One of my favourite of the vintage authors is Ida Pollock who wrote under a multiplicity of pseudonyms. The very nicest of comfort reads, I include reviews here of a number of recently read books.
Ida Pollock, née Crowe (born 12 April 1908), is a British writer of several short-stories and over a hundred romance novels under her married name, Ida Pollock, and under her numerous pseudonyms:Susan Barrie, Pamela Kent, Averil Ives, Anita Charles, Barbara Rowan, Jane Beaufort, Rose Burghley, Mary Whistler and Marguerite Bell. She is also an oil painter, who has been selected for inclusion in a national exhibition in 2004.
Ida and her husband Lt-Colonel Hugh Alexander Pollock DSO (1888–1971), a veteran of war, Winston Churchill's collaborator and editor, had a daughter Rosemary Pollock, also a romance writer. Ida's autobiography, Starlight, published on 15 November 2009, tells the story of the start of her career, her marriage, and the relation of her husband with his ex-wife Enid Blyton.
So Dear To My Heart 1956 ****
I'm particularly partial to Susan Barrie heroes. Not quite alpha but not really beta, they are charming and handsome, well groomed, tall and lean. Mostly dark haired and dark eyed. A little cool, a little distant but capable of passion when roused. Not of course that we see more than a few kisses in these older vintages.
Dr Leon Hanson is a famous Swiss surgeon, called upon to use his considerable talent to cure Lisa Holt, a young pianist with an injury to her hand. She is accompanied by her less vibrant but very sweet sister Virginia. You can see where this is heading can't you?
It is the sweet sister who catches the eye of the distinguished doctor but complications in the form of a young Englishman and an attractive young female friend of the doctor contrive to multiply misunderstandings.
This is not a fast, angsty read but a sweet meditative story of a love that is formed almost immediately by two people of different social and cultural backgrounds but goes unacknowledged because of misunderstandings and misapprehensions.
I love this kind of book at the end of a day that has been full of real life angst as a pick me upper. It soothes like Prozac with the only side effect a couple of missing hours from the day.
Castle Thunderbird 1965 ****
A classic governess tale with the heroine Noel travelling to Austria to be a companion to the sixteen year old ward of the hero Gerard de Freer. In a fairytale Austrian Castle.
The fly in the ointment is the bad tempered old friend of the family Harriet. She is Gerard's housekeeper and the bane of the servants lives. Her ambitions are clear and of course young Noel is immediately singled out for trouble.
Add in some other gentlemen who seem rather quicker to appreciate the attractive young heroine and we have plenty of misunderstandings and hurt pride and feelings. Until Harriet carries her jealous temper too far.
Another lovely sweet story from a favourite vintage author.
The Quiet Heart 1966 ****
Alisoun Fairlie is the step mother of three young people not much younger than herself. After the death of her husband she continues to caretake Leydon Hall until the arrival of the new owner.
Charles Leydon has a lot of ideas about changing Leydon Hall and for Alisoun, his arrival brings the fear of homelessness for her and her family. When the rather hard businessman falls ill it is her task to nurse him back to health with the assistance of the housekeeper and her two older stepdaughters, both of whom fall under the spell of the handsome owner.
It is not the attractive older girl, Marianne that seems to appeal to Charles but Jessamy, with her limp caused by childhood polio. Alisoun must watch their developing friendship with a strange feeling of helplessness. When he insists on buying Jessamy a car and arranging for treatment for her limp it seems obvious his plans for the future include the sensitive young woman.
How Alisoun finds her happy ending is a sweet and tender tale of a young woman who has never known real passion even though she had been a married woman.
When the rich Liane Daly loaned Stephanie a flat in Paris to recuperate from a recent illness, she had no idea how Stephanie's life would be changed.
Because the flat was not actually hers and as Stephanie settled into the luxurious apartment, the real owner arrived.
What could a young and rather naive English model expect of a man who's family crest bore the motto 'Black is the Knight and blacker is the heart.'
The Comte Leon de Courvalles was certainly very dark in colouring, suave and a little jaded, his smile sardonic. I'm loving him already, never mind how young Steve feels about this sophisticated Frenchman.
How he feels about Steve is something that she finds most puzzling. Especially when he gives her a job as his social secretary. Monsieur le Comte is taking a cruise and on that cruise will be some very lovely potential brides.
What seems to be a developing friendship is soon tested when a glamorous actress on board involves Steve in a questionable exchange of messages. Luckily a young Englishman on the cruise is there to comfort her.
Cruising through the Mediterranean and then traversing the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean, Steve watches as one by one the potential brides fall away until only the troublesome actress is left in the running. They say romance and cruises go together but Steve is pining for the wrong man entirely. Until danger on the high seas brings everything to a head and the true nature of Leon's heart is revealed.
This is a modern (for 1965) take on the Jane Eyre franchise. Pamela Kent is another pen name for Ida Pollock who also writes as Susan Barrie, Barbara Rowan and several others.
Helen arrived at Star Creek after her father's death to the casual guardianship of his old friend and former pupil Roger Trelawnce. The setting is an old house overlooking the sea at Cornwall, historically connected with smugglers.
Roger is a former surgeon, now retired and running the family estate after losing his right arm in an accident. He is fiercely independent and always immaculately turned out. And rather susceptible to the sweet young thing flung into his household.
Helen is drawn to the rather enigmatic Roger, until she discovers the resident of the forbidden part of the house is none other than Mrs Valerie Trelawnce, beautiful, volatile and unstable. Helen befriends the woman, torn between her attraction to Roger and concerned about his lack of love towards the lovely young woman.
When Helen finds Valerie is romantically linked with the rather unsavoury cousin of the house, Peregrine Trelawnce her feeling are even more confused.
Drama involving a wild storm, mysterious caves and secret tunnels plays it's part in bringing the story to a climax and the HEA.
Mountain of Dream 1958 ****
A Swiss Hotelier, Pierre Larouche, is the hero of this tale of a young English woman who falls in love with the mountains and wants to stay on after a holiday. A temporary job as secretary of Pierre is the ideal method to achieve and extended stay until his permanent secretary recovers from an accident.
Pierre is of course all those things that a charming Pollock/Kent/Rowan/Barrie hero should be. Much admired by the ladies and there is one in particular, Freda, the daughter of a fellow hotelier who is doing the running.
Which doesn't cheer up young Patricia, even after a wonderful day on the mountains with Pierre that culminated in a kiss. The very next day disaster strikes with Pierre hospitalised and the attendance at his bedside of the wealthy heiress.
The lies of this young woman and the attentions of another rival to Pat's hand almost end the burgeoning romance but Pierre responds to the challenge with typical panache and some timely grovelling to bring us our HEA.
Mountain Magic 1964 ****
Kurt Antoine is an Austrian Hotelier. He meets Toni when she's stranded on a ledge on a mountain walk and offers her a job. Toni's existing employer is a rather unpleasant woman and when her honesty is called into question she quits and takes Kurt up on his offer.
Unfortunately the Manageress of the Hotel where Kurt installs her has a rather different view of her employer bringing strange and attractive young women into the hotel. Putting her in the most unpleasant room and giving her the most unpleasant jobs, Toni is exhausted and humiliated.
Her plight draws the attention of an English visitor and with Kurt so taken up with the attractive manageress, it isn't surprising that she allows Philip Gresham to take her about. Especially when it seems Philip knows Toni's estranged uncle.
All this makes it rather difficult for the relationship between Kurt and Toni to develop but somehow it does and finally all is settled. A small hiccup at the end leads the way to a smooth and certain HEA.
Another Susan Barrie review appears in my May blogs.