Relationships are complicated. Long-distance ones, even more so.
When Lisa Millar met AJ Williams online through mutual friends, she wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the man of her dreams. She was even less prepared to discover that he already had a wife. In a heart-wrenching story of love attempting to transcend miles, Lisa finds herself pregnant and on the wrong side of the Atlantic from the man she loves.
Will their love conquer all? Or will the intricacies of a relationship woven across the Atlantic be too much to take and tear them apart once and for all?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Another passionate chapter of the internet romance between Lisa and AJ. This new adult romance is emotional with touches of humour and sadness that draw you into their lives and make you care what happens to them. Lisa’s pregnant, and this leads to a new vulnerability, whilst highlighting the drawbacks of her relationship with A.J.
The story is sensitively written, and the characters, as in the first book, continue to be believable.The story charts the rough with the smooth, before tumbling to the inevitable cliff hanger, which is a signature of this series.
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Horses, romance, scandal and secrets in the delightful rural setting of The Cotswolds. It begins with a nail-biting prologue and then launches into life in Compton Magna several years later. The connection is Luca, someone who has an extraordinary gift with horses. He has a reputation as a womaniser, but he has hidden depths and a plethora of secrets to be revealed as the story progresses.
The characters are many, and all of them richly described in such a vivid way that they are believable. The plot is complex, exploring relationships, village life, family drama and mysterious events and secrets. The Compton Magna stud is the focus of the story, so the horses and dogs are important characters too, which is part of the charm for me.
This is written in true bonkbuster style. It’s long, packed to the rafters with glamorous and enigmatic characters, many of whom behave less than circumspectly. Scandal, secrets and sex are rife in Compton Magna, which is a sharp contrast to the glorious rural setting. The humour is what makes this story so readable, and the snapshots on life and people so astute, that its worth reading for characterisation alone.
I loved this author’earlier stories, and this one reminds me of them, an enjoyable escapist read, full of emotion and sparkling dialogue, in a quintessentially rural England setting.
Guest Post – Fiona Walker – The Three Big Questions Most Author’s Get Asked Are:
How did you first get published?
The answer I always give is: my novel was plucked out of the infamous Slush Pile when I was twenty-three and sold in a weekend. I was just so lucky!
That was more than half my lifetime ago now, and I still marvel at the Disney Princess naivety with which I stumbled into my writing career in the 1990s. Luck played an undeniable part: right time, right place. But I’d already done the hard bit – written a full-length book – before it surfaced in that slush pile. For me, getting published was enviably easy. My first few books were big best-sellers. I had no idea of the knock backs and soul-searching that would come further along the road. Staying published twenty-seven years later, now that’s taken a lot more blood, sweat and tears…
Yet writing Country Lovers reminded me exactly why I love this job so much, and why I can’t imagine doing anything else.
How do you discipline yourself to do it?
Ask me this, and I’ll tell you I sit alone in a room with my imagination for most of the day, most of the year, at the end of which a book pops out.
The truth is I procrastinate endlessly. I talk to the dogs, I wander around my office, I play the ukulele I keep on a stand on my desk, I shout at myself, I look up my reviews on Amazon, then everyone else’s reviews on Amazon. I type sentences then delete them. I look at the clock a lot. I make countless cups of coffee most of which get ignored go cold. If I do drink them, I need to get up to go to the loo a lot. I think, think, think about my plot and the characters.
Then suddenly, from nowhere, I’m through the door to my imaginary world and I can’t type fast enough. A thousand words, three, five. Oh hell, I’m on a roll and I need to do the school run. I try to keep in my head what’s going to happen next, the loon mum waiting in her car with the two pairs of reading glasses on her head, muttering repeatedly to herself.
Back at my desk, children abandoned elsewhere in the house, I write on, Seven thousand words, eight. I don’t look at the clock at all. Long-suffering partner makes supper. I appear briefly, thinking about the book all the time, disappear back into my study and tell him I’ll be up to bed in a minute. Ten thousand words, eleven.
At three in the morning, I go to bed, knowing I must sleep. I think about the book until I drift off. My eyes snap open five hours later, still thinking about it, and I rush back to my desk.
It really does happen like that sometimes.
Writing Country Lovers was like that.
Where do you get your ideas from?
To which, I laugh gaily laugh and say ‘they’re all around us – just look and listen! I find stories every day in the news, at the school gate, overheard in the train, meeting friends for coffee. It’s limiting the ideas I have trouble with.’ Stock answer, and absolutely true.
