Posted in Book Review

Down to the Woods-(D.I.Helen Grace)- M.J. Arlidge – 5* Review

 

If you go down to the woods today

The last thing Tom Campbell remembers is camping in the New Forest with his girlfriend, Melissa. Now he is helpless, alone and consumed by fear, hunted through the woods by a sinister, masked figure…

When Tom’s body is found, displayed with grisly relish, Helen Grace takes the case. But before she can catch her breath, a second victim is taken – a serial killer is on the loose.

You better not go alone…

Something dark and deadly stalks the forest. Helen and her team must race against time to catch the perpetrator before more blood is shed.

But the hunt will take Helen back into the eerie twilit woods – and this time she might not make it out alive.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Catapulted into an adrenaline-fueled, suspenseful scenario that is packed full of vivid, often grisly imagery from the start, this story’s hook draws you into a complex case for DI Helen Grace. The reader’s first meeting with the main protagonist is thought-provoking and immediately demonstrates she has emotional issues, an independent spirit and a well-hidden vulnerability.

The ‘New Forest’ setting conjures up many hiding places for the killer, and such an ancient place must be haunted by past events, all of which add to the story’s chilling atmospheric quality. The plot cleverly acquaints you with several possible suspects as the body count rises.

Reeling from recent past events DI Grace and her team welcome a new member who has a profound effect on the case and Di Grace. The storyline hints but does not reveal all this new officer’s secrets.

The pacing is good, and the clues and misinformation are woven expertly into the story. Even though this is the only book I’ve read in the series, I connected with the main characters and understood their relationship with Di Grace. Don’t be afraid to read this as a standalone; it works well.

An exciting, driven police procedural with an intriguing, female detective.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK- Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Blog Tour: Lucy Coleman – Snowflakes Over Holly Cove – Guest Post – 5* Review

 

As the snowflakes start to fall, Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around…’

So, Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air and rugged stranger, Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart. Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly beautiful Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands, where the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

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Guest Post – Lucy Coleman – The Birth of a New Story

Virtually every story I’ve written begins with a single line that pops into my head. It stays there for a while like an app (my Writer’s app), processing away in the background while I continue with my work in progress.

Usually, on one of my daily walks (unless it’s pouring down), my little Writer’s app will come to the fore and little pieces, like threads, of the story, will present themselves to me. That’s why I always carry a pen and a small notebook with me. I’ve almost walked into lamp posts on occasion, as I frantically scribble away. Probably looking very odd, as I do so!

Eventually, I end up with an A4 folder, often with a title (which tends to be quite important for me in the process) and a growing mountain of scribbled notes. But it’s usually one of a small stack of similar folders, and I rarely write a story out of sequence.

Why? Because each story is desperate to be written. Although I write full-time and I’m quite prolific, there never is enough time. I’ve just finished the last of three manuscripts now queuing to go through edits and be polished up ready to be published in 2019. But I have four folders all crying out to me.

Three of those have been in my head for well over a year and yet the fourth, and latest idea, is also vying for attention. Not least because it involved going to the Palace of Versailles in June of this year. A very lavish and magnificent setting for a contemporary love story … you can imagine how excited I am!

But it must wait its turn.

Snowflakes Over Holly Cove is my thirteenth published full-length novel. And in that time, I only broke my own rule ONCE. It was a story that wouldn’t disappear nicely into the background of my mind but kept fighting me to be written. I put down the work-in-progress, and I wrote the first draft from start to finish in twenty-four days – ninety-five thousand words.

I will admit that for probably half of those days I didn’t get out of my PJs – just showered and sat down to write. I will admit they were very long days!

And, yes, it was Snowflakes Over Holly Cove.

Why was it so insistent?

Unusually for me, it was the location that came first. Caswell Bay has memories for me going back to writing my very first book. The edits arrived on the day my husband, and I were heading off for a week’s holiday in a beautiful apartment looking out over the bay. I ended up working all week, interspersed with bracing walks along the coastal path between Caswell Bay and Langland Bay. And we had some wonderfully relaxing dinners at the local restaurants.

During the day my husband was content to sit out on the balcony reading while I beavered away making my writing dream come true.

We often drive over to spend the day walking that path again and enjoying the stunning views. I knew that one day the right story would pop into my head and I truly believe that Tia and Nic’s story could only have been set in Caswell Bay and the fictional Holly Cove.

There’s something about the dramatic beauty of the coastline, the often-bracing sea breeze and the views out across the bay that has a poignancy to it.

