Books mentioned and mini-reviews:
Charm (Tales from the Kingdoms, #2) by Sarah Pinborough
I picked this Cinderella retelling up with some trepidation as I didn’t love the first in this series, Poison (I liked it but didn’t adore it), but actually massively preferred it! It isn’t as dark as I was anticipating but it was delightfully subversive and fun – I’m looking forward to reading Beauty, the third in the series.
If Every Day Was Christmas by Donna Ashcroft (review copy from NetGalley)
A lovely family drama/festive romance about a woman who runs a Christmas shop in a small town in Scotland. Her love of the season comes from the fact that Christmas day was the only time that her parents could properly get along, but this year she’s decided she is done with all of that. She’s going to have Christmas quietly by herself and not get involved in the family drama…but then her mum and sister turn up! Meanwhile there’s also a new man in the locality, a rock star who is hiding out and hoping that no one recognizes him. He hates Christmas, but our heroine is determined to help him enjoy it!
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Lizzie Shane (review copy from NetGalley)
Another very cute Christmas romance – this one set in a fictional town in the USA, with vibes of Gilmore Girls and Parks and Rec. She’s a fashion photographer who normally lives in New York, come to stay with her grandparents who run a dog shelter. He’s one of the local councilmen, reluctant parent to his orphaned niece, and he’s just had to cut the funding for the dog shelter. They unite to try to find homes for the shelter’s remaining dogs before Christmas. It’s a really sweet romance which takes a long time to develop and involves the whole community having to come together to push them towards each other – plus, the dogs are a lovely, colourful bunch of characters all on their own!
Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes
This is a brief guide to, as it says on the tin, story structure for romance novels, going into detail about what needs to happen at the different beats. I found it reasonably useful with the caveat that I was planning to write a romance novel for NaNoWriMo and turned out to not be a romance novel but a novel that has a romantic plot amongst other things. It was helpful not so much for structuring my novel but more for helping me understand the full depth of the structure – some of the beats that would have been the romantic beats became high points and low points in the friendship development instead.
Buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
The Six Tales of Christmas by Anne Marie Ryan (review copy from NetGalley)
Another Christmas book – this one is set in a small town/village (I never can keep this small town versus village thing straight) in the Cotswolds. The main characters are an older couple, she inherited the bookshop they owned and ran from her mum, and loves it, but it’s in dire financial straits. She’s been hiding this fact from her husband – that the bookshop’s under threat -because he’s had health problems and is meant to avoid stress. Meanwhile, they decide together to send six books out to people in the local area who really need a book to cheer them up…it’s a really cute Christmas story about a local community coming together, battling isolation, and loving books.
The Windsor Knot (Her Majesty the Queen Investigates, #1) by S.J. Bennett (review copy from NetGalley)
I was extremely excited to read this as S.J. Bennett is better known as Sophia Bennett, one of my favourite YA authors (see my reviews of Love Song and Following Ophelia), but under her new pen name she’s writing mysteries for adults in which the detective is the Queen! The Windsor Knot is mostly set at Windsor Castle, after an overnight guest dies and some think it is it was a suicide but the Queen suspects it was a murder. The story is mostly from the perspective of the Queen’s assistant private secretary, a younger woman who finds herself in this strange situation, secretly helping the Queen investigate a murder, acting as her eyes and ears a lot of the time! It’s a very interesting concept, I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to reading the second in the series!
The Duke and I, The Viscount Who Loved Me and An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, #1-3) by Julia Quinn
With all the talk about the Bridgerton series on Netflix I decided I wanted to read the books first…or at least give them a try! I find Regency romance really moreish, and these books were no exception. My favourite out of the three was An Offer From a Gentleman – I preferred The Viscount Who Loved Me to The Duke and I but the romantic plots for both were so similar, An Offer From a Gentleman felt like a breath of fresh air, even though it’s a Cinderella retelling! I will carry on reading this series, as I’m finding it quite interesting to see how the family dynamics play out, and how the author varies the romance plot, but I preferred all the other Regency romance authors I’ve read previously (Georgette Heyer, Courtney Milan, Scarlett Peckham).
Weather by Jenny Offill
This is a strange kind of stream of consciousness story about a woman who works for an academic who talks about climate change. Her anxieties vary, however, she’s also a mother and a wife and someone who never quite figured out her career, falling into a job at the library arranged for her by the same academic, before being asked to go on tour with her. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, but I wasn’t sure what I was meant to take away from it.