It’s an absolute delight today to be helping launch the blog tour for Midsummer Magic at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium, and to share my review: this is the third anthology from nine wonderful Northern romance authors who call themselves Authors on the Edge, and it was one I was particularly looking forward to. Published today (21st June), it’s now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US: as I’m on holiday at the moment (nothing exotic, just a week in North Wales – but wifi in rental properties can be a little dodgy!), I couldn’t check whether that link now covers the paperback too, but if not, I know it won’t be far behind! Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and for all her support, and to the authors for my advance reading e-copy.
I can still remember how very much I enjoyed the first anthology, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings: it came out in May 2018, and you can read my review again here. I called it “a warm and unforgettable collection of happy ever afters” – and when the second anthology, Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium, was published in October 2019 I just couldn’t wait to dip in again and enjoy more of the excellent writing and wonderful imagination (you’ll find that review here).
I particularly like the cover of the new one, don’t you? The previous two anthologies are also being repackaged in a similar design, and I’m really looking forward to displaying them all together on my “very special books” shelf: I’m rather thrilled that I was the winning bidder when they were offered as a lot in the recent Books for Vaccines auction (thanks ladies!), a remarkable and extremely successful initiative in support of worldwide covid vaccination led by Phoebe Morgan on behalf of CARE International UK.
Let’s take a look at the very special treat that everyone has in store…
Are you ready to meet Miss Moonshine? Life may never be the same again…
It’s summer in Haven Bridge and Miss Moonshine is getting ready for a busy season. From the window of her Wonderful Emporium, at the heart of the pretty Yorkshire town, she watches and waits, weaving plans to bring happiness to all who step through her door. For Miss Moonshine is no ordinary shopkeeper. She may not have what you want, but she will always have what you need…
Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined together to create this anthology of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This magical collection of contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry and wish for a Miss Moonshine in your own life.
Like many others, I always stall a little when reviewing a short story collection – I’m never quite sure whether to review every story individually, to just give an overall impression and reaction, or to pick out my personal favourites and leave you to discover the rest. I’ll settle for something that falls somewhere between the last two I think – but I have to say that every single story entirely delighted me, and I guarantee you’ll love them all too.
If you haven’t read the two previous anthologies (and it’s certainly not essential – although I do think you’ll end up wanting to to), all the stories are linked by Miss Moonshine herself, and her emporium that you’ll find through a floral arch (quite near the bridge…) in the Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge. It’s a shop that’s open when it needs to be, and if Miss Moonshine isn’t immediately behind the counter you’ll find it looked after by her chihuahua Napoleon – and there’s always a particularly special gift to be found on its shelves, chosen for each character, that drives the stories. And, of course, there’s always more than a touch of magic. Every story is very different, picking up the common link and theme – and the whole collection is the perfect showcase for each of its very talented authors.
The first, Jacqui Cooper’s A Glitch in Time, starts things off wonderfully – when Nicola tries on a vintage dress in the emporium’s changing room and emerges to find herself in 1951, changing places with her grandmother Lily who entered the same changing room seventy years before. The balance will be restored – it always is, given a little time – but both women need to spend the rest of the day coping with living through events in a time that’s really uncomfortable and unfamiliar to them both (quite beautifully done). Sophie Claire’s Caught Red-Handed focuses on a valuable pen – it belonged to Ruby’s grandmother, she recognises it from its inscription, and thinks it might bring some joy to her grandfather as he mourns her recent loss – but when she can’t afford it, she slips it into her jacket pocket, an act witnessed by a young man browsing nearby. The pen has a rather different story from the one she imagined – but it does bring joy in a way she never could have expected.
Marie Laval’s Three Butterflies was a particular personal favourite, with French perfumier Olivier visiting Haven Bridge while seeking inspiration for a new fragrance that might just save the perfume house. He stays on a houseboat with Tamsin – a charity worker and guerrilla gardener – and they couldn’t be more different, him all stiff and buttoned up and her surrounded by her rather eccentric friends. I loved the aggressive goose, all the subsidiary characters, Miss Moonshine’s interventions, the inspiration from the butterflies – and the rather lovely unexpected romance. I very much enjoyed Angela Wren’s GU1909 too – where Maddie is asked to work on Miss Moonshine’s Wolseley E4, a car with some spirit of its own, but needs the help of Simon, her former fiancé, to restore the bodywork. A lovely story of fresh starts and second chances.
