Blog – First Steps

Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance

4* Review- Bronwyn Scott- A Marriage Deal With The Viscount- @MillsandBoon @Bronwynscott

cover154519-medium

‘I can protect you.’

But she must accept his ring!

An Allied at the Altar story: after an abusive marriage, Sofia is struggling to find acceptance in Society. So when dashing Viscount Taunton needs her investment for his business, she’s surprised by his strong, supportive nature.

In Conall’s arms, she discovers true pleasure. Yet to fully leave her past behind, Sofia must consider Conall’s offer of his full protection – in the form of wedding vows!

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Set in Victorian England, this is an ‘allied at the altar’, historical romance trope, with emotional depth, passion and a heroine and hero who epitomise the enterprise of this era.

Conall, the new Viscount Taunton, has to repair the family estate, which is almost bankrupt after his father’s death. He devises an entrepreneurial scheme to rejuvenate the family coffers and keep the estate workers employed but an outside investor is vital to its success.

Sofia is divorced and ostracised by society, except for her acquaintance with a Duke’s daughter. She meets Conall through this mutual connection and the chance of a business alliance brings the couple together. Sofia’s past threatens to destabilise her new life and only Conall can help her, but can she trust him?

A well layered, suspenseful plot, and complex easy to empathise characters make this very readable. The historical details add authenticity and the story’s passion and romance are emotionally grounded and believable.

A lovely alternative to the glamour of Regency romance.

I received a copy of this book via Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Advertisements
Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

5* Review- The Winter Mystery – Faith Martin @JoffeBooks @FaithMartin_Nov

Jenny Starling is spending Christmas in a snowed-in country house cooking all the traditional food she loves. But the family she’s working for are not full of the seasonal spirit. In fact, they seem to hate each other. On Christmas Eve, someone is found dead on the kitchen table. And the head of the family is blaming Jenny! But with an incompetent detective called in, and seemingly no motive for the murder, Jenny will have to give the police a hand. She will stop at nothing to clear her name and find the real murderer.

THE SETTING A snowed-in farmhouse in rural Oxford. A big Cotswold-stone Georgian house with stables, outhouses, cobbled courtyard and resident sheepdog. Charming, but cold and uncomfortable in winter.

JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.

Amazon UK

 My Thoughts…

This aptly named mystery is the perfect book for a cold, Winter’s afternoon. Jenny Starling is a strong, likeable character with a talent for crime solving. The cast of characters in this particular mystery is not easy to empathise, but when the most likeable of them is murdered, Jenny is first on the scene and becomes involved in solving the crime.

This is an old-fashioned crime mystery with false clues, numerous suspects and a particularly nasty murder. The slow pacing fits the story and the reader, aside from reading an interesting story can try and work out #whodunnit.

An easy to read, but cleverly plotted mystery with complex, realistic characters, and a memorable amateur detective.

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

A Miracle on Hope Street – Emma Heatherington – 5*#Review – @HarperImpulse @emmalou13

A Happy Christmas to everyone who reads my blog. This story has the perfect sentiments for this time of year.

Can a single act of kindness change a life forever?

To many people, Ruth Ryans has everything: the perfect job, a home to die for and a loving family. But it’s all lies. As Christmas approaches, Ruth feels lonelier than ever.

Then Ruth meets Michael. A man who, on the night of her father’s death the year before, she showed kindness to during his darkest moment. That one single act, his miracle, helped change his life forever.

Can one act of kindness really change a person’s life? Ruth decides to find out and plans to make this Christmas the most perfect one ever, opening up her home to those who need her help – the lonely, the lost and the ignored.

This Christmas actions will speak louder than words and Ruth Ryans’ kindness will create little miracles for everyone … including her own battered heart.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

If you’re looking for a heartwarming, poignant festive story, ‘ A Miracle on Hope Street’ is the perfect book.

Ruth Ryans is a national treasure, an agony aunt who spends her life solving other people’s problems. She ignores her own issues, which eight days before Christmas take a tragic turn, sending her in a downward spiral. Her random act of kindness on that night is forgotten, in her sea of grief, but a year later it may be her only salvation.

