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A Billion Reasons Why - Kristin Billerbeck (2011)

Every girl wants to meet her Prince Charming, settle down with him and eventually have a family. For Katie McKenna, an Irish New Orleans girl, her dream guy was Luc and eight years ago, she asked him in front of a crowd to marry her. But he turned her down. Now Katie is about to be engaged to Dexter - he is what you would call her fallback guy. But can he offer her the one thing she wants most - love? When Luc turns up at Katie's work with a proposal, Katie is left with a big decision. Can Luc provide Katie with a billion reasons why she shouldn't marry Dexter or is Katie worried about another broken heart? (PP)


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A Black Tie Affair - Sherrill Bodine (2010)

The Smith girls - Venus, Diane and Athena - were the best of friends with the Clayworth boys - Drew and Connor. Their fathers worked together and Athena thought she and Drew were each other's true love. Fast-forward to the present day. Athena has landed her dream job as a fashion curator and is busily organising a vintage couture exhibition in Chicago. The only pieces missing are those held in a family vault at the Clayworths' house. When Athena is called to come and authenticate the dresses, she jumps at the chance. But the dresses are full of toxins - talk about killer threads - and Athena is overcome by fumes. She wakes in hospital and is reunited with Drew, who she hasn't seen for 15 years. Meanwhile someone has taken advantage of the confusion to steal the priceless gowns. (PP)


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About a Girl - Lindsey Kelk (2013)

Lovable Tess Brookes didn't mean to let things get so out of control but when she loses the job she's slaved over for absolutely no reason and gets rejected by her best friend and love of her life, taking off for Hawaii seems like the perfect thing to do. Nevermind that she's taking off under false pretenses. Nevermind that she has no idea how to do the job she's accepted. Nevermind that she took on her roommate Vanessa's identity. All that is water under the bridge...until she gets to Hawaii and things become real. First off, she meets the handsome reporter she'll be working alongside and then she meets the art director of Gloss magazine, who expects Tess to provide top-of-the-line photos for a really important interview. Can she pull it off? And just how long can she go on being Vanessa without someone catching on? A fun, flirty story that is the perfect summer read. You'll definitely want to get lost in Lindsey's terrific new series! (AS)


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About Last Night - Adele Parks (2011)

Stephanie and Pip met at school when the vivacious new girl befriended the mousy Steph. But over the years it has been Pip who has relied more and more on Steph, particularly when her husband abandoned her and their young daughter a couple of years ago. Steph's husband, Julian, jokingly tells her that in a life or death situation, she'd definitely pick Pip over him. Then suddenly Steph's world is shattered and she asks her best friend for a massive favour. She needs Pip to lie for her and say they were together the night before. This engrossing story builds dramatically over the course of a week and questions how far the bonds of loyalty stretch.


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About That Night - Julie James (2012)

Rylann Pierce met billionaire playboy Kyle Rhodes at a bar. Sparks flew when Kyle walked her home and they kissed outside her apartment, however, the next night Kyle stood her up. Fast-forward nine years and Rylann is an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago. Her first case will be a motion to reduce the sentence of the infamous high-profile Twitter terrorist Kyle Rhodes. Rylann is forced to work with Kyle after another case requires Kyle's testimony as a key witness. Rylann is determined not to mix business and pleasure and fall for an ex-con, however, when Kyle is no longer her witness, their attraction is harder to deny. Fantastic witty dialogue and fun characters make this book a must-read. Fans of Julie James novels will be happy to see updates on their favourite characters. (AO)


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About Time - Niamh Shaw (2010)

Lara is packing up her life to move from Ireland to New York with boyfriend Leonard. Lara doesn't have a great history of picking worthy boyfriends and she is continually reminded of Conn, the guy who keeps popping into her life. In fact, this socially inept science geek is the real star of the story and he narrates a large chunk of the book. As the story goes back over the pair's time together - from school and college to working in Dubai - Shaw sets the scene well, dropping in details that make you wonder how the rest of the story is going to unfold. A real surprise package that is well worth your time.


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A Bump in the Road - Maureen Lipinski (2009)

After a weekend in Vegas with her new husband Jake, event planner and blogger Clare realises that mixing antibiotics with birth control pills is not a sensible option. Having a baby right now was the last thing on her mind - and giving up alcohol for nine months is going to be murder. In between organising a big black-tie gala, staying neutral in her best friends' feud, dealing with a disapproving in-law and writing for her popular blog, Clare slowly adjusts to the fact that a new life is just around the corner. It took less than 10 pages for me to know that I was going to love this book - Clare is a loveable, quick-witted character who is just cut out for a sequel.


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A Catered Affair - Sue Margolis (2011)

Tallulah and fiance Josh get talked into having a big, fat Jewish wedding by her grandmother Nana Ida. Meanwhile her mum is busy with her Samaritan work, and unusually for a Jewish mother, is not too happy about her daughter settling down with a nice doctor nor her sensible choice of a career as a human rights lawyer. She much prefers boasting about her other daughter Scarlett who is dating a black lesbian and trying to make it as a stand-up comedian. But Tally lives by her father's last piece of advice to her - make sure you marry someone like yourself. When things don't go to plan at the wedding, a drunk Tally finds herself propositioning the caterer, Kenny. Read it for its great one-liners and hilarious characters, including a newsreader with Tourette syndrome.


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Accidental IT Girl - Libby Street (2006)

Sadie Price is a celebrity photographer who'll do whatever it takes to get the shot that will bring in the most money. When she gets a compromising shot of Hollywood heart-throb Ethan Wyatt, she thinks she is at the top of her game. That is, until the tables are turned on her and she starts being stalked by a paparazzi who follows her every move. Ethan, in the meantime, won't give up trying to get Sadie to stop her celebrity photo-taking ways and switch to another career. The question is: How does Sadie feel being stalked every day, unable to even leave her house without being followed? Anyone who reads the weekly tabloids or enjoys following the lives of Hollywood stars will devour this book in a heartbeat. (AS)


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Accidentally Engaged - Mary Carter (2007)

Psychic Clair Ivars has a flair for reading tarot cards yet has a blind spot when it comes to predicting her own future. Particularly her love life - she's been married three times. When bride-to-be Rachel demands a reading that says her marriage to winemaker Jack Heron will be a disaster, Clair complies and is left with the engagement ring to return to Jack. Somehow Clair finds herself pretending to be engaged to Jack but she can't keep her eyes off his business partner.


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Accidentally Yours - Susan Mallery (2008)

Kerri's son is dying from a rare disease and she needs $15 million to reopen the Washington lab where, she is sure, they will find the cure. She's even figured out where to get the money - from pretentious and cold billionaire Nathan King. Kerri knows he's got to have a heart somewhere. But Nathan is a different man then she expected. His coldness is justified and his pain, which he hides below the surface, is deep. As the two become closer, with Kerri practically blackmailing him for the money, their relationship starts to change. But can two people who are complete opposites ever fall and stay in love? (SN)


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Accidents of Marriage - R.S. Meyers (2014)

Married life hasn't turned out exactly how Maddy had expected. As well as a full-time job, managing the household and looking after three children, Maddy has to negotiate her husband Ben's moods. Unpredictable, volatile and aggressive, Maddy has learnt to walk on eggshells around Ben. Then one morning as Ben once again finds himself pushed over the edge whilst driving with Maddy they're involved in an accident - an accident that will alter their lives completely. Meyers has hit on a really fascinating subject matter in the novel - that of anger and its consequences within marriage - which makes for a compelling read, although I would have preferred to have seen more demonstration of Ben's anger before the accident to really get a sense of it. The three-voiced narrative - of Maddy, Ben and eldest daughter Emma - gave a broader and more engaging perspective than would have been possible with a single narrative and allowed readers a much more nuanced relationship with Ben. I thoroughly enjoyed this exploration of marital and family dynamics and the questions it raises. (JC)


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According to Jane - Marilyn Brant (2009)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a romantic heart must be in want of her happily-ever-after. Ellie Barnett is no exception. What is exceptional about Ellie's story, however, is that Miss Jane Austen herself has been giving Ellie romantic advice since she first read Pride and Prejudice at the age of 15. With Miss Austen's guidance, Ellie has learned to classify her romantic interests according to 18th century England. There are the Mr Bingleys (like Jason and Tim) the Colonel Fitzwilliams (Dominic), and of course the dangerous Mr Wickhams (such as Brent and Sam). Like most women, though, she is forever in search of her ever-elusive Mr Darcy. It's not until she is in her 30s and stops to take stock of her dating history that Ellie realises not all men fit neatly into one particular category. And that just maybe she has misclassified one of her former loves. In a story more than coincidentally parallel to Pride and Prejudice, Marilyn Brant weaves an inventive tale of one woman's search for her heart's desire. I can't help but think how lucky we would all be to have Jane Austen guiding our own romantic adventures. (LEK)


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A Christmas to Remember - Jenny Hale (2014)

Thirty-something Carrie Blake has a successful career as a nanny, having spent most of her time with other families instead of building up her own. Because she wants nothing more than a family and children of her own, Carrie decides it is time to finally focus on her own wishes and has taken on her very last position with the Fletcher family in Virginia. Adam Fletcher is a workaholic and divorced father of two children, David and Olivia, whom he hardly has time for. It breaks Carrie's heart to see the children don't really have a relationship with their father and she decides to try her best to make Adam spend time with his kids. When Adam's family comes to stay for the holidays, the house is filled with joy and laughter. Carrie wants to make sure her last job is brought to a successful end; but will she be able to unite Adam and his children, and most importantly, will she be able to let them go and really focus on herself after this last job? Jenny Hale has once again delivered a wonderfully stunning Christmas story. It was incredibly easy to warm to Carrie; she's a great nanny who is fantastic with children, but as a person also down-to-earth and easy to relate to. Carrie has some anxiety issues and depends a lot on self-help books (each chapter starts with a quote from a self-help book), and the novel really focuses on Carrie and how she has to make some important life decisions. Next to Carrie, there's a great cast of secondary characters, most importantly the Fletcher family. Adam is an interesting and handsome leading man, his kids David and Olivia are really cute, and the other members of the family are just as fascinating and bring their own special something to the storyline. I personally really liked the plotline; I thought it was quite original, perfect to get into the holiday spirit, and not as predictable as you might expect. Jenny Hale's writing is really well-paced, easy to read, and warm, resulting in me not wanting to put the novel down but at the same time not wanting it to end either! This author clearly knows how to warm people's hearts for the holiday season. (JoH)


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A Clean Slate - Laura Caldwell (2003)

Kelly McGraw simply can't remember the past five months of her life. She finds her boyfriend Ben now has a new girlfriend and she's lost her job as a financial analyst. The drycleaner's misplaced her clothes, the key won't fit in the door of her town house and she keeps getting headaches. With her best friend Laney helping her piece together her life, Kelly finds she can start again with a clean slate. But first she needs to remember what bad news triggered her memory loss.


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A Compromising Position - Carole Matthews (2002)

Emily's entrepreneurial boyfriend, Declan, secretly posts nude photos on the internet of her as a Saucy Santa. Amid the resulting media storm, she loses her teaching job and moves in with her new age friend Cara, who works at the local newspaper. Cara has her eye on photographer Adam but one night Adam sees Emily at a nightclub and without knowing who each other is they fall for one another. This is a hilarious story that will drive you nuts with the tension of will they or won't they ever meet.


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A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court - Marianne Mancusi (2005)

Once upon a time there lived a fashion editor, Katherine Jones, who was nicknamed Kat. One Saturday she was sent in an Armani suit and Manolo Blahniks to the King Arthur's Faire to write a story on the emerging trend of medieval clothing in the 21st century. Entering the faire in a bad mood, she meets a gypsy who places a curse on her and she is transported back to the time of King Arthur, Queen Guenevere and the handsome knight Sir Lancelot. Things go from bad to worse as Kat has to act as a spy - though she decides to play it like a female version of James Bond with a hint of Buffy - and is captured. Can Kat use her 21st century skills in the town of Camelot or is she out of depth? An excellent modern take on the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with 21st century influences throughout. (PP)


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A Cottage by the Sea - Carole Matthews (2013)

Grace, Ella and Flick have been friends since their days together as university students. Over the years they've stayed in touch but because of their busy lives they hardly see each other. So, when Ella invites her friends to spend a week in the summer together at her cottage in South Wales, it is the perfect opportunity for them to spend some time together again. Grace is bringing her husband Harry, with whom she hopes to have some quality time as well, since their relationship is no longer what it used to be. However, as soon as they arrive, the only thing Harry is interested in is the amount of wine he can drink in one afternoon and whether his mobile phone works or not. To make matters even worse, Flick arrives with her latest boyfriend, the delightful and attractive Noah, and Grace starts feeling all kinds of things she shouldn't be feeling as a married woman. This one week at Cwtch Cottage starts off as a simple summer holiday for Grace, Harry, Ella, her partner Art, Flick and Noah, but as the days progress secrets are unfolded and lives will be changed forever. Carole Matthews' writing flows so easily, making her novels an absolute delight to read. I loved Grace; she's a great friend to Ella and Flick, trustworthy, friendly and who can blame her for having unexpected feelings for Noah? What a gentleman! Overall, this novel is a perfect summer read and exactly what a chick lit novel should be like, filled with tons of emotions and laughter. A Cottage by the Sea shows that it's never too late to find true love or to decide to chase your dreams, and that's a message we can't hear often enough. (JoH)


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A Crowded Marriage - Catherine Alliott (2006)

Painter Imogen Cameron knows her family has to move out of London to help their financial situation. But does it have to be into a cottage owned by her husband Alex's former girlfriend, Eleanor - the woman who broke up his first marriage? Despite being married to stuffy Piers, Eleanor is still overly chummy towards Alex - making Imogen suspect they're having an affair again.


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Acting Up - Melissa Nathan (2000)

aka Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field

Magazine columnist Jasmin Field lands the role of Elizabeth Bennet for a fundraising performance of Pride and Prejudice. Her sister George is cast as Jane, her flatmate Mo is Charlotte Lucas, and her nemesis, theatre critic Gilbert, takes on the role of Mr Collins. And in a story that mirrors the P&P plot, Jazz has to put up with haughty Hollywood heart-throb Harry Noble as director.


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A Date in Your Diary - Jules Stanbridge (2009)

With the wedding of Harriet's best friend looming - and her ex and his new girlfriend attending - Harriet needs to find a partner to take. With no prospects in sight, she is talked into registering for a dating website. She soon finds her dating exploits are ripe for her Girl Without a Date in Her Diary blog. Meanwhile at work, on a Bath magazine called Life to Live, Harriet finds herself getting pushed aside for a London It Girl called Poppy, who actually spends more time swanning around on Ibiza. With a mix of humorous encounters, a tangled web of romantic interests and some heartfelt family moments, it's worth your while to make a date to read this one.


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Ada's Rules - Alice Randall (2012)

Preacher's wife Ada Howard receives an invitation to her college reunion. The once skinny and beautiful Ada believes that she has let herself go over the years and feeling deprived of love at home she has her eyes set on her college crush Matt. In order to make herself perfect, Ada decides to make a goal to lose 100 pounds in a year and sets herself goals to research different methods of dieting and exercise. Pulling bits and pieces of advice from friends, family and diet books, Ada writes a list of Diet Rules. Through dieting though, she soon finds herself re-discovering who she really is and comes to the realisation that her marriage is failing and that it may be time to move on. This is one of the best African-American novels I have read in a long time and I would recommend it to everyone as it's one book that everyone who has ever had negative thoughts about themselves will be able to connect to and think "OMG, that's like me" or "I do that". (PP)


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A Desirable Residence - Madeleine Wickham (1996)

This centres around a house in England and the three families connected to it. Liz and Jonathan Chambers are saddled with two mortgages and mounting debt when they buy a tutorial college. Realtor Marcus Witherstone appears to be their knight in shining armour when he finds Ginny, a glamorous PR girl, and her once-famous actor husband Piers to rent the Chambers' house. The Chambers' teenage daughter Alice starts a friendship with the new tenants that soon borders on infatuation. Marcus' wife, Anthea, an overbearing stay-at-home mother, enrols son Daniel in the Chambers' tutorial college, hoping that he will receive a scholarship to the prestigious Bourne College. The novel focuses on how the lives of these three very different families quickly intertwine through adultery and greed. (AO)


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Admissions - Nancy Lieberman (2004)

The Tuesday after Labor Day marks the start of Manhattan's private school admissions when wealthy families try to call in every favour to get their child into their school of choice. For Helen Drager, mother of Zoe, it shouldn't be such an ordeal getting her into high school because she's president of The School's parents' association and her best friend Sara is its admissions officer. But with competition fierce and with little help from an increasingly absent headmistress, Helen turns to her television producer husband to sweet-talk some of the prospective school heads - offering one a shot at her own cooking show and becoming a sporting buddy with another. Will it be enough?


