Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Impulse Book Club, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Don’t You Forget About Me – 4* #Review -Mhairi McFarlane – @MhairiMcF @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK

It began with four words.

‘I love your laugh. x’

But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else.

So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something.

The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…

I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Believable characters, realistic humour and poignant moments are all to be found in this likeable story set in Sheffield. Georgina’s life has not followed her teenage plan, but then whose does?

However, there’s more to her story than is first apparent, and although I did find this book, dragged a little in parts, I enjoyed it and appreciated the important issues it raises. Particularly, how a young person’s life can be irreparably damaged, by a single action or event.

The story is romantic and humorous, but it goes deeper than a romcom usually does. The humour is often dark or double-edged, and the romance is there, but not in the voluminous quantities the reader would expect from romantic comedy fiction.

Georgina’s family seem to treat her as the ‘joke’, the one who never grew up, but this is her perception and not necessarily their intention. Families are made up of individuals, drawn together by birth and blood, there is always likely to be a generational difference of opinion, which comes across well in this story, as does Georgina’s reactions and thoughts about their opinions on her life choices.

The romance of the story hinges on whether Lucas remembers Georgina, I think he does. His actions are not blameless, but they are understandable, given what he believes, how he feels about her, and what has subsequently occurred in his life.

The sibling relationship in this story is one of its strengths; competitiveness, bossiness and a hierarchy are evident, but the sister bond is unbreakable when threatened by outside forces.

The last quarter of this story has the most impact. Especially, when Georgina finally faces up to and shares what changed her young life. It is heartbreaking to read, but there will probably be parts of it that you can relate to, from your teenage life.  The difficulty Georgina has in verbalising her painful experience is relatable and makes her character memorable.

Well- written, topical and varied this is worth reading, but it’s not a quick, easy read.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

4*#Review- Annie Burrows A Duke in Need of a Wife @MillsandBoon @NovelistaAnnie

A search for a duchess 
…despite his scandalous secret!

Oliver, Duke of Theakstone, needs a duchess—but who will accept his secret illegitimate child? He invites several eligible ladies to his estate to assess their suitability, including infuriating beauty, Miss Sofia Underwood. Oliver is a master of cool practicality, so he’s hopeful when he sees the connection between Sofia and his daughter. What scares him is that there’s nothing cool or practical about his attraction to Sofia!

Amazon UK


I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A charming Regency romance, based on the marriage of convenience trope. Sofia has lived with her guardians, her paternal aunt and uncle since she was a young girl, they looked after her, but she never felt loved, and so became an independent spirit, something frowned on by Regency society.

Oliver, the Duke of Theakstone, is looking for a wife, to raise his illegitimate daughter, who he cares for, but doesn’t know how to love. His meeting with Sofia is unusual, and it sets the scene for an unconventional romance.

An enjoyable read, with some poignant moments and a deepening romance between Oliver and Sofia. Livvy, Oliver’s daughter and Snowball, Sofia’s dog are great characters, who give the story a humorous dimension.

A lighthearted, Regency romance, which lets you escape to a more romantic era, for a little while.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

 

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK


I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK

I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects.
The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Mystery

The Family Secret @TracyBuchanan 5* #Review @AvonBooksUK

How far would you go to find the truth?

Since Amber lost her child ten years ago, her sole focus has been keeping her small business afloat. Her life seems to be on hold until the morning she finds a girl on the beach outside her gift shop. A girl who has no shoes, no name, and no idea where she came from.

As a wildlife documentary maker, Gwyneth’s work has taken her all over the world. But when she has a terrible accident in the remote Scottish Highlands, she is saved by the McClusky family and taken into their home. However, there is more to this family than meets the eye, and a long-held secret is threatening to tear them apart…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

This story has an instant impact, something terrible has happened, but who is the victim and who is to blame?

Told in flashback chapters over a twenty year period the story follows Amber and Gwyneth’s lives. Amber is a woman in her thirties who suffered a terrible accident when she was four, and a life-changing loss as an adult. Gwyneth is a loner, sent away by her parents, she follows her dreams after a chance encounter, and years later meets a strange family with a deeply buried secret.

