Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen 4* #Review @missyadabright @CassGrafton #JaneAusten #TheAustenTales #TimeTravel #Friendship #Bath #Adventure #BookReview #BlogTour @rararesources

When a time travelling Jane Austen gets stuck in modern-day Bath it’s up to avid Janeite Rose Wallace to save her… because she’s the only one who knows that Jane exists!

Rose Wallace’s world revolves around all things Austen, and with the annual festival in Bath – and the arrival of dishy archaeologist, Dr Aiden Trevellyan – just around the corner, all is well with the world…

But then a mysterious woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to the great author moves in upstairs, and things take a disastrous turn. Rose’s new neighbour is Jane Austen, whose time travel adventure has been sabotaged by a mischievous dog, trapping her in the twenty-first century.

Rose’s life is instantly changed – new home, new job, new friends – but she’s the only one who seems to have noticed! To right the world around her, she will have to do whatever it takes to help Jane get back home to write Rose’s beloved novels. Because a world without Mr Darcy? It’s not worth living in!

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#BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

I was intrigued by the ideas behind this story, and after reading it, I can confirm it fulfils its potential.

It begins conventionally with Rose who lives in Bath, loves Jane Austen and doesn’t realise what a lovely person she is. Hardworking, she is appreciated by her boss and her long-distance Californian friend Morgan, who is finally coming to Bath. Rose has a long term crush on an archaeologist, she only sees briefly in a professional capacity once a year. She dreams of a happy ever after but doesn’t have the self-belief to make it a reality.

Then everything changes, and you have to suspend belief, but if you do the fictional adventure with a historical legend is fun. The setting in Bath is well described and the characters are believable, even if the scenario they are playing is pure fantasy.

This is a good story of friendship, romance, self-realisation and time travel, something for everyone in this tale.

#CassGrafton

A proud bookworm since childhood, Cass writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She has an over-active imagination, is prone to crying with happiness as much as she is at sadness, but when it comes to her writing she leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine, and enjoys them in any combination. She currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, and England, where she lives with her characters.

#AdaBright

Ada has lived all her life in Southern California, which makes her intolerant to any weather above or below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. She grew up much more fond of reading than sports or socializing and still tends to ignore everyone she loves, all her responsibilities and basic life needs when she’s in the middle of a book.

She is luckily married to a handsome and funny man who doesn’t mind that the laundry never gets put away and she has three amazing children. Ada spent over a decade as a photographer before dedicating herself to writing, though she still believes that life should be documented well and often.

There is nothing she loves more than a good, subtle love story whether it be in real life, tv, movie, theatre or book form… well, except cake. She also really loves cake.

Cass and Ada

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall Alison Sherlock 4*#Review @Aria_Fiction @AlisonSherlock #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #TheWillowTreeHallSeries #MoonLightKissesatWillowTreeHall #RomCom #Romance #humour #rural #heartwarming #SecondChances

Lily Harper is an events organiser, but her neat, ordered world has just exploded. First she lost her job, then she lost her fiancé. Her five-year plan is looking increasingly shaky.

Lost and lonely, Lily heads home to her childhood village, and accepts the position of live-in housekeeper at the grand but welcoming Willow Tree Hall. It’s not exactly her dream job – Lily is more used to arranging parties than pantries – but at least she’s working.

Her first task is to arrange the Willow Tree Hall summer fete. Lily is in her element, writing to-do lists and organising bunting and baking – until her old flame Jack Carter turns up in the village. Lily hasn’t seen Jack in over ten years, when he sped off on his motorbike, taking with him the pieces of her broken heart.

Lily vowed she would never forgive him. But as Willow Tree Hall weaves its magic, Lily finds she might just give Jack a second chance after all…

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

My Thoughts…

Book 4, and the final one in the Willow Tree Hall series can be read as a standalone as Lily and Jack’s story is the focus. There are some familiar faces, for those of us who have read previous books in the series. and it’s good to reacquaint with those and see how their lives have moved on.

Lily and Jack, both have emotional baggage from their past to come to terms with, both individually and together. Their connection gives the story its slow-building sweet romance, with plenty of angst and anger to overcome.

The perilous state of the hall and the need to secure its future remains a perennial problem. Jack’s a catalyst in this, but friendship proves stronger than financial reward and makes you like him even more.

The authentically crafted, complex characters, and the delightful rural setting make this a lovely escapist story, perfect to read when you need a little me time.

