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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

Over the course of her writing career Penny Jordan wrote 187 books for Mills & Boon, of which I have read many. There was a hint of sadness and poignancy, then, as I read this book to review for the publisher, because it is Penny’s last book, written in her last year before losing her battle with cancer.

The heroine, Louise, has returned to her grandparents’ home in Sicily, on a mission to lay their ashes to rest there. But first she must get permission from the local patronne, Caesar, which opens a whole can of worms, given that the last time she saw Caesar she was a rebellious teenager who slept with him, was rejected and then disappeared to secretly bear his child. As the story unfolds, we see Louise and Caesar trying to untangle the past, their secrets and their sense of duty to family and villagers, all the while wrestling with their ongoing attraction to each other.

Abundantly passionate, beautifully written, this book drew me in from the first paragraph. I especially like Penny’s way of focusing on the emotional aspect of the story at all turns – coupled with her ability to smoothly move the reader between Louise’s and Caesar’s point of view, I felt a great sense of being in each character’s mind and really understanding them.

My favourite scene in the book is the one in which the two lovers finally shed their defences and come together. I don’t want to spoil the plot-line, but I will say that the power of the stormy weather wonderfully adds drama and passion to the sequence: ‘“One storm is over, but there is another, I think, that is possessing us both with equal ferocity of need – if you trust me with that need, with our love?”’

The ending left me with a warm, happy glow – just the happy ever after you crave in a book such as this, with loose ends neatly tied up and a lovely surprise twist.

In all, a great romantic read and a wonderful testament to this prolific and much-loved writer.

A Secret Disgrace is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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