Tag Archives: romance

Books Set in Bookshops

Reading Recs

I was talking to my daughter over lunch the other day about the books we’re reading.

She belongs to a book group that reads “serious” fiction and, coming up on their list is Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus. It’s a book much loved by Sophie Weston and I have taken advantage of Amazon’s “download a sample” button to get a feel for the voice, the story.

Reading cozy crime

My daughter and I talked about a crime series that I’ve read (not cozy) Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffiths series. Annoyingly, it appears to have stopped, leaving a lot of questions unanswered.

She downloaded the first book but she’s not sure. She didn’t quite take to the main character and while I read very fast on kindle, she listens on audio (she has three children and doesn’t have time to sit down with a book) which gives the listener a surprisingly different experience.

I knew the series was set in Wales but she was getting the accents, which can make listening hard work.

Books set in bookshops

Then, because I enjoy cozy crime, she mentioned a book by Helen Cox, called A Body in the Bookshop that she thought I might like and we started talking about how many books are set in and around bookshops.

Amy suggested I try the Pultizer prize winner, The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, which was on her book group list. Time for another sample because there is something inherently appealing about a book set in a bookshop.

I fell in love with Helen Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Road a lifetime ago – and Anthony Hopkins in the film, playing the man with whom she had a long and profitable correspondence.

Anne Bancroft fell in the love with the book, too, and her husband, Mel Brookes, bought the film rights so that she could play Helen.

Romances set in bookshops

There are many romances set in bookshops. Not in quite the same number as the little cafes and cakeshops, but a quick search brought up The Village Green Bookshop by Rachael Lucas, which felt as if it was in the same genre. All of them are much deeper and with emotional depths not hinted at by the covers.

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser was one where I downloaded a sample and then clicked “buy” and didn’t regret it.

A heroine to root for and a darkly grumpy man who is not exactly a hero, but like the heroine I rather fell for him.

I found The Bookshop on the Corner, part of a series by Jenny Colgan and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. The blurbs were fun and by this time my “download sample” digit was working overtime.

Bookshops and bloody murder

And it’s not all romance. Bookshops, it seems, are the perfect places to commit bloody murder. All those hidden places behind the stacks. I’m thinking here about my local indie bookshop in East Grinstead. This photograph dates from 1864.

This is it today, with the tables set up outside for the chess club. Built in the sixteenth century it’s still all oak beams and creaky floors with any number of places to conceal a body. That reminds me of The Bookshop Murder by Merryn Allingham, set in Exeter and with added ghost, which I’ve already read.

Quirky and literary

There are quirky ones, like Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookshop, The Library of Shadows and The Storied Life of A J Fikry which has a supernatural element, adding another layer to the mystery. I’m looking forward to reading it.

And finally there are the more literary offerings including Booker Prize nominee, The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (I’ve seen the movie), and the historical Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

And that’s where I planned to stop browsing for titles because my kindle was loaded with samples and, who knows, I might want to read them all.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve done that, howling with frustration when I can’t read on as I scramble  to click buy.

Lost for words

But then, fellow Liberta hivie, Sophie Weston suggested I might like Lost for Words by Stephanie Rutland. I did indeed lose the rest of my weekend (after major post decorating cleaning) and a fair bit of Monday morning. No more housework, no writing…

I was totally drawn in by Loveday, the spiky young woman at the centre of this story, by the mystery of her backstory, by the characters who surround her in the past and in the present. And by the glorious Archie (whose tall tales – probably true – remind me of my late husband) who owns Lost for Words, a bookshop in York.

At some point, as Loveday’s backstory unfolds, tears began to fall. I grabbed a tissue and carried on.

Three tissues later I had to go and find the box because the tears didn’t stop until I reached the end, surrounded by a pile of wet and snotty tissues but with that blissful glow of happiness that comes when you’ve read a wonderful book with a great ending.

It doesn’t happen that often – the last time was when I read Spirited by Julie Cohen – but those are the books that stay with you, that you tell your friends to read, that you never forget.

What books set in bookshops have you loved? Pile in with the recs!


