A gorgeous and bittersweet
romance set in the South of France, about an old passion rekindled and the
choice between family loyalty and a great love.
Flora and Hugo are devoted
to their children, but when their girls leave home for university, their lives
seem empty. Hugo is cold and distant, leaving Flora unsure what their future
holds. When they are invited to a friend’s villa in the South of France, Flora
hopes the summer sun and gorgeous setting may bring them closer together. In a
crumbling, picturesque villa in the luscious French countryside, they are
introduced to Susie, Matt and their friends. Flora is surprised to meet Xavier,
her old flame, who she fell in love with one long lost summer when she was
eighteen. They parted suddenly all those years ago, leaving Flora wondering,
Handsome, passionate, sensitive, Xavier is so different from her
reliable, predictable Hugo. Both Flora and Xavier have moved on with their
lives, but is there something that still lingers between them? Or will Flora’s
devotion to her children, and her loyalty to Hugo, show her where her true
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A thoughtful story of first love, mature love after children have flown the nest and friendship all in a vividly described South of France setting.
Flora and Hugo are trying to find what life means for them, now their daughters have left the family home. Flora is determined to power through her sense of loss, but Hugo is uncommunicative, distant and lost. When they are invited to stay in France by old friends, Flora sees it as a new opportunity for them as a couple but Hugo it seems has other plans.
I like Flora and the cast of friends and new acquaintances, that gather at the villa. Hugo is harder to like, his attitude towards Flora grates, and his actions are selfish. However, like all the characters he realistic, and his behaviour is the necessary excuse for Flora to question her long marriage’s future validity when she meets her first love unexpectedly.
The story flows well and keeps its secrets until the end. Although the ending is not unexpected and may disappoint some, it is realistic and fitting.A gentle story that contrasts first and mature love.
has had an exciting career in fashion journalism and now writes full time,
whilst enjoying time with her grandsons and working as an occasional film and
TV extra. She lives in London.
Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anyone else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swears it’s over now, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.
Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And just for a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. The accident that happens will change her life forever.
Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.
And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a psychological thriller that resonates. Whilst, it has all the expected qualities of the genre, it contains so much more. A domestic thriller and a family drama, with secrets and tragedy. Mental Health issues and homelessness are major themes woven into the hard-hitting emotional story. The unreliable protagonist Ellie is a grandmother, which affords her a certain uniqueness in this genre, but her life is riddled with neglect, trauma and self-loathing. She is someone you empathise with, as each terrible injustice and secret are revealed. The ending seems just, but there is a twist that leaves you wondering.
The plot is complex and pacy, it keeps you guessing, whilst you are reeling from the horror and injustice of the women’s lives that are explored. It confuses, it’s meant to. The story is addictive, coherent, and full of relevant examples of mental health issues, and the largely overlooked plight of homelessness. It makes you think, and worry about the society we live in.
The thriller aspect is clever and calculating, the emotion is genuine and heartbreaking, the moral issues raised are thought-provoking and worrying. You will carry this story with you, and not many books in this genre can say that.
They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.
When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.
Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.
As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..
Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.
This is the second book in your Sean Richardson Series. What inspired you to write this series, and this book in particular?
I was keen to follow up from my first novel, and provide a high-octane novel incorporating some of the same characters, but taking the storyline from the failsafe query, on a new journey but keeping the golden threads of the agencies, politics, and ground operators. Hopefully, it will be seen as an insightful step forward. The novel can be read as a stand-alone, or as a follow on from the failsafe query. Well, the golden thread of the series is all about fusing the geo-politick, espionage, and treachery taking place amongst the mysterious geographic locations and settings that the novel takes place in. It’s really all about fusing the inner sanctums of government and British secret intelligence taking place in London, with the overseas ground operations that Sean and the other characters undertake, and witnessing the conflicts that occur from a national and personal perspective.
