Audrey Howard - Softly grow the poppies
As the title suggests, this is a novel of World War I. Audrey Howard writes with compassion and understanding, and as ever, all her characters are fully-rounded and sympathetic. Rose is an independent young woman of means, orphaned young and now running her own estate. In the early days of war, she strikes up a lasting friendship with Alice, who against her father's wishes wants to wave off Charlie, the man she loves, on his way to the Front. As Charlie and Alice's love affair suffers the consequences of war, Rose steps in to offer comfort and help to her friend. Her heart is captured by Harry, Charlie's older brother, whose home becomes a military hospital. Once he goes to war, Rose finds herself in charge of the hospital as well as her own home. The tragedy of war threatens the relationships of both couples, but is there a way for happiness to triumph in the end? A novel that keeps the reader engrossed to the last page.
Susie Vereker - Pond Lane and Paris
Widow Laura lives in a crumbling house in Hampshire, and is finding it hard to make ends meet. She misses her daughter who is living in South America, has a buried passion for Jack, who is married to her friend Mel. She cannot give in to her feelings as she cares for them both and tries to give them support in their problematic marriage. Then the offer of an unusual job comes along - to be a mentor to Charlotte, daughter of Oliver, a divorced British diplomat in Paris. During school holidays Laura rents her home to another friend and decamps to the French capital. Here she tries to be responsible and genteel, and offer troubled teen Charlotte the guidance that her father desires. Oliver is handsome and charming, and Laura finds herself coping with situations and relationships that she could never have imagined. The author draws the reader into the story as emotion, duty and disappointment compete in Laura's struggle to find contentment.