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 Author: Hazel Gaynor

Published: 8 September 2016
Reviewed: 26 September 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by HarperCollins in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

‘Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …’

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?

My Thoughts & Review:

Having been enticed with the beautiful cover of this book and the wonderful insights of the blog tour earlier in the month, I finally got time to sit down and read The Girl From The Savoy.

Charting the story of Dolly, a chambermaid at the Savoy in 1920s London, the reader is transported to the era by Hazel Gaynor’s eloquent prose.
Dolly has great dreams to be a star on stage, appearing in musicals like her idol Loretta May, so when she meets Loretta’s bother Perry and becomes friends with him and Loretta she is beside herself with excitement at the possibilities this poses.

Dolly is a wonderfully rich character, rich in spirit, and a delight to read about.  Despite her past and the secrets she keeps hidden, the reader cannot help but admire this character.  As her secrets are unearthed, they convey so much more about Dolly’s life before the Savoy.    Perry and Loretta are equally great characters, each has their secrets and this helps to bring them to life as believable and likeable characters.

The writing itself is great, Hazel Gaynor carefully captures the very essence of the period, the reader is swept away with the vivid details that Gaynor has taken time to include, you can almost picture the scenes as if it were a play or on the big screen.  It’s clear from the details included that much time has been spent researching the music and the celebrities of the time.  I was lucky enough to share a wonderful piece written by Hazel Gaynor about the music of the period that played a part in her research as part of the blog tour for The Girl From The Savoy.

You can buy a copy of The Girl From The Savoy here.

About The Author:

Hazel Gaynor, copyright Deasy Photographic

Hazel Gaynor’s 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a NYT and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was selected by WHSmith Travel as a ‘Fresh Talent’ title and was also a NYT and USA Today bestseller.

Hazel is one of nine contributing authors to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES – Stories of Love and the Great War. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY is available now.

Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and also contributes special guest features for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Rachel Joyce among others.

Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of ten big breakout authors for 2015. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

To keep up-to-date with Hazel’s latest news, visit her website www.hazelgaynor.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hazelgaynorbooks

 

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Author: Lynsey James

Published: 1 August 2016
Reviewed: 24 September 2016

4 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The perfect summer romance for a sunny afternoon and a picnic in the park
Emily Reed is having a bad day. Her mother has just dropped a devastating bombshell—the dad she’s known and loved for twenty-five years isn’t her biological father!

Desperately in need of answers, Emily heads to Luna Bay covering her personal quest up as a work trip to Sunflower Cottage B&B.

Setting up the ‘Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club’ should be a great way to meet the locals and maybe even find out who her father is. The only problem is brooding and insanely gorgeous, Noah, who is determined to make Emily’s stay perfectly uncomfortable.

Discovering the truth after all these years was never going to be simple, but Emily will stop at nothing to uncover her past… even if her heart is getting in the way!

Don’t miss a single book in the Luna Bay series:
Book 1 – The Broken Hearts Book Club
Book 2 – The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club
Book 3 – Coming soon

My Thoughts & Review:

The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club sees a much awaited return to Luna Bay, Lynsey James is one of those authors on my list to keep an eye out for after having read the first book in the series The Broken Hearts Book Club.  I should note that this can be read as a standalone book if you don’t want to follow the Luna Bay series and just fancy reading this one.

Here we meet Emily Reed, who has recently been passed over for a promotion at work, in favour of someone who was closely acquainted with the boss.  Understandably she is angry and frustrated, but the revelations that she finds when she goes for dinner with her parents are enough to make a bad day worse – the man she thought of as her father is not her biological father.

Confused and distraught, Emily goes in search of her biological father, her mother thinks he still lives in Luna Bay so logically that’s the first place to start looking.  When her boss hears of her plan, he turns it to his advantage, there is a B&B there that he would like her to work on getting signed over to their hotel chain.
What then follows is a lovely heartwarming tale filled with mishaps, humour and community spirit.

The characters in this are great, very realistic and engaging.  The descriptions of the settings are vivid and give the reader wonderful mental images of Luna Bay.  The mentions of food from the breakfast club sounded so delicious.

The writing is warm and the book reads like catching up with old friends, despite these being new characters in the series.  If I’m honest, I preferred this book to the first one, perhaps it was just something about the story, or perhaps I preferred Emily’s character as opposed to the protagonist in the first book.  This is a great book to read if you want to take a break from things, just the right amount of romance and emotion to make this a feel good story, it’s the sort of book you can curl up with and happily lose a few hours.

 

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Author: Victoria Walters

Published: 7 April 2016
Reviewed: 8 September 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Headline Review in return for an honest review

 

Description:

In the Cornish town of Talting, everyone is famous for something.

Until recently Rose was known for many things: her infectious positivity; her unique artistic talent; and her devotion to childhood sweetheart Lucas.

