In a Bridgerton-style Regency world, three people are caught in a web of passion and deceit.
Fontainebleau in 1825 is a glittering international court, rich with intrigue, passion and simmering violence. Lieutenant Colonel Kit Helford must navigate these treacherous waters to deliver the beautiful, self-destructive Princess Royal to her prospective husband. Kit’s childhood friend, Clemency Arwenack, is tasked with safeguarding her royal mistress’s reputation as the princess awaits a marriage she is dreading.
But both have secrets they will hide at all costs. Kit is on the run—from a man shot and left for dead back in London and a lifetime of scandal that includes a liaison with the princess herself. He will do anything to salvage his family’s reputation. Clemency, meanwhile, conducts a perilous trade in lies and blackmail as she seeks to destroy the princess, not protect her.
With the princess’s life under threat, Kit and Clemency are pitted against each other, even as a dangerous attraction grows between them. The past hunts them both, remorselessly, relentlessly, and neither can escape it for long.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.
The third book in the Hester and Crow series set in an alternative Regency world. Written with vivid imagery, astute political insight, and scandalous romance, this book is an addictive delight for historical romance fans.
The characters are pure, romantic Regency, the female protagonist, is independent, intelligent and intriguing. Kit, the male protagonist, is scandalous, sexy and searching, for his happiness in a climate of betrayal and political intrigue.
There’s engaging romance, fascinating political manoeuvring and vibrant characters that befit the glamour of the Regency period.
From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: what would you risk for a shot at happiness?
1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.
2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.
Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?
I received a copy of this book from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Bessie wanted to be an air hostess, she wanted to experience love, and all life, had to offer, but on her sixteenth birthday, her dreams started to crumble. This is an emotional and poignant coming of age story. It reflects on how your younger life can shape your future. The ethos of growing up in the 1980s, a time of change, is evocatively written. Bessie’s choices less, and her naivety greater, than for young women, in the twenty-first century.
Bessie, at fifty-three, is at a crossroads in her life. Her children are happy with their lives and independent of her. Her marriage is more a habit than a partnership, and her dreams, remain unfulfilled. This is a journey of self-realisation for Bessie. She has to reveal her darkest secret and forgive her younger self.
This story is immersive and memorable, with experiences many can relate to.
Amanda Prowse is an International Bestselling author whose twenty seven novels and seven novellas have been published in dozens of languages around the world. Published by Lake Union, Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today; her titles also consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres. Her books, including the chart topping No.1 titles ‘What Have I Done?’, ‘Perfect Daughter’, ‘My Husband’s Wife’, ‘The Girl in the Corner’, ‘The Things I Know’ and ‘The Day She Came Back’ have sold millions of copies across the globe.
A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is a regular panellist on Channel 5’s ‘The Jeremy Vine Show’ and numerous daytime ITV programmes. She also makes countless guest appearances on BBC national independent Radio stations including LBC and Talk FM, where she is well known for her insightful observations and her infectious humour. Described by the Daily Mail as ‘The queen of family drama’ Amanda’s novel, ‘A Mother’s Story’ won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the year Award while ‘Perfect Daughter’ was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016.
Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric and lyrical story of love, loss and familial relationships. Written in dual timelines, 2019 and the early twentieth century during WW1 and its tragic aftermath. The Cornish setting is wonderfully described and gives the story its mystical and timeless qualities.
The characters are diverse and relatable, and the different relationships are full of emotion. The plot is layered and beautifully woven together to allow the reader some precious moments of escapism.
Guest Post: Top Five…Cornish Restaurants – Liz Fenwick
I love food. Some days I wish I didn’t but I do. I’m lucky that Cornwall produces some of the best and that local restaurants have so much fabulous produce to work with which makes choosing my top five restaurants hard so I’ve called in the family for their input.
New Yard Restaurant (and New Yard Pantry) at Trelowarren – they’ve just received a green Michelin star and they have earned it. The restaurant adapted through the pandemic and now operates in a slightly different way. It is a set menu which different every night and it is an adventure. I have been delightfully surprised at the combinations and new foods I’ve been introduced to. When booking make sure they know of any food allergies so they can adapt your meal. And the attached New Yard Pantry produces great small plates plus pizzas for lunch, and their cakes….
Porthminster Beach Café…for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Great food and superb setting. My mouth is watering thinking about the salt and pepper squid…
Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant in Padstow…I’ve been lucky enough to eat there twice. Superb.
The Square in Porthleven…again local foods brilliantly served.
