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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Summary: Jane has the ideal life: loving husband, beautiful house and delightful son. Her fashionable dinner parties are perfect - and so are her secret assignations with her neighbour's husband, Jay.
From Tracey and her ‘New Money’ lottery winnings to eccentric artist Philip and his pornographic portraits, the residents of North London's most privileged enclave The Square are a very satisfied bunch.
To raise money for communal fencing, the Residents' Association decides to hold a Talent Show, produced by Jane and hosted by TV celebrity Alan Makin. But when the show lurches into public disarray, reputations are shattered and everyone has to learn to live with a far less glossy reality than before.
I read this on vacation and it was the perfect diversion even though it felt a bit dreary with all the cheating going on. In The Square, this closed residential enclave of privilege, the marital cheating take on complicated geometric shapes while the frienemy situations are overlapping venn diagrams making the whole a dizzying disaster of a group. I can't even begin to go into detail about it all but I will say that while I didn't like most of these people, I did want to know how things turned out for them. Most of all I was glad that Jane was losing her side screw to a house sell up & Tracey who thinks she's home free, isn't, if that last look in at Alan is any indication. Those were both satisfying ends. I liked Roberta, the piano instructor and also her best little student, George (Jane & Patrick's son). The other children in The Square weren't as well rendered as George but I didn't mind. This was definitely a good look in at a group of people who don't genuinely like one another but who go to great lengths to pretend they're friends, pretend they're more successful & together than others and are expert at telling themselves they're superior to some while seeking approval from others they perceive best them. It was distressing to me the financial & personal risk they put themselves through for a facade for people they didn't much like. It made me uncomfortable, felt real and I felt that was worthy. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a weekend, vacation read or loves women's fiction & brit chick lit.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Expected publication: August 1st 2015 by Legend Press
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My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Summary: Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother's old school friend, a duke--with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she's heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marcus, her brother's new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.
When Marcus accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men--one she's never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marcus is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda's heart is far from all that's at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
This was a sweet & delightful read. Miranda was plucky, sensitive and quite resourceful and didn't come across as annoying. The espionage angle probably was my favorite thread of the story and I don't think that's a bad thing. I was positive Miranda was going to get her Happily Ever After no matter how fraught her marriageable status seemed so I invested myself in the Spy vs. Spy stuff instead. I will say that it all tied in very well together and that made this a page turner that I found easy to pick up and had it calling me back when I set it down. This historical wasn't as immersive as it could have been as some things in tone and character thought process & speech was modern but I find that can be a common enough thing so it didn't ruin the read for me. I would suggest that if you're one who gets thrown out of the story & can't go on when such things crop up, tread carefully here. I'd read another by the author and if this book turns out to be a first in a series, I'd read on.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Expected publication: September 8th 2015 by Bethany House
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