The Light Behind the Window

by Lucinda Riley (Pan) ISBN 9781447218425

 

The cover promised a breath-taking and intense story of love, war and above all, forgiveness. I was disappointed. It is written without soul.

 

The story is set in France and England and moves between 1943 and the present.  During the war, Connie is trained as an agent and sent to Paris. Instead of working for the resistance, she ends up living with an aristocratic family and looking after the blind Sophia.

 

The preconceived ideas of the roles of men and women irritated me most. Sophia is ‘not equipped by birth to deal with what was happening to her’ and the brother is the hero with clenching jaw lines and hard passionate kisses.

 

The woman in the present, Emilie, also from an upper-class family, is like her distant relative depicted as vulnerable and helpless. She is the sole heir of an estate in the South of France. She is lured into marriage by a greedy, but dashing Sebastian. His handicapped brother lives in their dilapidated castle close to York. Can it be more clichéd?

 

Lucinda Riley has sold over 180,000 copies in the UK for her previous book, so there must be a market for this. For me, this book was a waste of time.

 

Pauline Vijverberg

1/5

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Jane Eyre Laid Bare

by Charlotte Bronte & Eve Sinclair (Pan) ISBN: 978-1-4472-2928-5

 

Poor Jane Eyre. An orphan attracted to the unattainable and moody Mr Rochester has undergone many storylines to fit in with the modern reader. When I picked this book, I groaned. Is this another Fifty Shades of Grey copycat author? Another writer who has little understanding of storytelling or language? However, I was wrong. I enjoyed Jane Eyre Laid Bare.

 

Eve Sinclair, in her debut novel, has kept the plot true to the original. The language has remained formal with elaborate phrases. This will, undoubtedly disappoint the purists and frighten off the instant-gratification reader. Somehow, the language made the erotica more sensual.

 

The story is told in first person. Jane is virginal and attracted to her ‘master’. Her observation of her sexually awakening body is delightful and filled with innocence. Jane is a strong character and this is obvious from beginning to end. Her sexual attraction to Rochester is believable for a young girl exploring her sexuality.

 

I loved the story and enjoyed the ending even more. Sinclair ends on a surprising but far-from-disappointing scene. I realise many readers will not share my delight.

 

Ulrike Hill

4/5

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Gangster Squad

by Paul Lieberman (Pan) ISBN: 9781447222309 



Warner Brothers developed the film Gangster Squad based on the research journalist Paul Lieberman conducted for this book. He spent a decade interviewing surviving members of the unit as well as families and associates of the mobsters. 

The blurb promises that Gangster Squad is a tour-de-force narrative reminiscent of LA Confidential. It isn’t.  Lieberman writes about the lives of the members of the Gangster Squad – ‘eight men who met covertly on street corners and slept with Tommy guns under their beds’ – while they watch the mafia. The problem is the policemen concerned aren't that interesting. Decent dedicated lawmen having dinner do not make a riveting read. He writes about the LA Mafia, but the characters, Mickey Cohen, Jack Dragna, and others, are almost as boring as the men watching them. 

There is a lack of focus and conflict. Nothing much happens. And then there’s the writing. Clichés and twee phrases abound. What self-respecting crime writer pens phrases like ‘There were no guarantees in police work, or in life ...’ or ‘all those men had marvellous dark hair’? I’m sure the film will be better. 

Amanda Patterson
2/5

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Pioneer Woman

(Pan) by Ree Drummond ISBN: 9781447202073

 

Marlboro Man, a cowboy, meets Ree, a typical city girl, in a pub.

 

Ree Drummond has had a four year affair with J who seems to fulfil her every need. And then a kiss with Marlobo Man changes her life completely.

 

This is the story of a sizzling love affair finding Ree growing more bewildered by the way of life on the ranch. Her country life starts with a horse ride, where she lands up in a ditch, fuming. Marlboro Man sympathises with a chuckle in his deep voice.....

 

Later on Ree tears up the road to deal with a prairie fire which terrifies and exhausts her. And on every page there is serious kissing which leads to marriage and a baby girl.

 

You cannot put this book down. You laugh at the descriptions and have butterflies in your tummy every time he kisses her. The baby turns her into a wreck. Her husband loves her anyway.

 

What a delightful story. You will love it.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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Dead Simple

by Peter James (Pan) ISBN 978-0-330-43419a-5

 

Michael's friends giggled as they screwed down the lid of his coffin and threw dirt over the grave. This was the idea of the best man who was organising the stag party before the wedding. 

 

Inside the coffin, Michael has his cell phone with him. He soon calls his friends up and says he wants to get out, now. A few hours later his friends are involved in a horrendous motor accident and they are all dead.

 

No-one else knows where the bridegroom is. Michael's love of his life, Ashley, turns out to be a person who would prefer Michael to stay where he is.The police have their work cut out, looking for Michael. They have no idea that he is buried alive in a forest.

 

This was a hard story to swallow as I hated the author's choice of a buried coffin with a live person in it being used as a joke.  I raced through the pages hoping that Michael would be found alive. The police try desperately to locate Michael. When the coffin is opened, they discover…   

 

Peter James certainly had me reading furiously to the very end.

 

Dee Andrew

5/5

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