Newest Women's Fiction Reviews

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The Summer Seaside Kitchen by Jenny Colgan

4star.jpg Women's Fiction

Colgan has a diverse portfolio of chick lit (and she also writes Dr Who novels) under her belt but starting with Meet me at the Cupcake Café in 2011, she has established herself as one of the queens of the chick-lit subgenre of comedy romance with food, the Queen of Hearts and the queen of fruit tarts, to an obvious benefit of her popularity and presumably her bank balance and to the sound of satisfied ahhhhs and mmmms from her growing fanbase. As you can see I do miss the Old Jenny a little bit, the brasher and swearier characters and the much more cutting humour. But. There is something to be said for a well written feelgood novel and I did enjoy the sweetshop, the café, the bakery and now the Summer Seaside Kitchen which has all the tried, tested and well loved ingredients of a perfectly escapist, mostly but not totally predictable chick-lit romance with a foodie angle that Jenny Colgan has made something of her house special. Full review...

The Good Girlfriend's Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

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We begin the story with Lexi and her boyfriend. Lexi is one of those women, who has a begrudging relationship with her mother, who is constantly pestering to get her down the aisle, a father who has a spine missing and a boyfriend who leaves her as a sports widow. The more I talk to my female friends about this, the luckier I realise I am to not have. A partner who is entirely uninterested in sport but does fixate on Star Trek, Star Wars and anything else that revolves around space and guns. Full review...

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter

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Reading the blurb for this novel, the first novel for adults by author Dawn O'Porter, I got very excited. It talks about the cow being a piece of meat, born to breed, one of the herd, and compares this to women, saying how they don't have to fall into a stereotype. I expected a slightly subversive novel about feminism. What I found was an easy to read, enjoyable romp through three modern women's lives. Full review...

Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan

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As predicted by Caroline and Janice's mother on Caroline and Henry's wedding day, their marriage is over, albeit 15 years and two daughters further along than predicted. Indeed, this is definitely not a good weekend for Janice to be babysitting at Caroline's house. There's the split and the awkwardness of the girls' schoolteacher being the other woman for a start. Then there's that mistaken identity moment involving the neighbours. At least Janice is well adjusted and over her ex-husband Alec. She still dreams of him, yes, but it's so over! Just as well really… guess who's at the door? Full review...

Honeymoon Suite by Wendy Holden

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This is an excellent read, weaving together many stories. We have Nell who, yes, is left at the alter after a whirlwind romance. It's horrible and horrifying and she is, understandably, distraught. Her last modicum of self-respect vanishes when she rings to cancel her honeymoon, only to find it non-refundable. And so, in a rare show of gumption, she decides to go anyway, taking along her friend Rachel and Rachel's daughter Juno for the ride. At the same time, bestselling novelist Dylan is having romantic woes of his own. An almighty fire has chased him out of town and he needs to disappear, at least for a bit. As luck, and artistic license, would have it, the two end up in the same place. But this is not the first time they have crossed paths, and they are both in for an almighty shock. Full review...

How to Get a Love Life by Rosie Blake

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Nicola is the sort of girl who knows what's for dinner based on what day of the week it is. Meticulously tidy, she employs a cleaner as well just to make doubly sure nothing is out of place. And you can set your watch by the time she eats her daily treat of a Mini Roll. Not all of this is bad. I believe in scheduled relaxation, and felt my heart skip a beat when, on the first day of my honeymoon, we received a schedule with our activities for the week. But the point is, Nicola is at the far end of the spectrum, and she certainly does not seem the kind to have a messy, chaotic love life. Full review...

The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain

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The Amirs are dysfunctional: there's really no other way of putting it. They're of Bangladeshi origin and they're the only Muslim family in the small village of Wyvernage. On the surface they look to be happy, but actually each of the sisters is struggling in her own way. For the most part they're doing it quietly, but it's not always the case. The eldest is Fatima. Her name's often abbreviated to Fatti: it's not meant unkindly, but she's well upholstered and at thirty she's unmarried. Even her mother doesn't seem to think that there's much point in trying to find a husband for her. Full review...

A Fairy Tale For Christmas by Chrissie Manby

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Kirsty meets Jon while working as a singer on a cruise ship. He is the impressive Director of Entertainment on board, and they fall into a relationship which Kirsty hopes will grow and develop into something special. When Jon announces he wants to return to England to his West Country seaside home, Kirsty is faced with a difficult decision: whether to follow him and cement their flourishing relationship or pursue her own career with a Cruise Line contract in the Caribbean. Full review...

