‘Another warm, wise and witty offering from Sunday Times bestseller Trisha Ashley. James is everything
Tish has ever wanted in a husband - she's married a man who even her mother approves of. He's handsome, dependable, and will make an excellent father - unlike Tish's first love, the disreputable Fergal. Her teenage sweetheart abandoned her for a music career and now lives a typical celebrity lifestyle. Fergal broke her heart - James helped mend it. Now, they've bought a cottage in
the country. The next step - kids and a lifetime of domestic bliss. Well, that's the plan. And even if James has a slight tendency to view the village pub as a
second home, their relationship is still in pretty good shape after seven years of marriage. So why is marriage to Mr Right making her long for Mr Wrong?’
Romance writer Tish is married to James, a perfect husband, on paper at least. It looks like everything is going perfectly for the couple when they move to a lovely country cottage in a sweet little village. Unfortunately, their new home is more Tish’s ideal than James’, and the cracks in their marriage rapidly appear, with James spending less and less time at home, and more time on the office photocopier with an attractive young co-worker.
To make matters worse, rock star Fergal, Tish’s first love and the basis for all her romance heroes, moves to the village. All of a sudden Tish is struggling to save her marriage at the same time as doing her best to ignore her reignited feelings for Fergal, who she finds just as irresistible as ever.
‘Good Husband Material’ is told from Tish’s point of view, but with a small ‘add-on’ from Fergal at the end of each chapter. This isn’t a method I’ve seen employed much before, and I quite liked it, although Fergal was such a lovable character that I could perhaps have done with a little more of what was going on his mind.
At first, Tish came across as a bit too nutty, she’s not very kind to animals and her germ neuroses seemed bizarre. However, it wasn’t long before she’d won me over and I swiftly came to love all her little quirks, which certainly made Tish stand out from other heroines.
I really liked the various characters living in the village that Tish moves to – the owner of the local shop was particularly amusing. I was surprised to realise my favourite character in the book was James – he was just so useless and some of his scenes were simply hilarious. He was a thoroughly nasty piece of work and he deserved all the disasters that befell him!
Set in 1999-2000, this is actually a re-release of Trisha’s first romantic comedy and in fact I found that Trisha’s writing in ‘Good Husband Material’ wasn’t quite as polished as I’ve come to expect from her books. There’s no doubt though that I thoroughly enjoyed the story, especially the second half, when I’d got used to all of Tish’s little foibles, and I literally raced through the last few chapters to reach the tale’s charming, and very romantic conclusion.
‘When Tansy Poole inherits a run-down shoe shop tucked away in the village of Sticklepond, 'Cinderella’s Slippers, is born - providing the footwear to make any fairytale wedding come true...Carrying everything a bride would want to walk down the aisle in, Tansy’s shop soon expands to carry shoe-themed wedding favours, bridesmaid gifts and even delicious chocolate shoes. It’s the dream destination for any shoe-lover! If only everything in her personal life could be as heavenly - but with a fiance trying to make her fit into a size 8 wedding dress, not to mention the recent discovery of disturbing family revelations, Tansy takes refuge in the shop’s success. But one man isn’t thrilled by the stream of customers hot-footing it to Cinderella’s Slippers...Actor Ivo Hawksley, resident of the cottage next to the shop, is troubled by a dark secret in his past and has come to Sticklepond to nurse his own broken heart. However, Ivo realises that he and Tansy have a link in their past and soon, they both find out how secrets shared can make a very strong bond indeed...Forget the Jimmy Choos, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is the only accessory you need for spring 2012...’
When Tansy inherits a run-down shoe shop in the village of Sticklepond, she transforms it into ‘Cinderella’s Slippers’, a beautiful haven specialising in bridal footwear. Kept busy juggling running the new business with looking after a crazy dog, delving into family history and fending off the advances of her ex-fiancé, Tansy’s life certainly isn’t made any easier by her grouchy and noise intolerant next-door-neighbour, Ivo Hawksley. Ivo’s an actor, and an old flame of Tansy’s, who’s taking some time off from the theatre following the death of his wife. Depressed and reclusive, Ivo needs help, and it turns out that maybe Tansy is just the woman to aid him in putting his past to rest.
This is actually the second book Trisha Ashley has based in the fictional town of Sticklepond – the first being ‘Chocolate Kisses’. And I’m sure fans will be very pleased to have a chance to revisit old friends here.
I liked Trisha’s style of writing very much: it was fresh and relaxed, with a comfortable pace. Her characterisation was good and believable, with a good mix of people blending together beautifully. As for the heroine herself: well, she was certainly down-to-Earth and very likeable, but to be honest she was also a little boring: all she does is work, bake and walk the dog! What I really wanted was for her to stand up to her evil step-sisters, and properly expose them for the awful women they are! I didn’t feel that the pair received their clearly deserved comeuppance.
The hero, Ivo, was very amusing and such a grump! I enjoyed seeing him gradually thawing as he was won over by Tansy’s cakes, dog and kind character. However, I did find his endless Shakespeare quotations a little wearing after a while.
Sadly, I felt that certain parts of the story were glossed over far too quickly and easily – the potential retail park that threatens Tansy’s business, for example, is built up, but then collapses in the space of a few lines. Then there was the ‘great family secret’ that Tansy spends much of the book delving in, which turns out to be somewhat obvious and not really worth the effort!
‘Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Shoes’ was my first Trisha Ashley experience, and I rather enjoyed it. Though a little predictable, it was a very comforting read, and left me feeling all aglow and at peace with the world. It had real feel-good factor, that made for perfect escapism, and I found myself swiftly immersed in the townlife of Sticklepond, and then rather reluctant to leave!
P.S. In the interests of extremely thorough research, I followed a recipe in the back of the book to make ‘Fat Rascals’ – unbelievably good!