Once Tia and Nic were in my head they were both so unhappy I became caught up, wondering if there really could be a happy ending. And now it’s published. That other work-in-progress is long finished and several more since then.

Caswell Bay is a place that if you get a chance to visit it, you will never forget the memories you make while you are there. I can say that hand on heart.

My Thoughts…

If, like me, you’re a reader who likes to empathise with the story’s characters, feel every emotion, and experience something magical as you turn the pages this is the story for you.

Christmas has always been important to Tia, even when her life is hard, Christmas is time to celebrate and escape. After the death of her mother, Tia struggles to come to terms with her loss. Her job is busy, and she hopes this will get her through the grief that threatens to destroy her. Her latest assignment has her living in a picture perfect cottage by the sea, the setting is breathtaking, and straight away she feels its healing presence. Life gets complicated, and she still has Christmas to face, but will Tia emerge stronger at the end of this experience?

The vividly described coastal setting comes alive the first time Tia visits the beach you can feel the sea spray on your face and appreciate the power of the sea. The characters are varied and realistically portrayed, you can imagine having a conversation with them. The perfectly orchestrated romance is lovely and gentle and full of magic in this poignant, story of coming to terms with life’s setbacks and valuing family and friendships. There are many lighthearted moments to offset the heartaches, rather like life itself.

A festive read that you can enjoy all year long with characters to treasure in a perfect Christmas card setting.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean with her husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction Award. When she’s not writing, Lucy can be found in the garden weeding or with a paintbrush in her hand.

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Posted in Book Review

No More Amazon Reviews –

Regular visitors to my blog will be expecting a review, and normal service will be resumed, but I just wanted to share with you the problems I have encountered recently with Amazon UK and my reviews. I usually post the review I share here on Amazon UK, but that will not be happening any more – see a copy of the email below.

 

Hello,

I am a member of the Amazon.com Product Review Abuse team. Jeff Bezos received your email and requested that I research this issue and respond on his behalf.

We have determined that you have violated our Community Guidelines. As a result, we have suppressed all of your reviews, and you will no longer be able to post community content on Amazon. This includes Customer Reviews.

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. Because our goal is to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions, any accounts and reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or biased will be removed.

Your community privileges may have been revoked for one or more of the following reasons:
— Elements of your account indicate a relationship to sellers, publishers, or other reviewers of the products you review.
— Your reviews were posted in exchange for compensation, such as gift cards to purchase the product, product refunds, review swaps, or free or discounted products.
— You requested free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

We made this decision after carefully considering your account. This decision is final, and your community privileges will not be reinstated.

To learn more about our policies, please review the following on Amazon.co.uk:
— Community Guidelines (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730)

We cannot share any further information about this decision, and we may not reply to further emails about this issue.

Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.
Warmest regards,
Review Moderator
Amazon.co.uk

 

From what I can gather from the jargon, my reviews are considered biased because I receive arcs from authors, publishers and NetGalley. So do other book bloggers who post on Amazon UK  and yet other bloggers reviews’ and indeed Amazon’s ‘Vine Voice’ reviews are apparently acceptable?

My reviews are not biased, they are my opinion, people who read them can accept or discount them. I do read widely, usually 7+plus books a week and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Reading, reviewing and blogging is my hobby, and it now feels tainted. The email allows no appeal, or even further correspondence and I’m left feeling like a victim in this. 

Thank you for reading this and following my blog.

Jane x

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Jane Wenham- Jones – Mum in the Middle-5*Review

Tess has downsized to a lively new town and is ready for “me” time. But her Zen-like calm is tested by her boomerang offspring, who keep fluttering back to the nest (usually with a full bag of dirty washing) and by her elderly mother’s struggle to hold on to her independence.
Tess is also surprised to discover that there are dark resentments simmering beneath the vintage charm of her new hometown and a spate of vandalism has exposed the rift between the townsfolk and new arrivals like Tess.
Tess enlists the help of gruff newspaper editor Malcolm to get to the bottom of the mystery, but when her ex-husband pays an unexpected visit, and her mother stages a disappearance, Tess starts to feel her new-found freedom wearing just a little thin…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I loved this story. It’s well-written with just the right amount of humour, romance and family drama and I can empathise with the main protagonist.

Tess’s move from London isn’t working out well. She misses her family and friends and wonders whether she’s made a mistake. Very soon, she is inundated with family including a very irritating ex and has more friends and admirers than she can cope with.

This contemporary comment on motherhood when the children are grown up and supposed to have left home is topical; with many young adults remaining in the family home until their late twenties because of financial constraints.