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A Family Scandal - Zoe Miller (2012)

It is 20 years since rock musician Zach Anderson mysteriously plunged to his death in a lake. When media interest in the incident is suddenly re-ignited, hidden tensions fracture the glamorous facade of the Morgan family, totally changing their lives. Ellie, Miranda and their half-sister Lucy, Zach Anderson's love child, find themselves in the harsh glare of the media spotlight once more. As cracks begin to show, beautiful fashion designer Ellie flees Dublin for the anonymity of New York. She has spent her life trying to forget Zach Anderson and his affair with her mother but she finds that however far you run, you can never truly escape the past. Meanwhile Miranda, desperate to spread her wings away from Zach's legacy and her successful sisters, reclaims her life in the vibrant city of Hong Kong. And in London, fashion model Lucy is full of unresolved questions about her father's death. When their mother falls seriously ill, the sisters are forced to return to Dublin. They must confront each other as well as their greatest fears. But what secrets are they hiding? Will their love for one another hold them together or tear them apart? The author vividly explores the complexity of family relationships - the roles people fall into or have forced upon them, the impact that the sense of who they are within the family has on their intimate relationships, and how present-day family problems can sometimes be traced to unresolved issues in the past. The strength in the book lies in how the author expertly creates a world of glamour, mystery and passion and matches it to heartfelt emotion and likeable characters who, behind their glossy veneers, face the same insecurities as everyone else. From the very first page, the story allows the reader to escape into a world of glitz and opulence married with intrigue, a world that becomes relatable due to the depth of feeling conveyed. As the book continues, the intrigue builds exponentially. What is the truth behind how the Morgans regard each other? Why does Lucy feel like she's being watched? And what really happened to Zach Anderson 20 years ago? The sizzle of sensuality in the characters' intimate lives provides the perfect undercurrent to the energy and pace of the story. The reader will travel with the Morgans to Dublin, London, Hong Kong and New York as the narrative progresses, and although we meet glamorous characters with thriving careers, the book also remains sensitive to the times we live in; we meet some who have fallen victim to the recession as well as those who appear to have the world at their feet. Zoe Miller is an author who consistently delivers, and A Family Scandal is no exception. A must-have for your holiday suitcase! (SBB)


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A Field Guide to Burying Your Parents - Liza Palmer

Grace Hawkes has not spoken to her siblings in five years. The last time she saw them was after their mother died. When she is called on to visit her dying father after he suffers a stroke, she feels she has no choice but to go help her brothers and sister. Despite her dislike of their father - who up and left them when they were little without as much as a reason why - Grace senses that subconsciously she has done exactly the same thing to her siblings - she abandoned them after their mother's death. After much hyperventilating and an almost mini-breakdown, Grace makes the biggest leap of faith in her life and goes to see her estranged family. Now, seeing them all for the first time in five years in a sombre hospital room, Grace feels like there may be a chance, though it is a real long shot, that they could go back to being a family once again. Also present at the hospital is her father's sinister second wife (who has more of a hidden agenda than an actual love for their father) and Grace's stepbrother. Of course, to complicate things just a bit more, the love of Grace's life, John, whom she also ran away from five years earlier, is also in attendance. Forced to deal with a mirage of emotions that she thought she could bury forever, Grace feels overwhelmed. Full of family drama, complicated relationships and situations that anyone can relate to, this book captures them all with just the right amount of humour thrown in for good measure. (AS)


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A Fiery Secret - Diane Craver (2007)

Catherine (Cat) Steel is a investigative newspaper reporter who also freelances for women's magazines writing about fashion, dating and love. The only thing lacking in her life is her Mr Right. Then her newspaper hires Jake Michaels as sports editor. Ten years ago, Jake and Cat were an item until he stood her up not once but twice - and she has never forgiven him for failing to show for her high school prom. With Jake around, her emotions are running high and she needs something to take her mind off it. Enter her brother Adam and his girlfriend Tracey - she has uncovered a note that suggests their old school janitor's death was a murder. Can Cat solve both the crime and have a second chance with her original Prince Charming or will her pride stand in her way? (PP)


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After I Do - Taylor Jenkins Reid (2014)

Lauren and Ryan have been together for eleven and a half years. They met when they were nineteen, and never looked back. They were so in love, so besotted with one another. Everyone thought they'd be together forever. Little did everyone know that it was all falling apart. After months of fighting, Lauren and Ryan agree to separate for one year. They hope to gain a better understanding of how their marriage broke down, and whether it's worth repairing. During their year apart, Lauren seeks the advice of her family and friends, and they all have very different views on love and marriage. Lauren faces many challenges, and asks a lot of hard questions. Are romance and love the same thing? Am I still in love with my husband? Is our marriage worth fighting for? This fantastic love story was unpredictable. I had my suspicious of how it might end, but the author throws in some excellent plot twists to always keep me guessing. (CK)


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After I Left You - Alison Mercer (2014)

When Anna Jones arrives at Oxford in the early 90s to begin her degree, she is soon taken in by the enigmatic Clarissa Hayes and her circle of friends - Keith, Barnaby, Victor and Meg. And it is Victor who grabs Anna's eye. But as Anna prepares for her final day, what should have been a night of celebration turns into a night that will haunt her. A chance encounter with Victor some twenty years later forces Anna to face up to her time at Oxford, that fateful night and the demise of her group of friends. Split between the 90s and the present day and told in five parts, I really enjoyed the structuring of the novel which gave the story momentum and gravitas. Although elements of the plot were fairly predictable, others were hugely unexpected and the events of that final night at Oxford were absorbing. After such an explosive event, I did feel as if the novel drifted in the final part and the conclusion was less climactic than I would have liked. But still this is a novel rich in pathos, drama and nostalgia. (JC)


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After Michael - Betty O'Rourke (2007)

Although Michael's sudden death was a shock to his wife of 25 years, Fiona, she is not particularly devastated. Even though they rarely argued, the couple had been leading separate lives for many years. But things start to unravel when another woman appears at his funeral, unveiling secrets about Michael's past and his supposedly staged death. Despite the subject matter, this is a light and easy read but is let down by its weak portrayal of the main characters Fiona and Michael. (XT)


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After the Break - Penny Smith (2009)

Katie Fisher still hasn't settled into any permanent work after being dumped as host of a morning TV show. So she is enticed by a big pay packet to head to Norway to take part in reality TV show Celebrity X-Treme, a sort of Big Brother/Survivor in the snow. As Katie's clumsiness scores her lots of air time, one of the producers, Siobhan, has reason to set her up with another contestant Paul. Meanwhile Keera, Katie's replacement on Hello Britain!, is trying to score her own series, weather girl Dee is getting married and Katie's father has decided he's had enough at home. This is an improvement on the atrocious first book, but you still need to wade through Katie's bad puns and word plays.


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After the Honeymoon - Janey Fraser (2014)

Rosie runs the Villa Rosa, a picturesque destination on the Greek island of Siphalonia. Sixteen years ago, she was taken in by the owner Cara, when she was pregnant, homeless and terrified. Now, she's forced to face up to her past when her old flame arrives at the villa on his honeymoon. Now a TV fitness guru, Winston has no idea that he has fathered a child, and doesn't seem to recognise Rosie at all. His honeymoon to bride Melissa is interrupted when her children arrive to stay with them. Emma and Tom are also newlyweds on honeymoon. But when Tom makes little effort to enjoy the holiday, Emma goes it alone and gets herself into a spot of trouble. How will they all cope when the honeymoon is over? I feared when I began that with so many prominent characters I would get confused but the layout of the book worked well, alternating between Rosie, Emma and Winston's stories. I was drawn into the plot from the beginning, and while I enjoyed the first part when they were all in Siphalonia on their honeymoons, the real action happened after they got home (as the title may suggest!) and I particularly liked that part, I was invested in the plot right up until the end. Some wonderful descriptive passages drew beautiful images of Greece, and lively and engaging characters made this a very entertaining read. (LO)


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After the Party - Lisa Jewell (2010)

This sequel picks up 12 years after the 'happily ever after', which saw two 20-something flatmates finally get together. Now as 30-something parents, Jem and Ralph have recently separated, sharing custody of their two young children. As the story moves back a year, to before the separation, it is revealed that Ralph is still painting artworks, while Jem is just returning to part-time work as an entertainment agent. Ralph, finding it hard to deal with the domestic drudgery or bond with his baby son Blake, takes off to the US to visit his former flatmate Smith. There he connects with someone who leads him down a path he's sure Jem won't approve of. Meanwhile a resentful Jem befriends single dad Joel while wondering where that fun-loving, spirited girl Ralph fell in love with has gone. Jewell nails this believable evolution of her characters, with a heart-wrenching examination of how a couple can get lost amid family life and the passing of years.


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After You - Julie Buxbaum (2009)

Ellie is shocked to hear her best friend, Lucy, has been knifed to death walking her eight-year-old daughter Sophie to school. So Ellie leaves behind her life - and husband Phillip - in the US and goes to London to help care for her goddaughter, who has stopped talking through the trauma. As the pair share the comforts of reading The Secret Garden together, Ellie finds she needs to heal from a past tragedy as well. This is an engrossing story that taps into grief so beautifully.


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A French Affair - Katie Fforde (2013)

Sisters Gina and Sally have inherited their aunt's spot at an antiques centre called the French House. PR consultant Gina is keen to make it a success, throwing herself into learning the trade and creating plans to bring more custom to the centre. That is if she can convince dour owner Matthew of the brilliance of her ideas. But the house is under threat and a new shop owner in the area is keen to take it over - at a bargain price. With Gina having lost her heart to the house - and its owner - can she save the day? With lots of tidbits about antique hunting, this sweet story shows good old-fashioned romance never goes out of date.


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Age before Beauty - Virginia Smith (2009)

If you have ever been pregnant and had doubts about returning to work, you'll be able to relate to this story, the second book in the Sister-to-Sister series. Allie Harrod is a social worker by day and a brand-new mum by night. She is more than ready for a career change. When Allie is invited to a Vari Cose Party (similar to Avon or Tupperware) she decides on the spot to become a sales rep. This means she can be a stay-at-home mum but still contribute to the family's income. Of course Allie is discouraged by her family - I mean she even dropped out of the Girl Scouts for not selling enough cookies. But Allie is determined to rise to the occasion and prove to her family that she can make it. However all the daily challenges that Allie faces, such as her rising credit card balance, losing her baby fat, fitting back into her clothes and fearing her husband is slinking off to what may be an affair with a solo mum, are becoming too much. An enjoyable book combining motherhood, marriage, sisterhood and of course make-up and all those handy inventions like the Laundry Pen. (PP)


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Agent Provocateur - Faith Bleasdale (2004)

Magazine journalist Betty has to shadow Grace for a week, watching the honey-trapper test men to see if they are faithful. But Betty is finding the assignment tough - she takes an immediate dislike to Grace and her job. Then the women are manipulated into a bet that Grace can seduce Betty's husband, Johnny. But will anyone emerge as the winner? This is a good concept but it is poorly written, especially when jumping between viewpoints.


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A Gift To Remember - Melissa Hill (2013)

Darcy Archer, who works in a bookshop, loves books, loves book quotes, loves ANYTHING to do with books. In the days leading up to Christmas she is seriously busy trying to keep the bookshop running smoothly while trying to placate her Aunt Katherine and assure her that she really doesn't need a man in her life just yet. Darcy loves riding her bike everywhere she goes and is often warned that she'll end up having an accident if she insists on riding in the snow. Darcy, knowing she's a safe cyclist, continues to ride around Manhattan until she does crash into a pedestrian, leaving him unconscious. Darcy is shocked at what has happened but doesn't count on the mysterious adventure that this stranger is about to take her on. This is a fantastic mystery that had me confused right up until the end. Melissa has really perfected the art of mystery and I found myself quickly flicking through the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Character wise, Melissa has excelled in creating characters that you genuinely care about and want to follow on their journey. They all developed well over the course of the book and I adored Darcy, perhaps because I saw a lot of myself in her. The man who she crashes into, Aidan, is a rather yummy character and I fell in love with his personality rather than the lifestyle he led. I adored the writing style, it was slick, easy to follow and had some lovely descriptions. Half of the book is told from the perspective of one character and one from the other and it is so well executed. As soon as it crossed over voices, I was slightly worried it wouldn't work but the transition was seamless and completely understandable. I loved it! (LL)


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A Girl Like You - Maria Geraci (2012)

Emma is a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. She loves her job and really likes her new boss Ben. They have a great working relationship and she thinks there may be something more there as well. When Ben asks for suggestions for an upcoming issue, Emma promises an interview with Nascar's hottest star who she went to high school with. Even though she was never really friends with driver Trip Monroe and hasn't seen him since school, she is determined to get the interview and impress Ben. But she is having a harder time than she thought getting the interview and heads back to her small town to try and reach Trip through his family. Emma stumbles upon a few secrets while she's back home along with a possible new love interest who is nothing like Ben. Emma thinks that she knows everything about the people she works with, her parents and her friends but she comes to realise she doesn't really know anything. She thinks Ben is the man of her dreams based on what little she really knows about him. There's a possibility she may find the man of her dreams where she least expects to. This is a fun story about a woman who thinks she knows exactly what she wants and ends up with the complete opposite. (AR)


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A Girl Like You - Gemma Burgess (2011)

Abigail Wood has never been single. Well, technically she was single at one point in her life but that was so many years ago that it seems like it never happened. So when she breaks up with her boyfriend of forever and has to face singledom once again, she's perplexed as to the rules of dating. She goes from one disaster date to another, until her roommate, Robert, teaches her the rules of being single - and surviving the perils of dating. What are these rules? Well, for one thing you need to act like a man. Be cocky, arrogant, harsh and bulletproof. Don't let any man know you're too interested, and if you really aren't interested then just delete his number and move on to your next target. That can't be that hard, can it? After all, Robert is one of London's most successful playboys. He has girls hanging on his every word and is never at a loss for female companionship. So what if a few hearts get broken on the way? That's what dating is about, as Abigail soon learns, and being in control at all times is key. Abigail, though, can't keep her cool for long. Especially when she meets a man she's head over heels for. The cool, composed and detached Abigail is soon out the window and in its place is a panic-stricken, lovesick girl who will do anything to keep this unworthy fellow interested in her. What happened to Robert's advice? And, even more importantly, is this man really worth it? He is the epitome of a cheating playboy but Abigail is blind to his faults until it's too late. This is a laugh-out-loud story of a girl thrown into the hellish pit that is singledom (when all her friends are happily paired off), only to find that what she really wants has been right in front of her the whole time. It's an enjoyable and fun read right until the very end and guaranteed to make you question the rules of dating and being single. (AS)


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A Good Girl Comes Undone - Polly Williams (2008)

Annie Rafferty, deputy editor at Glo magazine, lives with her boyfriend Nick in a three-bedroom home she's just bought. But cracks begin to appear in their relationship when Nick leaves his PR job to 'find himself'. Suddenly Annie is the breadwinner just when she's fighting for survival at the office. Ambitious colleague Alexis is after her job while the new exec Don, who is looking at revamping the magazine, is definitely exerting his male presence. It's enough to get Annie reassessing her life, partner, career - and her good girl tag.


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A Groom with a View - Sophie Ranald (2014)

Pippa is happy with the life she leads; she has a great job as a chef and the perfect relationship with her boyfriend Nick. Everyone always mentions how great the two of them are together, and Pippa knows she doesn't need a ring on her finger as proof of their love for each other. Yet, after a few too many drinks, Pippa suddenly finds herself engaged to Nick and before she knows it she's answering questions about invitations, cakes and wedding locations. In order to make things as easy as possible for Pippa, Nick decides to do most of the planning and organising himself, but when Nick's mother appears on the scene and the wedding slowly seems to take over their entire lives, things between Nick and Pippa only seem to get worse. Every now and again I come across a great chick lit novel which is thoroughly enjoyable from the first until the very last page, which has an entertaining storyline at its core, combined with a fabulous cast of characters; basically, a book I didn't want to put down but at the same time didn't want to end. A Groom With a View is definitely one of those novels. The storyline is great, Pippa is a wonderful heroine; she doesn't want a big and glamorous wedding, she just wants to be with Nick and no wedding is needed to put a stamp on their love for one another. It was nice to read about a man who takes on all the wedding planning, and the female character who tries to deal with this. Pippa and Nick are a fantastic couple, and the book also has a fabulous mix of supporting characters. There honestly was never a dull moment and I loved returning to it at the end of a busy day, keeping my fingers crossed for Pippa and Nick and their wedding. It's a funny, and thoroughly enjoyable read; I can't recommend it to other chick lit fans enough! (JoH)


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A Heart Bent Out of Shape - Emylia Hall (2013)

Hadley Dunn leads a normal and not-too-exciting life. One day, she decides it is time for a change, which results in her leaving home to study for a year in the Swiss city of Lausanne. Lausanne is full of promise and Hadley quickly becomes close friends with the Danish girl who lives in the room next to hers, Kristina. Unexpectedly, tragedy strikes, and Hadley's Swiss adventure suddenly turns into a nightmare. The only person she feels she can trust is her American Literature professor, Joel Wilson, whom she forms a close relationship with. Hadley wants to discover what happened that cold November night when everything changed but this turns out to be a more difficult and intriguing task than she initially thought. Emylia Hall provides the reader with magnificent descriptions of the Swiss city. It almost felt like I was walking down the snow-covered streets myself, as if I could feel the cold and see the tops of the mountains in the distance. With her words, she manages to convey a very specific feeling and image, a particular atmosphere, which fits the story perfectly. Next to the scene setting, I was straightaway intrigued by Hadley and I liked her as a character. I also loved her friendship with Kristina and the relationship she builds up with Hugo, a retired crime author who spends his days drinking brandy at a fancy hotel in Lausanne. It took a bit of time before the story really got going but this provides the reader with a couple of chapters to get acquainted with Hadley as the protagonist of the story and the city of Lausanne; chapters that build up to the moment of tragedy which is what the rest of the novel focuses on. After that moment, I simply wanted to read on and on to discover more about the story. A Heart Bent Out of Shape is a poignant and captivating read about hope, first love, and loss, which you will not want to put down. (JoH)


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A Hollywood Ending - Robyn Sisman (2008)

Movie star Paige Carson hates working with her arrogant Australian co-star Jackson Rolfe on movie Code Red. But he's nominated for an Oscar and she's already got a reputation for walking off set. The daughter of divorced celebrity parents, Paige suffers a few too many humiliations on the way to the Academy Awards. So she accepts a part on the London stage, playing Rosalind in As You Like It. This allows her to catch up with friend, rock chick Davina, who's now settled in England with her aristocratic husband, and brings her into the sphere of her landlord Ed, a documentary maker who is not at all keen to play host to a spoilt American diva. You may have fun picking the real life inspirations for the celebrity characters. But much like how Gwyneth's advice to Madonna to find herself an English husband turned out - badly - this predictable book ain't going to enjoy its own Hollywood ending.


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A Hopeless Romantic - Harriet Evans (2006)

Laura Foster admits that she lives with her head either in the clouds or buried in a romantic novel. When her latest relationship with Dan ends (he had promised to break it off with his girlfriend but instead broke it off with her), Laura swears off men and goes on a holiday to Norfolk with her parents and grandmother. But when she meets Nick at a stately home, she finds it hard to keep her promise to herself that she won't get caught up in romantic fantasies anymore.


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A Hundred Pieces of Me - Lucy Dillon (2014)

Gina Bellamy is starting anew. When she and her husband separate, she decides it's time to start again, and she is going to choose one hundred things that are important to her to bring with her into her new life, and let go of the rest. Gina has survived cancer - she is confident she can get through this. But as she finds it so difficult to let go of her past, will she be able to embrace her future? I loved the idea of choosing one hundred special things to keep and letting go of all the clutter in your life. We never did get to see Gina choose her one hundred things, and although I appreciate that instead she decided to make one hundred moments to remember, I was a little disappointed that the original idea didn't fully play out. However, I did enjoy the book. Gina is a strong woman, a survivor. She was a wonderful character with plenty of spirit and appeal. I liked the layout of the novel, that we got a glimpse into Gina's past in each chapter and a full picture of who she was built up gradually. I also like that there was a little bit of unpredictability in the ending. (LO)


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A Husband's Confession - Zoe Miller (2014)

A deserted laneway. A hit-and-run accident. Two families will never be the same . . . Max and Ali Kennedy own a renowned artisan bakery in Dublin's creative quarter. Max has given Ali everything she ever wanted - marriage, children and security. Now, her biggest fear is that her precious family will be taken away from her. Across the city, Finn and Jo Kennedy live a life of responsibility and success - far removed from the carefree couple they were when they first met in Australia 20 years ago. But in the best of marriages, appearances can be deceiving. When a tragic accident befalls one of the families, a long-buried secret between the Kennedy brothers comes to the surface and a house of lies comes tumbling down. As the couples discover life-changing truths about their marriages, they must make a decision - to forgive, to forget or to move on? The stories of these two families, past and present, are beautifully woven together. The tension between Max and Finn is palpable, and their sibling rivalry is powerfully depicted. Zoe Miller is a master at capturing the intricacies and nuances of human relationships, and this book showcases that talent even more than her previous novels. It's definitely one to put on your reading list. (SBB)


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Air Kisses - Zoe Foster (2008)

Hannah has scored the job that other girls only dream about - putting the lip glosses into the glossies. As Gloss magazine's beauty editor, she is inundated with the latest products, invited to all the glamorous launches and cosseted by shiny PR girls. But it's not all champagne and air kisses - she also needs to work hard and look good - after all how good is a beauty editor whose skin and make-up aren't perfect. When Hannah reads about her boyfriend being seen out and about with a hot weather girl, she is devastated. But with the help of her best friend Iz, Hannah throws herself into her new career and back into the dating pool. With each chapter headed with a beauty tip (who knew about cold sores and nail polish remover?), this offers an entertaining insider's view into the magazine world.


