Ellie’s brand new enterprise, the True Loaf Bakery, is finally open and classes are due to start. But when Katja’s ski-ing holiday ends in disaster, a new teacher must be found very quickly. Anita is up for the challenge, but – fresh from a break-up and an operation that’s left her feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable – the last thing she’s looking for when she moves to Sunnybrook is a new relationship. So it’s Sod’s law that she should find herself with not one but two guys vying for her attention. Sven, from Denmark, is a bit of an enigma – but maybe passion lurks beneath his cool reserve? And as for twenty-five-year-old football coach Ross – surely she’d be asking for trouble getting involved with a gorgeous man a decade her junior? (Although her football-mad son Rufus seems to love him.) Moving in with Bertha proves a real comfort – but can Anita get to the bottom of what’s troubling the older woman? Anita’s job at the True Loaf Bakery is only temporary, but she finds herself drawn ever deeper into life in the village – especially when she finds a child’s bracelet from long ago, in the rubble of the newly-renovated building. Solving the mystery of who it belongs to takes Anita on a journey of discovery – a journey that might just help her discover what her own heart really needs…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Another emotional and heartwarming book in the Little Duck Pond series. Anita and her young son are the latest characters at the new bakery. Interesting snippets about baking interspersed with getting to know Anita and her problems. There all the ingredients to make this an engaging read, friendship, humor, and romance.
It’s an uplifting story.
Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.
Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.
Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.
Rosie’s Little Duck Pond Cafe series of novellas is centered around life in a village cafe. Each book can be read as a stand-alone story.
I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric, intriguing fusion of psychological thriller and police procedural. Written from multi viewpoints, it allows the reader an omnipotent insight into events both past and present from the unreliable protagonists’ viewpoint and that of the detective leading the investigation into their disappearance.
Based on betrayal, deceit and secrets, most of the characters are hard to like as they exhibit the worst side of humanity. The suspense-building uses sensory imagery to immerse the reader into the barren and unforgiving setting. This allows the reader insight into what the characters perceive and how it feels. Even ordinary occurrences are disturbing in the right circumstances.
She might not have much in this world, but it cost nothing to be kind…
Meet Miranda Brown: you can call her Mim. She’s jobless, homeless and living in her car… but with a history like hers she knows she has a huge amount to be grateful for.
Meet Beatrice and William Howard: Bill and Bea to you. The heads of the Howard family and owners of Venhallow Hall, a sprawling seaside Devonshire estate… stranded in a layby five hours from home the night before their niece’s wedding.
When fate brings the trio together, Mim doesn’t think twice before offering to drive the affable older couple home. It’s not like she has anywhere else to be. But as the car pulls into the picturesque village of Littlemead, Mim has no idea how her life is about to change…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Mim is currently homeless, but she still offers to help a couple whose car breaks down. This selfless act is a turning point for Mim. She is a relatable character with a kind heart but an understandable wary outlook. The Howard family positively changes her life, and she learns that their family isn’t perfect and that relationships need work to flourish.
This is a character-driven story with believable family dynamics and authentic characters. Mim’s relationship with Corin intensifies as they get to know each other, and these two characters experience the most notable character development.
A heartwarming and poignant story.
Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire,where she lives with her husband, daughter and mischievous cat. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Kate’s debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.
WELCOME TO THE BEAUTIFUL SEASIDE TOWN OF PORT AGNES.
A fresh start…
Midwife Ella Mehenick left the small Cornish town of Port Agnes for London and never looked back. But when her seemingly perfect life crashes down around her, there’s only one place she can heal her battered heart – the place she once called home.
A new arrival…
Ella is quickly welcomed into the small community midwife team and loves her new job caring for mums and their precious babies – it’s what she does best! But being back also means facing ex-flame Dan Ferguson…the first man to break her heart.
A second chance at love?
Dan is still as gorgeous as ever, but he’s never forgiven Ella for leaving. And now she’s back it’s clear that there is unfinished business between them. As Ella settles into her new/old life, she can’t stop the memories of how she once loved Dan so completely – and maybe never stopped.
Maybe coming home to Cornwall is Ella’s chance to love again…
Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes- where community, friendship and love are always delivered.
This book was previously published as Return to Port Agnes.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book has the perfect balance of drama, humour and romance to keep me turning the pages. Ella returns home to heal after her engagement ends disastrously. She wants to hide, but the community at Port Agnes won’t allow that and draw her into their close-knit, and for the most part, comforting world.
