Could a fairy-tale wedding… ..lead to her own love story?
Piper Evans must track down her runaway-groom brother and enlists the help of tycoon Caleb Martin. He is everything she has sworn to stay away from – gorgeous but uncompromising. Island hopping around Greece, Piper finds herself increasingly tempted by the man whose totally off-limits…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Piper and her brother Liam’s childhood forced them apart, but he wants her at his wedding, and when the bride’s brother offers her free accommodation, she has to attend. The meeting between Caleb and Piper is not new, but it does demonstrate the type of people they are and adds some lighthearted moments to the story.
When Liam’s runs off before the wedding, Piper feels responsible and knows she has to follow him to find out why. Caleb values his sister’s happiness, even if he abhors Liam’s behaviour and insists he goes too.
What follows is a romantic chase around the Greek Islands, the setting is vivid and adds to the romance. Piper lacks self-esteem in the wake of her father’s emotional abuse, she is also reeling from a controlling relationship. So Caleb’s take-charge attitude, both annoys and frightens her. She’s attracted but won’t allow herself to make another mistake. Their romance is riddled with conflict, mostly internal, but the slow burn attraction turns them into risk-takers and after much angst, they find what they are both seeking, including Liam.
He wasn’t always a killer. At first, he just wanted to talk.
D.C. Charlie Stafford has an odd case on her hands. And it may be her toughest one yet.
A burglar who isn’t
interested in valuables, the subject of Operation Greystream is a strange but
smooth operator. In the dead of the night, gloved and masked, he visits the
elderly. He doesn’t hurt them and, if they beg, he won’t take anything of real
value. All he wants is conversation… and they’re powerless to refuse him.
But then 87-year-old Florence Briarly is found by her friend, cold to the touch and neatly, too neatly, tucked into bed. And Charlie realises this case has taken a sinister, urgent turn. Now, this stealthy burglar has had a taste of murder, it’s only a matter of time until he craves it again…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Another exciting range of investigations for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues. This book illustrates the problems faced by detectives, the procedures that must be followed and how the law can sometimes work against them, It is its authenticity that makes this such a readable crime thriller.There are also moral questions explored in this story. Can something be illegal, yet in most people’s eyes morally right?
There are multiple crimes for the team to solve in this book, which shows the complexity of modern police work, and the many competing demands they have to satisfy, with often limited resources.Mistakes are made, which have consequences, and the team have to live with this
Whilst, the overt violence is less than in previous stories, the trauma that the victims suffer is palpable and well described. This is also a family drama. How do family members react, when someone they know and love becomes a criminal or a victim? Can this, sometimes, misguided loyalty, impede the police investigation? Suspense builds with each crime, and it is only the relentless, painstaking detection and forensic evidence that will solve the crimes.
This reads as a standalone, but if you enjoy authentic police procedurals, with believable family drama and complex characters, read the series.
Guest Post – Sarah Flint – Daddy’s Girls
It’s been a long, but exciting year!
Well, it’s been just over 13 months since ‘Broken
Dolls’ was published and boy, what a year!
In that time, I’ve written ‘Daddy’s Girls’ and a new
standalone book, (yet to be revealed) travelled New Zealand, Australia and the
UK and beaten breast cancer – not necessarily in that order!
I think I said in my last blog post that with the smooth comes the rough – and my rough was a fairly hefty dose of hospital admissions and treatment. The smooth, was hearing that I was fully cured of my cancer, and meeting an incredibly courageous lady on my ward, who gave me the thrill of actually finding a total stranger who had read all my books – for the first time ever. The rough to that meeting was that within a fortnight I heard she had sadly died, but I will always remember her bravery and fortitude and the time I spent chatting with her and her lovely husband.
