AUGUST 1975: Cassie Maltham’s life changes forever one scorching day. She and her twelve-year-old cousin Suzie take a shortcut through the Greenway, an ancient pathway steeped in Norfolk legend. Somewhere along this path Suzie simply vanishes . . .
TWENTY YEARS LATER: Cassie is still tormented by nightmares, parts of her memory completely erased. With her husband Fergus and friends Anna and Simon, she returns to Norfolk, determined to confront her fears and solve a mystery that won’t let her rest.
Then another young girl goes missing at the entrance to the Greenway, and Cassie is pushed once more into the darkest recesses of her mind.
John Tynan, the retired detective who’d been in charge of Suzie’s case, is still haunted by her disappearance. He offers his help to Detective Inspector Mike Croft who is leading the increasingly frantic search for the missing child. Has evil returned? And what really happened all those years ago and who can be believed?
I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A well-written retro, psychological suspense mystery set in Norfolk.
Cassie is the link between two disappearances of young girls. Her cousin Suzie in 1975 and Sara in 1995, whilst Cassie is revisiting the area after twenty years, as part of her mental health rehabilitation.
There is a multi-layered plot, which encompasses many themes; myths and legends, supernatural occurrences, crime, mental health and police procedural. Some of these are explored in detail, like the day to day police activity surrounding the missing child, others like the supernatural elements, and Cassie’s mental state are hinted at but left to the reader’s imagination to decide what to believe.
Mike Croft the SIO in the case is an interesting character, he has a tragic past, which threatens to impinge on his decision-making capacity in the case. John Tynan, a retired detective who was SIO on the previous missing girl case in 1975, sees the similarities between the two cases, and he supports Mike and his team with the new case. His involvement ties up the historical, and present day elements of the story in a realistic way.
The plot twists are good and the final resolution solves the mystery. Some questions remain but, this is intentional, making this an authentic story, as in real life not every aspect of a crime or mystery can be solved in entirety.
I like the retro ethos of the story, it adds to the plot’s level of menace and the mystery. The complex characters, especially Cassie who is the unreliable protagonist in the story are believable.
Overall this fusion of genres works well and makes the story a compelling read.
A brand new young fiction series by TV broadcaster and intrepid explorer Ben Fogle, inspired by his real-life animal experiences…
Co-written with best-selling children’s author Steve Cole and illustrated throughout with beautiful black and white illustrations by Nikolas Ilic.
You can always count on Mr Dog to help an animal in trouble…
When a mother rabbit is captured in a trap, he ends up playing bunny sitter…
But someone wants rid of All the rabbits, not just this one, and time is running out for Mr Dog to save them…
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Children’s Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A refreshingly different children’s illustrated story with wonderful relatable animal characters and an important message, delivered in easy to understand bite size pieces, about animal conservation and welfare. The fun illustrations reinforce the text and make this book suitable for younger children too.
This adventurous and fun story has believable characters with recognisable animal characteristics. It should be a favourite of both children and adults lucky enough to read this book too.
The plot although necessarily simple does have a couple of twists and doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming too sinister or cliche for the intended audience. It deals with contemporary animal husbandry and conservation issues in a readable and understandable way.
Mr Dog is the star, and he is an instant hit with me. Adventurous, clever, courageous, fun and kind, he has desirable personality traits that resonate with children and he makes a good role model.
An enjoyable read for children and their adults and the makings of an important, yet fun series.
One charming bookshop, two unlikely friends, and a summer in Paris that will change their lives forever…
Grace can’t believe it when her husband of twenty-five years announces he doesn’t want to join her on their anniversary trip to Paris – instead, he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock, Grace makes the bold decision to go on this holiday of a lifetime alone.
Audrey leaves behind heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no knowledge of the French language, her summer adventure seems doomed to fail. Until she meets Grace and everything changes…
Living in neighbouring apartments above the bookshop, Grace and Audrey form an unlikely friendship. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding each other might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My Thoughts So Far…
So, I thought I’d share what I’m currently reading this weekend. Sarah Morgan has always been a favourite author, and her new book released by HQ on April 4th 2019, is full of good things.
I have only read about 16 %, so far, we haven’t even reached Paris yet, and I can’t put it down. The two main characters Grace and Audrey are so likeable, despite the emotional wasteland they find themselves in. They are realistic and easy to empathise and I can’t wait to find out what happens in Paris.
There is also a collection of subsidiary characters that resonate, but not always in a good way, but that’s a true reflection of life, isn’t it?
