Book reviews: Turn up the heat with some winter-warming romance

Turn up the heat with some winter-warming romance
Turn up the heat with some winter-warming romance

Love is guaranteed to heat up the cold nights with a red-hot collection of romantic reads from some of the biggest names in popular fiction.

Much-loved cockney Elizabeth Waite dishes up a delicious wartime saga, prolific US author Nora Roberts brings us the second book in her magical Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy, there is the final gritty novel from Rotherham author Catherine King who sadly died this year and a new Georgian scandal from American Elizabeth Hoyt.

An East End Christmas by Elizabeth Waite

Tooting born and bred, Elizabeth Waite is on top form in her 18th novel, an emotion-packed story about an East End girl facing the rigours of wartime London.
Family, friendship and love all take starring roles in this touching tale which brings to life the hopes and hardships of a large and close-knit community struggling to keep house and home together during the tough years of the Second World War.

Carla Schofield has looked after her family since she was a teenager but it has never been any trouble to her because there isn’t anything she would not do for those closest to her. Warm, friendly, and with the ability to make everyone around her laugh, she carries her burden proudly.

As the war years roll by, Carla sees life around her change dramatically. Wartime brings new challenges and a new job for Carla in a sewing factory, and she starts to shine. It also brings with it love and Carla has a chance at real happiness, but not everyone is rooting for her. With Christmas ahead of her, and her sights set firmly on love and the future, will she be too distracted to sense the danger before it’s too late?

Waite’s compelling and warm-hearted story has all the perfect ingredients for true romantics… a delightful heroine, a cast of entertaining characters, a sprinkling of heartache and a liberal helping of love.

Just the job for cold winter nights…
(Sphere, paperback, £5.99)

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts

Welcome back to Nora Roberts’ magical and mysterious Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy which began with Dark Witch and is setting hearts racing and spines tingling in the second thrilling instalment.

Roberts, one of the most successful authors in the world with over 450 million books sold, adds a touch of seductive paranormal magic to this captivating trilogy which puts the focus firmly on love, family and destiny.

Three cousins have inherited a gift that will transform their lives and in Shadow Spell, we find Meara Quinn facing troubled times. Fiercely independent, tough, strong-willed and scarred by a tough childhood, she is convinced that love is for other people.

Meara is certainly not going to fall for Connor O’Dwyer, her best friend’s brother. He may be drop dead gorgeous, with a good heart and a wicked smile, but he has never taken his relationships seriously. Meara is sure it is safer for them to stay friends, share the odd pint and nothing more. And she could be right because loving Connor would be a dangerous business.

The truth is that along with his sister Branna and his American cousin Iona, Connor has inherited a dark gift, passed down through generations. The cousins use their powers for good, but they are being hunted by evil, an evil that is determined to destroy them and everyone they care for. In the enchanted woods of County Mayo in Ireland, Meara must fight the one thing she fears the most… her own heart.

Moving between past and present, Roberts weaves an exciting and intriguing story of desire, danger and dark secrets that will go straight to the hearts of her army of fans.
Romance with a frisson of magical mystery…
(Piatkus, paperback, £7.99)

A Daughter’s Love by Catherine King

Duty, dreams and despair are the driving forces in a moving and hard-hitting saga from Yorkshire author Catherine King who died earlier this year.

King’s final novel – full of her trademark humanity – features a young woman facing both joy and despair in south Yorkshire in the last decades of the 19th century.

Nell Goodman is a good daughter. Her job in the local brewery is the only thing keeping her and her mother afloat. But with her mother becoming increasingly eccentric and requiring more and more attention, Nell is starting to feel the burden of her responsibilities.

When Nell seeks help from George Wilmot, the brewery’s owner, he offers her a job as a live-in servant at Wilmot Grange. And when she begins to grow closer to Devlin, George’s son, it looks like Nell’s luck is finally changing. But an unwelcome discovery and a tragedy mean that things suddenly change.

Devlin grows distant from Nell, her mother’s behaviour is becoming worse, and there are secrets around every corner. Somehow Nell is at the heart of all the drama and yet she has no idea of the part she is supposed to play…

King certainly plays on our emotions in this turbulent tale which is guaranteed to warm hearts and lift the spirits as winter draws in.
(Sphere, paperback, £6.99)

Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt

Bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt dishes up another thrilling tale of danger, desire and dark passions in her sizzling Georgian Maiden Lane series.

Prim, proper and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is a true businesswoman when it comes to protecting her brother the Duke of Montgomery’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself going head-to-head with an infuriating scoundrel who cannot be controlled.

Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he is already dealing with self-centred sopranos and temperamental tenors. He is not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around… no matter how enticing she is.

In spite of her lack of theatrical experience, and her fiery clashes with Asa, Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into an outstanding success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There is no denying the smouldering fire between them… and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.

Fast paced and brimming with scorching scandals, contrary lovers and powerful passions, Sweetest Scoundrel is a tasty treat for all true romantics.
(Piatkus, paperback, £8.99)