The immersive writing style is engaging, and the characters are relatable. The vividly depicted Cornish setting has memorable characters. The author highlights contemporary issues that affect coastal communities adding authenticity.
The community midwives team give the story its focus, with many heartwarming and poignant moments. There is a sense of camaraderie that is believable. Ella’s life in Port Agnes is about second chances, new and rekindled friendships, a rebuilding of self-esteem and romantic possibilities with the man she left behind.
This is a lovely story.
Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing in between her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with her family and three dogs on the Kent coast. Boldwood is publishing the first title in The Cornish Midwife Series – part of a twelve-book deal – in April 2021.
Former TV star Brandi Tyler’s big screen debut crashed and burned amid rumors of an affair with her married co-star… Now, she wants nothing more than to quietly slink away from Hollywood. When she’s offered an opportunity to get out of town and work on a project involving the photographer that launched her career, it seems like the perfect escape! Unfortunately for Brandi, her famous face makes hiding out even a huge city like Houston a little tricky.
When the celebrated photographer’s son offers to let her use his home for privacy, it seems like everything is falling into place. Little does she know that Michael Ames a gorgeous best selling author, and he comes with the package! As Brandi makes her way through old photographs and new scandals, Michael struggles with his next project, and they both fight the growing attraction between them.
Maybe a posse of new girlfriends, some Texas-sized boozy brunches, and a little private time in the writer’s room will help this leading lady find her path back onscreen. And, if she can just picture it, maybe this time she’ll even find love?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Told from Brandi and Michael’s viewpoints, this is a gently paced story. Brandi’s first film is a flop, and the press haunts her, about an alleged off-screen romance, with her married co-star. Devastated by the effect on her life, she wants somewhere to heal and hide. In Houston, she finds the anonymity she seeks but also friendship, respect and the chance of real romance.
Brandi and Michael’s slow-burn romance and witty dialogue engage the reader. This a charming, romantic read with contemporary conflict, emotion and vibrant characters.
Born in Montreal but raised in New England, author Michelle L. E. Price has been writing as long as anyone can remember. An avid reader who was on the verge of losing her mind as a mom to two small children, Michelle began writing her first book, Hidden in the Writer’s Room, as an escape… at least her characters would do exactly what she told them to do and she could always count on a happily ever after ending. She also enjoys wine, re-watching 90’s sitcoms and occasionally running, but heavily relies on writing to stay sane. Michelle is a firm believer that laughter and love are the best parts of life.
From the glittering ballrooms of the ton to the city’s grittiest corners, London has no shortage of wrongs in need of righting–and the Maidens of Mayhem are prepared for the challenge. United by secrecy and sisterhood, these daring women from all walks of life aim to fight injustice wherever it takes them–even into the arms of unexpected love. This feminist take on Regency-era Robin Hoods from USA Today bestselling author Anabelle Bryant is destined to storm readers’ hearts!
Scarlett Wynn’s tragic childhood taught her that life can be cruel to women with little power. So when a local seamstress disappears, Scarlett vows to find out why. Armed with a weapon and her courage, Scarlett scours London for clues–and crosses the unlikely path of Ambrose Cross, the Duke of Aylesford, at an unlikely place: an upscale brothel. The Duke is trying to solve a mystery of his own, and Scarlett is sure they can help each other–if she can resist the attraction that draws them together…
As Duke of Aylesford, Ambrose is duty-bound to protect his family name from scandal no matter the cost. But Scarlett’s fearless spirit forces him to look beyond his world of privilege. Scarlett is as intoxicating as she is dangerous, igniting a fire in him like no other. When the pair learn both mysteries they’re trying to solve are tied to a string of missing women, the tangled scheme they uncover may put their lives, and their growing love, in mortal danger–and lead them to search their hearts like never before…
I received a copy of this book from Kensington Books – Zebra via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is the first book in the Maidens of Mayhem series with a strong female protagonist determined to find a missing acquaintance despite the danger of doing so. Meeting Ambrose Duke of Aylesford is disconcerting, she knows nothing can come of it, but the attraction is undeniable.
Scarlett and Ambrose share their connections to solve the mystery, which is more menacing than first supposed. There is danger, deceit and passion in this story, which explores the less salubrious side of Regency London.
