I received a copy of this book from Tinder Press in return for an honest review.
Reading the blurb for this story evoked a whole series of images in my mind, which compelled me to read the book. The reader is introduced into Pru’s life when she buys the black dress, and then the reasons for her purchase are revealed intimately and insightfully from the main protagonist.
The writing style is full of sensory imagery, which makes it an easy read. Pru is a conflicted but fascinating character. She appears transparent in her revelations but is really an unreliable narrator. What comes across strongly in this story is her loneliness and how it defines her. Whilst she enjoys a series of adventures, many of which end badly, her need for companionship and identity motivates her.
Sophisticated humour and wit make this an engaging read, but it’s the underlying sadness that resonates.
When American heiress Violet Wilkins crosses paths with William, Duke of Charteris, she has extremely low expectations of the “Duke of Bore.” But when this seemingly stuffy aristocrat offers her escape from a dreadful arranged marriage, she leaps at the chance! To her surprise, the arresting Charles whisks Vi into an exhilarating make-believe romance. And as she gets to know the man behind the title, she can’t help wanting more…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Violet’s story is the second in the Dollar Duchess series but readable as a standalone. With a vibrant setting and vivid characters, this gentle Victorian romance is an engaging read. Violet is an unlikely Duchess as her sister Lily and isn’t even sure she wants to marry. However, her plans for independence are ruined by her parents’ plan to make her part of a business agreement. She turns to the man who is fast becoming a friend for help and then has to reconsider if being a Duchess wouldn’t be so bad after all.
The’Duke of Bore’ is determined to shed his stuffy image. Unconventional Violet is the woman to help him, just for fun, of course. When a fake engagement answers both their needs, he is forced to reconsider.
The main protagonists are both likeable, and the romance that develops between them is gentle and endearing. The historical setting is glamorous and gives the reader a good sense of time and place.
Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)
She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion. She lives in Santa Fe with a Poodle, a cat, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections.
When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook.
IF HE WANTS YOU . . . THERE’S NO ESCAPE. A brutal murder . . . Responding to a tip-off, newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Paolo Sterling arrives at an apartment block to find the dismembered body of a young woman. And with no indication of a break-in, all signs suggest the killer was known to her.
An abduction in plain sight . . . Then the victim’s friend is snatched with no witnesses and the unanswered questions mount up.
At the same time, Sterling’s team are leading the surveillance of a local club, thought to be involved in a drug operation. But when one of his colleagues ends up in hospital close to death, Paolo begins to lose his grip.
A detective on the edge . . . With the odds stacked against him, and time running out, can DCI Sterling uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will this case finally tip him over the edge?
I received a copy of this book from the author and Headline Accent via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is my first read from the Detective Inspector Sterling series. Despite this being book five, I quickly connected with the detective and his team. Sterling is newly promoted to DCI. He is grieving the death of a colleague, and friend which affects his rapport with one team member. Overall the investigative team has a good dynamic, but they are overstretched with high profile cases that may have a connection.
The investigation is easy to follow several twists keep the reader guessing. The reader also has insight into the antagonist’s viewpoint, which is chilling and suspenseful. There is a good balance of personal and professional insights into Sterling’s life which makes him believable.
The story flows well, and the ending ties up all the leads nicely. It poses a question to be answered in the next book in the series.
Born and raised in South East London, Lorraine lived and worked in South Africa, on the Island of Gozo and in France before settling on the Costa del Sol in Spain. She lives with her partner in a traditional Spanish village inland from the coast and enjoys sampling the regional dishes and ever-changing tapas in the local bars. Her knowledge of Spanish is expanding. To stop her waistline from doing the same, she runs five times a week.
Author of the D.I. Sterling series of novels, Lorraine has been engaged in many writing-related activities. A columnist for Writing Magazine, she has recently stepped down from writing two columns for Writers’ Forum and also her role as head judge of the magazine’s monthly fiction competitions in order to concentrate on her own writing. She is currently writing two standalone psychological thrillers for Headline Accent.
She also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service.
When Ruby Watkiss lands a job at the True Loaf Bakery, she feels as if the sun has finally come out. Having been through a traumatic time that wrecked her confidence levels, it’s a joy to be working for Ellie, and now all Ruby wants is to lead a quiet life and support her mum in getting the help she needs.
But life, it seems, has other plans for Ruby.
Working alongside the bafflingly rude Hudson Holmes would be bad enough – but then odd things start happening. It seems that someone is out to sabotage the café and bakery, and to her horror, Ruby finds the finger pointing at her.
