From a Modern Romance to the Jazz Age: Two Book Reviews

These days I read a far wider variety of genres and it’s my joy to share the reviews of these two contrasting books – I hope you enjoy the eclectic mix!

“A Mother for His Twins” by Jill Weatherholt

The past and present collide to create the perfect scenario for this superb and engrossing romantic novel. Schoolteacher Joy Kelliher, who is single and has no children, one day welcomes two new students into her class, two boys who are the twin sons of her high school sweetheart Nick Capello.

Fourteen years earlier he disappeared without warning on the evening of one of their dates. An evening that led to a catastrophic experience for Joy. Nick has returned to his hometown following the death of his wife and he is not just suffering from grief. His life is lived under a veil of guilt.

As the boys are introduced into her class, it turns out that Nick will be a fellow teacher at the school and is also seeking the position of the school principal, a job Joy has coveted for many years, particularly as her father was principal at the same school.

Finally, the next morning Joy wakens to see Nick and his sons moving in next door.

Her world has suddenly and dramatically been turned upside down. Where before there was certainty and security there is now questions, regret, renewed heartbreak. However, the past attraction and closeness between Nick and Joy emerges time and again, her flustered flirtation in contrast to her professional self. Nick likewise is torn between his affection for Joy, wanting to repair a wrong, with his ambition to become school principal, a position he needs not only for his career but as a form of redemption.

Jill Weatherholt weaves with skill the links of the past and present, gently unravelling past events as they are revealed to Joy and Nick in turn. Both have secrets that they have held onto and which are difficult to share, particularly as Joy still does not trust Nick.

The narrative unfolds through the close third person of the two main protagonists, ensuring the reader feels empathy with each, knowing their secrets, inner turmoil and thoughts.

Throughout, the book explores profound themes such as forgiveness, trust, jealousy, faith, acceptance of one’s life, guilt and regret. Only when there has been reconciliation in all these areas is a life of love possible.

I was hooked from the very first page and Joy’s and Nick’s story won an instant place in my heart!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

Publisher: Mills & Boon Love Inspired (1 Sept. 2019)

Read more about Jill on her blog Jill Weatherholt

“Speak Flapper: Slang of the 1920s” by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Who knew a dictionary could be so much fun?! ‘Speak Flapper’ is no ordinary dictionary however, rather a delightful and informative collection of slang from the 1920s.

The author was inspired to collate her specialist knowledge of words from the era following her novels set in the infamous Jazz Age. I’m so glad she took this leap of faith!

I enjoyed immensely not only reading the meaning behind the words and phrases but also the insight the book offered into life at the time. It gives a brief commentary on the social history of the era including about the people, films, inventions, relationships, alcohol, literature, clothes and crime … and so much more.

As each new letter of the alphabet is introduced Teagan reveals a snippet of history and wow, I was in awe of the creativity of the time. From automobiles to Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, from hats to phonographs, from washing machines to G-men!

I was surprised how many words were familiar to me and that I had no idea they stemmed from one hundred years ago. For instance ‘heebie-jeebies’, ‘Real McCoy’ and ‘Oops’ comes from then.

Some phrases surprised me by being similar to Cockney Rhyme, ‘Adam and Eve’ is ‘believe’ for instance. The language was wonderfully colourful and vibrant. ‘Lemon Squeezer’, ‘Caterpillar’s Kimono’, ‘Giggle Water’ give just a hint of some unusual words. When I meet a bore in future I will (mentally) refer to them as a ‘Gimlet’ … a terrific word! Some words were amusingly incongruous to their actual meaning, ‘peanut’ referring to a bomb!

Reflecting on our present-day language I wonder if it isn’t rather dull and bland in comparison to a century ago, whether a sense of daring and imagination is absent?

I can highly recommend this whimsical look at the Roaring Twenties and although I can’t yet speak fluent flapper, I’m a lot closer to it! ‘Speak Flapper’ really is the ‘cat’s pajamas’!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon UK Amazon US

Publisher: Independently published (5 Jan. 2020)

Read more about Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene at Teagan’s Books

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the reviews! Have you read any of these books or are you perhaps tempted to look at one or even both of them? As always, I look forward to your comments & discussion!

Welcome Author Annika Perry #wouldyourather

“Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?”

This is only one of the fun albeit tricky questions that Jill Weatherholt posed to me in her renewed childhood game of “Would You Rather” feature on her blog!

I was hooked by the series since its inception in September 2019 and I am delighted to be featured last week. Please click the link to find out more!

Jill Weatherholt

Today I’m excited to welcome our friend and writer, Annika Perry. For those of you who know Annika, I’m sure you’ll agree she is one of the kindest and most generous bloggers you’ll ever meet. We connected many years ago, and now I feel as though we’re old friends. I was excited when she expressed an interest to play “would you rather.” I think you’ll enjoy her answers as much as I did.

Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?

Without a doubt, I’d rather travel in time! Ever since reading ‘The Time Machine’ by H G Wells as a child I knew here was the perfect way to travel although I realised it came with its own inherent hazards. Avoiding these I would visit various eras across time. The major world events, whilst of interest, would not appeal to me as much as seeing…

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POTPOURRI

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Jill Weatherholt set us a lovely challenge on her latest post and one I was immediately tempted to carry forward.

She linked to a POST which was one of her favourites to write and did not relate to the number of likes, comments or views.

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Jill’s favourite post celebrated friendships and particularly nicknames. It was impossible to forget her ‘Jilly Bean’ nickname acquired at college. In my response nearly two years ago, I mentioned that I felt neglected at school as I was only ever only known by my name. At university this changed. Finally, I gained not only one nickname but a ‘fair collection’ as I’d written to Jill. I was quietly chuffed! Even if they weren’t the most flattering.

