Posted in New Books, Book Review, Murder Mystery, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Mystery

Death at the Dinner Party Emma Davies 5*#Review An Adam and Eve Mystery @EmDaviesAuthor @bookouture #DeathattheDinnerParty #AdamandEve #MurderMystery #cosymystery #cozymystery #Shropshire #BookReview

Francesca Eve, caterer extraordinaire, has come to Claremont House to work for the cream of society. A full breakfast spread? Simple. A glorious picnic lunch? Easy as pie. But a dead body for dinner was definitely not on the menu…

No sooner has Francesca Eve turned up for a jam-packed weekend of gourmet catering at a posh country house than she realises how challenging this event is set to be. Not only are the hosts wealthy – and demanding – beyond her wildest dreams, but each of the guests is more difficult than the last. But she never expected the host to turn up dead…

Suspicion falls on everyone in the house – could there be a murderer in their midst? Is the incredibly glamorous, and now extremely rich, widow really as upset as she’s making out? What secret is the housekeeper hiding? Whose money troubles are now forgotten? As the only person without a motive, Fran’s intimate knowledge of the house party puts her in the prime position to help the police.

As rumours swirl and guests’ pasts come to light, someone else is found dead. But when the police arrest their chief suspect, Fran becomes convinced they have the wrong person – the evidence is almost too neat to be true. So she decides to strike out alone, in the country house where the killer is still staying… Someone has killed twice to keep their secret safe. Will Fran be able to unmask them, or will this weekend turn out to be her deadliest job ever?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

A country house weekend of wining and dining is the setting for this cosy mystery. Francesca Eve is engaged as the party’s caterer, providing fine dining meals and accompaniments. The cooking is well within her capabilities, but her client is ultra demanding, and the guests are even more so. With the end in sight, the housekeeper finds a body and Francesa and her young friend Adam help solve the crime.

Adam and Eve have an unlikely friendship, but their individuality and shared curiosity make them perfect amateur sleuths. A traditionally styled country house murder mystery with some twenty-first-century technological investigative techniques; the cast of suspects is well written, and the plot has unexpected twists and false leads.

Like all cosy crime, the protagonists, setting and style have to appeal to the reader, and I find this one an entertaining read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, New Books, Psychological Suspense, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense, Thriller

Keep You Close Mary Burton 4*#Review @HQStories #MaryBurton #BlogTour #thriller #familydrama #BookReview #suspense #secrets #romance #romanticsuspense #mystery #KeepYouClose

Old secrets are hard to keep buried in this gritty and gripping novel of suspense.

Kelsey Warren may now be a high-flying journalist, but she’s never forgiven her reckless mother Donna for abandoning her as a teenager.

Yet when Kelsey returns to her hometown and discovers her mother’s body at the bottom of a flooded quarry with a gunshot wound in her chest, Kelsey’s world is flipped upside down. Her mother didn’t desert her; she was killed.

Despite Sheriff Mitch Garrett’s pleas to leave the case alone, Kelsey is determined to uncover the truth about her mother. But small towns hide big secrets, and someone has their eye on Kelsey and is set on silencing her for good.

Previously published as Dark Waters

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Kelsey returns to her hometown for a relative’s funeral, not expecting to stay. When she offers to help a friend with a dive, she finds the body of her mother, who she thought had abandoned her years before. Determined to find the culprit, she needs the help of Mitch, the Sheriff, but they have history, and proximity brings it to the fore. A suspenseful, short romantic suspense with a second chance romance and a dangerous antagonist. I like the small town setting, the menacing ethos created, and the conflicted but ultimately happy romance.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Saga, Travel

A Mother’s Heart Carmel Harrington 5*#Review @HappyMrsH @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #IrishFiction #LiteraryFiction #FamilyDrama #saga #relationships #love #grief #secrets #parenting #Ireland #NewZealand #AMothersHeart

Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

While Rachel Butler likes her life in a pretty Dublin coastal village, her heart lies in Hawke’s Bay, where she grew up. Visiting for the first time since tragedy tore her family apart, she and her stepchildren fall for its beauty and outdoor lifestyle.

Malahide, Ireland

As Rachel picks up the threads of her life as a single parent, she can’t shake off the memories of her loving family in New Zealand – and her dream house, the villa on the bay. But it’s time to move forwards with their life in Ireland, close to the children’s grandparents, amid the familiar surroundings they all know well.