I will post my review of this story in early April, but in the meantime, if you are looking for a great holiday read, with angst, romance, family drama and friendship, this is a contender.
Separated by time and distance, two sisters seek answers for all they’ve lost
When Alice Verinder’s beloved sister Lydia goes missing, Alice boards the Orient Express bound for Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, determined to find her.
Lydia was governess to the Sultan’s young children and though her letters spoke of exotic delights and welcoming hosts, the reception Alice receives is decidedly cold and answers unforthcoming.
Now, as Alice digs deeper into the secrets of a land foreign to her she has only Englishman Harry Frome to help her. But as their search uncovers unforeseen dangers and exposes an unexpected ardour, is Alice ready for the truths they’ll uncover?
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A beautifully told story of sisterly love, impetus youth, and evil. The Tale of Two Sisters is set in the vibrant historical background of early twentieth century Turkey. Full of vivid imagery and intricate historical details, you can imagine the opulence and the culture the two sisters experience.
The plot is believable and well thought out, the twists and turns, which keep the reader guessing are plentiful and the mystery keeps its terrible secrets to the end.
Lydia is a woman before her time, driven by political equality, yet naive and ill-equipped for what she becomes embroiled in. She is selfish and flawed, but her exuberance and zest for life’s experiences make this forgivable, Ultimately she becomes a heroine.
Alice is the antithesis of her sister, dependable, selfless and resigned to subjugating her needs for the good of her parents and sibling. She is easy to empathise. Her courage is notable and as the story progresses her adventurous and impulse qualities come to the fore, making her share more with her sister than you would first imagine.
Gentle pacing reflects the many obstacles Alice faces as she tries to discover her sister’s whereabouts. Told from both sisters’ points of view, the story is full of emotion, historical interest and suspense, as the mystery surrounding Lydia’s disapperance is solved. There is also a tender, unexpected romance, which adds extra depth to the story and allows its ending to be hopeful.
If like me, you love historical fiction with a mystery to solve, and just a touch of gentle romance, this lovely tale will draw you in.
Academic Juno Darlington-Hume wants a top-quality education—in sexual pleasure! Renowned Italian playboy Alessandro Ricci agrees to show the gorgeous virgin almost everything he knows… From magical Florence to the golden Tuscan countryside, he’s taking her to ever higher peaks of ecstasy, letting her get closer than any other woman. But he’ll never take the one thing she truly wants to give him—her heart.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
There’s no denying this story is full of sensual romance, it’s a sizzling read, as Alessandro teaches Juno everything she needs to know. This story also has emotional depth. What starts out a purely physical encounter, deepens with self-realisation and trust into something much deeper and dangerous for the playboy and the naive woman.
Both Juno and Alessandro have low self-esteem. She is clever but feels socially inept, in comparison to her successful sisters and remote father. He uses his looks and sexual prowess to hide the inadequacy he feels. He’s artistic but is forced to deny his true skills, by a family concerned only with status and wealth.
The vulnerability of both characters makes the final conflicts they face, appear insurmountable, but the self-development they achieve from their emotional relationship makes them brave enough to strive for what they really want and need.
A sensual romance with good character development and a lovely romantic ending.
The start of The Lochmore Legacy – A Scottish castle through the ages! Earl’s daughter Flora McCrieff brought shame on her family once, now she discovers she must wed impossibly rich but low born Lachlan McNeill. He’s undeniably handsome, but a man of few words. Despite the attraction that burns between them, can she reach beyond his impeccable clothing to find the emotions he’s locked away for so long…?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands and West coast, this story is full of rich imagery that makes it easy to visualise both the setting and the time period this story is set in.
The slums of Glasgow and Edinburgh form part of the story, and the poverty and deprivation found there in Victorian times, set against the riches of the lairds and the aristocracy is one of the elements covered in this interesting story.
This is the first story in the Lochmore Legacy, which written by four different historical romance authors travels back through time, exploring the secrets of the legacy. This story touches on the secrets, with a discovery made by the heroine Flora, and the feud that exists between two clans.
The romance element predominates as expected, and is based on a marriage of convenience trope. Flora’s youth and beauty are her family’s way out of financial ruin. Her father is dictatorial, and she has little choice in the man she marries. Her previous actions embroiled the family in a scandal, and so she is given no choice in marrying the second suitor her father presents her with.
