These are a few of the wonderful books I’ve read over the past few months.
Reading Lady Chatterley in Africa
What Amazon says
Recently widowed, Mary Merskine heads out to a mountain lodge in Africa hoping to come to terms with the death of her husband, George. However, there are deeper issues surrounding his death that don’t make this easy and her search is hampered by ex-pats and the local staff of the lodge who bring a new set of challenges to her life. Amongst all these problems that arise, she must find some way of dealing with George’s death or else face returning to England and a life of misery.
The book starts with Mary Merskine, an older lady from the United Kingdom, travelling by car to a guest lodge in Africa. The driver, a young man named Caiaphas, stops on the way to the lodge to purchase supplies and Mary is accosted by a scary-looking beggar who gives her a fright. The beggar asks for money and Mary does not give him any. On the driver’s return, he gives the beggar a few coins which are received with thanks. This transaction makes Mary feel uncharitable and serves as the reader’s first insight into the nature of the local people who are generous towards each other and care for their own.
The reader learns that Mary has come to the lodge to manage it while the owner, a good friend from her younger days, is away caring for his critically ill mother. It is revealed that Mary’s husband had recently died, following a long degenerative illness. She has been abused and rejected by her neighbours after his death, but the reason for this negative behaviour is not revealed until near the end of the book. Mary is also estranged from her only son.
Life at the lodge is significantly different to life in a small town in the United Kingdom. There are some wonderful things: the surroundings are beautiful and peaceful although untamed and very natural, and the food, prepared by Solomon the cook, is delicious. Mary is waited on hand and foot by the lodge staff, including a young woman called Esther, who has a young baby. On the negative side, Mary’s closest female neighbour, Joyce, is a selfish, competitive woman, who treats her staff badly and is having an affair with an overbearing boar of a man named Pieter. Mary is introduced to the decadent and immoral lifestyle of Joyce and her compatriots, and it is a shock to her, especially as she is still overwhelmed with grief and loss.
Mary turns to a book, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, for distraction and solace. The book has a strange effect on her, and she starts acting out some of the odd experiences of the main character. These peculiar actions come to the attention of Caiaphas, who becomes attracted to Mary in a way that almost borders on obsession.
Mary needs to learn to deal with the staff at the lodge, her unpleasant neighbour and her acquaintances, as well as manage her on-going grief and fend off sexual advances by Pieter.
The character of Mary was interesting as she professed to love her husband and find it difficult to face life without him, but I didn’t get the impression he’d ever swept her off her feet or that it had been an intensely sexual relationship. In fact, I got the impression that her relationship had been quite staid and suppressive. She carried a lot of guilt and some of that may have been due to the fact that she was not passionate about her deceased husband as well as the circumstances surrounding his illness and death. As time passes and Mary grows from her new experiences at the lodge, she seems able to loosen the bonds of her narrow view on life a little. Mary gets to a point where she is able to appreciate difference and new experiences and look at letting go of what has passed and embracing new opportunities offered in her future.
This book is beautifully written and contains many delightful descriptions, a few of which are as follows:
“She had expected the heat, but not like this. The morning sun, unhindered by clouds, coiled its tentacles around her naked forearms in a clammy embrace, welcoming her to this new, strange clime.”
“Time was a lazy think in their world. It did not adhere to a strict timetable of seconds, minutes and hours. Time would take as long or as short as it needed in their world for things to happen and they all accepted this with ease.”
“A steady rumble of sound leaked through the window of the guest bedroom, a nasal grown from one of the sleeping occupants of the room. Outside the window a dream giggled nervously, wondering whether to risk entering, worried that the snores would wake someone and catch it before it could settle in a sub conscious.”
Purchase Reading Lady Chatterley in Africa
Tidal Falls by Jacquie Biggar
What Amazon says
What readers are saying:
Great book! This is a suspense/romance that will keep you on your toes as well as touch your heart!
Jacquie Biggar has a wonderful gift for writing hot and extremely likable military men!
by Jacqui Nelson
A woman and child in danger teaches Nick life is worth living.
ALL SHE WANTS IS TO LIVE HER LIFE
Abused, Sara Sheridan finds the courage to escape her husband. She has no interest in getting mixed up with another alpha, attitude-laden male. Especially with her ex hot on her trail.
ALL HE CRAVES IS PEACE AND QUIET
Marine, Nick Kelley prefers solitude, away from the memories haunting him. So what is it about his reticent neighbor and her child that tempts him to give it up?
UNTIL LOVE GETS IN THE WAY
Nick and Sara’s growing attraction leads them down a dangerous path as her ex-husband closes in on the new life she’s made for her daughter and threatens to blow it all apart.
Tidal Falls is a fast paced and relatively short read in the typical Romance/Action style of talented author, Jacquie Bigger.
Sara Sheridon and her daughter are on the run from Sara’s abusive husband, Tom. Before escaping from her prison cum home, Sara manages to break into Tom’s office and computer and download some very interesting files. Files that associate him with some very bad but powerful people. Sara’s simple action, intended to give her some leverage over her husband in order to gain sole custody of her young daughter, backfires when she realises that the information on the memory stick would send Tom to jail and also potentially endanger his life. Sara has landed in the small town of Tidal Falls and has made some very good friends, but she lives her life in fear of discovery.
