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    Chippendale and Home Brew

    Antiques, a Lovejoy-esque dealer and the Scottish Highlands - realoly what isn't to love about this book. Admittedly I am rather biased having been in the antiques trade myself (yes, the character of Evie's boss is sadly realistic) and being married to a Scot (albeit a Lowlander) but I really did enjoy this book. Hester Browne's young ladies are all of a certain ilk - upper middle class and not very good with relationships - often, just not very good with people as a whole. Somehow, she manages to make these characters eminently likeable for this reader, even if their life situations and experiences are ones I only know about from books. Usually having little to hang your hat on in the way of commonality with the heroine can be disastrous for a book but that simply does not apply to this book. Evie may have had some privileges in her upbringing but she is a struggling working girl with a hoarding habit for the kitsch and the unloved and that definitely endears her to us. Unfortunately, the romance is flagged early on and you know how that is going to work out from almost the moment she arrives at the ancestral home. The search for "treasure" within the walls is also a little over-telegraphed and before the finding of certain documentary evidence you know how that is going to work out. There is a nice little twist on the treasure side of things at the end of the book but I won't spoil it for you. The enjoyability of this book comes from the characters and the setting. A Valentine's Ball with years of tradition in a Castle is certainly not to be sniffed at - even if it is snowing outside and the heating bills are astronomical so you are usually at the mercy of the draughts and wrapped up like Bibendum. The plot jogs along at a wonderfully relaxed pace, allowing you to savour the setting and enjy the character interactions on the page. Bright, fresh and breezy it is not great literature. However, it is an incredibly fun way to pass a few hours which is sure to put a smile on your face from time to time. Everyone lives and breathes on the page and you do get quite swept up in their individual lives.
5

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