Until the children’s grandmother, still grieving, starts to interfere, questioning Rachel’s position as stepmother.

Until Rachel’s attempts to strengthen the family she loves so dearly backfires, pitting everyone against each other.

And until her late husband’s parents mend the rift that has existed as long as she’s been married – bringing with them an explosive secret . . .

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Rachel loses the man she loves but still has his children, who she loves dearly. Thankful that he had the foresight to make her an adoptive parent, she faces life without him. Born in New Zealand, she has a close relationship with her family, who adore the children. The children’s biological mother’s parents are not happy with things, and this story explores the conflict, emotion and love of Rachel’s determination to achieve the best family for her children.

Each believably flawed vibrant character enriches the story that shows how grief manifests itself differently and how this affects family relationships. Lyrical writing evokes the settings and adds depth to this character-driven story.

It is a heartwarming, poignant story with strong female characters. Rachel is a lovely woman who places the children’s welfare at the heart of everything she does, making this incredibly engaging to read.

Posted in Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Historical Fiction, New Books, Political Thriller

Yesterday’s Spy Tom Bradby 5*#Review @tombradby @TransworldBooks #spy #1950s #1930s #espionage #politicalthriller #secrets #YesterdaysSpy #bookreview #publicationday

Nothing good ever comes from a midnight phone call, especially from Downing Street. For washed-up spy Harry Tower, it is the worst news at the worst possible time. His son, Sean, has gone missing in troubled Iran after writing an exposé about government corruption.

Their relationship has never recovered since Harry’s wife’s suicide, for which Sean holds his father responsible. And Harry, with his career on the verge of disintegration, needs to find him and put things right.

When Harry arrives in Tehran, he finds a city on the cusp of revolution. Foreign powers are jockeying for influence, money and, most importantly, oil. The CIA are conspiring to undermine the government with an impending coup, and there are dark mutterings about opium smuggling. But the reasons for Sean’s disappearance may be even more sinister than Harry first suspected.

Before long, he is on the run – not only from a faceless enemy but from his own past. Which will catch up with him first?

Yesterday’s Spy is Tom Bradby at his very best, delivering a cunning espionage novel rich in intrigue and history that will keep you guessing until the final pages.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Set in 1950s Iran, this is a complex political thriller. Retired spy Harry is searching for his journalist son at a time of political unrest. The plot is multilayered, and the historical details are fascinating, making this an original and intriguing story. As Harry considers his life, the story visits the 1930s, and the reader gets to know him, his wife and his previous role.

It immerses the reader in the characters and the story with a tangible sense of danger and a plot full of action, emotion, and intriguing mystery.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller, Travel

One of the Girls Lucy Clarke 5*#Review @lucyclarkebooks @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #BookReview #GreekIsland #HenWeekend #relationships #friendship #love #secrets #psychologicalthriller #psychological #suspense #OneoftheGirls #PublicationDay

WE WERE DYING FOR A HOLIDAY

The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends.

On the first night, we swam under a blanket of stars.

On the second night, the games began on our clifftop terrace.

On the third night, the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering in the breeze.

And by the final night, there was a body on the rocks below . . .

WHO WOULD KILL FOR IT?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Six women spend a Hen weekend on a remote Greek Island, in an idyllic villa away from civilisation. Sounds lovely, and the island and coastal villa are, but not everyone wants to be there, and not everyone is what they first seem. Atmospheric and claustrophobic the tension deepens as the women’s secrets unravel. The villa’s setting is picturesque but close to an unforgiving cliff drop.

Told from the six women’s viewpoints, the reader learns about their pasts, motivations for being on the island, and relationship dynamics. Each character is believably flawed and unreliable in their perceptions of past events and present relationships. All have secrets, and the air of menace increases as proximity makes friendships falter.

I like the detailed characterisations and the dynamic between the women. It explores themes of bullying, parenting and self-realisation through the characters, and all develop in complex ways as the story progresses. The intensity is palpable and keeps the reader riveted. The twists are dramatic, and the ending is impactful and perfectly paced.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Detective, Friendship, Mystery, New Books, Noir, Political Thriller, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller

The Dark Sharon Bolton 5* #Review #LaceyFlint @AuthorSJBolton @orionbooks #crimefiction #psychological #suspense #noir #bookreview #TheDark

When a baby is snatched from its pram and cast into the river Thames, off-duty police officer Lacey Flint is there to prevent disaster. But who would want to hurt a child?

