Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romantic Comedy

5* #Review – Julie Caplin – The Northern Lights Lodge @HarperImpulse @JulieCaplin

Escape to the cosiest little lodge in Iceland for love, log fires and the Northern Lights…

With a shattered heart and her career completely in tatters, Lucy needs to get away from her life in the UK. But, when she takes a job as hotel manager of the Northern Lights Lodge, she doesn’t quite expect to find herself in a land of bubbling hot springs and snowflake-dusted glaciers – and in the company of gorgeous Scottish barman, Alex.

Determined to turn her life around, Lucy sets about making the lodge the number one romantic destination in Iceland – even though romance is the last thing she wants. However, as Alex and Lucy grow closer under the dancing lights of the Aurora, Lucy might just learn how to fall in love again…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

If your reading likes include romance, delicious food, stunning settings and believable characters, the Northern Lights Lodge is the perfect book for you. The fourth book in the #Romantic Escapes series, it tells the story of Lucy and Alex as they fall under the spell of the Northern Lights in Iceland.

Lucy’s life is not what she imagined. She’s lost her prestigious job, her reputation and her lover. She doesn’t want to work at a remote hotel in Iceland but it’s her only option. Alex is tired of being Mr Nice Guy, he never gets the girl and even though he knows he made the right decision about Nina, it hurts.

The plot is simple but effective and you learn lots about Iceland, its customs, food and people. The romance is a lovely mix of sweet and sensual, and even when you think everything is okay, Alex’s secret threatens their future happiness.

Important current social issues are explored in this book, which shows the growth of Lucy’s emotional strength, as she realises her true worth.

The ending is magical. It gives this couple the life they deserve, on their own terms, providing you can be kind and caring and win..

Posted in Book Review, International Thriller, Political Thriller

To The Lions- Holly Watt – 3*#Review @BloomsburyRaven @Holly_Watt

A journalist must follow the clues, no matter how far that takes her.

Casey Benedict, star reporter at the Post, has infiltrated the lives and exposed the lies of countless politicians and power players. Using her network of contacts, Casey is always on the search for the next big story, no matter how much danger this might place her in, no matter what cost emotionally. 

Tipped off by an overheard conversation at an exclusive London nightclub, she begins to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy young British man, whose death has left his fiancée and family devastated. 

Casey’s hunt for the truth will take her from the glitz of St Tropez to the deserts of Libya and on to the very darkest corners of the human mind

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing -Raven Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A young investigative journalist follows a lead that suggests some unscrupulous rich people are hunting the forgotten humans – refugees, for kicks. The trail leads Casey and her fellow journalist Miranda to North Africa, to discover the truth.

This is a high octane, political thriller full of action and violence. The investigative journalist aspect of the story is realistic. The events Casey uncovers are disturbing.

The writing style is factual. The first part of the book is hard to read, but the second half is more dynamic and faster paced.

This story authentically explores the human cost of this tragedy and poses the journalist with believable moral dilemmas.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Humour

The Age of Misadventure – 3* #Review – Judy Leigh @AvonBooksUK @JudyLeighWriter

55-year-old Georgie Turner doesn’t need a new man. Her daughter, aunt and sister are the most important people in her life (and the most infuriating). But it seems the older they get, the further apart they drift.

Georgie’s never been a fan of her sister Bonnie’s husband, so when she learns her brother-in-law has been up to no good, Georgie sees an opportunity to bring the women of her family back together. Along with her 21-year-old daughter and 80-year-old aunt, she packs Bonnie into the back of her car and they leave Liverpool to hide out on the coast of Sussex. With the help of some sun, sea and bottle or two of prosecco, this will be an adventure they’ll never forget.

But could the right man find Georgie while she’s stopping the wrong man finding her sister?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

After reading ‘A Grand Old Time‘, I was looking forward to reading ‘The Age of Misadventure’. but whilst the story follows a multi-generational family’s adventures, it lacks the laugh out loud and charm of the first book.

Georgie at fifty-five is divorced, running her own business. She doesn’t have the time nor the inclination for a man in her life trying to keep her family on track. Consisting of a petulant daughter in her early twenties, Jade, her aunt, known by the family as Nan, and her sister Bonnie whose feckless husband, Georgie has never liked, she finds they are drifting apart. When her brother-in-law’s actions threaten the family’s safety, Georgie takes them away from home to hide on the south coast.

