BOOK REVIEWS: New Talent in World of Romantic Fiction; Her Style Has Been Likened to Jilly Cooper. Sue Robinson Meets a New Midland Author

The Birmingham Post (England), October 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

BOOK REVIEWS: New Talent in World of Romantic Fiction; Her Style Has Been Likened to Jilly Cooper. Sue Robinson Meets a New Midland Author


Byline: Sue Robinson

It's the dream of many, the time you get round to writing your first novel.

And for most it stays a dream. But not for Midland mother Phil-lipa Houldcroft.

Her dream has become a reality at the first attempt and her book, Decent Exposure, has hit the shops after being snapped up for publisher Headline's Little Black Dress series.

This new voice in romantic fiction, writing under the name Phillipa Ashley, has launched her debut novel with more than a hint of raunchiness, so those who like their love stories without the intimate details should steer clear.

But it's so well written, it carries you along through all the chick-lit cliches with compulsory handsome male meeting gorgeous female, and proves a gripping read with misunderstandings all the way as the plot ducks and dives through agony and ecstasy.

This is definitely a book for women who hanker after falling into the arms of knights on white chargers coming to their rescue. It even reminds me of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances.

Phillipa, 42, a copywriter from Hammerwich, near Burntwood, Staffordshire, centres the story in the Lake District and on the making of a "tasteful" fund-raising nude calender featuring the local mountain rescue team.

The calendar plan is devised by our heroine, newly arrived Emma, who has fled London, her high powered PR job and an unhappy love life, to discover peace up North.

But peace is the last thing she is about to find, as the darkly attractive Will, a member of the mountain rescue team, comes into the picture as the calender's very reluctant Mr July.

It's a brilliant first effort, with novel number two from the same publisher about to hit the presses.

Phillipa, an Oxford English graduate and former pupil of Chasetown High School, says Decent Exposure is the most difficult thing she has ever done.

"A lot of people think writing romantic fiction is somehow easy as it doesn't really count as much as a serious book.

"But getting the structure right was so hard," she says.

And making it convincing can be even harder. …

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