Discovering the 300-year-old skeleton of shipping tycoon Jedediah Biddeford in the ballroom wall is a big old hassle for Josie Waters, owner of the Oyster Cove Guesthouse. Especially when Biddeford’s descendants turn up, certain that a family legend about treasure buried nearby must be true.
Josie is too busy dreaming up the perfect cake for the Oyster Cove’s 250th-anniversary celebration to worry about the Biddeford family – plus half the town – digging up her yard… until one of her guests is murdered in the guesthouse garden.
With worries that her guesthouse will get a reputation for being the kind of place you only leave in a body bag, Josie must put her detective skills to work to find the killer. Lucky for her, Nero and Marlowe and their gang of cat sleuths are also on the case.
From the old wharf to the town common, to the guesthouse itself with its many nooks and crannies, the cats are sure to sniff out the killer… but can they help Josie stop the person behind the mysterious murder before they strike again?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review
This is the second book in the Oyster Cove Guesthouse cozy mystery series. Attracted by the cover, I love cats, and still fondly remembering reading ‘The Cat Who…’ cozy mysteries when I was younger, I dived in.
I was surprised that the characters didn’t immediately draw me in. Maybe, I needed to read the first book in the series? As I read on, there is the necessary backstory to Josie, her friends and family, to see how their story got to this point. The murder mystery is standalone, and the cats Nero, Marlowe and their friends are so perfectly characterised, they tell their own stories.
The characters, once you get to know are delightfully quirky, the family of guests staying at the guesthouse, less so, but they are flawed, and therefore realistic. The plot has plenty of twists and false leads, so just when you think you know who did it, another suspect appears.
The cats are major characters in this story, their detective musings are like a parallel universe to the main story. This story relies on a little ‘magic’, but everyone who has shared life with a cat or two will find this easy to accept.
The ending ties up all the loose ends, and guess what? The cats find the culprit.
If you enjoy reading cozy mystery with a New England setting, quirky characters, and cat detectives, this is for you.
Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review
I love to read something a little different, this story is a mix of genre, there is a gentle romance. which is slow-burning, ridden with internal obstacles to its success. There is a mystery, with historical roots, that draws the couple together, when it seems, in the beginning, they have nothing in common, except that they irritate each other. There is also a strong emotional thread in this story, as the first part of the book reveals, why Theo and Jane are unwilling to trust again, this poignancy makes the characters easier to empathise.
The believable setting is contemporary and well researched, and has intrinsic interest. Your primary focus is always on Jane and Theo in this character-driven story.The subsidiary characters both past and present are complex and realistic. The flaws and emotional baggage carried by the two protagonists make them authentic.
An easy to read, engaging romance with an intriguing mystery set against a politicised contemporary background.
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real-life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts, she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her
husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now
moved into book illustration.
Currently published by Accent Press,
each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a
Following in the family tradition, her
son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work,
published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.
Born in 1973 to a Greenlandic mother and an English-Explorer father, Malik has always been something of a misfit. He has one black eye and one blue. As a child, his mother’s people refused to touch him and now his own baby daughter’s family feel the same way.
On his own now, Malik’s only companion is a guiding spirit
no-one else can see, but one day a white man with a nose like a beak and a
shadow like a seagull appears on his doorstep and invites him to England.
has had enough of living with domestic abuse. She compares bruises with her
friend Neil, who regularly suffers homophobic attacks. With Martha’s baby, they
go on the run to Shetland, where Martha has happy childhood memories of summers
spent with her aunt.
their way up north in a camper van, they come across a dejected Malik, alone
again after a brief reconciliation with his father’s family.
arrive safely together in the Shetland Isles, but Malik still needs answers to
the identity of the beak-nosed man who casts a shadow over his life, and must
now embark on a further journey of his own.
The Seagull’s Laughter is an immersive read, intertwined with nature and the magic of Greenlandic folk tales.
up in Derbyshire but has always been drawn to the sea. She has written from a
young age. Her love affair with island landscapes was kick-started on a brief
visit to the Faroe Islands at the age of eighteen, en route to Iceland. She was
immediately captivated by the landscape, weather, and way of life and it was here
that she conceived the idea for her first novel, The Eagle and The Oystercatcher.
Icelandic, Norwegian and Old Norse at University College London. She also
studied as an exchange student at The University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands) and spent a memorable
summer working in a museum in South Greenland.