I like Georgie, she is relatable, as are her family problems. The other characters are harder to empathise, Jade’s behaviour is immature and reminiscent of a teenager. Nan seems a little stereotypical for a woman in her eighties. She’s portrayed as absent-minded, stroppy and always complaining and this seems at odds with the story’s ethos of having fun and age being unimportant. Bonnie, should be the most complex of the characters, but she lacks authenticity.

There are laughable moments and lots of action, but the pace is slow in parts.

Overall, a lighthearted read, for those who enjoy satirical humour.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery

A Testament to Murder – Vivian Conroy – #5*Review #BlogBlitz #Extract @canelo_co @VivWrites

A dying billionaire. Nine would-be heirs. But only one will take the prize…

 At the lush Villa Calypso on the French Riviera, a dying billionaire launches a devious plan: at midnight each day, he appoints a new heir to his vast fortune. If he dies within 24 hours, that person takes it all. If not, their chance is gone forever.

Yet these are no ordinary beneficiaries, these men who crossed him, women who deceived him, and distant relations intent on reclaiming the family fortune. All are determined to lend death a hand and outwit their rivals in pursuit of the prize.

As tensions mount with every passing second retired Scotland Yard investigator Jasper must stay two steps ahead of every player if he hopes to prevent the billionaire’s devious game from becoming a testament to murder…

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

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

My Thoughts…

I looked forward to reading this story, as I love murder mystery and especially those written in a similar style to Agatha Christie’s stories. This book delivers in every way.

The plot is clever, fast-paced, full of twists and has numerous suspects, all with motive and opportunity to commit murder. The setting on the French Riveria is ultra glamorous and epitomises the era, the story is set in.

The detective, Jasper, is charismatic, yet mysterious. When you look back at the story you learn very little about him, other than he is excellent at his job. The ending is well-orchestrated and the cryptic thoughts from one of the characters in the final lines, makes you wonder about Jasper and his motivations.

The cast of characters are not particularly likeable, but this is a requirement of this type of mystery. The reader has to suspect everyone at some point in the story for it to be enjoyable, and complex to solve. The narrative and dialogue are easy to read and realistic. The story has wonderful imagery that allows the reader to play it out in their mind as if they are watching it in real life.

An entertaining, compulsive read, I look forward to Jasper’s next case.

Extract

Patty really didn’t understand why the mood had been so bleak after Uncle Malcolm’s grand revelation. Wasn’t it a marvellous idea that they all had a chance to become sole heir to his entire fortune?

Of course, it would have been better if he had just made her sole heir, to begin with, but if he wanted to do it this way, he was entitled to. Hugh was just a spoilsport to have no stomach for this game. He didn’t like risks and he certainly didn’t like the idea he could lose out to somebody else.

Patty listened to her husband’s heavy breathing as he lay, face down, beside her in the double bed. He had gulped down several glasses of whiskey and was now completely oblivious to the world. While she normally wouldn’t encourage his drinking, it was now very convenient to her that he wouldn’t notice a thing when she crawled out of bed.

Lightning put the room in a bright white glare for a second, then died down. Moments passed before thunder rolled in the distance. The storm hadn’t yet reached the villa. Despite the reassurances that there were higher points it could strike, Patty’s heartbeat fluttered and she rubbed gooseflesh off her arms. She pushed away the sheet and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. Feeling her way through the room, she picked up her dressing gown and slipped it on over her silk nightdress.

At the door she listened carefully, first to determine Hugh was still asleep, then whether there was anyone in the corridor outside the room. With the storm brewing, it was possible people couldn’t sleep and went out of their rooms to get some milk or a book to read, from Malcolm’s library.

Yes, needing a book to read would be the perfect excuse to hang around, and catch a glimpse of the signing of the will. It was happening in his study, he had said, and the study was adjacent to the library. Wouldn’t it be easy to make a small mistake and enter the wrong room?

In the corridor little lamps burned along the wall, shedding just enough light to be able to move around. Malcolm seemed to dislike the dark. Or perhaps it had been arranged for by the nurse who had to rush to Malcolm’s bedside at any hour? Anna Cane had struck Patty as a young lady who liked to make demands, just to see how far she could get with them.

Still, it was a good thing the nurse hadn’t left. The more suspects, the better.

Downstairs in the hallway, the grandfather clock struck twelve.

That’s my cue.

Patty tiptoed down the corridor, making sure to stay on the carpet so nothing thudded or creaked. Thunder rolled again sounding like a stack of cans collapsing. Her heart beat so fast she could barely breathe.