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
Yes, they are all drawn from real-life characters, but a blend of numerous people I served with. Sean, the main character, for example, is based upon three individuals I served with as an intelligence and bomb disposal officer – It was great fun blending in some of the raw character of my friends, their foibles, and their rough edges. It was important to me that Sean did not become the tired ‘lone wolf’ superspy that you usually find in spy thrillers, but I wanted him to use his charisma and flair to lead a team of highly skilled forensics operators. Sean is a highly skilled professional, who pulls off his missions by selecting and leading the right team of people for the job. He is flawed, he makes mistakes, pays his dues and has to find ways to live with the extensive trauma his profession has caused him.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
The first element I think of is the geopolitics of the day. For example, Then ‘Kompromat Kill’, is based on the ever-rising tensions of the US and Iran situation. ‘The Failsafe Query’, was based upon the ever-increasing influence that the Russians are having on western society, but both gave a nod back to the cold war too, and some underlying subplots that affect the main characters personal lives. I then look at the angle that provides real conflict and a mission to be achieved against skilled antagonists within the world of espionage. Then, I fit the characters as a team, to set out on the journey to achieve the mission, most often as deniable operations that cannot be attributed to the government of the day. It’s fun putting the plots and subplots together but takes months to get them right before I even start writing!
What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?
The genre appeals because I can draw upon my own experiences in the military to craft a story that is perhaps authentic and insightful, making use of modern-day cyber technology and spy tradecraft that utilises a range of technologies including geo-forensics. I was getting too old to keep climbing mountains as a hobby, so my wife encouraged me to finish off a novel I wrote some years ago – and make my journey as an author into retirement taking different risks in life!
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I very much like thrillers and spy thrillers in particular – I love the intrigue and can often relate to the missions, the conflict, the tensions and the stories.
What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?
The best thing is simply telling a story! I enjoy telling stories socially over a wine, relaying past experiences and fun, and my children love when I tell them stories too. To use your imagination and draw upon your own past experiences to make up dramatic new stories is the best – it really is great fun. The worst part for me is getting into a set rhythm once I start writing the story – and actually find the time when I have a busy life, a family, and jobs that need doing at work and at home!
What are you currently writing?
I haven’t started writing the third yet, but I have the framework of a plot that involves the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and how they will target Europe. Sean and the gang will undertake deniable operations as weapons runners, linking in with the middlemen who are supplying the terrorists across the Sahel, Mali, and sub-Sahara – The conflict will be the Russians involvement, and Sean will have to be sharp to stop devastation on home soil.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Spy thrillers are always intriguing, and especially ones written with insider insight and contemporary relevance. ‘The Kompromat Kill’, the second in the Sean Richardson series is a good example of everything that draws me to this genre.
The story is complex, but clearly written and has many twists, throwing up more questions than answers as it progresses, until the adrenaline-fuelled climax which ties up all the loose ends, and reveals all.
All the characters are believable, even if you have never encountered similar individuals, and Sean is a valid hero, because of his flaws and humanity. The author’s knowledge of the organisations and hierarchy means that this story avoids being cliched and remains relevant and realistic.
Even though this is part of a series, it reads well as a standalone, with the necessary backstory available for the new reader. This is my first Michael Jenkins novel but I eagerly look forward to number 3.
I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure were built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.
I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.
I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.
The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Manchester: Newlyweds Helen and Jim Harrison have big plans – to leave the
family shop where Helen works and set up home together. But when Jim is
tragically killed in an air raid, Helen is heartbroken, her life in ruins.
Battling grief and despair, Helen resolves to escape her domineering mother and rebuild her shattered world. Wartime Manchester is a dangerous place, besieged by crime and poverty. So when Helen joins the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps, working with evacuees, the destitute and the vulnerable, she finds a renewed sense of purpose. She’s come a long way from her place behind the counter in the corner shop.
there’s still something missing in her heart. Is Helen able to accept love and
happiness and find the courage to change her life?
I wanted to create a character – a young woman working in a
corner shop – who has little belief in herself. When her circumstances change
dramatically with the death of her husband, she is at her lowest ebb. The story
twists when she joins the police, finding strength in helping others,
especially women and children, and courage when she places herself in danger.
When you write what comes first the characters, the plot, or the setting?
I always know the wider setting, to begin with. In my first three novels, it was Belfast and my last two books have been set in Manchester. I’ve lived in both cities and I know the geography well but, more importantly, I have a sense of the atmosphere of the place and the character of the people. Almost at the same time, I focus on the main character, but it’s important as the story develops that she grows and changes with the events she experiences. As far as the plot is concerned, I don’t have a detailed story, just an idea to set it going and a possible ending with a few ideas in between. The detail comes when I’m immersed in the story. It’s almost as though the characters suggest what’s going to happen as it’s being written.
