The Women Who Ran Away is a contemporary story about family, friendships and the journey of life for the two women in this book.
Deira is distraught after the breakdown of her relationship with Gavin, so when tickets for their planned European holiday arrive, she decides to go away by herself.
Grace is ready to take the ferry across to France. She has a detailed itinerary which will end in Spain; the holiday has been planned by her husband, but Grace is travelling alone.
This is a lovely story about two ladies who find it easier to be truthful about their lives to a stranger than to their family and friends. Deira and Grace travel together after a misfortune to Deira’s car and they solve clues to a treasure hunt set by Grace’s book loving husband. During their time together they both find healing a peace.
Fans of O’Flanagan’s books should enjoy this and I believe it would also make an ideal holiday read.
Deira is setting out on the holiday she’d planned with her long-term partner Gavin… only she’s on her own. Gavin will not be amused when he finds out she’s ‘borrowed’ his car, but since their brutal break-up Deira’s not been acting rationally. Maybe a drive through beautiful France will help her see things differently…
Grace has been sent on a journey by her late husband, Ken. She doesn’t really want to be on it but she’s following his instructions as always. She can only hope that the trip will help her to forgive him. And then – finally – she’ll be able to let him go.
Thrown together by chance, Deira and Grace are soon motoring down the French highways, sharing intriguing stories of their pasts, as they each consider the future…
The Captain And The Cavalry Trooper is book #1 in the Captivating Captains series. It is a romance set in the latter years of World War 1.
Trooper Jack Woodvine is sent to Chateau de Desgravier where he will be Captain Thorne’s latest groom. Both the Captain and his horse Apollo share fierce reputations; several previous grooms have been kicked by the horse and yelled at by the Captain. But Jack grew up on a farm and with gypsy blood running through him; he has a talent for calming horses with just a whisper
The Chateau is home to an eclectic mix of soldiers, all awaiting orders from the front, with some praying they never see the fighting. Trooper ‘Queenie’ Charles prefers silk robes to his khaki attire and makes sure everyone knows how dangerous he can be. He’ll do anything to keep himself away from the warfare.
When Jack meets Captain Thorne, he’s instantly attracted to both the man and his steed. He believes he sees something behind the icy façade. With the threat of war all around, the chateau offers an enchanting place to escape the horrors of combat and to live, for a while, in just the moment. The men fall in love and begin a clandestine affair, but dangerous prying eyes miss nothing.
As the call to the frontline becomes imminent, Thorne attempts to keep Jack safe, but his plans backfire. They both find themselves on the battle line and the war is hungry for more soldiers to chew on and spit out.
This book is primarily an MM romance, but the unusual Chateau setting in wartime France worked well. I could easily picture the stables and yard features, while I understood the hopes and fears of the soldiers. The romance was daring in a time when the men would have been corporally punished if caught, but the author has blurred lines of social acceptance that might have been stricter elsewhere. An enjoyable story which fits the genre well.
As the Great War tears Europe apart, two men from different worlds find sanctuary in each other’s arms.
Captain Robert Thorne is the fiercest officer in the regiment. Awaiting the command to go to the front, he has no time for simpering, comely lads. That’s until one summer day in 1917 when his dark, flashing eye falls upon the newest recruit at Chateau de Desgravier, a fresh-faced farmer’s boy with little experience of life and a wealth of poetry in his heart.
Trooper Jack Woodvine has a way with strong, difficult stallions, and whispers them to his gentle will. Yet even he has never tamed a creature like Captain Thorne.
With the shadow of the Great War and the scheming of enemies closer to home threatening their fleeting chance at happiness, can the Captain and the Cavalry Trooper make it home safely? More importantly, will they see peacetime together?
Olga has been reading Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat
I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank her and the author for this opportunity.
This is the third novel I have read in the series The Bone Angel and the fourth novel by Liza Perrat. (You can check my reviews of Spirit of Lost Angelhere, Wolfsangel here and The Silent Kookaburra here.) You might have guessed by now that I enjoy her books. Having read The Silent Kookaburra first, for quite a while I thought that was my favourite of the author’s novels (and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the others) but now, I’m not so sure.
We are in Lucie-sur-Vionne, France, 1348. The whole series is set in the same location and follows the characters of the female line of a family who are linked by their midwifery skills (or wish to care for others) and by the passing of a talisman, the bone angel of the title. All the women of the series feel a strange connection to this angel (whose story/legend we hear, first- hand, in this book) and to each other, although this novel is, so far, the one set further back in the past, and at a very momentous time (like all the others). The Black Death decimated a large part of the world population and this novel offers us the perspective of the people who lived through it and survived to tell the tale.
The story is narrated, mostly in the first person, by midwife Héloïse, whose birth was problematic (her mother, Ava, a midwife herself, died before she was born and her aunt, Isa, extracted her from the womb) and due to the superstitions of the time, she was shunned and taunted as a child (she was not only a bastard, as her father was unknown, but she was also ‘unborn’). She always felt guilty for her mother’s death and resisted becoming a midwife due to that. But, eventually, she heeded her calling, learned from her aunt, and has become loved and appreciated by most people (apart from a few villagers who blame her for unlucky events). Unfortunately, as human nature dictates, when the epidemic reaches the village (at the same time as her husband, a stonemason who had been working in Florence) and people start dying, everybody looks for someone to blame, be it cats, the Jews, the lepers, or… There are a few chapters told from other characters’ point of view, only to complete the picture when Heloise is otherwise engaged (I’m trying not to give any spoilers here).
