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SEDATING ELAINE by Dawn Winter (Fleet £14.99, 272pp)

SEDATING ELAINE by Dawn Winter (Fleet £14.99, 272pp)

ELAINE SEDATION

by Dawn Winter (Fleets £14.99, 272pp)

I loved this smart, funny and slightly crazy debut album about love, sex, heartbreak and guilt. It’s a black comedy about Frances, a fabulous anti-heroine whose life is a mess.

Heartbroken after a nasty breakup with her ex, Frances isn’t looking for a relationship when she meets Elaine at a bar.

Drunk and stoned, Frances invites Elaine back to her house but is horrified when Elaine shows no signs of leaving. Frances owes money to menacing drug dealers, so – the worst decision in a long line – asks Elaine to move in with her to help pay the rent. Elaine, in love with Frances, is delighted to accept.

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Unfortunately for Frances, this backfires because this apparent huge leap forward in their relationship only increases Elaine’s relentless sexual desire for his girlfriend.

Unable to get peace, Frances comes up with another crazy plan – she will put Elaine to sleep for some quiet. It’s a roller coaster of hilarity, tenderness and beautiful madness that kept me spellbound from the start.

LAST TIME WE MET by Emily Houghton (Penguin £7.99, 416pp)

LAST TIME WE MET by Emily Houghton (Penguin £7.99, 416pp)

THE LAST TIME WE MET

by Emily Houghton (Penguin £7.99, 416pp)

Eleanor and Fin, 13-year-old best friends, make a pact: if they’re both single at 35, they’ll get married. They sign a contract and quickly forget about it. They move to different continents and then don’t see each other for 15 years.

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Fin’s estranged mother is dying so he leaves his home in Los Angeles and returns to England. Eleanor is recovering from a horrible breakup. Wounded and guarded, they reunite at the wedding of another old school friend. Both are 34 and single, but a lot has changed in the years since. Perfect for a sunny afternoon.

THAT GREEN-EYED GIRL by Julie Owen Moylan (Michael Joseph £14.99, 368pp)

THAT GREEN-EYED GIRL by Julie Owen Moylan (Michael Joseph £14.99, 368pp)

THIS GREEN-EYED GIRL

by Julie Owen Moylan (Michael Joseph £14.99, 368pp)

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In 1955, Professors Dovie and Gillian live together in a New York apartment, posing as tenants but in reality as a couple.

Their home is their safe space where they can express themselves without fear of being seen and the resulting repercussions – until a vindictive colleague starts blackmailing them. Twenty years later, in 1975, teenager Ava lives there with her mentally ill mother.

After her mother is severed, a box arrives filled with photos of Dovie and Gillian. Ava decides to turn into a detective, find out who they are, and return their belongings. It’s beautifully written and particularly wonderful about forbidden love, loss and forgiveness.

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