A Match Made in Heaven : Blog Tour

A Match Made in Heaven by Sun Chara

A Match Made Lrgr HR

Who’s meddling with happily ever after?

The Wedding: it’s a set up.
The Break-up: it’s a con.
The Reconciliation: it’s a trap.

When high society bride, Samantha Carroll, devises an ingenious plan to ditch her meddling matchmaking mamma’s groom of choice, the banker’s son, instead of the ordinary Irish guy Johnny Belen she’s pining for, all pandemonium breaks loose.

In the meantime, Johnny has devised his own plan to thwart monster-mamma-in-law’s matchmaking for the wedding of the season, but it is soon clear that Sam is not the type of girl who can be scooped up by just any man…


Do you ever get that ‘thing’ when you’re reading a book and you

  • have no idea what’s going on,
  • then you do
  • then you get frustrated because ‘what the hell… how did that happen?’
  • It’s all wrong, but oh lord, you are compelled to keep reading
  • Your reading hours are littered with ‘WTF’ and ‘that wouldn’t happen’
  • but you keep reading because there’s a devil on your shoulder whispering that you really like this story

Yes? You do? *massive sigh of relief*

Well, me and this book is all that…..

I read and re-read the first chapter, the wedding scene, because I was confused. Third time I pretty much had It sussed. But how come no-one noticed the groom’s looks?

Then we jump two years. Shocker – it’s all illegal. I womanfully made it through another chapter and then gave up. However, I am convinced the author has some sort of charm woven into the words and fabric of this novel (or the code as my copy is an e-book) because I came back to it. Repeatedly. Like a siren’s song it shipwrecked my reading on its rocks!

A Match Made in Heaven is funny, sweet, and sexy. The will-they-won’t-they rollercoaster keeps things moving, and I enjoyed the antics people got up to. I really liked Sam and Johnny, and was desperate for them to get to what I considered to be the correct and proper ending. The Meddling-Mother I wanted to slap raw for the most part, but then, you know, she is The Meddling-Mother!

Clearly this book and I were never meant to have a Happy Ever After. We were merely a quick fling, and we part company with happy memories, but I will be checking out Sun Chara’s other books.  The fact that these characters aroused the level of emotion that they did, and the fact that the author was able to entice me back again and again to finish the story, says a lot. To be engaged with Sam and Johnny, to care about their happiness, to will them to the right conclusion, makes Sun Chara a damned good writer irrespective of my frustrations.

It’s certainly worth your time reading this novel, because after all, my review is only my opinion; so go on, give this funny, surprising, quirky book a read.

Enjoy!


Purchase

Buy HERE

A Match Made in Heaven Full Banner 520


Giveaway

Win Lindt LINDOR Milk Chocolate Truffles and ebook, A Match Made in Heaven?

(Open Internationally)

A Match Giveaway - Chocolates 71iPfkZDtCL._SX522_*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter HERE


Author

Sun photo-1Sun Chara, an Amazon top 100 bestseller, writes sexy, hip ‘n fun contemporary romance, and romantic comedies w/a divine twist for HarperImpulse. She makes her home in southern California, and has appeared on stage/film to rave reviews in How the Other Half Loves, General Hospital, and McGee and Me. She has a Masters Degree in Education and membership in SAG/AFTRA and Romance Writers of America. Sipping Frappuccinos topped with whipped cream/sprinkles, and dancing on the beach make everyday a celebration!

Social Media Links – 

https://facebook.com/suncharaauthorpage
https://twitter.com/sunchara3


 

Odyssey in a Teacup : Blog Tour

Odyssey in a Teacup by Paula Houseman

Odyssey - Paula_Houseman_Odyssey in a Teacup_AMAZON_LRGE_NOV15Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy. Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.

She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.

Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends. With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.

The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world.


Paula Houseman has given us a veritable cornucopia of characters who are fascinating, utterly adorable, terrible and yet compelling, but like Greek mythology and the people who inhabit those tales, we are driven ever onward through Ruth’s take on her family, friends, and life. And just like the tales of ancient Greece with which Houseman has underpinned her novel, we meet the heroes, the harpies, those who think they’re gods, and those who have to blunder through the havoc these creatures wreak in the lives of those around them. Its great!

She writes with vigour and humour, giving the reader no time to excuse themselves from the reading room. Her highly comic and satirical look at Ruth’s (and Ralph’s) navigation through the minefield of their respective families and assorted relatives, is nothing short of brilliant.

Starting with her single-syllable name, Ruth Roth is terrific. The cruel and demoralising treatment she suffers at the hands of her family is appalling, and yet this cheeky, sassy teenager manages to emerge in adulthood relatively intact. The middle name saga is hilarious, but it is also highly revealing on several levels. Ruth’s father shines a spotlight on the culture in which she’s growing up, specifically when she asks why her brother has middle names but she doesn’t. He tells her:

“The extra initials will look good printed in his cheque book.”

But what about her cheque book?

Girls don’t need one.”      And there it was. Four bloody words that set the precedent for my standing in the family, and beyond.

I seethed with indignation! Her mother wasn’t any better. Her refrain of why can’t you be like everyone else? just irritated the hell out of me; I travelled that road. The hallmark of a great writer is their ability to make their characters, the situations they find themselves in, and the feelings they experience, entirely relatable for the reader. For me Ruth’s life experience aroused so many memories and so many conflicting emotions, but the author writes with such wit and empathy that you cannot help laughing and crying at the same time. You never wallow.

Ralph is utterly adorable and vexing at the same time. His clothes, his treatment at the hands of his father and brothers, his gawky looks do not make for an attractive child, and yet his mind is fabulous. Clever, inquiring, and unashamedly adroit at using his intelligence against his tormentors, he’s that awkward kid you just want to hug and take home. Duck – that’s all I’m saying. He and Ruth, along with friends Maxi and Vette, talk about at length about subjects like school, religion, and family, but of course their minds are dominated by thoughts of boys, girls, kissing, and sex. Ralph joins these discussions, he’s very much one of the pack.

Odyssey in a Teacup is a love song to those who can’t be like everyone else. It sings of their difference – to their parents, to their siblings, and to their wider family, and positively resonates with their inability to conform to the lives and behaviours their parents want to thrust upon them. You will laugh until you cry; you will cry woefully and with sympathy, but in the end you will love the voyage wherever it takes you, and the company you keep on it.

This is another title that is firmly on my Books of the Year list, and is the first of three books. (The remaining two will be reviewed in the fullness of time.)

While you wait…do yourself a favour. Read it!


Purchase

from   Amazon UK 

Odyssey in aTeacup


Author

photo copy – Version 3Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaHousemanAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources


 

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft : Blog Tour

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft by Virginia Heath

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft Cover 2Life as a duchess…
Or something much more dangerous…?

Part of The King’s Elite. Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment—playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft. Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…

 


It takes a skilled and highly adept writer to make a romance work between two so completely dissimilar characters, each with very different aims and objectives. Yet Virginia Heath does, and expertly so. Not once during the reading of this book did I doubt the personality, attributes, or traits of Gem or Seb, or indeed any of the other characters. The author has made clever use of juxtaposing them all; the high-ranking, yet criminal aristocrats with the low-born or disgraced, yet all loyal government agents. This is also reflected the characters of our hero and heroine; the Incomparable Gem, society’s sweetheart and of the ‘first water’ with the illegitimate son of a Duke and a farmer’s daughter, considered repellent and beneath contempt. It makes for compelling reading.

Sebastian Leatham is a great romantic hero. None of that Alpha male nonsense; in society he is shy, tongue-tied around women, blushes, and hides behind a gruff exterior. He is also a highly accomplished government spy, strong and confident, and above all, an honourable man. He gives Clarissa the nickname ‘Gem’.

Clarissa Beaumont is an Incomparable. A stunning beauty with consummate social skills, especially when conversing with men, and yet she harbours secrets. She has none of the accepted accomplishments for young ladies of the day, such as drawing and music, and by her own admission she is practically illiterate. None of this can be found out as it would be the ruination of her plans to wed a Duke. She calls Sebastian, ‘Seb’.

Whilst their backgrounds and positions in society are poles apart, they each battle their vulnerabilities and shortcomings. They present the world a façade behind which they hide those parts of themselves that could be used to hurt, or even destroy them. These are two wonderful people, who are funny and endearing, annoying and aggravating, yet absolutely real and believable.  The author has written their romance subtly, displaying the attraction they feel yet all the while embroiling them in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Virginia Heath writes with energy and style, and with a precision that slices through the extraneous  to expose the crucial heart of the matter. When she describes Penhurst on his wedding day, we learn more about his character in those few words, than we should from an entire chapter dedicated to that purpose. She writes:

The switch had been abrupt and cold. Instantaneous. To such an extent, a very different groom walked out of the church from the amiable groom who had arrived.

I wasn’t going to read this at first, but I’m glad I did – this story is irresistible. Full of wit and charm, and people you will love, the hunt for the criminals is as exciting and thrilling as the developing romance between Gem and Seb.

This is the first in a new series called The King’s Elite, and I will definitely be reading the next book, just a soon as I can get my hands on it!

Do yourself a favour and read this fabulous Regency romance.


Giveaway

Win 3 x E-copies of The Mysterious Lord Millcroft (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

HERE


Purchase

myBook.to/KingsElite1

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft


Author

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft - Virginia Heath 2Virginia Heath lives on the outskirts of London with her understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history,she decided to follow her dream of writing for Harlequin. Now she spends her days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that she falls in love with and heroines who inspire her. When she isn’t doing that, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things that she doesn’t need or read romances written by other people.

Social Media Links 

https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/


Brought to you via:

Rachel’s Random Resources

Summer at Carrick Park :Review

Summer at Carrick Park by Kirsty Ferry

Carrick Park coverA summer wedding, fifty cupcakes and a man she thought she would never see again … 

When Joel Leicester walks into the hotel where Rosa Tempest works, she can’t believe her bad luck. Out of all the hotels in all of North Yorkshire, the man who broke her heart would have to walk into Carrick Park!

The last time Rosa saw Joel it was after a whirlwind holiday when they’d been greeted at his flat by a woman claiming to be his fiancée. Rosa never stuck around to hear Joel’s side of the story but now, six years later on, Fate has another trick up its sleeve as a potentially disastrous summer wedding at Carrick Park can only be saved by Joel and Rosa working together …

You may recognise Carrick Park from A Little Bit of Christmas Magic and Some Veil Did Fall!


Summer at Carrick Park is a real delight. I was engaged from page one and read it in a single sitting. There is an amazing cast of people with distinct personalities, which isn’t always the case with secondary characters who often seem to blend into one another. The groom is so laid-back he’s almost horizontal, and he’s as hilarious as his Bridezilla is frightening –  and I want those God-fathers in my life!

Cupcake 2And the cake!

While the novella is charming and funny, it’s not a saccharin sweet fluffy romance. This about two people who clearly belong together, but who have been torn apart by suffering and heart-break inflicted by others, and their own blinkered responses to it.

Rose and Joel have been apart for several years, without any contact. They parted abruptly when Rose thought Joel was engaged to another woman, and she ran before history could repeat itself.  Joel did everything he could to find Rose, but to no avail; she had her family block his every move. Now she works at Carrick Park Hotel, a wedding is booked for the weekend, and Joel walks in as Best Man.

A potential wedding disaster throws the pair together, and things move forward from there.

Cupcake 1With cake.

Rosa is a great character, and instantly relatable. Nursing a badly broken heart, she throws herself in to working at her god-fathers’ bakery, which is when she meets Joel. She has a talent for baking, and its hoped that she will take over the business one day. Kind and loving, she is determined to never to be part of any complicated romantic entanglements. Joel is kind, resourceful, and funny. Reeling from a disastrous relationship, he meets Rosa. He has moved on only in the same way that Rosa has – he works, occasionally hangs out with friends, but there is no-one special in his life.

The author has presented us with a romance that speaks to the knee-jerk reactions we have to hurtful situations, and the subsequent fall-out. It’s a great, realistic love story about how we let our emotional past determine our future, about making rash and impetuous decisions and suffering the consequences. Its also about second chances, letting go of the hurt, and not being an idiot.

Cupcake 3Did I mention cake?

One of the aspects that I loved, was the lack of explicit sex. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good steamy romance as much as the next reader, but as a constant diet it becomes boring. Variety is the spice of life after all, and this story didn’t need it.

Hilariously for me, this combined two parts of the country I seem to be spending almost all my reading time inhabiting – Yorkshire and Cornwall. Beautiful counties with glorious scenery, both brimming with charm and mystery. This warm, appealing romance will leave you happy and smiling. I highly recommend you read it, but Be Prepared. You’ll get hunger pangs, so a supply of tea and cake will be necessary whilst reading.

Altogether a recipe for a perfect afternoon.


Purchase

Available to buy here:


Author

Kirsty FerryKirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

You can find Kirsty on Facebook as “Kirsty Ferry Author”
Or on Twitter @kirsty_ferry

http://www.rosethornpress.co.uk/


Brought to you via

Image result for choc-lit publishers logo

 Creating a delicious selection of fiction!


 

The Gathering : Blog Tour

The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo

The Gathering EbookThe Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high –  and low – places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.


I have to admire this author’s determination to write a hard-hitting, hard-nosed dystopian novel where New York is under the control of a self-styled Emperor, rather than a ruling elite, and for the most part she succeeds. The style and language give the book something of a fresh feel, but is occasionally awkward and off-putting, and for those who watch these things, I had images of Walking Dead violence, and Star Wars evil ruler running through my head at various points

This Emperor reigns supreme. He has manipulated and connived his way into absolute power, and now controls the citizens by way of his merciless Cabal. The clever naming of this group sets it apart from our notion of what constitutes police or armed forces; it is more like a private army. The Cabal is a vicious and savage military-style group who punish any Infractions of the law, no matter how minor, with impunity. Cabal members can and do mete out death or worse; the worse being psychically tortured into a catatonic, docile state, not unlike zombies. This is ‘psi’, and members of the Cabal are recruited for and trained in this ability. Society does not have any resort to law, justice, or the courts. This is not a democracy; there are no elections. The only course of action to gain freedom is revolution.