Guest Post – Alison Sherlock – The Willow Tree hall Series – Inspiration

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall is the last book in my Willow Tree Hall series. All of my previous books had been standalone but the idea for this series is to discover the lives and loves of those who live at Willow Tree Hall throughout all four books.

The idea for Willow Tree Hall actually came from watching Downton Abbey! I watched the programme and wondered what it would be like to live in a grand stately home in the present day. As I researched the subject, I realised that many of our country estates had fallen into disrepair due to the high running costs. And thus became the ‘eureka’ moment that began the plot for Book 1 in the series, Love Begins At Willow Tree Hall.

The renovation and transformation of Willow Tree Hall continue with Summer Secrets at Willow Tree Hall, A Winter Wedding at Willow Tree Hall and finally with Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall, although you don’t need to read them in any particular order.

I was a tiny bit worried about writing a series but it’s actually been great fun to write as I loved having the chance to catch up with my characters each time I began a new book.

This time, the story concentrates on Lily who is the head gardener’s grandaughter. Lily has been living in London so when she is forced to head back to the local village, it’s all a bit of a shock for her!

The hero is Jack, Lily’s very first love and cause of some major heartbreak in her past. They haven’t seen each other for almost a decade and so Lily has a huge shock when, as her new role of housekeeper, they bump into each other at Willow Tree Hall!

But it’s not just Lily and Jack who need to find their happy ever after. This time, the whole of Willow Tree Hall itself is in danger …

In fact, I am heartbroken to be leaving the Harris family and all their friends behind with this last book. Will I be able to leave the village of Cranley and Willow Tree Hall behind me forever? Never say never is my motto!

#AlisonSherlock

Alison Sherlock enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Alison lives in Surrey with her husband and a daft golden retriever. Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

My One Month Marriage Shari Low 5* #Review @sharilow @BoldwoodBooks #Extract #BoldwoodBloggers #Family #Drama #Sisters #Secrets #Romance #Humour #BlogTour #BookReview

“I JUST NEED TO KNOW…WHICH ONE OF YOU SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND?”

My One Month Marriage – Shari Low

You know that “till death do us part” bit in the wedding vows? Well, Zoe Danton believed it. One month after she said “I do”, the man she loved is gone, given his marching orders after Zoe discovered a devastating secret.

As teenagers facing a crushing loss, Zoe made a pact with her three sisters to stick together no matter what. Now she’s discovered that one of them may have been the reason her husband betrayed her. She’s lost her happy-ever-after, but has she lost a sister too?

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#BoldwoodBloggers

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

My Thoughts…

Not the most uplifting of titles, but certainly one that starts you turning the pages. Whilst Zoe’s unfortunately short marriage draws you into this story, what you find within the pages is an excellent family drama, full of emotions, laughter, lies, loss and secrets and many poignant moments that make you think.

The characters and setting are authentic and relatable, and despite the different viewpoints and timescales, it’s easy to read. You care about the characters, whilst experiencing a gamut of emotions with them.

Zoe and her three sisters are close especially after the loss they suffered as young girls. The family drama affected each of them in differing ways as they coped with it, and the resultant women are on the surface strikingly different personalities. This is a complex story, moving between the sisters’ points of view and the past and present. You learn what has made them into the women they are, and the connection they have Zoe’s failed marriage.

Some of the storylines are repeated, seen from a different point of view, but this part of this author’s writing style and is not a negative, but a way to see why the characters are motivated to act as they do.

A lovely story of family and sisters and learning to let go of the past.

Extract from My One Month Marriage – Shari Low

But back to the point. Yvie and Marina are right. If I worked anywhere else – the Civil Service, Top Shop, NASA – then none of this would have happened.

And to quote everyone in the entire history of the world who ever messed up, I just wish I could go back in time and change so many things.

In fact, right now I’d settle for just understanding what has happened to my life because there are still so many questions. So many uncertainties.

My phone buzzes and I stretch over a ceramic planter in the shape of a pair of wellies (from Auntie Geraldine – she has a picture of Alan Titchmarsh on her kitchen wall) to retrieve it from the table beside the sofa.

Marina’s heels click into the room and in my peripheral vision I can see that she slides elegantly into the armchair by the window, plate of sushi in hand.

The name at the top of the notification makes my anxiety soar. Roger Kemp. Sadly, no relation to anyone who was ever a member of Spandau Ballet. Or that slightly scary bloke who played Grant Mitchell in EastEnders and now makes documentaries about criminal gangs and serial killers.

