April was a busy month, with lots of writing and reading. I read two Royal books, which are not my usual fare, in preparation for the coronation. I was more social than usual too.
I have the best friends- I got taken out to lunch on three separate occasions. The highlight though was lunch at Perth’s revolving restaurant, Restaurant C . Both the food and the views were exceptional.
My So-Called Scoundrel by Fenna Edgewood, Blakeley Manor 3.
When one finds a bleeding, half-naked, indescribably handsome man in one’s bed, does one…
• Hit him with a large book
• Push him back out the window he climbed in
• Bandage his wounds like a sensible bluestocking-in-the-making
The most perfectly imperfect debutante…
Marigold Spencer was never supposed to have a London Season. For heaven’s sake, she was never even supposed to become a lady! The former housemaid of a duke, Marigold is thrust into the limelight when her siblings marry far above their stations. Suddenly faced with the marriage mart, her escort and chaperone is not only one of ton’s most notorious scoundrels**,** but the utterly infuriating man still won’t tell her where he got the knife wound that led him to her bed that night.
…can still tempt the deadliest of rogues…
Lord Leigh Blakeley’s path took a sharp turn from seductive rake to vengeful assassin long ago. Yet when he finally returns home for a visit, he nearly ruins his new sister-in-law’s reputation for good by falling into her bed after a misadventure. Now Leigh finds himself forced to play chaperone to a debutante… one who unexpectedly enchants his cynical heart. And when Leigh foolishly proposes to teach the innocent young Miss Spencer something of the ways of pleasure, he ignites an inferno of passion that quickly turns unquenchable.
When another man presents Miss Spencer with an irresistible proposition, Leigh realizes the desire of his heart is quickly slipping away. Though he’s never intended to wed, Leigh finds himself making an offer Miss Spencer can’t possibly refuse… or can she?
In this tantalizing Regency romance by USA Today bestselling author Fenna Edgewood, desire knows no bounds as the most unlikely of lovers succumb to the flames of their passion and defy society’s expectations.
Published March 30, 2023
My Review. Although this can be read as a stand-alone (as I did) you would probably have more understanding of the characters if you had read the previous books. Having said that, I still enjoyed this book.
Marigold isn’t easily swayed, even by the persuasions of Leigh, Lord Blakely. She may have been forced to have a season, but that doesn’t mean she will meekly submit to a loveless marriage. Untutored in the ways of love she may consider a marriage of convenience if it gives her what she wants. Leigh wants to dissuade her from this and attempts to show her how passion can affect her. The trouble is, he didn’t realise that he would also be affected. How can he let her marry anyone else? And does Marigold have any say in this? Great repartee, with an ongoing attraction plus some steamy scenes.
Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey
The world has watched Prince William and Prince Harry since they were born. Raised by Princess Diana to be the closest of brothers, how have the boy princes grown into very different, now distanced men? From Royal insider, biographer and historian Robert Lacey, this book reveals the untold details of William and Harry’s closeness and estrangement, asking what happens when two sons are raised for vastly different futures – one burdened with the responsibility of one day becoming king, the other with the knowledge that he will always remain spare.
My Review. I expected more from an ‘insider’ and found it surprising that it was less authoritative and read more like a gossip magazine. Of course, it suffers from missing these last crucial couple of years. The narrative that Harry is ‘spare’ has recently been bandied about. Diana always knew this and raised him to love and support his brother. I imagine her telling him he was lucky not to have all that responsibility. It is sad to see the brothers estranged now
Camilla from Outcast to Queen Consort by Angela Levin
A compelling new biography of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, that reveals how she transformed her role and established herself as one of the key members of the royal family.
For many years, Camilla was portrayed in a poor light, blamed by the public for the break-up of the marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Initially, the Queen refused to see or speak to her, but, since the death of Prince Philip, the Duchess has become one of the Queen’s closest companions. Her confidence in Camilla and the transformation she has seen in Prince Charles since their wedding resulted in her choosing the first day of her Platinum Jubilee year to tell the world that she wants Camilla to be Queen Consort not the demeaning Princess Consort suggested in 2005
Angela Levin uncovers Camilla’s rocky journey to be accepted by the royal family and how she coped with the brutal portrayal of her in Netflix’s The Crown . The public have witnessed her tremendous contribution to help those in need, especially during Covid. Levin has talked to many of the Duchess’s long-term friends, her staff and executives from the numerous charities of which Camilla is patron. She reveals why the Duchess concentrates on previously taboo subjects, such as domestic violence and rape. Most of all, Levin tells the story of how the Duchess has changed from a fun-loving young woman to one of the senior royals’ hardest workers. She has retained her mischievous sense of humour, becoming a role model for older women and an inspiration for younger ones
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is both an extraordinary love story and a fascinating portrait of an increasingly confident Queen Consort in waiting. It is an essential read for anyone wanting a greater insight into the royal family.