When I set out to write Country Lovers I was all-too-aware that it’s my eighteenth full-length novel, on top of which I’ve written countless short stories, some nearer novella length. My novels are big – 600 plus page full-week-on-a-sun-lounger big – and full of multiple strands. I could make at least three smaller novels out of one of them (a friend once joked ‘you put absolutely every plot idea you’ve had in each one because you’re frightened you might never get to write another!’).
That’s a lot of ideas. I genuinely never run out of them, but I do worry I’m going to repeat myself.
Country Lovers might have a setting I’ve used before and a few favourite characters returning in it, but the central story is one I’ve never explored: what would happen if you met your perfect match on the worst night of your life?
I hope the only thing that repeats itself is that incredible luck I had twenty-seven years ago.
Fiona Walker, Oct 2019
Fiona Walker is the author of eighteen novels, from tales of flat-shares and clubbing in nineties London to today’s romping, rural romances set amid shires, spires and stiles. In a career spanning over two decades, she’s grown up alongside her readers, never losing her wickedly well-observed take on life, lust and the British in love. She lives in Warwickshire, sharing a slice of Shakespeare Country with her partner, their two daughters and a menagerie of animals.
When Franco, a teenager living in the monastery at Monte Cassino in 1944 uncovers a long-lost Roman Eagle, the fabled Aquila for the Jupiter Legion, he sets in motion a desperate struggle to prevent the Nazis from using it to win the war. In a do-or-die mission, Franco and Dulcie, a teenage mountain girl, must steal the Eagle back and escape before its deadly power is unleashed. Pursued by the implacable forces of the SS they will discover not just the secrets of the Eagle but also themselves.
I received a copy of this book from The Conrad Press in return for an honest review.
I like the staging of this story before the tale, set towards the end of WW2, begins. The legend of Jupiter’s Fire is retold in an exciting visual way. The story is fast-paced. with recognisable historical characters, and full of visual imagery, which allows the reader to see the events in their mind as they unfold.
The protagonists are youthful and the mix of courage and naivety is realistic. The ethos of the final months of World War two is well portrayed, and the historical characters add authenticity to the story. There is a strong thread of myth and supernatural in this story, which makes the conflict the young couple have to face harder and their chances of success less likely.
An interesting story in the style of the ‘mythical search for the holy grail’, against a background of evil, legend and war, full of dangerous secrets and self-realisation for the two young protagonists.
William Osborne – Born 1960 – educated at Greshams School, Holt, Norfolk and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach, California, studied law at Cambridge,(MA), barrister at law, Member of the Middle Temple. Screenwriter and member of Writers Guild of America (West) – Author (published works, 1994, 1998, Hitler’s Angel, Winter’s Bullet, Jupiter’s Fire). Lives in Norfolk, enjoys life, film, dog walking, cold water swimming, lego, collecting odd stuff, driving his beach buggy.
Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.
Ben’s wife Ana has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heatwave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?
St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book featuring Dutch detective DCI Jansen, who finds himself mystified by the close-knit English village community. It seems no one believes in plain-speaking, preferring closing ranks, and relying on innuendos.
The story is a sad one. Two brothers take a camping trip two years earlier. One is presumed dead, the other convicted of murder, but is it that simple. Ana, the accused brother’s partner. believes not. She has no chance of proving this until the missing brother’s body is found buried in the village. Now, his brother can’t be the murderer. DCI Jansen has to find the real killer, but although gossip is rife in the village, there is nothing of substance, and everyone is keeping secrets.
DCI Jansensuffers a personal tragedy, which he has to conquer, to stop his emotional state having a detrimental effect on the case. Ana wants to help her partner but doesn’t want to reveal what she knows. She feels threatened, and the suspense and menacing ethos surrounding her are well-written.
There is a strong psychological element to this story, particularly from Ana’s perspective, as events from her past invade her present situation. Events are revealed, from Leo’s point of view, in the past, and Ana, Ben and DCI Jansen’s points of view, in the present. The two timelines create dramatic irony, the reader knowing things the characters don’t at that time.
Scene setting and character dynamics form the first part of the book, this slows the pace, but the short chapters and active voice, keep the story moving satisfactorily, ensuring reader engagement.There are several viable suspects, and even though you may guess who did it, early on in the story, there are plenty of smoke and mirrors. to make you doubt it.
Clever twists and a final reveal, make this a good story, with its solid police procedural theme tempered with psychological suspense.
