Ten Things My Husband Hated: A Saffron Sweeting Novel

By Pauline Wiles

 

Book Blurb

Maggie Moone is happily divorced.

And with her talent for fixing things, she’s perfectly content with her mundane life in the sleepy English village of Saffron Sweeting. That is, until one humiliating March evening when she learns everyone else assumes she’d love to mend her broken marriage.

Determined to prove them wrong, Maggie and her friends concoct a list of ten ways to assert her independence and live large. But her mission to move on leads to unexpected encounters, and Maggie soon finds herself mixing business with pleasure. Is the attractive young Irishman just another item on her list, or is he something more?

Before long, unresolved issues from her past begin to clash, and Maggie is forced to wonder if antagonizing her ex-husband was such a stellar idea.

No sooner does she begin to understand what’s important to her, than she stands to lose everything that truly matters.

This is the fourth in the collection of Saffron Sweeting romantic comedies, which can be read in any order. If you like gentle British humour and deliciously resilient heroines, you’ll love Ten Things My Husband Hated.

Book Blurb and Book Cover from Goodreads

 

My Review

There is so much to love about TEN THINGS MY HUSBAND HATED and little, if anything, to dislike.  The “war” between Maggie and Colin is as funny as it is serious.  When Maggie decided to get even by getting under Colin’s skin, things were hilarious, until they weren’t.  Did Maggie’s list cause her to lose someone who meant the world to her or would she be able to redeem herself in the eyes of the one she found she’d fallen for?

Maggie grew from a somewhat flaky, weak person who was still hanging on to her past to a strong, decisive woman who knew what she needed to do to become the new Maggie Moone.  She displayed compassion and forgiveness for her ex and his new wife in place of her feelings of anger and jealousy.  She learned to love for the real reason and when she realized this love, she blossomed.  Maggie went through a lot of pain and a lot of growing up and nearly lost Finn, an earnest young Irishman.  If I had to choose a favorite character it would be Finn.  I loved his choices of what to do on a date.

There were quite a few supporting characters who were all as beautifully fleshed out as the main characters.  The story moved smoothly and kept my interest.  In fact, I couldn’t put this book down.

 

About the Author

British by birth, Pauline Wiles is now a contented resident of California, although she admits to occasional yearnings for afternoon tea and historic homes.

Her debut novel, Saving Saffron Sweeting, reached the quarter final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Three further romantic comedies set in the same village are now available, along with a free collection of short stories. Pauline has also published Indie with Ease, to help other independent authors conquer stress and boost productivity.

When not writing, Pauline designs and builds simple, stylish websites for other writers and authors. She can also be found running, reading, or searching for her next venue to enjoy tea and a slice of cake.

Author Bio and Photo from Goodreads.

 

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An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.  

Secrets, Spies, and Spotted Dogs

By Jane Eales

 

Secrets, Spies, and Spotted DogsBook Blurb

Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is a true story about the author’s adoption and her quest for truth and identity.  Told about her adoption at age 19, she was sworn to secrecy and forbidden to search for her biological family.

Decades later, a heart-wrenching family crisis and a longing to know about her origins and why she was adopted drive Jane to painstakingly research her roots in Harare (then Salisbury), Johannesburg, London, Berlin and Sydney.

Eventually she is warmly welcomed by her biological mother’s family in London and is astonished to learn that her mother was an attractive mysterious and charming woman – and a spy for the Allies during WWII.

The Imitation Game, and Foyle’s War set the atmosphere perfectly. Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs interweaves the author’s poignant search for truth abut her identity with the heart-pounding threads of WWII espionage at Arnhem in the Netherlands just prior to the ‘Market Garden’ airborne campaign.

 

Sample Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

The letter

The letter arrived in a drab brown, envelope stamped ‘official’. It was October 1966. I was nineteen, and had been living in Johannesburg for a year. I was staying in the YWCA, a centrally-located, purpose-built modern hostel for women. My room was on the fifth floor with a pleasant outlook over the city. Mum and Dad (Elizabeth and Benjamin) lived in Salisbury (now called Harare) in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) and a year earlier, they had encouraged me to move to Johannesburg, and had also supported the choice of the YWCA as a place where I could live. Some years before this, James, my brother, who was seven years my elder, had moved to Australia.

It was standard practice for the South African Department of Immigration to contact new settlers at the end of their first year to see if they were planning to stay permanently in South Africa and if so, to invite them to complete an application for permanent residency. My letter contained an application form.

It seemed fairly straightforward; however, I needed my birth certificate. I looked for it in the document file in my cupboard, but it wasn’t there. Where could it be?

Then I remembered, Mum and Dad had done all the paperwork for my passport application a few years earlier, so maybe they still had it. In my next weekly letter home, I asked Mum and Dad to post my birth certificate to me. They probably kept it with my other personal documents in their safe at home in Rhodesia. With that done, I put it out of my mind.

After supper on the very next Sunday night, I was sitting on the edge of my bed in my hostel room choosing clothes to wear for the week ahead. The curtains were half open and the city lights twinkled Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs in the dark of the night. It had been a sociable weekend – with a great party the previous evening filled with new friends, guitar playing, and folk singing.

‘Jane, room fifty-two, please take a phone call in the lobby!’

The intercom announcement boomed into the bedrooms of all seventy residents. I had never had a phone call during my stay at the hostel, so generally took no notice of these broadcasts. There was a brief pause and the proclamation rang out again, and this time the voice was more insistent. I suddenly realised the announcement was for me! How embarrassing. I jumped up, pressed the intercom button, acknowledged the message, and dashed downstairs.

Who was it? Who would be phoning me?

