Saturday 14 January 2017

HER MOTHER'S SECRET by Natasha Lester

A sweeping story of love and ambition from England to the Manhattan of the 1920s and 1940s by the author of A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD 

1918, England. Armistice Day should bring peace into Leonora's life. Rather than secretly making cosmetics in her father's chemist shop to sell to army nurses such as Joan, her adventurous Australian friend, Leo hopes to now display her wares openly. Instead, Spanish flu arrives in the village, claiming her father's life. Determined to start over, she boards a ship to New York City. On the way she meets debonair department store heir Everett Forsyth . . . In Manhattan, Leo works hard to make her cosmetics dream come true, but she's a woman alone with a small salary and a society that deems make-up scandalous. 

1949, New York City. Everett's daughter, Alice, a promising ballerina, receives a mysterious letter inviting her to star in a series of advertisements for a cosmetics line. If she accepts she will be immortalized like dancers such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ginger Rogers. Why, then, are her parents so quick to forbid it? 

HER MOTHER'S SECRET is the story of a brave young woman chasing a dream in the face of society's disapproval.

Last year I read an amazing historical romance called A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD by Natasha Lester. So I was very excited when I received this ARC.

Leonora East is a simple girl living in a small English village. She works in her father's chemist shop and loves experimenting with cosmetics, which she sells to army nurses and hopes to one day sell openly. Leo also loves spending time with her friend, Joan--an Australian nurse--and looking after her father.

When the war is over, everyone's rejoicing and keen to get back to living normal lives. But the Spanish influenza has other ideas, and when it hits Leo's village it devastates her personally. That's when she decides to embark on an ambitious adventure and moves to New York City.

But on the way, during a weather delay, Leo meets the dashing Everett Forsyth and he sweeps her off her feet. What she thought would be one fantastic night she would fondly remember, turns into the event that changes her life forever. Because suddenly, Everett is everywhere. 

They travel in the same social circles and asociate with the same people, so she can't get away from him and certainly can't be with him. So she throws herself into her work. Leo makes good friends and several enemies, finds a wealthy benefactor, and suffers the long-term consequences of a very hard life decision...

Oh my. This story is SO good! *sigh*

Wow. How do I capture the true scope of this book? I don't think words can really express how deeply this story grabbed me and then dragged me through the many ups and downs, until I was an emotional wreck.

I loved Leo instantly. She's kind and smart and ambitious and beautiful. She fills the pages with excitement and happiness and so much hope, even despair. No matter what, she never forgets who she is or what she wishes to achieve. And Everett. Wow. What an awesome and dashing hero. An honorable man who sacrifices his own happiness to help others. 

The supportive characters are also awesome. From the strong Jia, to the talented Lottie and the fresh-faced Alice. As well as the awful Faye and the conniving Mattie. And Ben, the man with his own dreams and the many fears holding him back.

Yeah, I absolutely LOVED this book. And found the cosmetics revolution absolutely intriguing. Not to mention the determination of these strong, yet different women seeking their wildest dreams during a time when the world was trying to keep them in 'their place'.

Her Mother's Secret is the lavish, inspiring, adventurous, sad story of an ambitious woman determined to chase her dreams in a glitzy city promising so much more. It's also a wonderful, yet heartbreaking love story that spans decades and proves true love never dies. And the amazing way that Natasha Lester captures the feel of this exciting historical era, is perfect!

I enjoyed every moment of this roller-coaster of emotions. Can't wait to see what other thrilling stories this wonderful author has to tell.

Her Mother's Secret, March 2017, ISBN 9780733634659, Hachette Australia

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