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Ain't She Sweet? - Susan Elizabeth Phillips (2004)

Life was sweet for Sugar Beth Carey, the spoiled and untouchable princess of Parrish, Mississippi. That is until she became disillusioned with the real world. Fifteen years and three husbands later, she is coming home, to find herself dethroned by her enemies. The town's new royalty cannot wait for their ultimate revenge. These include her ex-boyfriend Ryan, her half-sister Winnie, and, of course, the man whose life she ruined, Colin. Trouble stirs this peaceful town's inhabitants, and unbeknownst to everyone Sugar Beth is the key to put everything back to right. While this book has the dependable Phillips' sassy humour to satisfy chick lit fans, it offers loads of Southern love for the romance junkies. (SARI)


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Alert the Media - Mia Fox (2013)

April and Ryan are the perfect Hollywood power couple - except the public doesn't know they are together. They have always assumed that Ryan is a hot single actor and April the behind-the-scenes PR girl. The truth is they have been married for years. But now Ryan drops a bombshell on April - finally admitting to her that he is gay, is seeing a guy called Matthew and wants a divorce. Unsure how to react, April decides to up her seduction game and try to win him back. But instead he wants her and her PR company to spin the story that he is an eligible bachelor to cement him in leading man roles. So April must learn to juggle her secret divorce and promote Ryan by setting him up on dates which she believes should rightfully be hers. As April tries to move on with her life - both reality and fantasy as trust me, this girl has a lot of sexual and relationship-wise fantasies going on in that pretty head of hers - this satirical story gives readers a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes in the Hollywood PR business. (PP)


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Alice Brown's Lessons in the Curious Art of Dating - Eleanor Prescott (2012)

Alice Brown is a hopeless romantic who has the perfect job as a matchmaker. She painstakingly looks for the happy-ever-after for her clients, even though she hasn't found it for herself. Her boss Audrey dislikes Alice for her frumpy cardigans and her daydreaming exploits at work; afraid that she isn't presenting the perfect image for her matchmaking business. Only Audrey is hiding secrets that would mean her own image is less than perfect. Then there is Alice's client Kate, who is desperate to get married and is all too aware of her biological clock ticking away as she approaches her 35th birthday. And Kate's friend Lou doesn't believe she needs a happy ending.The book is written from the different characters' perspectives as they all struggle to find themselves and their perfect partner. It's quirky, heart-warming and the characters come alive. A great debut novel. (AB)


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Alice in La La Land - Sophie Lee (2007)

Australian actress Alice Evans flees to Hollywood to escape a broken relationship and a big debt. But it doesn't prove to be her city of dreams - she lives in a cat-infested apartment and spends her days navigating the city in a Daewoo rental, lurching from one audition to another. After a promising start to her first audition, Alice finds she can't win a role and as her past in Australia is slowly revealed, it becomes apparent why she needs to make it so badly. Then she meets an Irishman called Nick, who opens her eyes to new possibilities.


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Alice-Rose - Caitriona Leslie (2012)

It has been three years since Libby Finn lost her husband and moved back to her parents' estate, where she lives in her own cottage. However, when country manor Alice-Rose comes on to the market, Libby knows it is time for her to move on and find her own place. And what could be a better home than the large estate she has such fond memories of from when she was a little girl? Libby decides to dive in straight away, but by doing so, she unexpectedly develops feelings for local estate agent Dan. Despite the age-gap between them, it seems the two are falling for each other but the refurbishment of Alice-Rose and family and friends continue to get in the way. One of the strongest features of this book is the group of likeable characters Caitriona Leslie has created. Libby is a strong female character who knows what she wants, and even though she has been through a lot (losing her husband at such a young age), she is trying her best to build up a new life for herself. I also enjoyed reading about some of the other characters, like Jules (Libby's best friend) and Paddy (the builder taking on the refurbishment of Alice-Rose). The fact that the story is told from two perspectives provides the reader with the chance to discover not just Libby's thoughts and feelings, which definitely added another layer to the story. I was slightly disappointed by the fact that the story doesn't focus more on Alice-Rose itself. After reading the blurb, I expected the country house to take on a significant role in the story, but the focus lies more on Libby and her love life. Not to say that I didn't enjoy that, because I definitely did. Overall, Alice-Rose is an enjoyable romantic read with an Irish touch, perfect for a lazy afternoon. (JoH)


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A Life That Fits - Heather Wardell (2011)

Andrea is content with her life - she has a great job as an analyst for DataSource and a great boyfriend, Alex, whom she hopes she will marry one day. But when Andrea comes home from a business trip she finds Alex acting really strange. She also notices that her apartment looks very bare. Alex tells Andrea he is breaking up with her because there is another woman who is exactly Andrea's opposite. Andrea cannot believe that he had left her after 14 years together and she starts to take stock of her life, changing things about herself and her surroundings. She is hoping this will make Alex come back to her. Meanwhile, Andrea returns to work after a week off to find there's a new staff member Tina, who she fears is trying to sabotage her. With her job in jeopardy and all the wonderful changes she is making for herself will she want Alex back or will she keep making changes and move on from him? This may well inspire you to make changes in your life and learn to accept change so you are not stuck in a rut. (CG)


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A Little Change of Face - Lauren Baratz-Logsted (2005)

Scarlett Stein is sick of people thinking she's too pretty to work as a librarian. Stuck in her condo with chicken pox, she thinks long and hard about her friend Pam's comment that men like her only because of how she looks, not for who she is. So Scarlett goes from swan to ugly duckling by cutting her hair, gaining weight and wearing dowdy clothes and glasses. To complete her transformation to Lettie Shaw she moves to a different house and job. Will she meet someone who loves her just the way she is - whether she's a frump or a knockout?


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A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action - Luann McLane (2008)

Macy and Jamie Lee are hairdressers in a small southern town. Macy is thrilled when Jamie Lee finally marries the perfect man. But for Macy, she's always harboured a secret crush on Jamie Lee's brother, Luke, but believes he will always be out of her reach. Luke has always dated the supermodel type and Macy is the curvy girl next door. Macy's life is turned upside down when Tammy Turner, a famous country music star, turns up at the salon with a hair emergency and Macy fixes her hair. Macy is suddenly whisked away to Nashville to be Tammy's hairdresser. Macy finally gathers the courage to tell Luke how she feels, however, it might be too late. This has just the right balance of humour and romance. (AO)


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All Because of You - Melissa Hill (2006)

Tara has created a successful life coach business and lives with Glenn. When her spoilt younger sister Emma announces she's pregnant and refuses to name the father, suspicions are aroused. Could it be Eric, the husband of Tara's best friend Liz, who suddenly seems to be meeting up with Emma secretly? Glamorous PR agent Natalie meets Tara while on holiday in Egypt. They bond while Glenn is off learning to scuba dive, and Tara agrees to coach her in how to land the man of her dreams. And just when I thought I had all the answers sussed out, the author did the twist again - throwing in several unexpected plot turns that I never saw coming.


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All Eyes on Her - Poonam Sharma (2008)

Monica, a junior associate at a Los Angeles divorce and mediation firm, is hoping her handling of superstar clients Cameron and Lydia Johnson - aka Camydia - as they discuss a trial separation will score her a promotion. But she has her work cut out for her with rival colleague Stefanie giving her the evil eye and trying to undermine her on the job. To further complicate her life, her fiance is away in London, her former boyfriend is back in her life as a client and her drama queen mum is returning to town. A tale of female rivalry, celebrity shenanigans and being true to yourself.


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All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner (2014)

To an outsider, it may appear as though Allison Weiss has it all: a beautiful house in the suburbs, a husband and daughter, and a profitable career as a blogger. But her life is far from perfect. Her marriage is crumbling, her child is particularly difficult, and her father's dementia has progressed to the point that he must be placed in a home, leaving her co-dependent mother with no one to lean on but Allison. Unable to cope with all the demands being placed on her, Allison turns to pills to take the edge off. Surely they can't be too harmful; they are prescription pills after all. And how could that be any worse than having a glass of wine to unwind at the end of the day? But one pill quickly turns into several, and it becomes more and more difficult for Allison to hide her addiction. It is only after being confronted by her husband that she agrees to enter a rehab facility and begins to heal. All Fall Down is at once heartbreaking and uplifting. Weiner has created a main character whose actions can be incredibly frustrating, but who nonetheless elicits sympathy from the reader. It is definitely a page-turner and Weiner fans will not be disappointed. (LB)


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All For You - Sheila O'Flanagan (2011)

Lainey has always loved everything to do with the weather. So it's not surprising that she's ended up as a TV weather forecaster. Lainey was brought up by her grandparents in Ireland while her mother, Deanna, was making her name as an outspoken feminist in the US. With two broken engagements behind her, Lainey is determined not to rush her latest boyfriend, Ken, into a commitment before he is ready. And now her mother is coming back to Ireland, and as usual Lainey doesn't feel like she measures up to her mother's definition of success. Lainey has a stormy patch ahead as family secrets are revealed and she weighs up her vision of happily-ever-after against her friends'. With an endearing heroine in the beautiful Lainey, this is a novel full of warmth (despite all the rain). And the best bit - it doesn't end in a cliched way.


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All Inclusive - Judy Astley (2005)

It's November so Beth and Ned are heading back to the Caribbean island, St George, for their annual holiday. Each year they head to the same luxury resort and hang out with the same couples. But this year the holidaying crowd is going to be a bit different. Cynthia and Bradley aren't coming - instead they have a family wedding to attend. This fact delights Ned because he doesn't want his fling with Cyn to become public knowledge. Meanwhile, Beth and Ned's 16-year-old daughter Delilah, who has been recovering from glandular fever, is reluctantly coming along for some R&R in the sun. But she soon perks up when she spots the gorgeous yoga teacher, Sam. And the glamorous Gina has come with a guest, her mother Dolly, who claims to be on her last legs. This is just the sort of lightweight, entertaining read to pack for your own holiday.


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allmenarebastards.com - Allison Rushby (2000)

Also known as Friday Night Cocktails

Best friends Gemma and Sarah are at their ritual Friday night cocktails, when Sarah adds another name to their bastards list - a collection of 20 yellowing pages of men who have done them wrong. They add the list to Gemma's homepage and she creates a form so other internet users can add their own stories of bastards they have known. It becomes an overnight success so Gemma sets up a new website called allmenarebastards.com. This becomes Gemma's place to vent, especially now her ex-fiancé Brett has sent her an invitation to his wedding to another woman. But is Gemma's manhating getting out of control?


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All Over Again - Emma Heatherington (2011)

Natalie McKenna has lived in Castle Bay all her life, working in her father's cafe. At 35, she has waited a long time to find her Mr Right and she finally believes she has - the handsome and reliable Dougie. However, Dougie comes with the baggage of a deceased wife, two unruly 12-year-old kids and a vasectomy that means he can't give Natalie the one thing she wants the most - a baby of her own. Can she settle for being a stepmother to his children and live in the shadow of his late wife? Michelle Jordan has returned to Castle Bay after the break-up of her marriage to wealthy Caleb, and she and Natalie instantly rekindle their childhood friendship. Michelle had her first child at 17, and when the father, Patrick, abandoned her and fled to America, she raised Shannon alone until she met Caleb. Now Patrick is back living in Ireland with his new fiancee, and wants to reunite with his daughter. Michelle is desperate to support her daughter's decision to have her estranged father in her life, but fears that it may reopen old wounds for her and tear her world apart. This is a wonderful story, with loveable main characters and a funny, well-thought-out storyline. The friendship between Natalie and Michelle is inspiring, as the women support each other through the toughest times of their lives. Some of the minor characters like Oscar and Miss Ada are fantastic and add humour to the story, and while some of the twists in the plot were a little predictable, overall this was a very enjoyable read. (LO)


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All that Glitters - Aita Ighodaro (2012)

When Evita steps off the plane in London from her native Bolivia with a stomach-full of cocaine and manages to evade detection, she turns her back on her past and begins a new life in England as Isabel Suarez-Octavia. Chloe Constance, a fresher at Oxford University, Is struggling to belong when Isabel bursts into her life and the two become friends, along with fellow students Will and Ol. With Isabel at the helm they encourage Chloe to run for the prestigious seat of president of the Oxford Union that brings with it the opportunity to meet some of the most powerful and important people. From the spires of Oxford, Isabel moves her way up the ladder founding her own company, ISO communications. But when she takes on a new client, the notorious Mr Sweet, Isabel's dream comes crashing down. There is a lot more to this novel than the blurb suggests and although Isabel emerges in the latter stages as the protagonist, much of the focus, particularly in the earlier part of the novel, is on Chloe and it is only really in the final parts that the action begins. Although all loose ends are tied up in the final part, the novel felt rather disjointed to me. Overall, it is an ambitious and multi-layered novel with a dramatic finale. (JC)


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All That Mullarkey - Sue Moorcroft (2010)

The writing is literally on the wall for Cleo and Gav's marriage. With their latest argument fresh in her mind, Cleo heads out for a girls' night out and ends up having a one-night stand with Justin. But then Gav admits he acted a bit hasty in declaring their marriage over. Little does Cleo know she is going to have to face up to the repercussions of her fling. Which way is she going to go - resurrect her less-than-perfect marriage or take a step into the unknown? This story is made all the better by Moorcroft's breezy style of writing.


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All That Shimmers - Jade Jaeger (2009)

When Jade's husband Mark cheats on her again, this time she changes the locks on their luxurious Sydney home. Mark is a brash hotel entrepreneur who loves the lavish lifestyle and his sports cars - and it seems his freedom and other women. Jade, who has spent the past decade becoming an Affluent Suburban Housewife (ASH), realises she's sold herself out for a Fendi bag and a Hermes bracelet. The background story to this titillating, no-holds-barred memoir, which played out in the Australian gossip and business pages, is that Mark took up with a well-known socialite (best known for being a bridesmaid at Crown Prince Frederik and Mary's wedding in Denmark) and his Pubboy empire collapsed. For Jade, even before the money runs out, her dream life is tarnished, especially as her two children get split up. She is not a sympathetic character though, from the start when she was more concerned that Mark didn't leave with her Louis Vuitton bags through to her recovery in Bali - did she deserve to be relaxing in a tropical paradise without facing up to the bankruptcy at home? If you can't get enough of Real Housewives or need a reminder that greed isn't good, then you'll relish this racy narrative.


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All the Single Ladies - Jane Costello (2012)

Samantha Brooks' boyfriend Jamie has decided after a lovely six years he is breaking up with her to move to South America. She is heartbroken and cannot believe it. But then again they met on a retreat and he is a free spirit at heart, not the person he has become with her working a traditional job in the city. But Sam is not willing to give up on them. So with the help of her friends Ellie and Jen they hatch a plan to get him back. But is it meant to be? A great tale of seeing what your life has been and what it could be. (CG)


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All the Summer Girls - Meg Donohue (2013)

When Kate is suddenly dumped by her fiance, just as she learns she is pregnant, her best friends from high school, Vanessa and Dani, decide a trip to Avalon, where they spent their summers, is a better option than the bachelorette weekend in Las Vegas they had originally planned. In the eight years since their last summer together there, the three women have grown apart and are now struggling with their current lives. Each brings with her to the island a deeply buried secret about the last night they were there. As the tension-filled weekend unfolds, they each decide now is the time for honesty, hoping the other two can forgive her for what she did. And more importantly, she can forgive herself. All the Summer Girls is a great summer read. At times the story felt a bit drawn out, taking longer than necessary to uncover the truth about what happened, but the build-up shows just how distant the women have become and how much the events of that night have shaped the choices they've made since then. (LEK)


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All We Ever Wanted Was Everything - Janelle Brown (2008)

Janice Miller is dizzy with excitement when she learns of the meteoric rise of her husband's company IPO shares. As she recalls the early years of marriage, of living in tiny apartments and coping with the stresses of miscarriages, Janice is comforted by how everything is going to be fine from this moment onwards - they have finally secured an even better life for daughters, Lizzie and Margaret. But all her hopes are shattered when she receives a divorce letter from Paul. And if knowing that he's having an affair with her tennis partner Beverly isn't enough, Janice finds out he doesn't plan on giving her a share of the $300 million. Lizzie, her younger daughter, is swarmed by boys after her recent weight loss and recent fling with the star of Fillmore High's swimming team. But the line between right and wrong becomes faint, as she revels in her newfound popularity. Margaret, after receiving Lizzie's call about their father's decision to divorce, finally returns home from Los Angeles. Having accumulated debts through her feminist magazine Snatch, she tries to hold up a brave front, hiding the problems from her family. Always regarded as the smart one in the family, Margaret fears they will be disappointed if her messed-up life is exposed. Set in Silicon Valley, this is a painfully realistic portrayal of how an affluent family deals with an unexpected divorce. (XT)


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All You Need is Love - Carole Matthews (2008)

Single mum Sally Freeman lives in a rundown tower block in Liverpool with her 10-year-old son Charlie. He's never known his father, who's in prison, but he has a great relationship with Sally's ex-boyfriend Johnny, an aspiring artist. Johnny is desperate to get back together again; Sally is desperate to escape her poverty-stricken circumstances. When her computer tutor Spencer falls for her, Sally thinks she may have found her way out - in his Porsche. But after Sally gets funding to tidy up her neighbourhood, she may find it harder than she thinks to leave her life behind.


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Almost Perfect - Dianne Blacklock (2004)

Georgie runs The Reading Rooms bookshop with her sister-in-law Louise. One day a guy walks into the bookshop and Georgie, a loveable bohemian type, tells herself that this is the man she's going to spend the rest of her life with. Can she trust her inner voice, especially as Liam has such a busy schedule as a taxation lawyer? For Mac and Anna, their perfect marriage is struggling under the strain of infertility. As another cycle of IVF fails, Mac reveals that he wants Anna to take a break from the program. With Mac staying out late at the office and Anna turning to the bottle to drown her sorrows, is it too late to save their marriage? Great characters and loved the way their worlds collided.


