Another NetGalley read from the publishers HarperCollins – I couldn’t resist jumping almost straight into this one after I so enjoyed the first in the series, “The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts“. This series really is a treat; yes, they are essentially light and fun romances, but they have a lovely community of characters and enough literary references to satisfy this reader, at least. Highly recommended for a gentle and fun read that you won’t be able to put down.

And it never stops – those pesky (not pesky) NetGalley emails pop through and before you know it, you have a book called “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” popped into your Kindle. Just the kind of multi-generational, cross-cultural novel I love and should be another treat.

Annie Darling – “True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop”

(ebook, downloaded 11 July 2017)

Starting almost where the last book left off, this tells the story of what happens when introvert Verity, the assistant manager of the shop and someone who refuses to even work the till, ditches her completely imaginary boyfriend and takes up with a real man – but not a boyfriend – for the summer of social doings where it’s so much easier to have a plus one than be badgered with blind dates. She’s not to fall in love with him, however, because his Heart Belongs To Another.

So yes, the central story is light and a little silly because you kind of think they’re bound to end up together, but it’s very charming because of the layers and intelligence of the structure around it. Plus there’s not one of those shoehorned-in Imagined Peril sub-plots that lesser novels often seem to use to build the tension. Verity has a wonderful family of loud sisters and a Vicar dad / The Vicar’s Wife mum, and they’re beautifully drawn. She has a quote from Pride and Prejudice for every occasion and a cat for comic relief (and I trusted the cat-loving author to look after him, which she thankfully did), plus Poor Alan, the Vicarage dog, complete with bee-keeping outfit (I have a friend who will love this book just on the strength of that). There’s an excellent villainess and one point where the reader can feel clever knowing they’ve picked up a clue Verity hasn’t, and believable friendships among the characters and the businesses around the shop, which gives a lovely solid aspect to the book.

And who can beat a writer who can do a lovely light romance and also work in references to E.M. Delafield and have her family of lively sisters look back fondly on their favourite game of “Being the Mitford Sisters”? It’s wry and clear-headed and modern, and while there’s not as much bookshop detail as in the first novel (although the mysterious PhD student, Tom, with his bow-ties and cardigans is described as catnip for female shoppers!), it’s just as good as the first one and I can’t wait for the next in the series to come out!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for making this available in return for an honest review.

I’m still currently reading “Their Eyes were Watching God” and “Eat and Run” (a funny pairing, but one upstairs and one down, so they don’t get mixed up) and I’m hoping for some solid reading time over the weekend to get those done and burrow into a Persephone. What does the weekend’s bookiness hold for you?