February Reads 2021

Updated: Mar 26

A good mix this month starting and ending with historical novels. In between there's some fantasy (The Shadow in the Glass), and some gritty real life experiences (The World at My Feet and Three Women) and a bit of rom-com (High Heels in the Highlands). Some of these books are new, yet to be released and others highly acclaimed and well established. All books I would recommend as I don't feature books I didn't finish or award 3 stars or more.


Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane

The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood

The World at My Feet by Catherine Isaac

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

High Heels in the Highlands by Liz Hurley

Cecily by Annie Garthwaite


To buy from bookshop.org please follow the link, your local bookshop will be very grateful.




Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane

Published by Littwitz Press


Official Blurb

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up? Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she starts writing a medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford. But is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own?


My Review

I was looking for something light and escapist and Jenny Kane promised ‘book hot chocolate’! I love that description and it’s certainly accurate. The characters and dual plot works really well and gives you satisfying warm glow. I chose this largely because Jenny is a local author but also I knew the historical sections would be very well researched as Jenny (like her protagonist Grace) is a medieval historian.

I am very keen to follow this with the Folville Chronicles which is the next instalment in Matilda of Twyford’s story.


Note: The copy I received was an uncorrected proof and full of typos and grammar issues. I tried not to let it affect my enjoyment or my rating but they were noticeable.


My Rating

4 stars




The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood

Published 18 March 2021 by HarperVoyager


Official Blurb

A deliciously gothic story of wishes and curses – a new dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke.

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…

A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern


My Review

One of the things that struck me quite strongly was how little power women living in the Victorian era had. Some of Ella’s choices are frustrating and I had to keep reminding myself that the time that she lived in was so different to ours. The wishes she chooses particularly in the beginning had me sighing with irritation! The backdrop, the research is very detailed and accurate which is satisfying and I enjoyed pretty much everything about this book. The only criticism would be the rather clichéd antagonist. The more fantastical the outward appearance of the ‘godmother’ the less believable she becomes for some reason. Thank you to netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.


My Rating

4 stars



The World at My Feet by Catherine Isaac

Published 18 March by Simon & Schuster Uk


Official Blurb

The secrets that bind us can also tear us apart… 1990. Harriet is a journalist. Her job takes her to dangerous places, where she asks questions and tries to make a difference. But when she is sent to Romania, to the state orphanages the world is only just learning about, she is forced to rethink her most important rule. 2018. Ellie is a gardener. Her garden is her sanctuary, her pride and joy. But, though she spends long days outdoors, she hasn’t set foot beyond her gate for far too long. Now someone enters her life who could finally be the reason she needs to overcome her fears. From post-revolution Romania to the idyllic English countryside, The World at My Feet is the story of two women, two worlds, and a journey of self-discovery that spans a lifetime.


My Review

Up until 20% I was wondering where this was going. It seemed a light rom-com style book, something that if made into a film Katherine Heigle would star in, you know the kind of thing. Witty, well written but not much substance. Then… it suddenly becomes something else. I don’t want to spoil it but it tackles a subject that is dark, traumatic and sadly very real. I was very moved at the end. Thank you to netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.


My Rating

4.5 stars



Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Published by Bloomsbury


Official Blurb

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn't touch her?

All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town?

All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women?


Three Women, which was nearly a decade in the making, is a staggering work of non-fiction for our times.


My Review

The copy I had gave no clue about what the book was about; it was covered in reviews that in hindsight gave the wrong impression. “Totally addictive” Dolly Alderton said which made it sound like a thriller; it’s not!


I should have read the following which is on the Waterstones website it would have been helpful although the author forward was also insightful.


A riveting exploration of female sexuality and desire, and the often yawning chasms between enticing fantasy and cruel reality, Three Women is suffused both with erotic yearning and raw honesty, and serves as a vital document of twenty-first century sexual politics.’


I personally thought the structure didn’t complement the content. It was broken into alternating chapters telling Lina, Maggie’s and the other one’s story bit by bit. In doing so you are anticipating the stories to overlap and come together in some way, but they don’t. It would have been easier to follow if it had been told like ‘Girl Woman Other,’ where you can focus on each person one after the other. Lucky my copy was a paperback so I could keep flipping back to remind myself who was who. This is a book worthy of study so don’t read it if like me you just want something relaxing!


My Rating

4 stars



High Heels in the Highlands by Liz Hurley

Published by Hera 24 March 2021


Official Blurb

Clementine’s swapped a London flat for a Scottish castle – but will she get her fairytale ending?

After discovering they had inherited an enormous fortune, as well as the titles of ‘Lady’, the lives of the five Hiverton sisters have never been the same.

While oldest sister Ariana settles in Norfolk, fashion designer Clementine heads to the Scottish Highlands to investigate their newly inherited castle. Not bad for a girl brought up in poverty in a tiny house in East London…

However, Lady Clem quickly finds out that Ruacoddy Castle is falling to pieces, the neighbours – especially grumpy young farmer, Rory – are suspicious of her and the eccentric housekeeper, Ottoline, is still in residence.

But just as Clem starts to embrace her new life in the Highlands, growing closer to Rory and forming a friendship with Ottoline, she stumbles upon a secret in the attic that could destroy the Hiverton family. Can she save the castle as well as her family’s reputation?

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object?


My Review

After the heavy going ‘Three Women’ I needed something light!

This is full of fun characters, a Scottish castle, a fashion show, the art world, and ‘High Heels..’ is an ideal beach read.

However, do not start questioning the plot, because once you do the story becomes a little annoying.

There are just loads of things that don’t add up, not least why do the girls inherit the castle in the first place when their uncle has two surviving children who are the direct line? Also why is it decided by the sisters that it’s Clem who goes to investigate the castle when as far as they know she’s about to launch a fashion show? Nick who has given up her job to focus on the finances for the estate is surely better placed to visit? The list goes on.

Anyway, ignore that and it’s light-hearted upbeat writing. Thank you to netgalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.



My rating

3 stars



Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

Published July 2021 Penguin


Official Blurb

'Rebellion?' The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips. She chooses to start a fire. You are born high, but marry a traitor's son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past. You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise. You are Cecily. But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then? Loyalty or treason - death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move. Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.



My Review

This is a period I first fell in love with as a teenager when my mother gave me Katherine by Anya Seaton. Katherine is Cecily’s grandmother and Cecily is born into wealth and privilege and understands exactly how to use her power. She becomes the mother of two Kings first Edward IV and then Richard III.


‘Cecily’ is exceedingly well written. Unlike Seaton and Gregory, Garthwaites style is not contemporary romance although there is no doubt of the devotion between Cecily and her husband. Comparisons have already been to Mantle but it’s much easier to read. The language is something else, something unique that is perfect for Cecily’s story, forthright but controlled and noble.


This is the last book I read in February and it’s my book of the month.


My Rating

5 stars

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