This is a story of despair and hopelessness countered with courage and kindness. The characters are complex and believable, and you empathise with their situations. The story charts Ruth rebuilding her life by helping others and is a charming often tearful read, but the ending is positive and uplifting and underscores the true meaning of this time of year.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Girl In The Corner – Amanda Prowse – 5*#Review – @MrsAmandaProwse @AmazonPub

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Rae-Valentine finds her life’s work; her marriage and the family business she troubleshoots is not what she believes, at her Silver Wedding Anniversary party. Feeling worthless and rudderless she refuses to go on her expensive anniversary holiday until her husband suggests she goes without him, but with her best friend Dolly, his sister.

The trip allows Rae to examine her life choices, but were they her decisions or just her only option? Experiences on the holiday, people she meets and deep heart-to-hearts with her best friend reveal some uncomfortable home truths. The ultimate question, is it too late to change things and live her own life?

Rae-Valentine and all the book’s characters are authentic and relatable, as are the situations they find themselves in. This is a story of realisation and self-belief that resonates with the reader and makes an everyday situation, a readable, page-turning story.

I received a copy of this book from Lake Union Publishing/Amazon Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Birthday Mystery- Faith Martin-5*#Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks

Jenny Starling is catering the twenty-first birthday party of a pair of posh twins, Alicia and Justin. But when she arrives at their parent’s country house, she is immediately met by the police. A young man has drowned in the pond. Was it an accident or murder? Then just after midnight, everyone gathers for a champagne toast. But one of the guests falls down dead. The police are baffled and there is a whole party full of suspects. But when it comes to someone adding the extra ingredient of poison to her own precious recipes, Jenny isn’t going to take it lying down. She has a reputation to protect. Jenny Starling won’t stop until the murderer is found. This is the first of a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page.

JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I’m so glad that this series of books has been released again, if you enjoy an English murder mystery with a strong emphasis on whodunnit, this book should meet your expectations.

Jenny Starling is a striking character, Amazonian-like in her stature and personality, she is a travelling cook but has an uncanny knack for Murder, solving it, that is. She has an uneasy relationship with the local police, rather like Miss Marple, but she is much younger.

The supporting casts of suspects are well-written and the plot is full of clues and misinformation. I did work out what happened but this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this very readable story, I can’t wait to read the next one.

I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson – 5* Review @debbiemjohnson @HarperImpulse

Christmas has never been Katie Seddon’s favourite time of year. Whilst everyone else shares memories of families coming together and festive number ones, the soundtrack to Katie’s childhood wasn’t quite so merry.

But since she moved to the village of Budbury on the gorgeous Dorset coast, Katie and her baby son have found a new family. A family who have been brought together by life’s unexpected roads and the healing magic of a slice of cake and a cupful of kindness at the Comfort Food Café.

This year, Katie’s new friends are determined to give her a Christmas to remember, and with a gorgeous newcomer in town, Katie’s Christmas wish for a happy home for her son might just come true.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

It’s always worth visiting the Comfort Food Cafe, whatever the season, but this one is extra special as it has a festive twist. The book reads perfectly as a complete story, but give yourself a treat with the rest of the series, if you haven’t already done so, they are worth reading.

This story will tug your heartstrings, Katie is a single mum who’s had a difficult life, Christmas was one of her worst times, but she values her friends at the cafe and is willing to let them make it special with a little persuasion.

Festive cheer, heartwarming friendship, with a little bit of poignancy make this the perfect Christmas read.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

5*Review – Sue Moorcroft – A Christmas Gift @SueMoorcroft@AvonBooksUK

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

The run-up to Christmas is the starting point for this book and things are not good for Georgine, in debt, she faces a bleak time, and compensates by giving her all to her vocational job at a performing arts school.

Joe is someone from her past who she doesn’t immediately recognise and this gives the story its romance and mystery and source of conflict. Although this story ends happily it is realistic and focuses on life’s rollercoaster ride, family, friends and relationships.

Believable characters, contemporary social situations and a sprinkle of Christmas magic, make this a great festive read.

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Festive Read

Murder on a Winter Afternoon – Betty Rowlands – 4*Review @bookouture

cover152581-medium

A snow-covered cottage is nestled in the hills, all ready for Christmas… but inside a body lies dead upon the floor.

Melissa Craig is enjoying her first winter in the Cotswolds, taking brisk walks through the snowy fields and basking in the winter sunshine. The only thing Melissa is plotting is her Christmas shopping.

