Jen Black - The Gavington Affair
It's some time since I read a novel from the historical romance genre, and I found this one pleasantly entertaining. The heroine, Melanie Grey, flawed physically, is hiding her real identity when she takes on the post of housekeeper at Gavington House. It's the Northumberland seat of Adam, Duke of Jarrow, where he lives with his young daughter, Penelope. Since his wife's death, the master has had strict rules which make life more difficult - notably, not having any horses on the estate. Mel manages to cope with her new tasks, but she's intrigued by the man who seems to hide a genial character behind a mask of sternness. Striving to conceal her own past, she cannot help but follow her instincts to uncover her master, Adam's, secrets. Soon she becomes caught up in a web of deceit, where she must unbend her own strict ideas of the world, and struggle for those who have become dear to her. Good historical background, well-written, this was an enjoyable read.
Kay Bratt - True to Me
This book was refreshingly different for me. I've been reading a lot of British set novels recently, and was attracted to this one because it had a Hawaiian location. The heroine, Quinn, discovers on her mother's deathbed that the man she never met but had always accepted as her father, is in fact not her relation at all. With the help of a mysterious legacy from her mother, she buys a house on the island of Maui. This was her mother's home, and here she hopes to discover her own heritage. Her controlling fiance, Ethan, isn't pleased about her decision. When Quinn arrives at the house she's bought, sight unseen, she gets an unwelcome surprise which throws her into disarray. But when she meets people from her own ethnicity, she begins to explore her heritage. There are unexpected secrets to uncover in her own background, some of which are difficult to accept, and she has to decide whether to go back to her old life or to stir up sleeping dragons to find the peace she desires.
Julianne Maclean - A Fire Sparkling
I had a bit of an attention slump at the start of this novel, as there seemed to be far too many American expressions for a narrator who was supposedly English by birth. But the strength of the plot eventually hooked me, and I began to think that maybe the narrator might have used some of these expressions as she'd lived a long time in the USA. The modern-day heroine, Gillian, is American, and has had some difficult times in her life, most recently discovering the infidelity of her long-term partner. Fleeing to the home her widowed father shares with Gillian's grandmother, Vivian, Gillian finds the foundations of her existence rocked further. At ninety six, Vivian is spry for her age, but her son Edward has discovered a disconcerting photograph in a secret drawer. Gillian and her father persuade Vivian to tell them the truth behind the picture. What follows is a story that goes back to Britain in World War II, which is full of twists and turns that I didn't see coming. A good read.