Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance, Victorian Romance

A Royal Kiss and Tell Julia London 4*# Review @JuliaFLondon @MillsandBoon #ARoyalWedding #HistoricalRomance #MillsandBoonHistorical #MillsandBoonInsiders #ARoyalKissandTell #BookReview #FridayReads

Every prince has his secrets. And she’s determined to unravel his…

Every dashing young man in London’s ton is vying for Lady Caroline Hawke’s hand – except one.The handsome, delectable, rogue, Prince Leopold of Alucia can’t quite remember who Caroline is and the insult is not to be tolerated. So Caroline does what any clever, resourceful lady of means would do to make sure a prince remembers her: sees that amusingly risqué morsels about Leo’s reputation are printed in a ladies’ gossip gazette…all the while secretly setting her cap for the rakish royal.

Someone has been painting Leo as a blackguard, but who? Socially, it could ruin him. More important, it jeopardises his investigation into a contemptible scheme that reaches the highest levels of government in London. Now Leo needs Lady Caroline’s help to regain access to society. But this charming prince is about to discover that enlisting the deceptively sweet and sexy Lady Caroline might just cost him his heart, his soul and both their reputations…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This book gives an astute insight into Victorian royalty and society, but there is also a fairytale quality about it. Caroline is not a typical romantic protagonist, but she has redeeming qualities that emerge as the story progresses. Prince Leopold’s outrageous behaviour hides his innate sense of justice. However, it draws Caroline to him, which is both a blessing and a curse.

The banter between the couple is witty and keeps the story’s momentum. The story is a balance of historical issues and fairytale romance. The love scenes are passionate and the ending in keeping with the story’s ethos.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Travel

The Summer Villa Melissa Hill 4*#Review @melissahillbks @MillsandBoon @HQStories #Italy #Travel #Friendship #Reunion #Summer #Food #Secrets #Book Review #MillsandBoonInsiders

Three women. One summer reunion. Secrets will be revealed…

Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amidst dappled lemon groves and the fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.

Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.

But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting… Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

An epic summer read about food, friendship and the magic of Italy.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The bright sunny cover reflects the perfect summer escapism this novel provides. A story of angst friendship and secrets plays out over two-time frames. Despite their different background and lives, a lifelong friendship is formed at the Villa Dolce Vita in Italy between three women.

The Italian location is vibrant and the perfect contrast to the deceit and secrets. Complex, flawed protagonists draw the reader into their stories. The plot has surprises, and it’s pace intensifies, as it reveals its secrets.

An escapist summer read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Mystery, Suspense

Buried Secrets by Krissy Baccaro 4*#Review @BaccaroKrissy @lovebooksgroup #Mystery #FamilyDrama #Love #Lies #Secrets #Italy #LoveBooksTours #FridayReads #BuriedSecrets

Some things should stay hidden

Families have secrets. Some secrets are locked, sealed and taken to the grave. Others beg to be told. They ooze through cracks a little at a time. You tease them out until an ugly truth is fully exposed.

Ella Perri knows there’s something hidden in the family cottage. In his last breath, Ella’s grandfather reveals to her a startling secret that hints at something sinister. On behalf of her beloved grandfather, she embarks on a dangerous quest for truth. A World War II diary and the 21st century collide as Ella desperately chases every clue in a faraway and unfamiliar setting where the real story begins. Who can be trusted and who has something to hide? One secret leads to another. Ella must decide: share the secrets and alter the fates of her loved ones forever or become part of the lie that’s been buried deep for decades.

Buried Secrets is a suspenseful mystery with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the shocking ending.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The atmospheric and emotional beginning sets the scene for a dramatic family mystery. Despite family disapproval, Ella sets out to solve a historic secret and honour her Poppy’s dying wish.

The cast of characters is believable and vividly portrayed. The plot is suspenseful with many twists and a surprising and poignant ending. The Italian setting is dramatic and mirrors the story’s emotions.

The ending gives romantic hope for the future and leaves mysteries to be solved.

Krissy Baccaro is an author of mystery and suspense. She recently published her short story, LUCA, on Amazon. Krissy collaborated with authors from several countries to bring forth fantastic tales. Together they published Once Upon a Story: A Short Fiction Anthology. This book includes two of her short story mysteries, “Luca” and “Monster.” “Monster” will soon be available for separate purchase on Amazon. The author is a proud member of several online writing groups, and most active in Active Alumni Writers. The Alumni helps authors critique and support one another’s writing projects to polish stories into bestsellers. For 25 years, Krissy taught Kindergarten through fifth grade. Currently, she teaches writing and reading to 5th-grade students and works on her mysterious sequel to Buried Secrets. The author resides in upstate New York not far from Skaneateles, where the puzzle of Buried Secrets begins.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Canal Pushers /River Rats Andy Griffee 4*#Review @AndyGriffee @OrphansPublish #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Canals #WestMidlands #Bath #MurderMystery #JohnsonandWilde #RandomThingsTours @annecater @RandomTTours

Jack Johnson, ex-journalist, newly divorced and feeling unmoored, has bought a 64-foot narrowboat with absolutely no idea how to captain it. So when an attractive stranger takes pity on his dismal attempts and comes aboard to assist him manoeuvre, Jack is only too happy to make her welcome. But it’s soon apparent that Nina is keeping her own secrets and when they stumble into a murder investigation the past begins to intrude. What’s Nina afraid of? And who is stalking the towpaths?