There is a physical attraction between Flora and Lachlan but he is mostly withdrawn and refuses to engage with her emotionally. The reasons for this, Flora gradually discovers, as she loses her heart to her husband. Flora’s strength of character and her emancipation, set against the social strictures of the time lead to inevitable conflict. Lachlan is a philanthropist motivated by his roots and his secrets, he is more enlightened than the majority of men in Victorian society.
This is a romantic story set against a background of social deprivation and social divide. The characters are believable, and the hero and heroine are easy to empathise. This is a complex story, showcasing an interesting time in history.
The added dimension of the secrets of the Lochmore Legacy makes this an enjoyable, historically based romance.
Life in the beautiful Cotswolds
village of Treweham could never be described as boring, but the arrival of a
documentary film crew means that things are even busier than normal.
For the ever-so-dashing Lord of the Manor Tobias Cavendish-Blake and his new wife Megan, it’s a great advertising opportunity as they’ve recently opened up their home, Treweham Hall, to the public. And for the chef at the local pub The Templar, Finula, the arrival of the brooding director Marcus Devlin, means her love life is looking up.
Whilst at the racing stables,
jockey and trainer Dylan Delaney is hoping the exposure will help him find new
owners and horses for him and his partner Flora to train. But there is more to
Marcus Devlin than meets the eye, and he has very personal reasons for heading
to the Cotswolds.
And once his plans become
clear, life in Treweham may never be the same again.
I often find people assume that if you’ve had a few
books published, then you’re rolling in it.
Annoyingly still, people ask, ‘How many books have you sold?’ usually
followed by, ‘So what do you actually make on each book?’ You can see their minds ticking over, trying
to calculate how much money you have earned through royalties. What a cheek!
How would those people respond to me casually asking, ‘What’s your
salary?’ It’s exactly the same, isn’t it?
Another assumption which tends to grate is when family, friends or
colleagues ask if they’re in the book.
No. Why would you be? Is what I really feel like saying. Certainly, none of my characters are any
person I know. They really aren’t, yet
some find this difficult to believe. I’m
not sure why, given that my leading men tend to be tall, dark handsome
aristocrats, or champion jockeys with bodies to die for, no offence meant!
Of course, it is lovely though when they read your books and genuinely enjoy them. It’s nice to hear them sing their praise with gusto and promises of review – even though you know they won’t. I’ve given up expecting them to now. I’ve also given up asking, ‘Where are you up to?’ when they say they’re reading your book. I realise it could sound like I’m testing them, to see if they really have bought it. And that’s another thing, while I’m on a roll, how many authors are asked for freebies? Excuse me, this is my life’s work here, and you’re expecting me to just give it away for nothing? Or even, when they blatantly say ‘I’ll borrow it,’ when you’d much prefer to hear, ‘I’ll buy it.’
Bad reviews are another gripe. I can’t tell you how close I’ve come to reply to some of the tripe that’s written. One reviewer actually said, ‘The author doesn’t understand the characters.’ So, that’ll be the very characters I’ve created then? Unbelievable. The good reviews, however, make it all worthwhile – as any writer will tell you, when 5 shiny stars twinkle up on the screen, you feel like punching the air; when bloggers rave over your work, you feel like punching the air; when editors ask you to write a piece for their magazines, you feel like punching the air. That’s a lot of punches, so I’ll take the knocks too. An interviewer once asked me, ‘If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?’
‘Miserable,’ came my reply.
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The sequel to Scandal takes you back to ‘The Cotswolds’ and the village of Treweham, it’s pleasant to reacquaint with the characters whose lives have moved on. If this is your first visit to the village, there is sufficient backstory for this to be read as a standalone, but it’s an engaging series, so I recommend reading ‘Scandal’too.
Treweham is the subject of a TV documentary, which the villagers hope will increase tourism, especially the residents of the hall, recently opened to the public. The documentary producer has his own agenda and this threatens everything; the integrity of Tobias, his family and the village he loves.
The fast-paced story is told from multi-points-of-view with short chapters, which makes it easy to read The plot has a few surprises as the story’s themes; revenge, romance, secrets, friendship and family are explored.
It’s a good escapist read for those who like to immerse themselves in characters’ lives, in a delightful rural setting, If you like Jilly Cooper and Fiona Walker, this story should please you.
Extract from A Country Rivalry
Marcus Devlin marched into the office with purpose, a look of determination on his handsome face. He was late and the rest of the production team were all sitting round the table waiting. They had worked with him before and knew exactly what to expect. His tardiness was the least of their problems. He threw down his clipboard with force, making Jamie, the young runner, jump. He then plonked himself down. There was no preamble, no cosy introduction with Marcus, just straight down to business.