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Almost Perfect - Julie Ortolon (2005)

Three former college roommates are shocked to learn that a fourth roommate, an acclaimed author of a self-help book, has used them as examples of what not to do in life. The three friends make a promise to each face their fears and find happiness. Maddy has been living in limbo since her young husband died of cancer. She goes after her dream of becoming an artist by taking a job as an art director at a summer camp in Santa Fe. Her summer gets complicated when she comes face to face with Joe, her old boyfriend, who is now director of the camp. As she rekindles her relationship with Joe, her career suddenly takes an unforeseen turn. This fun quick read is the first in a trilogy. (AO)


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A Lot Like Love - Julie James (2011)

Billionaire heiress Jordan Rhodes is the owner of a wine shop in Chicago. Nick McCall is an undercover FBI agent born and raised in Brooklyn. Jordan and Nick's unlikely paths collide when Jordan is approached by the FBI with an offer to release her twin brother from jail. Jordan must cooperate with the FBI and bring Nick as her pretend date to a charity fundraiser in order for him to plant bugs and take down a well-known restaurant owner who is laundering drug money. Unforeseen circumstances force Nick and Jordan to continue their relationship. Their relationship starts to get very complicated as sparks and sarcasm fly every time Nick and Jordan are together. Readers will be excited to see Jack Pallas and Cameron Lynde, from James' previous novel Something About You, make appearances. Filled with likeable characters and great dialogue, this novel won't disappoint. (AO)


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Alphabet Weekends - Elizabeth Noble (2005)

When Natalie is dumped by her long-term lover, her childhood best friend Tom convinces her to give him 26 dates so he can show her how he is her perfect man. Or at the very least he hopes it will distract her from her broken heart. The Alphabet game is born, and each of them take turns to think up activities based around each letter of the alphabet, starting with a daunting 'A' for abseiling. Natalie at first doesn't take the game too seriously but as they go through the alphabet will her feelings towards Tom change? And as Natalie and Tom play their games, their friends and family struggle with illness, adultery and broken hearts. Not quite as much of a tearjerker as her other novels, but it still pulls on your heartstrings and is a fairly gripping read. (AB)


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Altar Ego - Kathy Lette (1998)

The guests are arriving at Becky's wedding but she is dangling out of the window, wondering if she can make a break for it. She loves Julian, a human rights lawyer, but the thought of being tied down is just too much. Then temptation arrives, in the form of the much younger rap singer Zack. Lette is the mistress of puns and quips, and her work is riddled with one crude, politically incorrect wisecrack after another. Some readers will find her writing hilarious, others will find it all too tedious. For those who like a heroine with some redeeming characters, Becky isn't for you.


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Always and Forever - Cathy Kelly (2006)

Three women thought they had their lives mapped out. Ambitious Mel wanted a high-flying career; Daisy wanted to start a family while Cleo planned to run her family's hotel after she completed a management course. But now Mel has had to give up her job in PR to look after her young daughters, Cleo is fighting a losing battle to save the ailing business, while Daisy is still desperately trying to have a baby.


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Always Something There to Remind Me - Beth Harbison (2011)

Erin and Nate were high school sweethearts; each other's first loves, sharing all of their hopes and dreams for the future. Until Erin does something Nate can't forgive and they are done. Two decades later, Erin receives a marriage proposal from Rick, a wonderful man who loves her and her daughter, Camille. To Erin's surprise, the first thing that pops into her head after Rick proposes is Nate, whom she hasn't thought about in years. All of her old feelings for him, and the circumstances of their relationship, come flooding back as if it happened only yesterday. While Rick waits for an answer to his proposal, Erin struggles to reconcile her feelings for Nate when he suddenly reappears in her life, with some very big news. While I liked the general premise of the story, and questioning your feelings for your first love are indeed plausible if you were to meet again after 20 years, I found the teenage Erin was bordering on obsession in her love for Nate, which made it hard to believe he hadn't been on her radar since they broke up. In addition, while seeing him again transports her back to her teenage years, it also causes her to react with the same teenage behaviour, rather than the behaviour of a mature adult, which I didn't particularly care for. I did prefer the end of the book to the beginning, which was filled with more humour and the anticipation of what the outcome of Erin's story would be. (LEK)


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Always the Baker, Never the Bride - Sandra D. Bricker (2010)

Emma Rae Travis has never been very lucky when it comes to love. With all her friends and family getting married and renewing vows, Emma has instead thrown herself into her work, doing what she does best - baking. And unfortunately Emma can't actually eat her sugar-laden creations as she is a diabetic. Emma has always dreamt of one day owning her own kitchen so when she is offered a job at a new hotel, she jumps at the chance to gain more experience. Little does she realise her life is about to get a tad complicated as her new boss Jackson Drake turns out to be Mr Rude GQ, a customer from the bakery. And the first wedding the hotel is catering - with Emma to bake the cake - is for her ex-boyfriend from high school, Danny. As love is surely in the air, stay tuned for some surprise twists and of course the big question - will Emma finally get her chance to be a bride? (PP)


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Always the Bridesmaid - Whitney Lyles (2004)

Cate Padgett has been in many weddings - as a bridesmaid. To be exact, she has been a bridesmaid in four weddings over just a few months. Her closet is bursting with expensive polyester bridesmaid dresses with matching dyed shoes and she has had just about enough of photographers telling her to tilt her head this way and that. To top it off, Cate finds herself dealing with a drunk ex of the bride-to-be who is determined to crash the wedding and confess his love, soap opera style! Through all the "I dos" Cate has to work through her own questionable relationship with her distant boyfriend Paul, manage to make it to all her required home visits of the kindergarten class she teaches, and wonder why she has a strange feeling in her stomach every time she sees her old friend, Ethan. For anyone who has ever stood on the sidelines and wondered, 'what about me?' this book will have you supporting Cate the whole way and wanting more when it ends . . . Luckily, there is a sequel! (JE)


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Always the Designer, Never the Bride - Sandra D. Bricker (2012)

In this third book in the series, Carly is getting married to Devon at the Tanglewood Inn where Emma will be baking the cake and Sherrilyn will be the wedding planner. All that is missing now is the wedding dress designer. Enter Carly's best childhood friend Audrey. Audrey is worried that this may be her very last wedding as her business funds have run dry. What Audrey needs to get back on top is to land the account of hotel heiress Kim. But it seems that Kim has other ideas and Audrey is up against Wes who is one of the world's top designers. As a familiar theme in the trilogy, all three girls do not plan to fall in love and become brides of their own but alas fate has another plan for them. In this case, Devon's brother J.R has fallen head over heels for Audrey. Does Audrey feel the same or will this be an unrequited love story? (PP)


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Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride - Sandra D. Bricker (2011)

In this second book in the series, Emma's best friend, Sherilyn, has moved back to Atlanta with fiance Andy and has taken up the role of wedding planner at the Tanglewood Inn. When things start to go horribly wrong in the planning of her own wedding, will Sherilyn have second thoughts about whether she's up to handling the job? Her wedding dresses seem cursed - every time she finds the perfect dress, it disappears. Sherilyn feels this is her punishment for a previous relationship which saw her stand up her groom at the altar. Will Sherilyn let a few wedding accidents and disappearing dresses spoil her special day with Andy? Is she destined to be "Always the Wedding Planner and Never the Bride"? This is a fun, light-hearted book that will appeal to fans of wedding rom-coms. (PP)


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Amanda's Wedding - Jenny Colgan (1999)

How would you behave if the best man is the groom - and you're not the bride? Mel, Fran and Amanda are old school friends but Amanda seems to lead a more charmed life - and she sure loves rubbing her friends' noses in her success. Now she's getting married to Fraser, a Scottish laird who Mel had a crush on during university. So the bridesmaids set out with the groom's brother to sabotage the wedding.


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A Married Man - Catherine Alliott (2002)

Lucy Fellowes lost her husband, Ned, in a car crash as he was on his way to the birth of their second son. Years later, his rich parents, Rose and Archie, offer her a home on their estate. She takes up their offer for her sons' benefit - the fact that her secret crush, Charlie, lives nearby simply sweetens the deal. It's just a shame he's married.


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A Match Made on Madison - Dee Davis (2007)

Vanessa Carlson is an independent, sophisticated and successful matchmaker who lives and breathes the glamorous city of New York. But she desperately wants to break free from the label of being her ex-boss Althea's protege. In an inebriated state, Vanessa and Althea make a wager that whoever matches the city's most eligible bachelor, Mark Grayson, will be crowned Queen of matchmaking. Vanessa's quest for Mark is helped along by her supportive and loveable friends who are always there to lend a hand when things go pear shaped, which in Vanessa's case is quite frequent. With lots of quirks and dramas it is hard not to like Vanessa and laugh at all the situations she manages to get herself in during her quest to find love for everyone else but herself. Will Vanessa win the quest for Mark in more ways than one? (GF)


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Amber Scott is Starting Over - Ruth Saberton (2012)

Amber Scott has just secured her dream job at Senora magazine. She can't wait to tell her fiance Ed, but she can't seem to get hold of him. Never mind - she will just book a table at his favourite restaurant. When she turns up at its door she discovers it was turned into a trendy boutique six months ago. Didn't Ed say that he took some clients there only a couple of weeks ago?! As Amber finally sits down with Ed to break her great news to him, he beats her to it, revealing that he has taken a job at a law firm in Cornwall. Amber is shocked that Ed didn't even think to ask her how she felt about a move, but he insists he is doing it for their future and that the move could be a new start for them. Once down in Cornwall, little seems to change in Amber and Ed's stale relationship, and with Ed working all hours under the sun, Amber is left to adjust to her new life. A local, reminiscent of Heathcliff, isn't making the transition easy. Throw in a key-eating dog, an escapist goat, a Lothario vet, a fun-loving lady of the manor, an enigmatic lord of the manor with a mysterious past and a new age mother and her spirit guide and Amber's peaceful country life becomes anything but. Although Amber's naivety and loyalty to the despicable Ed may seem feeble and incorrigible, I found the plot shed light on the very real issue of the disastrous and self-defeating lengths women go to please their partners. Generally, there is plenty of humour in this novel and aside from the odd dashes of hocus pocus that did not seem to add much to the novel, the book is well-written and engaging. Ruth Saberton certainly seems to have mastered the chick lit formula in this book. (JC)


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Ambition - Immodesty Blaize (2010)

The follow-up to Tease, this focuses on burlesque star Tiger Starr's daughter, Sienna. She is also a Las Vegas showgirl who has just landed a spot in the Follies' new show, Venus in Furs, headlined by the bitchy Brandy. Brandy is confronted by an unwanted blast from her past - namely her twin brother Paolo looking to reconcile. The story's villainess arranges for her brother to be run out of town before she goes on holiday to have some extensive nips and tucks. But Paolo hangs around, stepping into Brady's dancing shoes and masquerading as his sister. Meanwhile Sienna is dating millionaire Max Power but is unaware that his gambling is getting him deeper into debt. And she is also unaware that dancing colleague Paige is actually torn up by jealousy and that her sweet act is only a front. The Brandy-Paolo plot may come across as totally OTT but for bonkbuster lovers, you'll enjoy finding out what happens in Vegas behind the scenes of a showgirls show.


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Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream - Abby Clements (2013)

English teacher Amelia and graphic designer Jack live in the smallest, most cramped flat in London. When Abby realises she's nearly thirty and hasn't done half of what she wanted to do before that age, she decides she wants to tick something off her bucket list and live in the countryside. With Jack's approval, she starts hunting for the perfect country cottage. On the journey from buying a house to completely redecorating it, Amelia faces a few challenges along the way. However, armed with a paintbrush, a sewing machine and a mood-board, Amelia is determined to make her dream a reality. It probably took me less than three hours in total to finish this delight - I couldn't bear to put it down! From the very first page I was in love with Amelia and was so excited to follow her on her dream of re-decorating a house and living in the countryside. She was a great character who I felt for the whole way through, even when at times she seemed to doubt herself. I really enjoyed the character of Jack too; he was the sweetest husband and was 100 per cent behind Amelia (most of the time!!) The supporting characters, such as Amelia's friends and parents, were also really fun to meet. My perception of Amelia's mother changed a lot over the course of the book and it was really interesting to see the development of both Amelia's parents. Perhaps the part of this book I loved the most was the message it gave. Living in the moment and enjoying everything for what it is worth is SO important. Amelia was set in her ways at the beginning of this novel but over the course she learns not to worry too much about the future (with Jack's help). As always, Abby's writing flows effortlessly, making for an easy and enjoyable read. (LL)


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American Idle - Alesia Holliday (2004)

When media handler Jules Vernon is knocked unconscious by a celebrity chef wielding a frying pan, Jules decides to jump career-ship again. She becomes a production coordinator for reality TV show Pop Star Live! where her job includes babysitting the contestants including a diva with a forceful father, an heir with a meddling bodyguard and a nice guy with a gang background. She also has to moddycoddle a judge with hypochondria, deal with another judge's bitchy behaviour and become the Face Behind Reality TV in a magazine series.


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American Suite - Diana E. Sheets (2010)

This novel includes the diaries of three women, a mother and her two daughters, from a wealthy East Coast Protestant family. Aris is the daughter who left her career and long-time boyfriend to move to the Midwest. She immediately falls in love with a perfect man, only to later learn he has a wife and two children. She then falls for a Hollywood screenwriter. This relationship spirals downward once Arisa learns that their relationship is material for his new movie, Legs Wide Open. Arisa's life takes a turn for the even more bizarre after she steals the screenwriter's dog and proceeds to fall in love with an ex-con. Sophie, the seemingly happily married daughter, sees her life start to unravel when her husband loses his job and she begins to fall for her son's teenage tutor. Rosalyn, the matriarch of the family, is devastated after the loss of her husband of 44 years. She finally experiences joy again when she meets Saul, the love of her life. This is a novel that aims to capture the craziness of a real life family. If happily-ever-after novels are not your thing, this funny dark novel will entertain. (AO)


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A Merry Little Christmas - Julia Williams (2012)

Despite the title, the novel focuses not on the festive season but on a year-long period in the life of three characters, from New Year to Christmas. Cat is precariously balancing her professional life with her increasingly problematic familial duties. She expected motherhood to get easier as her four children got older but the opposite seems to be true, particularly with teenager Mel. And Cat is also worried about her mum, who she seems to be losing evermore to dementia. Pippa feels blessed for the family she has around her - husband Dan, who is a wonderful partner and father, her two boys Nathan and George, and her daughter Lucy, who despite having cystic fibrosis that leaves her wheelchair-bound, is a bundle of joy. But government cuts threaten Lucy's respite care, a vital resource for the whole family and many other families in the area. Pippa vows to fight the bureaucracy, but when Dan is involved in an accident, everything changes. Marianne is trying to settle back into work after having twins and while life at home is good, her husband's ex, Eve, starts getting more involved in her son's life and encourages him to try out at a prestigious choral school, which would mean leaving home. This is a sequel to Last Christmas and perhaps this explains in part the otherwise mysterious, and rather superfluous, part of Michael Nicholas, who turns up at the start of the novel, is implausibly on hand throughout dispensing pearls of wisdom to the three women, and rides off again at the end of the novel. Although it was intended to deliver a bit of magic and fit in with the festive theme of the novel, I did feel that Michael's presence was unnecessary. Whilst I liked elements of the novel, I felt that some stories were a lot weaker than others and the novel seemed to move quite slowly. I must admit I was also quite disappointed with the ending of Pippa and Dan's story which seemed to me to undo the whole festive fabric of the novel. Nevertheless, there is much to get into in this novel and perhaps reading Last Christmas may be the way into it. (JC)


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A Message to Your Heart - Niamh Greene (2012)

Frankie Rowley is in a pickle. She's just started her own literary agency and hasn't gotten enough clients to keep it afloat. On top of that, her mum is badgering her to help with her 40th anniversary party and her boyfriend doesn't want to go public with their relationship for fear of what others in their industry would think. So when Frankie is encouraged to go to San Francisco to try to rope in a major author, she doesn't hesitate for a minute, after all she needs Ian to sign with her if her agency is ever going to survive. However, fate and maybe karma have other things in store while Frankie is in the States. She ends up sitting next to a chatty Southern belle on the plane and then loses her trusty iPhone. When the airline can't find it, they offer her a rental and promise to let her know when her own phone shows up. Frankie is one of those people whose lives revolve around their phone, so if feels like the end of the world. But Frankie manages ... until she starts getting strange and rather saddening text messages that obviously are not meant for her. With a variety of brilliant characters and a twist of fate that no one expected, this is an excellent read. Frankie, though a bit of a workaholic at the beginning, soon begins to see where she went wrong and tries to make amends. But will it be enough to save her agency - and her love life - before it's too late? (AS)


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A Moment Like Forever - Martina Reilly (2010)

Andy has become a recluse working from her Dublin home as a graphic designer on a funeral magazine. She feels too self-conscious about facing the world with a big scar on her face - the result of a bus accident in Australia. Her best friend, Lexi, who was travelling with her, has never been found. As Andy slowly re-emerges from her shell, thanks to the arrival of her gregarious sister and her boyfriend, Lexi is never far from her thoughts. What has happened to her - and why hasn't she been in touch? With one extraordinary twist that no one will see coming, this story sparks with poignancy and originality.


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A Moment Like This - Anita Notaro (2012)

Antonia is a shy, retiring type who is a carer for her invalid mother and sings in her church choir. When someone puts forward her name to audition for TV show That's Talent, suddenly she is thrust into the limelight. With the support of her village, two friends who appoint themselves her stylists and a dreamy doctor called Niall, Toni has to deal with stage nerves, jealousy and becoming the media's darling. How will fame change her? This will appeal to those who love watching talent shows or enjoy seeing the shy girl triumph. There is a sad footnote to this story in that shortly after finishing it, Notaro was diagnosed with dementia.


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A Most Desirable Marriage - Hilary Boyd (2014)

Married for over 30 years, Jo is looking forward to husband Lawrence's impending retirement and the chance to spend even more time together. But Lawrence hasn't been himself, and Jo learns the devastating truth: he's been having an affair - but it's not just the matter of an affair but who he's been involved with that throws Jo. And suddenly their beautiful, safe marriage comes crashing down around her. Jo sees no point in fighting Lawrence's decision to leave her and tries to move forward with her own life but it seems love built over a lifetime cannot be easily dismantled. Once again Boyd hits on wonderfully rich and interesting ideas as she continues to look at later life. The premise of the story - an extramarital affair - may seem old-hat but Boyd gives it a twist that really injects new life and meaning into the issue. I wasn't entirely convinced by the direction the story took in the second half of the novel, or the satisfactoriness of the ending but the whole situation is an interesting one. There were a couple of other affectations that disrupted things for me as well, the lesser one being a tendency to often refer to one of the characters as 'the American', the larger one being a story about Jo's mother and father which is literally shoehorned into a couple of pages. Given the content of this history it deserved a much fuller examination, and it was really strange that it was included only to be rushed over so quickly and forgotten about again. These aside, Boyd certainly offers an engaging and alternative reading experience. (JC)


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A Mother Dimension - Mink Elliott (2013)

Forty-something Kate is overly nostalgic about the past - the 1980s in particular - and daydreaming about the good old days is a way to escape her life as a wife and mother of three children. During a thunderstorm (yes, there's that generic chick lit time-travel device again) she is somehow flung back several decades. But instead of the era of shoulder pads and big hair, she finds herself in 1996, as a much skinnier twenty-something single woman living with her friend Georgia and her brother Steve. It's a time of World Cup mania, Blur vs Oasis and Kate being wooed by lads mag editor Tom. She knows only too well how he turns out to be a right cad, while her husband-to-be Seamus is dismissed by everyone as just another geeky IT guy. Kate soon finds that things are happening slightly differently this time round - or is it because her rose-coloured glasses are slipping for once? The story sometimes comes across as slightly disjointed between events and perhaps it would have benefited from one more strong, tight edit. But the mummy humour and pop cultural references are a treat.


