The Trouble With Knights in Shining Armour by Valerie-Anne Baglietto

Having read and loved this author’s previous book, Once Upon A Winter, I had high hopes for The Trouble With Knights In Shining Armour. Reading the blurb and discovering that one of the characters was called Gawain only increased my optimism that this would be a story well worth reading. I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. Valerie-Anne Baglietto is a wonderful writer, with the ability to transport her readers to another world where all things are possible. From the very beginning of the story, with its allusions to Narnia, I was already opening my mind and heart to the possibilities of the unseen and the hidden – the realm beyond this reality. There is a tenderness and beauty in her prose that leaves me feeling happier for having read it; a sprinkling of magic in her stories that makes me believe that anything is possible, and what could be better than that?
MaryAnn Laurey and her young daughter Beth arrive at the family home of Wychewood in North Wales, in need of an escape. MaryAnn has had a broken engagement, her mother is embarrassed by her, anxious to send her away until the fuss dies down, and her three-year-old daughter has retreated into silence for reasons that MaryAnn cannot fathom. If anyone needs a knight in shining armour it’s MaryAnn, and when she meets Gawain he arouses feelings in her that she never knew existed. But why are her Uncle Rex and housekeeper Dilys so worried about their budding relationship if Gawain is as perfect as he seems to be? What is his secret?
With Wychewood’s future uncertain and her mother pressurizing her to secure the place for her branch of the family, the arrival of an American relative with plans for the estate causes more confusion and places Beth in great danger. With Gawain, her gallant knight, riding to the rescue, it is only much later that MaryAnn realises the terrible fate that awaits her¬†daughter as a result. As events take a dramatic turn, MaryAnn must face up to the inevitable and recognise that there is more than one knight at the court of Wychewood.

This is a lovely story of love, loss and hope. An enchanting, modern-day fairytale where we learn that people are not always as they first appear to be, and it’s not just a frightened little girl who needs to find her voice.
Utterly spellbinding, like all good fairy tales it will leave you feeling like you’ve just learned a great truth all wrapped up in love and magic. Wonderful. 5/5

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The Trouble With Knights in Shining Armour

The Trouble With Knights in Shining Armour

Breathless by Louise Marley

I have to confess I really didn’t pay enough attention to the blurb for this book. I think I just saw the cover and skimmed the description, which was why what happened a little way into the story took me so much by surprise. The cover gave me the impression of a bright and light chick-lit type novel – it’s not. Actually, what it is an amazingly entertaining and gripping read.
Set in the ancient coastal town of Port Rell, this novel has everything. It’s kind of like The Famous Five for adults, with smugglers, historical diary entries, old shipwrecks, murder, mystery and romance. Sadly not much ginger beer, but even so…
Seriously, this book is well worth reading. I quickly became hooked, wanting to know just what the heck was going on in Port Rell and who was behind it all.
The heroine of the novel is Lainey, a young girl whose entire life has been dominated by the wreck of the Mary Eliza, a ship which may or may not lie in the waters off Port Rell. Her father was obsessed with the wreck’s whereabouts and it cost him his life. Lainey wants to prove that he was right and is desperate to find proof that the Mary Eliza exists, but she’s not the only one.
Before long, Lainey finds herself a suspect in a murder case and is caught in a baffling mystery, not knowing who she can trust and losing everything as events twist and turn around her.
So what did I love about this novel? Well, Lainey herself is a great heroine. She’s very independent, very strong minded and far from helpless. However, she does make mistakes and she’s certainly not perfect. I also loved the setting. Port Rell is a character in itself, beautifully described and inhabited by some fascinating characters. I liked the diary entries from the late seventeenth century which provided a lovely subplot. Lainey’s friends were nicely drawn, too, and I really liked the mysterious Greg.
I loved the fact that the first shock came quite early in the book. Without giving anything away, it really did leave me breathless as I just wasn’t expecting it. After that, I was never sure who was behind the sinister happenings and was as baffled as Lainey, wondering if Greg was someone I could really trust and not being certain about anyone!
I would definitely recommend this novel. It’s a real adventure story for grown ups with a touch of romance to warm the heart and some intriguing and entertaining characters. The only thing I would possibly change would be the cover. Lovely for a different sort of story,¬†it really doesn’t do this gem of a novel justice. 5/5

Edited to show that, since writing this review, the author has indeed changed the cover of the book. The top image shows the new cover and the bottom image is the original, to which I was referring. Love the new cover, Louise!

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