Book review: A Good Heart is Hard to Find by Trisha Ashley

A Good Heart is Hard to Find by Trisha Ashley
A Good Heart is Hard to Find by Trisha Ashley
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‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man of over forty is in possession of a major defect.’

Cass Leigh is forty-four, her body clock is running down and she would dearly like to have a baby… the only problem is finding Mr Right before it’s too late.

If you need a blast of warm romance and laugh-out-loud comedy to banish the winter blues, St Helens-born queen of romantic fiction Trisha Ashley’s wonderfully entertaining and gorgeously feelgood tale of love the second time around serves up both in spades.

A beguiling brand of dark Lancashire humour, natural warmth and wisdom, and characters so lovable, quirky and real that you want to live next door to them are just some of the many reasons why Ashley’s clever rom-coms always fly off the bookshelves.

A Good Heart is Hard to Find, which was originally published as Singled Out in 2003, is Ashley at her very best as we hook up with Cass and her enchanting assortment of friends in a sparkling novel that is buzzing with hilarious one-liners, delightful literary allusions and knockabout comic action, and yet still firmly grounded in the realities of women’s lives in contemporary society.

Horror story writer Cass Leigh’s long-term partner Max is handsome, charismatic, sophisticated … and married. For over 20 years she has put up with only seeing him intermittently but now Max has abandoned her for a year of sabbatical leave and taken his wife Rosemary to America, leaving Cass all alone in her damp little cottage.

Cass always dreamed that one day she and Max would be married, but now she is waking up to reality like an elderly Sleeping Beauty and realising that not only is the prince missing, there isn’t even a halfway decent ‘frog’ in the offing.

Very soon, Cass could be marketing herself as ‘old banger, high mileage, one careful owner from new, reliable and in good working order.’

That could all be too late because what Cass really longs for is a baby and, even if his wife wasn’t on the scene, Max seems more interested in playing golf these days than starting a family. But maybe Max is not the only man for Cass?

The two men who currently feature in her life are Jason, one of her oldest friends, who has developed a worrying crush on her, and Dante Chase, the mysterious new owner of Kedge Hall, the country’s most ghost-infested manor house, a man who is even more haunted by his past than Cass is by hers.

Meanwhile, the vicar wants to sell Cass to the highest bidder at the local charity fun slave auction, and Max, Jason and Dante are each determined to bid for her. Suddenly, it’s a choice between Mr Right, Mr Wrong or Mr Right Now…

Ashley is a warm, wise and perceptive writer and there is so much to relish in this clever, down-to-earth story that it is easy to see why readers return to her books time and time again.

Romantic, funny and clever, this is the perfect way to kick-start your reading year!

(Black Swan, paperback, £7.99)