Desperate to prove her innocence, she teams up with the most unlikely person in order to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Tailing suspects and hiding in bushes isn’t something she ever imagined she’d be doing, although her partner in mystery-solving seems the perfect man for the job. Can they clear Ruby’s name by discovering the real culprit?
With all the drama afoot, at least there’s no time for romance. Because that’s the very last thing on Ruby’s mind these days. Or is it…?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Such a lovely way to spend a sunny afternoon reading the most recent book in the Litte Duck Pond Cafe series. This one focuses on Hudson, an interior designer and Ruby, who has just secured a job with Ellie’s new bakery. This book still features the regulars and is a delightful romantic comedy, but as the title suggests, it’s full of surprises, not all of them sweet.
Ruby has family worries and is an easy target for manipulation with disastrous results. She is a well-crafted character, with many good qualities but realistic flaws too. Hudson has his secrets which mask his true personality, and they are not the only ones with something to hide.
There is a strong mystery to solve in this story, and Hudson and Ruby are the reluctant investigative team. This leads to danger, humorous discoveries and an unexpected romantic relationship. The story flows well, and the reader is soon immersed in the world of the Little Duck Pond Cafe, a perfect summer escape.
Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.
Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.
Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.
Rosie’s Little Duck Pond Cafe series of novellas is centered around life in a village cafe. Each book can be read as a stand-alone story.The latest is A Summer of Surprises.
Look out for more Little Duck Pond Café tales in 2021!
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The reader is instantly drawn to Liv, the main protagonist in this heartwarming story of love, life and second chances. Returning to her hometown, Liv finds the sense of community and completeness she’s missed. Family secrets, friendship rekindled, and romance are woven into the plot making it an engaging read. It’s about finding what makes you happy and being brave enough to follow your dreams.
The setting is intrinsic to the story. It’s described with powerful sensory imagery that draws the reader into the world. If you enjoy heartbreak, happiness and soul searching, this story delivers them all beautifully.
Extract from Life’s What You Make It – Sian O’Gorman
I really should buy my ex-boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend a drink or a posh box of chocolates to say thank you for getting back together, even if it was just for one night. And I should say an even bigger thank you to her for telling me about it. Because if Jeremy and Cassandra hadn’t met up at one of his friend’s weddings, there is the very real possibility that he and I might have carried on and then everything that did happen wouldn’t have happened and my life would have remained exactly as it was.
I was an Irish girl transplanted to London for a decade, swapping the seaside and village of Sandycove – with its little shops and the beach, the people, the way the clouds skidded in for a storm, the rainbows that blossomed afterwards – for the bright lights, the traffic and the incessant noise of London. My visits home had become sporadic to the point of paltry. There was never enough time for a long trip and so my visits were only ever two nights long. Even last Christmas I’d flown in on Christmas Eve and was gone the 27th. I’d barely seen Mum or my best friend Bronagh and when Mum drove me to the airport and hugged me goodbye, I had the feeling that we were losing each other, as though we were becoming strangers.
London had become a slog, working twelve-hour days for my toxic boss, Maribelle, who drank vodka from her water bottle and didn’t believe in bank holidays. Or weekends. Or going home for the evening. Or eating. Or, frankly, anything that made life worth living. If it wasn’t for my flatmate, Roberto, my London life would have been utterly miserable. Looking back now, I think the reason why I kept going out with Jeremy for six months, even though we were entirely unsuited, was because at least it was something. And if I’ve learned anything about life over the last year, it’s that you should do something, but never the least of it.
‘Olivia O’Neill,’ Roberto would say on a loop. ‘Liv, you need to raise your game.’ He wasn’t a fan of Jeremy, whom I’d been seeing for six months. ‘Leave Jeremy and dump Maribelle and make your own life.’
But how do you do that when you have forgotten what your own life is? How on earth do you find it again when you are the grand old age of thirty-two? I couldn’t start again. But then the universe works in mysterious ways. If you don’t get off your arse and make changes, then it gets fed up and starts making them for you. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s zip back to before it all began… before I discovered what really made me happy, took charge of my life and found my crown.
* * *
It was Friday, the last day of May, and I was at Liverpool Street Station. Mum normally called at this time, knowing my route to work and that, by 7.32 a.m., I was always on the escalator, rising up from the underground, before the thirteen-minute trot to my office.
‘Hi, Mum,how are you? Everything okay?’