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A Mother's Guide To Cheating - Kate Long (2010)

Carol believed Ian was a decent, honest boy who everyone loved, and would never do a single thing to hurt her daughter, Jaz. So when she receives a call from Jaz, telling her about Ian's infidelity, Carol immediately goes on the defensive. Many years ago, when her husband Phil cheated on her, she decided to just put up with it. Now she tries to persuade Jaz to take the same approach - to forgive Ian and move on with life. Together with Ian's father David, she tries to reconcile the pair, which results in Jaz storming off with Carol's precious grandson, Matty. This is a sweet and interesting tale told from a mother's perspective, detailing her own struggles with marriage and her strained relationship with her daughter. (XT)


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A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity - Kathleen Gilles Seidel (2006)

Lydia Meadows, a former lawyer turned full-time mother to Erin and Tom, becomes very involved with their private school. When Erin and her friends become the most popular girls after wearing the same skirt on the first day of school, the other mothers turn on Lydia for letting her daughter exclude theirs. But then the tables turn and it is Erin who's left out of the popular cliche when a new girl arrives. Who knew parents could be so cruel?


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An Autumn Crush - Milly Johnson (2011)

Recently divorced legal secretary Juliet is looking for a flatmate and finds the perfect one in greeting card copywriter Floz. Juliet's twin brother Guy, a chef, is immediately attracted to the kind-hearted newcomer but his romantic intentions come out so twisted that Floz thinks he hates her instead. Meanwhile Guy's best mate and wrestling partner Steve has always had a crush on Juliet but she thinks he's a bit of knob. While she's holding out for her Mr Perfect, her boss Piers, she agrees to do some internet dating. Floz, on the other hand, is keeping her own online paramour Nick a secret. I think Milly Johnson fans could easily identify one of her books now, without even looking at the distinctive illustrated covers. She specialises in funny storylines where nothing is as it appears and friendship is just as important as the romance. And her characters are always infused with quirky traits and interests. Another book to escape into - no matter what the season is. PS Watch out for an appearance by a character from the next novel, White Wedding.


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An Englishwoman in New York - Anne-Marie Casey (2013)

aka No One Could Have Guessed the Weather


Lucy has to relocate to New York when her husband loses his job. She hopes to make friendships at the school gate but it isn't until she is waiting for an emergency flight home that she bonds with Julia, a successful screenwriter who has left her husband and kids. Christy leads a pampered lifestyle married to an older wealthy man but she feels trapped and can't keep her eye off the hunky new doorman. And Robyn is married to a writer who has never amounted to anything. Feeling like she is always left out of the circle of female friendship, she has affairs with their husbands instead. I must admit when I read the publicist's info on this book, comparing it to Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, I was very tentative as I don't tend to enjoy vignette-style writing. With its astute observations of life, this one does hold together more or less like a novel. The story, though, is less about the Englishwoman in New York and more about the rest of the cast. Despite the work of an obviously talented writer, the parts that did capture my attention were too few and far between.


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And God Created the Au Pair
- Benedicte Newland and Pascale Smets (2005)

Nell and Charlotte would be perfect mothers, if it wasn't for the children. With Charlotte in London and Nell recently moved to Canada, the sisters keep in touch about their mutual household chaos through a series of letters and emails.


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And One Last Thing - Molly Harper (2010)

What does a woman do when she uncovers her husband's so-cliched affair with his secretary? If you are Lacey, you add details of his extracurricular activities into his company newsletter and email it to all his family, friends and clients. When Lacey's act of revenge becomes a viral sensation and her ex announces his intention to sue, she retreats to her family's lakeside cabin where she meets her next-door-neighbour Monroe who isn't interested in being friendly. But naturally, the pair can't keep avoiding each other for ever... Harper certainly has a knack for witty repartee - let's hope she writes more contemporary romance.


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And Then It Happened - Linda Green (2011)

Mel lives with her childhood sweetheart Adam and daughter Maya. As their 10th wedding anniversary approaches, she thinks it is only a matter of time before the bubble has to burst. Life just can't stay this good forever! At then it happened. Adam sustains a serious brain injury at work and is left in a coma - a coma he may never emerge from. The story was partly inspired by a newspaper report Green wrote about a woman caring for her comatose husband which ensures it is a very authentic read. Touching and thought-provoking, this is undoubtedly one of the year's best books.


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An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding - Christina Jones (2013)

Erin is on cloud nine because she is engaged to possibly the most handsome man on earth, Jay. Erin is determined to have a perfect British wedding. Everything has been finalised; flowers, venue, food, wine, and reception- you name it. Just when she is sure that nothing can stop her from having the dream wedding, she gets the surprise of her life. Jay's parents have made their own little changes to the wedding without permission as they want the traditional Indian wedding for their only son. Now there is going to be lots of traditions, including sagai, mehendi, sangeet, sanji and of course mandap. And if it's not enough then Erin might have to pack away her beautiful white wedding gown and wear sari on the big day. In the midst of all the family drama, Jay's best friend, Nalisha, arrives from New York and is making Erin's life a living hell. This wedding is not going to be easy but one thing for sure is that there is going to be a lot of hungama (fun and drama). This book is fab and so funny. Christina's writing is fresh and I loved Erin - and Jay's parents even more. They are typical Indian parents, dominating and emotional blackmailers. Don't forget that I am Indian and I can see my parents in Jay's parents; they are so damn similar.(SS)


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Angel - Katie Price (2006)

Angel gets drawn into the glitzy world of celebrity fame and riches after becoming a Page 3 glamour model. She meets boy band singer Mickey but with their relationship clouded by infidelity and drug-taking, Angel discovers a rising star can fall just as quickly. Written by glamour model Jordan, who is married to singer Peter Andre.


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Angels Fall - Nora Roberts (2006)

Reece Gilmore was a chef in Boston at the top of her game and one rung away from owning her own restaurant. But then violence erupts, which leaves her life fragmented and her mind shattered. She checks herself into a psychiatric hospital. Once out, she fills up her car and takes off for places unknown with only her gut as her navigation tool. When her car breaks down in Angel's Fist, Wyoming, she takes a job at a small diner as a fry cook. The beautiful landscape and a man named Brody keeps Reece in Angel's Fist longer than she intended. While hiking into the mountain, Reece sees a woman being murdered while looking at the terrain through her binoculars. When she tells Brody what she saw, he has problems believing her story, but does not dismiss her entirely. When things start happening to Reece, and the folks in town including the sherriff thinks she is losing her mind, she has to prove that what she saw was real. The book is riveting, the characters are likeable and the story line is believable. Once again, Nora Roberts shows how a good book is written. (ZP)


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Angel Uncovered - Katie Price (2008)

This sequel to Angel sees the glamour model struggle with a life that is far from perfect as it appears on the outside. Angel has to cope with both post-natal depression after the birth of daughter Honey and a move to Milan to follow her footballer husband Cal. With Angel and Cal growing further apart, the temptation of infidelity arises. This has lots of tabloid scandals and plot twists that makes it very readable. (AB)


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Angels - Marian Keyes (2002)

Maggie Walsh is the sensible one in her family until she leaves her husband Garv and heads to LA. She moves in with best friend Emily, a screenwriter still waiting for her big break. With a former boyfriend in town and a cute American to lust after, Maggie tries to discover what she really wants from life. Then her parents and two of her sisters arrive in town, and her past confronts her.


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A Night on the Orient Express - Veronica Henry (2013)

Meet Archie, a man who has just lost his best friend, and Emmie, a milliner who is struggling after a betrayal in her last relationship. They have been chosen as part of a matchmaking competition that they were entered into by their nearest and dearest to journey together on the Orient Express. Joining them on board are Riley and Sylvie, long-time friends who have stuck by each other as their careers have taken off and who are now entering their golden years. Simon and his partner, Stephanie, are also travelling on the Orient Express with Simon's two teenage children, Jamie and Beth, and like any modern family the journey is fraught with conflict, not least as Jamie and Beth both have big announcements. Finally on board is Imogen, travelling on behalf of her grandmother Adele to the mysterious Jack Molloy to collect a painting for her 30th birthday that reveals her grandmother's secret past but that will also help Imogen on her future path. For this eclectic group of passengers, this journey will certainly be one to remember for very different reasons. Whilst there is a fairly large cast of characters, the multiple storylines were really interesting and engaging but for me it was Adele and Jack's story which rather frames the whole narrative that was both the most developed and endearing. I felt I wanted to know more about the Riley/Sylvie storyline and I felt the outcomes in the Stephanie/Simon family story were a bit too simplistic. Although each storyline had a happy ending, it was nice to read something uplifting and uncomplicated and it is certainly a book to recommend for a charming, feel-good read. (JC)


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Annie Begins - Michelle Toth (2011)

At 28, Annie Thompson is as brilliant in business as she is disastrous in relationships. It's the dawn of the web-based businesses and Annie and her friend Stephen, the founder of Good Match.com, are determined to make it big. Annie's single-minded focus on work involving long hours, seven days a week and no money to speak of is put to the test when the man of her dreams announces that his wife is divorcing him. Suddenly he seems to be spending a lot of time with Annie and has designated her as "the best listener he knows". Annie finds she is juggling his mixed signals and her entrepreneurial ambitions - not to mention a complicated friendship with her new roommate, a cousin's child who is terminally ill and a friend of her cousins that everyone wants to see Annie involved with. This is a nice easy read with a few laughs thrown in along the way. (LM)


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An Offer You Can't Refuse - Jill Mansell (2008)

Ten years ago, 17-year-old Lola was offered 10,000 pounds by her boyfriend's snobby mother to break up with him. At first she refused as Dougie was the love of her life. But after finding out her stepfather had serious gambling debts, she accepts and takes off to Majorca, leaving behind only a break-up letter for Dougie. A decade later, a Good Samaritan act by Lola, now a bookshop manager, brings her ex back into her life. But although Lola still has strong feelings for him, he finally discovers that she was paid off to dump him. Read it for the great characters, including the feisty heroine and her neighbours Sally - an immaculately dressed but sloppy flatmate who is also Doug's sister - and Gabe, possibly the world's most useless (but kind-hearted) paparazzo. The ending doesn't surprise but if you get an offer to read this book, don't refuse it.


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An Open Marriage - Tess Stimson (2014)

After moving from America to marry Kit and settle down, Mia struggles to make friends and yearns for the one female friend to fill the void. That is until Kit introduces her to Charlie, his boss, who is exactly the type of woman Mia would choose to befriend. For Charlie, Mia and Kit offer not only the intellectual and socially compatible companions she wants for herself, but ones that will satisfy her husband, Rob. And it's clear from the first meeting, that there's more between these four than just a platonic interest. It's not long before the intimacies in the relationships are played out, and whilst everyone's fairly happy with the situation to begin with, it doesn't take much for a line to be crossed and everything to come undone. This novel, as the title suggests, focuses very much on sexual relationships, couplings and mores. For me the partner-swapping, sexual transgressions and liberalism just weren't my thing, and although this isn't the only part of the book, it is the dominating one. Nevertheless, you can't deny Stimson's ability to create morally compelling stories, characters and situations and, as with her other books, again she challenges the notion of the reader as a passive, unthinking receptacle and makes reading a dialogue, an exchange of ideas and opinions between the reader and the characters. (JC)


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Another Cup of Coffee - Jenny Kane (2014)

When Amy receives a cassette featuring a playlist of tracks from her uni days from her then-boyfriend and seeming love of her life, Jack, it kickstarts her to move out of the rut she's been living in for the thirteen years since he dumped her on the grounds that what they had was too good! Now she knows the truth and decides that having run away to Aberdeen, leaving her old friends and Jack behind her, it's time to face them again. But even with the knowledge of why Jack actually left her, is she really over him and can she cope with being around him again? Meanwhile, Jack's last girlfriend, Kit, is shocked when Jack finally confesses about Amy and his relationship with her and despite being married with two children, she can't help but feel jealous of what they had. Will Amy's arrival dent her fragile ego even more? From the first chapter, Jenny Kane offers a completely refreshing and original story of first love and old flames. I certainly didn't expect the novel to go the way that it does and Kane's inspired storyline was really a touch of brilliance. Unfortunately, there were a few elements that let it down somewhat which was a real shame. For me, the first few chapters were too overly focused on Kit, when the real heroine of this story should have been Amy and I found Kit quite unlikable at first. There were also too many thin subplots that didn't really add anything to the central story and at times I felt the whole thing could have been tightened up. However, I liked the fact that a lot of the time I didn't know where the relationships were going to go and even at the end Amy and Jack's relationship was still complex. With obvious imagination and originality, there's loads of potential for this debut author. (JC)


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Another Night, Another Day - Sarah Rayner (2014)

This tells the story of three people who are all trying to deal with the troubles in their lives and searching for much-needed help. Karen still misses her husband who unexpectedly passed away two years ago, leaving her to raise their two children alone. She is trying her very best to move on, but it looks like she will be forced to say goodbye to her father as well, who is suffering from dementia. Abby is struggling more and more with taking care of her son who has autism. Especially now she and her husband have decided to split up, things are only getting harder for her. Michael has always been incredibly proud of his own flower shop, but business hasn't been great and the shop is now on the verge of closing down. Karen, Abby and Michael all end up in Moreland's Clinic, where they will be able to find the help they need to go on with their lives. But will this be enough to get them back on their feet? This book deals with a sensitive and challenging subject, namely mental health issues. Sarah Rayner obviously did her research and managed to tackle the topic in an incredibly engaging and touching way. I really enjoyed the fact that the book focuses on three main protagonists, who each have their own story to tell but come together at the clinic. All three characters fascinated me and I loved reading about their lives and I continuously kept my fingers crossed hoping things would work out for them. There are also some great secondary characters in the book, such as Lillie, another patient at the clinic, who I couldn't help but warm to. After reading the book, I discovered that some of the characters already appear in Sarah's other novels. This definitely made me even more curious about the other books but you can definitely read this one as a standalone. Overall, Another Night, Another Day is an emotional, insightful and captivating read; a book with a dark topic at its core but dealt with in an engaging and uplifting way. (JoH)


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Another Piece of My Heart - Jane Green (2012)

aka The Patchwork Marriage

The premise of this book may sound like a familiar story about stepmoms but it is a deep and well-written piece of work which subtly explores the inherent complexities and insecurities found within a stepfamily arrangement. Andi meets Ethan through an online dating site. They eventually marry, and she becomes the stepmom of his two daughters. The younger one, Sophia, now 13, is amiable and relaxed with the new adjustments to the household. However her 17-year-old sister, Emily, holds a grudge towards Andi. Emily's relationship with her alcoholic mother is also fractured, and she is finding adolescence tough, which explains why Andi has become the scapegoat for the teen's pent-up bitterness and snarky comments. Ethan, sandwiched between both parties, becomes overwhelmed as he juggles his parenting responsibilities and marriage. Amidst all this complex family ties lies the central plot of Andi's struggle to have her own child. With brilliant characterisations and great family drama, this is the kind of story that leaves you thinking. (XT)


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Anybody Out There? - Marian Keyes (2006)

Anna Walsh has landed on her feet in New York - a wonderful job as a PR executive for a beauty brand, a loving husband Aidan and a great apartment. Then one morning she wakes up in her family's Dublin home with stitches in her face and a dislocated knee - and no memory of how she got there. More troubling is the fact that Aidan won't return her calls or emails.


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Any Dream Will Do - Maria Duffy (2011)

Jenny Breslin's drunken tweet inviting her three best Twitter pals to stay for a weekend in Dublin will change her life. Having spoken to them for a year she feels she knows them really well and what they know of her is almost true, except for the odd exaggeration and the old photo... Jenny starts to worry that her life will appear dull to Zahra, the celebrity make-up artist from London; Fiona the stay-at-home mum; and her closest Twitter pal Kerry, the Irish nurse. But as she meets her virtual friends she realises that not everything you see on Twitter is true. Once you get used to Jenny (she is a little intense at first) then you'll begin to really warm to her. The setting of this virtual meets actual life works really well with nothing being as it seems. And if you're a Twitter addict then you'll love it - it will make you look at who you tweet with in a whole other light! (AB)


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Any Man of Mine - Rachel Gibson (2011)

Sam and Autumn had a short-lived Vegas romance and marriage that ended with a quicky divorce and Autumn being alone and pregnant. Fast forward six years and Sam, a professional hockey player for the Seattle Chinooks, is a weekend dad to his son, Connor. Unhappy with his distant relationship with his son, Sam starts to spend more time with him. Autumn has never been able to forgive Sam for abandoning her, however, as Sam slowly changes, they both realise that sometimes love deserves a second chance. (AO)


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Anyone But Him - Sheila O'Flanagan (2004)

Andie and Jin Corcoran are about as different as two sisters can be. Andie leads a simple life as a music teacher and is content with her secret relationship with Tom, her married lover. Jin, on the other hand, is an ex-model living a life of luxury with her rich husband, Kevin. When their widowed mother, Cora, returns from a vacation with a new love interest, Jack, who just happens to be a young man their own age, the sisters unite in their dislike of him. Suspicious of Jack's motives, Andie and Jin set out to prove that he is not who he says he is. Of course, their mother's new beau is not the only problem they are facing. Andie must confront the fact that Tom may never leave his wife, and Jin is suddenly yearning for a baby despite the fact that Kevin has had a vasectomy. As the story unfolds, the sisters find themselves re-examining not only their own lives but their relationship with each other. There are a few things in this book that are far-fetched, including Jack's unconventional career path and some of Andie and Jin's more questionable interactions with him. I also thought it would have been nice to see more of Jack and Cora's relationship since that is the foundation of the story. However, this is a fun read that doesn't follow the cookie-cutter approach to a happy ending, which is refreshing! (LB)


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Anyone for Me? - Fiona Cassidy (2010)

Thirty-four-year-old Ruby is about to marry her love Luke but first she would like some answers about her birth mother - like where did she inherit her fiery-red hair and fiery-hot temper. But Ruby's widowed mother, Isobel, is very unwilling to talk about the adoption and tries to steer her away from delving into the past. As Ruby deals with her upcoming nuptials - assisted by her flamboyant hired help Gabriel and her bridesmaid Frankie (from Cassidy's debut novel Anyone for Seconds?) - she begins to track down the woman who gave her up. Meanwhile something fishy is going on when new owners move into the manor house near her mother's cottage in Donegal and Ruby is on the case. Will Ruby find all the answers she's searching for? The subject of adoption and searching for a sense of belonging is handled very sensitively, a matter clearly close to the author's heart. But for me the star was definitely the quick-tempered Ruby. You just wouldn't want to get on her wrong side.


