Tickled Pink by Christina Jones

Steeple Fritton is a quaint country village in the doldrums. The village pub, The Crooked Sixpence, is run by the less-than-charming landlord, Hogarth, who is hardly welcoming. There are empty shops and a bed and breakfast that is barely managing to break even.
Posy is in the doldrums, too. When the novel starts she has been dumped by her childhood sweetheart and, as their wedding day arrives, she decides to run away and make a new life for herself in Swindon. As you do. Luckily for Posy, a problem with her beloved motorbike and a chance encounter with a dog called Persephone sees her heading back to Steeple Fritton, determined to hold her head high and show everyone she’s not defeated.

Lola arrives in Steeple Fritton by pure chance. She’s had the worst run of bad luck and feels life can’t get much worse. To make things even more difficult, she ends up at the bed and breakfast place run by Posy’s parents, and it turns out that she and Posy are both nursing broken hearts but are from different sides of the fence, which initially leads to a great deal of tension and hostility.

Gradually, Posy and Lola decide to take matters into their own hands and turn not only their own lives around, but the fate of Steeple Fritton itself. When two gorgeous men arrive in the village hearts begin to heal and hopes begin to surface, but Flynn and Ellis have their own baggage, and there are tough decisions, sizzling passion, laughter and heartbreak ahead for all four of them.

I loved the warmth of this book. It had a real, cosy village feel to it, and there was a wonderful assortment of secondary characters with marvellous names like Tatty and Glad and The Pinks. I liked the fact that good things didn’t just start to happen for Posy and Lola – they made them happen. They took charge of their lives and, despite the blows that life had dealt them, they stopped moping pretty quickly and set about changing things. In the process of improving their own lot, they managed to improve the lot of the villagers and put Steeple Fritton well and truly on the map. Both Lola and Posy are very likeable characters – women you would want to be friends with – and Ellis and Flynn are, well, phwoar!

With a carnival, an old-fashioned fair and the Orient Express all thrown in for good measure, this really is one steamy romance in the nicest possible way. And it’s made me quite nostalgic for Adam Ant. Read it and bask in the eccentric warmth of Steeple Fritton and its delightful characters. 5/5