With a shaking thumb, I swipe open the message.

Roger Kemp is a friend and client, the director of a hotel chain that employs our agency for all its marketing needs. After the proverbial hit the fan, I’d asked him for a favour. A slightly underhand, confidentiality-breaching, possibly borderline-illegal favour. With a bit of luck, the bloke that makes the documentaries about true crime won’t find out about it.

I’d asked Roger to check on who paid for a room in one of his hotels last weekend, on the night that my husband broke his vows only thirty days after making them. You know, that fairly insignificant one about being faithful in good times and bad. You see, I know it wasn’t my husband because he’d put his credit cards in my handbag that evening, so it must have been someone else. The other woman.

The thought forces me to take another swig of the unidentifiable pink cocktail.

Anyway, the favour I’d requested of Roger would mean asking someone in his financial team to pull up the credit card records and sharing the sordid details with me.

Now I stare in disbelief at the answer, typed right there on the screen of my phone.

#ShariLow

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter and With Or Without You and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow and her first title for Boldwood will be My One Month Marriage in January 2020.

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#MyOneMonthMarriage
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Mystery

Hunter’s Blood Val Penny 5*#Review @valeriepenny @crookedcatbooks @darkstrokedark @rararesources #Hunter #Mystery #HuntersBlood #Giveaway #TheEdinburghCrimeMysteries #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #BlogTour #BookReview

DI Hunter Wilson never has just one problem to solve.

Three elderly women he knows have died in mysterious circumstances. Hunter appears to be the only link.

A little girl goes missing on a cold winter’s night. When his team discovers cocaine hidden at the farm where she was living, the search becomes even more urgent.

Why did the women die? And what did the child witness?

Hunter must find the answers to these questions to ensure his family and his city are safe.

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Amazon UK – Hunter’s Chase

Amazon UK – Hunter’s Revenge

Amazon UK – Hunter’s Force

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This the second book I have read in the ‘Edinburgh crime mysteries’ and ‘Hunter’s Blood’ is a cleverly written, vividly characterised story. The fourth book in the series it reads well as a standalone.

The story begins with an episode of dangerous driving that is witnessed by all the main protagonists, all react but none follow up their actions. There are numerous, distinct plot threads, all seem unconnected but as the story progresses they are weaved together to reveal, a tapestry of crime and death.

Hunter has direct connections to some of the incidents and becomes involved in a professional capacity in others. The team dynamic is strong among the detectives. this aids the investigation, even though they are diversified and investigating different elements.

Written in an immersive, vivid style that draws you into the plot, it lets you experience everything, bad and good. Some of the story’s characters are linked through previous crimes, falling on either side of the law. There are many grey areas too. Making the story authentic and realistic.

Hunter is likeable and easy to relate to, he is described using visual imagery making it easy to imagine him and his actions as you read. Connecting you to the story and the main character.

The story captures the ethos of its setting, and even if you are unfamiliar with the area, it speaks to you, and grounds the actions, increasing the impact.

A solid police procedural with a cleverly linked plot, complex characters, who are relatable and a believable ending. Another chilling, riveting crime mystery with the enigmatic Hunter.

#ValPenny

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge and Hunter’s Force are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fourth book in the series, Hunter’s Blood, is out now.

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#HuntersBlood
GIVEAWAY TO WIN MOBI OR PDF OF HUNTER’S Blood BY VAL PENNY (OPEN INT)

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

Posted in Book Review, Cover Reveal, Romantic Comedy

#The Cottage on Wildflower Lane Liz Davies #CoverReveal #RomCom #RuralLife #Preorder #SecondChances #relationships @LizDaviesAuthor @rararesources

Esther’s life isn’t perfect (whose is?) – but she’s happy enough living in her little flat with her boyfriend, Josh.

But that’s about to change.

Bored out of her mind in work, she wishes that something, anything, would happen to liven her life up.

Unfortunately, her wish comes true when Josh calls her from the airport to tell her he’s going to work in a bar in Spain, and she’s not invited, Esther is devastated, and her unhappiness is compounded when she discovers she can actually view the bar via a webcam link and watch him chatting up other girls.

But when she inadvertently clicks on a link to another webcam which shows a pretty cottage and the rather hunky man who lives in it, her interest is piqued and she wishes she could get to know him.

Wishes don’t really come true, though – do they…?