The book opens with Jamie (alias Ivan Sapphire) talking to us about himself, his life, his friends, and New York as the city was. His language and style of speech takes some getting used to. He’s a musician in a rock band, that shoots to meteoric success. He is brash, arrogant, crude; stereotypical of that ilk, yet at the same time funny, witty, and off-beat. Then he meets a girl.

Moving forward to the harsh present of the book, we meet Evanora; secretly rebellious, grateful and resentful all at once. With a mother who has sacrificed so much for Evanora’s safety, the young woman is treading a cautious but precarious path.

As friends decide enough is enough, and people start to recognise others willing to fight back, so the faction grows and takes shape. The freedom movement works to depose the Emperor, regain control of New York, and take the city and her people back to its colourful life of liberty and independence.

The book is well-paced, punchy, and uncompromising. It holds a mirror up, albeit a dim one, to society today. The elimination of free speech, the destruction of the Arts, the harsh and pitiless punishment of wrong-doers, with the powerful throwing their weight against the weak, and playing on people’s fears. It is in these circumstances that the unscrupulous and corrupt seize power and in twisting it to their own ends, subjugate a society to a single, tyrannical ideologue.

Sound familiar?

The author has created a dark and unnerving world that has very recognisable characters and characteristics. There is an immense audience out there for this book, though it won’t appeal to everyone, and whilst I enjoyed it, I won’t carry on with the series.


Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1980613788/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1980613788/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39279875-the-gathering

The Gatherig - 3D on cityscape

 


Author Bio

The Gathering AuthorWith an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/bernadettergiacomazzo

https://www.instagram.com/bg_takes_pics/

https://twitter.com/bg_writes_stuff
The Gathering


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources 150pixels

The Promise : Blog Tour

The Promise by Michelle Vernal 

The Promise CoverTwo women from different generations brought together by another’s wrongdoing.

When British backpacker, Isabel Stark happens across a car accident on a lonely stretch of road in the South Island of New Zealand her life changes forever. The sole passenger, Ginny Havelock asks her to make a promise before she passes away—to find Constance and to say she’s sorry.

Isabel’s a lost soul who’s been drifting through life unsure of where she fits, and the promise she made in New Zealand haunts her upon her return to the United Kingdom. Her only clue as to finding Constance lies within a conversation held at Ginny’s funeral. It takes her to the Isle of Wight.

In the 1940’s sixteen-year-old Constance’s life on her island is sheltered until the death of her brother; Ted brings the reality of war crashing down around her. He leaves behind his pregnant young widow Ginny. When Constance meets a handsome Canadian Airforce man, she’s eager to escape her grief and be swept up by first love. It’s a love which has ramifications she could never envisage.  

When Isabel and Constance’s paths finally cross will Ginny’s last words be enough for Constance to make peace with her past? And in fulfilling her promise will Isabel find a place she can call home?


What you will find in reading this novel is a tragic and emotional, tender and compassionate tale of two women, separated by some fifty years, and yet connected by bonds that surpass age and time.

Get the tissues; you’re going to need them.

The things people do to each other, and the pain we cause others through our egotism and selfishness, is appalling, and author Michelle Vernal paints a very recognisable picture of unforgivable behaviour. It also highlights how far we have come with regards to social stigma and shame. I don’t do crying, but several times I had wet eyes and heartache.

Isabel and Constance are fellow journeymen on the painful road of broken-hearts. Two women who are at different points in life but have much in common. They have suffered at the hands of those whom they trusted implicitly, and their pain is real and familiar. In the case of Constance, it has barely diminished in the seventy years since it happened. Yet they are strong; even if they don’t realise it themselves, others see it.

Having spent a considerable time travelling overseas, Isabel returns home after promising a dying woman (Ginny) that she would pass on a message. It is her return home that tells us the awful circumstances that caused her to escape abroad in the first place.  Isabel initially appears to be lost, not knowing what she wants to do, or where she is going in life, but she feels compelled to at least try to fulfil the promise she made to Ginny. This positive act leads her to her destiny.  A variety of events and incidents on the Isle of Wight result in her staying, at least for a while.

Isabel is a lovely character who doesn’t think she is brave, outgoing, or flamboyant and yet she has dyed her hair green and backpacked through Australia, New Zealand, and south-east Asia. She is clearly compassionate, and throughout the book demonstrates her deeply rooted kind and loving nature. She is the sort of person it would be easy to treat patronisingly, and certainly her ‘friends’ did and do. On her return home she recognises their superficiality, and realising that they have never been real friends, she moves on.

Early in her life Constance suffered devastating loss, yet instead of caving in under that grief, she becomes a colourful and vibrant young woman. The years have taken their toll however, and it appears to readers that Constance has turned into an acerbic old woman. Quite how anyone would come back from the extreme heartbreak she experienced, I cannot understand, but it goes some way to illuminate the amazing woman Constance is at heart. She has a penchant for Maltesers, and in my book that can only mean good things! Constance keeps herself to herself at the home, and the arrival of Isabel disrupts that mediocre existence. She warms to the young woman, and gradually they both emerge from their cocoons.

As we move from one time-line to another, and their stories unfold, we can probably guess the secret at the heart of Constance’s past. The sweet beauty of her romance, and subsequent events have a parallel of sorts in Isabel’s life that we discover later. Michelle Vernal has researched the war-time period well. It highlights common and heart-breaking events of the war years, the cruel way in which one aspect was dealt with and whose consequences have been far-reaching, even through to today.

The other characters are hilarious, annoying, lovely, and totally familiar. Rhodri is a delight, and I wish there had been a little more about him and his life. I felt terribly sorry for Prince Charles, poor thing. There were a couple of things that made me falter in my reading, particularly two words which I had to look up; ‘EFTPOS’ which we’d recognise as a Debit Card, and while ‘skivvy’ in this country means a servant, in AUS/NZ it’s an item of clothing. I felt the end was a little rushed, and could have done with one more chapter to fill in some details, but none of this spoils the story in any way.

Michelle Vernal has written a compelling tale of love and friendship; of confronting the past yet facing the future, and of always being true and loyal to yourself and to those who are loyal and true to you. I apologise for the seeming vagueness of this review, but I’m avoiding plot spoilers, readers need to let the story unfold in its own beautiful way. What I can tell you is that I adore this book and was moved by it, so much so that it is on my Books of the Year list and gets the full five stars.  I suggest you get a copy and some tissues and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!


Purchase Links

Amazon UK 

Amazon.com 

The Promise

 

 

 

 

 


Author

btyMichelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.

Social Media Links –

https://www.michellevernalbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/michellevernalnovelist/inbox/?selected_item_id=100012836923106

https://twitter.com/michellevernal


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

Little Cornish Kitchen : Blog Tour

The Little Cornish Kitchen by Jane Linfoot

cornish kitchen new (1)It’s time to come home to Cornwall

With an exciting new life in Paris, Clemmie Hamilton isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that the cosy apartment by the sea, which her grandmother left to her, is under threat from neighbour and property developer, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into ‘The Little Cornish Kitchen’ – a boutique pop up pudding club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen…


I seem to be spending my reading time whizzing between Cornwall and Yorkshire – not that I’m complaining – this time we’re back in Cornwall, in a town called St Aidan, with life-long friends and mermaids Sophie, Plum, Nell, and Clemmie. We open with a launch of Sophie’s latest beauty products where her three friends are working as their favourite personas – mermaids.

WARNING: this book is not for anyone with a cake habit! Your mouth will be watering before the end of the first chapter, it won’t stop until long after you’ve finished the book, and you’ll be craving cakes all the way through. I have no idea how I managed on merely half a packet of gingernuts, a cinnamon Danish, some Jaffa cakes, and two large helpings of carrot cake!

Chapter One is a virtuoso lesson in giving the reader necessary information and background about characters in an amusing and totally entertaining way, and without the reader feeling that they are being spoon-fed facts. It’s an absolutely fantastic opening chapter.

(Aside: Iron Maiden Cleaners? Somebody really ought to start that business!)

Our narrator is Clemmie, who has reluctantly returned home after many years working her way around various countries and is currently in Paris. She is back to deal as fast as possible with matters regarding the flat left to her by her grandmother of whom she has very little memory. Clemmie struck me as sulky and petulant. She’s so tied up in her world of travel and adventure, refusing to be tied down to a small, local life, in a town where your private life isn’t private, and the horizons are restricted and narrow, that she can’t see there is no adventure. She believes her friends are

…all as settled as I am rootless. They can’t imagine living without the echo of the waves rushing up the beach, and the familiar clink of the rigging on the boats bobbing in the harbour. If I explained non-stop for a month, they’d never get that for me St Aidan isn’t enough. That after half a day away from Paris, I’m aching for the broad boulevards and big elegant buildings and the round-the-clock roar of the traffic. They don’t get that the world beyond here is huge. And they totally miss that when Paris dulls I’ll move on and feel the thrill all over again somewhere new. Even though my jobs are what they call ‘shit’ ones, and my career trajectory is non-existent, at least they allow me to move. To be free.

What we gradually discover is a woman who, no matter how she protests otherwise, isn’t free at all. Clemmie has a deep-seated hurt – her father left before she was born and has never been a part of her life. Growing up it was not a topic for discussion. Clemmie learned at a young age that any talk of him caused her mother pain and so she blocked him from her thoughts.  Her refusal to even acknowledge this hurt exists, never mind address it, has had implications that affected her life in so many ways. She has taken no interest in the property she owns, has little recollection of Laura, her Grandmother, and just wishes to be rid of this one thing that connects her to her unknown father. A visit to the flat changes everything. There is no escaping your past and its unanswered questions.

While Clemmie has been drifting from job to job and country to country, her three friends have evolved and grown. Each of the three women showed various aptitudes when they were younger that have led them too successful careers and comfortable lives, but Clemmie displayed none.

Sophie is a high-powered, highly organised, super-efficient business woman, married to Nate and with four children, and wealthy. It is her natural beauty products being launched in Plum’s gallery. Sophie’s life looks ‘like she plucked it from the Boden catalogue

Plum is an artist. After she finished university, she took on a disused chandlers as her studio, opened it as a gallery, selling her paintings, and the work of other artists as well. It’s a thriving business, and while she is currently single and happy, unlike Clemmie and Nell, she is not opposed to finding that special someone.

Nell is a ‘hot-shot accountant’ in it for the money. She is also St Aidan’s Singles Club event organiser extra-ordinaire. Her amicable divorce turned out to be painful for Nell. Within a short space of time her ex-husband had a new wife, children, and the domestic life that she wanted but he didn’t.

Thrown into this mix is Charlie Hobson and his dog Diesel. Charlie is hot, dark, but moody and scowling. Worse still, he’s a property developer and therefore the ‘bad guy’. Gradually we learn more about Charlie and have a constant battle as to whether we like him or not. What property is he after and can he be trusted? People who go through life long-faced and miserable, usually have a reason to do so. What has happened to Charlie to make him scowl?

The author takes us through the story regarding Clemmie’s flat whilst at the same time, she peels the layers back on each of the characters, but most specifically Clemmie and Charlie, as well as Nell. It is a beautifully nuanced tale. As Clemmie finds herself thrown into Charlie’s company regularly, never knowing quite what his property developer intentions are, and with her friends rocking from one events to another, she discovers a world of memories. The sulky, petulant woman in Chapter One, shows us that she is funny and feisty, but scared of the unknown in terms of relationships. Whatever misgivings I had about Clemmie’s character at the beginning of the novel, long before the end I really liked her, and felt her struggle. ‘No commitment’ has been her default setting for all aspects of her life, and we see her friends and others gradually build her confidence, show Clemmie her worth, her aptitude, and her capacity for love and forgiveness.

It would be easy to say this is a heart-warming tale, but that is too simplistic. The Little Cornish Kitchen is filled with humour and kindness, tenderness and love; the love of friends as much as romantic love. It’s about second chances, at life, at love, and at family; its about dropping your guard and letting people in no matter how scary, and grasping the future with both hands. I loved the kitchen scenes with Clem and Charlie, they were so revealing for both of them, and I love that she finally discovers that she does have a great talent and skill after all. She had just forgotten.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough – I loved every page, and every character, especially Diesel. Read and enjoy!


Purchase

Here  from Amazon UK

The Little Cornish Kitchen

 


Giveaway

Win a signed copy of The Little Cornish Kitchen, Mermaid Notebook and Sugar Unicorns

(Open Internationally)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494114/?

Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Author

DSCN3473_2Jane Linfoot is a best-selling author, who lives in a muddy cottage, up a steep hill in Derbyshire, with her family, their pets, and an astonishing number of spiders. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.

Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea, and wrote her first book by accident, while working as an architect, and renovating country houses. While she loves to write feel-good books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambley if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her latest books include a series of stand alone novels, based around a seaside wedding shop in Cornwall. Cupcakes and Confetti – The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Sequins and Snowflakes – Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, and Bunting and Bouquets – Summer at the Little Wedding Shop, and most recently, The Little Cornish Kitchen. These are all published by Harper Impulse,  an imprint of Harper Collins.

Follow Jane on Twitter @janelinfoot, or find her on her Author Page Facebook or her Personal Page Facebook. She’s also on Instagram, and has lots of Pinterest boards relating to her novels.


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

The Daughter of River Valley: Blog Tour

The Daughter of River Valley by Victoria Cornwall

TDORV_FRONT_RGB150dpi (1)

Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …

Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she has been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.

Brought together by unknown circumstances, and fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?


Reading historical romance can be a bit of a minefield for an historian. My research spans the 17th to 19th centuries, but I spend my time predominantly in the 19th century. With novels there must be a level of give and take; I’m not one to insistent on stringent historical accuracy, but there is a line in the sand however, that when crossed makes reading some historical novels impossible. Daughter of River Valley has such an intriguing plot that I couldn’t resist, and it was with hope and a little trepidation that I started to read. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, slow-burning romance, with enough twists and turns to make it a bit of a roller-coaster ride – albeit of the gentle sort.

