Posted in Audiobook Review, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Suspense

Imperfect Women Araminta Hall 4*#Review @AramintaHall #Narrator Helen Keeley @orionbooks @HachetteAudioUK #ImperfectWomen #Psychological #Suspense #Family #drama #Women #Friendship #lies #secrets #Audiobook #Review

From the author of Our Kind of Cruelty comes an enthralling, irresistible novel of psychological suspense about three women and the destructive power of buried secrets.

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the listener must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?

Imperfect Women explores guilt and retribution, love and betrayal, and the compromises we make that alter our lives irrevocably.

Amazon UK Audible UK

I received a copy of this audiobook from Orion Publishing UK and Hachette Audio UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a story about three women who met at college and have kept in contact. Eleanor, Mary and Nancy are different personalities, but their bond is strong. When Nancy dies the guilt, lies and secrets emerge, as Eleanor and Mary try to find out who killed Nancy.

Told from the women’s viewpoints in differing timelines, it is introspective, and audio is the perfect media for this. The mystery of who killed Nancy is the underlying theme, but the emphasis is on the lies and secrets the women keep and how these affect them.

The narration is professional and brings the characters and stories to life. Initially, some of the voices irritate, but as the story progresses, you get used to them.

The story is dark and poignant, but the women are believable and relatable and easy to empathise. The slow pacing intensifies the emotion and suspense in this contemporary insight into relationships.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Family Drama, Noir

Hush Little Baby Jane Isaac 4*#Review @JaneIsaacAuthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #CrimeFiction #noircrime #BlogTour #Extract #BookReview #DCBethChamberlain

Someone stole a baby… 

One sunny day in July, someone took three-month-old Alicia Owen from her pram outside a supermarket. Her mother, Marie, was inside. No one saw who took Alicia. And no one could find her.

They silenced her cry… 

Fifteen years later, a teenager on a construction site sees a tiny hand in the ground. When the police investigate, they find a baby buried and preserved in concrete. Could it be Alicia?

But the truth will always out.

 

When Alicia disappeared, the papers accused Marie of detachment and neglect. The Owens never got over the grief of their child’s disappearance and divorced not long after. By reopening the case, DC Beth Chamberlain must reopen old wounds. But the killer may be closer than anyone ever suspected…

The latest crime thriller featuring Family Liaison Officer DC Beth Chamberlain, Hush Little Baby is tightly plotted, fraught with tension and impossible to put down.

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

My Thoughts…

This story is emotional and poignant because it involves the death of a baby. The author captures the familial guilt and heartbreak in this story as Beth Chamberlain investigates the cold case. The third in the series, there are mentions of previous crimes and so reading the first two books is advised.

Beth Chamberlain is a believable character. Caring and dedicated, she gives the story authenticity. The dynamic in the police team is well-written and the depth, and pacing of the investigation realistically portrayed.

The compelling plot and engaging, though not always likeable characters immerse the reader into this dark world.

Extract from Hush Little Baby Jane Isaac

The detective chief inspector tapped the screen. ‘In the description given at the time, Alicia’s mother said the child was wearing a towelling vest and a nappy. The contents of her changing bag, also taken with her, included a cream shawl, similar to the one this child was wrapped in. The burial site, if we can call it that, is less than two miles from the Owens’ home at the time, and not far from where Alicia went missing.’

‘Could it have been as long as fifteen years?’ Nick asked.

‘They can’t be completely sure before they run tests, but potentially, yes.’

‘So, we think it is her?’

‘From what we’ve uncovered so far, it seems likely. Pete’s been out to see the farmer who owns the land.’

DC Pete Winston approached the front of the room. He was a tall man, with short dark hair and soft brown eyes. The buttons on his shirt gaped slightly over an overhanging paunch. ‘The land was owned by the Moreton family before it was sold for development,’ he said. ‘Old man Moreton must be in his seventies now. He ran the farm with his only son, it had been in their family over a hundred years. He claims he had no idea how the body came to be on his land.’ Pete lifted a hand and circled an area on the map, indicating the location of the farm and the land attached to it. A purple-headed pin close to the edge marked the area where the remains were found.

