Children of Winter
by Berlie Doherty
Published by Catnip Publishing Ltd
Set in 1666, it tells the story of three children from the plague village of Eyam in Derbyshire and their bid for survival by holding out over winter in a remote barn. A story frame around the main narrative is set in the present day. A family walking across the moors are caught out by a turn in the weather, the three children shelter in the barn, where the past is played out. Is it a game? Do they slip back into the past? Is it a dream? The skillful weaving of past and present leaves the reader with unanswered questions and their own ideas about what really happened in the old cruck barn.
While not as compelling as the author's Deep Secret, this one makes very good use of the timeslip structure. Some great historical details of everyday life, and the children's reactions to their situation come across very well.
Trust Me, I'm a Vet
by Cathy Woodman
Published by ARROW BOOKS LTD
ISBN 13: 9780099543565
City vet Maz Harwood has learned the hard way that love and work don't mix. So when an old friend asks her to look after her Devonshire practice for six months, Maz decides running away from London is her only option. But country life is trickier than she feared. It's bad enough she has to deal with comatose hamsters, bowel-troubled dogs and precious prize-winning cats, without having to contend with the disgruntled competition and a stubborn neighbour who's threatening to sue over an overzealous fur cut! Worse still, she discovers Otter House Veterinary Clinic needs mending as much as her broken heart. Thank goodness there's an unsuitable distraction, even if he is the competition's deliciously dashing son...
There was a lot to like about this book, although the romance plot didn't grab me. Maz is an engaging character, even if sometimes too scatty to be entirely believable. But then this is RomCom Land and they do things a little differently there. I'll probably keep reading the series if only to see how all the loose ends get resolved.
Once Upon a Winter's Eve
by Tessa Dare
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.
Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.
Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.
She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.
I love bookish heroines in historical fiction, and historical heroines needing second chances, so I decided not to worry unduly about the premise for the series (which I assume was explained in the first book anyway). Violet is good at languages, and so when a man staggers into the ball speaking what turns out to be Breton, Violet is the obvious choice to translate the gist of his words. Of course she's also the first one to realise that there's a lot more going on with this captured enemy sailor, who might be someone else entirely.
This was a fun read, but I'm not convinced I want to search out the full length novels in the series right now.
by Tam Ames
Published by Torquere Press Inc
ISBN not available
Eric hates the cold weather and his broken down car, which means venturing out on foot into the sub-zero temperatures. Navigating the icy sidewalks, he runs into Omar, literally. An impromptu hot coffee on the cold day finds that tattooed and pierced Eric, and government IT guy Omar might have more in common than they expected. When Omar is called away, before he can get the guy's number, Eric believes it may only have been a pleasant winterlude to temporarily distract him from the cold, or is there a possibility his winter will get a lot warmer?
A fun and quirky short in which nothing much happens outside the romance plot, but I definitely want to read more by this author.
I'm still behind on writing up my read list, but it's looking more workable now.