In general terms, while the 19th century was one of innovation, industrialisation, and progress on many fronts, a great many rural and cottage industries were lost or mechanised. Cornish mining was at once point a leading, cutting edge industry, but copper mining was petering out by the 1840s, and while tin mining boomed, it too was dying by the 1870s. It was a case of bust following boom. Cornish mining was also at the mercy of globalisation as other countries started mining tin and copper less expensively, and we started importing it.  (Sound like our recent history?) Arguably, the greatest exports Cornwall gave the world were its miners and their expertise. Our tale is set against this sad background.

Beth is an amazing young woman, proud and self-reliant. Having found an intruder in her cottage and rendered him unconscious, she hilariously tries to move him out before he comes around. Her worry about being arrested is all too real, as is her concern over being watched, and her ownership of the cottage. She wants this man gone, but her guilt coupled with a compassionate nature, makes her get help and nurse him back to health. Unfortunately, he has no idea who he is, and no clues about his person. Although strong and independent, Beth has insecurities from her childhood that make trusting new people difficult, and a vulnerability that has her questioning herself. She has suspicions she can’t prove, and a stubborn self-reliance that won’t let her take things at face value.

Luke/Joss is equally proud and equally vulnerable, and not just because of his loss of memory. His nightmares allude to a dark period of his life; demons that he is half convinced make him either a criminal or a ‘bad man’. At the same time there is a gentleness that hovers beneath his scowling, sullen demeanour. Like Beth, he is stubborn as a mule, and just as fiercely independent, even though he needs her help. He displays skills that belie Beth’s original notion of his social class. Joss is an honourable man, as keen to protect her as well as her reputation. As he works at repairing the shed, Beth can say he is a labourer in her employment.

As soon as you think you have a handle on where the author is taking you, she takes a quick turn, and you head off in a different direction. She does this all through the book, and readers will be wondering by the last few chapters, what on earth is happening with Beth and Joss. It’s a bit nerve-wracking. Both have the shadow of their pasts hanging over them. It informs their behaviour, their reactions to people, and to events. It can be a chain to hamper them, as well as an armour to protect them. Beth does not want to make the same mistake as her mother for example.

All the while we are travelling with these two characters, we are given glorious and vibrant descriptions that bring the Cornish coast and countryside beautifully to life. Altogether Victoria Cornwall has given us an atmospheric and fascinating novel. The captivating romance combined with elements of Cornish history, both fascinating and heart-breaking, raises this from a standard historical novel, to excellent.

Full five stars. Go, read, and enjoy.


Purchase Link

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Daughter-River-Valley-Cornish-Tales-ebook/dp/B07DHWTH5T

The Daughter of River Valley


Author

Victoria Cornwall. Profile Picture JPGVictoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria’s writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction and her debut novel reached the final for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Victoria likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://victoriacornwall.com/

Blog: http://victoriacornwall.com/news-blog-2/

Facebook (Author Page if you have one): https://www.facebook.com/victoriacornwall.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VickieCornwall

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16069968.Victoria_Cornwall

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/vickiecornwall/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoria_cornwallx/


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

Oh, Crumbs : Blog Tour

Oh, Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman

OC_FRONT-150dpiRGB copySometimes life just takes the biscuit …
Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. 
Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. 
But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 


I expected this to be a usual, run-of-the-mill romance, but Kathryn Freeman has given us a considered and insightful study of human nature, relationships, and moral integrity. I could write a dissertation on this book, its characters, themes and motifs, and indeed have had several attempts at writing a review that doesn’t run on for pages.  Equally, it is not often that a book has me running through the entire A to Z of emotions, but Oh Crumbs did. I was angry, laughing, anxious, happy, sad, joyful, and wished to throw a well-aimed punch or two.

It’s also been a while since an author has rendered me conflicted in my opinion of some of the people in their book. Freeman’s depiction of her characters is an exercise in creating real and believable individuals, complete with the strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments and failings that you expect in real life. They are very definitely not cardboard cut-outs.  If the best place for the family is framed on the shelf, then in very many ways that is true of the families in this book.

Be assured, while some of this review makes the novel sound dark and miserable, nothing could be further from the truth. I’m saying now, before going any further, this is another book that will make it onto my Books of the Year list. I relished it. Get yourself a copy, grab drinks and snacks, then settle down for a great read with wonderful and horrible characters!

On the surface, Abby and Doug come from different worlds, one privileged, titled, and rich, the other ordinary, struggling, and disadvantaged. Yet we have two people suffering from the same trials and tribulations. Freeman’s skill in bringing us this story, is that she writes the sadder, darker elements with a light-hand. You feel sorrow but not misery, sadness but not depression, balanced with hilarious banter, cheeky teenagers, and moments of great comedy.

Abby is the obvious mainstay of her family; a family that doesn’t appear to appreciate all that she has sacrificed for them. The Prologue covers two periods, first 12 years before our tale starts, and then 6 years before. The Spencer’s wife and mother has been ill for a while and dies; Abby is expected to step up and care for her younger sisters. She is just 13 years old and, at their mother’s funeral, she is the one in charge of Mandy 9, Sally 5, Holly 3, and baby Ellie just 1. As each of the three youngest have a problem that day, it is Abby who sorts them out, and it was the first time I questioned what their father was doing. At the wake, when she refuses to help, Mandy gives us an insight into what life has been like for Abby in recent months, ‘No way. You’re the oldest. That’s your job.’ Later their father apologises to Abby for not being much help over the previous months, and I wanted to give the man a damned good slap.

At the 6-year part of the Prologue, Abby is 18 and just finished school, but while her friends are all going off to university she is not. She must look after the family. Again, it is Mandy who challenges Abby about responsibility, ‘You’re always banging on at me to help you. Why don’t you tell him to come home earlier instead? He’s the parent.’  Abby points out his ineptitude, but my mind screamed that he needed to learn how to use the washing machine, cook, and so forth. Abby misses her mother very much, and we must ask the question – when did she get the time to grieve? Now, instead of breaking out into the world, she is going to find a job so she can stay at home and look after her sisters and supplement the family income. It’s heart-breaking.

Doug employs Abby and gradually realises what a clever and misplaced young woman she is. While she’s an excellent and efficient PA, he recognises that she is woman with a head for business. He is drawn to her but is emotionally closed and withdrawn. Lord Faulkner, his father, is a cruel and vindictive bully who humiliates Doug at every opportunity, and it is clear that something is festering under the surface of their toxic relationship.

Both sets of parents represent the light and dark side of the other. One mother is dead but still a presence in her daughter’s life, the other mother is alive, but has chosen to withdraw emotionally from her son. One father is a tyrant, selfish and unloving, the other is inept and while allowing Abby to make sacrifices, he loves his children and works hard to help provide for them. The actions of both fathers, combined with the absence of the mother figures, have serious consequences for Doug and Abby, though the unquestionable detrimental effect emotionally is on Doug. His sacrifice is treated with cold contempt by his mother.

Both Abby and Doug have hidden talents that neither is able to pursue as they have sacrificed their independence for the sake of their families. Abby has a great business mind but is working as a secretary and PA. Doug is an artist but was forbidden to pursue his talent as a child and young man. In sharp contrast are Mandy and Thea, sisters to Abby and Doug.  They have seized a form of independence albeit in different ways and encourage their sibling to make their own lives. Thea has left home, escaped to university, so isn’t around much, leaving the youngest sister, Margaret, at home under the strict thumb of their parents. Mandy may be living at home, but she doesn’t take on any of the parental responsibilities Abby has, not because she can’t but because she doesn’t accept that it is her duty. When the time comes, we find she faces the consequences of her actions and shoulders her own responsibility without hesitation.

Abby is a delightful. A warm-hearted and loving young woman yet simmering quietly beneath the surface is an unhappiness. She is bright and intelligent, has taken an Open University degree in between balancing job, sisters, and domestic life. The only relationships she has managed to have were with her two bosses, and at best were mediocre.  Whilst her father clearly loves his children, it is Abby who is the strong centre. Rituals build a family and hold it together, and throughout the book Abby is the one who has built the rituals that stop them from falling apart. She is open, direct, and honest. It is this strength of character and lively personality that Doug is drawn to.

At first Doug appears to be aloof and cold. He is a man very much in control of his behaviour, his emotions, and his thinking. He’s hasn’t so much built a wall around himself, as he has taken all romantic ideas and notions of a loving relationship and buried them so unfathomably deep. Yet bit by bit we find that he has a warm and passionate nature. No matter how hard he fights, Abby confronts and provokes him in small and surprising ways. Her guileless and unsophisticated nature has Doug questioning everything he thinks he believes in. His friend Luke is the only person with whom he behaves anything like his true self, and even then, he is guarded. Abby doesn’t understand why Doug lets his father treat him so badly, and challenges Doug on why he doesn’t defend himself.

Freeman has written a book that is funny and romantic, bright and cheerful. She cleverly and subtly weaves the pain and heartache into the narrative of the burgeoning romance in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the relationship building between Doug and Abby. Here are two people who have sacrificed their lives and independence for their families and who in finding each other may stand a chance of a life for themselves. Will they break free? Can they? Will they get the life they deserve? Or will the pull of family be too strong to overcome?

Will we find out?

The full 5 stars, and then some.

Buy the book.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crumbs-Choc-Lit-Kathryn-Freeman-ebook/dp/B07BYDG51M

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Crumbs-Choc-Lit-Kathryn-Freeman-ebook/dp/B07BYDG51M


Giveaway

Giveaway Prize - Too Damn NiceWin a paperback copy of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494111/?


Author

5707-2A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –

Website:  http://kathrynfreeman.co.uk

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/kathrynfreeman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/KathrynFreeman1


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

Barnabas Tew: Blog Tour

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab by Columbkill Noonan

Barnabas Tew - CoverBarnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?


As a huge Sherlock fan, I thought it would be fun to give this a go. The book wasn’t quite what I anticipated, and to be honest, once I started reading and realised the direction the plot was taking, I was expecting to dislike intensely. You see, since childhood when it comes to history, I’ve always been very firmly in the Roman and Norse camp, Greeks are ‘meh’, and Egypt has never held any interest or fascination for me. Quite the opposite, I’m bored by it, so I was rather taken aback at how much I liked this novel, and whilst we are never supposed to judge a book by its cover….I really like this one.

The author has attempted to write in a way that befits the Sherlockian period and style, and most of the time she succeeds. While some odd phraseology jarred a little, and led me to read it in stages, the fabulous cast of characters and their interactions with each other, makes this book a real delight.  It has levels of absurdity which draw you in, and a degree of farcicality that leaves you shaking your head and laughing. Yet the whole preposterousness nature of the story is so well drawn that, whatever madness the writer throws at you, the reader blithely accepts it and carries on with their enjoyment.

Since reading his first Sherlock story as a child, Barnabas Tew has wanted to emulate his hero, and worked towards it ever since. Complete with caped coat and deer-stalker, an assistant called Wilfred, and a decade of calamitous cases, Barnabas has not had the meteoric rise to detective stardom that he had hoped for. Indeed, more often than not, someone has ended up dead, and this is the fate that Barnabas and Wilfred meet.

Barnabas is a lovely character, quite modest, and often admits his shortcomings. He makes detailed descriptions, minute observations, and works through them with meticulous good intentions, sadly to little or no avail. He is a bit of a bumbler, and his assistant, the well-intentioned Wilfred, is the perfect foil to Barnabas. It is the eminently patient Wilfred who takes the pair of them off to the Egyptian exhibition at the museum, to distract his employer from their lack of success and failure to acquire more clients. The interaction between Barnabas and Wilfred is at times hilarious, and the more you read, the more you realise how Wilfred is NOT like Dr Holmes, and Barnabas is no Sherlock.

I loved the humour, and the well-developed characters. The author plays with mythological Gods; through the use of anthropomorphism she makes them more accessible as personalities, hence more 3-dimensional and so less distant from our understanding.  You can’t help but laugh at the odd statements that pop up. Like the Ferryman stating that Barnabas’ demise was definitely ‘in the top ten of strange deaths’ he’d ever seen, or when Anubis was exasperated with Barnabas rambling and interrupting, put his head in his hands and muttered, ‘Oh sweet baby Horus why me?’

This strange, humourous, Victorian, supernatural detective novel, with its mythological afterlife (or afterlives….)  is a real peach. I want to say lots more, but there are two more books coming and I’d rather you read and enjoy this one now, so we can go deeper and discuss more next time.

A happy 4 stars so, Go, Read, Enjoy!


Purchase Link

mybook.to/Barnabas

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab


Author

Barnabas Tew - ColumbkillNoonanPhotoColumbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology.  Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.

In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (www.columbkill.weebly.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan) or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).

Social Media Links –  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan/

                                       Twitter: https://twitter.com/columbkillnoon1?lang=en


Brought to you via:

Rachels Random Resources

The Secrets of Villa Rosso: Blog Tour

The Secrets of Villa Rosso by Linn B Halton

The Secrets of Villa Rosso lrgSome places stay with you forever…

When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she’s reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn’t prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate’s director Max Jackson, or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso.

It’s not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors?

What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie’s life forever.


Let me say up front that this is a lovely story about soul mates. relationships, and the eternity of love.

The author’s loquacious style, combined with the restating at various junctures of the soul-mate status of Ellie and Josh’s relationship, made this book difficult for me to settle into.  I’ve never suffered from homesickness, and I’m married to a (now retired) military man, so the sort of wobbling and faintheartedness about being separated that Ellie and Josh display, had no room in our lives. I was irritated by Ellie’s bleating about leaving home, nervous I can understand but she was more fearful than that. I get that she had never travelled alone before, but she was about to make some major business decisions, so these two aspects did not balance for me.