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mixture of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
They’re all bound up together, I think, but I never transfer
a real person into a novel. It’s more like a Rubik’s cube, twisting a complex
character into being. You aim for an authentic, believable person who is
memorable, even if they only play a small part in the novel. Overall, I think
dialogue is one of the best ways to make characters realistic.
If you could live in any time period which would it be? Why?
As a writer of WW2 sagas/romances, I would love to spend a day or two in Belfast during the war, just to see the city as it was when my family lived through that period. I would have no desire to stay any longer because, through my research, I know full well the hardships they endured.
What made you decide to become a writer and why this does this genre appeal to you?
I began to write in my thirties and for over twenty years I
wrote poetry and short stories. I didn’t have the time to write anything longer
because I had children and I worked as an English teacher and Assistant Head.
Eventually, I decided I would write a family saga set in WW2 based on the story
of my mother and her sisters who were singers, like the Andrews Sisters,
entertaining the troops. That novel ‘Martha’s Girls’ was a success and I went
on to write a trilogy.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I like books that are well written. If I’ve read 3-4 chapters and it hasn’t grabbed me, I don’t persevere. I like historical novels, with elements of romance, and the occasional crime novel.
What are you currently writing?
I’m working on a third Manchester novel set in WW2. It’s the story of two sisters and their completely different experiences of war. The youngest is conscripted into the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, where she is part of the exciting Parachute Training School. The older sister stays at home looking after their invalid mother, enduring the hardships of the home front.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story focuses on women in WW2, how their lives changed, and how many were exposed to deprivation, uncertainty and violence. The writing is full of vivid historical details and believable characters, some you dislike passionately, but most you admire, and can empathise.
Helen is newly married, living and working at her mother’s corner shop in Manchester. After a tragedy, leaves her widowed, and she finally rebels against her controlling mother in the midst of her grief, she finds herself jobless and in a home, she can’t afford.
Offered a lifeline by her godmother, she finds that not everything is as it first appears. Her brush with the seedier side of life, makes her rethink, can she give something to society and fill her lonely hours? Joining the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps seems an opportunity too good to miss.
Helen naivety is shortlived, and her compassion and courage make her an excellent police auxiliary. The story is interesting and full of emotion and historical insight that make this wartime saga a page-turner. The challenges for Helen and women in war are realistic and give this story its authenticity.
This is a compelling story with great characters and a lovely hesitant love story that gives the story its hope for the future.
Alrene Hughes grew up in Belfast and has lived in Manchester for most of her adult life. She worked for British Telecom and the BBC before training as an English teacher. After teaching for twenty years, she retired and now writes full-time. Facebook Twitter
Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930s.
Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.
Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Grace needs to escape from her daily life, she has a broken heart, a controlling mother and a family who take her for granted, no wonder she enjoys her work, where she is appreciated. Finding some letters and treasures in a storage unit whose payments have lapsed, Grace finds a kindred spirit in Connie. She finds both, courage and solace whilst learning her story and tracking down her heirs.
There is a good mystery to solve, romance, but most of all a journey of self-discovery for Grace. The Italian scenes are vividly described and give the story added interest. The historical aspect of the story is well-written and shows the problems faced by women in the 1940s. There are obvious similarities between Connie and Grace’s stories, but some important differences too.
This is an emotion-driven story, you feel for both Connie and Grace as they are constrained by their circumstances, familial demands and society’s expectations.
There is a detailed epilogue, which draws the drama together well, and gives Grace the hopeful ending she deserves.
Everyone knows that being a single mother means having no time to yourself. But for CallieBrown, it’s more exhausting than most. She’s juggling the needs of three teenage children, two live-in parents, a raffish ex-husband, and a dog who never stops eating.
The last thing Callie needs is anything more on her plate. So when she bumps (quite literally) into a handsome, age-appropriate cyclist, she’s quick to dismiss him from her life. After all, if she doesn’t have time to brush her hair in the morning, she certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I love the easy to read writing style of this novel. The themes are familiar to everyone who parents or has parented teenagers or looked after elderly parents. There’s a glossary of teenage vocabulary at the end of the story for the uninitiated. It is the story that most of us have thought of writing at some time, but this author has actually done it and with great results.
Callie is a single mum, with twin girls and a son from her previous relationship who she has been a mother to for eight years, her ex is frankly abysmal, and her ageing parents are a further emotional and physical drain on her already depleted resources. Getting run over by a takeaway delivery bike, is the final straw, she’s invisible and surely something has to change?