In front of the door leading into the study she halted. Malcolm was a man of his word, a man who liked punctuality. He’d be signing his document now.

She opened the door a crack and peeked in.

Behind a huge desk, Malcolm sat leaning over a sheet of paper. His trembling right hand held a pen, and he was just scribbling something. The name?

Patty’s stomach tightened at the idea it could be Patricia Bryce-Rutherford he was writing. It was quite a long name. But then Hugh Desmond Bryce-Rutherford was about as long. And Theodora Cummings wasn’t exactly short either. Anna Cane was, but Malcolm wouldn’t make the nurse his heir. Not on the first day anyway.

Maybe as he ran out of heirs to use.

After all, he had said everybody would only get one turn.

How unfair. To think that if he lived long enough, some unimportant person like that nurse or the butler would get it all.

He’d better not live that long then.

Malcolm looked up, and for a moment Patty could have sworn he looked straight at her. She didn’t make the mistake to move. She stood firmly, holding her hand on the knob so the door didn’t move either. She had stood just as firmly as she had made her wedding vows to Hugh. Knowing this was something she had to go through to reach something better. Something she deserved.

Malcolm shoved the document away from him, and Koning looked it over. He then gestured to the two other men present to sign it. The skeletal butler and the rugged, probably French, chauffeur.

Patty’s breath caught. Would they know the name that was filled in? Could she bribe them, entice them somehow to tell her what name the document held on that particular day?

They were but servants with meagre pay. They might be open to the promise of a rich reward. After all, once she had inherited the fortune, she could fulfil their every dream.

Patty suppressed a satisfied smile as she watched the men do their duty. Then Koning picked up the document and folded it in halves. He slipped it into an envelope and sealed it. He handed the envelope to Malcolm, who had pushed himself up behind the desk.

Careful, swaying, the old man walked to the side wall and pulled at a painting. It swung away to reveal the gleaming metal of a safe. Malcolm looked at the men to see if they were watching him. They were all keeping their eyes on the floor. Still, Malcolm covered the combination lock with the envelope as he turned it to the right combination to unlock it.

Careful bastard, Patty thought.

The door of the safe opened, and Malcolm placed the envelope in it and closed it again. He spun the combination lock.

“It has begun,” he said to the men, a strange satisfaction in his voice.

Author Bio

Armed with cheese and chocolate, Vivian Conroy sits down to create the aspirational settings, characters with secrets up their sleeves, and clever plots which took several of her mysteries to #1 bestseller in multiple categories on Amazon US and Canada. Away from the keyboard, Vivian likes to hike (especially in the Swiss mountains), hunt for the perfect cheesecake and experience the joy in every-day life, be it a fiery sunset, a gorgeous full moon or that errant butterfly descending on the windowsill.

Twitter: @VivWrites

Read my review of A Honeymoon With Death by clicking on the link

Read my review of Under The Guise of Death and An Exhibition of Murder by clicking on the link

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

Murder at Benbury Brook – 5* #Review – Betty Rowlands @bookouture @Betty RowlandsFP

A babbling brook runs alongside a wooded glade, surrounded by autumn light and birdsong. But next to the stream a young woman lies dead, her once bright blonde hair now limp and lifeless…

Melissa Craig has settled into a new job in the charming Cotswolds village of Upper Benbury. She is teaching French to several of the local teenagers, which gives her a fascinating insight into the young people’s lives. Material for a new novel perhaps…

Her quiet life is interrupted when she sees her new neighbour running out of the woods in a blind panic. Melissa rushes to help him, but what she finds leaves her breathless: the body of a young woman is lying on the bank of the river.

When suspicion falls on Melissa’s neighbour, a man with a difficult past trying to make a new start, Melissa feels determined to prove his innocence. With the village in turmoil, and the police sure they’ve got their man, she must act quickly.

As she interviews the local residents, she realises there are several sinister characters lurking inside those charming Cotswold cottages… Could one of them have hurt Cissie? Was it the strange old man with a cottage near the river? Or the ailing ex-choirmaster with quite an eye for the ladies?

When Melissa Craig decides to get her teeth into a case, she doesn’t let go – nothing will stop her from solving this murder. Can she prove the innocence of her new friend? And will she unearth the culprit before another young life is taken?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

It’s no secret that I love this series, but how can I not? The plots keep getting darker and more menacing, whilst still retaining the essentials of a cosy mystery.

Melissa is a complex protagonist, a crime writer, whose career and private life, often takes second place to her crime solving.