Equally, Josh is a lovely man, but telling her on the one hand that she was more than capable of the task in hand, and then fussing about her being gone, missing her, and wanting her home, undermined that. And don’t get me going about the daughters, and who would take them to wherever they needed to be. At various stages I was given to growling ‘your bloody husband’, ‘get a grip’, and other remarks I shan’t publish.

We start with Ellie and Josh’s 19th wedding anniversary, hosted by Ellie’s friend and boss Livvie. At a certain point in the party, Ellie picks up a crystal ball and an image appears to her. We are told by Livvie that since she bought it no-one has ever seen anything in it, although it was supposed to belong to a famous medium. She declares it broken. Ellie says nothing. This is the first hint of the paranormal.  We walk through the courtship and 19 year marriage, the arrival of children, and Ellie as homemaker. They have a lovely life, and it all sounds so delightful, domestic, and happy. The unexpected turn comes when Ellie has to take Livvie’s place on an important business trip to Italy. Here she meets Max, and they have an instant rapport.

What this book does encompass and handles beautifully, is how relationships mould and shape us, how we make relationships, and how the situations they create impact on everyone involved; husband and wife, mother and daughter, man and woman. It embraces that strange phenomena of deja-vu, of the sensation that we know someone we’re meeting for the first time, of familiarity, of connection.  It’s a very interesting subject, and these feelings can be negative as well as positive.  The mystical element that twists and curves its way from the beginning,  directs the latter half of the book and gives the tale an appealing and edgy fascination.

Ellie is a lovable character with the ability to charm and irritate in equal measure. Yet as the story progresses, she gains in confidence and strength, and Josh senses this. As she struggles with her emotions, her character deepens, and she emerges from that ‘little housewife’ shell, into a more self-assured woman. This is when we see what I believe is the real Ellie, the one that was hiding under the surface all along. She is only going to be gone a few days, but Josh reminds her often that the family isn’t the same without her. He clearly loves and cherishes his wife and family, and on the surface Ellie leans on him for love, support, and friendship. With other people, even her friend Livvie, she holds something back, yet underneath that veneer is the very strong impression that within their relationship, even if they are soul-mates, Josh is the less emotionally robust of the two. Sub-consciously, I believe Ellie has known this all along, has bolstered his ego, and happily fits everything into the comfortable world they have created for themselves. This is not a negative quality; Ellie is very much the glue that holds them all together, including Livvie, and Josh and their daughters recognise this.

Max is a charming man that life has dealt with unevenly. He and Ellie are deeply and mystically coupled, yet like Ellie, he is bound by the commitments he has made, as well as his love and affection for the people in his life. He deserves so much, yet the heartbreak is that no matter what you deserve, it means nothing.

Whilst this wasn’t a book for me, I can heartily recommend it to others. It’s a great story, and if you don’t mind a verbose style, you’ll love it.

Hovering around the 3.5+ star mark. Read and enjoy.


Purchase

HERE


Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Secrets of Villa Rosso

(Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter Here

 

The Rosso daisies


Author

The Secrets of Villa Rosso - LinnFrom interior designer to author, Linn – who also writes under theThe Secrets of Villa Rosso Full Tour Banner pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Harper Impulse (Harper Collins) and Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links –

Read chapter one from each of Linn & Lucy’s novels: Website: http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Twitter: @LinnBHalton and @LucyColemanAuth

Facebook: LinnBHaltonAuthor

Amazon author pages: Linn B. Halton and Lucy Coleman


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

Undeclared – Jen Frederick : Review

Undeclared by Jen Frederick

Undeclared-coverFor four years, Grace Sullivan wrote to a Marine she never met, and fell in love. But when his deployment ended, so did the letters. Ever since that day, Grace has been coasting, academically and emotionally. The one thing she’s decided? No way is Noah Jackson — or any man — ever going to break her heart again.

Noah has always known exactly what he wants out of life. Success. Stability. Control. That’s why he joined the Marines and that’s why he’s fighting his way — literally — through college. Now that he’s got the rest of his life on track, he has one last conquest: Grace Sullivan. But since he was the one who stopped writing, he knows that winning her back will be his biggest battle yet.


I was confused by the time-line on this and had to do a bit of research. I understood the notion of having to ‘declare’, but the timescale seemed skewed. As it turns out, American undergraduate degrees take four years, and students do not start with a single or double main subject as we do in British universities. American students study a wide range of topics and subjects for two years before declaring their ‘major’. Simply put by Prajwal Ciryam, a former Fulbright scholar, Americans champion a breadth of knowledge, the British a depth…You can see it in the way the undergraduates identify themselves. In America, a student ‘majors in biology’  implying she does other things as well,  while in Britain, she ‘is a biologist,’ (The Independent, August 2013)

I still think the timescale is skewed, either that or Grace started writing to Noah when she was in Freshman Year (or 9th Grade) in order for 4 years writing and 2 years not writing to take her to the second year of university. And yes it matters, perhaps Jen could let me know?

Jen Frederick had me torn in three. The long-time feminist in me wanted to rant about possessive and over-protective men, then the socially just me said everyone deserves a second chance and we shouldn’t judge, finally the romantic in me shouted just shut up and kiss already!!

Reconciling these three has been hilariously difficult. I read some reviewers comments about Noah’s behviour, and I had to think long and hard about my own attitude towards it. Yes, there are some ‘feminist flaws’ in this tale, but it’s a love story. There are ‘feminist flaws’ in most romances, it is the nature of the genre. Readers who don’t like how Noah behaved should read something else. If we can only read politically correct books, then the entire romantic fiction business will collapse in a heartbeat. (Or is heartbeat too romantic a word? Should I say in one beat of the blood pumping cardiac muscle?) Men won’t be able to read their spy, special forces, action adventure thrillers, and girls and boys can’t have Disney. We can’t live without Disney, so sod that!

The point is that none of these books are real life, and they’re not meant to be. They reflect an idealised or romantic view of real life, so I don’t understand why reviewers whinged about Grace and Noah’s behaviour. Can’t they use their imagination? Einstein said that it was more important than knowledge, and that it could take you anywhere and everywhere.  I don’t always want to read or be educated about the real-world issues when what I need is escape from them, and I know an huge number of readers feel the same..

Noah – there must be some leeway given to this character. He is a young marine who has been deployed in one of the most dangerous areas of the world and who comes back damaged and dysfunctional. Let me also say that on the whole, military men are not necessarily possessive as such, but they can be protective when it comes to the females of the species. While it raises our feminist hackles, we need to understand the world they have been trained and programmed into. They experience the awful depths that humanity can sink to. They see the world at its cruellest, its deadliest, its bloodiest, and its most violent. Noah saw the place Grace came from, her spacious, gated home and beautful surrounding, and felt inadequate and unworthy of her. He had to sort himself out before he could feel able to present himself to her. Maybe he goes about it the wrong way, but nevertheless, Noah does get the help he needs, works, trains, and studies hard, and gets himself to university.

Grace – what Grace hasn’t had is that overused word ‘closure’. Four years of letter writing, and getting closer to Noah, each sharing confidences and dreams, and then nothing. No real explanation, just a brush off. She’s not coasting, she lost, and has had a massive dent to her ego and her confidence. Let’s also put this into perspective. She’s hasn’t been ‘coasting’ for many years;  she is not Miss Haversham in the 21st century. It’s more like a grieving process. The fact this was a relationship by letter is irrelevant, they’ve both invested four years of their time, sentiments, and emotions. So how long does it take to get over any kind of meaningful relationship?

They each know what they had and lost, they each know what they want. I found some of the scenes around other men hilarious; Noah might as well have pee’d on her leg and marked his territory. Excellent writing that momentarily had my feminist hackles standing upright, but at the same time it’s just bloody funny! Grace is not a pushover; she knows what is happening and in her own way calls Noah on his behaviour. He has a tense, uneasy quality that shows itself most around other men and his MMA bouts, but Grace is the one that softens his hard edges and he knows it.

The dilemma over the Vegas meet is a tricky one. I know others have called the character out over her actions, but to be fair to Grace, the opportunity was impossible to turn down.

Writing from a dual point of view is interesting and engaging, though I would have liked some more depth to both Grace and Noah’s thinking.

The characters around them are funny, annoying, and all points in-between. They are generally well-drawn, but Bo could have had more character development. Then again, he’s in the next book, so perhaps the author was holding back a little.

I really enjoyed reading Undeclared; it is sweet, funny, and heart-warmingly romantic, but with a slightly edgy quality. Any criticism is because I liked it so much and wanted it to be ‘more’. I look forward to reading the next one, but in the meantime, I’ll check some of the author’s other books, and you should too.

Go read and enjoy.


Purchase

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 


Author

Jen Frederick is the USA Today bestselling author of Unspoken, part of the Woodlands series, and Sacked, part of the Gridiron series. She is also the author of the Charlotte Chronicles and has had several books on the Kindle Top 100 list. She lives in the Midwest with a husband who keeps track of life’s details while she’s writing, a daughter who understands when Mom disappears into her office for hours at a time, and a rambunctious dog who does neither

She also writes under the name Erin Watt

Here Comes the Best Man : Blog Tour

Here Comes the Best Man by Angela Britnell

HCTBM Cover

Being the best man is a lot to live up to …

When troubled army veteran and musician Josh Robertson returns home to Nashville to be the best man at his younger brother Chad’s wedding he’s just sure that he’s going to mess it all up somehow, but when it becomes clear that the wedding might not be going to plan, it’s up to Josh and fellow guest Louise Giles to make sure that Chad and his wife-to-be Maggie get their perfect day.
Can Josh be the best man his brother needs? And is there somebody else who is beginning to realise that Josh could be her ‘best man’ too?


Josh is the ‘black sheep’ of the family. He is a military veteran with twenty odd years’ service behind him, that combined with issues from his past have kept him away from home. We discover that he and his father have always had a turbulent relationship, but he promised his brother Chad to be at his wedding.

Louise works for Audrey, an elderly but feisty art collector who is also god-mother to the bride. Louise has her own issues with family, as well as relationships. Like Josh, she guards her emotions and keeps them securely trapped behind a high wall.

Several chapters after I started to read this book, I wondered if I’d missed something. I couldn’t immediately put my finger on the problem, so I put it away for a couple of days, and then started at the beginning again. I quickly realised what had tripped me the first time. With most romances we are used to things happening in a certain order, and that has been true of most of the books I’ve read recently. The order may have variety, but its there nevertheless. What the author has done here is move almost immediately in to an area I had expected to come later.

When Josh and Louise meet for the first time there is a clear and obvious spark between them.  Rather than spend chapters on navel-gazing angst or regurgitating all the reasons why they must avoid each other, we go straight away to the building of their relationship. This was where I stumbled, but it is artfully done by the author, and in fact quite realistic. I’ve known several couples who met and married in less than a year.

Josh being the type of guy that doesn’t play games, decides what he wants, and goes for it. He may hesitate occasionally, he may doubt himself from time to time, but his hope and longing for what his younger brother has, beats it all away.

Louise cannot help but be captivated by Josh. She too sees the radiant love between Chad and Maggie, and wishes she could experience the same for herself. The reaction she has every time Josh is near, starts to jolt her out of her trepidation regarding romantic entanglements. By helping Maggie achieve the wedding she really wants, Louise finds her emotional barriers breaking down, and slowly lets Josh woo her.

Considering the time-scale, their relationship moves fast. They both believe in having to be honest, and not having secrets, and the scenes where they share their romantic ordeals are heartfelt. The come-uppance toward the end is an air-punch moment. I’m pleased the sex scenes stayed behind closed doors. Louise’s feeling and fears made it necessary, otherwise I might have felt a little voyeuristic.

While Josh and Louise are fabulous characters, the others in this book are equally wonderful. Audrey, Grandma, Josh and Chad’s parents, Chad and Maggie – they all give sterling performances. I laughed at the honkytonk trip; cheered at Louise stepping up to claim her man; and loved the ‘southern charm’ feel of it all, though I think the author could have done a bit more to bring both Cornwall and Nashville alive for readers like me. I don’t really know Cornwall I prefer other places much further north, and I’ve never been to the USA, let alone Nashville.

This, I have discovered since reading it, is part of a series, but to be honest you can read it as a stand-alone. I enjoyed the story immensely and will certainly acquire some of the author’s other books, (heaven alone know when I’ll find time to read everything). In the mean time, its great and certainly worth the four stars I give it.

Read and enjoy.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07DCDQK6T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527549375&sr=8-1&keywords=here+comes+the+best+man+angela+britnell

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DCDQK6T/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527533459&sr=8-1&keywords=here+comes+the+best+man+angela+britnell

 


Author Here Comes The Best Man Full Tour Banner

Angela RONA Award Pub PhotoAngela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee. A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. After more than three decades of marriage to her American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after. Over the last twelve years she’s published over 20 novels and several short stories for women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers.

Social Media Links –

www.angelabritnellromance.com

www.facebook.com/angelabritnell

www.twitter.com/angelabritnell

https://www.instagram.com/angelagolleybritnell/


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

An Artisan Lovestyle : Blog Tour

An Artisan Lovestyle – Kiltie Jackson

An Artisan Lovestyle - Hi-resAre you ‘living’ your life or just living your life?