Publication Date: 14th February

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#LizDavies

Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.

She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat – she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.

She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper van and travel the world in it.  Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, International Thriller, Thriller, Travel

The Profit Motive David Beckler 5*#Review #SterlingandMason @DavidBeckler1 @LongStopBooks #BlogTour @rararesources #Thriller #InternationalThriller #China #BookReview

How do you deal with an implacable foe in an alien land…?

Manchester, England, and Wenzhou, China, 2001

When firefighter Adam Sterling arrives at the scene of a horrific car crash, little does he imagine it will lead him back to his mother’s homeland.

Kate, the woman he pulls from the wreckage, needs his help. Her father has been left for dead after a hit-and-run, in Wenzhou, China.

She suspects it wasn’t an accident and so does Jie Gang, the senior policeman investigating the case, and whose efforts are obstructed from on high.

When events escalate, Kate employs Adam and Byron Mason, Adam’s best friend and fellow former Royal Marine, to go with her to China.

Catapulted into an alien environment, and unable to trust anyone, Mason and Sterling face escalating challenges.

The struggle becomes personal, and Adam has to confront a ruthless enemy determined to destroy him and Kate. 

THE PROFIT MOTIVE is the second crime novel in the Mason & Sterling thriller series: gritty, hard-boiled page-turners with an urban setting.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts

Enticed in with a mystery and an unexplained hit and run, leaving an English businessman gravely injured. The adrenaline starts to pump, as the thought processes wonder, who is behind the attack. Back in the UK one-half of the investigators has family problems to solve. Another accident draws in his partner, and the plot takes you on a roller-coaster ride across continents and cultures, with complex characters and vivid scenarios and settings.

The plot threads appear unconnected, but as the story progresses they converge into a breathtaking, unexpected conclusion.

The second in the series, it reads well as a standalone, as the story is complete, and there is sufficient characterisation to discern the main protagonists, their background and team dynamic. The international setting is vibrant and well researched. You get a sense of place, and experience the culture and ethos, through the people and places.

An exciting, immersive international thriller, with a clever plot and authentic characters.

#DavidBeckler

I write fast-paced action thrillers populated with well-rounded characters.

Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, I spent my first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where my love of reading developed. After dropping out of university I became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start my own business.

I began writing in 2010 and use my work experiences to add realism to my fiction.

The Mason and Sterling series centre on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron who now runs a security company and Adam who is a firefighter. A strong cast of characters support my protagonists. Long Stop Books published Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in September 2019 and will be publishing the second, The Profit Motive, on December 16th 2019. Brotherhood is set in Manchester and The Profit Motive in Manchester and Wenzhou, China.

I live in Manchester, my adopted home since 1984. In my spare time I try to keep fit—an increasingly difficult undertaking—listen to music, socialise and feed my voracious book habit.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction

The Lady of the Ravens Joanna Hickson 5* #Review @HarperFiction @JoannaHickson #LadyoftheRavens #BlogTour @annecater #RandomThingsTours #15thCentury #JoanVaux #@ElizabethofYork #Ravens #TowerofLondon #HistoricalFiction #Intrigue #Women @fictionpubteam #BookReview

My baptismal name may be Giovanna but here in my mother’s adopted country I have become plain Joan; I am not pink-cheeked and golden-haired like the beauties they admire. I have olive skin and dark features – black brows over ebony eyes and hair the colour of a raven’s wing…

The Lady of the Ravens – Joanna Hickson

When Joan Vaux is sent to live in the shadow of the Tower of London, she must learn to navigate the treacherous waters of this new England under the Tudors. Like the ravens, Joan must use her eyes and her senses, if Henry and his new dynasty are to prosper and thrive …

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

#TheLadyoftheRavens – Proof Copy

My Thoughts…

Joan finds much of her life revolves around the Tower of London and develops an affinity with the mystical ravens who live there. They are seen by some as symbols of the monarchy’s strength, whilst many view them as pests and harbingers of death. Joan’s life collides with the ravens at many key times, Important characters and points in her life are associated with them.

This story creates an intricate tapestry of life at the time, the darkness, disease, treachery and unruliness. Historical characters are blended seamlessly with fictional ones, giving the story historical authenticity, and history an intimate drama of day to day life and iconic events.

A rich, vibrant story told from a brave woman’s point of view, who overcame her fears and obstacles of class and gender to lead a purposeful, rewarding life.