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Anyone for Seconds? - Fiona Cassidy (2009)

Frankie has recently met the man of her dreams, Owen, at the college where she is temping as a public relations officer. The lecturer was abandoned by his wife Jane when their daughter Angelica was only seven. Frankie has a lot in common with her new boyfriend as her husband Tony also dumped her and then headed off to the US with his stick-insect lover. He hasn't seen his kids Ben and Carly since. But if the path of true love never runs smooth, then the road to Frankie's second chance at love and a united family is definitely littered with potholes. Not only does she have to deal with one very moody and insolent teenager who isn't keen on another woman entering her dad's life, she also has to face off against two spiteful in-laws in the form of her ex's grandmother "Nebby Peg" and Owen's sister-in-law Brenda. But on her side she has her sister Ella, back from Scotland for a visit with an upsetting secret, and her wild-haired friend Ruby. Frankie is a feisty character who will resonate with those who have walked in her shoes. A promising debut - I'll be back for seconds.


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Any Way You Want Me - Lucy Diamond (2007)

Stay-at-home mother Sadie feels that her life needs to be more interesting. She wants to enjoy nights out on the town without being forced home by leaking breasts. She wants to flirt and feel like a sex kitten. So she invents a fictitious online identity for herself and makes contact with a former boyfriend, Danny. But the real threat to her relationship with partner Alex comes when she falls for his boss' husband. She did say she wanted a different life . . .


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Anything for Love - Sarah Webb (2009)

Single mum Alice gets a job as an assistant fundraiser for St Jude's hospital - thanks to some creative CV tweaking by her sister Grace. She gets to organise charity events and work alongside the handsome Jack. But the job also entails running around after the demanding chair of the Ladies' Guild, Maud Hamilton-O'Connor. Still she is willing to stick with it for a while so she can get a mortgage on a little cottage. At the moment she is living with Grace, who in turn has thrown out her husband Jason.


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A Page Out of Life - Kathleen Reid

Tired, out of shape and feeling unattractive, mother of four Ashley joins a local scrapbook club, where she meets a few new friends. There's Tara, a single college graduate who has not found love, but does have some funny dating stories to share; and Libby, whose son is involved in a major corporate scandal, just when she thought she would be going into a peaceful retirement. Among other friends these women are the most interesting and complex of all the scrapbook club. Is Tara's dad having an affair? Is Libby's son to blame for some "accounting errors", and will Ashley feel sexy again? A sweet tale about finding yourself, finding friends, and trying to get through tough times. I loved it! I feel like I know these women, they are real and down to earth. (AV)


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A Paris Apartment - Michelle Gable (2014)

April Vogt is at a turning point in her life but she doesn't even realise it completely until she is sent to Paris to value the furniture in an apartment that hasn't been touched in more than 70 years. Upon viewing the apartment with her colleagues, April is stunned to find the treasures that have been hidden for so long. This includes a painting by one of the most sought-after painters, Giovanni Boldini, among other high-grossing items. While the painting is a stunning find, April is more drawn to the diaries, written by the apartment's owner, Marthe de Florian, nearly a century before. The diaries tell the tale of a woman who wasn't born with much but sets out to take on the world and become something. April instantly falls in love with Marthe and her colourful humour and crazy escapades. But when her colleagues decide to auction off the items singularly instead of as a set of treasures, can April convince them there is so much more to the story than just the belongings - albeit amazing - of an old woman long gone? And can she keep her distance from the handsome attorney for the estate long enough to figure out her own marriage back home? Told from both April's view and the diary entries of Marthe, this debut novel is a keeper. It will definitely stay with you long after you finish the last page. (AS)


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A Part of Me - Anouska Knight (2014)

Amy, a lead designer at Cyan Architecture and Design, is in a relationship with James, another employee at her firm. After the tragic loss of their baby son Jacob, born prematurely, Amy is desperate for a child. Devastated by the death, they both turn to the adoption process and after years of trying, Amy and James' dreams of a family are about to be realised. However, just as fate seems to smile on them, Amy discovers something which literally rocks her world and causes all her dreams to be destroyed. Amy seeks refuge in her work and is given a major contract to redesign a property owned by a new client, Rohan. She finds herself being drawn into the mysterious and enigmatic world of Rohan, who is in complete contrast to her lover James. Yet Rohan is a troubled soul with a dark past of his own and just when Amy finds herself falling for him, he reveals that children are not part of his future. Amy faces a dilemma - does she live a lie and carry on in her existing relationship in order to accomplish her aspirations of a family or abandon them and all she has ever hoped for. Amy's plight is heartbreaking and compelling to read. The plot is well written and has an array of colourful characters which really bring the story to life. Amy's story is full of twists and turns and I genuinely felt empathy for her. It was a real heartfelt read and the author dealt with issues of adoption and extended families beautifully. (LP)


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A Passionate Love Affair With A Total Stranger - Lucy Robinson (2013)

Lucy Robinson is back with her second book which is equally as funny and heart-warming as her first. Charley Lambert is a workaholic. She's most content when she is working and it doesn't hurt that her boss is her longtime love interest. So it's no surprise that Charley is devastated when she breaks her leg and must stay off work for a few months. What can someone who only knows how to work do when she can't work? Start a home-based business, of course! That's how she comes to start an online service helping those who don't know how to approach online dating but want to find love. Never in her wildest dreams does Charley expect to fall for one of her clients though. With work (and scheming colleagues), her blossoming business and her rather funny love life, Charley is a well-rounded character that you'll be rooting for until the end. Albeit, you might want to slap some sense into her at some points, but she's got to learn her lessons just like everyone else. If you're looking for a funny, romantic comedy to lift your spirits, this is the one for you. (AS)


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A Perfect Match - Sinead Moriarty (2005)

The sequel to The Baby Trail, this finds Emma Hamilton ready to adopt after an unsuccessful IVF attempt. But she is upset to discover there are no Irish babies waiting to be rescued, so she turns her attention to Russia and immerses herself in its culture. But between trying to prove that she and James would make perfect parents and cutting through all the red tape, Emma finds out that adoption is far from an instant solution.


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A Perfect Proposal - Katie Fforde (2010)

Sophie's academic, money-grabbing family have always taken advantage of her. This time they send her off to look after her grumpy but rich uncle while his carer is away. But Sophie actually hits it off with Evil Uncle Eric and she takes on the task of tracking down an American relative who may hold the key to the family making some money off some Texan oil shares. Once she's tasted a bit of independence, Sophie decides to head to New York to see her friend Milly. But when her job falls through at the last moment, she's left stranded until she meets a spirited elderly lady called Matilda who takes Sophie under her wing. Her grandson Luke is very suspicious of her motives but soon realises Sophie can do him a huge favour too. This follows a predictable romantic formula - and the way Sophie is so downtrodden with her family doesn't ring true with how she acts in the rest of the book - but reading this one lazy afternoon sounds like a pretty reasonable proposal.


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A Place Called Here - Cecelia Ahern (2006)

Where do things go when they go missing? The things we look high and low for? That exact question has disturbed Sandy Shortt since childhood, after a little girl in her neighborhood vanished without a trace. Sandy becomes obsessed with keeping track of every possession, to the point of addiction. She spends her life searching for things and people that are lost, but ends up ignoring the treasures in her own life, especially the man who loves her. While searching for a missing person, Sandy stumbles upon a strange place. A place filled with odd socks and lost luggage, missing people, and faded memories. At one point, she compares herself to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. She goes to a strange place, helps her friends, and finally comes to the conclusion that "There's no place like home." This is a delightful and strange concept but the first half of the book was slow and hard to get into. (CK)


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A Place for Us - Harriet Evans (2015)

Welcome to Winterfold, a beautiful country house set in peaceful Somerset and home to the Winter family for nearly five decades. At its heart are Martha and David Winter, for whom their family is everything. But as Martha approaches her eightieth birthday, she decides it's time to come clean with her children and grandchildren about some long-kept secrets. Martha, though, is not the only one with secrets, in fact every member of the Winter family has something they're hiding - some more than others. On the outside Winterfold and Winter represent the perfect English family but a web of lies is holding it all together. Harriet Evans has created a warm and inviting book that, like Winterfold, makes you feel at home. It's a hugely evocative book that conjures up the spirit of home and family. It's also ambitious and multi-layered, told from the perspective of several characters, but for me this never felt confusing or disjointed as the characters are so clearly drawn and each manages to pull you in to their particular story from the outset. Inevitably there are some characters that are more intriguing than others but such is the way. Originally this novel was published in four parts and although there are wonderful climaxes to each section I can't help but think this actually worked better as a single entity. There was more I would have liked to learn about this family, most notably David, as well as more about David and Martha's earlier years and relationship, and of course Daisy, the archetypal black sheep of the family. Indeed, I could easily have spent many more hours with the Winters and was sorry when things came to an end. (JC)


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Apocalipstick - Sue Margolis (2003)

Rebecca Fine may be writing a beauty column but she is more interested in being an investigative reporter. So when a "Smooth Throat" reveals there may be something suspicious in the latest miracle anti-wrinkle cream, Rebecca heads to Paris to steal a sample. And her love life is looking up, no thanks to her grandmother who keeps sending Jewish men her way, when she starts dating fellow reporter Max. Meanwhile her dad reveals he's engaged to her high school nemesis Bernadette (aka Lipstick). With clever turns of phrase, this is an entertaining, light-hearted read.


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A Pretty Mess - Carla Caruso (2014)

Celeste Pretty is a professional organiser; a job which is simply perfect for a neat freak like her. She decides to start her own company called POPink and has landed her first important job, namely helping fitness guru Natalia Samphire organise her new home. Celeste wants to do anything she can to make sure she does a good job, but at the same time she's busy dealing with her cousin and new assistant Flip, and Lenny, the handsome builder who's working on Natalia's house and always seems to be around. Celeste unexpectedly discovers Natalia is being blackmailed by someone, and soon she finds herself entangled in way more than just the organising job she signed up for. This book can be described as chick lit with a entertaining touch of whodunit mystery. The plotline is interesting and it didn't take long before I was fully immersed by the story. It took some time to warm to the main protagonist Celeste, mainly because of her occasional slightly snobbish behaviour. Lenny, the hunky builder, was a great love interest and I think many female readers will develop a small crush on him. The chemistry between him and Celeste is undeniable. There are some colloquialisms used in the book which I wasn't familiar with, but from the context I could get what I needed to understand what was going on, so it definitely didn't ruin the reading experience. Overall, A Pretty Mess is a fun and entertaining chick lit and mystery mix and I am already looking forward to the next part of Carla Caruso's Astonvale series. (JoH)


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April & Oliver - Tess Callahan (2009)

The sudden death of Buddy brings two longtime childhood friends Oliver and Alice back to their hometown, East Coast, and also back into each others' lives. Once inseparable, they have diverged along different paths, losing themselves along the way. Oliver has settled for a stable career in law, burying his once burning passion for music. Wild child Alice, inflicted with the scars of sexual abuse, continues living her life in despair and fear. As Oliver tries to intervene, wanting to save Alice from her misery, he realises that he has more to deal with. An intense and provoking read about a complicated relationship and with its unexpected twists and turns, it got me hooked from the start until the end. (XT)


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A Private Affair - Lesley Lokko (2011)

This delves into the lives of army wives and the hardships they face being shipped to bases all over the world while their men go off fighting. There's Meaghan, the runaway, who fell for Tom and the security he provides. He transfers from Australia to the British Army and rises quickly through the ranks. Capable Abby has learnt to be the perfect army wife from her parents and is more than happy to stand by her man, commanding officer Ralph. Dani runs a refuge for pregnant girls in Sierra Leone and knows only too well what it's like to be in their shoes. Sam is an entertainment lawyer who meets soldier Nick while on holiday in Morocco. He quickly claims her as his girlfriend but he's unlikely to be perfect boyfriend material. You need to be paying close attention as the time periods switch rapidly, from the early 1990s through to 2009, and the locations from Germany, Australia and England to Bosnia, Belize, Cyprus and Sierra Leone. Not for the faint-hearted.


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A Proper Family Christmas - Chrissie Manby (2014)

The Buchanan family have it all - a beautiful house, designer clothes and cars and a wealthy lifestyle. On the other hand, the Bensons are a typical, working family. Two families couldn't be further removed from one another but they're just about to find out that actually they're a lot closer than they think. Annabel Buchanan discovers that her real mother and father are Jacqui and Dave Benson, and she has two sisters, Ronnie and Chelsea. But if Annabel is horrified at being related to these people, she can't show it because, with daughter Izzy needing an urgent kidney transplant, she needs the Bensons more than she could ever admit. Whilst Jacqui is delighted to finally meet her long-lost daughter, Ronnie is less than pleased with this new Lady Muck. First things first, I'd expected a much more Christmas-orientated novel than you actually get with this book, with only really the last few chapters touching on the festive season, and then albeit briefly, but that's merely an observation in case you were expecting a yuletide yarn. This book is much more about family, relationships and what matters in life. The dual storylines of the search for a kidney donor and the family reunion were really strong and made this book a much more impactful and substantial novel. I enjoyed the dynamics of the families and the mixture of outlooks, which shows up the difficulty of the choices facing the various characters. However, I would have liked to have seen more of the developing relationship between Ronnie and Annabel and the transition from animosity to affection. The epilogue though was wonderful and the novel - the sequel to A Proper Family Holiday - hammers home the importance of good health and family. (JC)


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A Proper Family Holiday - Chrissie Manby (2014)

Magazine staffer Chelsea has slept through her alarm so misses her plane to Lanzarote, in Spain, where she is joining her family to celebrate mother Jacqui's 60th birthday. Her sister Ronnie - a mother of two - is not impressed and thinks this is typical behaviour of her spoilt sister. When the family is plagued by illness, it's up to Chelsea to look after her young nephew Jack. This means she's unable to escape single dad Adam and his tyrant of a daughter, Lily. Meanwhile teenager Sophie is bored, Jacqui is nervous about breaking some news and granddad Bill is getting chatted up at the bar. In this very amusing story, Manby has created some delightful characters that you can't wait to revisit again. This is the first book in a series about the Benson clan, and finishes on a cliffhanger that will lead into the next book, A Proper Family Christmas. It's definitely a proper sunny holiday read.


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A Pug's Tale - Alison Pace (2011)

In this sequel to Pug Hill, the story follows art conservator Hope McNeil and her boyfriend's pug Max as they "crash" a gala party where the rich and famous, along with their pugs, gather to honour an eminent New York philanthropist Daphne Markham. But Max soon gets himself into a sticky "doggie" situation, resulting in them being chased out of hall by the host Gil Turner. They head back to the Conservation Studio, only to receive another shock of the night -the valuable Henri Fantin Latour painting is missing, with the fake replica in their department. Her bosses, however, have no intent of reporting the matter to the police, fearing the bad press would cause Daphne to withdraw her donations, and instead hire a private investigator Chaz, who seems to be inept at solving the mystery himself. Just as Hope decides to take matters into her own hands, she receives an anonymous email offering clues to find the missing painting. Though I find that this book pales in comparison to Pace's other books, I still enjoyed it - and especially loved the way she deals with how Hope has changed since the first book in a subtle manner, as with the entrance of Max and Ben into her life, and the various passages narrating the delicate relationship between humans and pugs. (XT)


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A Rather Charming Invitation - C.A. Belmond (2010)

In the third novel in the Rather series, Penny and Jeremy are planning their wedding but are making really slow progress with the final plans. When Penny's young French cousin, Honorine, shows up on their London doorstep out of the blue, she informs them that her parents have invited them to their home in France for a small reception in celebration of their wedding. While in France, Penny's generous relations offer Penny and Jeremy the use of a beautiful wedding tapestry for the couple to be married in front of. The tapestry has perplexing but lovely images that Penny finds intriguing, since her background is in historical research. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Penny and Jeremy have to make the difficult decision of where to have their wedding. Penny's relatives want the wedding to be in France, while Jeremy's family want it in England. When they finally have a breakthrough, they head to their villa in France to sell the idea to the family and in doing so need to bring the tapestry to the villa to showcase the full effect of their ideas. However, something goes awry and the tapestry goes missing. This leads Penny, Jeremy and Honorine on a chase to track down the tapestry and find out its true origins. What they find just may get them into hot water with a certain famous billionaire and they'll have to tread very carefully in order to get the tapestry back in one piece. Can Penny and Jeremy recover the beloved family heirloom in time? Or is its absence a bad omen, warning them to call off the wedding? Written in such an fascinating way, with characters that will both charm and entertain, it is a book that you don't want to miss. (AS)


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A Rather Curious Engagement - C.A. Belmond (2008)

This is the second book in the Rather series, which follows Penny Nichols and her boyfriend, Jeremy, on another tantalising adventure. Penny seems to have it all after inheriting her aunt Penelope's London flat, classic car and other treasures. Jeremy has also gotten quite a nice amount in his inheritance and together they decide to make one large purchase. After some deliberation, they decide that this item is going to be an antique yacht. Trouble follows suit as Penny and Jeremy discover a feud that goes back centuries and involves the theft of a very unique and utterly priceless item. People seem to think that their new yacht holds the hidden treasure that everyone is talking about. From gigolos to salesmen, no one seems to be immune to following or harassing Penny and Jeremy - some even going to the extreme of stealing the yacht. Getting themselves embroiled in yet another mystery that needs solving, Penny and Jeremy embark on a series of thrilling adventures that will lead them to a discovery so huge that it was thought to have been one big myth. Clearly written with a mix of everything that one could want in a good novel, this is a book that you'll enjoy right until the end. (AS)


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A Rather Lovely Inheritance - C.A. Belmond (2007)

The first in the Rather series, this is a wonderful book chronicling the story of Penny Nichols (yes, that's her real name!). Penny is a charming, sassy and smart character that you'll root for even when you know she's going to get herself in trouble. Penny, a historical filmmaker, is whisked away to London after her great-aunt Penelope's death. To her surprise, Penny is left quite a bit of her great-aunt's items. All is not perfect in Penny's world however, as she soon realises that her wacky cousin, Rollo, may not be the nice guy he seems to be. Rollo is after her inheritance but Penny doesn't know why - he has been left his own share of things, seemingly more valuable than anything Penny was left. Eventually, with the help of her other cousin Jeremy (who may or may not be an actual blood relation and who Penny may or may not be falling for), Penny finds that there is something else more valuable hidden somewhere within her inheritance that Rollo desperately wants and he will go to any lengths to obtain it. With breathtaking settings in France's Cote d'Azur, Italy and London, Penny and Jeremy's quest to find the mysterious item is suspenseful and filled with excitement, leading them to one of the biggest historical discoveries of current time. Creatively written, it contains a nice mix of romance, mystery and humour. (AS)


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Are You Ready? - Amanda Hearty (2008)

As Dubliners Ali, Molly, Ben and Sarah prepare to leave their 20s behind, it's time for them to move on with their lives. Solicitor Ali needs to decide whether she's ready to marry Robin; Molly has taken the plunge on the job front but as she builds her catering experience, her relationship with boyfriend Luke seems to be going off the boil. Meanwhile freelance journalist Ben needs to move out of his parents' home; while Sarah needs more time for her art and to find a partner. With very short chapters that switch from one character to another, this tale about experiencing growing-up angst when you should already be grown up is let down by its stilted dialogue.