Author Liz FieldingLiz

It all began with a garden…

January sees the publication of my 70th book for Harlequin Mills and Boon and in the darkest days of winter, it offers the scents and colour of warm early summer days.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss

Click Cover to buy the book

The garden…

When a book is written and has been through the publication process, I often struggle to remember what inspired the original idea. How it got from a blank screen to the physical book that I’m holding in my hand.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss was like that.

blackberries

https://pixabay.com/users/pixel2013-2364555/

I do know that I was thinking about an earlier book in which the garden had featured heavily and which I’d loved writing.

That one had started with blackberries hanging over a garden wall. Continue reading

Cinderella and the Birth of a Book…

December sees the publication of my latest Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon. It is also the time of festive fun and pantomimes, so the Cinderella title is very apt, I think.

Cinderella and the Scarred Viscount

CLICK COVER TO BUY

Once upon a time….

Philip James de Loutherbourg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The story is set in Regency England but its origins are much further afield. Spain in fact. The whole thing starts with the Spanish Armada!

Many Spanish ships from that ill-fated expedition came to grief around the British Isles, and the are many stories of survivors “leaving their mark” on the local population in the form of dark eyed, dark haired children. My heroine, Carenza, has this dark colouring, inherited from her mother.

Of course, she isn’t the first literary character to have such a heritage. The one that springs first to my mind is Jimmy Perez in Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series (not that the lovely Dougie Henshall, who plays Perez in the TV series is dark haired OR dark-eyed).

Then there are The Westray Dons

Continue reading

Series Covers : but what says Series Covers to readers?

  1. Cover Design and the Self-published Author
  2. An International Cover Story
  3. Designer Brief from Self-Publisher
  4. The mental image of a character : the influence of covers
  5. Female images : the message on romance covers?
  6. Designer Stubble: the Bane of Regency Book Covers
  7. Making Covers Work for You, the Author
  8. Covers: should images be historically accurate?
  9. A Close Shave (or the gentle art of Pogonomotomy)
  10. Series Covers : but what says Series Covers to readers?

Earlier this week, our own Liz Fielding published a blog about her series covers over 30 years of her writing career. It was fascinating. And it made me think about brands and series.

What makes Series Covers?

A Poor Relation by Joanna Maitland coverCover of A Baby Of Her Own by Kate HardyHarlequin Mills & Boon have been producing different series for decades. Readers may be fans of one or more of these series. Perhaps they love Medicals (left), or Historicals (right).

Readers expect to be able to identify their particular series covers the moment they look at the shelves in the bookshop. It used to be easy because of the colour coding: for example, Medicals were the jade green shown above; Historicals were Dairy Milk Purple. Modern and Romance (of which more below) also had the swoosh against blue (for Modern) and orange (for Romance).

And within their favourite series, readers want to be able to pick out the authors whose books they love. Preferably without having to peer at tiny or barely legible print. The two cover images above don’t get very high marks on that front. It would have been easy to remedy, though.

To give the paying customers what they want.
Simples, no? Isn’t that what branding is about? Well… Continue reading

Yikes, I’ve won the Libertà Award : Guest Blog by Kate Hardy

  1. The Writer’s Dog : Guest Blog by Anne Gracie
  2. Finding Your Hero: Guest Blog by Louise Allen
  3. The Reader Writer Connection: Guest Blog by Sue Moorcroft
  4. The Amateur Sleuth: Guest Blog by Lesley Cookman
  5. Confessions of a Country House Tour Guide: Guest Blog by Nicola Cornick
  6. Romantic Series: Guest Blog by Sarah Mallory
  7. Jane Austen: Emotion in the Shrubbery
  8. Do you speak Oz? Guest Post by Janet Gover
  9. YA Heroes: Deliciously Bad? Guest Post by Pia Fenton
  10. Romantic Comedy — Guest Post by Alison May
  11. New Heyer Stories? Guest Post by Jennifer Kloester
  12. Handcuffed? Research? Guest Post by Patricia McLinn
  13. Fantasy research: sweat the small vampires? Kate Johnson guests
  14. Katie Fforde & Research: Guest Blog
  15. Sugar tongs at dawn? Elizabeth Rolls guests
  16. Gritty Saga Research: Jean Fullerton guests
  17. Elizabethan York without Dung? Pamela Hartshorne guests
  18. Love among the Thrillers: Alison Morton guests
  19. My Hairy-Chested Hero : Guest Blog by Christina Hollis
  20. Veronica the crafty companion : Guest blog by Judy Astley
  21. Writer’s Pet? Sort of — Guest blog by Catherine Jones
  22. Puppy Love : Guest Blog by Jane Godman
  23. Am I surviving the writer’s survival kit?
  24. Jenni Fletcher guest blog : the writer in lockdown
  25. Before The Crown there was a love story
  26. Yikes, I’ve won the Libertà Award : Guest Blog by Kate Hardy