Affairs of state, family drama, the role of women and a touch of romance make this easy to read. This dramatic story lets you experience the beginning of the House of Tudors. and 15th Century English life.

Joanna Hickson

Joanna Hickson spent twenty-five years presenting and producing News and Arts programmes for the BBC. Her first published book was a children’s historical novel Rebellion at Orford Castle but more recently she has turned to adult fiction, concentrating on bringing fifteenth-century English history and some of its fascinating principal characters to life. She is married with a large family and gets inspiration from her Wiltshire farmhouse home, which dates back to her chosen period.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Poetry

I Can See The Lights Russ Litten 5* #Review @RussLitten @Wildpressed @LoveBooksTours @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #ProsePoetry #Urban #Emotion#Music #City #Life #Sea #ICanSeeTheLights

The prose poems in I Can See The Lights are earthy and raw, but also incredibly sensitive. It’s pretty much guaranteed that more than one of them will bring you to tears. Characters are vividly brought to life, and stark but warm environments evoked in a down to earth, yet almost painterly manner by Russ Litten’s uncompromising voice.

Tales of home, of un-belonging, of strife at sea – of a northern city’s beating heart. Told in a mesmeric, stripped-down tone, this collection is a work of genius.

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I received a copy of this book from WildPressed in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

Edgy, eloquent and emotional, the poetry in ‘I Can See The Lights, shows the darker side of life, the things people prefer to forget or turn away from. It showcases the human fear of being alone and vulnerable. The forgotten groups in society who are becoming too numerous to ignore.

It’s a collection of feelings and thoughts. Showcasing the world’s cruelty, the way we fool ourselves, the inherent human need to search for the light and something good to hold onto.

The writing is emotional, honest and poignant. It makes you think and saddens you. It’s not all darkness, as you read you can see the good, the happiness and the light, and it’s worth looking for.

This is a collection of poetry and stories you can read again, and see something different. When it ends you wonder what happens next, or what if.

If you enjoy poetry that reflects today’s world, this is for you.

Russ Litten

Russ Litten is the author of the novels Scream If You Want To Go FasterSwear DownKingdom and the short story collection We Know What We Are.

As one half of the electronic storytelling duo Cobby and Litten, he has released three spoken word/electronica albums My People Come From The SeaBoothferry and Pound Shop Communism.

He has written for TV, radio and film and has worked as a writer in residence at various prisons and youth offender units. I Can See The Lights is his first poetry collection.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

The Beach House P.R.Black 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @PatBlack9 #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #Holiday #Secrets #Lies #CrimeFiction #noir #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #MondayBlogs #MondayBlues

This vacation is about to turn deadly…

 Cora’s on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancé’s business.

When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.

But it doesn’t take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn…

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

My Thoughts…

From the blurb, the reader knows that this is not the idyllic holiday you’d expect, but nothing prepares you for the twists and turns that appear with increasing alacrity as the story progresses.

Cora and Jonathan are on a dream holiday, Cora seems unsure whether she wants to be there. Jonathan is full of surprises, and it seems that life is on track. Until, their exclusive holiday retreat becomes crowded, with another couple, and they can’t fail to see the resemblance to themselves.

The story has a strong technological theme, which adds depth and complexity to the plot.

Progressing, through Cora’s point of view, things start to spiral in an increasingly uncomfortable way. The characters are believable and complex. They are not what they appear to be on the surface.

Cora is an unreliable narrator, and as the story progresses, she presents a hidden side to her character. Flashbacks to incidents in her past illuminate and reinforce her present actions. The last part of the story is an adrenaline rush, and at times full of confusion.

Even at the end, I still wasn’t sure I’d understood everything, but that’s what you want from a psychological thriller.

An absorbing, addictive read.

Guest Post : Smiling assassins By Pat Black

The psychopathic, murderous villains in my new novel The Beach House drew inspiration from a lovely couple we met on holiday.

When I’m on holiday I tend to stick to my own pen. I wouldn’t say I was unfriendly, but I am guarded. I realise this doesn’t reflect well on me, but bitter experience has taught me to be wary.

I remember one couple I got to know on holiday years ago who passed out business cards and tried to flog their home renovation business at every opportunity. This was odd enough – before the boorish male in that pairing then made some utterly jaw-dropping comments about the looks of a woman as part of a third couple who joined the group. I was astounded at the cheek, and the fact the woman just smiled and laughed at these comments, instead of absolutely battering him. “People like that actually exist! In the real world!”