Elsa Clairmont was widowed barely five years after marrying her childhood sweetheart. She has struggled to come to terms with the loss and, six years later, has almost ceased to live herself. She does just enough to get by.
Danny Delaney is the ultimate ‘Mr Nice Guy’. He’s kind, caring and sweet. A talented artist in his teens, his abusive mother ruined his career in art and he turned his back on his exceptional gift. Now, he does just enough to get by.
On New Year’s Eve, both Danny and Elsa die in unrelated accidents.
Thanks to some poker playing shenanigans, Elsa’s husband Harry, and Danny’s old Art teacher, William, manage to orchestrate a deal with Death that allows Danny and Elsa to live for one more year on the condition they both agree to complete three tasks. They have until the last chime of Big Ben on the 31st December to fulfil their quests.
If they succeed, they stay in the world of the living.
If they should fail however…
An Artisan Lovestyle’ is a story of personal growth and self-discovery as two people find themselves forced to make overdue changes in their lives, changes in other people’s lives, and all with the added challenge of  finding true love before their time runs out.
Will they do it?
Can they do it?
After all, it’s a matter of Life or Death…


One of the things I love about the growth in romance publishing is not only the very broad scope of sub-genres, but also the books that bring an occasional ‘wow’ factor. No, I don’t mean sizzling sex scenes, or super-hot heroes, welcome though they may be. I’m talking about writers who come up with a plot that is way beyond the standard and slightly formulaic, albeit thoroughly enjoyable, romances. This book is one that has that ‘wow’ factor. Who in their right mind would contemplate writing a romance that includes Death, two dead men, and Purgatory/Hades’ Waiting Rooms? Not only that, but make Death such an insanely funny and completely bonkers character that you practically wet yourself laughing?

Well, Kiltie Jackson has.

Kiltie writes with passion and enthusiasm, and clearly loves to toy with her audience. Romance in this book is multi-faceted, and not  in any way, shape, or form clear-cut, nor is the road to achieving it conventional or straightforward. It crosses age, genders, and subjects. Both Elsa and Danny are in love with art, for example. It’s hard to write this review, not because I can’t think of what to say, quite the opposite, but because I don’t want to give anything away. I want readers expectations to be as teased, thwarted, and challenged as mine were.

Elsa is stuck. Stuck in habitual grief, stuck in life, stuck in a job she detests. Her only joy is her dog, and her love for him is what brings about her demise. Danny is stuck too. Stuck in a life forced upon him through deception, stuck with a job he has little enthusiasm for, stuck with the girlfriend from hell. Neither has the energy or strength to make changes, neither can see a way to move forward to better things. It’s easier to just accept the life you have, not rock the boat, and to forget foolish dreams. Their respective ruts are as deep as the Mariana Trench!

Sitting in Hades or Purgatory (call it what you will) Elsa and Danny meet briefly while waiting to be told what to do. They are each offered a second chance at life but with conditions attached. Who wouldn’t want that? Even if you fail to complete the tasks, wouldn’t you grab the opportunity to say and do the things you should have but didn’t? To strike out for those dreams long suppressed and locked away? Second chances don’t come around often and grabbing them with both hands is exactly what Elsa and Danny do.

I adored the twists and turns, the edge-of-the-seat guessing game that went on right to the very end. I started to read thinking I knew the outcome. Then I wasn’t sure. Next, I was trying to second guess the author, trying to figure out how she’d turn readers’ expectations on their head. Finally, I told my brain to shut up and get on with reading and enjoying it.

I did. And then some.

The characters in this book are so well-defined that I recognised them instantly. Some you want to hug, others you want to hang out with, and quite possibly two you want to kill, on a dark night, out at sea…! Some relationships within the book are beautifully written and portrayed, exhibiting love in all its infinite variety. Others are clearly cut with a scalpel, sharp-edged and lethal.

Kiltie has a talent for using humour to put across an otherwise complicated issue. She distils it to its essence and feeds it through her characters in such a way that you don’t realise it’s happening. For example, Sukie and Charles carry enormous emotional burdens. Death, grief, fear; it’s not just Elsa and Danny who experience these things and suffer the consequences of them. Some cope, but some fall at the first hurdle and it takes a special person to pick them up. Sometimes its just doing the right thing at the right time and giving a helping hand. This is where Elsa and Danny are at their best.

Elsa is lovely, and I whooped with delight at the office scene. Once she starts to break out from her self-imposed prison, she bursts into her new life. I can best describe it as a beige woman unexpectedly reflecting the all the colours of the rainbow. As she finds her way, she is surrounded by family and friends who love and support her. Danny is the ultimate genuinely kind and caring guy. He is honourable to the point of self-destruction, but he is also a hero. While he had the misfortune to be the talented child in a family that cares little for anything and was brow-beaten down by a mother who uses him, he has great friends. Nigel and Guy are wonderful; warm, funny, and compassionate. Their relationship is delightful.

I was on tenterhooks hoping that perhaps what I thought was going to happen, wouldn’t. It isn’t a roller-coaster ride, but it is a bit of an edge-of-the-seat tale. The outcome, after a series of tantalising near-misses and teasing ‘sliding door’ scenarios, left me exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.

This is a beautiful emotional and moving story, but utterly hilarious too. Highly recommended – yes – the full five stars again. Read and enjoy!


Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07D23TM38


Giveaway –

Win a £40 / $40 Amazon Voucher (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494104/?

An Artisan Lovestyle Blog Tour


 

Author

An Artisan Lovestyle Head Shot Piccie

Kiltie grew up in Glasgow in Scotland,
This is a very unique city with a very unique way of looking at life.

When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London and then,
after several years of obtaining interesting experiences -which are
finding their way into her writing – she moved up to the Midlands.

Kiltie currently lives in Staffordshire with five cats and one grumpy husband.
Her little home is known as Moggy Towers, even though despite having
plenty of moggies, there are no towers!

The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their house on the
condition they keep paying the mortgage!

She loves reading, watching movies, and visiting old castles.
She really dislikes going to the gym!

Her biggest desire is that one day she can give up the day job
and write her stories for a living.

Kiltie’s debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’, was released in September 2017 and won a “Chill With A Book – Reader Award” in December 2017.

She first began writing her debut novel eleven years before it was released but shelved
it as she didn’t think it was very good.

In November 2016 when, having read more on a best-selling author who had begun
her own career as a self-published author, she was inspired to revisit the unfinished

manuscript and finally finish what she had started.

Since beginning to write again, the ideas have not stopped flowing.
‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is the second book in the Lovestyle Series.

Work is due to begin on book three (not yet titled but also part of the Lovestyle Series)
in the Summer of 2018.

She currently has a further ten plots and ideas stored in her file (it’s costing a
fortune in USB drives as each story has its own memory stick!) and
the ideas still keep on coming.

Kiltie now lives her life around the following three quotes:
“I love having weird dreams, they’re great fodder for book plots!”
“Why wait for your ship to come in when you can swim out to meet it?”
“Old enough to know better, young enough not to care!”

Website www.kiltiejackson.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kiltiejackson

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KiltieJackson


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources


 

If You Love Me, I’m Yours : Blog Tour

If You Love Me, I’m Yours by Lizzie Chantree

IYLMIY book cover small

Maud didn’t mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and love life… if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he’d begun! She could tolerate not fulfilling her dreams, if her parents would pay her one compliment about the only thing she was passionate about in life: her art.

Dot should have fitted in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn’t paint. She tried hard to be part of their world by becoming an art agent extraordinaire, but she dreamed of finding her own voice.

Dot’s brother Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas. Women worshipped him, and even Dot’s friend Maud flushed and bumped into things when he walked into a room, but a tragic event in his past had left him emotionally and physically scarred, and reluctant to face the world again.

Someone was leaving exquisite little paintings on park benches, with a tag saying, ‘If you love me, I’m yours’. The art was so fresh and cutting-edge, that it generated a media frenzy and a scramble to discover where the mystery artist could be hiding. The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked Maud, Dot and Nate’s lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down. 

Were bonds of friendship, love and loyalty strong enough to withstand fame, success and scandal?


So what adjectives can I find to describe If You Love Me, I’m Yours?

Romantic, certainly; charming and heart-warming, definitely; it is also unexpectedly moving, and fist-clenchingly provocative, with hidden depths and multiple layers. The romance is not just between people, but also with art which obviously plays a central role in Maud’s story.

For the reader, the brilliance of this narrative is that its rather like a game of snakes and ladders, just as you think you have the hook on a character or situation, something happens to make you reassess your judgement. Sometimes climbing up the ladder, sometimes sliding down the snake. Good, bad, misunderstood, or fully comprehended, some characters will have you changing your mind again and again over many chapters.

Maud is a lovely character, whose personality and spirit has in many ways been crushed by her narrow-minded, dictatorial mother and inept father. Her parents have a star-shaped daughter that they have tried hard to hammer into their very square life. Years of criticism and complaints have left her doing ‘everything in her power to please her parents’. Painting is the exception, and it’s the one thing her mother cannot and will not allow. ‘I am not a monster’ Rosemary declares, but she is, endlessly chipping away at Maud, who only wants one thing – a single word of praise or thanks.

Whatever Maud’s uncertainties and fears, she is a tender yet feisty young woman, finally fighting her way out from under an overbearing mother to reach for her dreams. Maud’s best friend Daisy encourages her in all aspects of her life and is generally a force for good. It is Daisy who submits one of Maud’s artworks into the competition that finally ignites the life-changing touch-paper, but it is Dot who adds oxygen to the flame.

Maud and Dot are fantastic foils for each other. The author has written them so subtly, and in such a way that it is probably only on reflection that the reader realises that each illuminates the other, that each has seemingly opposite, but in fact similar problems. Maud is quiet, reserved, and neutrally dressed; Dot is outgoing, flamboyant, and an explosion of colour. Both dress the way they do for good reasons. Maud has an obvious talent that is demeaned and oppressed by her parents; Dot claims no artistic talent but has a family who believe she just hasn’t found her forte yet. The pressure from family is immense for both.

Underneath these artificial exteriors created over the years by Maud and Dot for their respective families, and behind which they hide, the truth is very different. The common ground is in the spaces between. These characteristics and behaviours hide a fear of failure and a lack of confidence in their abilities outside their current careers.  Both have jobs they are good at, but not what they really want to do with the rest of their lives, and their meeting eventually ignites an explosion of creativity, transformation, and change.

Lizzie Chantree brings us a tale that is also about fame and celebrity, and not always in the way you’d expect. Think how we refer to people in the workplace for example, as being ‘a bit of a celebrity around here’. It highlights how people use that status to manipulate and deceive even at the most innocuous level when we tell ourselves we are doing it to help our friend/child/sibling. Lizzie also shows us how rash decisions can destroy something we love and cherish, and how bad behaviour can come back around and bite you in the rear!

Our ‘heroes’ Tom and Nate are foils in a similar way as Maud and Dot. Both handsome and attractive, both with their issues, they hide themselves behind an exterior that masks their true characters. As the story progresses, each man meets and deals with almost as much change and adjustment in their lives, as the two young women. Each must come to terms with and face up to their present lives and situations. Equally, each treat their relationship with Maud differently; from the careful manipulation by one to the slow-burn romance of the other. Another ‘snakes and ladders’ scenario skilfully crafted by a very adept writer.

It is a wonderful book, its full of humour and laughter, love and friendship, and an altogether fantastic read. As I haven’t read any of Lizzie Chantree’s other books, I shall have to add a couple to my library. Her writing is lovely and if this book is a good example, then I have some great reading ahead of me – when I can fit it all in.

A full five-star recommendation. Read and enjoy!


Purchase Link – viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours


 

Giveaway

Win signed copies of If You Love Me,  I’m Yours and Ninja School Mum

(Open Internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Author

Lizzie Chantree. Author photo small

Award-winning inventor and author, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing fiction when her children were little and now runs networking hours on social media, where creative businesses, writers, photographers and designers can offer advice and support to each other. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex.

Website: www.lizziechantree.com

Author page: viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.chantree.3

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizzie_chantree/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/LizzieChantree/pins/


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

 

 

The Guilt of a Sparrow : Blog tour

The Guilt of a Sparrow by Jess B Moore

Guilt of a SparrowMagnolia Porter has spent the entirety of her twenty-four years satisfying her mother’s guilt.  She was the good girl to her trouble making brother, Lucian.  She was the one left behind to hold her mother together after her brother died.  She is an invisible girl in a small town carrying the burden of her family’s loss and pain.  She was nobody trying desperately to be somebody.

Cotton MacKenna is the one with the temper.  Of the five MacKenna boys, he’s the one most likely to throw the first punch.  Never mind all those fights were a decade prior, all in an attempt to save a sweet girl from her bullying older brother.  Cotton has grown up, has his own photography business, is the fourth in the line of McKenna’s, and would only ever be known for his past.

Maggie and Cotton are more than the labels placed on them.  Put there by their families, the town, and themselves.

Time for a change.

A meddling best friend.  Bluegrass jams.  Small town gossip.  Love, loss, and family ties.  Learning how to be who you are outside of who you were told to be.  With humor and plenty of romance, of course.


Whatever else I may read before 2019, this book is already on my 2018 Books of the Year list. I was gripped from page one, couldn’t put it down, and yes, I stayed up all night to read it in one sitting.

I was drawn to Maggie and Cotton, and flooded with compassion for two characters struggling to break free from behind the walls they have built to protect themselves. It is a beautifully nuanced journey about personality and character, dealing with the past, and overcoming the perceptions of family and community regarding who and what you are, as well as love, romance, and overwhelming emotions.

Families are supposed to be the rock-solid foundation from which a child grows into a confident and well-adjusted adult, and communities are supposed to protect and help its citizens as they do this. The reality is far from the ideal. Incidents from childhood and adolescence can lead to us being ‘stuck’ in patterns of behaviour which can vary depending on the people whose company we are in, or the circumstances within which we find ourselves. The psychological aspects of how families and communities function and behave influences all members, and particularly so in small communities. The need to conform to societal ‘norms’ within a given family or community is strong, as is the reaction to any deviancy from those ‘norms’. Living and growing up in a place where other people’s opinions colour who and what you are, without ever knowing the reality, can mean years of raising barriers and building walls, or being unable to escape the behaviour patterns. Irrespective of how invisible you try to make yourself, or how you behave today. You are ‘stuck’.

What if, as you grow up, you are pigeon-holed as violent and aggressive? What if over the years you come to believe it?

And what if the behaviour of your family tars you with the same brush? What if you have spent a decade hiding from that?

How can anyone escape from beneath those burdens?