Despite the gravity of the storyline, this remains a lighthearted read. It promises courageous women, passionate men and dastardly villains and delivers an engaging, escapist read.
USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn’t want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?
Anabelle’s books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn’t all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master’s Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education.
A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn’t provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do. Visit her website at AnabelleBryant.com
When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.
Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place.
During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.
But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.
After the Storm is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line. Grab your copy today and enjoy the intrigue of traditional English mystery, cleverly combined with a continental twist.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is the second book in the Guiseppe Bianchi mysteries set in Bexhill on Sea. The mystery is complete but reading the first book gives the reader insight into the main character, his family and his secrets. The setting in the nineteen sixties is atmospheric and authentic. The gently paced investigation is in keeping with the historical period and encompasses different threads interwoven into the main investigation.
Guiseppe is an enigmatic character, intuitive, likeable and a little mysterious. The investigative partnership with journalist Christina works well. Their different skills complement the other. The family is central to the story and valued by Guiseppe.
If you are looking for a gently paced, well-written mystery, this is worth reading.
Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then she has gone on to publish six novels, three novellas and two short story collections.
Her latest novel, After the Storm, is the second novel in a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.
Her first Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.
Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.
A new start cancome from the most unexpected places…
It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.
After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting with Streamside Cottage. A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.
Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.
As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.
Do you love or hate tattoos? They can attract an extreme reaction and that’s the reason I wanted to write a story featuring a tattoo artist as the main character. Even though tattoos are mainstream these days, stigma still exists around them, along with set ideas about the *type of person* who would get one. It’s only in recent years, for example, that the Met Police have relaxed their policy on officers being banned from having visible ones on their hands or face. I wanted to show that they represent so much more than just a piece of art. It is the reasons behind why people put themselves under the needle that interest me most.
In 2016 I started my mental health recovery. Buddhism was a big part of this and I decided I wanted a tattoo of a lotus flower, on my wrist. It was my first and it’s very small – I now wish I’d had it drawn much bigger! It’s a daily reminder of how far I’ve come, and how I need to keep doing what I did in 2016 to stay well. Whilst she inked me I chatted to the artist, admiring her incredible skill. She talked about the many reasons people want tattoos. As part of her job she hears painful stories, about abuse for example, or bereavement. I chatted about my personal journey as the tracing paper version of my lotus flower became pink and vibrant on my skin.
Of course, you’re always going to get those tattoos that have been done whilst drunk on holiday and are misspelt, and they carry entirely different stories! But reputable artists won’t ink anyone under the influence and you have to be over eighteen. And, like Lizzie in my story, each artist has their own set of ethics, such as refusing to ink on the name of a short-term boyfriend or girlfriend in case the relationship breaks down, or saying no to doing them on a part of the body they’ll rub off easily, such as the fingers.
Tattoos have been around as long as the Ancient Egyptians, and to me are as much a part of human life as haircuts or make-up. Very often they represent a hard time that person has been through, yet some critics still only associate them with people of dubious character. They’d no doubt be surprised to learn that Winston Churchill had one! I understand why not everyone wants a tattoo – I’m not sure a Mohican haircut would suit me, for example – but that’s the beauty of being human, our individualism.
I thoroughly enjoyed doing research and each chapter begins with an interesting fact, such as how the Indian Apatani tribe used to tattoo young girls to make them unappealing to rival tribes who might abduct the most beautiful women. Or how some people get loved ones’ ashes put into the tattoo ink, as a permanent commemoration.
Lizzie’s job is a big reason she fell out with her parents – or is it? If you read this story I hope you enjoy her emotional journey to the village of Leafton, to find out why they cut her out of their life so completely. It’s a novel about confronting the past in order to face the future.
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
The Therapist is an addictive blend of cleverly crafted characters, nail-biting psychological suspense and a puzzling plot. Alice and Leo move into the exclusive gated development in London to begin their lives together. Alice is unsure if London life will suit her, but Leo wants to live in London, and she wants to see more of him.
Told exclusively from Alice’s perspective, she soon reveals herself as an unreliable protagonist. A past family tragedy still defines her life, and she sees the change of lifestyle as a way of living again. Alice dislikes The Circle’s sinister ethos. A series of unexpected revelations intensify her emotional vulnerability to breaking point. Everyone has secrets, and Alice isn’t sure who she can trust. The house’s tragic history immerses Alice until her life starts to unravel, pushing her relentlessly towards danger.
