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One of the world’s most suc­cess­ful nov­el­ists, the prodi­gious Danielle Steel presents an­other sim­ply crafted yet hugely read­able tale with her lat­est book, First Sight.

The story is cen­tred on a fe­male pro­tag­o­nist, the hard-work­ing fash­ion de­signer and busi­ness­woman Tim­mie O’Neill, whose work takes her to Mi­lan, Lon­don, New York and Paris, and whose life of­fers small snip­pets of per­sonal com­fort cou­pled with seis­mic down­turns and de­spairs.

A dash­ing French doc­tor, JeanCharles Vernier, comes into her life when she falls sick sud­denly dur­ing Paris Fash­ion­Week. At first Tim­mie and Jean-Charles are only pa­tient and physi­cian. But they be­come con­fi­dants and friends, cor­re­spond­ing at a safe dis­tance be­tween Paris and Los An­ge­les once she goes home.

Are they brave enough to face what comes next? Ro­mance, death, re­jec­tion, vil­i­fi­ca­tion, hope; it’s all here, wrapped in a page­turn­ing bun­dle of ‘hope for us all’.

What­ever the for­mula is, Steel has got it, and al­though First Sight may never be con­sid­ered in the ranks of the great­est of ro­man­tic fic­tion, it will cer­tainly please the mil­lions of Steel fa­nat­ics.

Touché, Danielle, yet again. Since the re­cent rev­e­la­tion that The Cuckoo’s Call­ing was penned by none other than JK Rowl­ing, in­ter­est – and sales – have rock­eted. But this book shouldn’t now sim­ply be known for its hype, it should also be known for be­ing a strong and en­tic­ing read.

On a chilly win­ter evening, a glamorous su­per­model’s life is trag­i­cally cut short af­ter she falls from the bal­cony of her May­fair apart­ment. A thor­ough po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­cludes sui­cide, but her brother John Bris­tow be­lieves oth­er­wise and per­suades pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor Cor­moran Strike to look into the case.

A re­luc­tant Strike prom­ises to re­view the ev­i­dence and the notes made by a very metic­u­lous Bris­tow, but as he and his as­sis­tant Robin dig deeper, dis­crep­an­cies emerge, and soon more mur­ders come to the sur­face. The case plunges Strike into the world of mul­ti­mil­lion­aire beau­ties and des­per­ate de­sign­ers.

It’s a grip­ping tale set in the bus­tle of Lon­don, tak­ing us from the el­e­gant streets of May­fair to the back­streets of the East End, and the author – whether called Galbraith or Rowl­ing – demon­strates su­perb flair as a mys­tery writer. Judy Ast­ley re­turns with her 18th novel In the Sum­mer­time, a long-awaited se­quel to 1994’s Just for the Sum­mer.

It doesn’t mat­ter if you haven’t read the first tale. In the Sum­mer Time tells the story of di­vorced sin­gle mother-of-two Mi­randa, who re­turns to Corn­wall af­ter 20 years away to go on hol­i­day.

Mi­randa holds a lot of mem­o­ries of Chapel Creek. It’s where her mother de­cided to spread the ashes of Mi­randa’s step­fa­ther, and the links don’t end there, as she meets up with her old friends Jessica and An­drew and her first love Steve. But while the cove seems just the same as ever, the peo­ple are dif­fer­ent – more smart new­com­ers, fewer lo­cals and more lux­ury yachts in the har­bour.

Bring­ing her teenage chil­dren Bo and Silva along, Mi­randa feels long-buried mem­o­ries bub­bling to the sur­face as she shows them the re­sort that is so fa­mil­iar and yet so dif­fer­ent to her.

Four­teen-year-old Silva wants to break free and cre­ate her own ex­tra­or­di­nary mem­o­ries, rather than hang­ing out with her mum, aunt, brother and grand­mother.

This is a per­fect read for the beach or to get you in the mood for your hol­i­day.

The Cuckoo’s

Call­ing by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowl­ing) (Sphere), at www.ama­zon. com

In the Sum­mer

Time by Judy Ast­ley (Ban­tam Press), at www. ama­zon.com

First Sight by Danielle Steel (Ban­tam Press), at www. ama­zon.com

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