My Review. This a very positive portrayal of Camilla, a woman who has been much reviled for being loved by and loving the wrong man. As Diana famously said, “There were three of us in this marriage.” Those were different more conservative times when Prince Charles was expected to marry a virgin and even then, they were thin on the ground. So, he married for duty although his heart lay elsewhere.
I was always in Diana’s camp, but like many people have come to an acceptance of Camilla. I have admired her steadfastness and her dedication to unpopular causes. King Charles has blossomed with his marriage to her and seems so much happier.
Angela Levin has written a very admiring biography detailing the causes that Camilla supports, battered women, terminally ill children, rape victims and literacy causes. I applaud all these choices but a few lines on page 81 made my blood run cold.
“Camilla was out of step with most of the country over fox hunting. Cubbing, which involves training young foxhounds to chase and kill fox cubs was particularly loathed. She and Charles wanted to carry on in defiance of the Commons vote but gave it up when given a warning by the police.’
Elsewhere in the book, we are told that Camilla loves animals, particularly horses and dogs. This to me seems incompatible with happily watching young fox cubs being ripped to pieces by dogs. An interesting biography, but not I feel the whole story.
Don’t Let’s Go to The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller.
In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, it is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
My Review. This book was recommended to me as a good example of a memoir. It’s bleak, stoic, presumably honest and unbearably sad. The cruelties of life in Africa, the tragedies, and the treatment of animals all are explored.
Welcome to Ferry Lane Market by Nicola May
Although thirty-three year old Kara Moon loves her hometown of Hartmouth in Cornwall, she has always wondered if she should have followed her dream of leaving to study floristry. But she couldn’t bring herself to leave her emotionally delicate single father, and has worked on Ferry Lane Market’s flower stall ever since leaving school.
When her good-for-nothing boyfriend cheats on her and steals her life savings, she finally dumps him and rents out her spare room as an Airbnb. Gossip flies around the town as Kara welcomes a series of foreign guests to her flat overlooking the estuary.
Then an anonymous postcard arrives, along with a plane ticket to New York. And there begins the first of three trips of a lifetime, during which she will learn important lessons about herself, her life and what she wants from it – and perhaps find love along the way.
I wanted to read something lighter after a previous book, and this fitted the bill perfectly. Kara is an engaging character, whose main flaw seems to be her empathy and good heart. This has led her to be taken advantage of for too long, by her boyfriend and her boss.
The fun really starts when she opens her spare room as an air b and b. This gives her an insight into how other men behave.
Then the mysterious postcard arrives, and Kara is finally off on an adventure. It was good to see Kara’s world opening up, but for me, it did feel that the book was a little disjointed as if the two parts came from totally different books.
I enjoyed it, it’s nice escapism.
Lying Beside You by Michael Robotham
Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return in Robotham’s latest page-turning, psychological thriller in this series.
If I could tell you one thing about my brother, it would be this. Two days after his nineteenth birthday, he killed our parents and twin sisters because he heard voices in his head. As defining events go, nothing else comes close for Elias, or for me.
As a boy, Cyrus Haven survived a family massacre and slowly pieced his life back together. Now, after almost twenty years, his brother is applying to be released from a secure psychiatric hospital—and Cyrus is expected to forgive Elias and welcome him home.
Elias is returning to a very different world. Cyrus is now a successful psychologist, working with the police, sharing his house with Evie Cormac, a damaged and gifted teenager who can tell when someone is lying. Evie has gone back to school and is working part-time at an inner-city bar, but she continues to struggle with authority and following rules.
When a man is murdered and his daughter disappears, Cyrus is called in to profile the killer and help piece together Maya Kirk’s last hours. Police believe she was drugged and driven away from the same bar where Evie is working. Soon, a second victim is taken, and Evie is the only person who glimpsed the man behind the wheel.
But there’s a problem. Only two people believe her. One is Cyrus.
The other is the killer.
My Review. Taut, tense, engrossing. Cyrus is torn between his high expectations of himself, as of course, he should forgive his brother and his feelings. While intriguing Evie reminds me of Lisbeth Salander from Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. As the book progressed, I got to a point where I could not put it down, I had to finish it.
As well as reading I’ve been writing and have just finished my story for The Regency Abduction Club. It’s been a blast and I fell in love with a spontaneous heroine, Sophia and her counterpart Christopher or Kit. This one is a bit steamy and hopefully fun. It’s with the editor now and available for pre-order on Amazon. Due out early July.
Next, I am embarking on a heart project, one which has been simmering away in my imagination for quite some time. It’s different, and will possibly be a challenge to write a memoir about a difficult time in my life.
More about that next month, meanwhile Happy Reading