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Wild Grapes by Gally Marchmont (Orion, pounds 16.99) Role-swapping saga involving a scheming English heiress and an American research student in Oxford. Mistaken identities, eccentric aristocratic cousins and charming young men dithering over their sexual orientation coupled with snappy dialogue make this a refreshingly intelligent read.

Balancing on Air by Kate Fenton (Michael Joseph, pounds 15.99) Rose Shawe, sensible female DJ on Yorkshire-based Radio Ridings - "looks like we've got a slight technical hitch on the record deck here" - finds that her less than pristine past is about to be exposed by once-handsome chap, Tom Wilkes. Shrieks and floods follow in this frenetic, over-the-top and, if you can stand the pace, thoroughly entertaining novel.

The Good Catholic by Julia Hamilton (Michael Joseph, pounds 15.99) Hamilton employs a light touch to dissect the lives of Edward and Victoria Parry whose perfect existence is threatened by past and present grief. This is a complex, well-written story in which seemingly incompatible themes - death of a child, Lloyds' losses and childhood guilt - are melded together into a moving and perceptive whole.

Party Pieces by Amanda MacAndrew (Century, pounds 16.99) The Politician's Wife meets Jilly Cooper in this darkish story of a desperate woman. Charlotte Forth, rich and impressionable meets ambitious political researcher with a nose for safe seats. Several by-elections and a resignation later, Charlotte decides she's had enough. Domestic comedy with a sharp edge.

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