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A Rancher's Woman (Creed's Crossing Historical)

A Rancher's Woman (Creed's Crossing Historical) - E. Ayers I loved the historical and domestic detail in this novel, and the insight into life on the reservation. The hero was tough and unusual, and I was rooting for him throughout. Great read!

Autumn Masquerade

Autumn Masquerade - Gemma Juliana This story has a great premise. The heroine is psychic - only her boss doesn't know it. Anna conceals her abilities from her colleagues, frightened of what they will think of her. Only trouble is, she's falling for her boss fast...and her boss has a wife. A wife who died, and who is passing on messages. How will Anna resolve this dilemma? The question kept me reading until the end! I also loved how the autumn theme was developed in the book, for example in the colours of the clothes. That was a lovely touch. A lovely, uplifting read!

The Snow Bride

The Snow Bride - Lindsay Townsend I read this novel during a summer heatwave, but the scenes of ice and snow were so vividly described I was easily swept into this medieval love story. Magnus is a magnificent hero - ugly and battle-scarred, he is the heroic beast to the healer Elfrida's beauty.
The scenes between these two lovers were both passionate and witty. They are drawn into a battle with evil, and the danger that lurks in the frozen forests is like a palpable presence.
This is a passionate read, and full of suspense, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Best Man

The Best Man - Kristan Higgins This is the first book I've read by Kristan Higgins, and I'll defnitely be reading more. Loved the humour and loved the hero. One of my favourite romances of 2013.

Three Weddings and a Baby

Three Weddings and a Baby - Fiona Harper Fiona Harper is one of my favourite Mills & Boon authors. This book is one of a series dealing with three different women. I'm sorry only to give it three stars, because I did like it - but not as much as the other two! So what to do? If you've never tried Fiona Harper, I can strongly recommend her, especially Swept Off Her Stilletos - my favourite of hers, and one of the other books in this series. (The third in the series is Invitation to the Boss's Ball.) I love her style of writing - she has some great characters and I like her quiet wit.

In Bloom

In Bloom - Matthew Crow Loved the voice of the main character, Frankie, and his mum is brilliant. A poignant read. I kept thinking about it for a long time after I'd finished it.

The Unknown Ajax

The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer Whenever I want a guaranteed great read, I turn to Georgette Heyer. I've read this novel several times, and it's one of my favourites of hers. The humour is brilliant, the characters are well-drawn (I particularly love the foppish Claud and his venomous-witted brother Vincent), the setting on the Sussex marshes is eery, and the resolution of the plot is both over-the-top and masterly at the same time. I would give it 5 stars if the heroine were a bit less passive (unusual to have such a passive heroine in a Heyer novel. I'm reading Faro's Daughter next, to remind myself how strong her female leads usually are.)
If you've never read any Georgette Heyer, I envy you. You're in for a great treat.

The Last Telegram

The Last Telegram - Liz Trenow The setting for The Last Telegram is a silk mill, given over to the production of parachute silk during WWII. I found this a well-researched and fascinating read. My full review can be found here: http://helenafairfax.com/2013/05/17/parachutes-bombs-and-silk-a-review-of-liz-trenows-the-last-telegram/

The Windflower

The Windflower - Laura London This is a classic romance novel which was first published in the 1980s, and I can't believe it's now out of print. If I tell you the plot it will seem a total cliche - innocent girl gets abducted by pirates, and falls for one of the pirate chiefs - but there's far more to the book than this. The dialogue is funny, the sexual tension remains high throughout, the characters are well-drawn and believable and the era well-researched. It's a romantic, witty and melodramatic epic and a classic page-turner. Laura London is the pseudonym of Tom and Sharon Curtis, and I bet the authors had great fun writing it. I loved it!

Parade's End

Parade's End - Ford Madox Ford, Robie MacAuley This is one of the best books I've ever read. So brilliant, in fact, I find it hard to describe why I LOVE it so much! The author evokes the emotions of his characters with unique brilliance, using a stream of conscious style of writing to describe inner dialogue, so that we feel exactly what each character feels, especially at moments of great stress. Not only this, but the characters themselves are infinitely well-drawn and their actions believable, totally sympathetic and consistent throughout. The descriptions of what it was like to serve in the First World War are also vivid and again (I think) unique in that they describe not just the horror but also the constant organisational effort involved in moving troops about, and sometimes just the sheer boredom of it all.
Finally, the descriptions of the English countryside - a vanishing landscape in the early 20th century - are just perfect. The scene where Christopher Tietjens (the hero) and Valentine Wannop fall in love whilst riding a horse and cart all night through thick fog was so real for me I wished I could actually be in it.
I wish I could write like Ford Madox Ford. That's all I can say.