loss of his mother. His encouragement of Vita and Oliver’s romance is very sweet. The scene where Jonty and his dad are cooking their ‘chops and chips’ dinner for Vita is a wonderful example of the great relationship between father and son.

All in all, I do have to say though that I’m a little cross with Ms North at the moment: I had a busy day planned before my copy of this book dropped through my letter box, but thanks to this engaging and compassionate story, my poor children and loving husband were somewhat neglected for the best part of a day and my house remains unhoovered. Thank goodness Freya’s not able to produce a book a week, else my home really would fall apart!

4 stars

When dynamic, power-dressing Christie blows in like a warm wind to take over their department, five very different women find themselves thrown together at work. But none of them could have predicted the fierce bond of friendship that her leadership would inspire…Anna, 39, is reeling from the loss of her fiance, who ran off with a much younger woman. Her pride in tatters, these days Anna finds it difficult to leave the house. So when a handsome, mysterious stranger takes an interest in her, she’s not sure whether she can learn to trust again? Then there’s Grace, in her fifties, trapped in a loveless marriage with a man she married because, unable to have children of her own, she fell in love with his motherless brood. Grace worries that Dawn is about to make the same mistake: orphaned as a child, engaged to love-rat Calum, is Dawn more interested in the security that comes with his tight-knit, boisterous family? When a sexy, footloose rock singer catches her eye, will Dawn have the courage to follow her heart? At 28, Raychel is the youngest member of their little gang. And with a loving husband, Ben, and a cosy little nest for two, she would seem to be the happiest. But what dark secrets are lurking behind this perfect facade, that make sweet, pretty Raychel so guarded and unwilling to open up? Under Christie’s warm hand, the girls soon realise they have some difficult choices to make. Indeed, none of them quite realised how much they needed the sense of fun, laughter, and loyalty that abounds when five women become friends. It’s one for all, and all for one!

“A Summer Fling” follows the lives of four women who, in perhaps a first for a chick lit novel, work in the bakery department of a supermarket chain. They’re all a little nervous at the imminent arrival of their new boss Christie but don’t confide their worries to one another, none of them having ever really spoken to each other before, despite working together five days a week. Christie has a huge job ahead to mould them into a team and teach each team member to support and rely on her comrades.

The oldest of our ladies is Grace. In her fifties, she feels stifled by her husband and pressured by him to take early retirement, retirement from the job that provides the only escape from her loveless marriage. Thirty nine year old Anna was devastated when her fiancé left her for a much younger model and now only leaves the house to go to work, spending her time daydreaming about her lost fiancé coming back to her. Dawn, at 33, has been desperate to have a family ever since she was orphaned as a teenager. Engaged to the dreadful Calum and deeply attached to the security she feels this brings, Dawn seems impervious to all of his many, many flaws. The youngest of the women is Raychel, 28, who appears to have a blissful marriage to her childhood sweetheart Ben; but why haven’t they had children, and why is Raychel so quiet and withdrawn?

It took me a chapter or two to get properly immersed in the book, but once I was there I was really hooked: there’s loads of excitement and intrigue, with plenty of secrets to be uncovered as we discover more about the protagonists.

My favourite character was Grace; I felt so sorry for her with her awful husband wanting to permanently whisk her away to a caravan. I loved how her story developed and I thought the relationships between her and her stepchildren were brilliantly dealt with.

Some of the novel’s other great personalities were Dawn’s future family-in-law, who were hilariously awful, and her fiancé, who has to be one of literature’s laziest bums. It’s a true testament to Milly Johnson’s writing that you could really empathise with Dawn and understand why she’d stuck with these awful people for so long – a big, close family was what she felt was missing from her life.

Part of the novel that I particularly enjoyed was Anna’s transformation; not just the physical changes, her care of herself and her smiles, but the mental alterations, how the scars of her fiancé leaving heal. Anna’s love interest, the vampire character, was a little bizarre, but if Milly wants to add a little Gothic vampirism to her text then who am I to complain?