And then there’s The Secret of Greymoor Hall by Kate Field, where Miss Moonshine introduces Libby, who runs the cat cafe, to Gil who’s now the custodian of the dilapidated house with its chequered history. This one has a bit of everything, including a lovely romance and an unexpected discovery that might just secure Greymoor’s future. The sense of place in this one is particularly well done – and, if I ever have another cat, I think I’d rather like to call him Cyril!
Another of my personal favourites was The Treasure Seekers by Mary Jayne Baker, where Joely and her faithful friend Toby enter The Great British Antique Swap gameshow in the hope that she can win enough money to buy her family home of Bluebird Cottage. She’s so fixed on the idea that the cottage is what she wants that she fails to notice that what she really needs might just have been in easy reach all the time. I really loved the magic touches in this one – especially the clock, but also all the swaps along the way, and the central romance was simply lovely. And then there was Helen Pollard’s Ginny’s Ghost – strange and unexplained noises in Ginny’s flat in Haven Bridge Mills, and when word gets out through an unscrupulous reporter the mystery starts to impact her successful cake-making business. Her attempts to discover the source of the problem – perhaps supernatural, perhaps not – bring Graham (and his technical assistant) into her life as they try to pin down the source of the problem. I really loved the way this one developed, and particularly enjoyed the characters.
Then there was I Shall Wear Purple by Melinda Hammond – another of my personal favourite stories. An accident finds Jeannie resident in a care home – her children have behaved particularly badly, and she can’t see any way of ever being able to live independently again. She’s rediscovered by retired vet Dan, the former love of her life, who’s visiting the area – and he gives her fresh hope, a new zest for life, and the possibility of hope for the future. The story is centred on a rather special tea service in Miss Moonshine’s window – and whether Jeannie will ever be able to retrieve it and enjoy using it again. The whole story and the way it unfolds is quite enchanting – I really loved the older characters, the second chance romance, and the way it made me feel.
And the last story’s rather a special one too – Music, Love and Other Languages by Helena Fairfax. Edith has fled the orchestra, convinced that she’ll never be quite good enough – until she finds a rather special violin in the back room at Miss Moonshine’s emporium. It has a life of its own, and sees her playing wonderful folk tunes she’s never heard before – and when she posts a video on TikTok, her playing unexpectedly becomes an internet sensation. And it also brings a stranger into her life, who helps her discover more about the violin’s past and to give her a clearer path to her future. I really loved the relationship, and – as well as the violin’s magic – particularly enjoyed the part language and communication play. Very original and particularly cleverly handled, and a quite wonderful story.
It’s very wrong of me to pick out favourites really – I just loved every single story. When I reviewed the previous anthologies, I said how much I wished that Miss Moonshine, the wonderful Napoleon and the emporium were real… and I most certainly believe in their special touch of magic. But there’s also a particular magic in the storytelling – I really adored this whole collection, and I do hope it won’t be too long before this exceptionally talented group of authors take us back to Haven Bridge once more.
About the authors
The nine Miss Moonshine authors – Mary Jayne Baker, Sophie Claire, Jacqui Cooper, Helena Fairfax, Kate Field, Melinda Hammond, Marie Laval, Helen Pollard and Angela Wren – meet up regularly in the little mill town of Hebden Bridge, on the border between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire – hence their group name, Authors on the Edge. This picturesque town, home to many writers, artists and musicians, was the inspiration for their magical character Miss Moonshine, and their uplifting series of anthologies featuring romance and happy endings.
I’ll finish by sharing some links to the other appearances on Being Anne of some of these wonderful authors (with most recent first in each list)…
Marie Laval – Review of Bluebell’s Christmas Magic | Review of A Paris Fairy Tale | Review of Little Pink Taxi | author feature and interview for Dancing For The Devil | spotlight and extract from Sword Dance (review of Angel of the Lost Treasure coming up on 4th July – and kicking myself that I still haven’t managed to catch up with the RNA award nominated Escape to the Little Chateau, and also just can’t fit in a review of Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove, out on 22nd June)
Kate Field – Review of Finding Home | Review of A Dozen Second Chances | Review of The Man I Fell In Love With | Review of The Winter That Made Us | Review of The Truth About You, Me and Us | guest post for The Magic of Ramblings
Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory – Author feature for Rescued by her Highland Soldier | author feature for Forbidden to the Highland Laird | Review of Autumn Bride
Now why on earth haven’t I read and reviewed one of Mary Jayne Baker’s books? I think one of her Lisa Swift books would be particularly up my street…