Tess is the hub of family life and her new friends’ dramas, so much so that she struggles to find any ‘me’ time. The resultant chaos is often hilarious and thankfully involves copious amounts of champagne. There is also a lovely sprinkling of mature romance, and every character is complex and adds to the story.

If you’re looking for a book to make you smile, this is the one.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

5* Review Kathleen McGurl- The Drowned Village –

A village destroyed
It’s the summer of 1935, and eleven-year-old Stella Walker is preparing to leave her home forever. Forced to evacuate to make way for a new reservoir, the village of Brackendale Green will soon be lost. But before the water has even reached them, a dreadful event threatens to tear Stella’s family apart.

An uncovered secret
Present day and a fierce summer has dried up the lake and revealed the remnants of the deserted village. Now an old woman, Stella begs her granddaughter Laura to make the journey she can’t. She’s sure the village still holds answers for her but, with only days until the floodwaters start to rise again, Laura is in a race against time to solve the mysteries of Stella’s almost forgotten past.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Laura turns to her grandmother Stella when her boyfriend and best friend betray her. Life with Stella is quiet and safe, but her grandmother worries Laura is missing out. A TV news item brings Stella’s secret past to the present and Laura is easily persuaded to help her Grandmother solve past secrets and enjoy an escape to the beautiful English Lake District.

The destruction of villages through the creation of reservoirs must leave its community with latent resentment. Even though the villagers are usually financially compensated this doesn’t negate the sense of loss and destruction of a community. Stella village is resurrected after an exceptional drought and with it the chance to right a wrong and find the answers to some family secrets buried by the water.

The timeslip between the present day and the thirties is well written and adds depth to the story. The characters are complex and flawed but believable, and it’s easy to empathise with the choices most of them are forced to make. The gentle romance between Laura and Tom is lovely and the ending when family secrets are revealed poignant and satisfying.

I received a copy of this book from HQ Stories via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Little Book Cafe – Emma’s Story – 4* Review

 

When Emma she discovers that Berecombe’s fabulous book café is running a literary course for beginners, she is excited to give it a try. She’s always wanted to study more, and it doesn’t hurt that Joel, the suave and charming new teacher is pretty easy on the eye…

The more she learns, the more she starts to question whether she really wants the life she has built up. Her boyfriend of forever, Ollie, is constantly training with the RNLI, so they hardly get to see each other, and she is pretty sure Joel has a soft spot for her…

Will Joel sweep her off her feet? Or can Ollie make the most important rescue of his life?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Emma uses the Little Book Cafe to escape from her family and a less than exciting relationship with Ollie her long-term boyfriend. She loves her work as an estate agent but a new staff member wants to get ahead at any cost, and she forces Emma to question her life choices and makes the workplace yet another source of stress in Emma’s life. A classic literature evening class gives her a much-needed escape but also endangers everything she loves.

Again this story has a darker side, Joel her attractive tutor has a controlling nature and seems willing to abuse his position of trust. Emma is vulnerable, and the suspense builds as she debates whether to leave Ollie and stability behind. Emma is vibrant and impulsive; she is in a rut by risks losing something worthwhile if she acts hastily. Book club characters provide the help and support Emma needs, and the story has an exciting ending.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

If Cats Disappeared from the World-Genki Kawamura Eric Selland(Translator)- 4* Review

My Thoughts…

‘If Cats Disappeared from the World’ makes the reader think, what would I do in these circumstances. If death is imminent would I make a deal with the devil? What would I give up so I could live longer? Do I believe in the devil?

The main protagonist is a postman in Japan, only thirty with a diagnosis that makes death Imminent, Does he see’the devil?’ Or is this perhaps a delusional state caused by his illness. You decide, but the protagonist believes what he sees is real and that by giving up something important to him up he can cheat death of another day.

The saying is ‘you only regret the things you don’t do’. The postman’s consideration of what to banish from the world makes him look at his past life choices. He revisits his first love, his relationship with his dead mother and his estrangement from his still living father. The postman realises bartering his life for another living creature’s life is not as easy as losing things he considers essential.

A poignant, quirky tale, which on the surface is humorous and self-depreciating but dig a little deeper and you find out what our postman truly values in life. The author questions whether all the material things we consider vital are making us forget that it is other humans and living creature that enrich our lives and need protecting.

I received a copy of this book from Pan McMillan – Picador via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Blog Tour: Guest Post- Extract – Erin Green- The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm- 4* Review

 

The scent of pine fills the crisp air as local villagers select their perfect tree. Picking the tree is the easy bit, creating a perfect Christmas is a bit trickier . . .