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Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing - Lisa Walker (2015)

Arkie is a trendspotter who has lost not only her marriage and her mojo but her ability to predict the next big thing. She has hit rock bottom but a chance encounter with a Japanese girl called Haruko at a train station sets Arkie off on a very Australian pilgrimage - to visit all the Big Things, from the Big Prawn, Banana and Pineapple to the Big Redback and Cow. With Haruko along for the ride and the Seven Lucky Gods in her possession, Arkie embarks on a journey of self-discovery, with her husband's divorce lawyer hot on her tail. With shades of The Wizard of Oz, this is a quirky and highly original tale that highlights a longing for a more nostalgic time.


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Armani Angels - Cate Kendall (2011)

PR consultant to the stars Gemma decides she needs a new altruistic direction so a friend connects her with Melbourne's grand dame of philanthropy, Frances. But Gemma's 21st century methods of guest databases, invitations by emails and eBay auctions don't go down well with the stick-in the-mud Dame and the UP-Kids' committee. So Gemma is challenged to a fundraising duel. Each will hold a charity function on the same night - and whoever raises the most is the winner. As preparations take Gemma away from her troubled marriage and misbehaving teenage son even more than usual, she also deals with a growing attraction to a New York colleague. It's loaded guest lists at dusk for these two society women as the old school goes to battle with the new kid in town. With a bitchy social writer keeping track of events throughout, this is an amusing story and by the end you want both women to win.


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Arm Candy - Jill Kargman (2010)

Eden is a gorgeous muse to the infamous painter Otto. They have been together for 20 years and have a son together. Eden has always ignored Otto's womanizing and partying ways. However, as she prepares to turn 40 she begins to question the life she has chosen. Eden soon starts a steamy relationship with New York City's most eligible bachelor, Chase Lydon. As Eden and Chase's relationship heats up, a man from Eden's past resurfaces and she is forced to decide whether to take a chance on true love. A fun book that gives the reader a look into the life of the rich and fabulous of New York City. (AO)


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Around the World in 80 Dates - Jennifer Cox (2005)

There's a saying that there's someone for everyone. But what happens if your someone is on the other side of the world. In this memoir, travel writer Jennifer Cox decides to date her way around the globe to find her Mr Right. From her first date in Amsterdam through to her final one in Auckland, she meets a variety of suitors - and may even find a soulmate . . . or two. Although the title suggests she went on 80 dates, several of the dates never eventuated and it was a definite cop-out to write-off dates 30-50 at a LA speed-dating event.


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A Royal Pain - Megan Mulry (2012)

Bronte Talbott is on the rebound after spending too long with the wrong man. She is only interested in meeting a TM (transitional man) to have fun with. She is determined not to fall in love and make the same mistake again. Enter sexy British student Max Hayworth, a man Bronte met in a bookstore. Max will be leaving the States in just eight weeks, making him the perfect TM. When an emergency forces Max to return to England early, Bronte learns that he is not just some British student who has been sharing her bed, but rather the future Duke of Northrop. Suddenly, Bronte must face the realisation that Max has become more than just a TM, and she must also decide if she wants to pursue her relationship with Max and deal with the challenges of being royal. My favourite book of 2012, this wonderfully written book is a must for anyone who loves to read about the royal family. (AO)


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Arranged - Catherine McKenzie (2011)

Anne Blythe has gone from one failed relationship to another. After her last one, she finally admits that she is tired of seeing all of her friends settle down, get married and have children. So when she comes across a business card for Blythe & Company that says "matches made" she doesn't really know what she's in for. Blythe & Company isn't your conventional matchmaking company - they arrange marriages. What is a single girl who is almost past her prime to do? Anne decides that she should try it out and before she can snap her fingers they've found her a match and she is on her way to Mexico to meet and marry Jack, the supposed man of her dreams. At first, things seem to be going great, the wedding went well - though it was by far the craziest thing Anne has ever done - and she and Jack are now back in the real world where family and friends want to know how they met. However things don't stay perfect for long as Anne soon finds out some unsettling information about Jack and the matchmaking company which makes her put her life in perspective. Though much of the modern world doesn't believe in arranged marriages, this book is a great look at the subject. It takes on a humorous, heartfelt tone, which makes the subject seem so much more approachable. Arranged is definitely a book not to be missed whether you're married, single or somewhere in between. (AS)


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A Rural Affair - Catherine Alliott (2011)

When Poppy's husband is killed in a freak accident, she is more relieved than grieved. Despite her two children losing their father, Poppy hardly misses Phil, with his fastidious nature, bland personality and cycling addiction. And when one of his secrets is exposed after the funeral, Poppy is even happier that he's dead so she doesn't have to kill him herself. Instead she throws herself into village life, setting up a book club with friends and casting her eyes over the local men. Alliott is to be commended for taking an awkward subject - the loss of a husband who wasn't liked - and turning it into an enjoyable, frequently funny tale of a woman determined not to make the same mistake in love again.


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A Seaside Affair - Fern Britton (2014)

The Pavilions theatre has been standing in the seaside town of Trevay since 1954, but when a large national coffee chain want to take it over, it seems it's the end of the road for the unassuming theatre. However, local residents are soon ringing in favours and Jess Tate, girlfriend of TV icon Ryan Hearst; Ollie Pinkerton, boyfriend of international singing sensation Red; and the up-and-coming Brooke Lynne are amongst the names recruited for the theatre's latest production. This story has something of a false start, indeed what starts off as a story about saving the theatre and the locals involved in the project soon becomes more about the newcomers Jess, Ollie and Red and their various relationships and love affairs. The novel turns back to the original story and characters at the end and feels somewhat disjointed. Similarly situations turn around quite quickly and unexpectedly and the final quarter in particular is a bit of a hodge-podge. The look into celebrity, acting and the world of showbiz was fun and it's a fast and easy read. Overall, pleasant enough but not particularly gripping or different, with the author trying to fit too much in and losing focus. (JC)


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As Good As It Gets? - Fiona Gibson (2015)

Charlotte's got enough on her plate what with her job at a crisp-making company, her teenage daughter Rosie being spotted by a model scout and her husband Will being out of work and having no luck finding a new job. When Rosie's biological father Fraser - the one who abandoned her when she was pregnant - gets back in touch, Charlotte wonders how he will fit into their lives and how it will affect Will who has done a wonderful job bringing up Rosie as his own. She just can't get a read on her husband lately - he is growing more withdrawn by the day - except when he's pulling on his leather trousers to party with the new trendy neighbours. With an instantly likeable main character, this takes a comical look at life on the domestic front when the grass starts looking greener anywhere but your own backyard.


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A Shore Thing - Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi (2011)

If you're a fan of the hit reality TV show Jersey Shore, then you surely know of its breakout star, Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi. The pint-sized girl with the big attitude and even bigger hair has taken the world by storm, which is exactly what the characters in Snooki's first book do so well. Gia and her cousin, Bella, are planning on having the best summer ever on the Jersey Shore. They're going to meet hot guys, dance the night away at clubs and spend time with their friends. But, wherever these girls go, the drama follows and they can't escape the drama as it heats up the boardwalk. Gia becomes a local celebrity pretty quickly and meets a gorgeous guy to stand by her side. Bella, on the other hand, has also met a guy she likes but she can't get her boss Tony 'Trouble' Troublino out of her head. Work, fun and lots of sun make it one hell of a summer for these girls. However, during the course of the summer, the girls realise they don't know what they want - especially when it comes to love. If you're a fan of the show then you'll instantly recognise the lingo (words like slummers, frenemies and haters are prevalent throughout) but if you don't watch the show then you might be a little confused by the words that the Jersey Shore cast have made so popular. It may seem like the energy, drama and fun of the Jersey Shore can never be replicated but this book seems just like an episode of the show put into words. If it was being rated just on that aspect alone, it would be given a 10/10 but since it's not, it's kind of hard to enjoy unless you're a huge fan of Snooki and her wild and crazy personality. (AS)


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A Single Breath - Lucy Clarke (2014)

Eva has been with Jackson for two years, married for 10 months, when he's presumed drowned whilst fishing. It's hardly enough time for them to really get to know one another and as Eva struggles to share her sense of loss over Jackson, she realises she needs to be with his family, a family she's never met and barely even spoken to, in Tasmania. They will know what she's going through and can help her to stay connected with Jackson's memory. However, when Eva arrives unannounced, Jackson's father Dirk and brother Saul don't seem to want her around. But as circumstances keep her in Tasmania, she begins to break through to Saul but what she learns about Jackson is not at all what she was expecting. A terrifically gripping read, the mystery, drama and suspense of this novel really makes you want to rush through to the end in a single sitting to get to the bottom of the story. Clarke does superbly well to put the reader in Eva's shoes and to drip-feed the facts at a carefully measured pace. Some of the twists and turns are quite easy to anticipate and it's possible to see the ending quite early on. The ending itself opens up a whole new range of complexities and issues, and rather than neatly wrapping these up or creating a definitive conclusion, for me it only made things messier, less certain, less clear. And I would have liked more from the finale. Nevertheless the journey to the ending is fascinating and overall it's an absorbing read that I would recommend. Definitely one to share and discuss. (JC)


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A Single to Rome - Sarah Duncan (2009)

When Natalie asks her boyfriend, Michael, whether it's time they move in together, he instead tells her he "needs space" and promptly gets himself a new girlfriend. To help her get back into the swing of single life, one of Natalie's friends takes her speed-dating where she meets, Guy, who is getting over a marriage break-up. He is the perfect guy to accompany her to her best friend's wedding, since Michael will be there with his new partner. Natalie admits to her new friend that night that she has just lost her lawyer job after it is revealed she lied about a previous conviction. So when Guy, a Roman historian, offers her a rent-free stay at his Rome apartment, the cash-strapped Natalie takes up his offer. And so Natalie begins to emerge from the ruins of her life amid the ruins of the historic city.


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Ask Again Later - Jill A. Davis (2007)

For Emily Rhode, her fear of making commitments has resulted in a tendency to live with one foot out the door. When her mother suddenly announces that she has cancer, she decides to leave both her job and ideal boyfriend to take care of her mother. At the same time, she accepts her dad's offer of working at his law firm as a receptionist as a chance to get to know the man who deserted her when she was five. Through all this, Emily slowly finds herself learning more about her parents, childhood, and most importantly, finding the inner strength to face up to her problems. (XT)


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A Special Delivery - Clare Dowling (2014)

Aisling's family is facing a miserable Christmas. Her relationship with painter husband Mossy is strained, their crusading daughter Shannon has moved out, son Anto is constantly empting the pantry and youngest child Louise spends too much time with the nosy neighbours up the street. And now the electricity has blown thanks to Mossy's over-the-top festive decorations. Then someone leaves a baby in their nativity crib. A real-life little boy. That surprise bundle of joy forces them to come together again as a family unit and face up to the event that shook their foundations. This is a truly special book, it's cleverly written, with lots of humour and loveable, quirky characters. It also broaches a range of serious issues that would test any family. It will definitely leave you with a big smile on your face.


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A Spring Affair - Milly Johnson (2009)

Over the years Lou Winter has become a downtrodden wife - always on hand to whip up a bacon breakfast for her husband Phil and organise his business accounts. She won't stand up to her bullying boss nor stop her mum making negative comments. One day an article about clutter-cleaning inspires Lou to spring-clean her house - and as she clears the decks she rediscovers her moxie. Tom, the nice guy who delivers the skips to cart away her rubbish, reminds her of what she's missing in her marriage, and she reconnects with her best friend Deb. You'll be cheering on Lou as she learns to stand up to her man - and hopefully kick him to the kerb (with the rest of the trash).


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A Storm in a Teacup - Lucy Cavendish (2010)

In this third instalment about Samantha Smythe, the mother of four is still overwhelmed by her life. Everyday she must take care of her children, clean, cook, shop and make time for her husband, John, as well. How can one woman do it all? Especially when Samantha's youngest boy, Jamie, starts wearing little girl's dresses and starts trying to intentionally hurt children at school. When she voices concerns to her husband, he just says she is worrying too much. Then the opportunity pops up for the family to spend the summer at a beach house in Devon. Samantha sees this as a great chance for her family to spend time together and work through their issues. But at the last minute John announces he must work and leaves Samantha once again to care for all the children and chores on her own. But perhaps the day will be saved by a quirky elderly man named Noah who lives nearby. Immediately Samantha sees a change in Jamie, who takes to Noah like a moth to a light. Samantha soon immerses herself in the village life and is even organising a fete to help save an old manor house. The only problem now is oldest son Edward who's taken to hanging around with Noah's goth grand-daughter who teaches him to drink Barcardi Breezers and get into trouble. Soon the holiday that had seemed so pleasant is now full of fights and deception. Whether you have children or not, this story surely will entertain and resonate with many readers. Samantha is like many women today - overworked, tired and in desperate need of time for herself and her story is one that readers won't want to put down until the end. (AS)


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A Summer Affair - Elin Hilderbrand (2008)

Claire Danner Crispin hasn't been back at work in her glassblowing studio since she collapsed from dehydration and prematurely gave birth to her youngest son, Zack. At her husband Jason's behest, she has given up her craft and instead devoted herself to their four children. But then she is asked by millionaire Lock Dixon to co-chair the annual Nantucket Children's charity gala. Her role is to secure her high school sweetheart, rock star Max West, as the performer and make a piece of art to auction. But as she fights her guilt about taking time away from her family and being responsible for Lock's unhappy home life, she is drawn into an affair. An intriguing story that keeps you turning the pages - will the secret relationship, her obsession with creating the perfect chandelier and the pressures of organising a high-society event leave her life in shatters?


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A Summer Fling - Milly Johnson (2010)

Colleagues Grace, Anna, Dawn and Raychel may work together in the same department but they hardly know anything about each other's lives. Then their new boss Christie arrives in a brightly coloured suit, determined to forge a friendship with them. Fifty-something Grace is trapped in a marriage with Gordon - she fell in love with his kids, rather than him - and the last thing she wants to do is retire with him and head off in a caravan. Thirty-something Dawn is about to get married herself - to the rough Calum who comes with the big raucous family that Dawn doesn't have herself. Anna is about to turn 40 and her boyfriend has just left her for a much younger woman. She's let herself go but can she be saved by a strange man at the train station? And for twenty-something Raychel, she may be happily nesting with husband Ben but what secrets from her past have meant she pushes everyone else away? This story returns to Barnsley and we were promised a cameo from the Yorkshire Pudding Club women. (I missed it and had to flick back through the book to find Elizabeth, Helen and Janey.) It has a cast of well-drawn characters all ranged along the scale from good to evil and a storyline which combines romantic comedy with darker themes.


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A Summer in Europe - Marilyn Brant (2011)

Gwen just celebrated her 30th birthday and expected an engagement ring from Richard, her boyfriend of two years. What she got instead were pearl earrings, which according to Richard, are to replace the old ones she always wears. Apparently Richard does not fully appreciate the sentiment behind wearing the pearl earrings of her late mother. Her aunt Bea, on the other hand, generously gifts her with a tour of Europe along with Bea and her Mahjong and Suduko club. Gwen is not entirely sure about going but after her birthday dinner with Richard, decides it might be good for them to spend some time apart. Gwen and Bea embark on the trip of a lifetime, meeting some fairly interesting characters along the way who help Gwen open her eyes to what it means to really live. One of those characters is Emerson, an English physicist who has the potential to be someone very special to Gwen. That is if she can muster the courage to see beyond her stable, predictable life with Richard and truly follow her heart. After enjoying Marilyn Brant's last two books, I was excited to read A Summer in Europe. I am happy to say her books just keep getting better. I was completely hooked as soon as I started reading and thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of Gwen, from a shy and reserved teacher to someone who, by the end of the book, has really come out of her shell and understands about living a passionate life. An extremely delightful and satisfying read. (LEK)


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A Summer to Remember - Victoria Connelly (2014)

It has taken her some time but Nina has finally found the courage to change her boring and unhappy life. She has ended her relationship, quit her job, and is looking for a new place to live. Nina isn't sure what she wants to do with her life, but she's already looking forward to that next step towards something new. While she's at the supermarket, she unexpectedly bumps into her old boss, Olivia Milton. When she was a teenager, Nina used to babysit Olivia's two sons Dominic and Alex, and now, after all these years, it appears Olivia would like to make use of Nina's services again. Her husband Dudley is writing his first novel and could use a secretary to help him. Nina can't say 'yes' fast enough and soon she is welcomed back the Old Mill, the amazing Milton family home. To Nina, this is the start of an exciting summer which includes her new job, the untrained family dog, and the handsome Milton boys... Victoria Connelly has done it again; what a thoroughly enjoyable summer read! A Summer to Remember has everything a romantic comedy should have: a fascinating cast, a beautiful scene setting, handsome men, and an entertaining storyline. The book includes a great cast of main and secondary characters. I liked Nina and how she decides to turn everything in her life around and start doing what she wants instead of what she feels she is expected to do. The Milton family is a collection of eccentric but easily loveable and individual characters. The plotline is perhaps not that unique, but I loved what Victoria Connelly has done with it to give it her own twist. The novel really transported me to another place and made me feel all warm and happy inside; I didn't want to put it down and I didn't want the story to end. Overall, A Summer to Remember is another brilliant Victoria Connelly read; a sparklingly sunny and gorgeous read that will definitely bring a smile to your face. Perfect holiday reading material! (JoH)


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As Young as We Feel - Melody Carlson (2010)

Back in school four best friends formed a club called "The Four Lindas" because they each had the middle name Linda. But when high school finished, they each went their separate ways. Now they are to be reunited at their 35th school reunion. Charlotte went on to become a Hollywood actress but it seems like she has reached the end of her stardom. Then there's Janie, a big-shot New York lawyer; Abby, the stay-at-home mum who spends most of her time between diets; and Marley, an art gallery owner who would rather be painting the pictures rather than selling them. When tragedy strikes, these four women must stick together and re-form the bond they lost so many years ago. Not only did Charlotte remind me of Samantha from Sex and the City, the story is what I would think of as Sex and the City 20 years on. The first book in the Linda series, this is a fun and enjoyable story that will have you laughing and tearing up in places - it's the ideal chick-lit novel for older women. (PP)


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A Tale of Two Sisters - Anna Maxted (2006)

Sisters Cassie and Lizbet are total opposites - Cassie is an ambitious lawyer, while Lizbet is a laidback magazine writer. Despite their differences, they have managed to stay friends as they head off on their different paths. But then Lizbet unexpectedly falls pregnant and Cassie, desperate to have her own baby, finds it difficult to deal with the news. Lizbet is also shocked to discover that Cassie has kept the fact she is adopted a secret.


