Secrets at City Hospital
by Kate Allan
Published by Linford Romance
Originally published by DC Thomson, My Weekly Pocket Novel No. 1774.
Spilt coffee, broken down car, laddered tights! Rachel's first day on duty as doctor in the busy maternity department at City Hospital couldn't have started any worse. Thrown in at the deep end and with an emergency to deal with, the last thing she needs is the spark of attraction she feels for capable male midwife Grant. She'd given up on relationships but she can't help falling for Grant even though it becomes clear he's hiding something - a second life?
An acquisition from the Festival of Romance. I liked the role reversal of the doctor heroine and midwife hero, but after the big reveal about the hero's background, I found myself stressing far too much about who was looking after the workings of his family business. Other people probably wouldn't have my issues and would just enjoy the ride.
The Blood of the Hentzaus
by El Staplador
Anthony Hope fanfic published on An Archive of Our Own
1891. It is sixteen years since Mr Rassendyll first set foot in Ruritania, and thirteen since the events described in Rupert of Hentzau. It is twelve years since Queen Flavia was crowned monarch of Ruritania in her own right. Elisabeth, beloved only daughter of Fritz and Helga von Tarlenheim, is growing up in a peaceful and prosperous country. In Ruritania, however, one can only be sure of two things: that the Hentzaus fear nothing, and that, if there is a plot, the Tarlenheims are in it up to the neck.
It's not often I review fanfiction, although this falls more into literary pastiche in some respects, but I've watched the story grow through various rounds of picowrimo and finally read the completed story as a download to my eReader, so there you go. A fine romp indeed with cross-dressing, high adventure and dark doings by the female characters (and sometimes the men, although they tend to go in for disguise rather than cross-dressing). Now to (re-)read the whole of the original saga from which this is derived and hope it lives up to El Staplador's sequel...
by Chrissy Munder, Clare London, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Lou Harper
Published by PinkSquirrelPress
Baby, it's cold outside! Mulled wine. Butterscotch kisses. Hideous sweaters. Candy at the beach, or a trip to a sex shop in Amsterdam. And the man of your dreams, wrapped around you... Enjoy a quintet of heart-warming tales of men loving men by Clare London, Chrissy Munder, Lou Harper, JL Merrow and Josephine Myles. One thing's for sure—it's going to be a red-hot Christmas!
Five variously cute and spicy stories, with bags of charm and a large heap of humour. One to reread for definite.
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5
by Stella Rimington
Published by Hutchinson
Stella Rimington writes: 'Nothing in my life ever turned out as expected. Having originally chosen a safe career, I ended up as leader of one of the country's intelligence agencies and a target for terrorists. Having conventionally married my schoolfriend, I ended up a single parent. Having begun work in the days when women's careers were not taken seriously, I ended up advising ministers and Prime Ministers. I have experienced all this from an unusual position, inside the secret state. 'In the 1980s I was seen by some as Mrs Thatcher's stooge, the leader of an arm of the secret state which was helping her to beat the miners' strike and destroy the NUM. I was portrayed as the investigator of CND and even as the one who had ordered the murder of an old lady peace campaigner. In 1992, when I first emerged into the public gaze as Director-General of MI5, I became a female James Bond, 'Housewife Superspy', 'Mother of Two Gets Tough with Terrorists'. And finally, with the writing of this book, I have become, to some, 'Rickless Rimington', careless of our national security. I don't recognize myself in any of those roles. 'The unexpected course of my life has involved me closely with some of the significant issues of the late 20th century: the rise of terrorism, the end of the Cold War and some of the big social questions: women's place in society - how can work and family be combined? Civil liberties - how far should the state intrude on the citizens' privacy to ensure their safety? Open government - how much should the public know about the secret state and how should it be controlled? These are some of the issues that concerned me throughout my career in MI5, and which I discuss in this book.'
Read for both entertainment and research purposes, this proves that the truth is often stranger than either out-and-out fiction or any supposed leaks in the press. Full of opinions and anecdotes this is well worth getting hold of (although I suspect the library wil want me to return the copy I borrowed fairly soon).
Miss McGuire is Missing
by Eileen Robertson
Published by ROBERT HALE LTD
When Ben Hammond reluctantly embarks on a pensioners' coach tour, he is surprised to find that he has met one of his fellow passengers before. It is Miss Maguire, his former maths teacher...and she is acting rather strangely. On the journey home, Ben realises that Miss McGuire is no longer on the bus, but when he is told she stopped to visit her sister, alarm bells start ringing. Miss McGuire has no sister. Ben is compelled to investigate and, when he does, he unearths all manner of dark secrets. Suspicious characters lurk in the gloom of the Full Moon Inn and, at a nursing home not far from the coach's route, elderly people are disappearing...
A highly entertaining premise, although I can't help feeling it would have worked better as a short story or possibly a magazine serial.
by M. R. Hall
Published by Pan Books
Coroner Jenny Cooper investigates ...When those in power hide the truth, she risks everything to reveal it. When lawyer, Jenny Cooper, is appointed Severn Vale District Coroner, she's hoping for a quiet life and space to recover from a traumatic divorce, but the office she inherits from the recently deceased Harry Marshall contains neglected files hiding dark secrets and a trail of buried evidence. Could the tragic death in custody of a young boy be linked to the apparent suicide of a teenage prostitute and the fate of Marshall himself? Jenny's curiosity is aroused. Why was Marshall behaving so strangely before he died? What injustice was he planning to uncover? And what caused his abrupt change of heart? In the face of powerful and sinister forces determined to keep both the truth hidden and the troublesome coroner in check, Jenny embarks on a lonely and dangerous one-woman crusade for justice which threatens not only her career but also her sanity.
This had a definite feel of a first novel and the first in a series. On the other hand it had a flawed female protagonist who didn't fall into a lot of the cliches I've been complaining about recently, not to mention a complex relationship with her female colleague. Yes, they spend a lot of time talking about a man, but as he's our protagonist's predecessor in her new job, I think we can forgive that. Another series I'm going to continue following.
Charley's War: Hitler's Youth vol. 8
by Pat Mills(author), Joe Colquhoun(artist)
Published by Titan Books Ltd
In this explosive new volume of never-before-collected comic strip, Charley comes face to face with a young corporal who will eventually change the face of the world as leader of the Nazi party: Adolf Hitler. The eighth action-packed volume of Charley's War is rich in the detailed minutiae of the terror-punctuated existence of a Tommy.
A book of two halves. Although I enjoyed the first part dealing with the period around Christmas 1917 from both the British and German points of view (and including details of Hitler and his comrades, extrapolated from various historical accounts), I much prefered the second half which centred around Charley's brother Wilf who was an observer in the Royal Flying Corps, hoping one day to become a pilot. A very working class view of life in the RFC to contrast with most of the stories out there.