I’ve managed to secure the funding for this documentary.’ There was slight
applause and a round of congratulations from the assembled team, which Marcus
cut short. ‘Now we have to decide locations, schedules and the budget.’ Silence
fell. He glared at the woman sitting on his right. ‘Viola, what you got for
me?’ he asked directly, in his southern Irish lilt.
answered with ease, refusing to be intimidated by him.
the documentary is exploring quaint, English traditions and customs, I suggest
we call it Green
and Pleasant Land.’ This was greeted with nods and murmurs of
didn’t give away any opinion. On the face of it, this documentary didn’t appear
his usual, gritty style. He did, however, have every intention of adding his
own harsh, stark mix, blowing away any image of ‘a chocolate-box village’.
on,’ he ordered.
shuffled in her chair and cleared her throat. ‘Regarding the location, for me,
this would work best in the heart of some quintessential countryside, steeped
in folklore in the olde worlde villages.’ Again, mumblings of encouragement
echoed from all the team except the producer.
done some research. The Cotswolds.’ This finally seemed to evoke a reaction
from Marcus. For the first time since stomping through the door, his face
relaxed a little.
come up with two villages. Bellebrook and Treweham.’
Now he was interested. He stared straight into Viola’s face intently. ‘Continue.’
have good stories to tell, with colourful characters. They have history,
aristocracy and well-known faces. Both villages have hit the headlines for
various reasons, from arson to flash, celebrity weddings. Heard of Christian
a barrister, isn’t he?’ Marcus raised his eyebrow.
him: a top-class barrister who defended a young, single mother accused of
harming her child.’
remember that!’ butted in Jamie. ‘The baby had brittle-bone disease.’
nodded and continued, ‘What about Tobias Cavendish-Blake?’
eyes narrowed and there was an awkward pause. ‘That’s the wild child, Lord
Cavendish-Blake, recently married,’ he replied flatly.
brother is Sebastian Cavendish-Blake, rising star at the Royal Shakespeare
Theatre,’ gushed Jamie, his eyes shining with admiration.
Viola carried on, ‘there are two country inns oozing with rustic charm. The
Bluebell at Bellebrook and—’
Templar,’ finished Marcus.
brow furrowed: how did he know that? Typical, always one step ahead.
For Marcus, it was a no-brainer. After staying at The Templar a week ago and acquainting himself with the landlord’s daughter, a redhead with porcelain skin, who could have been hand-picked from his home town of Roscommon, his mind was made up.
We’ll go for Treweham,’ he said decisively.
Viola answered, a little perplexed. Normally she would have had to pitch things
much harder to Marcus for him to decide and she had been prepared to do so.
He’d quite taken the wind from her sails. She knew damn well that being his
assistant producer would be taxing. She was originally a researcher, but had
wanted to gain further experience and relished the opportunity when Marcus had
offered her the position of his assistant on his last documentary. He had done
so again, expecting her to act as assistant producer and researcher, thus
saving money on a very tight budget.
let’s talk schedules. We’ll want to interview the villagers. We need to home in
on any eccentrics, recluses, country bumpkins, people that will entertain, or
provoke. Viola, you mentioned folklore. I like that, but take it further,
exploit it, think… think…’ he narrowed his eyes again, ‘The Wicker Man.’
was a stunned silence. Libby, the editor, a quiet, middle-aged lady, who had
worked several times with Marcus, coughed slightly. ‘Is that really the angle
we’re going for, Marcus?’
looked surprised by her question. ‘Yes. Why?’
thought it was more quaint English country tradition we were interested in?’
added Len, the cameraman.
Sasha lives in a rural, coastal village in Lancashire with her husband and Labrador dog. She has always written stories from a very young age and finds her fictional world so much more exciting than the real one
A grand old house soaks up the golden summer sun… but inside the dining room, something dreadful has happened.
Melissa couldn’t be happier that summer has arrived. She’s delighted to have her mother back by her side, and she is extending her beloved Hawthorn Cottage so her new family can live together.
Meanwhile, Melissa’s mother Sylvia is back in good health and enjoying a brief stay at a stately retirement home. She loves getting to know the residents, until first a dog and then his owner are both found dead in the dining room. Like mother, like daughter, Sylvia decides to do a little investigating of her own.