Nina has the most magical job in the world, matching customers with their perfect Christmas tree. Working at Christmas Tree Farm is always fun and full of laughter, but the weight of past tragedy bears down on her. Her admirer is a great distraction, but is he the right man for her? Holly is just trying to be a normal teenager, having to deal with the mean girls in her class. But then the most handsome boy at school takes an interest in her. Have all her Christmases come at once? Angie is trying to bring her family together and save her broken marriage. It’s not something she can force, but it’s the only gift she craves. Will her Christmas wish come true? It’s the season of goodwill, and at Christmas Tree Farm anything could happen . . .

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Extract:

Holly

I wait at the end of the Costa counter, clutching a spoon in my hand, watching the barista put together my hazelnut latte. All morning I’ve been dreaming of this latte. It’s my treat for working part-time in the chemist and wearing this awful nylon uniform, which clings to my woollen tights.

‘Hazelnut latte!’ The barista shouts past me as if he can’t see me waiting by the countertop. I step forward and receive the warm offering, eager to scoop the cream from the top as I walk home.

‘Holly!’ screams a group of teenage girls from the seated area. I turn around and instantly regret reacting to their outburst. Six smirking faces, with smudged eye-liner and overpainted mouths, creepily smirk back. ‘Come and join us!’ hollers Paris, one of the mean girls from school. A cackle of laughter bursts from the other five as they try to hide behind each other.

Head down, I dash towards the exit, my blonde ponytail swinging with each step.

They’re about as funny as chlamydia, as my best friend, Demi, would say.

Once I make it to Long Street, I stare fixedly ahead and walk past the remainder of the coffee shop’s large window where I can undo the lid on my latte to scoop and walk. Scoop and enjoy. Scoop and relax. Scoop and forget.

‘Holly!’ a male voice calls from behind me. ‘Wait!’

I continue to stride along Atherstone’s busy street. No one in this world can make me stop and stand, giving those six bitches something to watch or even record on their phones to post on social media. As soon as I reach the safe frontage of the chip shop next door, I stop and turn.

It’s Alfie Woodward. My stomach flips, and I nearly drop my latte. I quickly plunge my spoon into my coat pocket; it feels babyish to be scooping cream when it’s Alfie. Every girl in year eleven, no, scrap that, every girl in our school wants to be friends with Alfie Woodward. He’s the ‘darling of the ladies’, as my mum would put it. And, get me, Alfie Woodward, from the back row in chemistry class, actually knows my name. Not a reaction that the mean girls would have intended for me.

‘Hi. I didn’t think you’d heard me,’ he says, zipping up his jacket as he nears. His dark hair is shorter than in yesterday’s chemistry class – obviously, that has been his Saturday morning task.

‘Sorry… I… well.’ I shrug, looking up into his smiling face. What am I supposed to call the name-hollering in Costa?

‘I was inside with Jordan and Tom. I heard them catcalling you. Anyway, ignore them… I was wondering if you were going to the youth club on Tuesday night? I go most weeks. Your mate Demi goes sometimes, but you’re never there!’

I shrug. What can I say? Err nope, because the mean girls go every week? Or how about, yeah, sure, I’ll turn up, get verbally abused for two hours and return home to cry… sure, save me a seat, and I’ll see you at seven on Tuesday?

‘There are others that attend, not just those witches,’ he adds as if he can read my thoughts. ‘I could call round for you if you want?’

Alfie Woodward calling for me!

I blush. I see his blue eyes swirl and scan my features, taking in the subtle change in my pale complexion. Holly Turner, for once in your goddamned life play it cool.

‘Well?’ A tiny smile frames his top row of perfect teeth.

I purse my lips together to hide the metal train tracks that I begged my parents for, but now wish I’d never had. Right now, I’d much prefer my unsightly teeth buckle.

I give the smallest nod, having lost the ability to communicate in English. In fact, if Alfie stands before me for very much longer, with his new haircut, smart zipped jacket and white trainers, there is a chance I may abandon control of my grip and lose this latte to the pavement.

‘OK. I’ll drop round just before seven on Tuesday.’

Brain now is the time to function, be it a simple OK. Please don’t let me down, not right now.

‘Thanks, Alfie, that’d be nice of you. See you.’ I turn about quickly. It seems rude, but I can’t face him any longer. My smile is going to burst forth, and I’m about to do the geekiest grin ever witnessed on Atherstone’s Long Street.