Maggie tells us that, ‘we all had our reasons for becoming who we were; for staying that way.’ The author takes us behind the barriers that Maggie and Cotton have built, to uncover the reality unseen by almost everyone else. Whilst these two people have so much in common, their respective families are poles apart. Maggie’s brother Lucien was a badly behaved child who grew into a bullying violent, teenager and young man.  When the book opens Lucien is dead, but his legacy hangs around Maggie like an albatross. Her mother is controlling and unpleasant, monitors and comments negatively on Maggie’s behaviour, yet we find out later that her own behaviour leaves much to be desired. She blames others for her son’s behaviour and death, including the MacKenna family, particularly Cotton.

Maggie is sweet and unassuming. At first I thought she was going to be a loveable but pathetic creature however, as her story unfolded, I was overjoyed to find I was wrong. Cotton was also a surprise. Seemingly moody and rude, any reader could be forgiven for wondering how he could be our ‘hero’ as he is described by Maggie as ‘all hard lines and no excuses. He was the scary one‘. She corrects herself , ‘no not scary. Intense. Which is sometimes the same thing.‘ As brick by brick, the author gradually knocks down the walls that each character has built around themselves, like butterflies emerging from the chrysalis, we are presented with an amazing young woman who is stronger and braver than she realises, and a young man who is honourable and principled.

Maggie’s friend Alyssa is a real tour de force and I loved her. She manages to persuade Maggie to get out and about, and it is through her that Maggie goes to the weekly Bluegrass jam. Dominic is a delight, and his plotting and manoeuvring is amusing. I could go on at length about the story and the characters, the scene setting and the overwhelming sense that I know these people, but this is a novel that requires the reader to experience each gradual move, step, and challenge that both Maggie and Cotton encounter. To meet for themselves the truly wonderful characters who entertain and amuse us, annoy and irritate. To give any detail would be to deprive you of a great reading experience, and I can’t do that. I skipped no pages, every age was read in full, and from me that’s says a great deal about this book.

The romance is gripping and powerful as Maggie and Cotton struggle to overcome the labels that have been stamped upon them and the consequences those labels have produced.. There is nothing salacious in the overwhelming emotions that envelope Maggie and Cotton.  Jess’ use of language and her descriptive prowess range from the hilarious to the downright beautiful. She has written passages that make every nerve quiver with anticipation, and others that will have you laughing out loud. She has created characters riven with flaws and a complexity of issues, yet they are warm, compassionate, and true to life. There are no cardboard cut-outs in this romance. No-one is dialling in their part.

The Guilt of a Sparrow is a wonderful book, full of hilarious moments and heartbreaking ones, great victories and small defeats. For this to be a debut novel is outstanding. It is compelling and uplifting, and while I couldn’t wait to get to the ‘grand finale’, I didn’t want the story to end either. I know I will read it again, and I rarely read books a second time.

Bravo Jess!

The scene has been set for the other characters to have their own books — potentially. I want to know what happens with Dominic. What about Denver? And Beau? What happens with Alyssa? After that, can we revisit Maggie and Cotton further down the line? I hope so.

This has the full five-star treatment with a cherry on top! Read it. Enjoy it. Love it.


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources 150pixels


UPDATE:

Fierce Grace by Jess B Moore

In Fierce Grace you will revisit the town of Fox River, NC and a few of the characters from The Guilt of a Sparrow – but this is a stand alone novel with all new characters introduced as well.

Release date:  November 3, 2018.


 

The Letter – Kitty’s Story : Blog Tour

The Letter: Kitty’s Story by Eliza J Scott

THE LETTER_FRONT_RGB_150dpiThirty-four-year-old Kitty Bennett is trapped in a loveless marriage to criminal barrister, Dan, who’s gradually isolated her from her family and friends. Until the day she (literally) bumps into her first love, the handsome and easy-going Ollie Cartwright – someone she’s done her best to avoid for as long as she can remember. Looking into Ollie’s eyes awakens feelings for him she thought she’d buried deep years ago, and he clearly feels the spark, too. As she walks away, Kitty can’t help but wonder what might have been…
Dan senses that his marriage is on shaky ground and knows he needs to win his wife round. He turns on the charm, skilfully using their two children, Lucas and Lily, as bargaining tools. But Kitty’s older brother, Jimby, and her childhood best-friends, Molly and Violet, have decided enough is enough. For years they’ve had to watch from afar as Kitty’s been browbeaten into an unrecognisable version of herself. They vow to make her see Dan for what he really is, but their attempts are no match for his finely-honed courtroom skills and, against her better judgement, Kitty agrees to give her husband one last chance. But, all-too-soon, a series of heart-breaking events and a shocking secret throw her life into turmoil…
Will she  stand by Dan, or will Kitty be brave enough to take the leap and follow her heart to Ollie?

Life is anything but peaceful in the chocolate-box pretty village of Lytell Stangdale, where life unravels, and hearts are broken. Full of heart-warming moments, this book with have you crying tears of joy, laughter and sadness.

An amazing debut novel! I was blown away by its depth and perception. Yes its a romance, in fact several romances, but it is oh so much more!

Eliza J Scott has woven a colourful and complex tapestry that slowly reveals both its bright treasures and hidden demons. The author’s tale is about Kitty, her marriage to Dan, their children Lily and Lucas, and her wider family and friends. Eliza touches on what life is like in rural communities, where not everyone is friendly, and not everyone fits in. Within these communities, people find they have to rub along as best they can with as little friction as possible, and often fail. The mum’s at the school gate, rich incomers, poorer locals, mixing or not at the pub – the potential for disharmony can simmer ominously under the surface.

Whilst the central love interest is Kitty, her husband, and Oliver, this is not a single love story, nor are all the love stories about romantic love. For example, taking someone to your heart and into your family, irrespective of how and why they arrived in your life, is a great love story. (You’ll just have to read to know exactly what I mean). Sadly, whilst all the varying romantic entanglements weave and wind around the central relationships, the authors also deals with the very real and very abusive psychological manipulation known as ‘gaslighting’, but I will come to that later.

Eliza reveals her love of the wild, rugged, and wonderful North Yorkshire countryside, which she has made a character in this book whether she realises it or not. From the moors to the crags and dales, she evokes a place that has been moulded by time and nature, and its hardy people. I lived in Swaledale for several years, indeed my second child was born there, and Eliza’s evocative and stirring descriptions have given me a yearning to return. Her characters too, have been moulded by the history and environment of the dale. She cleverly delineates between the locals steeped in their community, the incomer who has taken on board the local culture and all that it means, and the incomer who remains aloof and distant from it. It is sometimes done subtly, and sometimes not, but that is merely a reflection of real life.

Swaledale

Kitty comes from a loving, decent local family which goes back many generations. As a teenager she had a budding romance with Oliver, until Daniel Bennett appeared on the scene. A handsome, educated young man full of confidence and his own self-importance, a belief instilled and fostered by his officious mother,  Dan doesn’t so much sweep Kitty of her feet as entice and manipulate the innocent and naive seventeen year old into a relationship and marriage. They have two children for whom Kitty works hard to be a good mother, and works hard for them to have a good relationship with their seemingly stressed, hardworking father. She also works hard to maintain their perfect life, but the surface gloss hides a dark reality.

Dan is gaslighting Kitty. He has done so since the start of their relationship. It is one of the most widespread, insidious forms of abuse, and do not be fooled, we are all susceptible to it. It is not the exclusive domain of romantic relationships; it also encompasses parent-child relationships and the workplace for example. The name comes from the 1938 play Gas Light, which was also made into a film in the 1940s, where a man manipulates his wife until she believes she is losing her mind. Elements of gaslighting are when they blatantly lie, use your loved ones, including your children against you, block and distract you from family and friends,  tell you that you are over-reacting, must  be confused, not remembering correctly, too sensitive, it never happened, you need to calm down, you’re crazy. They do this and more until you find that you make excuses for their behaviour, constantly question yourself, struggle to make even simple decisions and feel that you always make bad choices anyway, constantly apologise, believe you are not good enough, change your appearance for them, and more.

Dan is toxic. He has over the years become a leading barrister with a high profile career, which has fed his ego and arrogance. He is convinced that he can and is entitled to do what he wants, and can justify his behaviour, including his adultery. Dan is clever in a manipulative way, using his education, position, charm, and good looks to disarm and control. He is emotionally abusive to all but one of his mistresses, and it is she who controls their relationship. In all of this he is aided and abetted by his equally toxic mother. While you can find a modicum of sympathy for a man who is the product of a scheming controlling mother, by the end you really just want to frog-march them both to the nearest psychiatric hospital and have them committed!

Kitty’s brother Jimby and her friends Violet and Molly are loyal to Kitty, and each in their own way has been as supportive as they can, but have been distanced by Dan. For them it is a Catch 22 situation. They point out his behaviour, she addresses it, he claims its proof of what he has said all long, that they don’t like him and want to split them up, so she defends him to everyone.  Just seventeen when they meet,  Kitty is young, naive, and inexperienced, and she reacts like a typical teenager when any parent seems to intervene. So in the end, bit by slow encroaching bit, she is isolated, her self-confidence undermined, and the strain of the emotional balancing act takes its toll. As the book progresses and characters reveal their true natures, we are rooting for her to act; for herself and for her children.

STOP – let’s take a breath, because this sounds dire and depressing, but in fact the book is chock full of warmth, humour, and fun, which makes reading the darker scenes less painful. The author writes with a ‘light hand’, so the reader is not pulled into Dan’s toxicity along with Kitty and her children.

The different characters in Lytell Strangdale are engaging, annoying, humorous, and frightful in equal measure.

Violet is a full on force of nature. Molly is hilarious and recounts awful tales from her work as a District Nurse, to the amusement and dread of her friends and family. Jimby is a real country bloke, with a great sense of humour. Oliver is lovely, and the layers to his life and character are gradually peeled away for us. Just as I was starting to feel that he was a little too good to be true, just a little too perfect, he behaves likes an ass. It was great!

Anyone who has lived in some of the more rural parts of the country will happily recognise the cast of characters, all of whom are terrific. My favourites though are Reg, who is an absolute legend; Granny Aggie and her predictive text messages; Lucas who is a little hero in his own right.

This is a wonderful story about love in all its varying forms and dimensions. It is also about caring and compassion, acceptance and second chances, and yes, even forgiveness. It is romantic, heart-warming and heart-felt. Eliza J Scott is a great writer and I cannot wait to see what she brings us next.

I give this a full five stars and highly recommend you read it.

Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources 150pixels

If anything regarding ‘gaslighting’ has triggered a need to get help or speak to someone here are places to contact:

Samaritans  – call free any time, from any phone on 116 123

Refuge –  if you think you may be experiencing domestic violence  visit the website for support and information OR call 0808 2000 247 – the 24-Hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge and Women’s Aid.

 

 

Dangerous Waters – Blog Tour

Dangerous Waters by Anne Allen

Dangerous Waters 3D CoverTragedy seems to follow Jeanne Le Page around . . .
Can she really go through it again and survive?
She is lucky to be alive at sixteen Jeanne was almost killed in a boating accident which brought heart-breaking family tragedy. Now, fifteen years later, Jeanne returns reluctantly to the island of Guernsey following the death of her beloved grandmother. Struggling for breath as the ferry nears the island; she is overwhelmed by a dark foreboding as hazy memories of that terrible day resurface.
Only returning to sell her inheritance – her grandmother’s old cottage – Jeanne has no intention of picking up her old life. But the cottage holds a secret, dating back to World War II and the German Occupation, and Jeanne becomes drawn into discovering more. Then, soon after her arrival, a chance meeting with an old teenage crush leads her to thoughts of love.
Jeanne is forced to face her demons, reliving the tragedy as her lost memory returns.
When the truth is finally revealed, her life is endangered for the second time. 

Dangerous Waters is the first in the Guernsey Novels series

The Guernsey Novels

The author Anne Allen proudly presents an exciting prize draw to win a short-break to the beautiful island of Guernsey & signed copies of The Guernsey Novels, enter at end of review

Anne AllenDangerous Waters is a good story. A really good story. Author Anne Allen plays with genre; mixes it up, and slips seamlessly between them. This is romance, history, and mystery, but on so many levels – distant past, recent past, and present. She maintains a good balance on the whole, though I would have liked more of the distant past story, it’s  research, and piecing it together (but then I’m a historian).

The writing is too verbose for my taste, with irrelevant information and over-laboured issues. Examples:

  • Unless the dishwasher is ploy to introduce a character or an incident, and being used to move the plot along,  we don’t need to know anything about it
  • There is a lot of eating and drinking, but the  real food interest is the collection of historical family recipes and their modern reconstruction. An important catalyst in Jeanne’s story. By the time we get to their being cooked, I was bored reading about characters eating & drinking. Writing should have been confined to the recipes.

The Letters:

These are an historian’s dream! I appreciate that Jeanne is not an historian, but she is a journalist and writer. Who in their right mind would delay reading them?  Yet Jeanne does. This doesn’t quite fit in with her character and motivation.

AND YES  *head in hands* tracing ‘W’  IS a priority.  The letters and the recipes are the whole soul and centre of Jeanne’s book. It is their stories from the 19th and 20th centuries that give it a unique selling point, and thereby make it very attractive to a publisher. Equally, they are at the centre of this book too. An amazing opportunity allowed to just gradually slip away by the end (which came too swiftly). I couldn’t help but think that with DNA kits, Ancestry, Find My Past, and myriad of other sites online, Jeanne potentially had the chance to find someone from W’s family. DNA is a part of the story, but missed that vital and fascinating opportunity.

What I loved.

Guernsey Author and BooksAnne Allen’s genre mix is excellent, quite well-balanced, and works well. She doesn’t follow the easy path of an angst and issue ridden character where ‘misery loves misery’, creating morose people missing opportunities to make their lives better. Of course life’s experiences leave their mark, but her main characters generally take responsibility for themselves rather than sink deeper and further into their unhappy episodes.