‘I am…’ She hesitated.
‘I am…’ She stopped again. ‘I am fine… absolutely fine. It’s just we’ve been in A & E all evening… we got home back at midnight…’
‘A & E?’ I was so worried that I didn’t ask who the ‘we’ was.
‘It happened the other night in Pilates,’ she said. ‘I reached down to pick up the ball and I felt my knee go.’
My speed walk through the station stopped mid-concourse, making a man in pinstripes swerve and swear at me under his breath. It didn’t make sense. My mother was fitter than me, this walk from tube to desk was the only exercise I did. She was fifty-seven and power walked her way up and down the seafront every evening, as well as the twice-weekly Pilates classes. ‘But you are brilliant at Pilates,’ I said. ‘Didn’t your teacher say you have the body of a twenty-five-year-old?’ I’d moved myself to the side of the newsagents’ kiosk, where I would buy my Irish Times to keep when I was feeling homesick – which was increasingly more frequent these days.
Mum gave a laugh. ‘She said my hips were the hips of a younger woman,’ she explained. ‘I don’t think she said twenty-five-year-old. My hip flexors have stopped flexing and I’m on crutches. It’s not the worst in the world and within a few weeks, with enough rest, I should be back on my feet. The only thing is the shop…’
Mum ran her own boutique in Sandycove, the eponymously named Nell’s. She’d opened it when I was just a toddler and had weathered two recessions and a handful of downturns, but was just as successful as ever. And even when a rival boutique, Nouveau You, opened ten years ago, Nell’s was definitely the more popular.
‘Jessica can’t manage the shop on her own,’ Mum continued. ‘I’ll have to try and find someone for the four weeks. I’ll call the agency later.’
‘Oh, Mum.’ I couldn’t imagine Mum on crutches – this was the woman who had only ever been a blur when I was growing up, coming home from the shop to make dinner for her second shift and all the business admin she had to do. I used to imagine she slept standing up, like a horse. I tried to think how I could help, stuck here hundreds of miles away in London. ‘What about your Saturday girl?’
‘Cara? She’s got her Leaving Cert in a week’s time. I can’t ask her. So… it’s just a bit of a hassle, that’s all.’
I really wished I was there to look after her. Maybe I could fly in this weekend? Just for Saturday night.
‘Please don’t worry,’ said Mum. ‘It’s only four weeks on crutches, and I’ve been ordered to rest, leg up… read a few books. Watch daytime television, said the doctor.’ Mum gave another laugh. ‘He said I could take up crochet or knitting. Told me it was very popular these days. So I told him that I was only fifty-seven and the day I start knitting is the day I stop dyeing my hair.’
‘But you’ll go mad,’ I said. ‘Four weeks of daytime television. Who will look after you?’
‘I can hobble around,’ she said. ‘Enough to make cups of tea, and I can get things delivered and, anyway, I have Henry.’ She paused for emphasis. ‘He was with me in the hospital and has volunteered to help.’
Mum had never had a boyfriend that I’d known of. She’d always said she was too busy with me and the shop. ‘And Henry is…?’
‘Henry is my very good friend,’ she said. ‘We’ve become very close. He’s really looking forward to meeting you.’ She paused again for dramatic effect. ‘We’ve been seeing each other since Christmas and… well, it’s going very well indeed.’
‘That’s lovely,’ I said. ‘Tell him I’m looking forward to meeting him. Very much. Who is he, what does he do?’ I really would have to fly over to vet him… maybe Maribelle might be in a good mood today and I could leave early next Friday?
‘Henry took over the hardware shop from Mr Abrahamson. Henry’s retired from engineering and needed something to do. He’s like that, always busy. He’s been a bit of an inspiration, actually,’ she went on, ‘taking on a business when he’s never run one before. And he’s trying to grow Ireland’s largest onion.’ She laughed. ‘Not that he’s ever even grown a normal-sized one before, but he’s read a book from the library on what you need, gallons of horse manure apparently, and he wants to win a prize at the Dún Laoghaire show in September.’
If anyone deserved a bit of love Mum did and considering I would not win any awards for daughter of the year with my generally neglectful behaviour, I was happy she had someone. And surely anyone who grew outsized vegetables could only be a good person.
But I felt that longing for home, that wish to be there. Even if she had Henry and his onions, I wanted to be there too. I restarted my speed walk to the office. Being late for Maribelle was never a good start to the day.
