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The Ballroom Blitz

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You don't need to be a Strictly fan to relish this lively read, its glamour, magic and colourful characters contrasting starkly with the privations of grey, war-torn London.

We also catch up with Billy Brogan who gets himself in a bit of a pickle, and Mrs Moffat who makes a decision. Those who survived Dunkirk, including Raymond de Guise and Billy Brogan, are struggling to come to terms with their injuries and the loss of comrades.It took me a chapter or three to settle into this novel, there are a lot of characters to familiarise yourself with. From the glamour of the ballroom with Archie Adam’s music playing for all the guests to enjoy, whilst watching the enchanting seasoned dancers of the Buckingham Hotel waltz away, versus the harsh juxtaposition of outside the hotel doors, where the war ridden streets of London awaits full of looters, air raid sirens, bombs and last but especially not least the brave volunteers for the war effort. Meanwhile the ballroom is still operating, and the staff are keen to attract top quality guests and provide a haven from the War. The lovable Mrs Moffatt tackles her own affairs of the heart and hints of scandal sweep into the ballroom.

The writing gives you get the feel of London in the Blitz, the good, the bad and the downright ugly side that shows people at their worst, making money from the misery of war. The Buckingham Hotel is a haven for waifs and strays - posh ones, wealthy ones, exiled ones, and the staff, thinned down as you would expect, are still expected to maintain the luxury they guests demand, including the Grand Ballroom. This was my first introduction to Anton Du Beke’s writing, having normally been accustomed to watching him on my television screen during the Autumn months dancing and judging away, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.We meet a variety of people from chamber maids and housekeeper to profiteers and ball room dancers all with a back story to tell. With the fearless Raymond de Guise and his (poor suffering) wife Nancy, Vivienne who is left holding the baby and reeling from the events of Dunkirk. As members of the staff at the Buckingham Hotel become involved in underhand schemes and plots to bring the hotel down the war around them rages.

With profiteers skulking the London streets, and devious rivals plotting the Buckingham’s downfall, the hotel staff must all hold onto what matters most- and decide where their loyalties truly lie. It’s September 1940 and with bombs raining down every night, the staff do a magnificent job of keeping the guests happy, even if it’s down in the bunkers. Nancy, Raymond’s wife, wants his company but he spends most nights while on leave helping out with the fire watchers, along with other men and Cathy whose fiancé died at Dunkirk.As publication date approaches for my new novel, The Ballroom Blitz, I’m delighted to let you know that I’ll be appearing at a marvellous selection of literary events over the coming weeks to talk all about it!

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