Jeanne, Marcus, and Nick are great characters; well-drawn, rounded, and full-bodied, to pinch a wine metaphor. If we ignore the occasional ‘not so great’ dialogue, the interplay between characters is good. Jeanne’s inner monologue could have done with an edit, but its insightful, funny, and utterly realistic. I certainly felt an affinity with her on certain points.

There are typical romance novel teases. Will she won’t she? But I also loved the will he won’t he? I don’t know why, but at one point I half expected ‘A’ to appear full of remorse (or with an eye to the main chance, given Jeanne’s inheritance). At first Jeanne comes across as an easily manipulated young woman, but her development through the novel is subtle, and she soon shows that she had an iron rod back.

Molly and Peter are lovely, though more use could have been made of Peter. Molly is gentle and loving, though at times I think a little misguided. This makes her a lovely flawed human being, and she is certainly not a ‘substitute-mother’ trope. They’re Islanders, they know the people Jeanne went to school with and with whom her parents and Grandmother were friends. They would have heard the gossip and rumours, but little is made of this. This is an island community, people know things, guess things, and stories would have been flying around about the accident. Even so, they add an interesting perspective.

Historically, wartime occupation romances can be tricky things, and depending on the country, retribution against females was mostly violent and abusive, even towards the children of those relationships. Allen is no apologist. She writes fictionally about events that actually happened, and the character of Mrs Ozane was crucial. She came into the picture late in the day, but not too late. A lovely little old lady now, yet a very vibrant young woman during the occupation. What a lost opportunity  – in real life she could have furnished us with a fascinating tale or two from wartime Guernsey. Through her we get to feel the desperation and despair of the elder Jeanne, her fear of the consequences of her actions, but no guilt. Love is love. Although these things are merely touched upon in comparison to other parts of the story, she still tugs at our heartstrings, and we can only feel sympathy for such awful events in a terrible time.

There are lovely descriptions of the island, the walks on the beach, the countryside –  I’ve never been to the Channel Islands, but the author makes Guernsey a ‘must see’ place.

Then there is the garden. I could see myself there, in summer, with a good book. All the way through I hoped for something magical to happen concerning it, because young Jeanne clearly has some sort of sixth sense, and with all the herbs and so forth, it sounded like a white witches’ charm!  (And I wanted magic, damn it!)

Dangerous Waters a great story, and I did enjoy it. I just wish Anne Allen had a much better Editor. On the whole her writing is lovely, and she certainly has great story-telling instincts. It’s a shame so much was lost in the extraneous prose. I’m torn but for this novel can only give 3 stars while wishing it could be 5.

Please pick up Dangerous Waters and read it. If you’re unsure, try a sample from Amazon first.

I will never read Anne Allen’s entire series – not all the plots appeal to me – however I’m hoping that, with another five books under her belt, the editing skills have been honed. So I have chosen three that  do interest me, and downloaded samples. If I do read the books in full, I shall post reviews for them here, though it may be many months before I can.

SO WATCH THIS SPACE.

Competition Banner

Click here to enter.

 

My Life in a Gif

Related image

I’ve had a few of my health problems raise their ugly heads higher than usual recently, so to make life a bit easier,  I set a couple of posts to go automatically, but for some reason they didn’t get uploaded. Damned annoying.

Hence the recent silence on Heartshaped.

Happily though, I have good news.

Over the next three months I have a raft of books to read and review, and several lovely authors have kindly agreed to a Heartshaped Interview.

I have about 50+ questions that I’ve honed and adapted over the last 20 years, so hopefully both the authors and the readers will enjoy answering a selection of them.

Watch this space.

Teashop of Horrors – Blog Tour

 

Little Teashop of Horrors – Jane LoveringJane Lovering 2

Cover

Secrets, lies, carrot cake and an owl called Skrillex!

Amy Knowles has always been the plain sidekick to her pretty best friend Jules. And whilst the tearoom they both work in on the Monkpark Hall estate in Yorkshire is not exactly awash with eligible bachelors, it’s obvious where the male attention is concentrated – and it’s not just on the cakes!

There is one man who notices Amy. Joshua Wilson also works at Monkpark, where he flies his birds of prey for visitor entertainment. He lives a lonely existence but he has reasons for choosing isolation – and, in Amy, he may have found somebody who understands.

Then a management change brings slick and well-spoken Edmund Evershott to Monkpark. He’s interested in Amy too, but for what reason? Josh suspects the new manager is up to no good – but will Amy? Because Edmund could leave her with much worse than a broken heart…

Let me say upfront, that I really enjoyed this book. The characters are very relatable and  very real. A couple are annoying, horrible, selfish, and downright revolting. They do not, however,  take away from the fact that this odd, idiosyncratic romance is an absolute delight, and is a great anti-dote to the standard sickly sweet romantic tropes churned out ad nausea.

I found the title to be a little misleading; the ‘Little Teashop of Horrors’ led me to expect something very different. I’m not exactly sure what the ‘horror’ was meant to be, maybe it was the new boss…

Amy is a character that makes you want to shake her, but only because you are rooting for her to stand up for herself. The two people closest to her, her grandmother and friend Julia, are more concerned with themselves, and don’t appear to see the negative impact they have on Amy’s life.

Her Grandmother has brought Amy up within a confining set of rules and behaviours to the extent that Amy’s gentle character consistently buries her anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction. The behaviour and strictures are the product of Grandma’s generation, class, and upbringing, and from having lived and worked all her life within the small community on the estate. Though I wouldn’t put up with the tea-making shenanigans, Amy must also deal with the early symptoms of her Grandmother’s dementia.

Amy’s childhood friend Julia knows how to manipulate and sway Amy to get her own way. I found her to be selfish and ego-centric, and given what happened between them in the past, I would have questioned their friendship except that Amy is so used to burying any irritation or grievance,  her life has become governed by other people’s wants and needs rather than her own. She sees nothing in herself that would be attractive to the opposite sex, or make her of more value to those around her.

Evershott is brilliantly drawn as one of those men who plays with the emotions of people he perceives to be ‘weak’, in order to get what he wants. His manipulation of Amy is almost textbook and very unpleasant. Gaslighting springs to mind. As the new boss who holds the future of the estate’s employees in his hands, and by extension their homes, he is in a position of power, and he uses it for his own ends, especially with Amy.

Josh is the unlikely hero of this tale, and by far one of the best characters in the book. He is a loner, a bit odd, and is plagued by his past. In Amy, he sees someone he can relate to. He is attracted to her but not sure what to do about it. His behaviour at one point is totally un-hero-like, and I loved it. None of that ‘man to the rescue’ stuff we are plied with repeatedly. The other great characters are Josh’s birds. They are such a refreshing addition, and I love their disobedience! The relationships between humans and birds are terrific – Skrillex is just a delight!

Written slightly tongue-in-cheek, it is gentle and warm with a most liberal sprinkling of humour. I read it in two sittings (I do sleep occasionally), and thoroughly enjoyed how the story panned out. Peopled by refreshingly real characters, this isn’t a fast-paced read, but it doesn’t need to be; the story unfolds around the characters and the romance builds naturally. Lovely!

Read and enjoy.

Buy your copy here

http://www.rachelsrandomresources.com

Being ill with my iPhone

Dr. Delgado's bedside manner did not instill confidence in his patients.'Recently I’ve been unwell. It started off with food-poisoning-like rushes to the loo to be sick, wobbly legs, aching muscles, and so forth, which morphed into days of evil, brain-mushing migraines and overwhelming nausea. Yes, its been fun. I’ve barely been able to raise a glass to my lips, never mind operating my iPhone.

As I lay on my sick-bed, contemplating life, the universe, and what the hell had I eaten? –  my phone became increasingly busy, insistent on gaining my attention..

Now at this juncture I should point out that I have a ‘thing’ about my much adored iPhone, or more accurately, the access it gives others to me. I use it for everything from 3b41bac6461377ac7b9e1be182e203f3calls, texts, and emails, to shopping, reading, writing, and ordering take-aways. I’m normally quite responsive to calls, unless I’m busy with other things. Don’t expect me to respond if I’m at the Record Office, for example, you’ll have to wait until I emerge back into the 21st century. I spend a lot of time in archives, as well as writing and researching online at home, so the phone is always on silent. It is set to vibrate or buzz when contact is made, however I need to be close enough to hear it.

dig23There’s the rub, because while I am addicted to using it, I am NOT addicted to being available on it 24/7.  Quite apart from the history work, I also want to relax without interruption. I’ve earned that right through years of bringing up my children while Mr Heartshaped marched around the world with the British Army. Alone with two small vomiting children in the early hours of the morning is not funny. Time to read doesn’t exist. Sleep was constantly craved. So it has taken me years, nay, decades, to learn to ignore calls. It all started before the advent of mobiles phones, when family meals or watching videos with my children (yes that long ago), or my very precious reading time after they were in bed, was ruined by persistent telephone callers. Ignoring isn’t an option when the caller knows Mr Heartshaped is away so you MUST be at home. In desperation, I acquired an answer-machine. Ha!

Of course, important and urgent calls were dealt with ASAP.

Heartsharped 1 – Annoying Calls 0Telephone-Item-Code-870758-BT-Relate-250-Retro

So, back to my sick-bed and my busy, buzzy, iPhone

I received constant demands for my attention even though people had been told I was too ill to speak or to deal with them. Mr Heartshaped stuffed the phone into my bedside drawer whilst muttering rude words about idiots who’ve been told I’m ill.

It got worse.

I could still hear it buzz and vibrate. He switched it off.

When I was compos mentis enough to read the messages, I was dismayed and then angry at what I found. They were all from a very small number of people, and the content gradually moved from “sorry to hear you’re ill but…”, through “I hate to disturb you when you’re ill but I really need” to “you could at least acknowledge my message”. The demanding flowed over from solicitous into sarcastic,  passive aggressive, and in some cases just plain out-and-out aggression. Why?

Nursing a migraine today, I distracted myself by trying to think about it. I decided that these people shouldn’t be allowed to operate communication technology. There should be a law. I shall contact my MP. (Eldest Offspring suggests I wait until the hefty dose of painkillers have worn off and review the situation. She’s always been sensible.)

Early Computer 2I love the Internet. We have been connected almost constantly (house moves aside) since about 1992. Oh, how I fondly remember the days of CompuServe. The electronic banshee cries as the 386 computer screams to get connected. The excitement of the page downloading.

Slowly.

Very slowly.

So slowly. You could go to the loo, wash your hands, make tea and toast, and get back to your computer before the bottom quarter of the page appeared. Yet it was all so new, so cutting edge, so exciting, and evolution-of-the-mobile-phonewe now have phones with more ‘power’ than the computers used to get the men to the moon. We have wi-fi access all over the UK; in shops, cafes, restaurants, the street, almost anywhere we go. Once connected we are instantly available to talk to our friends no matter where in the world they are, so long as they have access too. No hanging around waiting and waiting for letters and postcards; just send an email. No worrying if November is too late to send the Christmas cards to family in Australia or New Zealand; send an e-card. No waiting inordinately long periods of time for replies from banks, the utility companies, et al. It’s all texted, emailed, WhatsApped, Facebooked, Messaged….ad lib, ad nausea. I love it.  I have a couple of friends in remote parts of our planet with whom I’d be lucky to exchange half a dozen letters a year. Today I can keep in touch on a daily basis, see photos within hours, and enjoy electronic conversations about all manner of topics. It’s a such a massive boon. Thank you internet.

But back to my sickbed.

The downside is that people believe you should be available to them 24/7. There is no let up; no escape from unrelenting communication. This includes bosses who are outraged when employees don’t respond outside working hours.

imagine-an-oasisIt doesn’t surprise me that more and more people are going ‘off grid’. This expectation of instant availability results in deep frustration for the message sender, but great irritability for the person who is being contacted in their ‘down time’. The notion that because we have this technology, we should be attached to it hip and thigh, all the time, even in the middle of the night, is ridiculous. My phone is also my alarm clock, but I do NOT appreciate a barrage of texts at 3 o’clock in the morning. Or in the middle of my dinner. Or when… well, you get the picture. This culture of ‘how dare you ignore me’ is rife, ignoring it is my stand against the unrelenting invasion of my peace and quiet, the time I spend reading, or time with my family.

As for those people who were selfish enough to bombard me with texts and emails whilst I was sick check your ‘Friend’ status, or WhatsApp. Today I deleted about 80 texts, and more than a dozen WhatsApp ‘chats’. NONE were important.  The senders will know who they are because I have blocked or unfriended them.

The Apocalypse never happened.

No wars were declared.

The sky didn’t fall.

The sun still rose.

Your life didn’t collapse around you because I didn’t answer when you wanted me too.

Life is too short to put up with that kind of selfish nonsense.

7539d7b1a902be32cadf56bdab4a168dAhhhhhh…..

peace perfect peace.

Game Show : Blog Tour

Game Show by Allie Cresswell

Buy your copy here : £1.99

Imagine that for one night only you could do absolutely anything you wanted and get away with it.
Welcome to Game Show.
It is 1992, and in a Bosnian town a small family cowers in their basement. The Serbian militia is coming – an assorted rabble of malcontents given authority by a uniform and inflamed by the idea that they’re owed something, big-time, and the Bosnians are going to pay. When they get to the town they will ransack the houses, round-up the men and rape the women. Who’s to stop them? Who’s to accuse them? Who will be left, to tell the tale?
Meanwhile, in a nondescript northern UK town, a group of contestants make their way to the TV studios to take part in a radical new Game Show. There’s money to be won, and fun to be had. They’ll be able to throw off their inhibitions and do what they want because they’ll all be in disguise and no-one will ever know.
In a disturbing denouement, war and game meld into each other as action and consequence are divided, the words ‘blame’ and ‘fault’ have no meaning and impunity reigns.
Game Show asks whether the situation which fostered the Bosnian war, the genocide in Rwanda, the rise of so-called Islamic State in Syria and the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar could ever happen in the West. The answer will shock you.