Convinced that the deaths are suspicious, Sylvia starts probing her fellow residents, trying to find out who might have wanted the dog and its owner dead. Could it be the once-married couple, or the glamorous actors or the harassed manager of the home?
When one of Sylvia’s friends falls ill in suspicious circumstances, Melissa realises her mother has rattled someone, but who? And what happens if the killer realises they’ve been rumbled? Will Sylvia find herself meeting a villain in the dining room? And can Melissa find the culprit before another life is taken?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
It seems that Melissa’ Craig’s talent for becoming embroiled in murder mystery may have been inherited from her mother Sylvia. Whilst convalescing in a retirement home, Sylvia is certain that the death of a beloved pet and then its owner is not from natural causes.
This is quirky murder mystery is set in a retirement community, Melissa’s mother like many there is a temporary resident but she soon makes her presence felt. The plot is fast-paced with many possible suspects and shows older people in a refreshingly positive light.
It is Sylvia, Melissa’s mother who is the main sleuth in this story, which gives it an added dimension. Melissa worries about her mother’s emotional state, can her revelations be trusted or are they the result of her recent surgery?
This is an enjoyable read with cameos from favourite characters and a rekindling of the mother and daughter relationship for Melissa and Sylvia. A lovely escapist read, which lets you test out your detective skills.
When Anna is dumped by her fiancé, she moves into her own place on the edge of the gorgeous Wildflower Park and pledges to stay off men and focus on her career, but a handsome new colleague seems to thwart her attempts at every turn. And when she receives an accidental text from a mystery man, could it be the new start she needs? Or someone she really shouldn’t be falling for?
Anna’s neighbour Sophie is a stressed-out mum-of-two with a third on the way. Her husband is a constant frustration, and their children are a regular source of newly-invented swear words and unidentifiable sticky surfaces.
Luckily, Anna and Sophie have each other – and Wildflower Park proves to be a sanctuary as they map out a path to find the happiness they both deserve…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review
Part three of ‘Wildflower Park‘, aptly called ‘Oopsy Daisy’, follows on from the cliffhanger at the end of part two, Heavily pregnant Sophie, Anna’s best friend has left her husband. The early chapters are emotional, but there are plenty of funny moments too, as Sophie and Anna discuss the state of her marriage. There are some touching scenes with Bill, humour with Maurice(the cat) and Anna wonders if she really is cut out for the single life.
Anna undergoes significant character development in this story. Illustrated by scenes with her ex Liam, Hudson, her attractive work colleague, and Connor, the man she met by mistake. She’s in a quandary, should she hold out for her soulmate, settle for what’s available, or go it alone?
A new opportunity forces her to face her past fears and this part of the story ends with something unexpected. I’m off to read part four, I can’t wait.
An abrupt change; a new friendship; a dark secret…
Kind-hearted Violet has never fitted in, but despite being bullied at school is now content. She is dating ambitious Lenny, has her dream job in publishing and runs a book club at the local retirement home.
However, when her relationship with Lenny begins to falter, Violet, hurt and alone, seeks the advice of her new flatmate, Bella. She changes her image and with her head held high aims to show that she doesn’t need Lenny in her life to be happy and successful.
Her long-term friends Kath and Farah worry about Bella’s influence and slowly Violet starts to distance herself from them. When she was a child, her closest confidant and companion was a boy called Flint. Her mother didn’t approve of their closeness and he suffered a terrible end. She won’t let the same thing happen to Bella, no matter what anyone says…
Knowing You is about friendship and knowing who to trust with your deepest secrets; it’s about taking control of your life and not being afraid to stand out.
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Violet has a career she loves, and a relationship that she is happy with, the first part of this story follows her life as a children’s book editor, which is interesting, she has lots of friends mostly older than her, but they value her friendship as she does theirs.
The present-day narrative is broken up with stories from Violet’s childhood, and a particularly momentous event that takes place and effects the young girl deeply.
It’s impossible not to feel empathy for Violet as a child, and to admire what she achieves as an adult. Then something happens to change her outlook on life and the secrets of her past resurface in a dangerous adult version.
This story is beautifully written. Violet is a lovely character and you want her to realise that beauty comes from within and that she doesn’t need the opinion of others to validate her. I loved the sincerity and the easy flow of this book, it’s easy to read but it makes you think. The characters are believable, as are their motivations and actions.
Even though you may guess what is happening, you are never sure until the end. The full impact of Violet’s story resonates, and it’s a poignant and powerful message.
A curious mix of revenge fiction and family drama, this story will hold your interest until the last page.