Three emotion-packed stories make perfect spring reading by various authors – book reviews –
Summer at the French Café
Escape to la belle France and bask in the warmth and sunshine of a super summer sparkler from Sue Moorcroft, one of the favourite queens of feel-good fiction.
Simply picture a sun-baked tourist park in the picturesque Alsace region, a cosy book café full of delicious food and literary delights, a sky ‘like white stuffing bursting from a huge blue mattress,’ and the scene is set for a French-flavoured tale of mystery and romance that will lift your spirits and bring summer vibes straight to your armchair.
A bestselling author and a past vice-chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Moorcroft packs everything you could possible want from an escapist read into this emotionally-charged, bright and beautiful story.
Stealing our hearts and bringing us a season of love, anguish and tough decisions is the delectable Kat Jenson who set foot in the idyllic French village of Kirchhoffen eight years ago and knew she had found her home.
After a childhood scarred by her parents’ divorce and yearning for a chance to escape to new beginnings, Kat now has dreamy boyfriend, Jakey, a professional karter, an adorable dog called Angelique, and the perfect job managing bustling book café, Livres et Café, in the vibrant Parc Lemmel with its rides, lakes, formal gardens and vast green areas to enjoy.
But when she learns Jakey isn’t all he seems, it’s the start of a difficult summer for Kat, despite this being her favourite time of year. Vindictive troublemakers, work problems and family heartache quickly follow, and the clear blue sky and the strolls in the gorgeous French countryside that were her life suddenly appear full of clouds.
Then she gets to know the mysterious, tall and handsome Noah Toleman, and her sun begins to shine brighter than ever. But Noah has problems of his own, not least with his sensitive eight-year-old daughter Clé. Will these challenges scupper the couple’s new-found happiness, or can they overcome the many obstacles and both find love again?
What an enchanting trip to Alsace Moorcroft gifts us as we are swept into the sizzling French sunshine with the hardworking, fiercely independent and likeable Kat as she negotiates a chequered path through a summer of love, hope and disappointments.
Painful secrets, family relationships, work dramas, unexpected romance and comforting friendships are tucked away in almost every corner of this fabulous French odyssey as the often faltering love between Kat and the gentle Noah starts to blossom amidst the colourful buildings and riverside walks of Alsace.
With emotions rising as high as the summertime temperatures and lots of magic moments to enjoy, not least with Kat’s delectable doggie Angelique, Summer at the French Café is the perfect book to slip into your suitcase this holiday season!
(Avon, paperback, £7.99)
The Little Library on Cherry Lane
Books, books, books!
Feel-good author Katie Ginger – author of gorgeous romances like The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse and Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay – is back to seduce us with this warm and cosy story set around a community library in a picturesque English village, and starring a young librarian who has made books her armour against the world.
Filled with a cast of adorable characters, a big helping of inspirational and joyful community spirit, and a simmering romance that has more ups and downs than a seaside rollercoaster, The Little Library on Cherry Lane will take root in everyone’s heart.
Insomniac Elsie Martin may lead a quiet life, but working in her beloved local library in the pretty village of Meadowbank is more than enough to make her happy. After all, books are her whole life. ‘They take you places you might never get the chance to see. They take you away from your troubles… they help you believe things can be different.’
So when the library is threatened with closure to make way for a new housing development, Elsie knows it has to be saved… and she also knows that despite being painfully shy, she needs to be the one to lead the campaign to save it.
Meanwhile, Jacob Yardley thinks he’s doing the right thing by building a new affordable housing development. Why shouldn’t local people be able to buy a house in the place they grew up? Having to leave his own small home town broke his heart. Plus, people don’t really use libraries any more… do they?
As Elsie and Jacob clash over the future of the library, sparks begin to fly. Jacob is falling back in love with books and libraries… could he possibly be falling for Elsie, too? And will Elsie be able to save the library that means so much to her?
As the pages turn on a drama featuring high emotions, battles, books and kindness, Elsie and Jacob’s slow-burning love becomes the fire that sets the story alight. The strength of a united community, the importance of libraries and the power of books to inspire also play important roles in making The Little Library on Cherry Lane the ideal reading escape.
(HQ, paperback, £8.99)
The Orphanage Girls
An orphan girl’s desperate battle to escape the cruel confines of notorious London orphanage takes centre stage in the first book of a new emotion-packed trilogy from favourite saga writer Mary Wood.
Inspired by her own early years living in the East End of London, Wood sweeps us back to 1910 and the harrowing trials and tribulations of youngsters incarcerated at a Bethnal Green orphanage in a tale full of the grit and hardship that have become hallmarks of a storyteller who writes straight from the heart.
Wood, who lives between Blackpool and Spain, worked in the probation service in both Lancaster and Blackpool, and her hard-hitting and moving historical sagas reflect her own experiences with people from all walks of life, helping her to bring a rich authenticity to her writing.
Here we meet Ruth who dares to dream of another life, far away from the horrors within the walls of Bethnal Green’s infamous orphanage. Luckily she has the comfort of her friends, Amy and Ellen… but she can’t keep them safe, and the suffering is only getting worse. Surely there must be a way out?
But when Ruth breaks free from the shackles of confinement and sets out into East London, hoping to make a new life for herself, she finds that, for a girl with nowhere to turn, life can be just as tough on the outside.
Bett, who keeps order in this unruly part of the East End, takes Ruth under her wing alongside orphanage escapee Robbie. But it is Rebekah, a kindly woman, who offers Ruth and Robbie a home… something neither has ever known.
Yet even these two stalwart women cannot protect them when the police learn of an orphan on the run. It is then that Ruth must do everything in her power to hide because her life – and the lives of the friends she left behind at the orphanage – depend on it.
Wood ratchets up the emotional temperature in this gripping tale which comes packed with heartbreak, drama, rich period detail, and the harsh realities of life in the early 20th century as Ruth and her friends battle to survive amidst the privations of poverty and hardship.
Written with insight, warmth and the empathy gained from the author’s years working with a cross-section of society, this new visit to the East End is a moving and enthralling rollercoaster from first page to last, and will leave readers longing for the next chapter of the girls’ turbulent lives.
(Pan, paperback, £7.99)