She decided to start a family young and now has three small children. Holly helps run Life & Loom, a social and therapeutic weaving studio in Hull. She likes to escape from the busyness of her life by working on her novels and knitting Icelandic wool jumpers.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An interesting exploration of celebrity, life as a media agent and a romantic love triangle. The detail in this novel is clearly well- researched, it makes the story authentic. However, it lacks the in-depth characterisation that would give it emotional weight.
It’s easy to read, and interesting. The themes of celebrity, the invasion of privacy and the blurring of professional relationships, are emotional topics. I know the characters suffered, were challenged and confused, but I didn’t feel their pain.
An interesting foray into the media world, perfect for those who enjoy plot rather than character-driven stories.
Elaine spent 25 years working in marketing and communications in the media and entertainment industries. This included seven years marketing national newspapers and a variety of senior executive roles in TV, radio and film. I Can’t Tell You Why is her first novel.
Elaine lives in North London with her husband and their two sons. When she’s not writing, she can be found looking harassed on the school run, cheering on the sidelines of her sons’ football matches or singing her heart out at her local branch of Popchoir. FacebookInstagramTwitter
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A Masked Stranger. A Passionate Encounter. A Chance at Love?
For a dashing duke and the proprietress of a secret, sensual club, passion could lead to love…
Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more duelling, or carousing, or frequenting masked balls. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet.
Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. Yet no member of the club has ever intrigued her…until him, the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, do they dare to give in to temptation…?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest reveiw.
On first acquaintance, Lucia is, the most scandalous of the ladies in this Regency romance series. The proprietress of a secret sex club, although not the owner, she is above the wild abandonment that takes place behind its doors, and never fraternises with members, until Tom. The early chapters of this book are explicit, but not in a gratuitous way. The descriptions demonstrate the ethos of the club and the double standards of polite society.It is a surprisingly egalitarian place, where identity is secret, members are drawn to the place for its freedom.
Tom first visits the club as the Duke’s heir, when it fits into his hedonistic lifestyle, Twelve months later, he attends only for his interaction with Lucia or Amina as she is known in ‘The Orchid Club’, they talk but don’t touch, which sets them apart from everyone else. Then his circumstances change, and he realises, so must his life.
Tom and Lucia are from different social classes, but they share the same beliefs, even if it takes Lucia to make Tom realise his true self. The plot has many twists, that force the couple together. Their relationship is full of conflicts that make their chance of lasting happiness unlikely.
Lucia, like all the women in this series, wants to help women and children subjected to deprivation and poverty, which she has experienced first hand. Scandal and social reform are the main themes of this Regency romance, which showcases the strength and tenacity of Lucia and her friends, in a class controlled, male-dominated society.
While the message of the novel is clear, it doesn’t deter from the delicious interplay between Lucia and Tom, and their passionate romance. The ending is romantic and satisfying, and the epilogue rounds off the series perfectly.
Extract From – Dare to Love a Duke – Eva Leigh
A droplet of
sweat rolled between the shoulder blades of Thomas Edward O’Connell Cúchulain
Powell, Earl of Langdon, as he steadied the cocked duelling pistol and took
aim. He looked down the weapon’s barrel, his concentration fixed on his target
twenty paces away. His exhalation misted in the chill midnight air as he fought
He inhaled, held his breath, then pulled the trigger.
was a flash and a cloud of smoke as the weapon’s
split the night’s stillness.
Twenty paces away, glass shattered.
The hushed crowd burst into applause and cheers of “Bravo!”
as Tom lowered the pistol and grinned. He kept his footing as people swarmed
around him, offering their congratulations and hearty thumps on the back.
Numerous women, scented heavily with perfume, kissed his cheeks—so many that he
imagined it looked as though he wore rouge.
“The hero of Regent’s Park,” George Mowbray declared.
“Not to Culver, I’m afraid.”
Tom looked over at his opponent, Lord Culver, who sulked as he handed his duelling pistol to a footman. Culver had missed when taking aim at the bottle of claret. Perhaps if Tom had been more virtuous, he would have deliberately missed so that there was no winner and no loser. Though Tom was an earl and the heir to the Duke of Northfield, no one would ever call
“Ah, shag him,” Mowbray said magnanimously.
