Author: Jessica Redland
Published: September 2019 by Boldwood Books
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Book Review
Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends.
Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her.
Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through…
The Secret To Happiness centres on three very different women with completely different lives—Alison, Karen and Daniella. They are strangers…until their paths cross, and what develops is an incredible bond of friendship and support.
Alison, Daniella and Karen are all dealing with personal problems. Alison’s life changed dramatically when she was twelve and it’s impacted on her ever since. She has issues with self image and a lack of confidence, not helped by her boyfriend Dave’s grumpiness, total lack of empathy and compassion. She hides her pain, makes light of things to her workmates and people she knows and comfort eats, allowing herself to be treated badly by Dave because she has no-one else to turn to. Until she meets Daniella and Karen and admits to herself how she really feels.
She could fill in the rest of the sentence for him. No wonder you’re so fat. No wonder you keep ordering bigger uniforms. No wonder the stairs leave you breathless. No wonder we never have sex. She surveyed the plateful of pastries, the full-fat butter, the luxury jam, her third giant mug of milky, sugary tea. All for one person. Yes. No wonder.
Daniella is running from a fairly recent trauma, moving from place to place, B&B to B&B, unable to let anyone get close in case there were questions asked she couldn’t face. Certainly not now, and possibly never. Then, finding herself in Whitsborough Bay, she decides to rent for more privacy, hoping she might have found her haven. The last thing she thought she wanted or needed was a friend.
Karen has been engaged to Ryan for five years but developing their PT and fitness business seems to be dividing them, rather than cementing their relationship. Then the anonymous texts start landing in Karen’s messages.
I really enjoyed The Secret To Happiness, the way the three women were drawn to each other and strong friendships were formed. The characters are wonderfully developed as each of their stories unfold. They learn to overcome the sadnesses in their pasts and move on, supporting each other even when they can’t see past their own bleak futures.
The story has darker undertones, challenges and emotional upheavals, which are thoughtfully handled. To counteract those issues are the lighter, humorous moments during the interactions of the three women, which were a joy to read. A mystery thread added another layer and kept me guessing.
Alison, Daniella and Karen are all relatable and realistic, with flaws most people would recognise. The narrative encompasses themes and emotions relating to grief, emotional bullying, food related disorders and betrayal among others, eliciting empathy for the characters. Jessica Redland has created a well written, easy to read, poignant yet wonderfully uplifting story.
Although The Secret To Happiness is part of a series, I had no trouble reading it as a stand alone.
About the Author
Jessica Redland lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in England – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel puppy, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the puppy has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!
She’s an HR Tutor on a freelance basis and tries, often successfully, to fit writing around that.
Author: JD Robb
Originally Published: July 1995
Category: Mystery, Murder, Romance, Police Procedural, Book Review
It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing: passion.
I listened to Naked In Death back in 2009 and was hooked. I have since listened to every book up to date, some I’ve enjoyed more than others but most of them have pushed each character’s story forward. It was fun to revisit the start of the series—where it all began. The character development over the numerous books has been huge, and the number of key characters has increased significantly.
Author: Charlie Laidlaw
Published: November 2019 by Headline Accent
Category: Mystery, Humour, Romance, Herbalism, Drama, Book Review
Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of local renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just. The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn’t laid a lustful hand on her for months.
Readers can always expect something out of the ordinary with Charlie Laidlaw’s books. Love Potions and Other Calamities is no exception. Each chapter begins with a snippet from The Book of Secrets by Albertus Magnus, 13th century scientist, theologian and philosopher, which relates to the story.
Author: Amanda Prowse
Published: November 2019 by Lake Union Publishing
Category: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Book Review
When Nick’s wife Kerry falls ill and dies, he realises for the first time how fragile his happiness has always been, and how much he’s been taking his good life and wonderful family for granted. Now, he suddenly finds himself navigating parenthood alone, unsure how to deal with his own grief, let alone that of his teenage son, Olly.
The Light in the Hallway begins by giving the reader a glimpse of ten year old Nick and his two best friends, Alex and Eric, before returning to the present where Nick’s wife, Kerry, is terminally ill. He is trying to persuade their son, Oliver, to go to the hospice with him for what would be the last time.
Author: Kiley Dunbar
Published: September 2019 by Hera
Category: Festive, Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Book Review
Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…
I reckon Sylvie had a lucky escape when Cole dumped her a week before their wedding. I’m not sure how she stuck with him during their ten year engagement, to be honest, especially given his behaviour and with what would have been the mother-in-law from hell. But still, Sylvie didn’t relish the prospect of a miserable Christmas alone instead of honeymooning in newly wedded bliss on Mauritius.
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Performed by a Full Cast of Twenty One
Released: March 2019 by Random House Audiobooks
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Audiobook, Book Review
EVERYONE KNOWS DAISY JONES AND THE SIX.
They sold out arenas from coast to coast.
Their music defined an era and every girl in America idolised Daisy.
But on July 12 1979, on the night of the final concert of the Aurora tour, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now.
This was something completely different for me. Daisy Jones & The Six features a fictional (although completely believable) 70s rock band, from the inception through to the split.
Author: Georgia Rose
Published: October 2019 by Three Shires Publishing
Category: Mystery, Suspense, Romance, Book Review
A woman with a troubled past. A new love hanging in the balance. Will an unexpected visitor strengthen her resolve or destroy the life she’s trying to build?
Madeleine’s world, once so organised, is a mess. Suffering the fallout from the mistakes she made with Tag, she has no idea where she stands with Daniel. Are they only friends or is there still a chance for something more?
Loving Vengeance takes up Maddy’s story where Parallel Lies left off.
Author: Sarah Morgan
Due to be released on October 31st
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Christmas, Romance, Family Drama, Book Review
First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.
Maggie White was looking forward to having her daughters, Rosie and Katie, at Hawthorne Cottage for Christmas as usual.