The Mistress of Windfell Manor by Diane Allen

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Charlotte Booth is the beautiful daughter of a successful wool farmer and like any young Victorian woman, she looks forward to the day she can be married and have a family of her own. Her childhood sweetheart Archie has a place in Charlotte's heart, but he cannot provide her with the life she desires, so when wealthy mill owner Joseph Dawson comes to town Charlotte sees her luck begin to change. After a brief courtship, Charlotte and Joseph marry and move in to the illustrious Windfell Manor, but things soon turn sour when one of Joseph's mill workers is found dead and Charlotte starts to suspect that Joseph isn't the man she first thought he was. Full review...

An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney

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It was when Tully gained a step-mother that her education really started. That was the beginning of the road to discovery. The discovery that she can realise ghosts for others, that she can escape the cruelty of an alcoholic father and the discovery of the income and pleasure her body can generate. That, in turn, leads to the rather classy Fairy House brothel and, now, the condemned cell in Newgate Prison. As she awaits her fate, Tully writes her autobiography An Almond for a Parrot and allows us to read over her shoulder. Full review...

The Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

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1940 and the workload of Thompsons, the Tyneside shipyard, increases so much they do the unthinkable: employ women to perform the roles traditionally taken by men. It's the bravest as well as the strongest women who accept the challenge and, under the expert tuition of Rosie, begin to take their places beside their male counterparts. It's not an easy ride for any of them. In fact, as they band together, there's one particular group that will face dangers in their daily lives as real - and more imminent - than any encountered on the slipway. Full review...

Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

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It's December, and Olivia is off to New York. Sadly it's not for the Christmas of a lifetime, or even a pre-holiday shopping weekend. She's going for work, in fact she's leading a team of colleagues, so it's far from a relaxing trip. Luckily she'll be home in time for the big day itself, and then she'll really be able to relax. Except, in a comedy of errors such as this, things don't exactly go to plan. Fierce weather grounds flights and shatters dreams, and new Christmas plans come into play. Full review...

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

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Anna is missing; a difficult truth for her mother Jess to absorb. Anna went ski-ing with friends, leaving Jess to look after Anna's daughter, Jess' granddaughter. Little Rose is now a comforting presence for Jess as she thinks about Anna, piecing together the person and life that Jess thought she knew about. However, Anna has secrets, at least one of which will have repercussions… and not just for Jess. Full review...

The Sisters of St Croix by Diney Costeloe

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On her 21st birthday Adelaide discovers a family she wasn't aware of: a Mother Superior aunt in a French convent and a father who died in WWI rather than Richard - her mother's husband and the man who raised her. Adeline decides to go to France for a short holiday in order to learn more from her aunt that her family knew as Sarah Hunt. Both Sarah and Adelaide part, hoping that they will see each other again soon and they will, but in circumstances that neither of them envisaged. As the Second World War begins and Germany captures France, there's danger ahead for each of them. Full review...

The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

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When you're American, and planning a wedding, you want that wedding to be in a proper, English castle. Of course you do. It's the only thing that matters. It's far more important than the hassle of shipping in your whole family from the States, forcing your sister to spend a week in a foreign country with her ex or anything else. This is the situation Ruby finds herself in. Her ex, Ethan, is the best man and she's Maid of Honour. It can't be avoided. And it's going to be a disaster. Full review...

The Little Pieces of You and Me by Vanessa Greene

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Sometimes you know exactly what you want in life, can list it all quite easily. At the end of their first year of uni, Isla and Sophie make lists. Just one list each, but with a number of items on. Things they want to accomplish in their lives. Lofty goals and easier wins. Full review...

Playing FTSE by Penelope Jacobs

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Melanie is something of a wunderkind, a graduate at an investment bank with brains to match her body. In a male dominated environment she's finding that one gets in the way of the other, but she's a smart girl and can learn to play this to her advantage. With her friend Jenny keen to lead her astray, Mel must learn the give and take of life in the City, and how far to push the limits to get ahead. Full review...

Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh

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Timothy Gandy lost his wife unexpectedly. One minute she was reaching up for the perfect serve and the next she was lying dead of a massive heart attack on the tennis court. It hadn't been the perfect marriage: the two had little in common, but Tim had stayed with his wife firstly for the sake of the children, then eventually for Isobel's sake and eventually because he realised that he would feel guilty if he left her. After the shock of her death came the realisation that he was 55, retired and could now do what he liked. And that was where the idea of the grand tour came from. He was going to take a leisurely trip around the cultural sights of western Europe and indulge himself. Full review...