But after the unexpected death of local writer Leonora Jewell, Melissa is asked to complete Leonora’s final book. However, on her first visit to the cottage, she finds a gruesome object overlooked by the police: a metal bar covered with dried blood.

Terrified, Melissa rushes to the nearest telephone box to call the police. But by the time they reach Leonora’s cottage, the murder weapon has mysteriously vanished.

With no murder weapon, the detective in charge of the case scoffs at Melissa’s suspicions. Furious and frustrated, Melissa focuses on finishing Leonora’s novel. But as she reads Leonora’s notes for the book, she starts to wonder… did Leonora accidentally plot out her own murder?

As Melissa does some investigating of her own, she uncovers some pretty suspicious local characters. But with the police unwilling to help, can Melissa solve this vicious crime alone? By hook, by crook, or by the book, Melissa must find the killers before they strike again…

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Winter always seems to enhance the attractiveness of murder mysteries, especially typically English ones like the Melissa Craig series. This is a particularly atmospheric story both in terms of snow and frost and the air of menace that follows the intrepid crime writer around as she becomes embroiled in another murder mystery.

This story sees the reappearance of Bruce, from earlier books in the series and he definitely brings out Mel’s impulsive personality traits. There is a lot going on in the background of this story, some of which seems superfluous to the plot. I worked out whodunnit, early on, this is possibly the author’s intention, as it shows up Mel’s fallibility, and increases the danger she faces.

Perfect for reading on a cold, stormy Winter’s day like today.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Her Brooding Scottish Heir – Ella Hayes – 5* Review @EllaHayesAuthor @MillsandBoon

A kiss under the Northern Lights…

Running from her broken engagement artist Milla O’Brien retreats to the Scottish Highlands. Only to arrive during a lavish wedding on the estate!

She finds the bride’s brother and brooding heir, Cormac Buchanan. Could they heal each other’s hearts?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

An amusing, poignant, romantic tale of Milla and Cormac, who meet in the Scottish Highlands.

Milla still grieving for the loss of her mother when she was younger, has her world decimated when her fiance betrays her. Cormac, a soldier and heir to a Scottish estate, is grieving and guilt-ridden about the death of his boyhood friend in war-torn Afghanistan. 

Milla’s escape to the Highlands turns out to be complicated when she finds herself in the middle of a society wedding, her worst nightmare. Home for Cormac is no longer a place of sanctuary the memories are too painful, but it’s his sister’s big day and he has to be there.

The attraction between the artist and the soldier is sizzling, although it takes a while for them to acknowledge it, given their fragile emotional states. There is conflict from their first meeting but somewhere deep inside they want to be happy again but do they deserve it and are they brave enough to trust again?

The subsidiary characters are charming and add to the story. without detracting from the main characters’ storyline. Written in a contemporary style, it is a quick read and the characters easy to empathise. Romantic but realistic and true to the genre.

Apart from the title, I enjoyed everything about this romantic novel. Given the contemporary storyline and writing style, the title seems outdated and not representative of the content.

An exciting new voice in Mills and Boon’s ‘True Love’ category romance.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review,

Posted in Book Review

Fingerprinted Hearts – 3*Review – Amy Spitzfaden

Sisters Fawn and Penny Anderson each have their own reason for loving More Please Bakery. It’s the place that helped Fawn heal after earth-shattering betrayal and an escape from Penny’s stalling relationship. But Fawn can’t forget her bittersweet history with the bakery’s handsome owner, Penny has a growing interest in the delivery boy, and the shop’s bank account is getting low.

When Penny lands them a celebrity client, reality TV star Delaney Roosevelt, Fawn dives in headfirst trying to come up with the perfect design. However, pleasing the starlet isn’t easy and soon heartbreak and scandal descend on the shop.

As the sisters face their romantic and professional demons they are forced to decide what is worth holding onto, and what they need to let go.

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

If you’re wanting a break from the wall-to-wall Christmas fiction, but still want romance and something sweet, ‘Fingerprinted Hearts’ is worth a read. Set in a bakery in Boston USA, it follows the lives of two sisters, Fawn and Penny, as they negotiate love, heartbreak and their careers.

It took me a while to get into this story, which throws you straight into Fawn’s emotional angst, but the sisters’ relationship is believable, and the plot has the necessary twists to hold the reader’s interest.

  An easy to read, cosy romance with authentic characters and a popular bakery setting. 

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.