‘So you’re sure you’re all right?’ I said, knowing that going over probably wouldn’t happen this weekend, not with the presentation I had to help Maribelle prepare for on Monday. I passed the only tree I saw on my morning commute, a large and beautiful cherry tree, it was in the middle of the square outside the station and blossomed luxuriantly in the spring and now, in late May, all the beautiful leaves which I’d seen grow from unfurled bud to acid green were in full, fresh leaf. Apart from my morning coffee, it was the only organic thing I saw all day. If that tree was still going in all that smog and fumes and indifference from the other commuters, I used to tell myself, then so could I.
‘I’m fine,’ Mum said. ‘Don’t worry… Brushing my teeth this morning took a little longer than normal, but it’s only a few weeks… I’m getting the hang of the crutches. I’ve been practising all morning. Anyway, how is Jeremy?’ She and Jeremy were yet to meet.
‘Jeremy is…’ How was Jeremy? Just the night before, Roberto had described him as a ‘wounded boy, shrouded in a Barbour jacket of privilege’. But I felt a little sorry for him, especially after meeting his family last New Year’s Eve and seeing how he was treated. I hadn’t actually seen him for a week as he’d been at a wedding the previous weekend and we’d both been busy with work. ‘Jeremy is fine,’ I said. ‘I think. Sends his love.’
Jeremy wasn’t the type to send his love, but Mum didn’t know that. ‘Well, isn’t that lovely,’ she said. ‘Say we’re all really looking forward to welcoming him to Ireland.’
I really couldn’t imagine Jeremy in his camel chinos striding around Sandycove’s main street and speaking in his rather loud, bossy, posh voice. He’d stand out like a sore thumb.
‘And you’ll have to bring that dote Roberto as well,’ said Mum. ‘He probably needs a bit of time off as well, the little pet.’
‘I don’t think we’ll get him over,’ I replied. ‘You know how he says he can’t breathe in Ireland and starts to feel light-headed as though he’s having a panic attack. He says he’s done with Ireland.’
Mum laughed, as she always did when I told her something Roberto had said. The two of them were as thick as thieves every time she came to London, walking arm in arm around Covent Garden together, Roberto showing her all his favourite shops and deciding what West End show we would go to. ‘He’s a ticket, that one. Anyway, there’s the doorbell. It’ll be Henry with some supplies. I’ll call you later.’
‘Okay…’ I had reached my building. If you dislocated your neck and looked skywards, straight up the gleaming glass, my office was up there somewhere on the seventeenth floor. I had to go in, any later and it would put Maribelle in a bad mood and that wasn’t good for anyone.
In the lift, among the jostle of the other PAs, behind some of the other equity managers who, like Maribelle, were overpaid and overindulged, we ascended to our offices where we would spend the next twelve hours.
I thought of Mum at home in Sandycove. The end of May, the most beautiful month in Ireland, and I remembered the way the sun sprinkled itself on the sea, the harbour full of walkers and swimmers all day long, people in the sea as the sun retreated for the day, or the village itself with its small, bright, colourful shops and the hanging baskets and cherry trees, and Mum’s boutique right in the middle. I wished I was there, even just for a few hours, to hug Mum, and go for a walk with Bronagh. To just be home.
The doors opened on the seventeenth floor. It was 7.45 a.m. exactly and dreams of Sandycove would have to be put on hold as I had to get on with surviving Maribelle. I hung up my coat and sat down at my desk and switched on my computer. My screen saver was a selfie of me and Bronagh, taken last summer sitting on the harbour wall at the little beach in Sandycove. Every time I looked at that picture of the sun shining, the two of us laughing, arms around each other, seagulls flying above us, the pang for home got worse. I should change it, I thought. Replace it with something that doesn’t make me homesick, something that doesn’t make me think of all the things I am missing and missing out on. I clicked on my screen and up came the standard image of a scorched red-earth mountain, as far from Sandycove as you could get.
Sian O’Gorman was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland, grew up in the lovely city of Cardiff, and has found her way back to Ireland and now lives on the east of the country, in the village of Dalkey, just along the coast from Dublin. She works as a radio producer for RTE.
For Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden, emotional entanglements are the path to pain. But when his brother brings his new wife and her best friend to his country home, everything changes. Lady Cecily Thornhill is both vibrant and beautiful, and Jack finds himself increasingly captivated by her sunny nature. Yet he must resist her charms, for in a month she’ll be gone—unless his frozen heart thaws before then…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is an engaging Regency-style romance with a well-written plot and multi-layered characters. The historical world-building is excellent, and the reader gets a good sense of place and time. Both of the main protagonists are a little world-weary despite their relative youth. Cecily has a mother who refuses to live within her means, and Jack is damaged from lack of nurture in his formative years.