“I’ll leave that to the professionals.”
Tom smiled ruefully as Culver’s hired companion for the
evening attempted to soothe her client. When Culver shoved her away and she
stumbled, Tom immediately strode through the crowd and jammed his fist into his
“You may have lost, but you’re still a gentleman,” Tom said
in a low, warning voice. Gently, he took the woman’s arm to make sure she kept
to the lady.”
“She’s just a whore, Langdon,” Culver said.
“Apologize.” Tom’s jaw firmed as he held up the pistol. “Or
else the next time I fire this, it will be at your worthless heart.”
Culver scowled, but said in a grudging voice, “I’m sorry.”
Under his breath, he muttered, “You Irish son of a bitch.”
Tom narrowed his eyes. “Repeat that.”
“I . . .” Culver gulped. “It was a
“A poor one.” Since the age of twelve,
when he’d been brought from his mother’s Irish home to be educated in his
father’s country of England, Tom had heard some variation of Culver’s insult.
Why anyone thought Tom ought to be embarrassed about his Irish blood, he’d no
idea. But he wouldn’t tolerate slurs.
“Must I ask for another apology?”
“My sincere contrition,” Culver said.
After casting Tom a wary glance, he hurried toward his waiting carriage.
“Hope I didn’t cost you your night’s
earnings,” Tom said to the woman.
“Ah, no.” She gave him a dry smile as
she eyed the throngs of young, wealthy bucks passing bottles back and forth as
they caroused. “There’s plenty of pickings in this crowd.” She glanced at him
and her smile turned more genuine. “Happens that I’m free right now, my lord.
If you’re interested.”
“Perhaps another evening.” He wasn’t
ready for bed yet.
One of the rakes came forward with a
substantial bundle of cash and jammed it into Tom’s hand. “Your winnings,
No sooner than the cash was in his hand
than Tom turned and handed it to the woman. “For putting up with Culver.”
“I couldn’t, my lord,” she said as she
tucked the money into her bodice. She gave him a wink. “ ’Night, love.” She
pressed a quick kiss to his cheek, then
strode off into the darkness.
“That was near seventy pounds, Langdon,”
Mowbray said in shock.
“She’ll have better use of it than me.”
There was no shortage of funds in Tom’s coffers, between income from his earldom as well as his generous allowance provided by his father, the duke. Other lordlings and bucks swam in seas of debt, hounded constantly by tailors, club proprietors, and wine shop owners. Tom made certain to pay everyone on time, for no other reason than the fact that he could.
“I’d do it again for free if it meant
humiliating Culver. Bloke’s had it coming since he refused to cover his
“You’re a daft bastard,” Mowbray said
with a shake of his head.
“I’d agree,” Tom said affably, “except
everyone knows about my parents’ celebrated fidelity. Bastard in deed but not
Someone handed him a bottle of whiskey
and he took a drink before passing the spirits along to a trio of bucks who
looked in dire need of refreshment.
“Good Christ, here you are!”
The throng opened up just enough to allow Christopher Ellingsworth to emerge, looking slightly bedraggled despite his military bearing. Since returning home from the War a year ago, Ellingsworth had renewed the friendship he and Tom had begun at Oxford, and from that point forward they had been nigh inseparable, with the exception of tonight.
“Missed the excitement.” Tom handed his
pistol to the footman, who returned it to its polished mahogany case.
“Not for want of trying,” his friend
said. “I’ve been to the opera, two gaming hells, and a phaeton race. Everywhere
I went, I’d just missed you by ten minutes.” He shook his head but his eyes
gleamed with reluctant admiration. “Good thing we’re not competing for the
title of Most Scapegrace Gentleman in London, or else you’d best me.”
“That trophy isn’t much sought after,
anyway. Why such urgency to find me?” Tom lifted an eyebrow.
“My father’s not looking for me, I
The duke periodically got it into his
head that Tom would somehow reform and conduct himself with the dignity and sobriety
of a ducal heir with a family history of deeply traditional beliefs, but that was
precisely why Tom spent his days asleep and his nights
in endless rounds of revelry. One day, hopefully in the far distant future, Tom
would inherit the title, and with it, the morass of responsibilities and duties
that came with being one of the most powerful men in England—and a voting
record dedicated to preserving the ancient systems of power.