The depth and realism of the characters make this story a spellbinding read. You empathise and want to know what happens to them. The plot winds around the characters like ivy on a tree. Burying them in grief, strangling their finer feelings, and forcing them to fight for the happiness and life they deserve.

Romance, family secrets, the bond between mothers and their children are explored, against the vivid and sometimes brutal setting of the Scottish Highlands and Iceland in Winter and the spectacular wildlife who make their lives there.

Family drama full of mystery and secrets with a subtle twist makes this story a perfect Winter read.

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

Posted in Book Review, Childrens Books

The Dog Who Saved The World – Ross Welford – 5*#Review @rosswelford @HarperCollinsCh

When eleven-year-old Georgie befriends an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the test subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual-reality 3D version of the future.

But then a deadly disease threatens the life of every dog in the country and Georgie’s beloved dog, Mr Mash, gets sick. And that’s only the start of her troubles.

Soon, Georgie and Mr Mash must embark on a desperate quest: to save every dog on earth, and maybe even all of humanity …

… without actually leaving the room.

An extraordinary quest with the biggest stakes of all, and a huge idea at its heart, this is time travel – but not as you know it.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I enjoyed this tale of courage, dogs, family, friends and time travel. Although, it’s many years since I was the age this book is aimed at. I can remember the types of books I read then and this would have been one.

Georgie and Ramzy are lovely characters, their friendship is strong and means everything to them, as friends do at this age. They both have distinctive, realistic voices and give this story its heart.

Dr Pretorius is a strange woman, seen through the children’s eyes, she is the person their parents warned them not to trust but she has a magical quality that draws them in. Although Georgie and Ramzy disobey their parent’s rules it is clear from this story they understand the value of them.

The time travelling element of the story is fun and frightening for the intrepid pair and is entertaining reading. Family life as perceived by children is explored and again gives the story its humour and poignancy.

Georgie’s love of animals and particularly dogs makes this story relatable to most children. The prospect of losing your doggy best friend and dogs disappearing from the earth is a sobering thought. Not surprisingly the children are courageous, and sometimes foolhardy to stop this horror becoming reality.

There are adult issues alluded to and explored in this story, some of which children and most adults may find disturbing and sad, but these are seen in news programmes daily and this book deals with them sensitively and allows a positive conclusion with the introduction of fantasy and time travel.

I enjoyed this book and I will enjoy reading it to my grandson when he’s older. It is fun, realistic and full of exciting imagery that allows you to see the problems of today in a futuristic way.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Children’s Books via Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

4*#Review: The Taken Girls – G.D. Sanders @AvonBooksUK @GDSandersAuthor

Someone is watching them…

When a missing teenage girl reappears unharmed but pregnant, the case falls to DI Edina Ogborne, the newest recruit of Canterbury Police. But Ed’s already got her hands full with a team who don’t want her, an ex who won’t quit, and terrible guilt over a secret from her past.

As Ed investigates the case, she discovers Canterbury has seen this crime not once, but several times before. And when Ed and her detectives encounter missing historic police files, falsified school records, and Ed’s new lover as a prime suspect, it becomes clear that the system has been corrupted.

Can Ed find the kidnapper behind these depraved crimes before he strikes again? Or has time already run out?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

A fast-paced police procedural, with an ambitious female detective. Ed Ogborne, whose impulsive behaviour in private, often creates problems in her professional life. The new girl in Canterbury, she has to gain the trust of her team and solve an abduction of a teenage girl.

The characters are complex and work well together. The antagonist is not what you first assume, but is a serious threat to the girl taken. There lots of suspects and historic connections. The detective team has a good dynamic, with each detective having their own story and emotional trauma.

This has the potential for making a good police procedural series.

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

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Thriller

4* Review – Sue Fortin- Schoolgirl Missing @HarperFiction @suefortin1 @HarperCollinsUK

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL?

When fourteen-year-old Poppy vanishes on a family boating trip, suspicion soon turns close to home – to the two people who should do everything to keep her safe, her parents, Kit and Neve.

Neve has a secret. Kit is lying.
Everyone is watching.
Who do you believe? 

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I usually avoid reading stories on this subject, but I made an exception because I always enjoy reading Sue Fortin’s thrillers which inevitably have a strong family drama theme and unexpected twists.