On that note, during my travels I’ve also met some
fantastic people; both personally and professionally, who have become friends,
fans and followers and I count you, as avid readers, bloggers and tweeters,
among them. From my local writers group, to contributors and visitors at
Bristol CrimeFest it has been amazing to hear your stories. You have all been
an incredible support during this year and I have heard from many who have, or
are, going through similar tribulations and have very much appreciated your
motivational offerings and words of wisdom. I hope I can now do the same in
Thank you x
When thinking about my friends and family, my thoughts
always return to a similar theme. What would you do to save, protect or avenge
a family member or good friend? Would you be prepared to lie for them, or even
die for them? It’s a theme that drove ‘Daddy’s Girls’, and has steered my
Thomas Houghton was loosely based on a suspect I
arrested during my time as a police officer in the Metropolitan Police. The
man’s history fascinated me as he had very few, and very minor criminal convictions,
yet he appeared to have committed the most heinous burglary and knife-point rape
imaginable. What drove him to commit that crime? And why had the man’s daughter
been prepared to lie and even take on a false identity herself, in order to
cover for him? Was it love, fear or simply bewilderment that compelled her ill-conceived
Out of those questions came ‘Daddy’s Girls’, a story
that evolved in order to provide a fictional reason for the man’s actions – his
decline into drugs, mental illness and criminality – and the imaginary outcome
for both he and his daughter.
I witnessed my own mother’s battle with multiple sclerosis,
so I know how devastating it can be to watch someone you love change from an
outgoing, active person to someone unable to walk, talk or feed themselves. The
toll on carers, physically, mentally and emotionally is far harder than, I
think, we as a society appreciate. Could this be a reason for Thomas’s crime? I
don’t know, and I don’t excuse it, but it seemed to make sense as a work of
The book could equally have been named ‘Mummy’s Girl’, as I also wanted to explore the motivations of the victim’s child when searching for justice. How had Florence Briarly’s daughter acted? Could one crime be judged to have been morally right, even if legally wrong? Why can standing-up for your parent in one situation be considered wrong, while acting for your parent in another be judged as right?
It’s an interesting dilemma and one that seems to rear
its ugly head on a regular basis in the media, along with the question of how
safe you really are in your own home and what steps can you lawfully take in
order to protect your loved ones, and your possessions?
Ooh – it’s a moral and legal nightmare! But it makes
for great stories.
Throw into the mix Charlie, with her unfailing quest
to get justice for the victim and her continuing loyalty to Hunter, as well as Ben’s
on-going problems, and you have my latest offering. I have really enjoyed
exploring the dilemmas in all the storylines, as well as finishing the book on
a note of intrigue. It certainly has made me want to continue Charlie’s story –
and I hope it will make you want to do the same.
I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.
With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.
It’s a beautiful day for a wedding. White roses scent the air and the summer sunlight streams in. A spoon chimes against a champagne flute and the room falls silent. And there he is – my husband – getting to his feet to propose a toast. He’s still handsome. His new wife is next to him, gazing upwards, oblivious.
I’m not supposed to be here. All these years in the same town and I had no idea until I saw his name on the seating plan. He lived with me, once. Loved me. Small-town memories are long, but the people in this room don’t want to remember.
They say the healing is in letting go, but after what he did, he needs to know we haven’t gone away just because he’s shut his eyes.
So I take Daisy by the hand and step forward from the shadows. He notices us and his eyes widen. The champagne glass falls from his hand and smashes. Then he sags forward, making a terrible sound – a sort of strangled scream…
A powerfully emotional novel with a dark secret at its heart. This family drama will keep you hooked until the very last page.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An enthralling family drama told from four female perspectives that reveals a story that is emotional, honest, poignant and shocking.
Beginning with a wedding and two uninvited guests, and a seemingly tragic event, you may be forgiven for thinking you know what this story is about before it begins, but you’re probably wrong.
The story begins with Paula and the wedding. Then the time frame slips into the past and Jenny (Mother,) Ava(Eldest Daughter), and Ellie(Youngest Daughter) begin to tell their stories. The plot reveals events that change their lives and shape their futures. The appearance of Mark gives hope to Jenny, but disruption for the daughters. Gradually you learn Mark’s secrets and his controlling personality traits. The major plot twist confirms my opinion of Mark.