The Mussel Shoal in Porthleven (note: on the quay side in the open and a very small kitchen so there can be no rush. Food is only served from 12:30 to 18:30)
Liz Fenwick – I was born in Massachusetts and after nine international moves – the final one lasting eight years in Dubai- I now live in Cornwall and London with my husband and a cat. I made my first trip to Cornwall in 1989, bought my home there seven years later. My heart is forever in Cornwall, creating new stories.
Joining the family business was never going to be easy…
Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.
With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story took me a little longer to get into than the previous books about Westenbury, but it’s emotional, insightful and wonderfully romantic. When I finished, it was one of my favourite books in the series.
Frankie returns to the family business after two years away. Her motivations for leaving are understandable and easy to empathise with. Pam sees Frankie as her second daughter. Pam’s story takes place in the 1970s. The seventies are well-described, especially the differences in attitudes and prejudices in comparison with the present day.
The characters are relatable, and the pacing keeps the reader engaged. This is a family centred story with pertinent social history and two believable and satisfying love stories.
Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. She now teaches just two days a week, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past nineteen years, and, when not distracted by Ebay, Twitter and Ancestry, spends much of her time writing. Julie is married, has a twenty-four-year-old son and twenty-one-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book – preferably with Matthew Mcconaughay in attendance.
Guest Post: The inspiration behind the Family Affair – Julie Houston
It was the evening before the very first lockdown back in March last year and I was getting desperate. I’d stared at a blank screen for several days but nothing was forthcoming. I knew I had a good eight months to write this novel – my ninth for Aria Head of Zeus – but to be absolutely honest I really didn’t have a clue what direction this new story would take. And then, a seed, a little germ of hope and inspiration was planted: why wasn’t I using my own Italian heritage as a basis for the story? I knew then that I was going to write Frankie Piccione’s story. My own grandmother was born Madeleine Scaramuzza and was the daughter of Antonio who’d left Naples to find work in the woollen mills here in Yorkshire. In my home town there are many Italian and Sicilian families and those I’m friendly with are wonderfully warm and extremely sociable as well as great cooks and hosts! I immediately headed down to my Sicilian friends, Joe and Luanda and, armed with notebook and pen, almost drafted the first plan there and then. They told me of wonderful Sicilian food, but especially the crema limon (lemon curd) that Frankie would eventually take on in the quest for manufacturing the best preserve at her Nonno Angelo’s factory. They gave me insights into Italian families and sayings, including the lyrical “bedda mia” – my beautiful one – that Joe’s mum uses all the time when greeting her family.
I’ve loved writing this story. I wanted to embrace the idea of economic migrants coming from different parts of the world – India and Italy – and how they worked hard to establish themselves in the north of England: Frankie’s grandfather, Nonno Angelo, with his pickles and preserves company and Daler’s Indian grandfather with his sandal factory. Both had to overcome prejudice, but fought against the odds to do exceptionally well in their chosen industries. I wanted to show how Pam, introducing a bit of seventies nostalgia, found herself part of the Piccione family at the age of just sixteen, and the prejudices she also had to fight against from her stand as a woman in a company dominated by men at the top.
But mainly, I just loved writing two parallel love stories – Frankie’s and Pam’s – one starting in the seventies and one just two years earlier, but both coming together and bang up to date by the end of the book. I fell a little bit in love with both Rob and Daler. I hope the reader will too!
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely story about a much loved teddy bear. It teaches children that it’s okay to keep old things if they hold special memories. It also shows how with a little care old things can be made as new. These are valuable lessons for young children delivered in an engaging story format with colourful and relatable illustrations. It will make most parents and grandparents a little sentimental about their childhood toys too.
Sue Wicksteadis a teacher and an author and writes children’s picture books with a bus theme. She has also written a photographic history book about the real bus, which is where her story writing began.
Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. The ‘Bewbush Playbus’ book was published in 2012.
Sue then began to write a fictional tale about the bus. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name and has now been followed by more picture books (ten to date) which all indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.
Gloria is the most recent bus book and is based on the summer play-schemes which operated during the school holidays providing a safe place to play and to meet other children. (published 2020)
‘Barty Barton; the bear that was loved too much’ was also published in 2020. Barty was written for both her son and grandson.
Some of Sue’s books have been entered and shortlisted in ‘The Wishing Shelf Book Awards’, her book ‘A Spooky Tale’ was a silver medal winner in 2019. It is a story written with her class in school and is aimed at the younger reader.
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