As a follow-up to last weekend’s blog on the virtual ceremony for the RNA Awards 2021, this week we’re delighted to be able to welcome Kate Hardy, the winner of the LIbertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award 2021 for A Will, A Wish and A Wedding.

Kate is an old mate of the Libertà hive. She was one of the very kind authors who welcomed the then unpublished newbie, Joanna Maitland, to her very first RNA meeting. That was well over 20 years ago and Kate says she doesn’t remember. But Joanna does and is still grateful.

Kate Hardy's spaniels, Archie and DexterKate comes—be warned—with hairy hangers-on. So this is partly a writer’s pet blog too. It’s about time we did another of those, don’t you think?

Kate’s hangers-on, Archie (the big one) and Dexter, rejoice in the title of Edit-paw-ial Assistants.
More from them later.

Keep reading, as Kate tells us about how she became a published author and how she came to write the lovely butterfly-filled book that won our award.

Kate Hardy writes…

I’m thrilled to be here, as the winner of the 2021 Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel Award. It’s a glorious collision of numbers: for my 90th M&B, in my 20th year of being a M&B author and my 25th year of being a member of the RNA. And it’s also the third time I’ve won the award. As the photo below shows, I really wasn’t expecting it — and I’m so delighted!

Kate Hardy is announced as the winner of the Libertà Books Award 2021

Continue reading

Christmas Reunion in Paris—a writer’s anxiety and joy

The beginning…

romantic novelist busy editingWriting Christmas Reunion in Paris was a curious mixture of fun and anxiety. Maybe it’s always like that. There are always tough moments when you can’t see an ending, when you sit and stare at the screen and the words won’t come. But, mostly, like childbirth, you forget the agonies when all is delivered safely.

It all started when my editor asked if I’d like to write the first book in a three book mini-series – Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel. My fellow authors, Kandy Shepherd (in Australia) and Susan Meier (in the US) were old friends. I was delighted to team up with them to work on the books that were about three siblings, each with their own painful past.

The collaboration…

writer at laptop smilingEmails flew back and forth as we worked on settings. The boarding school that James (my character) and his twin Sally had attended. The Harrington Park Hotel. The backstory of their parents, a stepfather, the moments that fractured a once happy family.

That was the fun part!

Paris…we’ve done that…

Paris for Christmas reunion

My story takes place in Paris, in the run up to the holiday, so I grabbed the chance to go and do a little research which I wrote about a few months ago.

More fun.

It couldn’t last…

Continue reading

Missing the Beach? Try Little Piddling’s Beach Hut Surprise

writers working together, with wineBack in 2019, the Libertà Hive met over supper and the odd glass 😉 to plot the future. We decided to write a Libertà Beach Reads anthology for summer 2020.

We didn’t know back then, of course, that beaches might be off-limits for a bit. But there’s no ban on beach reads. Writing them—and reading them, too—can be great fun.

As the evening wore on, amid much laughter and scraping of plates, we discovered the joys of Little Piddling, its history, its inhabitants… We also discovered some of the skeletons in our seaside town’s metaphorical cupboards (aka beach huts).

Beach Read challenge

We challenged each other to write the sort of stories we’d never attempted before. And we’ve all really enjoyed meeting those challenges. We even roped in two long-term friends of the hive, authors Louise Allen and Lesley Cookman.

The result?fanfare of trumpets

Fanfare of trumpets please for the Libertà Books anthology: Continue reading

Oh look! It’s Christmas… Time to panic?