There are new characters to meet, for Melissa and because of the changes in her personal life, Melissa is even more driven to solve the crime that features in this story.

The picturesque Cotswold setting, realistic characters and an interesting twisty plot makes this story an atmospheric, interactive crime-solving mystery.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

With or Without You – #Paperback #Blog Tour – Shari Low – @sharilow @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction

Have you ever made a life-changing decision and then wondered if you made the right one…?

When Liv and Nate walked up the aisle, Liv knew she was marrying the one, her soul mate and her best friend.

Six years later, it feels like routine and friendship is all they have left in common. What happened to the fun, the excitement, the lust, the love?

In the closing moments of 1999, Liv and Nate decide to go their separate ways, but at the last minute, Liv wavers. Should she stay or should she go?

Over the next twenty years we follow the parallel stories to discover if Liv’s life, heart and future have been better with Nate… Or without him?

Buy links

Amazon UK

Amazon

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

I received a paperback copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

If like me you believe in fate and love the film ‘Serendipity’, you’ll enjoy this well-written ‘what if’ story. Most people in a long-term relationship wonder, whether they are with their soulmate, or if under different circumstances they would be with someone else. This story explores Liv’s decision taken at the cusp of the 21st-century, stay with Nate or split up and live their lives apart.

A story of two halves, the outcome of being ‘without him’ is explored first and then ‘with him’. There’s friendship, conflict, romance and sadness but the ultimate conclusion is satisfying in both stories. The setting and relationships are believable, and though flawed, the characters endear themselves to the reader, and you want them to find happiness and fulfilment.

The pacing of the story makes it easy to read, and even though the storyline focuses on ordinary, everyday life, it is full of suspense, poignancy, laughter and love and makes this a lovely lighthearted read.

Guest Post – Serendipity – Shari Low

Some may have said it was serendipity. Some may call it love at first sight. But when a complete stranger walked towards me one night 25 years ago, I smiled because I knew I was in the right place at the right time. A week later we got engaged, and we’ve stuck together through a lifetime of children, books, ups, downs, dodgy fashion choices (but perms were so in!) and a labradoodle.

However, what would have happened if we hadn’t met? Would someone else have been the love of my life? Would I never have found this kind of happiness? Would I have married a rock star and settled for a life of loud music, wanton behaviour and leather trousers?

Actually, I quite like the sound of that option.

Or perhaps that chance meeting was meant to happen, and we were somehow destined to cross paths, if not that night, then at some other point in the future.

Those thoughts were the starting point for my new novel With Or Without You.

The main characters, Nate and Liv, have been together since they were teenagers. Now in their mid-twenties, their all-consuming love has faded to friendship and they’ve decided that their marriage has run its course. They agree to separate at midnight on the final day of 1999, but at the last minute, Nate wavers. The storyline then splits into two strands, one following the couple over the next eighteen years if they stay together, the other if they part.

Will they find each other again? Or will they discover a greater love elsewhere? Does serendipity really exist, or is everyone’s fate already pre-determined, our lives like tangled paths that will end at the same destination no matter what choices we make? 

As the stories unfold, Nate and Liv, and the people who share their lives discover the answers to those questions.

As for me? Excuse the uncharacteristic sentimentality, but I’ll never regret being in that place at that time and meeting that bloke. 

Leather trousers go out of fashion. Soul mates never do.

With Or Without You was published in paperback by Aria on 7th Feb 2019

Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter, One Day In December, A Life Without You and The Story Of Our Life. And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift. 

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Literary Fiction

5* #Review – If Only I Could Tell You – Hannah Beckerman @orionbooks @hannahbeckerman

A twist that will break your heart . . . An ending that will put it back together

Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Audrey’s family appears irrevocably broken, and she doesn’t know why. Her greatest wish is to see her daughters talking again, but is it within her power to achieve this after thirty years?

Family drama is the main theme of this story but the tragic event that catalyses it is not what it seems.  Told from three points of view: Audrey(Mother) Lily(Daughter) and Jess(Daughter). The story slips from the present to the past and back again, highlighting the family’s tragic history that blights their current lives, and hints at the secrets, which are tearing it apart.

The early chapters of the book suggest an obvious secret, but as you read on, something just as devastating but different is suggested, and finally revealed. The characters are flawed, tragic but relatable. Most will empathise with their predicament and their reactions to it.

The story flows well and enthrals. The twist is cleverly concealed and makes the sense of loss and waste even greater. The ending is believable, and hopeful and demonstrates that forgiveness makes anything possible.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Romance

5* #Review – Susan Lewis – One Minute Later @HarperCollinsUK @HarperFiction @susandlewis@fictionpubteam

You think your life is perfect.

