In a previous life I was surely a squirrel and the hoarding instinct has stayed with me. I store up treats, savour the delight of having a treasure to enjoy and make the thrill even greater by waiting for The Right Time to take out a gem.
The latest stash was three historical novels. I list them in the order they came to me.
In September 2014, I met up with a group of Americans doing the Wellington Tour, when they stayed in Reading to visit Stratfield Saye and [as a sideline] Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey. Victoria and Kristine, who were leading the group, kindly invited me to join them for dinner. It was humbling to hear all their enthusiasm for the sights they had seen. One of the group was award winning author Diane Gaston, whose books I read avidly. What a thrill when she gave me a copy of her latest novel, A Lady of Notoriety.
Diane tackles difficult subjects with such skill she turns potential tragedies into breathlessly interesting drama. It seemed that the hero was facing a horrific outcome, but after a white knuckle ride, things turned out well. Thankfully. You can see I was hooked on the story.
And soon after this I was a lucky winner in Joanna Bourne’s competition on the Word Wenches Blog. My prize was a copy of the latest novel in her award winning espionage series, Rogue Spy, set against the background of Napoleonic France.
The amazing thing for me is Joanna Bourne’s ability to draw you into the scene, wherever it is set, throughout the novel. She has a very economical way with words but each place was so vivid, I felt I was really there; whether in the church, the London alleyways, the dusty old bookshop or the Spy headquarters. And aside from unravelling the complexities of plot, and ever-deepening layers of Pax’s character, there is the wonderful portrait of Violet and Lily, the two dames, who dominate every scene in which they appear.
By some chance I’d missed the publication of Nicola Cornick’s third Highland Lairds story, Claimed by the Laird, until earlier this year.
Nicola is a USA Today Bestselling Author and I always enjoy her historical novels. So I was delighted to add another gem to my hoard. Nicola does wonderful descriptions of Highland Scotland and its way of life. The story transported me to the Highlands with a cast of characters and a wild setting on the western coast, all of which was absolutely real for me.
As someone said: When you read a good story, you want to get to the end and you don’t want to get to the end.
And during the summer it was at last The Right Time to enjoy my hoard.
Now you know why I’ve been quiet for a while.