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A Taste of Fame - Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson (2009)

Following on from their successful catering of a wedding in the first Potluck Catering Club book, budding filmmaker Nathan submits his documentary footage of them to a reality TV show called The Great Party Showdown. Chosen for the New York show, the Potluck Catering Club must join forces and turn up their efforts if they want to stay in the competition. On screen, they are bundles of joy but off-screen is another story. Evie, the original creator of the Potluck Catering Club, wants then to stop catering and start meeting for their original purpose. She also isn't too keen for all of America to know her as "Evil Evie". Lisa Leann wants the show to work but at home, is her husband ready to stand by her or is he gone once and for all? Deputy Donna is torn between two men - will she follow her heart and choose the perfect one or will she have to settle for second best? And for Vonnie, will her mother finally stand by her or will her newly found brother David once again steal the limelight? Filled with recipes and the stories behind them as well as the on and off-screen antics of the Potluck Catering Club, this will leave you laughing in places and wanting to get to know the characters even more. (PP)


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At First Sight - Nicholas Sparks (2005)

How far can you run from your past? When Jeremy met Lexie, she quickly fell pregnant. Now planning to marry each other after a short fling and move to Boone Creek, will everything go to plan? With their life settled in their now home, Jeremy starts to receive mysterious messages that disturb memories from his past, leaving him questioning his future. Jeremy soon realises that his old life is closer to him than he thinks. This is a sequel to Sparks' True Believer but stands alone without you needing any prior knowledge of the previous book. Once again Nicholas delivers on so many levels leaving a bittersweet taste long after you have finished. You will be laughing and crying and questioning what you would do for love. (LL)


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A Tiny Bit Marvellous - Dawn French (2010)

Mo Battle is about to turn 50 and is starting to look like her mother. Despite being a child psychologist, she has a battle on her hands trying to understand her teen children. Seventeen-year-old Dora is, like, recovering from being dumped and is pinning all her hopes on making it through X-Factor auditions. And eccentric Peter understands the importance of being Oscar - changing his name in honour of Oscar Wilde - and covets not only a smoking jacket but his mum's new intern. With chapters alternating between the three Battle voices, this debut from the comic actress plays out at times like funny TV sketches (you can imagine French in the main role). There's plenty to enjoy if you like quirky characters and stories about chaotic family life.


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@Home for the Holidays - Meredith Efken (2006)

Meet the SAHMS, they are a bunch of stay-at-home mothers. The group consists of Dulcie, Zelia, Jocelyn, Rosalyn, Veronica and the rest of the women of SAHM I Am. This novel is written completely in the format of an email forum. The SAHMS discuss topics ranging from Rosalyn's ordeals about whether organic nappies are better for her children and the woes of potty-training to Dulcie discussing her favourite books to read when she gets a break from reading children's picture books and Jocelyn preferring fast food and easy meals to spending long days slaving over an oven ("Who has time to cook when you have kids"). SAHM-to-be Zelia talks about doing a Madonna and adopting a baby from Ethiopia, while Brenna is going through her monthly ordeal of IVF. This is a fun read and designed for all those mothers out there who are SAHMS themselves. Many readers will be able to relate to a lot of the subjects discussed in the book in their own everyday lives. (PP)


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At Home on Ladybug Farm - Donna Ball (2009)

This second book in the series takes off with Bridget, Cici and Lindsay having been in the house for a whole year and though they are slowly getting there, it has been a hectic but enjoyable year. Book #2 covers a lot of the past and what happened at Blackwell Farm in centuries gone by. As the renovations continue, they discover that the house has many undiscovered secret passages and objects hidden around from photoplates in the attic to murals boarded up on the walls to old medicine bottles buried in the dirt. This novel holds an emotional ride too as the women are starting to get used to Noah around the house but what happens when a social worker comes a-knocking and just as Lindsay is ready to take the next giant step and adopt Noah, his birth mother turns up. Will Noah retreat back to his old ways and run away? Cici's daughter, Lori, is still undecided about college and what her future holds. She does however have a keen business sense - can Lori use her skills to create a financial profit for Ladybug farm? This was an enjoyable and lovely read but I'd recommend that you read the first book in the series first - otherwise certain parts of the story will seem confusing. (PP)


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At Home with the Templetons - Monica McInerney (2010)

It's 2009 and Gracie Templeton has returned to her former home, Templeton Hall, in the Victorian Goldfields in Australia. The story then heads back to 1993 when the Templetons first arrive at the Hall from England. There's Gracie, the youngest daughter, her parents Henry and Eleanor, her sisters Charlotte and Audrey, and the baby of the family, Spencer, plus their troublesome aunt Hope. They transform the old stately home to showcase colonial life and open it to the public. Then the Templetons' lives get entwined with their neighbours - widow Nina and her son Tom. This compelling tale is best enjoyed when you don't know much about the plot. It again proves what a superior storyteller McInerney is and the quirky Templetons are sure to stick in your mind long after you read the last page.


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A Total Waste of Make-up - Kim Gruenenfelder (2005)

As the big 3-0 looms, Charlie Edwards has started keeping a journal of advice for a future generation of women. Her nuggets of wisdom cover everything from not waiting by the phone, why you should avoid celebrity magazines and married men, and how to have a good laugh. With her younger sister Andy's wedding preparations underway, she also has lots of advice for brides and bridesmaids - such as saving your bridesmaid dresses and making the brides wear them to your own wedding. Charlie is the personal assistant to one of Hollywood's sexiest and most insecure stars, Drew Stanton, who has fallen madly for her indifferent best friend Dawn. And Charlie, who's chronically single and has just realised she's never going to be Jennifer Aniston, has her eye on Jordan, who is the still photographer on Drew's latest movie In My Heart. Can she follow her own advice when it comes to matters of the heart?


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Attachments - Rainbow Rowell (2011)

Lincoln still lives with his mum and spends his nights working as an IT guy at The Courier newspaper. His main task is checking emails caught by a web security program and firing off warning notices to staff who misuse their work email. Movie reviewer Beth and features copy editor Jennifer know their emails can be monitored but it hardly stops the two friends exchanging lots of personal details about their lives and loves. Beth is mulling over the fact she doesn't have much in common with her muso boyfriend Chris anymore while Jennifer is wondering if it's time for her to start a family with her keen husband. As Lincoln is drawn into their exchanges, he finds himself attracted to one of the women. But how can a lonely guy like him approach her, especially since he knows stuff about her that he really shouldn't? Set in 1999, amid the hysteria about the Y2K bug, this is a charming and funny story about office romance in the technology age. With really engaging characters, it alternates between Lincoln's story and the emails between Beth and Jennifer. Loved it, loved it although thought the ending let it down a bit. But would happily read a sequel ... Definitely one of the strongest debuts of 2011.


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A Twist of Fate - Joanna Rees (2012)

Two baby sisters are handed to a stranger, and one gets to live a life of privilege in America while the other is raised in an East German orphanage. Despite their disparate upbringings, both girls face adversity through the years. Thea, the daughter of a media mogul, has to deal with a stepmother and stepbrother who don't have her best interests at heart. Meanwhile model Romy is desperate that no one finds out about her past. The womens' paths cross several times over the years but they don't realise the other exists. This is a dramatic, well-paced read that spans 40 years and you have to admire the clever ways Rees brings the two sisters so tantalisingly close to meeting each other throughout the story.


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Austenland- Shannon Hale (2007)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a chicklit book in possession of references to Jane Austen, Mr Darcy or Pride and Prejudice will hardly be in want of readers. One of the most recent Austen-themed books, Austenland tells the tale of American Jane Hayes, who finds real men just don't measure up to Mr Darcy. A relative bequeaths her a trip to English country manor Pembrook Park, which caters for Austen-crazed women. Here guests don empire-waist gowns and bonnets and master Regency etiquette as they are romanced by actors playing gentleman. After her secret dalliances with the gardener, Jane (Miss Erstwhile) finds herself attracted to the Darcy-like Mr Nobley. Is this trip going to help Jane kick her Austen obsession forever?


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Austentatious - Alyssa Goodnight (2012)

Nicola James lives in Austin, self-proclaimed capital of all things weird, but her life is anything but weird. In fact Nic's life is the epitome of sensible and organised, striving as she does to follow "The Plan" - a life plan which she first conceived when she was 13 and which she has been following rigorously ever since. However, everything changes when she happens upon a rather unassuming journal in an antiques store and discovers that it seems to be writing back to her, taking the very words she has written and editing them to leave her 'miscellaneous morsels' of advice, and what's more the author seems to be none other than Jane Austen! Nic is reluctant to believe what's happening and to follow Fairy Jane, but soon the journal has set her on her own journey of discovery to find the One, but it means having to give into weird and abandoning The Plan. Alyssa Goodnight has written a charming and quirky novel that offers something new in the canon of Austensque novels. (JC)


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A Valentine's Kiss - Lucie Hart (2011)

Imogen has always been the rock in her family. She's the one who her siblings rely on to help them with anything they need and her mother relies on her to keep things in order. While there is no doubt that she loves her family, she is tired of putting her love of cooking on the backburner because her mother despises all things to do with food. With the help of Imogen's friend and neighbour, Di, she soon finds herself and her little dog, Monty, living in the south of France and working at a top-of-the-line restaurant. Though, she'll admit, her boss is a bit wild and she's not doing as much cooking as she thought, Imogen is still feeling liberated. When she is asked to cater a Valentine's party for her new friend - an American named Bunny who likes to embalm chickens and call it "art" - Imogen finds herself not just a cook but a guest as well. What results is a game of blind man's bluff in which Imogen is kissed while blindfolded. The effect of the kiss is staggering and it's all she can think about at work, at home, even while walking her dog. Who was this mysterious man who kissed her and then disappeared? Could it be her co-workers, Bastien or Dimitri, who both have expressed interest in the new free-spirited Imogen? Or is it one of Bunny's cute American friends? As her secret admirer continues to send her e-mails and arrange scandalous meet-ups - in the dark of course - she finds herself falling in love with this stranger. But that's ridiculous. You can't fall in love with someone you don't know ... or can you? This is a sweet and romantic Valentine's story that will make you wish you had your own secret admirer who went to the lengths that Imogen's mystery man goes to. (AS)


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A Very Accidental Love Story - Claudia Carroll (2012)

Eloise Elliot, editor of The Daily Post, spends her long work days running from one meeting to another while dressed in black head to toe, with a black soul too if her colleagues are to be believed. Then on the dark and lonely night of her 30th birthday, she makes a decision which changes her life forever. One short trip to the sperm bank and she becomes a single mother to Lily. Now she spends her days working manically while dealing with evil Seth Coleman who is determined to take her place and trying to find a perfect nanny for her three-year-old. Then her world is turned upside down when Lily asks her the most basic question "Where is my daddy"? On the insistence of her sister Helen, Eloise embarks on a journey to hunt down her sperm donor. Little did she know that the man she is looking for is an ex-con, rather than a respected businessman or talented sportsman. When Eloise finds Jack, who is drop-dead gorgeous, she aims to transform him into a complete gentleman before he reunites with her little girl. Everything about this book is gorgeous - from the cover to the characters - and the story is fast, upbeat and totally mesmerising. So far my best read of 2012. (SS)


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A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff (2009)

After the death of her best friend, Emma, Phoebe Swift has been living life with guilt which in turn results in her breaking off her engagement with Guy and leaving her job of 12 years. Now opening a vintage dress shop, she buries herself in the world of vintage clothing, restoring them to their former glory, as she attempts to start afresh despite her own struggle with her own emotions and past. Along the way, she meets many interesting characters like Dan and Therese, each playing a role in helping her find closure. It's a wonderful book about embracing new beginnings and love, predictable at times but an overall easy read. (XT)


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Avoiding Mr Right - Anita Heiss (2008)

This focuses on one of the friends from the 2007 novel Not Meeting Mr Right. Peta Tully may have found her Mr Right in architect James but she's really not interested in the whole marriage and kids package. So when she's offered a 12-month contract in Melbourne with the art, sports and indigenous affairs department, the wannabe minister for cultural affairs jumps on a plane and heads to Sydney, leaving James behind. Soon Peta is breaking Melbourne's all-black fashion law and trying out the city's cultural smorgasbord, from art galleries and cool bars to an Aussie Rules football match. But with so many straight - and interested - men on offer, like policeman Mike, will her vow of celibacy remain intact? Peta is such a self-centred, big-chip-on-her-shoulder character that you certainly wouldn't shed a tear if she stepped under a tram. And she also had this bile-inducing habit of eating international cuisine and then astral-travelling/dreaming of getting raunchy in that country. Peta as an international spokeswoman for sharing Aboriginal activism through chick lit - just so Ms Wrong.


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A WAG Abroad - Alison Kervin (2008)

Tracie Martin, one of the Chicklit Club's favourite characters, heads to LA after husband Dean is signed up to coach the LA City Raiders. She is ecstatic as she plans to move in next door to Victoria Beckham and become best friends at last. But she is surprised to find that LA women are not what she expected - they are tanned golden rather than fake-baked orange; prefer wheatgrass shakes to Cristal; and are more likely to be saluting the sun than stumbling in from nightclubs after dawn. With Dean so busy at the club, Tracie hooks up with Jamie, her "knight in shining Lycra". Together they sample LA's sights and meet her long-lost father. From running into some of the cast of America's Most Wanted to trying out for cheerleading sans underwear, this sequel is just as hilarious as the original.


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A Walk in the Park - Jill Mansell (2012)

It's been 18 years since Lara left Bath. She is returning now because her father has died and it seems that even though she never got on with him or her stepmother, she has inherited their house. It's also the perfect time to reconnect with her best friend Evie, who is about to get married. But Lara also has to face her childhood sweetheart Flynn and reveal why she left all those years ago without a word. With several surprises in store, this is another enjoyable story from Mansell. It features a strong supporting cast including rap star Enjay and clothing store owner Harry, whose unlikely friendship provides a funny side story.


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A Wedding in Provence - Ellen Sussman (2014)

Olivia and her fiance, Brody, are in France for their wedding. They are getting married at Olivia's best friend Emily's charming bed-and-breakfast, located in the quiet seaside town of Cassis. Emily has been married to Sebastien for over a decade. He swept her off of her feet and out of New York City to his family's B&B in France. Together they've remodelled and renovated the dilapidated inn to the popular destination it is today. While Emily is excited to be a part of her best friend's nuptials, she's dealing with her own embarrassing marital problems. Nell, Olivia's eldest daughter, meets a sexy stranger on the plane en route to her mother's crazy wedding. She decides to invite him along to the wedding - which is wild even by Nell's standards. Carly is the last to arrive to the wedding, and she's arriving painfully solo. Her workaholic boyfriend, Wes, decided once again work is more important than his relationship. Always the golden child who plays by the rules, Carly decides that this trip will be her first-ever exciting and unpredictable adventure. I liked that the book followed all three women from their own viewpoints and I liked the little family secrets that unraveled throughout the story. A different kind of chick-lit novel that involves a lot of lighthearted fun mixed with a little bit of a dark twist. (AV)


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A Wild Affair - Gemma Townley (2009)

Taking off where The Importance of Being Married left us, Jessica's fake wedding to Anthony Milton is called off when she discovers that she is actually in love with Max Wainwright. Jessica is now in the stages of preparing her wedding to Max when she starts to get cold feet after Max has been having secret meetings, cancelling dates and depositing money into an account for another woman. The last straw for Jessica is when after a cellphone switch, Jessica answers Max's phone to find the "other woman" on the other end. When Jessica realises that things are definitely not what they seem, with the help of her friends Helen, Giles, Ivana and Sean, can she save her marriage to Max or has she dug herself into a hole too deep? This is a fun story that lends us the moral "that everything is not what it seems, and sometimes what you see on the surface is nowhere near the truth". (PP)


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A Winter Flame - Milly Johnson (2012)

Eve is the female version of Scrooge. She hates Christmas due to her own bad experiences and the death of her fiance, Johnathan, on Christmas Day. So no one is more surprised than Eve to be left one half of a Christmas theme park after her elderly aunt passes away. The other half is left to Jacques Glace, a virtual stranger who Eve must now work hand in hand with if she wants the park to succeed. However, since Eve had never heard her aunt mention Jacques, she begins to form suspicions as to how he got written into the will. Did he take advantage of Eve's aunt because she was old and alone? It sure seems that way and Eve is out to prove it all while running the construction of the theme park and facing a serious illness. But are Eve's suspicions as far from the truth as could be? Can Jacques finally get Eve to see what she really needs in life? This is a sweet Christmas story filled with everything you'd expect of a holiday themed novel - including reindeer, elves and of course, Santa. It's a definite must-read for anyone looking to get into the Christmas spirit! (AS)


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A Year Like No Other - Pauline Lawless (2011)

Four women arrive to spend a year in Paris. Irish girl Ashling has always wanted to live in France, and is thrilled when her husband Kieran is chosen to work on a new financial project there. Felicity, a neurotic Englishwoman from an aristocratic background, is devastated when her husband Max is also chosen. She doesn't know how she'll cope. Taylor is a spoilt, prescription drug addict from New York whose husband Brandon has accepted the job too, and while she would rather do anything else, she has no choice but to join him in Paris. And Jazz is a banker from Germany who has been chosen to work alongside the men on the project, but she is reluctant to return to Paris having had her heart broken there years ago. The women join Sophie, whose husband Yves is heading up the project, and friendships are quickly formed between them all. While some characters thrive in their new environment, others struggle, and soon infidelity, drugs and deceit threaten to change all their lives forever. While I did enjoy this book, I felt that the events in it could have been spaced out better. The first four months of their year in Paris takes up almost 300 pages, while the last eight months fly by in less than 100, making the end of the book a bit of a blur. For example, one character announces her pregnancy, and with barely a mention of it again she is suddenly six weeks away from her due date. I also found some aspects of the book a tad unrealistic. The fact that Ashling manages to start writing a novel having never done anything like it before, finish it and get a publishing deal within four months, all while raising two little girls alone while her workaholic husband is never home, and spend copious amounts of time with the other women, seemed a bit improbable to me. The storyline is quite good, with all the characters developing and growing throughout the book, but overall I thought it could have been better. (LO)


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A Year on Ladybug Farm - Donna Ball (2009)

Ever wondered what life would be like if you one day packed up everything you ever knew and took a risk - doing something unknown and strange to you? For three best friends, all in their late 50s, that's exactly what they did. Cici, Bridget and Lindsey have all had their fair share of troubles and triumphs but when Bridget's husband Jeff dies she is left wondering, is this is it? Soon the three friends are travelling and looking at houses in the middle of nowhere when they come across a mansion for sale. On the spur of the moment, they pile their life savings into buying the house. The catch though is this house is a fix-me-upper and the three women are about to discover that making this particular house livable isn't an easy task. This also features an amazing line-up of minor characters from $10 Farley, a busy-body housekeeper and Noah, a delinquent wannabe artist. It's a fun and inspirational story about three retired women - taking the risk of their lifetime. (PP)


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