‘OK, see you in school,’ he calls, as I head towards home.

‘Yeah, first thing in chemistry.’

‘No, you’ve got history first, then geography…’

I attempt a nonchalant wave. Demi is not going to believe this.

*

Erin Green – Guest post.

   Five delights of being an author

Meeting and chatting with readers is definitely my number one delight since my debut was published. I am amazed that within days of a book being published readers and bloggers have finished reading and are wanting more. Their questions range from specifics details about a certain character through to enquiring about my current writing project. I love the way readers are unsure about interrupting your conversation to ask questions but within minutes are chatting away like an old-school friend. I’m delighted when they’ve fallen in love with a particular male character and surprised to hear their reasons for liking him. Some readers have taken some convincing that each hero isn’t based on an actual male in real life.

Spending my time plotting and writing new books – my philosophy in life is to live, love and laugh so, it’s essential to me that these three elements are woven into my narrative. It isn’t my intention to bring a tear to the eye of my readers, but it has happened to many while reading my first three books. I always feel slightly guilty when I’m told, but really it is the best review I can ever receive.

Research has taken on a surprising new role in my life. I can literally spend hours searching through records, business directories and historical maps at my local library – which allows me to recreate specific locations and settings. On numerous occasions, I have found myself distracted by a sudden find which takes my muse in a new direction – it’s a light bulb moment when the surprise find links neatly into the narrative. I have learnt so much about topics that I’d previously known nothing about from Christmas tree species, steam trains, genetics and urban myths – which is a hidden benefit.

Being asked to sign books with quirky messages of love and appreciation. I’m always thrilled to sign books purely because I waited so long. I always panic that I’ll spell their name incorrectly and ruin their book so end up spelling and repeating even the easiest spellings to ensure I get it right. It is bound to happen at some time, and I know I’ll feel gutted and probably write a mini-apology alongside my signature.

Seeing a new book cover for the first time is indescribable. You spend the morning awaiting an email from your publishers, but on arrival, you are frozen with fear and can’t open it. Seriously, how ridiculous is that! Thankfully for me, once I’ve opened the email, I’ve fallen in love with all three of my book covers and raced about showing anyone who is interested. Later, when the book cover appears on Amazon, it suddenly becomes very real, and my countdown begins to publication day.

My Thoughts…

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Christmas tree, and this lovely, festive tale set on a Christmas tree farm follows the lives of three woman, as they try to find happiness.

Nina’s story is the most poignant. Instantly likeable you struggle to understand why she is so unhappy but once revealed, you want her story to end happily. Holly is about to experience her first love, something we can all remember, even though some of us will have to think back. Her story is gentle and romantic. Angie is trying to reclaim lost love; sometimes you have to lose something to appreciate it.

All the stories are separate yet linked by others in the story, the setting provides festive magic and reading this lets you remember some of the best and worst things about this iconic time of year.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.


Erin was born and raised in Warwickshire, where she resides with her husband. She writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and copious amounts of tea. Erin was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017 and previously, Love Stories ‘New Talent Award’ in 2015.   Twitter   Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Lisa Hobman – What Becomes of the Broken Hearted- 4* Review- Guest Post

Cassie Montgomery can remember a time where her life seemed pretty perfect. By day she was setting up her own little business in her sleek penthouse apartment, and by night sleeping on gazillion-count Egyptian cotton sheets next to her fiancée, once reputed to be Glasgow’s most eligible bachelor.

And yet one ordinary, fateful day, Cassie uncovers a secret that shatters her heart into tiny pieces and changes her life forever….

Escaping to a rural and idyllic coastal village, Cassie finds a cottage that, from the moment she steps through the rose-surrounded door, feels instantly like home.

And then there’s Mac, the cool surf teacher, who makes her question what really makes her happy – and makes her wonder if maybe, she might already have found the answer….

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Guest Blog Post – Lisa Hobman

What Become of the Broken Hearted – The Inspiration Behind the Book

Since relocating to the Scottish Borders over six years ago my family and I have spent as much time as possible familiarising ourselves with the beautiful area we now call home. After all this time there are still places we have yet to visit, but we’re on a mission!

I had heard of this little seaside cove called Coldingham and was advised by local friends that it was well worth a visit. So off we set, one summer day, not long after we’d moved intent on exploring what all the fuss was about. When we arrived, I remember there was a collective gasp of delight as we wandered down the little hill that led to the sand. The beach was wide and deep with cute, multi-coloured beach huts skirting the edges and some breath-taking homes built into the hillside sloping up and away from the bay. Even though the beach was busy with families enjoying their own visit there was still so much space available to us, so we laid down our picnic blanket and sat, gazing out to sea and taking in the atmosphere and views before us.