School Girl Missing is not what the title suggests although a young girl does disappear, but has she run away, or been abducted? Neve and Kit’s marriage is not what it first appears, Neve is hiding secrets and Kit is blinded by emotional fear. When the marriage starts to crumble, how will they react and who will be the collateral damage?

Neve is an unreliable protagonist, you want to empathise with her but there’s something about her that makes this difficult. Kit’s fear of loss distances him from his family until he realises they mean everything to him and has to fight to keep them.

This story explores the extremes of human emotions and makes the reader wonder what if they were in these circumstances, how would they react?

Fast-paced, with a seemingly ordinary domestic setting, this story has sinister undertones and a disturbing ending.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Indie, Murder Mystery

Next Victim – 4*#Review – Helen H. Durrant – @JoffeBooks @hhdurrant

A young man’s body is found burnt and tortured by a Manchester canal. Detective Rachel King investigates. But she has a secret, the love of her life is a well-known villain. He has recently come back on the scene. But what does he really want?

A brutal serial killer with a taste for good-looking young blonde men.

A student who believes she has a lost brother. But even her own father doesn’t believe her. She was involved with the first victim.

As the murders continue, can Rachel keep her family together and stop the killer?

THE DETECTIVE DCI Rachel King. Thirty-nine-year-old mother of two teenage daughters. Divorced from Alan. She lives in the Cheshire village of Poynton – about ten miles from central Manchester. She is good at her job, gets results but does make mistakes. One of them was getting involved with a budding villain in her teens. No one, family, friends or colleagues know anything about this.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

A killer with a grudge and a taste for punishment, a detective with a secret and a girl searching for a missing sibling all intertwine to make ‘Next Victim’, an absorbing murder mystery.

Detective Chief Inspector Rachel King is good at her job but is this at the expense of her family life? A particularly grisly murder takes all her concentration, but someone from her past could damage everything. Rachel is a complex, realistic character. She’s flawed and dedicated to her job. Her ex-husband seems to want to be more than the father to her kids, but she has a secret she cannot share.

This is a well-written murder mystery/police procedural. All the characters are authentic and vividly portrayed and the crimes though terrible are not too graphic. The fast- pacing keeps the reader’s interest and this promises to be the start of a good series as Rachel’s past collides with her present

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

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

#BlogTour: Eva Leigh – Counting on a Countess @MillsandBoon #romance #Insiders #romancebloggers @EvaLeighAuthor

Image credit-Megan-Seek My Scribbles 

For a shameless libertine and a wily smuggler in the London Underground, marriage is more than convenience—it’s the strategy . . .

Christopher “Kit” Ellingsworth, war veteran and newly minted Earl of Blakemere, buries his demons under every sort of pleasure and vice. His scandalous ways have all but emptied his coffers . . . until a wealthy mentor leaves him a sizeable fortune. The only stipulation? He must marry within one month to inherit the money. Kit needs a bride and the bold, mysterious Miss Tamsyn Pearce seems perfect.

Husband hunting isn’t Tamsyn’s top priority—she’s in London to sell her new shipment of illicit goods—but she’s desperate for funds. When a handsome earl offers to wed her and send her back to Cornwall with a hefty allowance, Tamsyn agrees.

But when an unexpected proviso in the will grants Tamsyn control of the inheritance, their arrangement becomes anything but convenient. Now, Kit’s counting on his countess to make his wildest dreams a reality and he plans to convince her, one pleasurable seduction at a time…

Amazon UK

My 4* Review of ‘Counting on a Countess’…

An enticing medley of Regency London Society and Cornish smugglers provides an exciting setting for this ‘Marriage of Convenience’ historical romance with a strong feminist theme.

Kit, the Earl of Blakemere is a veteran of Waterloo, he is a consummate rake, who has to marry. Tamsyn is forced to earn money in an unorthodox way when her parents die, and her uncle refuses to support the estate’s villagers. She needs a rich husband to buy back the estate.

Kit and Tamsyn meet at a society ball and the physical attraction is strong, but will a ‘Marriage of Convenience’ succeed when they are both keeping secrets and their emotions are starting to mirror their passion for each other?