Short passages from the past with undefinable characters intensify the sense of menace and suspense towards the climactic, twisted conclusion. The final shocking twist is well disguised. This is a book you won’t want to put down. It will have you checking you’ve locked the doors.
With a mother unfit for purpose and a brother who despises her, working girl Amber can rely on no one but herself – until the meanest pimp in Manchester, Kevin Pike, offers her his protection. Unfortunately, this attracts the fury of Cora, a prostitute no one wants to get on the wrong side of…
NOWHERE TO HIDE
When Cora is found strangled to death, the late-night city streets feel increasingly exposed with a killer on the loose. And as Amber grows closer to Kevin, she realises his security comes at a price she might not be willing to pay…
NOTHING TO LOSE
Amber is frozen in fear, knowing one wrong move will risk her life. But then she discovers a horrifying secret that forces her to choose: stay or run?
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria and Aries via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Book four in The Working Girls series is a haunting and tragic story.
All the books in this series are a unique mix of gritty and poignant, but as Amber is a victim of child abuse and child sexual abuse, this is difficult to read and hard to forget. Sensitively written with a focus on the emotional damage abuse causes, this book focuses on the victims.
The dual timeline story moves from the early 1990s when Amy is a little girl through to her teenage years and closer to the present day when Amber is a working girl. The plot is fast-paced as Amy’s life gradually becomes Amber’s. The characters, some new, and a few familiar faces are relatable, and after a climactic conclusion, there is a positive ending.
This is an edgy and poignant series that explores urban crime in Manchester.
Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels.
After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children.
Amy wanted to run through the rooms just one more time. She loved their home in Cheadle. It was big and cosy with a garden that went all the way round. Her grandparents said that was because it was detached, and it was in a good area too. She’d spent many happy hours in the playroom with her friends or in the sprawling back garden on the swing, slide and climbing frame.
She was going to miss it, but her mother had promised her that the house they were moving to was also very nice. It wasn’t as big as this one and they would only have room for the swing in the garden but nevertheless her mother was going to make sure that it was just as cosy.
She had also told Amy and Nathan that their friends could come and visit them in the new house, and that they’d probably make new friends too. Amy enjoyed playing with her friends and knew that she was going to miss them, but she felt better knowing that they would be welcome anytime.
At the top of the stairs she turned and walked into her old bedroom, clutching her favourite teddy bear, Barney. Her bedroom was at the back of the house and overlooked the garden with its neat lawns and pretty flowers. Amy caught a glimpse of the slide and the climbing frame that would be left behind, and she felt sad. But she tried not to cry, knowing she had promised her mother she would be a brave girl when they had to leave their nice home.
‘Come on, Barney,’ she said, addressing her teddy bear. ‘Don’t cry. We’ve got to be brave for Mummy. The men have put my bed in the van, and I’ll tuck you up nice and warm in it when we get to the new house.’
The garden was now devoid of the picturesque planters that her mother had lovingly nurtured. They were inside the big van that was parked outside the front of their house. Many of their belongings were also inside and as Amy walked through the empty bedrooms, she could hear the echo of her footsteps.
Next, she walked into her mother’s bedroom and looked out of the window at the men who were busy carrying boxes from the kitchen. She spotted her friend, Maisie, with her mother, hovering at the edge of the garden, and Amy let out an excited squeal. She ran down the stairs, eager to see Maisie one last time before she had to leave.
‘Maisie,’ she shouted enthusiastically as she sped out of the front door, dodging one of the men who was carrying a box full of kitchen utensils. ‘We’re going to our new house today.’
Maisie smiled. ‘I know. My mummy told me. She said we can come to see you off.’
Amy held up her teddy bear. ‘Barney’s coming too. He’s really happy.’ She held up her teddy bear and addressed him. ‘Aren’t you, Barney?’ She moved his head to indicate a nod.
‘What other toys are you taking?’ asked Maisie and for a few minutes they chatted animatedly until Amy’s mother, Loretta, drew their attention. ‘Come on, Amy. It’s time to go.’
‘Aw, Mummy,’ complained Amy. ‘Can I stay for a bit longer? Can Maisie come and play in the garden for a bit? The slide and climbing frame are still there.’
‘No, Amy,’ said her mother. ‘The men are finished now. We need to go.