But two years ago that changed in one unthinkable moment. Now, Rose is known for being the young woman who became a widow aged just twenty-four.

Though Rose knows that life must go on, the thought of carving out a new future for herself is one she can barely entertain. Until a newcomer, Robert, arrives in Talting for the summer…

Can Rose allow herself the chance to love again?

My Thoughts & Review:

The Second Love of My Life is an impressive début from Victoria Walters, a well written beautiful and emotive story that stays with you long after you’ve finished the book.

Rose and Lucas were childhood sweethearts, having known each other since the days of primary school, so it was no surprise that they would marry and live the Disney “happily ever after” tale.  But tragically Lucas is killed in an accident by a drink driver and Rose is left utterly heartbroken, she is lost without her best friend and partner.
Thankfully Rose has her friend Emma to support her, Emma’s family and her husband John are also great support for the young widow.
Living in the little Cornish town of Talting Rose is surrounded by these friendly faces who want to help her, the closeness of the townsfolk is touching.

The way that Walters portrays Rose’s grief through her artistic abilities is very cleverly done.  Feeling utterly bereft without Lucas, she loses her ability to paint completely, but slowly as she manages her grief and comes to terms with it she begins to find her art.  Each painting brings a little more of Rose back and the change in her when she realises how important art is to her is so beautifully written. 

The setting of the book is wonderful, the descriptions are so vivid that the reader is transported to this fictitious seaside town.  The characters are realistic and multidimensional.  The relationship between Rose and Lucas’s parents was particularity well written, very emotive but sensitively written so that the reader gets a feel for how difficult it is for them seeing Rose trying to deal with the loss of Lucas but also moving on.

Instead of being a slow and sad story, this is more a uplifting and hopeful one.  It reminds you that life does go on.

You can buy a copy of The Second Love of My Life here.

 

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Author: Gill Paul

Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 4 September 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Avon in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Love. Guilt. Heartbreak.

1914

Russia is on the brink of collapse, and the Romanov family faces a terrifyingly uncertain future. Grand Duchess Tatiana has fallen in love with cavalry officer Dmitri, but events take a catastrophic turn, placing their romance – and their lives – in danger . . .

2016

Kitty Fisher escapes to her great-grandfather’s remote cabin in America, after a devastating revelation makes her flee London. There, on the shores of Lake Akanabee, she discovers the spectacular jewelled pendant that will lead her to a long-buried family secret . . .

Haunting, moving and beautifully written, The Secret Wife effortlessly crosses centuries, as past merges with present in an unforgettable story of love, loss and resilience.

My Thoughts & Review:

The Secret Wife is a fascinating and beautifully written novel which makes the reader wonder “what if?”

This book has a dual storyline that weaves back and forth between 1914 and 2016 narrated respectively by Russian cavalry officer  Dmitri Malama and Kitty Fisher who has fled London and headed for her great grandfather’s remote cabin in the wake of relationship issues.
Dmitri’s tale finds him in a military hospital during World War I, and recounts the story of his love affair with the Grand Duchess Tatiana Romanov.  It also details the turbulent political landscape of Russia and the effects it has on everyone.
Kitty on the other hand is reeling after what she discovers in London, and makes a break for America to think things through at her great grandfather’s cabin in Adirondacks which she has inherited.  She spends time repairing the cabin and learning more about the great grandfather she knew nothing about.

When reading the description, I wondered just how successfully this dual storyline would work and whether the author would pull this off, and she does so seamlessly.  The level of detail in this shows how that extensive research has been done by the author to ensure that not only the story flows well but also that the historical details are accurate, especially the attitudes towards people like the Romanovs who lived in luxury compared to the ordinary people of Russia who lived in dire poverty.  The historical details of the Red Army and their executions of the Romanov family are harrowing to read but are accurate.
Being able to take such a spectacularly intriguing family and bring them to life through her writing is no mean feat, there is an abundance of material on the Romanov family available, but something in the writing here brought them alive more than anything else I’ve read.

An unforgettable read, with well rounded characters, the inclusion of the idea of what if not all of the Romanovs were executed in 1918 makes this a thoroughly intriguing book.

You can buy a copy of The Secret Wife here.

 

About the Author

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in recent history. Her new novel, The Secret Wife, is about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar, who first met in 1914. It’s also about a young woman in 2016 deciding whether to forgive her husband after an infidelity.

Gill’s other novels include Women and Children First, about a young steward who works on the Titanic; The Affair, set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fall in love while making Cleopatra; and No Place for a Lady, about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects (to be published 1st October 2016) and a series of Love Stories, each containing fourteen tales of real-life couples: how they met, why they fell for each other, and what happened in the end. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.

Gill was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich, Ray Mears and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition and relationships.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you”– and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls “research trips” and attempting to match-make for friends.

For more information about Gill and her books go to her website http://www.gillpaul.com or follow her on Twitter @GillPaulAUTHOR

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