New Story: Kat Carruthers Doesn’t Get Married

Comic romance Kat Carruthers Doesn’t Get Married is now available on the Kindle for only 99p!

Kat Carruthers is preparing for her wedding day when her fiancé Brian rings her to say that the wedding is off. As an unhappy and furious Kat tries to come to terms with this shock news, there’s a knock on the door and it’s the boilerman, Mike, come to service the boiler a full month early.

When Kat’s mother rings to say Brian has arrived at the church, got into a fight and the police have been called, Kat is faced with several interesting choices. What in the end will she decide?

Buy the ebook here!

Anne Brooke

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Blog 114: Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell – an average romance

Miranda is thrilled when she meets Greg at a cocktail party. He’s gorgeous, he’s funny – and he’s very keen. Just what a girl needs to put some sparkle in her life. Heavens, he’s practically perfect! Greg likes Miranda a lot. She’s young, she’s pretty, and she never talks about babies. Of course he hasn’t told her everything about himself – even the sweetest girls can be a bit funny about a man who’s just left his newly pregnant wife. But there’s no way she’s going to find out – or is there? Luckily for Miranda men are like buses – you don’t see any for ages then three come along at once. She just needs to catch the right one…

This started off well enough, though I did find Miranda faintly irritating from the start – she’s just too ditsy and so terribly nice that I instantly took against her, as it were. However, that’s not a huge problem, as her friends and colleagues provide a far greater level of interest and have a decent-ish amount of page space – so if you get fed up with Miranda, then you soon have Chloe (who is Greg’s newly pregnant and abandoned wife) and Bev (the man-mad colleague) to look forward to and concentrate on.

Greg, of course, is the man we all love to hate – he blames Chloe for getting pregnant and breaking her word to him about not wanting babies and instantly leaves her. Because he’s just a very nasty man, to be honest. He’s also rather unbelievable as I simply didn’t credit that Greg could be such a downright despicable cad and yet get two nice women (Chloe and later Miranda) to fall for him. He’s really more caricature than character – and this is also the case with Chloe’s dreadful boss and his wife. Both of these people are frankly so horrible that I just kept laughing at them, and I’m not convinced that was the reaction Mansell was intending. Oh well.

Never mind, as there are a couple of menfolk in the mix who are adorable in every way – Fenn, the definitely straight hairdresser, and Miles, the lovely and witty famous racing driver, are a delight and should have had far more page space here than they actually do. It’s a bit of a lost opportunity for the men, to be honest. Also, something dreadful happens to Miles about three-quarters of the way through which I think was totally unnecessary and rather stupid – and this leaves the way free for journalist Danny to take the place of the dreadful Greg as Miranda’s potential partner. Are you keeping up at the back? I do hope so!…

It’s a shame then that Danny is so terribly shallow and unattractive – in fact at one point after the Miles Debacle, he thinks something so utterly prejudiced and unloving about Miranda’s potential relationship with Miles that I wanted to beat him to death with his own laptop. What a horrible man! Really, he and the irritating Miranda probably deserve one another but they’re definitely not going to be happy as they simply don’t gel …

So there it is. A mixed bag of a book, with an unlikeable heroine and hero, but with some very good secondary characters we should have seen more of.

Verdict: 3 stars. Average.

Blog 69: Happily Ever After by Harriet Evans – Decent Plot with a Too Dim Heroine

Happily ever after

This is a story of a girl who doesn’t believe in happy endings. Or happy families. It’s the story of Eleanor Bee, a shy book-loving girl who vows to turn herself into someone bright, shiny and confident, someone sophisticated. Someone who knows how life works. But life has a funny way of catching us unawares. Turns out that Elle doesn’t know everything about love. Or life. Or how to keep the ones we love safe …

I started off actually liking this well enough, as the set-up was very powerful. I particularly enjoyed Elle’s difficult relationship with her brother – that scene at the start when they’re children is simply brilliant. Sadly, we don’t stay in this childhood moment as we’re quickly tumbled into Elle as a young woman trying to make her way in the publishing world.

Entirely due to the great start, I was prepared to give Elle the benefit of the doubt and kept my determination going for a good 100 pages or so. Gradually it dawned on me that, no matter how much I tried to deny it as a reader, Elle is simply a doormat, and a dull one to boot. Sorry, but she just is. Yes, I know she’s a borderline alcoholic with an alcoholic mother, and surely medically depressed, but every time there’s a crisis she simply just keels over and agrees with whoever the strongest person in any particular scene is. I have to say it’s never her. If you want interesting depressive and/or alcoholic women in your fiction, you’re better off with Marian Keyes. However, there was one moment when I got rather excited because Elle was about to launch into a very justified row with her bitchy boss, but the moment said boss challenges her, Ellie gives in and just agrees. Sigh …

There’s also an allegedly torrid affair between her and another boss, Rory, whom she’s obsessive about but really I just didn’t believe anyone would be interested enough in her to bother. That goes for the on-off relationship with an ex-colleague too – and the moment when she realises (no serious spoilers here) that he’s fathered a child by someone else has to be one of the great clichés of romantic fiction – so clichéd that I couldn’t help but laugh uproariously. Sorry …

Then the storyline jumps again and we’re a few years on and she’s living and working in New York. Sadly she’s not any more interesting than she was in the UK and for the rest of the book, I did even more sighing. The relationships she has with the two possible men she’s supposed to be with are worryingly unrealistic, and indeed neither man is very nice or even interesting. As a result, the ending is nonsensical. Or would have been if I’d cared enough about what happens to her. If the novel had lost 150 pages or so, it might have been better as Elle wouldn’t have been so intensely boring and irritating. That said, the book covers she’s responsible for in her publishing job sound nice – maybe these pictures should have been included in the novel as they would certainly have been more riveting than our heroine. Oh well.

Verdict: 2 stars. Decent enough plot, but a too dim and unlikeable heroine

Blog 45: Bridesmaids by Jane Costello – a shallow romance

This novel had a lot of potential but very meagre delivery, sadly. Its strap line is “Four Weddings without the Funeral” but actually having a funeral might have been a good idea – as it would have inserted some much-needed gravitas into the general veneer of fluff.

I think one of the main problems is I really didn’t like the heroine, Evie, who’s obsessed with appearances, not terribly bright and acts like a 12-year old most of the time. She’s supposed to be 27.

The big motif of the book and the thing that’s supposed to make it excitingly different is the fact that Evie has never been in love or been in a relationship of more than a few weeks, and wonders if she ever will. I’m sorry?? That’s a key issue when one is 27 years old?? Hey ho, you can see what I mean about Evie’s low intelligence rating …

Anyway, when she does finally meet Jack, who turns out to be The Man, it’s really not much of a relationship and actually I found it both dull and unbelievable. Jack could very well do better. The cliched ending and the culmination of their ‘love story’ is teeth-grindingly bad and I groaned and skipped over it. There’s also a friend Charlotte whose sole characteristic is that she’s overweight, another friend Valentina, who is obsessed with money and appearances (but at least, unlike Evie, she’s honest about it), and a couple of other friends whom I could never confidently differentiate between. Oh and the chapters are ridiculously short – so short that there are 121 of them, plus an epilogue! Lordy.

The only good parts of this book are Evie’s wonderful mother who is a delight, and the very funny scene in the disco with the vibrator. That’s it, really.

Verdict: 2 stars. Shallow nonsense.