The story’s pace, keeps the reader engaged. The twists are subtle but resonate. The complex plot, never loses its way, even as detail and layers are added.
The characters are complex and authentic. It is easy to empathise with all the female characters, excepting Ingrid(Mark’s Mother). Ellie’s character is particularly well written, and I enjoyed the added dimension she brings to the story.
The ending is satisfying, being both hopeful and realistic.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The rape scene in this story is brutal, the violation and loss of control implicit in every word. This description is harrowing. Given the inspiration for this story, the attack is realistic and sets the scene for what follows. This an adult story. One that will upset most people, but it doesn’t detract from it, or the message it is sending.
Eve’s attack and subsequent action is the main storyline, but running alongside her need for retribution is the need for closure to heal, and the need to stop this happening to anyone else. Eve is complex, but she is easy to empathise. You want her to have justice.
Including the friend and lodger characters, may seem incidental to the story, but they are important. Eve’s reaction to them shows how emotionally scarred and traumatised she is, and why she does what she does. They are an important focus for her mental state.
The plot is chilling and suspenseful, and whether or not you agree with the outcome, or what happens before, the ending is well thought out and believable. A fusion of the psychological thriller and crime genres, with authentic emotion and a menacing antagonist, and an ending that leaves you with a moral dilemma. Perfect.
Author Interview – Gemma Rogers – Stalker
What are the inspirations behind your book – Stalker? Is it a standalone or part of a series?
The inspiration for Stalker came from an indecent assault that happened to me back in 2001. I found writing about it extremely cathartic. In terms of the story, I wanted to explore the feelings that can be left behind as a result of such a traumatic event. How far someone would go for justice? It’s a standalone novel that follows Eve from the incident to her resolution.
How did you create your main protagonist Eve? Is she based on someone you know, an imaginative creation, or a little of both?
Eve isn’t based on anyone I know, she’s a creation, although very much a part of me. How she feels after her attack, mirrors how I felt almost twenty years ago. She’s a complex character, struggling to understand the emotions she’s forced to deal with; the anger, self-loathing and guilt.
How do you make your characters believable?
I people watch and try to absorb as much as I can when I’m out and about. It’s great to watch and see how people react in certain situations. I also draw from my own experiences too, use those to try and flesh my characters out, make them three dimensional. I hope I’ve managed that with Stalker.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
For me, generally, it’s the plot. I’ll come up with an idea first and it will grow from there. I’m not sure why the idea will plant itself and get bigger until I can’t think of anything else. That’s when I know it’s a good one. However, with Stalker, the setting was equally as important. Where the assault takes place in the novel, is where I grew up. Close to where it actually happened.
What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?
I’ve always written, from a very young age. I’d create stories with my brother, and turn them into little illustrated books, the pages tied together with string. I wrote some fan fiction in my teens but it’s only the past five years I’ve pushed myself to write a book, and actually finish it! I like this genre very much, I’m a lover of horror films and books, dark thrillers seemed right for me. I think the genre chose me rather than the other way around.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I mostly read thrillers; psychological, gritty thrillers, the darker the better. I fell in love with The Birdman by Mo Hayder and was hooked from there. My favourite authors are Alex Marwood, John Marrs, Mark Edwards, and CJ Tudor. However, when I fancy something a bit lighter I always head to Jane Fallon. I’m a massive fan of her writing.
What are you currently writing?
I’m currently in the process of writing Book 3 which I believe will be out at some point in 2020, so that is keeping me busy. Book 2 is due for release in January, so not long to wait.
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.
