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7:00am Saturday 9th June 2012 in NewsXtra
A look at the latest releases, plus what's new in paperback.
By Kate Whiting.
Betrayal by Kay Burley is published in paperback by HarperCollins, priced £7.99. Available now.
With her second novel, you can garner a clear idea as to the trajectory Kay Burley's writing career is going.
It's surely on the upward trend, as the well-known Sky newsreader continues with the well-trodden yet popular route of politics, sex and aristocracy versus nouveau riche clashes.
The young and idealistic Lily Dunlop is angered by the fact that her late father, "the oik-done-good" Joseph, may have dealt her a cruel blow and that her mother, Lady Catherine, has retained a devastating secret, leading to possible earth-shattering ramifications.
However, toss in a rich Arab royal family with a misogynistic prince at its head, a siege inside a Mayfair security vault, a group of cartoon-styled media tycoons, with only ambition and sex on their minds, and a stereotypical collective of hard-drinking working types on the peripheral and only disappointment springs to mind.
Betrayal is a page-turner, but not a very good one.
6/10 (Review by Denise Bailey) Breathless by Anne Sward is published in paperback by MacLehose Press, priced £12.99. Available now.
This emotional but intriguing third novel by the Swedish author of Polarsommar (Arctic Summer) follows protagonist Lo as she reflects on a pivotal time growing up in rural Sweden in the 1970s.
When a fire in the fields provides a chance encounter with a mysterious 14-year-old boy called Lukas, Lo forms a life-changing friendship.
An innocent six-year-old living a sheltered life, protected by the cocoon of her large extended family, it is clear from the start that Lo has a very limited experience of the world beyond the boundaries of her village, 'where the world began or ended'.
Combined with an inquisitive nature and mature appearance that marks her from her peers, Lo worryingly has no fear or knowledge of danger.
Although an uncomfortable read at times, the compelling and thought-provoking story cleverly weaves together Lo's parents' relationship and her own adolescence, exploring the power of her mother's advice, 'beware of love'.
8/10 (Review by Laura Temple) The Columbus Affair by Steve Berry is published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £14.99. Available now.
New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry achieved notoriety worldwide for his series of international suspense thrillers featuring US intelligence agent Cotton Malone.
With this fresh stand-alone novel, Berry introduces complex protagonist Tom Sagan, a disgraced former Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who has lost everything - his job, his wife and his only daughter.
Harbouring a deep-set paranoia resulting from his crumbled reputation, we meet a broken shell of a man, who with a gun in hand is on the verge of ending it all.
A fateful interruption sees Tom swept up in a journey of self-discovery which unearths a secret guarded since the days of Columbus. A secret his father took to the grave.
Intriguing characters and plot twists at every turn will have you hooked from the moment you open this novel.
Fiercely imaginative, Berry serves up a slick thrill ride that will challenge all preconceptions about the discovery of America.
8/10 (Review by Angela Johnson) The Beautiful Truth by Belinda Seaward is published in hardback by John Murray, priced £12.99. Available now.
After 10 years as a journalist, Belinda Seaward became a novelist. It was her second piece of work, Hotel Juliet, published in 2008, which really got her noticed. It told the story of a young woman who returned to her roots in Africa, embarking on a physical and emotional journey.
Seaward returns to this formula in The Beautiful Truth, only this time a more grown-up Catherine journeys from Cambridge to Poland, to meet with a film-maker who begins to unravel the mysteries of her estranged father's past.
She learns about Krystyna, who bravely fought against the Nazi and Soviet occupation of Poland, and whose story unlocks some of the unanswered questions Catherine struggled with in England years later - why had her father fled?
Seaward uses stories from the past to drive the contemporary narrative in this moving and stunningly insightful book.
Young, courageous and frightened Krystyna in 1939 seems just as alive as confused, middle-aged Catherine in present day.
Though the two never met, how their stories intertwine reveals the tragic yet beautiful truth of secret pasts.
10/10 (Review by Abi Jackson) Maria And The Admiral by Rachel Billington is published in hardback by Orion, priced £18.99. Available now.
Lord Cochrane and Maria Graham were thrown together by circumstance in the 1820s and enjoyed a passionate affair, the war hero and the widow escaping the vagaries of their own lives through their desire for each other.
Maria And The Admiral is what author Rachel Billington imagined went on between the two, based on the published journals of Graham following her time in Chile and Brazil.
Billington, the author of both adult novels and children's books, has weaved an insightful picture of the lives of a Napoleonic War hero and an ambitious writer and widow.
The telling part of the whole story was that because of society, and Lord Cochrane's wife and family, they were never able to declare their love openly. Nor she to tell him that she gave birth to his child.
Forced by convention to ultimately be apart - the Admiral with his family in France because of political problems at home and Maria with her second husband - what has ultimately been left for the reader to read between the lines in Billington's work is perhaps the most telling.
6/10 (Review by Roddy Brooks).