Héloïse is a strong-willed woman, who struggles between trying to fulfill her vocation (what she sees as her mission no matter how little recompense he gets for it) and being a dutiful wife who puts her husband and family above everything else. She is a compelling character and one that rings true and whose situation is ever relevant, especially to women who always have to try and find a balance between career and family life. She is a worthy heroine, who cares for people, who tries to do the right thing, even if it might cost her, who perseveres and remains faithful to her ideas, who doubts and questions acknowledged ‘truths’, and who is a natural leader. The rest of the characters, both, villagers and nobles, good and nasty, are all well-defined and recognisable, although perhaps the female characters are drawn in more detail than the males (although midwifery and birthing was women’s business at the time, so it is understandable), and I must say I felt like a member of her extended family by the end of the book.
The novel’s plot is fascinating and as good as any historical fiction I have read. History and fiction blend seamlessly to create a story that is gripping, emotionally satisfying, and informative. Even when we might guess some of the twists and turns, they are well-resolved, and the ending is satisfying. (I have read some reviews that mention it is a bit rushed. It is true that it all comes together at a faster pace than the rest of the novel, but my suspicion is that readers didn’t want the story to end. I know that was my case). The life of the villagers is well observed, as is the relationship between the different classes, the politics of the era, the role of religion, the power held by nobles and the church, the hypocrisy, superstition, and prejudice, and the social mores and roles of the different genders. The descriptions of the houses, clothing, medical and midwifery procedures, and the everyday life are detailed enough to make us feel immersed in the era without slowing down the plot, that is a page turner in its own right. I particularly enjoyed the sense of community (strongly dominated by women) and the optimism that permeates the novel, showing the strength of the human spirit even in the hardest of circumstances. The author includes a glossary at the end that explains the words no longer in use that appear in the novel and also provides background information on the Black Death and the historical figures that grace its pages. Although it is evident that the book involved a great deal of research, this is flawlessly weaved into the story and add to the feeling of authenticity.
This novel, like the rest of the series, can be read as a stand-alone, although I doubt that anybody reading it will not want to read the rest.
Another great novel by Liza Perrat and one of my favourites. I will not forget it in a hurry and I hope to keep reading more novels by the author. I recommend it to readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in the era, the Black Death, and medical techniques of the time, readers of women’s fiction, and anybody looking for great characters and a writer to follow.
1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.
Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.
Fearful that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honour the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.
About the author
Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.
Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.
Friends, Family and Other Strangers is a collection of humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia.
Liza is a founding member of the Author Collective, Triskele Books and regularly reviews books for Bookmuse.
Alison has been reading Mediterranean Summer by Jane MacKenzie
I’m a bit of a Francophile. France is definitely my favourite place to visit and I plan to move there permanently one day – Brexit permitting. So I love reading anything set in France and this novel, set just after the civil unrest of Paris in 1968, sounded intriguing.
Art student Laure is returning home to her quiet village after her involvement in the Paris demonstrations. She needs to rest and recover, and she also needs to find a way to resolve the problem hanging over her – a problem that could mean the end of her studies.
At first the peace and solitude are soothing, and Laure enjoys reconnecting with her family and her childhood friends. But her brother-in-law Daniel has a new job at the Nobel factory in Paulilles, and trainee doctor Martin, his brother and Laure’s best friend, is worried about the risks the workers there face from exposure to nitro-glycerine.
The gorgeous summer is clouded by these issues and with Laure’s worries over what has happened in Paris. Then Martin’s cousin Robert, a lawyer from Paris, offers to help. The novel focuses on these relationships – between Laure and Robert, Laure and her family, and Laure and Martin’s family.
There is romance here, and conflict, and at the heart is a girl trying to find her place in a changing world. Laure is a lovely main character, and the interactions between the characters are well-written. There are some beautiful descriptions, of the little towns, the gorgeous countryside, and, of course, the wonderful food, and this part of France is really brought to life through the writing.
It’s a gently-paced read, which works well with the setting. However, it was too slow at times, and, while the descriptions were beautifully done, there were places where they went on for too long, and I did find myself skipping ahead. I do feel that this novel could be quite a bit shorter.
It was also a little difficult to keep track of the many characters and their complicated relationships – though it was worth persevering. The writing was a little too formal at times as well, and came across as a little forced and unnatural. However, on the whole this is a lovely novel, just right for a summer read.
Four out of five stars
‘Beautiful artist, beautiful woman, and beautiful lover.’
May 1968 and Paris is hot with rebellion, passion and hope, as protestors clash with the riot police. Brilliant art student Laure stands boldly on the barricades, heady with her new-found defiance, and is swept into romance with Lolo, the fascinating student leader. But youthful rebellion comes at a cost.
Two months later, the excitement is over. Laure heads home for the summer to Vermeilla, her picturesque Mediterranean village. She looks forward to the simplicity of village life, and to a summer in the sun with family and friends, but is aware that the new Laure may shock her little Catalan community.
But even Vermeilla isn’t protected from the forces of change. Shadows hang over both Laure and her village haven. Can she battle the menace that has followed her from Paris? And can she trust Robert, the aloof lawyer who may be the only one who can keep her safe?
About the author
Jane MacKenzie has lived an exceptionally adventurous life, working in such far-flung corners of the world as the Gambia, Bahrain, and Papua New Guinea, and Switzerland and France nearer to home.
She is as much at home teaching in an African village as organising the research budgets of Nobel scientists, and is a natural linguist, picking up languages wherever she has lived, to complement the fluent French from her first degree in French Language and Literature.
She is an entrepreneur, an international expert in education, and latterly helped transform the UK Government’s Office at CERN in Geneva during two years as its Head. In her fifties Jane turned to writing novels, for a new challenge, and to fulfil a long-held dream.
Jane splits her time now between her homes in the Scottish Highlands, and in her beloved Catalan village in France, the region where her three novels have been set.