The Romance Reader's Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell_cover

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell

Competition published on August 4, 2017.

A haunting, darkly funny and compelling tale of sisterhood that deftly weaves together shades of The Lovely Bones with a pirate romance, The Romance Reader s Guide to Life proves that sometimes the guiltiest of pleasures contain some essential kernels of truth about life.

Acclaimed writer Sharon Pywell’s brilliant novel is set in the shadow of the Second World War, centred on the lives of sisters Lilly and Neave who could not be more different. Lilly is a beauty who runs through men like water, while Neave is a bookworm escaping reality by reading an illicit copy of The Pirate Lover.

When the men return from war and take back their jobs, the sisters are expected to settle down and marry. Instead they set out to create a cosmetics empire, but just as the business is taking off, Lilly disappears. Desperate to find her, Neave discovers a whole new meaning to the ties that bind and truth being stranger than fiction. A must-read.


*We have 3 copies of The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life to give away – scroll down for your chance to win!**


Also featured in the new edition of NB magazine, we’re delighted to share Sharon’s introduction to her new novel on nudge:

I met my first romance novel at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, where my Alaskan daughter and I were staying the night. Most of Alaska and hundreds of tourists pass through this jumping-off town to the Donali National Park, and many left books behind for the Roadhouse lending library. Here, they cover the coffeepot on a shelf that ended in a few bear spray canisters, also on loan to travelers who’d forgotten.

When I got home I headed to a library and got myself a big stack of books with titles like The Moth and the Flame, Dirty, Willing Victim, and Too Tough to Tame. The nice young man at the checkout counter saw my selections, leaned forward and very discretely offered to let me jump a waiting line of 248 (yes, really) people who wanted to read 50 Shades of Grey. I just happen, he whispered, to have a recent return right here under the counter. If you’re interested.

Well of course I was interested. I took them home and entered Romancelandia. Brio! Bad guys with mansions and castles! Great sex! Silliness! Sadism! Dominance. True love. Submission. Salvation. It was clear to me that under the heaving bosoms and wands of pleasure there was something elementally true going on. In Romancelandia, sex and power were tangled, even interdependent. But wasn’t that the way it really was? I hadn’t read 50 Shades of Grey or Too Tough to Tame until I started all this but when I did, the struggle to control the lover or be controlled seemed like an old story.

And here’s where I thought the thought that became this novel: if someone set a romance plot side-by-side with a “real” story about love, would the struggle to dominate or be subordinated be the same in both worlds? By the time I was done I had a genre bender told from the alternating perspectives of Irish twins—one living, one dead—who recount their obsessions with sexy fictional pirates and real life abusive men, and their bid to build a cosmetics empire.

My heroines discover that the forces of evil often have a magnetic, sweet, bluntly sexual pull. They allow themselves to be pulled, and find that when they reach the edge of what’s safe and known, there’s an almost overwhelming urge to jump. Pleasure and danger – they’re an indelibly bound combination familiar to any hiker who plucks a dogeared pink paperback to carry into the woods along with her bear spray. That’s romance.

Bring on the pirates.

Sharon Pywell


Reviewer Sue Broom said:

The writing is fresh and witty, and the setting in post-war America is a perfect choice – the New Look in fashion, the desire for cosmetics and fripperies after war-time austerity, the rise of the comic-book and its superheroes echoing the derring-do of The Pirate Lover. All very entertaining and I think it will please fans of romantic fiction as well as those looking for something quirky and original, not taking itself too seriously.


For your chance to win a copy of the book, simply fill in the form below:

The Competition is closed.



The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell, published on 13 July, 2017 by Duckworth, in hardback

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