Tag Archives: historical romance

#BookReview ‘The Love Child’ by Rachel Hore #historicalromance

The Love Child by Rachel Hore is not just an adoption story of birth mother and daughter, it is a story of women’s lives between the wars when shame and public expectation, not love, governed family decisions. In 1917 Alice Copeman, a 19-year old nurse, falls in love with a soldier home on leave. They expect to marry but he is killed. No one else knows of their relationship, it is wartime and everything happened so quickly. But Alice is pregnant. Rachel Hore

Mourning for Jack, Alice is forced by her father and stepmother to give the child up for adoption. In the Essex seaside town of Farthingsea, Edith and Philip Burns long for their own child. When they adopt a baby girl Irene, they expect their family to be happily complete. But Irene feels different from her parents and grows frustrated at the lies told about her birth; in particular she struggles to connect with her mother Edith and often feels rejected. At school she is bullied. At home she feels second rate to her younger brother, conceived by Edith and Philip after they adopted Irene. Things improve for Irene when she makes friends with a boy from the disreputable artistic part of town; Tom lives with his single mother and he too is different. Both Tom and his mother are positive influences on Irene.

This is a story told in two strands – Alice and Irene – first as each makes her own way in the world, and then as their paths come closer together. Alice’s story – qualifying as a doctor and working as a GP – is fascinating and a glimpse of a time when female doctors were starting to appear. Irene is also independent, leaving Farthingsea to work in London at an art gallery. In these inter-war years it was still difficult for independent women to make their own way. Old-fashioned standards and expectations prove a challenge for both Alice and for Irene and often at the hands of other women.

A little slow to start, not helped as the storyline jumps around from year to year, it settled down halfway through. At times I confused Irene’s adoptive mother Edith with Alice’s stepmother Gwen, both are sharp-edged women whose words can wound.

This is a novel of love, separation, shame and mother and daughter dynamics; it ultimately shows how the road to love can take many diversions and twists along the way. Both Alice and Irene are rather self-contained and defensive, afraid of being hurt, but they are also capable of being loved if they allow their self-protection to drop. This is a reflective and sensitive portrayal of the adoption dilemma when the hunger of one individual for the truth may cause pain to others.

A note about the cover; I could see no link between the story and a rowing boat at sunset.

Here’s my review of A Week in Paris, also by Rachel Hore.

If you like this, try:-
‘Another You’ by Jane Cable
‘The Last Day’ by Claire Dyer
The House on the Shore’ by Victoria Howard 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE LOVE CHILD by Rachel Hore #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4xa via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘The 20s Girl, The Ghost, and All That Jazz’ by @june_kearns #romance

The 20s Girl, The Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns is a fizzing giggly historical romance that makes you feel as if you’re drinking a bottle of Prosecco on holiday. In Gerardine Chiledexter it has a delicate-looking heroine who has inherited the kick-ass nature, and the debts, of her late Aunt Leonie. There’s a loyal friend, a crumbling bookshop, a psychic cat, shiverings and whisperings in the dark, an effete beau and a distinct lack of marriageable men in 1924 England after the Great War. Oh, and there’s a tall brooding cowboy with an enormous ranch in Texas. June Kearns

Kearns has a wonderful flowing style, telling her story with wit and charm and without a glimpse of the author’s feet paddling below the water keeping the story and the characters tip-top. All the romantic conventions are here. A heroine, down on her luck but with an endless wardrobe of floaty Twenties couture dresses. A suitor, willing but uninspiring. An English village, green, damp, without eligible men. A crumbling mansion with an elderly crumbling workforce. Into this walks Coop, a cowboy with a drawl, a hatred of the wet, and a real impatient manner. Aunt Leonie, it appears, has left her half-share of a cattle ranch in Texas to Gerry. Coop owns the other half and he wants Gerry to sell it to him. Now. Immediately. Which of course she doesn’t.

Determined to find out what elegant fun-loving Leonie was doing in Texas, Gerry travels to the Circle-O Ranch in the middle of nowhere. There she finds a number of other romantic ingredients: an uppity neighbouring young lady who says she is engaged to Coop; a will-o-the-wisp teenager called Scoot; a staff of cowhands and Mexican servants with whom she is unable to communicate and horses she must ride. What Gerry doesn’t find is her luggage which has gone missing en route, so she is forced into a selection of Coop’s old trousers and shirts. The Texas section is something of a closed room scenario mixing together a number of unlikely characters, adding a financial mystery and people not being what they seem to be. And though Coop seems desperate for Gerry to sign the sale papers and leave, she remains determined to discover Leonie’s mystery.

There were a couple of times when the pace slowed and I wanted it to speed up again, but Kearns slowed things down at exactly the right romantic moments. Oh, and I loved the quotes for young ladies from 1920s handbooks, a new one at the head of each chapter. For example, from Advice to Miss All-Alone [1924], ‘Try not to become shabby, shallow or sour. Rather, read improving books and drink cocoa.’ Needless to say, Gerry does not take this advice.

This book really surprised me, it made me chuckle out loud. I’ll definitely be looking for other books by this author. One thing, I wish the title was different. Shorter, perhaps including something about the cowboy?

If you like this, try these:-
‘Love and Eskimo Snow’ by Sarah Holt
Forever Fredless’ by Suzy Turner
Pigeon Pie’ by Nancy Mitford 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE 20S GIRL, THE GHOST, AND ALL THAT JAZZ by @june_kearns #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3wq via @SandraDanby