No! Don’t panic!

Covers ears at the deafening groans.

There are a couple of months to go before we need to start to panic, but the groans are undoubtedly justified.

The children have only just gone back to school, the supermarket aisles are full of the momentary distraction of fake pumpkins and Halloween costumes, but they are already piling up the Christmas chocolate. (I took these two photographs just this morning.) And greetings cards are on sale for those organised enough to get them written before they get swept up in the season.

But forget the stress…

Continue reading

PGW and the Romantic Novelist

Just over a week ago I asked an expert why     P G Wodehouse seemed so out of sympathy with the romantic novelist. Did he know one?

romantic novelist Barbara Cartland

This is where I should probably admit that I have a sneaky image of a young Barbara Cartland pursuing him. Well, PGW was a big name when he visited London in the 20s and she was a newbie author and playwright.

If they did meet,  I would put good money on him evaporating sharpish. He had perfected the technique. His family called it the Wodehouse Glide. But nobody I’ve come across has offered any evidence of Wodehouse encountering a romantic novelist in real life.

The expert said, quite rightly, that PGW was pretty brisk on the subject of all sorts of pretentiousness. And, anyway, PGW handed out as many knocks to male poets as he did to female novelists. Continue reading

Veronica the crafty companion : Guest blog by Judy Astley

  1. The Writer’s Dog : Guest Blog by Anne Gracie
  2. Finding Your Hero: Guest Blog by Louise Allen
  3. The Reader Writer Connection: Guest Blog by Sue Moorcroft
  4. The Amateur Sleuth: Guest Blog by Lesley Cookman
  5. Confessions of a Country House Tour Guide: Guest Blog by Nicola Cornick
  6. Romantic Series: Guest Blog by Sarah Mallory
  7. Jane Austen: Emotion in the Shrubbery
  8. Do you speak Oz? Guest Post by Janet Gover
  9. YA Heroes: Deliciously Bad? Guest Post by Pia Fenton
  10. Romantic Comedy — Guest Post by Alison May
  11. New Heyer Stories? Guest Post by Jennifer Kloester
  12. Handcuffed? Research? Guest Post by Patricia McLinn
  13. Fantasy research: sweat the small vampires? Kate Johnson guests
  14. Katie Fforde & Research: Guest Blog
  15. Sugar tongs at dawn? Elizabeth Rolls guests
  16. Gritty Saga Research: Jean Fullerton guests
  17. Elizabethan York without Dung? Pamela Hartshorne guests
  18. Love among the Thrillers: Alison Morton guests
  19. My Hairy-Chested Hero : Guest Blog by Christina Hollis
  20. Veronica the crafty companion : Guest blog by Judy Astley
  21. Writer’s Pet? Sort of — Guest blog by Catherine Jones
  22. Puppy Love : Guest Blog by Jane Godman
  23. Am I surviving the writer’s survival kit?
  24. Jenni Fletcher guest blog : the writer in lockdown
  25. Before The Crown there was a love story
  26. Yikes, I’ve won the Libertà Award : Guest Blog by Kate Hardy

Judy Astley authorThis month, we welcome another Libertà friend and much-loved author, Judy Astley, to the blog.

Like so many of our guest bloggers, Judy has a fascinating portfolio of skills. She spent several years as a dressmaker, painter and illustrator before writing her first book, Just For The Summer. She’s since written nineteen more. Phew! And now, after a two-year rest to refill the creative well, she’s working on book number twenty-one. Her many fans will be delighted.

Like many other writers, Judy has a furry friend — Veronica. And Veronica sounds to be quite a character, as Judy explains…

Veronica has her own ideas about what to wear…

Veronica the crafty Burmese cat (+ friend)

 

My cat’s collar was starting to look like a charm bracelet. From it dangled her metal tag with her address and phone number, a magnetic gadget that opened her catflap and then this new addition: a soft blue disc that held a new device — a tracker.

“I’m sorry, but you’ve brought it on yourself,” I told Veronica (a blue Burmese, sweet but crafty).

She gave me a look that clearly said, “You expect me to go out in this?” Continue reading