‘Moreton was quite clear that this particular field—’ Pete tapped the crime scene twice ‘—has been used solely for crops for the last thirty years. It’s several acres away from the farmhouse and not overlooked. There are no bridle ways or walkways that run through, or close by, and it was edged with high hawthorn hedging along the roadside, until recently when the developers cut it back.’

‘How did they access the field?’ Nick asked.

‘Through a locked gate at the bottom of the road.’

‘So, he’s saying nobody else had access apart from farm workers?’

‘Not legitimately. He did admit there were a few breaks in the hedging back in the day, caused by badgers and other animals, where someone may have climbed through.’

Nick’s face crumpled. ‘Surely the farmer or a labourer working the land would have noticed something freshly buried, or that the soil was disturbed.’

‘Yeah, I mentioned that. Moreton wasn’t convinced.’ Pete glanced down and sifted through his notebook until he found what he was looking for. ‘This was one field in a farm of over 700 acres. They combine crop and cattle. The work is constant. They harvest, cultivate and sow the crops. Often fields aren’t touched for months in between. If the block was buried at the right time, the soil could have had plenty of weeks or months to settle afterwards.’

Beth narrowed her eyes. Once again, it indicated a level of knowledge and planning. To know when the seeds would be sown. Although it would have been cumbersome to transport a concrete lump that size into the field. The killer would have had to dig quite a hole to conceal it. ‘How far does their machinery penetrate the soil?’ she asked.

Pete shot Beth a knowing smile. ‘Down to a maximum of thirty centimetres.’

Which meant if the block was buried deeper than thirty centimetres it could have sat there for years, undisturbed. Beth gave an appreciative nod. ‘What about the builder working the digger this morning?’ she asked. ‘How come they didn’t notice they’d hit the concrete block? Especially if they were working through soil.’

‘They’d been breaking up the foundations of a dilapidated barn nearby. Some of the remains were mixed in with the soil in that part of the field. They probably didn’t give it a second thought.’ Pete snapped his notebook shut. ‘The farmer’s putting together a list of labourers he’s used. They’d know the area, be aware it was remote.’

Freeman thanked Pete and sunk his hands deep in his pockets. ‘As I said, if this is Alicia, the quickest way to confirm identity would be through a DNA check against her parents. Depending on how busy the labs are, we’d hopefully know within two to three days.’

‘I’ve already taken a sample from the mother,’ Beth said. ‘It was couriered to the lab this afternoon.’

Jane Isaac

Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire UK with their daughter, and dog, Bollo. Jane loves to hear from readers and writers.

Sign up to her book club at http://eepurl.com/1a2uT for book recommendations and details of new releases, events and giveaways.

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

A French Affair Jennifer Bohnet 4*#Review @jenniewrites @BoldwoodBooks #France #Brittany #Romance #Friendship #Life #Family #BookReview #BlogTour @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #AFrenchAffair #Extract #PublicationDay

What will be will be…

Belinda Marshall’s idyllic teenage life in Brittany, France, fell apart when her parents dramatically separated and her mother took her back
to England.
Fast forward thirty-five years when Belinda’s world is once again turned upside down.
It’s the week before Christmas and Belinda’s employer ‘surprises’ her by asking for her help to rejuvenate their latest investment, a run-down campsite in Brittany.
Memories and anxieties that had lain dormant for years suddenly begin to resurface.
As secrets from a lost life threaten to overwhelm her, there is a realisation that maybe she wasn’t told the whole truth by her mother all those years ago.


Can Belinda reconcile her emotions and find happiness once more in the place she so loved and called home?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Belinda has a career she enjoys and excels at but renovating a camping park in Brittany for her employers is not what she wants. Brittany has painful family memories for Belinda, and now she has to confront them. The campsite is a disaster and the antagonistic manager Alain, ramps up the conflict.

The French setting is well-described and lets the reader experience life in Brittany. Friendships, gentle romance and family dramas are all carefully woven into this plot. It’s easy to get lost in this story, and the characters and their lives resonate.