Rachael Blok grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London Comprehensive and is now a full-time writer living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.
Guest Post- Rachael Blok – ‘The Scorched Earth’, and Ana: where she came from.
The Scorched Earth has a number of different voices, but my protagonist is Ana, a woman struggling with grief as her partner is in jail, and then ghosts from her past emerge: she begins to hear footsteps behind her in a car park late and night; she begins to look over her shoulder… Ana’s experiences are both ideas I’ve wanted to write about for a while. It was a pleasure to see her come to life on paper.
Women are told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if they’re being attacked…
As a woman, I’ve felt on more than one occasion a burst of fear walking home in the dark, or walking into a car park late a night. My mum, my sister and I all took a self-defence course years ago, and we were told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if we’re attacked – people respond more if their property is threatened! I have no answer for this, but I find it terrifying. This fear resonates in the novel and I think, it’s fear men and women should both be aware of. I always tell my husband that if he’s walking behind a woman on her own, late at night, he should drop back – make sure she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder or be concerned about a threat. And the very real issue of stalking is taken more seriously now than it has been in the past, but there is still some way to go. When relationships break down and men find it hard to let women go, it can be a very scary time, and women find it difficult to get concerns taken seriously, often until after an attack.
They locked him up, but they locked her up, too…
Whilst researching the novel, I spent some time in prison,
which is not at all like I imagined! My main experience had been from movies
and the TV. I found the reality much scarier. I saw homemade weapons; I heard
stories of attacks on officers and other prisoners; I spoke to many different
people from all aspects of prison life, and it was such an eye-opener. I think
as a society we lock people away in all respects – there’s a sense of being
forgotten, completely. Women whose partners are in jail spoke of the shame, and
also the halted grief – they miss their partners, but can’t grieve for them,
they can’t move on. This grief is something Ana wrestles with, and I hope I’ve
done it justice.
The prison scenes almost wrote themselves after I’d visited. Even the smell is distinct. My prison officer guides me into the contraband room, where they keep the confiscated drugs. Spice is the drug they have the most problems with at the moment, which is synthetic cannabis. It’s smuggled into the prisons in all sorts of ways. One of the ways is through books and magazines. The pages are soaked in the spice, and so prisons have to scan all books now. So many ideas for plots!
It’s been a pleasure to write the guest blog and thanks to Jane Hunt for giving me the opportunity to mull over the ideas for the novel. I hope you enjoy The Scorched Earth!
Can Josiah solve the puzzle before more people die, or is he out of his depth?
In 1841, at the height of the
industrial revolution in the North West of England, Josiah Ainscough returns
from his travels and surprises everyone by joining the Stockport Police Force,
rather than following his adopted father’s footsteps into the Methodist
While Josiah was abroad, five men
died in an explosion at the Furness Vale Powder Mill. Was this an accident or
did the Children of Fire, a local religious community, have a hand in it. As
Josiah struggles to find his vocation, his investigation into the Children of
Fire begins. But his enquiries are derailed by the horrific crucifixion of the
Now Josiah must race against time
to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale before more
people die. This is complicated by his affections for Rachael, a leading member
of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from
Can Josiah put together the
pieces of the puzzle, or is he out of his depth? Children of Fire won the
Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Prize for 2017
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A curious mix of the historical fiction and murder mystery genres. The story is rich in historical detail and has a well-plotted murder mystery. The suspects are plentiful and the murders are vividly written. Josiah is a complex detective, who is ambitious, with secrets of his own.
The setting of the story in Victorian England, in an industrial setting, is of intrinsic interest, and the focus on a radical religious group explores, prejudice, religion and the communities that evolved, in the wake of the industrial revolution.
Its originality is appealing and it will suit those who appreciate historical fiction with a contemporary dash of a murder mystery.
His latest novel, Children of Fire,
is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial
revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and
is published by The Book Guild Ltd.
Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of
England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well
as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as
the City of Manchester.
women at opposite ends of the social scale, both brutally murdered.
Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is surprised when his old rival
John Townsend requests his help to investigate the murder of Louise Parmeter, a
beautiful writer who once shared the bed of the Prince of Wales. Her jewellery
is missing, savagely torn from her body. Her memoirs, which threaten to expose
the indiscretions of the great and the good, are also
Frustrated by the chief magistrate’s demand that he drop the investigation into the death of the unknown beggar woman, found savagely raped and beaten and left to die in the outhouse of a Holborn tavern, Dan is determined to get to the bottom of both murders. But as his enquiries take him into both the richest and the foulest places in London, and Townsend’s real reason for requesting his help gradually becomes clear, Dan is forced t face a shocking new reality when the people he loves are targeted by a shadowy and merciless adversary.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The third book in the Dan Foster Mystery series reads well as a standalone, but to fully appreciate Dan’ previous life, I presume reading the first two books in the series would be best.