This is a compelling and forceful book which I highly recommend everyone to read. As an historian, it took me to past events that I wish hadn’t crammed themselves into my mind all at once, but in the context of this book they are important to remember.  More of these later.

I found it difficult to get hooked into the reading at first. There are many characters introduced to the reader quite quickly, and repeatedly being engaged with one and then pulled to another could have resulted in putting the book down. The author’s writing however, is consistent, intelligent, and seductive; you want to know where these characters’ experiences will take them, so you must keep reading. The slow build throughout the first part of the novel reaches its apex about halfway, and from there on all the strands start to come together ever more tightly.

The characters are well-defined, and you will have mixed feelings about some of them, like others, and detest some. The overlapping of lives, and the stark contrast between the Game Show and its contestants and the wretched desperation of the family and people in Bosnia, are handled with unmitigated skill. The pace and tension build to a crescendo in one story, only to sweep you up and do it all again in the next, leaving you both mentally and emotionally exhausted by the end. Thankfully there are moments of ‘comic relief’ to ease your reading journey.

The question posed in the synopsis asks – could this happen in the West? Well it has…the Holocaust. Germany was a civilised land of art, literature, music, and more, and was no more anti-Semitic than many other nations. It took poverty, hunger, greed, a desire for power and someone to blame, coupled to an extreme political party and its leader, for people to turn on one another. Sounds remote? This book is set in 1992, but speaks directly to us now. Currently, we are in a situation where ‘poverty, hunger, greed, a desire for power and someone to blame’ are causing problems in many nations, including First World countries. So no, the answer did not shock, and Game Show goes much deeper than that.

The use and abuse of power against people has been repeated many times by the West just since 1945; Kenya, Vietnam, Abu Ghraib, are three that spring to mind, as well as the several waves of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. The use of rape as a weapon of war is well documented, and while it is right that this is an important theme in the book, I feel it was over-used. Sexual violence encompasses a broad spectrum, as does torture, and it would have been fitting to have included those too.

What the author does highlight most effectively, is the political constipation that allows these events not only to happen, but to continue to happen and to spiral out of control, with none taking action to stop it. Leaders can be caught up in the chaos, as demonstrated by the Stanford Experiment (see end notes and appendices in the book). They can also be so caught up in their political careers, busy cow-towing to political behemoths, they become too paralysed to do what they know is the right thing.

Game Show - Allie CresswellIn addition, the advent of reality TV and its repeated pushing of the boundaries of acceptability, is also most powerfully highlighted. To my mind, the author’s big question isn’t ‘could it happen’, but who will stop it? If we can treat our fellow human beings so viciously and brutally, then without restrictions and rules, it is inevitable that reality TV will continue to push boundaries. Where will it end? Allie Cresswell shows us a very real possibility ‘Game Show’.

As you may have guessed, this book touched me deeply. It is powerful and emotional,  BUT it is exceptional.  I highly recommend reading it.

Game Show Blog Tour brought to you by @rararesources

Game Show Tour Dates

Blog Tour – Elle Spellman Interview

Shes Bad News Banner

The joy of asking an author questions is that you can be as imaginative as you want to be with the questions. Of course they don’t have to answer, but when they do, what an interesting insight you get into the author.

Today we have Elle Spellman, author of the great fun read She’s Bad News, who hasShe's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBS agreed to join the fun Here are the questions with her repleis.answer my questions.

Here are her replies:

If you had to spend a day with Bella, what would the two of you do?

Fight crime! Well, maybe. Bella is definitely someone I’d like to hang out with. I’d love to be part of her slightly crazy life if just for one day, as she tries to find some interesting stories for the Hartleybourne Gazette. I’d love to meet Chloe too. And yes, I would love to head out in the night and catch some criminals with her. Sure, I don’t have powers, but I could be the lookout!

If you could have any, what super-power would you choose and why?

Oh, that’s such a tricky question (but definitely one of my favourites)! There are so many possibilities that it’d be hard to choose. I mean, I’d love to have superhuman strength, for a variety of reasons. But I’d also like to have sentient hair like Marvel’s Medusa. I guess it would have to come down to what would be the most useful. So for me, my super-power would probably be something like the ability to control or freeze time, so that I’d have more hours in the day!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

I think the main problem I have is being overly-cautious when it comes to writing male characters. I tend to worry that I might be writing a stereotype, or adhering to certain traits often found in women’s fiction. That’s normally just me overthinking things! Luckily I have a lot of male friends, so it helps me to draw from experience, or that of my friends.

When writing, do you have a favourite snack and/or drink?

Definitely tea! I’m not so particular when it comes to snacks, but I have to have a mug of tea as I’m writing.

 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve just put aside my third book (which I’ve only just started) in order to rewrite my second. Both books are standalone novels and not related to She’s Bad News, although I do have ideas for a sequel. Currently I’m enjoying working on other projects so if I do decide to write a second Bella book, it won’t be for a little while yet. After that, I have a fourth book planned, which is currently just a fun personal project. There’s also a YA novel that’s been in my head for over a decade so hopefully at some point in the near future I can sit down to work on it. (And this is why I need that time-stopping power!)

If you could invite any fictional character to dinner, who would it be and why?

Can I stick with the superhero theme here and say Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman? Catwoman has always intrigued me, and she’s one of my all-time favourite Batman characters. Most people would recognise her as a villain (especially when working with fellow Sirens: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn) but personally I’ve always found her to be neutral. An anti-hero. Sure, she’s an expert thief, but she only hurts those who truly deserve it. She does her bit to help Gotham, and often Batman, in her own special way. Her attitude and willingness to fight often masks the fact she has a big heart. Plus, she’s sassy, strong and kick-ass. What’s not to love about Catwoman?

What was your favourite childhood book?

I had many! I learned to read with Ladybird Books, so had a big collection of those, which included the Garden Gang series and a lot of fairytales. I still love reading fairytales, but nowadays I like to read the original, much older versions that are were a lot more sinister! But I think my all-time favourite childhood book is Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Everything about it is wonderful. I read it again and again, and still love it to this day.

What is the naughtiest thing you did as a child?

I don’t think I was a particularly naughty child but I did play the game ‘knock down ginger’ (when you knock on someone’s door and run away) a couple of times with friends in my street even though I would have been in a LOT of trouble if my mum knew!

What books are currently on your bedside table?

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, because I’ve wanted to read the James Bond novels for so long and it’s about damn time! I’m also about to start The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne, followed by The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. As for comics, I’m currently reading Gotham Central #2, by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka.

If Heaven is a library, in which section will you spend eternity?

It would have to be fiction! I would spend every blissful day in a different fictional world. I would never feel alone. The very idea of Heaven being a library is an amazing one indeed.

She's Bad News Cover HSBS

EBook available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 

She’s Bad News – Blog Tour

Shes Bad News Banner

She’s Bad News – Elle Spellman

What would you do if you woke up with super powers?
For Bella Brown, life hasn’t gone according to plan. She’s almost thirty, still living in her uneventful hometown, and her dreams of becoming an investigative reporter have fallen by the wayside.
That is, until she wakes up one morning to find she’s been gifted with some amazing new abilities. What’s a girl to do with heightened senses, super speed and the ability to lift a truck one-handed? Bella quickly discovers that her new powers can easily help her land front-page leads at local newspaper, The Hartleybourne Gazette. 
Soon Bella’s out every night chasing down local criminals for stories, while keeping her powers a secret from everyone besides flatmate Chloe. But when a burglary-gone-wrong accidentally turns her into the mysterious Hartleybourne Heroine, Bella finds herself on the front page for the wrong reasons. Her secret becomes harder to keep as she tries to track down the source of her powers, and especially when crime reporter Matt Gilmore is intent on unmasking the town’s new vigilante…
Suddenly, having an extraordinary life is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBSIt would be very easy for any reviewer to classify this story as a nice easy read with nothing much to think about, or that it is a silly book, and over the top. Yes, it is all those things, but it is also much more. It very subtly addresses weight issues, the diet industry, workplace bullying, amongst other things.

Elle Spellman has written a fun superhero novel, where an ordinary girl accidently acquires some super-powers. It is funny, cringeworthy, sad, and scary. Yes, there are sections that could have been edited more tightly, others that should have been cut or condensed, but all in all this author has given us a book that covers some interesting issues and does it within the confines of a delightfully eccentric, entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable story.

Bella, our heroine, can be irritating, but is adorable. She is the girl who left her mundane life, went to university and graduated with a journalism degree, and hoped for a bright future in London with a national newspaper. Sadly, she finds herself locked into a job with the local newspaper where she writes the Better Self column, covering slimming aids, the health benefits of asparagus, and such trivia, but not anything she regards as journalism. Layla, her boss, is a bitch, and belittles Bella at every opportunity. No matter how many article idea Bella tries to get approval for, Layla cruelly shuts her down, telling her that she is overstepping, and to leave the journalism to the reporters.

‘You’re responsible for Better Self, not Bella Brown Investigates…read the PR, write the reviews and the copy. It’s all I want you to do.’

Alice, Bella’s sister, doesn’t treat her much better. Everything is about Alice. She contacts Bella at anytime she deems fit, ignoring the fact that Bella is at work, for example, or anything else Bella may be doing. Bella may as well answer her mobile at work, she not a reporter, after all she failed at journalism.  As Bella tells us:

‘She would either call my desk phone all day, hire a sniper to take me out, or worse, take a three-hour drive…and turn up at my office just to make a point.’

Chloe is a health and fitness trainer and Bella’s best friend. She’s as mad as Bella, and though a bit annoying and ‘preachy’ at times, she has Bella’s best interests at heart, and helps and supports her. Add to the character mix the attractive crime reporter and the mysterious CEO of the company that produces NARCIS Ultra-Boost, the slimming pill that Bella must review, and the stage is set for madness, mayhem, and mishaps.

She's Bad News Cover HSBSShe’s Bad News is pure escapist fun, with a subtle lifting of a mirror to reflect the insanity of our world. A world that bullies, denigrates, and belittles those who don’t meet the standards of others. One of the things I liked about Bella and her acquisition of superpowers, is that she remained the same – a curvy overweight, awkward, sweet, down to earth girl. The superpowers gave her back the confidence and self-worth that was being slowly chipped away by her boss, her family, and others.

There is plenty of laughter, plenty of action, and some scary moments, as Bella uses her powers for crime-fighting investigative good. I just couldn’t read the last few chapters fast enough. Whatever the need for editing, She’s Bad News is a one of the most fun and enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I’m keen to read whatever Elle Spellman writes next and I hope she’ll bring us a Bella sequel.

Highly recommended.

April Release Box Sets

Sometimes I enjoy just binge reading a series. If you want to catch up on some very read-worthy box-sets, here are April’s releases:

Lords of the Underworld Vol 2Lords of the Underworld Collection Volume 2 by Gena Showalter

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter’s sizzling Lords of the Underworld series continues with three stories featuring dangerously seductive immortal warriors and the women who change them forever. Journey through this dark and sensual world, where the line between good and evil blurs and true love is put to the ultimate test. Bundle includes: The Darkest Prison, The Darkest Whisper, The Darkest Passion and The Darkest Lie. BONUS: The Darkest Facts and an excerpt from The Darkest Warrior!

 

Navy Series

Navy Brides by Debbie Macomber

Fall in love with the Navy! These popular stories salute the men and women in the U.S. Navy, and the families and friends who support them. Each is an emotional story, a dramatic romance featuring Debbie Macomber’s always-believable characters, as well as her trademark touches of humor. Each is highly enjoyable on its own, but together they create a memorable reading experience. Life and Love in the Navy. There’s nothing like it!

The six books, in chronological order, are:
NAVY WIFE;  NAVY BLUES;  NAVY BRAT;  NAVY WOMAN;  NAVY BABY; NAVY HUSBAND

Highland Grooms Vol 1The Highland Grooms Collection Volume 1 by Julia London

These Highlanders stay strong and true to their hearts… don’t miss a single classic story in this unforgettable collection from New York Times bestselling author Julia London!
Wild Wicked Scot
Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn’t belong in a Scottish chieftain’s devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn’t looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie’s passionate embrace. But as political tensions rise, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.

Lord for Every LadyA Lord for Every Lady – several authors

Every lady dreams about a dashing lord sweeping her off her feet and into her happily ever after. Immerse yourself in these six tales of romance and discover how each lady lands her lord.

TO LOVE A THIEF by Darcy Burke

Former constable Lord Daniel Carlyle thinks he’s met the girl of his dreams, until he catches her stealing from his mentor. Jocelyn Renwick vows to stop at nothing to recover her stolen treasures, but does that include risking a chance at love?

TO LURE A LOST DUKE by Christy Carlyle

Killian Graves, Duke of Strathmoor, doesn’t wish to be found. An unforgivable act in London and haunting memories of war have turned him into a recluse. Not even Octavia Fowler, the fetching lady detective Queen Victoria has set on his trail, can lure him back from seclusion. Though she may prove extremely dangerous to his heart.

SCANDALOUS INTENTIONS by Amanda Mariel

Lady Sarah Roseington is determined to marry for love or not at all, and she will do anything to obtain the freedom granted to a man. A blackguard like Lord Luvington could destroy her hard-won reputation, but marriage to him also offers her the opportunities she cannot achieve on her own. What’s a lady to do?

THE MAD COUNTESS by Erica Monroe

Bashful Teddy Lockwood, the Earl of Ashbrooke, has always loved his best friend. When they’re drawn together at a mysterious Gothic castle, he’ll have to break a wicked curse to win her heart.

THEODORA by Christina McKnight

When Lady Theodora Montgomery is unmasked while competing in an archery tournament, she fears her reputation is ruined. To save face, she accepts a marriage of convenience with her friend’s older brother, Alistair Price—who soon shoots arrows to her heart with perfect aim.

THE ART OF SEDUCTION by Eileen Richards

Reduced circumstances have taught spinster Elizabeth Bishop to be an independent woman. But when a chance meeting brings Michael Camden, Marquess of Langston, back into her life, will she give up her independence for love?