Chapter One Saturday 27 January 2018 I’ve never been in trouble before. Not the sort of trouble that brought me here. Freshly painted, stark white walls surround me; their toxic scent lingers in the air. A fluorescent glow from strip lights so dazzling they must be there to desensitise the occupants. Everything is white or chrome-like I’m on the set of a futuristic movie. I swing my legs, which dangle over the edge of the bed, not quite reaching the floor. I do this for a minute to keep warm. Despite the blanket around my shoulders, I can’t help but shiver. It’s late and they didn’t bring my jacket. I guess it’s been taken away as evidence. The woman in front of me is standing too close, hot breath on my arm. It makes me squirm and I fight the urge to yank my hand away from her grip. She’s holding it like I’m a china doll, fragile and easily broken. I dislike the invasion of my personal space. It’s something I’ve learnt to tolerate over the years. I was never a big fan of being touched, shrinking away if someone brushed past me or stood too close on public transport. I’m not a hugger either – no one was in the house where I grew up. After tonight, I can’t imagine I’ll let anyone touch me again. Her name is Doctor Joyce Hargreaves, she told me as we entered the victim examination room. Her job, she said, was to collect evidence from me, which is why she was wearing a paper suit, so there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination. She hasn’t picked up on my anxiety, the tremor in my fingers; she’s too busy. Brows furrowed, eyes focused as she peels the plastic bag away from my bloodied hand to collect scrapings from my skin and beneath my fingernails. The tool she uses makes me nervous. ‘Is that a scalpel?’ my voice barely a whisper. ‘No, it’s a scraper. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. This is just so I can make sure we collect any skin cells that may be buried underneath the tips of your nails. I’m afraid I’ll have to give them a trim in a minute too.’ She wields the scraper with care and it’s true, it doesn’t hurt. Physically I’m okay, except my throat is on fire and the ringing in my ears is deafening, timed perfectly with the throbbing of my face. I have a feeling I might feel worse once the adrenaline leaves my system. When she finishes with my hands, she pulls the fallen blanket back over my shoulders and offers a kind smile as she pushes her glasses up her nose. I can see strands of greying hair trying to escape by her ear, exposed beneath the coverall hat. She wears no jewellery and her face is free of make-up. Was she on duty or has she been called out of her bed to attend to me? Would we recognise each other in different circumstances? Probably not, I must be one of many people that pass through this room every day. Joyce delicately inserts each of the specimens into small tubes before labelling them to be sent for analysis. I don’t know why? I’ve told them what happened. Soon she’ll want to examine me thoroughly. Internally. Until there are no more swabs left to be taken. She glances at me, knowing what is coming, what she must ask me to do. Her eyes are full of pity. I must look a mess. Dried blood on my face and chest is beginning to flake away, like charred skin falling into my lap. My cheek is puffy and the vision poor on my left side. I wish I could stop shivering. They said it’s shock and provided me with a mug of hot, sweet tea after the ambulance checked me over. They wanted to make sure the blood I am doused in isn’t mine. It isn’t.
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antique dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters?
I received a copy of this book from Choc Lit in return for an honest review.
Original, magical and mysterious. This romantic suspense set in contemporary Paris has a complex, fast-paced plot, believably flawed characters, a mystery to solve, and an engaging romance between two unlikely lovers.
Aurora recovers from a childhood tragedy, with emotional and physical scars. Instead of being treasured by her grandparents, they provide material necessities but not emotional succour. Only her innate courage and intelligence saves her from obscurity. She studies hard, and now with a doctorate, is an authority on ancient manuscripts and an Art Historian. Lost in her famous grandfather’s shadow, she receives a prestigious commission. Determined to show she is worthy of the role. Even in this, it appears Aurora is being manipulated.
Investigative journalist Cédric’s barren childhood has left its scars, but a good education, streetwise intelligence, and the love and guidance of an elderly couple foil his criminal inclinations. Now he works for those who cannot protect themselves, his latest investigation draws Aurora’s boss into his sights, but is she involved or an innocent?
The chemistry between the two protagonists is realistic and the verbal sparring amusing. As the mystery deepens and the ethos of menace increases, they are drawn together, unlikely allies, full of mistrust and unwanted sexual attraction. The dynamic between Aurora and Cédric is the basis of a fairy tale style romance played out in the streets of Paris and France.