Life as Tom knew it would end. He’d say
goodbye to nights entertaining opera dancers, midnight swims in the Serpentine,
and behaving like the kingdom’s veriest rogue, with his equally dissolute
companions keeping him company.
As a marquess’s third son who had
recently sold his commission, Ellingsworth had considerably less money but
shared Tom’s appetite for running riot. There wasn’t one corner of the city
they hadn’t explored in search of amusement and pleasure.
Ellingsworth hooked an arm around Tom’s
neck and led him several paces away from the celebrants.
In a low voice, he said, “I’ve heard
about something that I knew would interest you. A place in Bloomsbury called
the Orchid Club.”
Tom groaned. “I’ve grown weary of clubs.
Same games of chance, same people, same wine, same everything.”
His friend’s grin flashed. “This club is
For one, it opens its doors only once a
week and it just so happens to be open tonight.”
That wasn’t enough to snare Tom’s
interest. Many clubs did what they could to cultivate an air of mystery in
order to ensure steady business from those eager to discover its secrets.
“What else makes it so special? Is it a
“It is most decisively not a brothel. You’ll need this, however.” Ellingsworth
unhooked his arm from around Tom’s neck. He reached into his coat before
producing something, then slipped the item into Tom’s hand.
Tom held up the object so he could study it better. It was a half-mask made of midnight blue satin.
“What the devil . . . ?”
Ellingsworth chuckled. “You’re
“You’ve gotten my attention.”
Tom had torn all over London tonight, but still, edginess and restlessness pulsed just beneath his skin. He needed diversion. Surely there had to be something in the city he hadn’t already done.
“Excellent.” Ellingsworth clapped his
hands together. “I left my horse with the boy watching yours.”
He headed toward where the animals
waited, and Tom quickly followed.
“Won’t you tell me more about this
mysterious Orchid Club?” he asked.
“I wouldn’t dream of ruining the
They reached the horses and after
tossing coins to the lad holding the reins, Tom and Ellingsworth swung up into
“Not even a hint?” Tom pressed.
In response, Ellingsworth put a finger
to his smirking mouth, then wheeled his horse around.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It is this novel’s complexity and depth that makes it such a riveting read.
A shooting, a missing girl and a failed suicide, the clues are evident, but there are so many permutations when the past is interwoven with the present, is it really as simple as it seems? The beginning is shocking, and the guilty party obvious? Until you meet the cast of characters, both in the present day and eighteen years previously. Everyone seems guilty, and you begin to doubt your observation skills and understanding of what is happening.
Jess, a journalist is trying to make a new start in Bristol, but when there is a sudden, violent incident in the town where she grew up, the past and present collide, and she has to face secrets she kept for years, and confront why she always seems to be running away.
Margot’s life changed irrevocably eighteen years ago, but not for the first time. Now she faces heartbreak again, can she survive the loss of both her daughters?
The plot is fast-paced and easy to follow, as it moves between the past and present, and the different points of view. The characters are believable, as are the situations they find themselves in. Jess has a unique role in the story, both objective from her profession and subjective from her relationship with the family. This allows her, and the reader insights that an outsider wouldn’t have, but also raises moral questions of bias and loyalty.
The unravelling of what led to the murders and the disappearance of Flora is realistic. The twists are clever, and the final chapters, adrenaline led and thought-provoking.
A cerebral thriller, that is both poignant and twisted.
Part of The Beauchamp Heirs: Dominic Beauchamp, Lord Avon, is a powerful duke’s heir and it’s his duty to marry well. His bride must have impeccable breeding, manners and grace. But can anyone meet his exacting standards? Certainly not the irrepressible Liberty Lovejoy, who’s been thrust into society after years of being a provincial nobody. She’s too bold, too bubbly…so why is she the only lady he’s thinking about?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
The second book in ‘The Beauchamp Heirs’ is a delightful read. I like the originality of the plot, the complexities of the heroine and hero, and the cast of characters who bring this story to life. The historical detail and the ethos of living with the expectations and rules of the ‘haute ton’ are cleverly interwoven into a story that explores marrying for love, over the marriage of convenience.
Liberty Lovejoy protects her family at all costs after the loss of their parents and her intended husband to illness. Her meeting with the outwardly proper Lord Avon would leave society’s matron’s gasping, but thankfully he sees beyond her risque actions, to the caring person, who only wants to save her brother from himself and ruin.