The dialogue is challenging and witty from their first meeting, but as they get to know each other, the put-downs are less frequent and the conversations more flirtatious and respectful. The romance builds from a tentative friendship and makes it enjoyable reading.
Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first book, Waltzing with the Earl, won the Rita Award for Best Historical Romance 2018, while Rags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog.
After years of feeling that love was always out of reach, journalist Natasha Lunn set out to understand how relationships work and evolve over a lifetime. She turned to authors and experts to learn about their experiences, as well as drawing on her own, asking: How do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it?
In Conversations on Love she began to find the answers:
Philippa Perry on falling in love slowly Dolly Alderton on vulnerability Stephen Grosz on accepting change Candice Carty-Williams on friendship Lisa Taddeo on the loneliness of loss Diana Evans on parenthood Emily Nagoski on the science of sex Alain de Botton on the psychology of being alone Esther Perel on unrealistic expectations Roxane Gay on redefining romance and many more…
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An enjoyable and useful collection of emotional experiences, interviews and thoughts on love. It explores what it means to us and how it manifests in our lives. The writing is eloquent, engaging and transparent. The author shares her experiences and her motivations for writing the book. The interviews are intrinsically interesting and thought-provoking. Some experiences and ideas will resonate, but all are fascinating.
This book is a riveting read and also something to revisit at different times in your life.
Running from a wedding… … to a whole new future! Bree Allenby’s first stop on her road trip across Australia is to attend the society wedding of her brother’s best friend. When Noah Fitzgerald is dramatically jilted, he needs a quick getaway—so Bree suggests he come with her! Spending her days with a billionaire is not what she was expecting… Not only is their spark of attraction completely new, but it has them both rethinking where they’re going in life!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A well-written friend to lover romance where Bree and newly jilted Noah go on a life-changing road trip. Bree’s original reason for the road trip leads to some poignant, thought-provoking moments. The road trip setting is a bonus with great descriptions.
Bree and Noah are likeable characters with emotional baggage, which they open and discard as the journey progresses. A sweet romance about friendship, parenting, and taking a chance on love.
His brief was simple: confirm whether model Oriel Cuvier is the secret daughter of a Bollywood legend. But when billionaire security specialist Vijay Sahir locks eyes with Oriel, all thoughts of work disappear—leading to a few stolen hours where all rules are broken…
Weeks later, Oriel gets two life-changing surprises. First, the truth about her birth mother. Second, she’s pregnant with Vijay’s child! He demands marriage, but can she really promise to honor and cherish him when, until now, all they’ve shared is one extraordinary encounter?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A lot is going on in this story. It’s full of emotion, mystery and passionate romance between a couple who have self-esteem issues and unanswered questions in their past. It is glamorous, but beneath the glitz are two people who long for a partner who values them.
Their firstmeeting leads to unexpected passion, which draws them together. There’s a mystery to solve and many conflicts before they can achieve the happiness they deserve. The two main protagonists are likeable, and the plot has interesting twists to keep the reader engaged.
Grace, Meg and Daphne, all in their seventies, are minding their own business while enjoying a cup of tea in a café, when seventeen-year-old Nina stumbles in. She’s clearly distraught and running from someone, so the three women think nothing of hiding her when a suspicious-looking man starts asking if they’ve seen her.
Once alone, Nina tells the women a little of what she’s running from. The need to protect her is immediate, and Grace, Meg and Daphne vow to do just this. But how? They soon realise there really is only one answer: murder.
And so begins the tale of the three most unlikely murderers-in-the-making, and may hell protect anyone who underestimates them.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story contains a powerful commentary on society’s view of older women and young women who are let down by those who should care for them. The issues are disturbing, but whilst the reader is provoked to think about them, it’s delivered in an engaging way that resonates.
The story follows the lives of three women in their seventies and a young woman of seventeen. They are virtually strangers, but a fatalistic meeting draws them together into a world of darkness and depravity. The women have secrets that are revealed to each other and the reader as the story progresses. They are not what they outwardly seem, an important point this story explores for all the women. All have courage and hidden strengths that help secure safety for the vulnerable young woman who asks for their help.
The thriller is well-written with twists and is full of satirical noir humour, but it’s the believable characters, their brave actions and poignant stories that make this such a good read.