Tangled Lives – Hilary Boyd

What to Expect:

Annie Delancey is happily married, in her early 50s, with three grown children. But Annie guards a dark secret. At age 18 she had a baby boy, and gave him up for adoption. She still thinks of him every day. Then, out of the blue, she receives an official-looking letter from Kent Social Services. Her son, Daniel, wants to make contact. On one hand she is overjoyed – she longs to meet him. On the other, she has never told her children that they have another sibling. Tangled Lives follows the effect this revelation has on her family, as, with Daniel as the catalyst, a few small tears in the family fabric suddenly gape wide.

It’s hard to categorise this one, as it’s not of a frothy subject matter, and yet it’s relatively short and readable with plenty of drama. The leading lady is a little like the one in Thursdays In the Park (same author, previously reviewed), possibly with more assertiveness.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Our heroine here is not to be trifled with; she’s a mature woman who knows her mind. Annie owns a very successful high-end cake business and occasionally whips one up herself to keep her hand in. If anything her capability and confidence is what gets her in trouble- for she is convinced Daniel can slot right in with her existing family. When it blows up in her face she has a few wobbles but handles it better than a less experienced woman might have done.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Annie’s support system consists of her GBF Jamie and her old friend Marjory. She and Jamie are solid, they’ve been friends since childhood and he knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. Marjory is retired and frail but still as supportive as when she housed Annie and other pregnant teens way back when that was something to hide. These days you might think they’d have their own reality series along the lines of ‘Sixteen and Pregnant’, but Annie’s mother Eleanor would be the last person to sanction such a thing. Eleanor is- let’s face it- a raging snob; she even ran a finishing school, and she’s always had a strained relationship with Annie. Ironically if she’d known all along who the teen baby-Daddy was, she’d have been far less keen to sweep it all beneath the carpet. Charles was Annie’s teen fling, successful, from an approved family, he’s a little different now than he was back in their school days, and a welcome contrast to her husband.

Then at home Annie has husband Richard, who has always known about the baby she gave away before he came along and had never been bothered about it- until now. Their kids are in their twenties and had never known about their older half-brother, this news goes down with very mixed results. The youngest, Lucy, welcomes him with open arms and pushes Annie into bringing him into their home too soon. Marsha is more balanced, but Ed takes it very badly. Ed sees his new big brother as the successful son his father had always lacked. He’s already insecure with a beautiful drama-queen of a girlfriend that he doesn’t really trust, so things are ripe for an explosion.

Evaluation of your eBook?– It’s a grownup tale with an older heroine, but works for all ages I believe. The younger generation is represented by Annie’s various kids, who have to deal with a very nasty situation after a party, no spoilers, lets just say it was tricky! The plot moves along nicely and the ending isn’t tied up too neatly, which felt right considering all that had happened. Recommended for some good family drama with a satisfying resolution.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for £1.09

US: Amazon only in paperback. Kobobooks ebook for $4.99.

Thursdays In The Park- Hilary Boyd

This was quite a find, and ridiculously underpriced at only 20p to the UK market.  A tale of a woman in her sixties finding true love and escaping an unhealthy marriage might not sound exciting, but it’s so well told that I devoured it in one go!  When Jeanie reaches her 60th birthday, her family are ready to pack her off to the country to retire. Her quietly domineering husband has decided that she will sell her successful small business and fails to even notice or explain the lack of intimacy in their marriage.

While caring for her granddaughter one afternoon a week Jeanie meets Ray in the park (hence the title), with his grandson.  Their friendship becomes more important as events transpire to keep them apart.

Kooks for your Kindle?– No wacky side-kicks in this tale, just real-life, unexaggerated, well portrayed characters.  Jeanie’s daughter and son-in-law also have a troubled marriage, but with different problems, and that too is subtly written.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor–  Generally, when the main character in a book starts out in a bad situation, being oppressed by the bad-guy, you know they will finally snap and fight back. However, due to events beyond our heroine’s control, it does take a while and it’s a little painful to see someone so worn down by years of manipulation.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– It’s written from Jeanie’s point of view, and she clearly loves London, its neighbourhoods and parks.  The book is also a touching depiction of how a grandparent’s love for their grandchild can be as powerful as a parent’s.

Nookie for your Nook?– Luckily for Jeanie, she puts the ‘sex’ in ‘sexagenarian’, but so tastefully that this could safely be recommended to the Mother-in-law.

Evaluation of your eBook?– Tricky to categorise this one, I’ve gone with ‘Frothy with Substance’ purely because it was so cheap and readable, but the subject matter (infidelity, child abuse, mental illness) would place it more in the ‘Much more Substantial’ category.  It’s not as depressing as that might make it sound, and is a beautiful, subtle, nuanced tale of how age is no boundary to love and romance, and life does not end at 60!!

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:
UK: As mentioned, only 20p on Amazon, and £5.59 in paperback at Waterstones.

US: A little pricier at approximately $10.20 but still worth it, and for $11.29 at Kobobooks.