There were some aspects of this book that really made it stand out. I especially felt that making the women differing ages gave the novel a wide appeal and I found it interesting to see events from their various perspectives. I enjoyed having Barnsley as the setting; it gave the story a very different feel to the usual metropolitan chick lit.

This is the first of Milly Johnson’s books that I’ve read, and I’ll be working my way through her back catalogue soon. It contained some brilliantly written characters and the intertwining plots were all captivating. Yes, there were parts of the novel that were a little far-fetched, but what’s wrong with a little escapism eh?

4 stars

When newly retired headmistress, Harriet Quigley, needs a good rest and somewhere comfortable to recover from a hospital stay, she believes Firstone Grange will be the ideal place. Luxurious and perfectly run by a competent and understanding matron, it seems wonderful at first glance. However, there is a serpent in this paradise and Harriet soon realizes that some of the residents are very frightened. When a particularly horrific death occurs and Harriet finds herself in danger, she calls on her cousin and best friend, the Rev’d Sam Hathaway, and together they attempt to discover the terrible truth…

Harriet Quigley is usually reluctant to admit she needs help, but she is sensible enough to ensure that she gets some proper rest after her operation. Consequently she books herself into the very exclusive, and expensive, residential home, Firstone Grange, not wanting to burden anyone whilst she convalesces. It’s not long however before relaxation is the last thing on her mind as one of the other residents dies in what appears to be a tragic accident. Harriet though is sure that she smells foul play and is determined to get to the bottom of her suspicions.

‘Murder Fortissimo’ is a murder mystery in the true spirit of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. It contains a fantastic array of personalities, of all different ages and backgrounds: there’s pretty much someone for any reader to find affinity with.

Harriet made a wonderful central character: shrewd and very sharp, but extremely likeable – you can understand why the other characters turn to her for solace and advice. I liked her independent streak and the relationship with her cousin Sam was just lovely.

My favourite by far of the residents of Firstone Grange has got to be Christiane Marchant. She must be one of the best villainesses ever written; I would say she even beats Cruella de Vil! She’s so evil to her poor daughter Alice and so conniving in her tormenting of the other residents – I can’t imagine her ever doing anything that wasn’t in her own self-interest.

The death being investigated is brilliantly gruesome, but as the deceased character was so horrible, the reader can enjoy the blood and gore without any of those annoying twinges of sadness which can sometimes get in the way of enjoying a good murder! You could see motives for so many of the characters to get rid of her, that I honestly had no idea who’d ‘dunnit’ until it was revealed.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when discovering the identity of the murderer, and there was a point in the book when I thought it improbable that so many characters would confess their sins to Harriet and her cousin in so short a time, but these minor niggles didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of what was a very good book.

‘Murder Fortissimo’ is my idea of a really gripping yarn: the reader is kept intrigued right until the end and is entertained throughout by some great characters in a setting just ripe for a decent murder. Thoroughly enjoyable!

4 stars

Thirty-nine-year-old Kate had almost given up on love when she met her fiancé. Now she’s planning for the wedding she never dreamed she’d have. But things seem to be slipping out of her control.

Diana, born on the day of the 1981 Royal Wedding, never doubted that one day she would find her prince. Newly engaged, and with daddy’s credit card in her grasp, she’s in full Bridezilla mode.

Against the backdrop of the other couple getting married in April 2011, both women prepare for the most important day of their lives. But will each bride get her perfect day? Or will it all become a right royal fiasco?

Kate is getting married. No, not THAT Kate, I’m talking about Kate Williamson.  At 39 our Kate was beginning to think that her ‘prince’ had forgotten to turn up for their ‘happy ever after’, but then she meets loyal, dependable Ian, who proposes to her at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Kate is thrilled, though pretty soon she’s finding that her family are organising a far bigger wedding than she had planned, and Ian isn’t exactly being the supportive fiancé that she’d imagined. Ian’s seeming indifference to anything to do with the wedding, combined with Kate changing job and her mum’s illness, mean that Kate begins to wonder whether getting married is really worth all the hassle.