Modern family stories are particularly popular and relevant at this moment. This story has many laugh-out-loud moments mixed in with strong emotional poignant scenes, especially concerning Wilf. It is a story of family, friends, self- worth and love, in all its forms.
An absorbing, yet quick read, I read it today in a couple of hours. Its charm is in its relatability and believable characters. A lovely, emotional humorous read.
Guest Post: All about time for you… Fiona Perrin
HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR ME was inspired by all the women I know who (in the words of the old ad campaign) juggle their lives. I was particularly interested in writing about those who find themselves part of the ‘sandwich generation’ – looking after children as well as ageing parents, mostly while holding down a job (but probably also still making the sandwiches).
It struck me that ‘having it all’ as we say, frequently
means having no time to yourself. We have children to bring up, extended
families to support and it can be just at the time that careers develop and
grow difficult. Callie, the heroine of my novel, is also a single mother with a
complicated, modern and messy family, full of happiness but also pretty
challenging. How does she get any time for herself let alone the opportunity to
fall in love?
I’m not a single mother now, but I was for a few years and I
remember the chaos fondly, but also a constant feeling of exhaustion. Luckily,
I found time to meet Alan and fall in love and now, we have just about waved
all four of our kids off to Uni and careers.
But with them as teenagers, our house was hectic – demanding
but also, fun. HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR ME heavily features teenagers and shows the
pressures they are up against – as well as taking the mickey out them. It has
footnotes to explain teenager-speak for example – they have a whole lingo of
their own. While it’s great to have time to ourselves, I really miss the
madness of those teenage years, and the kids and their friends all hanging
around the house, doing not much. But they all seem to come home quite often
too, mostly with huge bags of washing and to eat their way through the fridge.
I’m really lucky in that my Mum is about the most active,
healthy, supportive parent you can imagine. However, she is also a carer for my
older stepfather, while in her seventies – he can no longer walk – so I have
some understanding of being responsible for the older generation too. HOW TO
MAKE TIME FOR ME features two loopy parents that Callie adores but also add to
the demands on her day. I have dedicated this book to my Mum just so she knows
they were in no way based on her.
I would love it if readers took a little time out for
themselves to read my novel. They might also enjoy Callie’s struggle to stop
feeling ‘invisible’ just as she is knocked off her feet quite literally by a
rather attractive neighbour. She immediately feels that there is no way she
will have time to fall in love with him, but sometimes life has other ideas.
Thanks so much for this opportunity to appear on your brilliant blog.
Fiona Perrin was a journalist
and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in
industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative
Writing course before writing The Story After Us. Fiona grew up in Cornwall,
hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now writes as
often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of The Lizard
A bachelor party on a cruise ship. What could go wrong?
When private detective Francie is hired to spy on a groom-to-be as he and his bachelor party set sail for the Caribbean, she thinks she’s landed herself a week of paid vacation. Between lounging in the sun and sipping margaritas, she just needs to–best-case scenario–report back that he’s on the up and up, or–the unfortunate, more likely scenario–snap a few photos of her target in compromising positions, buy a box of sympathy chocolates for her client, and then collect her pay along with a nice golden suntan.
Blame it on the island breezes or the alcohol, but within hours of setting sail, Francie’s leisurely vacation gets complicated when she starts making careless mistakes. Like accidentally becoming friends with the groom and falling for his best man.
Can she get herself and her mission back on track, or has she blown her cover and possibly even her career?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I enjoyed this quirky, humorous novella, part of a series of eight books, by different authors. Each is a standalone read connected by the cruise ship. Romantic comedies, they are lighthearted and reminded me of a twenty-first-century version of the 1970’s ‘ The Love Boat’, television series.
‘I Will Follow Him’, features Francie, a private investigator following in her father’s footsteps. She is hired to follow a bridegroom to be on his bachelor party by his suspicious fiancee. The party takes place on a cruise ship and then the fun really starts for Francie.
Francie lacks self-esteem, evidenced by her sometimes boyfriend’s treatment of her. The cruise proves to be her salvation but also causes professional issues for her. The romance is sweet, and a little contrived, but this adds to the enjoyment. I like Francie and would be happy to read more of her private investigator exploits.
A fun, romantic story, with believable characters and situations, a holiday setting and a heroine who is easy to like.
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books including Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women.
*Terms and Conditions –US entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.