DCI Mark Joesbury has been expecting this. Monitoring a complex network of dark websites, Joesbury and his team have spotted a new terrorist threat from the extremist, women-hating, group known as ‘incels’ or ‘involuntary celibates.’ Joesbury’s team are trying to infiltrate the ring of power at its core, but the dark web is built for anonymity, and the incel army is vast.

Pressure builds when the team learn the snatched child was just the first in a series of violent attacks designed to terrorise women. Worse, the leaders of the movement seem to have singled out Lacey as the embodiment of everything they hate, placing her in terrible danger…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

My first encounter with Lacey Flint resonates. The characterisation is so complete with snippets from the past illuminating the present that it reads well as a standalone book. It’s fast-paced, contemporary and has a dystopian vibe, but given the current climate, it’s believable, making it so dark and disturbing. There is a believably created investigating team dynamic with a good balance of investigation and personal experiences. Lacey’s extraordinary secret past threatens to destroy her present, and this is cleverly woven into the investigation, making Lacey vulnerable.

I love the complex characters, the contemporariness of the plot and the atmospheric setting; interwoven with the menacing, mysterious ethos, this is a riveting read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Travel

Beach House Summer Sarah Morgan 5*#Review @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #BeachRead #Summer #Family #Love #friendship #media #celebrity #HolidayFiction #relationships #secrets #publicationday #paperback #California #BeachHouseSummer

When Joanna Whitman’s famous ex-husband dies in a car accident, she doesn’t know what to feel. Their dysfunctional marriage held more painful secrets than she cares to remember. But when she discovers that the young woman with him in the crash is pregnant, Joanna feels compelled to act, knowing exactly how brutal the media spotlight will be on celebrity chef Cliff Whitman’s ex-wife and his mysterious female friend.

Ashley Blake can’t believe it when Joanna shows up in her hospital room and suggests they hide away at her beach house on a sleepy stretch of the California coast. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley can’t turn down Joanna’s offer. Yet she knows that if Joanna ever found out the real reason Ashley was in that car, their tentative bond would shatter instantly.

Joanna’s only goal for the summer is privacy, but her return causes major waves in the local community, especially for the man she left behind years ago. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby’s future, and to avoid causing any trouble for Joanna. But as secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is about to be put to the test.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

The death of celebrity chef and serial cheater Cliff draws two unlikely women together in an unexpected friendship. When his ex-wife Joanna decides to help pregnant Ashley, escaping to Joanna’s beach house to avoid the media means she has to face her past and the friends she left behind.

I love the emotion and the vivid characterisation in the multilayered story. Past loves and secrets all have to be faced, and friendship endures. The Californian coastal setting and the glamour of the beach house give the story vibrant, sensual imagery, adding authenticity.

This story has believably flawed characters, a great holiday setting and a complex set of relationships that deliver an engaging story.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Detective, Friendship, New Books, Noir, Thriller

To the Grave John Barlow 5*#Review @John_Barlow_LS9 @HQStories #CrimeFiction #Leeds #BlogTour #BookReview #noir #PublicationDay #TotheGrave

When DS Joe Romano first meets Ana Dobrescu she’s nervous, in serious danger, and clearly needs help. The next time Romano sees her, she’s dead.

There was nothing more he could have done, but that’s cold comfort for Romano. He’s determined to catch Ana’s killer. Although the prime suspect, her millionaire boyfriend, is in a coma.

With the help of his larger-than-life partner Rita Scannon-Aktar, Romano begins to piece together a puzzle that places Ana at the centre of something much bigger than they could have imagined.

But while they’re hunting a murderer, those higher up are more concerned about the money. So it’s up to Romano to get justice for Ana. And whatever she knew, he’ll just have to pray that she didn’t take her secrets to the grave

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

The return of DS Joe Romano in this second book in the series sees him witnessing a vicious attack on a man outside a notoriously rough pub, he helps, and the man survives. Joe knows Stefan needs help, and when he meets Ana, he knows that he will help them both. Set in Leeds, this is a dark contemporary thriller exploring the darker side of humanity in a complex plot. DS Joe Romano’s family’s experiences make him sensitive to the plight of immigrant workers and the victims of people trafficking. Disturbing themes contrast with lighter moments in the investigating team’s lives. They have a believable dynamic, and all are vibrant characters.