Of course, my Swedish heritage was picked up early on and many letters from my best friends started out ‘Turnip-Top’! During my first year, stress and poor diet resulted in some hair loss. Not one to keep shtum I mentioned the strands of hair collecting on my hairbrush. After a few weeks my nicknames had extended to ‘Yul’ (actor), ‘Duncan’ (swimmer) and ‘Sinead’ (singer) – all whose common factor was their baldness. I was not reassured but learning to laugh at myself taught me an invaluable lesson.

Now, to Jill’s challenge. Would we do the same? Think of our favourite post and write about it.  How could I refuse?!

With nearly two hundred posts over three years, whilst not burgeoning, this is not an insignificant number and would be unwieldy to glance through on WordPress. Luckily I have a shortcut in place!

Every few months I have been saving my posts on Scrivener. This started out as I never could work out how to save the blog and I am slightly paranoid that all the work will just disappear in a jiffy! I spent a contented hour scrolling through my posts, creating a shortlist of ten before narrowing down a winner!

Apart from writing, I enjoy throwing myself into research. Posts which require a lot of information harvesting and sorting, before collating into an article accompanied by photographs are pure bliss!

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The 17th-century Kindle post ticks all the boxes. First and foremost, it’s all about books and tiny ones at that. Secondly, they are very old and delicate ones; my imagination was captured by the idea that someone created a portable library all those centuries ago – hence the Kindle in the title. Thirdly, the research was intricate and fiddly whilst the images served up a colourful visual feast. What wasn’t there to savour?  I hope you enjoy reading the post as much as I did writing it! As this was posted in my early days of blogging it should be fresh and new to most of you. HERE is the full post.

Annika:Paper PhotoFinally, I might be a bit absent from blogs in the next couple of weeks as I am not only continuing with my writing work but have also received an invitation to talk to a creative writing group at a private school. I was contacted by them following my recent newspaper interview which is available to read HERE.

As I’m preparing my talk, I’m gradually conquering my initial terror at the thought of the school visit and now look forward to chatting with the very keen and enthusiastic group of 11-16 years-olds as ‘an inspiring author’. Having heard briefly about their terrific work, I have a feeling it will be an afternoon of mutual inspiration.

I hope you have enjoyed my personal reflections and the link to my favourite post and that you will consider joining in and share your favourite blog post and explain why you chose it. 

 

SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE: A BOOK REVIEW

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After reading a series of intensive, high-octane thrillers in the past weeks, Jill Weatherholt’s  ’Second Chance Romance’ proved just the tonic I needed to relax and return to earth.

In this heart-warming novel published by Harlequin Love Inspired, Jackson Daughtry, a single father of five-year-old Rebecca, one morning comes to the rescue of Melanie Harper. She hit a tree whilst swerving to avoid a deer and Jackson’s paramedic skills come to good use as he helps her out of the car and then to the hospital. From this very first meeting, their lives are interwoven and irrevocably changed. 

Melanie is the niece of the very popular Phoebe Austin, Jackson’s business partner to the local cafe The Bean and since the death of his parents, Phoebe has been like family to him. Melanie wants her aunt to move with her to Washington, DC., which causes conflict for everyone concerned.

As a divorce attorney in the capital Melanie is a city girl through and through. However, the tragedy which struck her life a year earlier had resulted in her retreating into herself in the isolated, uncaring environment of urban life. When faced with the beauty and wondrous landscape of idyllic and harmonious Sweet Gum in the Shenandoah Valley she gradually opens up emotionally. The setting becomes an intrinsic part of the novel and the friendly, caring attitude of the community is sensitively and memorably portrayed.

The novel is told in the third person switching with ease and skill between the two main protagonists and ultimately allowing us closer access to their thoughts and feelings.

Being a romantic novel, the frisson between Jackson and Melanie is at the core of the story; its intensity and the continual emotional rollercoaster between them makes this a most compelling, addictive read. Whilst attracted to each other, they deny these feelings to themselves as differences over many issues makes any future seem untenable. Just as Melanie comes out of the hospital, Aunt Phoebe suffers a stroke and whilst she recuperates, the running of the cafe falls to Melanie and Jackson.  The past haunts them both more than ever when faced with working together each day and confronting their traumas.

Having been left to raise his daughter four years earlier when he was abandoned by his wife, Jackson finds it difficult to trust anyone. Meanwhile, Melanie is still lost to herself and the world following overwhelming grief…a tragedy that is only slowly revealed. Whilst  Jackson finds solace in his faith, Melanie lost hers. 

Faith is one of several deep and thought-provoking themes examined and woven into the narrative. Grief, fear, forgiveness and love are all seamlessly arced across the novel and hidden within the more everyday events. These include such gentle, seemingly inconsequential happenings such as a fair, apple picking, picnic and baking, which are all exquisitely described and very much part of the homily Mills & Boon genre. Numerous sub-plots such as the menacing return of woman long since disappeared and the romantic possibilities for Aunt Phoebe bolster the main story.

For me the star of this book is Rebecca, Jackson’s daughter – she instantly won a place in my heart! Her warm loving personality, belief and innate wisdom is brilliantly captured and helps unravel the darkness of sorrow within Melanie; I can just imagine the powerful impact of the hugs from this little girl. The reader’s instant affection for Rebecca only heightens the tension and drama as she faces danger and the possibility of being lost to them forever.

Although an easy read with a welcome escapist element, this is a well-crafted and written novel with a perfect fusion of romance and drama; I quickly became engrossed in the lives of all the characters and I didn’t want to leave my new friends as the novel came to an end.

Rating:                   4 out of 5 stars

Available from   Amazon US   or  Amazon UK

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