This was long before the days of mobile phones, and at that time in Johannesburg, there was a long wait to get a phone connected at home. We were fortunate as the hostel had two public telephones in the lobby. No privacy though! The motherly concierge, as well as any residents with their guests, could hear every conversation. This did not bother me, as I was not planning to have any personal conversations. But who could be phoning?

‘Hello. Good evening,’ I said in my most confident voice.

‘Hello, Jane. It is Dad. How are you?’ Of course as soon as I heard his heavy German accented voice, I knew it was Dad. But why was he phoning me? What was the urgency?

‘Fine – thank you, Dad. How are you? How is Mum?’

Dad, characteristically, came straight to the point.

‘We are all right, Jane. Thank you for asking. We received your letter.’

Oh, yes. I remembered now.

Dad continued in the tone I knew so well that meant, ‘Do not question me; let me finish what I want to say, then please follow my instructions!’ Perhaps he was aware of where I was and that there was no privacy.

‘Jane, I won’t beat about the bush. I will say immediately why I am phoning you. Mum and I want you to fly home for the weekend next Saturday. It will be nice for you to visit and we can give you the documents you ask for.

Fly home, for just a weekend! I liked the idea of going home. It was quite a few months since they had visited me in Johannesburg. But, why did they want me home suddenly, at such short notice? Why fly all that way for only a twenty-four hour visit? This would be my first trip home since Christmas the year before.

Feeling apprehensive, I knew Dad did not want me to question anything over the phone.

‘Okay, Dad. That’s fine,’ I said.

He continued. ‘I’ll book the flight and organise for the ticket to reach you before you leave. Take a taxi to the airport on Saturday morning and I will pay. I will meet you at the airport.’

‘Thanks, Dad,’ I said. After asking Dad to give Mum my love, we rang off.

Wow! How exciting! The pleasure of looking forward to flying to Salisbury diminished any doubts or uncertainties about why I had been called home so suddenly. Life at nineteen was exhilarating and I felt as if nothing could go wrong.

There was little that could have prepared me for what was to follow.

 

About the AuthorJane Eales

Jane Eales was born in London and adopted into a family with a German refugee father, a British mother and a seven year old son.

She grew up in Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) met Rob in Johannesburg South Africa and married in Oxford, England. They returned to South Africa and there she went to university. In 1980 the family moved to Sydney Australia.  Not long after this, the eldest of their three children was diagnosed with a disability. His health deteriorated markedly and in part to clarify the genes she had inherited, in 1990 Jane began to search for her biological family.

In 2005 she met her half-brother for the first time at Canary Wharf in London.  She was welcomed warmly into his family, now her family.

Overwhelmed with family stories, and as a way of making sense of everything, she began to write. As layers upon layers of her family history emerged, she was often asked ‘why don’t you write a book?’ Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is the result. This is her first book.

Jane and her husband continue to live in Sydney with their children, grandchildren and friends.

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Author – Jane Rosalie Eales (Middle Harbour Press Pty Ltd)

Format  Print book and e-book.

Publisher  Middle Harbour Press Pty Ltd.

Pub Date – 2014, reprinted 2015

Page Count – 292

Genre – Memoir

Award – Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs was a Winner in the autobiography/biography category of the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Program. It is the largest not-for-profit award program open to independently published authors worldwide.

Title – Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs   Subtitle: Unravelling mysterious family connections behind a secret adoption

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My Review

Family secrets? Every family has them. What is it like to find out at age nineteen, that your parents are not your birth parents, and what’s more, that you have been sworn to secrecy? Furthermore, your parents demand that you never search for your birth parents.  This is the story behind Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs.

This is Jane Eales own story. The author carefully researched her book, and in writing it, shared the shame and isolation she felt not being able to discuss her adoption with her friends.  It is a chronicle of her painstaking search for her birth parents.

Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs is a well written, easy to read memoir that anyone can enjoy, but that would be of great interest to those who have been adopted and to their birth and adopting families.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Michelle Clements James ©

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The Truth About You By Susan Lewis

uscover-Truth-About-YouLainey Hollingsworth was living a life she loved, she was a mother, married to someone she was deeply in love with and trusted beyond all doubt, had a terrific job managing her husband’s writing career, and lived where she always wanted to be – in her childhood home.  Her life was not without trials, however. Lainey had a stepson Max, who after all these years still blamed her for the breakup between his parents. Her adoring father, who was actually her stepfather and the only father she had ever known, was living with them and was severely afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Lainey’s teenage daughter Tierney was searching for her grownup self, and that was causing friction where there had never been friction before. Her husband Tom was absent more and more and doubts started creeping in. When she received a text message, “Ask your husband about Julie” Lainey’s life, as she knew it, suddenly started unraveling.

Add to all of this was a planned trip to Italy to try to learn more about her family.  Her mother left Italy with Lainey when Lainey was very young and never returned. She refused even at her death to tell Lainey about her biological father and why she took Lainey to England without ever looking back.

I thought Lainey Hollingsworth was a complicated protagonist. At the beginning of the book she was a strong woman who, as the story unfolded, soon became filled with uncertainties and insecurities. She was angry and came to her own conclusions about her husband’s absences without giving him a chance to explain.  Words spoken, and left unspoken, lead to misconceptions. In the end and after suffering so much hurt, was Lainey’s imagined “truth” reality?

This was storytelling at its finest. With memorable characters and intricate plot lines, the book kept calling me back. As I turned the last page, I was sad I’d come to the end of this amazing story. This was the first book by Susan Lewis that I have read, and it certainly won’t be the last. I look forward to delving into some of her other books. I recommend THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU to anyone who enjoys getting totally immersed in a story. It was fabulous.

You can find out more about Susan Lewis on her website at www.susanlewis.com

I received this book from Library Thing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.