Melanie Archer – The Reading Chestnut.




5 out of 5 stars Published by Corazon Books
Review by Melanie Archer
The Reading Chestnut

DOESN’T EVERYONE HAVE A SECRET? I admit I am not one for e-books, personally I love the weight of, the smell and the ability to touch a paperback that is resting in my hands. However I am proud to say that ‘Doesn’t everyone have a secret?’ Sue Shepherd’s début novel has changed this for me. I read this book in roughly six hours and only put it down as I had to sleep! This is a well crafted page-turner of a book.
Have you ever wondered if that nagging voice in your head, the one reminding you of things you should and shouldn’t be doing, is not your voice at all, that this small nagging almost inaudible voice that changes everything belongs to a guardian angel, your guardian angel? This is the basis for this book and is explored in beautiful, tantalizing, detail, which by the end made me look over my shoulder wondering if my angel was there with me then.
Sue Shepherd’s romantic comedy has created believable,honest, true to life characters and tells their story with humour and gentleness caressing the edges of their world taking the reader along with them. Both during and at the end I had goosebumps and shivers running down my spine, this is how much I fed into the lives of a charming cast of characters.
Watching over Steph Stubbs, Mike Bannerman and Penny Littleton are a team of guardian angels who, without their knowledge, watch over their daily lives, the normal, the abnormal, offering support and guidance where it is required, making subtle suggestions to help move their lives forward but not always successfully.
Steph, wife, mother of two, living a normal day-to-day existence, meets Gareth Churchill, the new headmaster at her children’s school. Handsome, sexy, funny and charming, Gareth soon has Steph considering an affair and reconsidering her marriage, but is he as charming as she thinks?
Mike is the local vicar, husband, father and a loving son, believes that he is doing the best thing by his family by keeping Maggie from them, but thanks to both circumstance and a blackmailer intervening Mike ends up questioning whether secrets should be kept at all.
And then there is Penny, quirky, funny and a little bit lost who has the biggest struggle of all, Penny struggles not only with daily life due to a crush on her boss and OCD but Penny is being held back by the biggest secret of all, one she must face if she is ever to progress further.
This beautiful cast of characters are woven into one another’s lives in unexpected ways where they find strength and opportunity to share and confront their secrets.
With this page turner of a book the reader is taken on a roller-coaster ride of emotions; there are surprises hidden throughout and all are delivered with sensitivity, humour, depth and warmth. Doesn’t everyone have a secret? will make you laugh out loud and it will make you cry. If you enjoy other chick-lit favourites such as Jill Mansell, Wendy Holden, Erica James, Sophie Kinsella then you will love Sue Shepherd, she writes from the heart and she has a quality that shines through the words and allows you to read what is written and equally what is not. Sue Shepherd packs a punch with her writing and this is a story that will stay with you long after its finished. This will certainly not be her last novel and I have made space on my e-reader for her next book.

5 out of 5 stars Love this book do not leave it, 27 Sept. 2016
By Melanie Archer The Reading Chestnut
This review is for: LOVE THEM AND LEAVE THEM: A heartbreaking and heartwarming romantic comedy (Kindle Edition)
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.

Following the success of her debut novel Doesn’t everyone have a secret?, Sue Shepherd is back with Love them and Leave them, a novel based around the ever prominent ‘what if’ moment. Ed is driving, the rain is pouring, a rabbit on the road, does he swerve or does he continue on his journey? The decision Ed makes will go on to affect his family’s life in different ways.
Six years on Jessica is on her way to becoming a successful barrister and has just won her first case. About to settle down with her boyfriend Nick in her dream home, everything is going well for Jessica until Coco Borges walks into her office stating that her boyfriend Chris can’t possibly be guilty, but her boyfriend looks very familiar to Jessica and soon her world begins to fall apart at the seams.
Six years on Jessie never went to university as she was needed at home and is now working as a waitress with her best friend Coco. One day her unreliable boyfriend Chris, who she adores, says he needs her, only she can’t bring herself to do as he wants and risks losing him. Coco and Chris hold the key to help Jessie get her life back on track.
From the beginning following whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are to come into his daughter’s life yet in different ways.
Sue has her own style of writing which shows as the two story-lines flowed separately and there was no confusion as to which thread I was following and which part the supporting characters played. Believable characters whom I liked and disliked as intended, and as the story progressed my feelings towards both Jessica and Jessie changed.
There were some moments in this novel which bought a genuine tear to my eye, and some which made me laugh, and Sue has avoided obvious plot twists with some surprising moments that I did not see coming. I felt that this book had a slight darker feel to it than Doesn’t everyone have a secret? yet when I can read a novel in a couple of sittings, and have an emotional response to a novel then in my opinion that author deserves to keep her place in the bestseller list and I would recommend this novel to new and existing fans of Sue Shepherd.

4 out of 5 stars I can’t get it out of my head
on 31 March 2018
Format: Kindle Edition

Three years after Sue Shepherd’s debut novel Doesn’t everyone have a secret? I still find myself thinking about it and wondering what my guardian angel is up to and what they have in store for me, so I am eager to get stuck into her third novel CAN’T GET YOU OUT of MY HEAD.
Meet Beth and Lisa, they share a connection that only twins can. Beth is young, eager to please and naive, where as Lisa is confident and secure and feels free to voice her own thoughts and opinions. Just before their tenth birthday, a friend is put in danger, can the girls get help in time? As teenagers they meet handsome Mario, and Beth quickly thinks she is falling in love with him and is eager to be the girlfriend she thinks she should be. Encouraged by their Nanna, they and their friend Michelle set out on an adventure to Australia for some much needed time out, where they meet a good looking traveller who takes Beth under his wing. Returning from Australia Beth is ready to settle, ready to be an adult and start a new life away from the old but will she be able to see what is right in front of her? Lisa, however just wants to have fun and live a little. The relationship the girls have is tried and tested along the away, but at the end of the day is one willing to sacrifice what they want for what the other needs?
Sue brings her characters to life, you love them, loathe them, feel sorry for them, egg them on, and breathe for them. She is able to make you feel slightly uncomfortable, pulls you through a hedge backwards, turning you upside down, yet somehow she still fills you with hope that everything will be OK in the end. Sue is one of those authors that you want to phone up or text at every opportunity throughout the story just to share what is going on through the hands of these people that she has created.
Sue Shepherd, in my opinion has created a deep, three dimensional book which I devoured in two sittings, and like with her previous novels I took these characters to heart, I think about them, I dream about them and I felt I really got them, this is not your normal girl meets boy love story, it is a story of love and the bond between sisters and what that means.

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