When I read my first book by Lynda Renham – Perfect Weddings – earlier this year, I enjoyed it so much that I vowed I’d be reading more of her books. You’ll find my review of that one – and an interview with the author – here. Lynda now has a series of three e-books written in the name of Amy Perfect, set in the fictional village of Little Perran, and I was delighted when she offered to send me all three for review. Let me tell you more:
Romance is the last thing on Frankie Bell’s mind as she gets ready for Christmas in the English village of Little Perran. It’s going to be a quiet affair once the annual Great Little Perran Christmas Bake Off cake competition is over, with Frankie, and her little dog Buster, tucked up warmly in Primrose Cottage. Fate, however, has other plans and Little Perran is thrown into turmoil when the film star, Roux Lockhart, comes to stay.
The spirit of the season weaves its magic and a freak snow storm that blows in a surprise visitor. Frankie discovers love from an unexpected quarter, but can she trust it? And is someone cheating with their Christmas cake?
A Village Romance (103 pages and currently free)
As a heatwave rolls into Little Perran, so does love. Billy Baxter, the has-been rock star, and Rafe Wylde, the hunky farm worker arrive, both destined to cause havoc as they touch the lives of the villagers. Milly finds a new job and things start to look up for her, but she is unaware that a ghost from her past is looking for her.
A Village Romance is the first of a two part story that concludes in the book: A Summer Romance.
A Summer Romance (released for kindle July 2016, 150 pages)
Milly settles into her new job but does her boss, Ashley Wilmot-Fox, have secrets that he is hiding in Briar Lodge? Will he be able to help Milly fight the ghosts from her past? Will Billy’s blundering romance last, and will Rafe’s secret affair be exposed? As the villagers prepare for their summer fete they have no idea what will be revealed on that day.
There are times you do things just because you really want to – I read all three, back to back, over an afternoon and evening, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. But you really don’t need to do that – if you read only the second and third books you’ll be absolutely fine. The characters from the first book shuffle round in terms of spotlight, and some new ones – at the centre of the story – are introduced. And there’s plenty of scene setting so you don’t have to know all the back history. But please, please don’t think you can just read the shorter (and free) Village and make a judgement on the series – it does finish on quite a cliff hanger, and it’s quite clear (everywhere) that it’s the first part of a two-part story.
So – what did I think?
Do you know, I think I’ll post a proper review of A Christmas Romance when it’s a bit more seasonal – I do hope no-one minds. But as for A Village Romance and A Summer Romance, I can’t wait to talk about them!
From the moment ageing rock star Billy Baxter agrees that it can only be good for his failing career to move to the country and change his image – speeding into Little Perran, “singing” along with the Sex Pistols and almost colliding with a funeral cortege – I was totally hooked. The other newcomer to the village – author Ashley Wilmot-Fox – is really well-drawn too, and I loved his relationship with Milly and the way she speaks first and thinks about the consequences later. The characters in this book are – without exception – simply wonderful. I could name every single one and tell you why I loved them but my particular favourites (apart from Billy himself, of course) were… no, I can’t, really I can’t, I’d be here all day! Many are caricatures and extremes, but the author makes them quite magically real, however small their part in the main storyline and however peripheral to the action.
The setting is perfect, quite vividly real, the kind of quintessential English village where anyone would dream of living – but then again, maybe not, when everyone knows so much about everyone else’s business (and if they don’t, Stella will make sure that they do). By the end of the book, the geography of Little Perran was as familiar to me as the streets where I live – I’d be able to push my wheelbarrow between the various locations, with or without a kiln.
The humour – and I can be funny about such things – is marvellous. There are the near slapstick elements of Billy’s growing relationship with the wonderful Cynthia (I swear I know her…), the visual jokes like the pub’s watering system, the rotavator and the marrows, the incident with the dog and piglet (you’ll have to read it…), but also sparkling conversational exchanges and touches of the recognisably absurd in everyday life. But there are darker touches too – coming to terms with loss, relationship issues, coping with disability and a major (and very well done) thread on domestic violence. And I have to mention another thread involving Rafe the sheep-shearer that actually got me surprisingly hot under the collar – the author writes VERY well about passion and lust…
These books were absolutely wonderful – do try them. Before I tried Lynda Renham’s writing, I’d made one of those silly snap judgements based on nothing at all that her writing might not be entirely for me. I now want to read every single thing she’s written… I’m a confirmed fan.
About the author
Lynda Renham is famous for her romantic comedy novels. She has been called A Comedian in a Book, Chicklit Royalty and A Comic Genius. Her writing style has been likened to Sophie Kinsella but is refreshingly down to earth with characters that become your friends. Lynda is a prolific writer, blogger and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.