Nick Kelly has come to Tidal Falls in an effort to relax and unlock the traumatic secrets his mind has blocked out. Break through memories of his turbulent past as a Marine are making his life difficult and Nick is focused on improving his mental state and not on finding love. When he catches sight of Sara, one of his neighbours, he is instantly attracted to her and despite his best intentions not to be distracted, conspires to meet her.
When Sara and Nick’s paths cross it is a case of mutual attraction at first sight, but trouble is on the horizon as Tom has found a way of tracking his wayward wife down. Tom wants Sara and the files back and is willing to do anything to find her.
This is an entertaining book which contains the best elements of both a romance with lots of sexual tension and a little sex, and an exciting and action packed plot.
Purchase Tidal Falls by Jacquie Biggar
Three Years of Her Life by Christine Robinson
What Amazon says
This debut novel is an indelible portrait of family love, trust, commitment, and unrelenting prejudice. A stirring tale that rides the line between historical fiction and romance., inspired by a famous musician’s hidden secret in Germany.
Three Years of Her Life, set in New England and Central Europe, is similar in concern and significant issues to bestselling America epic books of the Great Depression, The Great War and the U.S. South. People and places focused, the novel’s heartwarming and heart wrenching themes mark history in unsettled times.
A mystery woman’s photo, in question, is in famous grandfather’s gold pocket watch for over fifty years. It devastates Elizabeth’s estranged grandmother, and she convinces Elizabeth to find the link. At a loss how, Elizabeth’s on track to be a nurse not a detective, she gets help from Erik, the doctor who captures her heart. He becomes obsessed with uncovering her grandfather’s secret, and discovers more in Germany than the family can take. Now he shares a family heritage. When Elizabeth tries to stand up for Erik and her grandfather, it backfires.
Complicating her own life, Elizabeth falls into an entanglement with her guitar teacher. It’s only a longer-for connection to musicians, her absent father and dead grandfather, but it causes uncertainty. She’s now torn between two very different men. And what happens if and when she lets one of them go? Erik tips the balance for Elizabeth’s decision. He proves his character by risking his life transporting East Berlin hospital patients to the West through the Berlin Wall. But, what if border guards trap him in East Berlin? Unbeknown to Elizabeth, before Erik leaves on the mission, he sets up her future. And, he’s dead serious about the plan.
The title of this book is quite relevant to the storyline as this novel is all about how quickly life can change for either the better or the worse.
The reader first meets Elizabeth as a young girl who has just come out of a failed romance and is quite heartbroken. Despite this emotional setback, Elizabeth is preparing to start training to be a nurse and this is the first indication to the reader of her strength of character. In the first chapter, Elizabeth’s demanding and dictatorial grandmother is also introduced and some of the difficulties Elizabeth faced growing up around this difficult older woman are revealed. It is clear that life hasn’t been plain sailing for Elizabeth. The visit with her grandmother is not a particularly happy or loving one but Elizabeth receives a gift of her grandfather’s pocket watch. The gift comes with a price tag though. Inside the case is a picture of a young woman with a suggestive inscription. Elizabeth’s grandmother is suspicious that her husband, who passed two years after she divorced him, was having an affair. She tasks Elizabeth with finding out who the woman was. This conversation is difficult for Elizabeth who greatly admired her talented musician grandfather.
Elizabeth starts her training and her life progresses. She meets a wonderful Jewish doctor, Erik, whom she becomes romantically involved with, but she never forgets about the unknown woman in the pocket watch and her aim to discover who she was. Erik undertakes to help her with this investigation which leads to Berlin in Germany.
This story intrigued me as it contained a lot of different but complimentary elements that I liked including romance, family drama, and a dollop of interesting history.
Elizabeth’s character is a complex one. She has grown up with a dominant grandmother whose husband was always away on tours for his music career and who felt let down by him and eventually divorced him. Her own musician father and left her and her mother when she was a young girl. Elizabeth lacks trust in men who have always let her down. These trust issues cause an emotional barrier for her when it comes to her own romances and she is not able to entrust her heart and life to a man. This aspect of Elizabeth’s character sets the stage for a great deal of turbulence in her relationship, especially since her boyfriend’s Jewish mother is not accepting of a non-Jewish perspective wife for her son. On the other side, Elizabeth’s grandmother and father are not accepting of her Jewish boyfriend so there are difficulties on both family fronts.
I enjoyed watching Elizabeth’s character grew although some of her decisions and reactions were a bit frustrating. They were not necessarily unrealistic in the situation, but they were so obviously poor decisions that I wanted to give her a good shake a few times.
The investigation of the woman in the picture starts off very slowly while Elizabeth’s romance builds and suffers several highs and lows, but it does take off in the second half of the book and becomes quite exciting.
The format of this book is not standard as the focus shifts from a romance to an exciting adventure. Some people might not like this mixture but I didn’t mind and thought the various elements of the romance led well into the circumstances of the adventure.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy family dramas with a lively adventure included to keep the storyline spicy and move the romance along.