You think your secrets are safe.

You think it’ll always be this way.

But your life can change in a heartbeat.

Behind every secret lies a story.

With a high-flying job, a beautiful apartment and friends whose lives are as happy as her own, Vivienne Shager is living the dream. Then, on the afternoon of Vivi’s twenty-seventh birthday, one catastrophic minute changes everything.
 
Forced to move back to the small seaside town where she grew up, Vivi remembers the reasons she left. The secrets, lies and questions that now must be answered before it’s too late. But the answers lie in thirty years in the past…
 
Shelley Raynor’s family home, Deerwood Farm, has always been a special place until darkness strikes at its heart. When Vivi’s and Shelley’s worlds begin to entwine, it only takes a moment for the truth to unravel all of their lives.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Authentic, emotional, mysterious and romantic are the perfect words to describe this enthralling story. Told primarily from Vivi and Shelley’s points of view, you wonder what there can be to connect two women who are so different in all aspects of their lives. Both their stories are absorbing. Vivi’s story is at the present time, Shelley’s mainly retrospective but one unconnected incident puts their lives on a collision course.

This a story of family life, relationships and friendship but there is an underlying mystery, which is gradually solved as the story develops. The story is suspenseful, as in the midst of ordinary events you are metaphorically waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’.

So many people’s lives turn on a moment in time and the main body of the story focuses on the fall out from this event, and its consequences. The characters are complex, flawed and so believable. Reading this story is like being a voyeur into the character’s lives, the events are realistic as are their emotional responses and motivations.

The romance is sweet yet passionate, and selfless, it is the basis of the two main protagonist’s lives and what binds the families in the face of adversity. There is a multitude of poignant moments in this book, which enrich it. The plot’s twists make solving the underlying mystery complex and satisfying.

The emotional ending is beautiful to read and surprisingly hopeful. The messages peppered throughout this story are important for the reader to take on board.

Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romance -Dark and Steamy

Untamed 4* #Review- Caitlin Crews @MillsandBoon @megancrane

Buttons are made to be undone

One wicked touch at a time…

Self-made businesswoman Lucinda Graves is determined to add a tropical hotel to her company’s empire—and devastatingly handsome owner Jason Kaoki is willing to negotiate… But only if Lucinda rises to each challenge he sets! Lucinda passes every test, but as each dare grows hotter and wilder than the last will she be able to keep her eyes on the prize?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Sizzling hot from the start and I don’t just mean the weather. Lucinda finds that doing business on a remote Pacific Island has a completely different set of rules.

Lucinda and Jason are successful and rich, both have known physical and emotional hardship and it has left its scars. Relationships have not featured in either of their lives to date. Both players, they embark on a series of sensual games. They both want to win, but neither expect the prize to be so life-changing.

This is an intense story, concentrating on the couple. There are some surprisingly poignant moments as their earlier lives are revealed. The romance is hot and explicit as expected in the Dare series. There is romance too, but it follows in the wake of their physical awakening.

The ending chapters are romantic and allow the reader to see how far the characters have developed since their first meeting. This is part of a series but reads well as a standalone story.

A story for those who like glamorous, hot romantic stories,

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

5* #Review – Sophia James -The Cinderella Countess – @MillsandBoon

From rags to riches

By the earl’s side!

Abandoned as a small child, Annabelle Smith has only vague memories of her past. Now living as a healer in London’s poverty-stricken East End, she receives a life-changing visit from the rich and imposing Lytton Staines, Earl of Thornton. He needs a cure for his ailing sister and helping him thrusts Belle into his dazzling life of luxury. But it’s Lytton who makes her world come alive!

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An elegant Earl is not the usual visitor at Miss Anabelle Smith’s rented accommodation It is her reputation as a healer that draws him to her, but when they meet there is instant chemistry. The plot is fast paced and has clever twists, which gradually reveal the puzzle of Anabelle’s former life.

The romance is charming. Lytton is an honourable character and Anabelle, self-reliant and kind, they deserve their happy ending, but are their backgrounds and the conflicts that befall them too diverse and numerous?

This is the third book in the ‘Gentlemen of Honour’series, but the first one I have read, and it is a good standalone read. However, the characters from previous books, who feature briefly here, make me want to read their stories too,

Romantic, full of secrets and simmering passion this Regency romance is the perfect escape for an hour or two.