Do you remember those moments from your childhood when the excitement of an event was all you could think about ? Even better, when the event finally came, and lived upto your expectations and stayed with you forever ? It was like this for me with this book. I just adored it. I first got to hear Diane was working on this last year through a Facebook group that I belong to (you can click on it here) So what else could I do but advance order it and eagerly await for it to appear in my download queue ?
After her success with “How still my love“, this book see’s Diane return to writing not just one, but a collection of 5 shorter stories, released as one volume. One of these, Imperial hotel, has been released previously, but to be honest, I didn’t mind this as it’s by some way my favourite short story. As an added bonus, you also get an excerpt of “How still my love” to enjoy at the end. Really nice addition. Even if you’re not a fan, this latest book is well worth checking out. Diane has a really versatile writing style, which is showcased in beautiful scenes featuring a wonderful wicked sense of humour. She writes the kind of books I would love to be able to write myself.
Let me tell you a little about her latest release, while trying not give too much away…..
Italian Summer tells the story of Jessica, a young woman who escapes to Italy to recover from a break-up with Keira. Staying at the wonderfully named “Appartamenti della Cinque Lune” she explores the local tourist sights, before meeting Antonella, a local tour guide who lives in the apartment next door. This is a story about how “the one” can utterly change your life, making you alive to the possibilities of taking chances and living in the moment. It’s beautifully framed by Diane’s signature ability to create a scene and rich, intriguing characters, leaving you the chance to create your own sequel and backstories. (For me one of the best things about a short story) As anyone who knows me would tell you, its my favourite of the set, right in my comfort zone and preferred genre, I would definitely fly to meet Antonella – yummy !!!
Sweet girl. This story, written for some friends of the author, (who share a fondness for all things confectionary) see’s Mandy, a local confectioner, fall for Skylar, a woman, who I’m not afraid to admit, wears mascara the way I want to !!! There’s more to Skylar than meets the eye though and soon Mandy wonders if “sugar and spice, really is all that’s nice”, or whether, in the books penultimate scene whether Skylars betrayal was just “sugar loving”. This was an intriguing story for me, whose twist, when it was revealed took the story in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I like that. It was a nice touch, which again, drew me to the characters and the possibility of their follow on story, but in a different way to the first. I also found myself wondering whether it was a insight into the authors friends, particularly when I read “If you want to woo me, buy me a book for valentines day” Something only an author would say, particularly when there’s the possibility of chocolate !!!
It’s only love. As you would expect from the story which the book is named after, this is a little longer than the pre-ceeding ones. It’s also a departure from what you might expect from, but her trademark writing skills are all on display here. We join Cameron, our lead, questioning her sexuality after a bad encounter with Evan, who even in the brief time we know him comes across as a complete sleaze. In an attempt to forget him and acting on a conversation she heard on the train, Cameron goes to a local fetish club and horror of horrors, meets two of her friends !!! Breezing past the potentially awkward encounter, Grayson leads her into an antechamber with Corbin ( a girl she has been friends with for a long time, even lusting after) Although initially a threesome, the encounter quickly becomes about Cameron and Corbin as Diane treats us to some really expressive, descriptive and powerfully erotic writing. It’s clear from her words that she has really enjoyed this story and understood the premise of this type of relationship, born out of friendship, that turns into exclusivity. Like the others before, it gives you enough detail to be complete on its own, while inviting you to experiment with the characters after you finish, but in a very different genre. Personally, I really enjoyed this one and can see why Diane has named the book after it. I loved the names of two of the protagonists and the concept of the story – Cameron and Corbin. If you’re from the UK, this alone makes the whole book worth buying and reading !!! It’s just typically Diane, different, edgy, thoroughly enjoyable and one I’m sure her fans will love and why not ?
Blue lamp. Continuing on with the edgy theme, this paranormal story sees Miranda and Chelsea move to Mirandas fathers house at his request after two couples unexpectedly move out at short notice for no apparent reason. For me, this was the most different of all the four stories and one that I hadn’t expected to enjoy as much I did. I’m more of a girly romance fan than a paranormal one, but its a well written story with a lot to enjoy in it as well as its very own “Eeeeeek” moment at the end !!! . Told separately Miranda’s and Chelsea’s viewpoints, I’m told that it really captures the essence of how possession and channelling feel from a spiritually open and sensitive persons viewpoint (Chelsea) counterplaying it with the more questioning and sceptical one from Miranda. It’s positively good fun and a really strong addition to the set. I hope she writes more in this style.
Imperial hotel is a beautiful love story which tells of the relationship between Joan and Lily in a time when the social attitudes and expectations of women were very different. The book divides neatly into three parts, their introduction, courtship and latter day reflection, with the story highlighting each woman’s thoughts about the relationship during each part. Joan’s introduction to Lily at the hotel is typical of many around the world at a time of arranged marriages. Her mother is introducing her to the socialite scene and looking for lily to “mentor” her in order to find an appropriate suitor. From this introduction, Joan’s feelings for Lily develop as they spend more time together making arrangements for both Lilys wedding, Joan’s courtship and volunteer work at a nearby homeless shelter. Joan and Lilys characters each have a different appeals and vulnerabilities which depending on your own perspective, you’ll find hard not to sympathise with at least one, or both off. I personally aligned with Lily, not just because of her rebellious nature that is full of hope, but also what she stands to lose in terms of how her life develops. For me, that made her the villain of the story, who also comes complete with her own “pretty woman” moment, which I would defy you not to smile at ! Joan’s character (for me the heroine) is more confident of her feelings after their initial introduction, but which aren’t enough for Lily to buck the social convention and path laid out for her. Reeling from this rejection, Joan throws herself back at rebuilding her life and her university studies, with Lily seeking her out again, shortly after the birth of her child.
Four very different stories, from a very talented writer. One of the really nice things about an anthology for both the writer and the reader, the author gets to take a chance and try something different, without potentially ruining a whole book for her readers and the reader gets to experience a different style with someone that they know and trust. Overall for me – completely worth a 5 star review. You’re sure to find something to suit your preference here and if you do, why not pop her a note to let her know which one you would like a sequel to ? You never know – you could end up with your own version of “sweet girl” !!!
If you would like to hear more about what this talented author is upto, you can check out her out at the following contact points.