The plot is complex with good twists, and underscored with danger. It is full of vivid images, which hold the readers’ interest. The cast of characters are well-drawn and complement the plot and protagonists beautifully.
The ending is believable and magical, as every fairy tale should be.
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Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher and in her spare time, she loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes. She writes both historical and contemporary romance. Her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global Ebook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance), and best-selling Little Pink Taxi was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A historical family drama set in Northern Ireland in 1968. It focuses on Jenny’s ambition to have a career in teaching, despite being married. She faces well-meaning and intrusive advice on how she should live her life. From those she trusts, and people in the wider community. The community is divided, sometimes families are divided because of the political climate, and maintaining old values assumes a disproportionate importance in this community.
The expectation that married woman should stay home and not pursue a career is the norm at this time, and Jenny is seen as a misfit, someone who wants to destroy the fabric of the community. Jenny is ambitious, brave and committed to her career, but will she sacrifice her friends, family and even her marriage to pursue her dream?
An emotional journey pathed with angst and prejudice, the characters are authentic and complex, and the plot is slow-paced and relentless. You empathise with Jenny and rile at her accusers, but the ending is hopeful.
A gritty and poignant story, which reflects the setting and time well, and demonstrates what it is like for a working wife in the 1960s, and the battles they endure to live life as they choose.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a difficult book for me to review.
I like the beginning, where Julia, obviously at a crossroads in her life decides to use long- service leave and savings, to attend a three-month spiritual retreat. I did smile that she thought to leave a sixteen and eighteen-year-old with just their father wouldn’t cause any problems, but that aside the beginning is good and full of promise for a literary adventure.
When she arrives, I wondered what I was letting myself in for. The prose was steeped in Christian church language, and I couldn’t see how this would be an enjoyable book for me, but I was in for a surprise, and I’m glad I persevered.
The characters are wonderful, believable, complex and flawed. They bring the story to life, as they find that a spiritual retreat is not what they imagined. This is especially true for Julia.Her reawakening is more physical, initially than spiritual, but the consequences of her actions, change her whole life.
The plot moves away from Christain doctrine and concentrates on Julia and her fellow retreaters quest for faith. The issues raised are complex and interesting, and the plot twists reveal more of the characters’ personalities and the true reasons they are there.
The last part of the story concentrates on Julia’s arrival at home, and what follows. It is engaging to read, and the final scenes are poignant.
So, if like me you enjoy to read something different, this is worthy of your time. Literary fiction with a message about faith, family and prejudice.
Originally from England, Sue
worked in university libraries until taking early retirement in 2008 to
concentrate on creative writing. Since then she has written short stories,
articles, poetry, a short TV drama script and six novels:
Sannah and the Pilgrim, first in a trilogy of a future dystopian
Australia focusing on climate change and the harsh treatment of refugees from
drowned Pacific islands. Odyssey Books, 2014. Commended in the FAW Christina
Stead Award, 2014.
Pia and the Skyman, Odyssey Books, 2016. Commended in the FAW
Christina Stead Award, 2016.
The Sky-Lines Alliance, Odyssey Books, 2016.
Chrysalis, the story of a perceptive girl growing up in a Quaker
family in swinging sixties’ Britain. Morning Star Press, 2017
Re-Navigation recounts a life turned upside down when forty-year-old Julia journeys from the sanctuary of middle-class Australian suburbia to undertake a retreat at a college located on an isolated Welsh island. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Feed Thy Enemy, based on
her father’s experiences, is an account of courage and compassion in the face
of trauma as a British airman embarks on a plan that risks all to feed a
starving, war-stricken family. Creativia Publishing, 2019.
Sue’s current project, A Question of Country, is a novel exploring the migrant experience through the protagonist’s lifelong search for meaningful identity.
Passionate about peace and social justice issues, Sue’s goal as a fiction writer is to continue writing novels that address topics such as climate change, the effects of war, the treatment of refugees, feminism and racism. Sue intends to keep on writing for as long as possible, believing the extensive life experiences of older writers can be employed to engage readers of all ages.