This is a lovely read for a Summer afternoon full of friendship, love and poignancy.

Extract from A French Affair – Jennifer Bohnet

CHAPTER ONE

It was late afternoon on the last Friday before Christmas and Belinda Marshall, roving manager and chief troubleshooter for the Milton chain of Devonshire-based hotels had just been given some bombshell news from Nigel and Molly Milton, her employers. She’d been wondering why she’d been called into the inner sanctum so late in the day. Now she knew.

‘You’ve bought a new business in France? We’re finally expanding into Europe? That’s great news. I know you had a couple of holidays in France this year, but I thought they were just that – holidays for you both. You didn’t mention you were even looking at places,’ Belinda said, leaning against the filing cabinet as she accepted the champagne Nigel had insisted on pouring. ‘Cheers.’

‘It came up unexpectedly,’ Molly said. ‘In truth it’s all been a bit impulsive.’

‘Anyway, we both know the place and we’re thrilled with it,’ Nigel interrupted. ‘Molly can’t wait to spend time there when it’s all been rejuvenated. Bit run-down at the moment. Which is where you come in, of course.’

Belinda sipped her champagne before saying, ‘So come on, you two, put me out of my misery. Where is our new hotel? Which particular part of France? Biarritz? St-Tropez? Paris?’

Nigel laughed. ‘I know we run a successful company, Belinda, but prices for places like that are way out of our league. No, Camping dans La Fôret is in—’

‘Hang on – did you just say, Camping dans La Fôret?’ Alarm bells began to ring in Belinda’s head. ‘That’s a funny name for a hotel.’

‘It’s not a hotel. It’s a boutique campsite in Brittany, Northern France. Finistère, to be precise. Huge potential, but we’re going to need your expertise to drag it into the twenty-first century. Bring it up to standard so that more people can enjoy the Milton Hotel experience,’ Molly said.

Belinda looked from Nigel to Molly and back at Nigel again, stunned. ‘But we’re in the hotel business not camping, not even glamping.’ It had taken her three years of studying and hard work to be awarded her 2.1 in Hotel Hospitality Management. Not once had running a campsite, even a boutique one, ever crossed her path. Let alone one in Brittany.

‘Camping has just become our business,’ Nigel said. ‘It’s all the hospitality business. All about people. Making sure guests enjoy the experience of staying in a Milton hotel – and now a campsite. No difference really.’

‘But Finistère – isn’t it always raining there? Who in their right mind would want to camp in the damp? Morbihan maybe, but not Finistère. Not surprised it’s run-down.’

‘Don’t exaggerate. It’s an urban myth it’s always raining there,’ Nigel said. ‘And with global warming and the movement of the jet stream, the weather is improving there every year. It could soon be The Breton Riviera!’

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

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Posted in Book Review

The Warrior’s Princess Prize Carol Townend 4*#Review #Princesses of the Alhambra @CarolTownend @MillsandBoon #Romance #HistoricalRomance #MillsandBoonHistorical #Medieval #TheWarriorsPrincessPrize #MillsandBoonInsiders #BookReview

He’s competing for her hand

And her freedom…

Held captive by her tyrannical Sultan father, Princess Zorahaida lives an isolated life. A tournament is held and Jasim ibn Ismail, a handsome knight in arms, claims his prize: Zorahaida’s hand in marriage! Political reasons must be driving his offer – he’s certainly not offering love. Should Zorahaida grasp the tantalising taste of freedom marrying the impulsive knight would gift her…?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Set in medieval Europe this the third book in the Princesses of Alhambra series but reads well as a standalone. Princess Zorahaida is a virtual prisoner in her father’s castle in Medieval Spain.

Jasim is a knight whose family has a history with the Sultan. He enters a tournament to bring him into the Sultan’s orbit and wins, but not the prize he expects.

This is an atmospheric story with vibrant historical characters and detail. There is an undercurrent of danger in this story, and poignancy about Zorahaida’s abuse by her father.

The romance between Jasim and Zorahaida is passionate, but the emotion takes a while to develop, as both have political agendas and trust issues.

An engaging historical romance.