The ending is impactful and completes this addictive read perfectly.

Read my review of Right to Kill

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour, Mystery, New Books, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Serial, Short stories

A Wedding at Sandy Cove: Always the Bridesmaid Bella Osborne 5*#Review @AvonBooksUK @osborne_bella #romance #mystery #humour #friendship #romcom #family #novella #serial #part1 #AlwaystheBridesmaid #AWeddingatSandyCove

This is the first part in a brand new four-part serial from Bella Osborne.

This will be Ella’s eighth time down the aisle…

Ella has made it her mission in life to find every bride in their dream dress.

But every time she sends one of her happy customers off to the altar with a perfect, ivory silk gown, she thinks of those seven, hideous bridesmaid dresses hanging in her own closet.

She’s about to add another one, too, because her best friend’s wedding is now only months away. And this one, in a muddy shade of brown, might be the worst dress yet.

Ella is excited for her friend to have the perfect seaside wedding, but every discussion about flowers and centrepieces makes her feel more alone than ever.

So, Ella finally accepts her friends’ pleas to set her up on a blind date.

Ella is set to meet a handsome, gym-going estate agent. But a mix up on the night throws her into the path of Kit, instead.

Kit is most definitely not the man she was supposed to meet, but he could end up changing her life in ways she never thought possible…

Laugh-out-loud funny and full of romance, friendship and yards of white tulle, this is the perfect read to escape with.

Amazon UK Amazon Kobo

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

An entertaining read that draws you into Ella’s world of demanding brides, ungrateful bosses, and wedding dresses. She’s a lovely character, hardworking, constantly put upon and always trying to please others. I love the mix of laugh out loud hilarity and poignant moments. The believably created friendship dynamic between Ella, Lucy and Brittany defines this story and makes it engaging.

Meeting Kit is unexpected for Ella and threatens unwelcome life changes. The plot has twists, and this first part has a dramatic ending, making reading the rest of the story essential.

Bella Osborne

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full-length novel. Since then she’s written seven best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website at www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on social media.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Murder Mystery, Mystery, New Books, Noir, Psychological Suspense, Suspense

Good Neighbours Mary Grand 5*#Review @authormaryg @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #psychological #suspense #friendship #neighbours #relationships #secrets #mystery #MurderMystery #GoodNeighbours #BlogTour #BookReview #IsleofWight #MondayBlogs

It was meant to be a safe place to start again… 

In need of an escape from her failing marriage, Nia agrees to house-sit her aunt’s cottage on the Isle of Wight. She feels sure the cosy close in a quaint harbour town will be a safe place to hide and figure out what to do next. 

But things are not all as they seem in the close, and the neighbours who welcome her with open arms, are keeping secrets. When Nia finds the body of one of her new friends lying on the beach, she feels sickeningly sure that the killer is dangerously near to home.

Who killed her friend and why did she have to die? And if Nia discovers the answers she’s looking for, is she next on their hit list? Good neighbours may become good friends, but they can also make deadly enemies…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

The sense of menace is evident at this novel’s inception and intensifies with each event in this psychological suspense set on the Isle of Wight. The Close residents initially appear friendly and open, but they all have secrets. Nia is housesitting for a favourite aunt seeking an escape from a controlling marriage. She feels safe in the nice close where she lives, but when someone dies, the accusations start, and the sense of danger is tangible.

It is soon apparent that Nia is initially an unreliable narrator. She is likeable, and her character develops realistically and satisfyingly, becoming more self-aware and sure of herself. Nia realises she has value and can see the truth, something that is necessary for her to move on and solve the murder of her new friend Ruby. Immersive and claustrophobic, this is addictive reading.

I like the vividly described island setting, the detailed characterisation and clever plotting that hides as much as it reveals until the satisfying conclusion.

Mary Grand

Mary Grand is the author of six novels and writes gripping, page-turning suspense, with a dark and often murderous underside. She grew up in Wales, was for many years a teacher of deaf children and now lives on the Isle of Wight where her new novel, Good Neighbours is set

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