This is an exciting story, with complex characters and contemporary exploration of historical themes. Kit has lasting effects from his war service, recognised in today’s society as Post Traumatic Stress. Tamsyn is a society lady, with feminist views and actions, not accepted in Regency society.

The attraction is passionate, the story well-paced and varied, the characters multi-layered and believable, with an adrenaline-fueled satisfying ending.

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

Q&A Eva Leigh #CountingOnACountess #BlogTour #MillsandBoon

What do you find inspirational about Regency England?

I love that there was a mix of different classes, genders, races, and sexualities—particularly in London—and we as readers and authors get to explore the dynamics of shifting borders. The social constructs were more fluid than I believe we realize, and I love playing with that.

Would you have liked to have lived in this era? Why?

Nope! I don’t fancy being considered a man’s property. I’d rather write about hidden pockets of resistance in that world.

How do your stories differ from other Regency romance novels?

Honestly, I don’t like to compare myself or my books to other authors or their works. I like that we each provide different stories, different facets, different characters. My books often consider people who don’t quite conform to societal expectations, and I have a very strong feminist sensibility which plays out in the pages of my work.

Do you draw your characters from real life or are they purely a product of your imagination?

I take inspiration from history and do a substantial amount of research to learn about people such as confidence artists or smugglers. The characters are born from what I learn and my own imagination.

Can you tell us a little about the ‘Scandalous Ladies of London’ series?

Regency London existed beyond the ballrooms and private clubs of the elite. As the television series “Taboo” explores, there were thousands of liminal figures in this world, and I wanted to explore it. In particular, women were a major part of this in-between world, and I thought, Wouldn’t it be fascinating to make my heroines shady? Also, I love an across-the-tracks romance.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

Naturally, I love romance, so that constitutes a considerable amount of my reading. Historical, contemporary, erotic, and the occasional paranormal. I’m getting into reading more Young Adult fiction because of the breadth of characters, settings, and topics. It’s really amazing to see marginalized voices finally getting heard—though we have a long way to go as far as representation and #ownvoices are concerned.

 What are you currently writing?

It’s very exciting because I’m currently working on the first book in a new series inspired by classic American ‘80s movies. The heroes all meet during “detention” at Eton—which, yes, is loosely based on The Breakfast Club! I’m really loving writing the first book in the series because I get to be a little silly, a little funny, and also discuss important topics like gender roles, biases in the sciences, and the need for ecological conservation. The usual Eva Leigh book! 😉

Image credit – Megan- Seek My Scribbles

Also in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series is From Duke Till Dawn.

‘It’s not my habit to seduce impoverished widows…’

The Duke of Greyland lost his heart – and a princely sum – to a charming, beautiful and destitute widow who, after one passionate night, vanished without a trace. Cassandra Blair grew up on the city streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a rich mark – to be fleeced and forgotten – only she’d never forgotten him.

Years later, chance brings them together again, in a London gaming hell. Grayland is desperate to have her… never suspecting everything about his lover was a lie. But finding herself in dire financial straits, at risk of losing everything, Cassandra has no choice but to beg the man she betrayed for help.

The proud Duke will assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid! But can the real Cassandra – the smart, streetwise survivor – steal his heart all over again?

Book one in ‘The Scandalous Ladies of London’ series.

Amazon UK

 My 4* Review of ‘From Duke Till Dawn’…

A different trope from the usual Regency romance, this story has some originality, an anti-heroine character rather than an anti-hero. The story creates an interesting relationship between the Duke and the con- artist, but even though she fools him once, Cassandra ultimately needs his help and position to survive, which detracts from her independence.

The Duke of Greyland lacks the arrogance customarily associated with his rank in Regency romance. He has many appealing traits, not least his passionate nature and support of those less fortunate than he. However, he does lack authenticity.

This story scores highly for sensuality, the connection between the Duke and Cassandra is hot, and the love scene leaves little to the imagination. They explain why the Duke acts as he does and their deepening emotional attachment underlines every kiss.

Overall this is a lovely story, which superficially explores the seedier side of Regency England while delivering a passionate love story.

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

Image credit- Megan- Seek My Scribbles

 

#CountingOnACountess