Amazon UK

Jack Johnson has a talent for trouble – wherever he goes on his narrowboat, it seems to follow him. Moored up on the River Avon in the beautiful Georgian surroundings of Bath, he’s working at the local paper when a prominent magistrate and heritage campaigner is attacked and drowned. Could it be a serial killer copying the Canal Pusher? Or a biker gang who swore revenge on the magistrate? Against his wishes, Jack is pulled into the investigation by his ambitious editor who wants the scoop. Jack and his friend, Nina Wilde, have also been drawn into another struggle. The moorings of a small settled boating community sit alongside a huge former industrial site that property developers want to fill with luxury housing. Nearby residents are enlisted to petition against the boat people, and as the campaign spirals out of control, lives are threatened. Who is helping their enemies? Another gripping tale of corruption and intrigue from the riverbank, full of dark waters and deadly secrets.

Amazon UK

I received copies of these books from the author in return for honest reviews.

My Thoughts…

Canal Pushers

A new crime series is exciting, especially when it’s full of rich characterisation and originality. Jack Johnson is newly divorced and still reeling from the emotional and financial implications. Living on a narrowboat is not his first choice, but at least it’s cheap and will give him a place to live and work.

A freelance journalist he has a keen eye for crime, which comes in useful in this series. A complete novice at boating his serendipitous meeting with Nina leads to an unusual but mutually beneficial friendship. Nina has secrets which reveal themselves as the story progresses.

There is a sinister point of view that adds a noir element and draws the intrepid couple into a dangerous investigation. Jack and Nina are complex, relatable protagonists.

The suspenseful plot is well written. The setting is authentic and full of vivid imagery, in stark contrast to the dark crimes committed.

River Rats

River Rats fulfils the potential suggested in Canal Pushers. Jack has moved down to Bath and is working at the local newspaper for an ambitious editor with dubious scruples. A suspicious death draws Jack and Nina into another dark investigation. Unscrupulous developers threaten a community of boaters and Jack and Nina search for the truth.

The characters continue to develop realistically in a multilayered plot. The setting is easy to visualise and gives the story its uniqueness.

Andy Griffee is a former BBC
journalist and media consultant
with a fascination for stories. He
began his journalism career at the
Bath Evening Chronicle, and then
spent twenty-five years at the BBC,
culminating in his role as Editorial
Director of the redevelopment of
Broadcasting House. Andy lives
in Worcestershire and, when he
isn’t writing, rears rare breed pigs,
struggles to keep a 1964 Triumph
Spitfire on the road and enjoys
hiring narrowboats with his wife Helen.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Guest post, New Adult Romance, Romance

Seven and a Half Minutes Roxana Valea #GuestPost #Polo #London #Dating #Love #SevenandaHalfMinutes #BlogTour #ThePoloDiaries @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third instalment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events. 

Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love? 

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Guest Post

Roxana Valea -Find your passions or they’ll find you!

When I was ten, I had a dream. I wanted to ride horses. I didn’t own a horse and didn’t know anyone who did. I had no idea where this wish came from but it was there, coming to visit my dreams at night. I dreamed of riding horses.

My parents were not very open to the idea and it took a couple of years of convincing before they eventually took me to a club where I could learn how to ride. I met Samurai there, the first horse I ever rode. He was a black gelding, old and slow. Perfect for children, my trainer told my parents.

Samurai and I spend that summer together. I came to ride three times a week and felt my heart bubbling with excitement every time I met him. I saved apples and carrots for him but he couldn’t care less. For him, I was just another twelve-year-old learning to ride.  I took a fall or two and made sure I concealed all evidence from my parents. I didn’t want to endanger my newly found passion and I was afraid if my parents found out about my falls, they would put a stop to all this.

But, in the end, it was I who put a stop. Winter came and we didn’t ride in the winter and by the following spring I had to focus on my exams and I somehow forgot about Samurai and the riding club. He came into my mind a few times but every time I was pushing the thought further and further away and other things became more important. A new school, dresses, music. Friends. Going to university. More friends. More dresses. Holidays. And later, work. Career. Money. No time. Very little time, actually. No time for this type of things, anyway.

How often do we treat our passions that way? They come to us in childhood and draw us in with inexplicable force. They make us feel alive, whole, excited. We try them on and love every minute of the experience. But then, other things get in the way and we learn to live life as defined by others. We go on following a path that has been prescribed for us, leaving behind the passion we had found and sometimes a piece of our own soul with it.

But passions discovered in childhood don’t go away. They wait patiently in the dark corners of our mind, the places we have pushed them into. They wait and germinate and every now and then send a signal from down there. “Are you ready?” they ask. “Are you ready to come back to me?”

If we’re not, they don’t get angry. They keep on waiting. They’re patient, these passions. They know something we haven’t learned yet: they know they are part of our soul and there’s no way we can cut them out for good.

And year after year we keep them locked down there. Until one day. Because there’s always one day when things change. One day when we come face to face with this long-forgotten passion.

For me it happened in an office, in my mid-thirties, while I was working for a large multinational company. I had a meeting with a colleague to discuss the upcoming launch of a new technology. She worked in the legal department. I was a project manager. I headed over to that meeting carrying my laptop in one hand and the printed launch schedule in the other. My mind was busy recapping all the points we needed to cover during the meeting. The launch was near and I wasn’t going to let anything get in its way.

But something did. As I entered the meeting room she wasn’t there. I waited for a few minutes, feeling irritation bubbling up. I didn’t have any time to waste. And then, just as I wanted to leave, she came in walking slowly.

“Sorry for being late.” she said. “I can’t walk properly. I’ve got muscle pain. I had a riding lesson yesterday.”

And so, with no notice, no time to prepare and no possibility of denial, my old passion walked slowly back into my life. And the following week I went riding with my colleague.

And if you want to know more about what happens when you reconnect to an old childhood passion, read The Polo Diaries Series!

Roxana Valea

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.


Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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