Two murders, both women who died brutally. One lived on the fringes of the gentry, the other in abject poverty. Yet both were victims, and ultimately in death, they were the same.
Dan is channelled into investigating the murder of the ex-mistress of the Prince of Wales but wants justice for the poorer woman too. A third mystery has personal significance for Dan. The plot is complex, but well-paced and the three mysteries keep the reader interested and intrigued.
The Georgian era is the perfect setting for crime fiction. The disparity between the wealthy and poor is marked, and both classes, prey on the other, in many criminal ways. The historical details and detection skills, show intricate care and give the reader a sense of time and place, which is essential for good historical crime fiction.
An absorbing walk on the dark side of Georgian London, with a likeable detective and heinous crimes. Whilst exploring the social class divide and the low status of women in the 18th century.
Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA
in English Literature (with Distinction) with the Open University in 2007,
specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical
novel, To The Fair Land, in 2012, an
eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.
Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016 and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.
2013, Lucienne published The Bristol
Suffragettes, a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west
country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the
Women’s Suffrage Campaign.
to other publications include:-
So Militant Browne’ in Suffrage Stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and
Letchworth (Stevenage Museum, 2019)
Lidiard’ in The
Women Who Built Bristol, Jane Duffus (Tangent Books, 2018)
Tommies and the Vote’ in Bristol and the First World War: The Great Reading
Adventure 2014 (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership/Bristol Festival
of Ideas, 2014)
interviews and reviews in various publications including Bristol Times,
Clifton Life, The Local Historian, Historical Novels Review (Historical
Novel Society), Nonesuch, Bristol 24/7, Bristol History
Lucienne has appeared on television and radio in connection with her fiction and non-fiction work. She regularly gives talks and leads walks about the women’s suffrage movement. She also gives talks and runs workshops on historical fiction for literary festivals, Women’s Institutes, local history societies, and other organisations. She has been a radio presenter on BCfm and a course tutor.
2018 she was instrumental in devising and delivering Votes for Women 100,
a programme of commemorative events by the West of England and South Wales
Women’s History Network in partnership with Bristol M Shed and others. She also
campaigned and raised funds for a Blue Plaque for the Bristol and West of
England Women’s Suffrage Society.
She is on the steering committee of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network and is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Society of Authors, and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
She is currently working on the fourth full-length Dan Foster Mystery and a biography of suffrage campaigner Millicent Browne.
was born in Wolverhampton and now lives in Bristol.
Meet Louise Fawley – the newest, sassiest and
sleaziest agent in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Follow Louise as she burgles and
bungles at Melusine Plastics, gets flirtatious and salacious in Vetchley
Castle, grows amorous and glamorous in Sainte-Modeste, and finally, hooks and
sinks her villainess on the superyacht Bonquonne.
In this delicious, light-hearted, randy romp, can
Louise solve the arcane mystery of La Ligne?
he Louise Fawley Symphony contains material of a sexually-explicit nature, so will not be to the taste of every adult reader.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The blurb enticed me to read this book, The glamour, giggles and gratuitous sexual encounters I anticipated, but the frenetic pace was a surprise. I enjoy fast-paced fiction but at times this was too much.
Told from Louise’s point of view, she is a curious mix of reality superstar and an emotionally damaged adult who didn’t receive enough nurturing in childhood. Winning money, gave her a status that she never aspired to, even though she tenaciously worked her way up the corporate ladder. Self-esteem issues deny her insight into her true worth. I like her, and her perchance for crazy schemes, danger and scandal make her the perfect protagonist for a story of this type.
The plot is imaginative and quirky. Full of humour and sexy moments. The vivid imagery gives you a good sense of the settings, but the characters are not so well described.
Irreverent, original and steamy, try this if you are looking for something different.
After more than twenty-five years in accountancy, Rikki quit the profession to care for a parent whose health had deteriorated and to give more time to those interests and hobbies which had helped render accountancy almost bearable.
Rikki’s interests include all things historical, from castles to candlesticks, music of many genres, from Gregorian Chant to Brit Pop, and above all, like HE Bates, is happiest when working and whiling in a garden.
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