It’s safe to say that Coldingham stole a little piece of my heart on that very first visit and continues to do so every time we go—which is quite frequently thanks to how close it is to home. Sometimes we pack a picnic and go after the school day, and work has ended. We each take whatever books we’re reading and simply spend the early evening relaxing in the picturesque surroundings.

It’s a popular beach for surfers, and it was while watching a talented bunch of people riding the waves that I was inspired to write What Becomes of the Broken Hearted. The story began to unfold in my mind, and it seemed only natural that I should write a book located in the setting that I love dearly—as I have with all of my books. The little café that I mention in the story is the place where we buy our take-out coffees, and it seemed fitting that such an integral part of the beach should be included. So, with some artistic licence, I weaved the place into the fabric of the story.

The cottage in the book isn’t actually based on one particular building in the village; instead, it’s a kind of culmination of several of the stone cottages that dot the streets before you arrive at the sand. I like to imagine who lives in those pretty houses and what their lives are like and I mixed these imaginary people into the tale. The characters in the story, such as shopkeepers, doctor and neighbours are all purely fictional, but I thoroughly enjoyed letting my imagination run as I invented their back-stories. I have to say I’m a little envious of the place they live!

The Scottish Borders is such a beautiful location, rich in history, houses, castles and museums and I wish more people would discover it and fall in love with it too. I know I’m totally biased, but Coldingham is one of the most stunning beaches I have visited. It was a true inspiration for my Scottish seaside romance novel.

My Thoughts…

This is the dark side of romance, Cassie thinks she has everything and is prepared to ignore her lover’s controlling personality. When he lets her down, she runs and tries to rebuild her life in a coastal village on the Scottish borders, but he hasn’t finished with her yet.

Cassie’s lack of self-esteem is symptomatic of someone in an abusive relationship and makes her story believable. Even though she leaves Seth, her life is plagued by his influence making even friendships difficult. Mac’s caring personality, lets Cassie believe in a future again but she still doesn’t believe in herself.

This is a realistic love story, which highlights abuse and how difficult it is to escape from. The community in the coastal village provides a  source of hope and support in this story and finally helps Cassie live her life again.

  I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Lisa Hobman is a British author, living in Scotland with her family and two dogs. Her debut novel was shortlisted in the 2014 RoNA awards. When she’s not writing, Lisa can be found singing in a local band or out enjoying the beautiful Scottish countryside. 

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Posted in Book Review

Murder in the Morning – Betty Rowlands – 4* Review

Melissa Craig is settling in nicely to a new teaching position in the quaint little village of Upper Bembury, getting to know her way around, drinking tea with the eccentric staff, even sewing the first seeds of romance…

But when she arrives one morning to find police outside her classroom, Melissa is shocked to hear that her beautiful colleague Angelica has been found dead in her home.

As everyone in Angelica’s life comes under suspicion, Melissa makes it her mission to go in search of the truth, not least because she’s romantically entangled with none other than the police’s prime suspect.

The discovery of a vandalised portrait of the murdered girl might be just the clue that Melissa needs to clear her lover’s name, but when a second body surfaces, she knows she needs to act quickly. Can Melissa uncover the ugly truth in this beautiful village before another innocent life is taken?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I eagerly anticipated the next cosy mystery featuring crime writer Melissa Craig, but sadly didn’t enjoy this as much as the first in the series.

Diversity doesn’t feature in this story, which is lacking in political correctness. However, written and set in the late twentieth century it is an accurate representation of the culture.

The story has all the right ingredients, infidelity, domestic abuse, romance and prejudice to make a worthwhile cosy mystery, but the characters are a little sketchy in parts and lack necessary development to make them potential suspects. The real murderer is obvious, but perhaps that is the intention?

The story starts with an incident that introduces significant characters, and then there is a jump in time to the present day when the mystery develops. There are incomers to the village who are also critical to the story, and Melissa’s celebrity status means she’s invited to a party at the village gossips’ house to meet them.

Clues and misinformation are plentiful in this story, which concentrates more on Melissa’s new job and the people she encounters. The beautiful village where Melissa lives takes a back seat in this story, and that’s a shame because the vivid descriptions of the setting and the suspense created there is what I loved about the first book.

The ending while, not a surprise is well-paced suspenseful and even poignant.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.