Another couple on an overnight boat trip didn’t realise I was joking when I was… making jokes. It’s not like any of the daft comments and dad-on-holiday patter were certificate X, either. It was a bit like explaining that, you know, it doesn’t really matter why the chicken wanted to cross the road, or what might have awaited it on the other side. Now imagine that sort of scrutiny after every utterance. “It’s your accent,” the woman explained later, as if that explained anything.

So, I’ve learned. I’m happy enough drinking cocktails in our own group of two, reading a stack of books on my tod, worrying about sharks while we go for a swim in a pair, and forming our own pub quiz team.

Then one night (a while ago now, mind you; pre-kids anyway), we were approached by this cracking couple from the South West. The shutters went up immediately, but then something strange happened: I lightened up, and we… Well. We made friends. They were loads of fun. They didn’t want anything from us. They got my jokes, and I got theirs. Importantly, they also knew not to crowd us – I looked forward to having a drink with them at night back at the hotel, and was genuinely sorry to see them go home, a couple of days before we did.

Hey – maybe for them, we were the weirdos?

It was a nice, human experience. So of course my imagination twisted this into something unpleasant for The Beach House.

I wondered what would happen if you had genuinely evil people try to befriend you on holiday – evil people with an evil purpose. And you couldn’t easily extricate yourself from the situation. When your own sense of manners and social skills over-ride your instincts, which might have to scream at you in order for you to protect yourself and your partner.

One of my favourite parts of any modern thriller is in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, when Mikael Blomkvist confronts the novel’s villain. He has a chance to get away, but he refuses, because of good manners. The villain reflects on this with some astonishment. “All I had to do was offer you a cup of coffee.”

All my baddies had to do was order my heroine a pina colada. And it could happen to you. Of course it could. They’re out there. They walk among us. They go on holiday. They sit beside you on a train. They seem nice. They know exactly what to say to people. They see a person or a situation, and their minds instantly move onto how they can strip it to the bone.

Have you seen my business card, incidentally? Maybe we could swap? Hey, networking is networking, after all. No sense in ignoring the business angle, hey? We’ve all got to eat. Fancy a cocktail? Maybe we could go to the pub quiz…

Author and journalist PR Black lives in Yorkshire, although he was born and brought up in Glasgow. When he’s not driving his wife and two children to distraction with all the typing, he enjoys hillwalking, fresh air and the natural world, and can often be found asking the way to the nearest pub in the Lake District. His short stories have been published in several books including the Daily Telegraph’s Ghost Stories and the Northern Crime One anthology. His Glasgow detective, Inspector Lomond, is appearing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. He took the runner-up spot in the 2014 Bloody Scotland crime-writing competition with “Ghostie Men”. His work has also been performed on stage in London by Liars’ League. He has also been shortlisted for the Red Cross International Prize, the William Hazlitt essay prize and the Bridport Prize.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Family Drama, Parenting and Famlies, Thriller

The Nursery Asia Mackay 5*#Review #Spy #Thriller #FamilyDrama #Parenting #Humour #BookReview @bonnierbooks_uk @ZaffreBooks @abmackster

Lex Tyler is trying to have it all.

But being a working mother is so much more difficult when you’re a secret agent for an underground branch of the security services.

Platform Eight have been tasked with tracking down and eliminating the traitor in MI6 who has been selling information to the highest bidder through a headhunting website for the criminal underworld that connects intelligence operatives with all manner of bad people with a simple right swipe. Deals get made. Secrets get sold. Missions fail, and agents die.

Lex’s own home life is not much easier. With a husband who rings her in the middle of a gunfight to complain she’s yet again forgotten to pick up his dry-cleaning, and a two-year-old daughter who has a newfound love of biting, surviving both the Terrible Twos and a traitor might just be too much for one exhausted mother to handle.

Amazon UK

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

My Review

More adventures, or misadventures of Lex and Platform eight. She’s tasked with finding a double agent in the secret services, and action and danger surround her.

Her home life is arguably more challenging. The mother of a two-year-old, she faces the terrible twos on a daily basis. Combining motherhood and being a spy leads to lots of drama and many humorous moments.

The plot is fast-paced and well written with twists, danger and delightful comic moments. The characters are vividly created but believable, and it’s easy to like Lex, the main protagonist.

Perfect escapism. A delightful mix of laughs and thrills, and parenting moments that are relatable for any parent.