The Regulars by Georgia Clark

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If offered the chance to immensely upgrade your beauty, to become the very definition of gorgeous, to have a face and body the likes of which are only ever seen on magazine covers and catwalks, would you take it? This is the question posed to best friends Evie, Krista and Willow, when they are presented with Pretty, an enchanted solution of which a single drop guarantees a stunning physical appearance for a week. Before the Pretty, the girls had regular faces, faced regular problems, and found themselves regularly disappointed by the dating world. But this bottle has the potential to change everything. The adventure that ensues takes all three young women on a whirlwind journey of self-discovery as dreams are fulfilled, hearts are broken, and the addiction to such a lifestyle proves to be far more sinister than they ever imagined. Full review...

Acts of Love by Talulah Riley

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Bernadette St John presents herself as the very face of contemporary feminine independence. She is strong, career-driven, beautiful…and definitely holds the attention of the public. For Bernadette is the Man Whisperer, winning herself fame with her ability to coax secrets from the richest and most powerful men of the world, exposing them with controversial distaste in her articles. Hidden behind such a conniving and judgemental persona, however, is a deep insecurity, and a desperate longing to be loved by the perfect man. She has already decided that the newly engaged Tim Bazier is the only candidate for such a position in her heart, and will stop at nothing to win him back from his all-too-lovely fiancé. Yet what is perfect is a subject for discussion, and charismatic entrepreneur Radley Blake's unwavering attention has also fallen upon the feisty journalist. It is a weaving tale of will-they-wont-they that Riley spins here, one that I found myself unable to put down. Full review...

Falling by Julie Cohen

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Here is the story of three women, from three generations within the same family. There is Jo, a forty year old single mother whose first husband died, and whose second husband ran off with their nanny. She is left caring for her older teenage daughter, Lydia, and her two little ones, Oscar and Iris, whilst harbouring a secret that she feels she cannot share with anyone. Her daughter Lydia is the second female character, and as well as the usual teenage angst she is also dealing with grief, still, over her father's death, anger with her mother for her second disastrous marriage, and her own very difficult secret that she is unable to talk to anyone about. Finally there's Honor who is Jo's mother in law, the mother of Jo's first husband, Stephen. Honor has a fall, breaks her hip, and is forced to move in with Jo for a time as she has no one else who can help her. She too is hiding a secret from the world, and as you read the story you begin to wonder if any of these characters actually know who the others are, and if any of them will ever start telling the truth. Full review...

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

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A man is missing, and his new wife is worried. Miles away, a man is found alone and confused on a beach, and his new friend is concerned. Are the two in any way connected and what events have occurred, in the past and in the present, to lead us all here? Full review...

Gallows Wedding: A dark novel of witchcraft and forbidden love set against the backdrop of religious upheaval in Henry VIII's times by Rhona Martin

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Hazel, an orphaned peasant during the 16th century has had a tough time to say the least. Therefore when she comes across Black John, an outlaw about to be hanged she sees her chance. By proposing to him she'll save his life and, marrying him, her own. At least that's Hazel's theory but the fates will make it a bit more of a struggle. Full review...

The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming

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I always think, without the grit there would be no pearl. Sorrows have a way of strengthening the heart, never forget that, child.

Greta Costello lives in in poverty with her mother and siblings and must work as a skivvy to put bread on the table. She manages to find some joy in her work though, especially in her 'Sabbath' job working for a kindly old widowed Jew. The two become friends and he offers to take her on as his apprentice, stringing pearls. Could this highly-skilled job be her key to a better life? At the same time, many miles away in Scotland, Jem Baillie and his father can't contain their delight when they discover a magnificent, flawless freshwater pearl at the end of a long day of fishing. They call the pearl 'Queenie' and from that pivotal moment, the fates of Greta, Jem and Queenie will be inextricably linked. Full review...

How to Find your (First) Husband by Rosie Blake

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Isobel Graves hasn't got the life she envisioned. She moved to LA to become a star-soaked television presenter, instead she's dressing up everyday in a series of wacky promotional costumes on the streets. She thought she'd be married to a gentleman, instead she's fallen into a lacklustre relationship with a pilot, whose booty calls do not send her sky high. So when Isobel sees a man from her past on TV, someone she was once married to on the playground at school, she wonders what her life would be like if they were married now. With everything to gain and nothing to lose, Isobel attempts to find her first husband and take back control of her life. Full review...

The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon

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I'm not sure whether it would be flattering or stressful to have 3 beautiful women lusting after you. In the case of Angus, it's itchy footed Phoebe who'd rather be flitting around the French Alps than stagnating in suburban Sale, boho musician Eliza who's still waiting for her big break, and former nurse Rose who is leaving behind an unsuitable boyfriend and a life in the city to move back up north… and live with her mother. It's a complicated situation, made only more complex by the fact that the girls know each other. In the past they've shared a room, and a womb. Hello, triplets. Full review...