Buying her dress from the same bridal shop as Kate is Diana, who, we learn, was born during the 1981 Royal Wedding. Diana is proposed to after she issues her boyfriend Ben with an ultimatum – we get married or we’re over. She’s determined that everything should be princess perfect on her big day, but will Diana’s quest for wedding flawlessness push Ben away for good? Just how many Titantic themed photos will he pose for before he begins to seriously reconsider his relationship?

An interesting sub-plot is provided by the story of Melanie, who got married on the same day as Prince Charles and Diana and who runs the bridal shop which Kate and Diana both buy their gowns from.

The forthcoming Royal marriage served as a brilliant and original backdrop, and didn’t overpower the story at all. I thought it was a very clever idea to tie such an iconic, contemporary event into the book and thought that it worked well, especially in the case of Diana’s story, as the Royal Wedding means so much to her and is the benchmark against which she measures her own nuptials.

The contrasts between the two brides were wonderful: Kate just wants a simple wedding, surrounded by her closest family and friends, whilst Diana has to be one of the finest ‘Bridezilla’ characters ever created: poor Ben is well and truly henpecked and Diana’s plans make those for Kate and Will’s wedding look positively understated. I particularly liked the scenes where they were having their engagement photographs taken

The only complaint that I could possibly have about this book would be that I wasn’t overly enamoured with either of the romantic leads: Ben was too much of a wimp for my liking and Ian was a bit useless when Kate’s mum is ill. However, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest as the female characters were so fantastic.

‘Kate’s Wedding’ is great, frivolous fun complete with tiaras, tantrums and runaway unicorns rampaging through a town centre. I doubt that even THAT Kate’s wedding on April 29th will be as entertaining.

4 stars

 

Hannah Boyd has been crowned the youngest Independent Financial Adviser in the UK. She has kicked out her boyfriend whose idea of romance is leaving skid-marked boxers on the bedroom floor, or sharing a chillie-kebab in front of the football game on a Saturday night. She is successful, single and about to secure one of the wealthiest men in England as one of her clients. But then the one person she never wanted to see again reappears as her biggest rival.

Life is looking pretty good for Hannah Boyd – she’s finally managed to get rid of Mark, her useless live-in boyfriend, and she’s been promoted: she’s now the youngest Independent Financial Advisor in the South-West. She’s off with her boss to attend her first conference and is preparing to meet a very important prospective client there.

Unfortunately when Hannah arrives she discovers that her main competition is none other than her first love, Jamie Young, the man who broke her heart years before.

Hannah needs to keep her head, and her heart, together if she’s going to get her client and prove that she is worth her promotion.

As a whole ‘The Sharp Points of a Triangle’ was well-written, but the language contained in it was too vulgar for my liking. For me, some of the descriptions were unnecessarily sexually explicit, which I found a bit off-putting – perhaps my constitution is a little delicate. The majority of the novel is set at the conference which Hannah attends, and whilst this takes place in a nice country hotel I didn’t find this to be a particularly romantic or inspiring location – it would have worked better for me had the setting contained more variety. I also had trouble with Hannah’s character, and as hard as I tried I just couldn’t bring myself to like her. I found the way she acts at the conference very juvenile and extremely unprofessional. The main problem for me was that Hannah comes across as being completely self-absorbed – as is perfectly shown by her relationship with her friend Sam, who is constantly supporting Hannah but is never asked a thing about herself or what’s going on in her life.

A character I did enjoy was that of Hannah’s ex-boyfriend Mark: he was incredibly persistent, bless him, and very funny – especially when he becomes friends with Hannah’s new swinging neighbours. I thought that Brimble did a great job of writing his character; I felt a bit sorry for him but knew that Hannah had made the right decision in dumping him.

Whilst this book wasn’t really my cup of tea, Rachel Brimble has published several other books, including some historical romances; I’d be very interested to see how she tackles this different style. For more information on Rachel Brimble and her work see her website – http://www.rachelbrimble.com/home.html

2 stars

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