Dominic, The Marquess of Avon is to marry, he has a list of likely ladies, but his unexpected encounter with Liberty severely threatens his plans. Both protagonists are damaged by events in their past, especially Dominic, who believes in duty over happiness.
The romance is gentle, the couple like each other, but the love element to their relationship is a surprise to both. The dialogue is witty and often amusing, and the romance as it deepens passionate. The ending is so romantic, almost fairytale-like, but a perfect completion to a lovely story.
He may be the richest man on Earth, but self-made Joao Oliviera’s latest deal is personal. To ensure victory, he needs his right-hand woman, Saffron Everhart. But the undeniable tension between them is higher than ever since they finally surrendered to a one-off, emotionally-charged night together. And it’s about to sky-rocket again because Joao’s just found out that Saffron is pregnant!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Joao, the richest man in the world, is not easy to like on first acquaintance. His domineering attitude towards his intelligent, irreplaceable Executive Assistant Saffron, doesn’t endear, but once you see things from his point of view, you realise he cannot let her go, for reasons much deeper than her faultless ability to run his professional life.
Saffron, is a woman with goals, professionally she has excelled, but she still needs to fulfil her target, of creating a family. She is easy to like, she has integrity and insight, she knows life with Joao has to end if she is to achieve her ideal life.
This is an emotionally charged story, full of contrasts, excess and glamour. The characters are complex, and believable, even though they inhabit a world few understand. The romance is slow to ignite, but passionate when it does. The conflicts are mostly internal, but are realistic, and threaten the high powered couples happily ever after.
The ending is romantic, and impossibly glamorous as fits the genre.
Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.
Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.
But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person, in particular, she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.
When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.
Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?
One simple Facebook invitation unfolds into something both tragic and monstrous; a story of obsessive love, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Like many psychological thrillers, this one has a strong family drama theme. Written in the third person from Louisa’s point of view, it focuses almost exclusively on her emotions, motivations, observations and thoughts, This does mean that the other characters in the story fade into to the background, even though they are in many cases key to the storyline.
Louisa is an unreliable protagonist, sleep-deprived, looking after a young baby. She may also be suffering from postnatal depression, but because everything is seen from her point of view, and she has no insight into her mental health, this possibility is alluded to, but not explored. Diagnosed with dissociative amnesia, where the person cannot recall personal information, not explained by ordinary forgetting, usually triggered by trauma or extreme stress.
The plot is for the most part believable, the pacing varies, but you are drawn into Lousia’s story. How much of it is in her mind? Is her paranoia, justified, or a symptom of her mental state? Despite her unreliability, I did sympathise with Louisa. The remainder of the characters, could all be guilty of something, with the exception of Emily her teenage daughter, who I also like, especially as she realises how fragile her mother is, as the story progresses, and supports her, the best she can.
The clues and the misinformation are integrated into the plot well, but they didn’t surprise me. The final few chapters are bizarre, but not unimaginable, who knows what they would do in those circumstances?
A second chance with her GP… Dare she follow her heart this time?
Jayne had been so happy! Engaged to gorgeous Sam Crenshaw, planning an idyllic life together as GPs in Whitticombe’s close-knit community. Until the day her twin sister died, compelling Jayne to leave the man she loved to fulfil her sister’s dreams. Now a paediatric cardiologist, Jayne’s hit crisis point—and coming home to heal reminds her that her own dream is still life with Sam!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story is driven by powerful emotions, grief, guilt and love. It is a second chance romance, my favourite kind, between two medics, whose fairytale ending was obliterated by a tragic accident.
The story begins with an intense medical drama, that reveals that Jayne is finally unable to run from her past. It should be the pinnacle of her career, so far, but rather than success, it forces her to confront her past, and what she believes is her failure.
Sam never really came to terms with Jayne’s ending of their engagement, he understood her grief, but not her wish to face it alone. The meeting between Sam and Jayne sets the scene for an awkward few weeks, as they recognise their mutual attraction still lives, but are not sure what if anything they can do about it.
There is plenty of authentic medical details, and an exceptionally poignant love story, which is fraught with internal conflict. Both of the main protagonists are likeable and relatable, the best friend Maggie and the villagers all give the story its authenticity, a snapshot of English village life.
An intensely emotional medical romance with a lovely hopeful happy ending.