Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Regency Romance

A Gentleman’s Promise Penny Hampson 4*#Review @penny_hampson @rararesources #HistoricalFiction #histfic #RegencyRomance #BookBlitz #BookReview

A docile wife is what he wants. A husband is the last thing she needs. Can a quest for a killer teach them that they are both wrong?

Emma Smythe and her brother arrive at Easterby Hall to discover that a handsome stranger has laid claim to their ancestral home and the family title. Have her relatives been murdered, and is her brother next? Determined to find the answers, she has no option but to trust the gentleman who insists that he will help. But danger appears in many guises, and for a woman intent on remaining single, her intriguing protector may prove the biggest threat of all.

The attempts on Richard Lacey’s life begin when he inherits a title and a rundown estate. A coincidence? He’s not so sure. Problems multiply with the unexpected arrival of Jamie and Emma Smythe. Long thought dead, they too are potential targets. Richard thinks he wants a docile, obedient wife, but will the task of keeping headstrong Emma safe from danger change his mind?

Embroiled in a sinister mystery, can Richard and Emma work together to catch a killer? And will this dangerous quest teach them that what they both wish to avoid is exactly what they need?

Filled with intrigue, unexpected twists, and faultless period detail, this slow-burn romance is a must-read for lovers of classic Regency fiction.

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

My Thoughts…

I have read the last book in the Gentlemen series, A Bachelor’s Pledge, but reading the first book is still enjoyable, as the intrigue, mystery and romance, are complete. Set in Regency times, Richard inherits an unexpected title and estate, Emma is used to living by her wits to keep her brother safe.

When Emma returns to the family estate she finds Richard and a series of mysterious deaths, they form an uneasy alliance to find the truth and proximity leads to friendship and romance. The mystery is well-plotted and the historical characters are cleverly crafted with gentle romance and lots of intrigue this is an engaging Regency romance with a suspenseful twist.

Penny Hampson writes mysteries, and because she has a passion for history, you’ll find her stories also reflect that. A Gentleman’s Promise, a traditional Regency romance, was Penny’s debut novel, which was shortly followed by more in the same genre. Penny also enjoys writing contemporary mysteries with a hint of the paranormal, because where do ghosts come from but the past?

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance, Suspense

The Rose Code Kate Quinn 5*#Review @KateQuinnAuthor @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #TheRoseCode #BlogTour #BookReview @RandomTTours #HistFic #WW2 #1940 #1947 #RoyalWedding #HistoricalFiction #Friendship

1940

Three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes.

Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets.

Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband.

Awkward local girl Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles beneath her shy exterior.

1947

As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum.

A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together…

As the nation prepares for the royal wedding they must race against the clock to save one of their own.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a fascinating historical novel showcasing the crucial work carried out by the analysts, code breakers and translators at Bletchley Park during WW2. Detailed and well researched, it tells the story of three women inspired by historical figures. There are cameo appearances from famous wartime figures in the novel too, which adds authenticity.

Dual timeline it moves, between 1940 and 1947 weeks before the Royal Wedding. One of the characters has a connection to the Royals. The three women, once best of friends, had an irretrievable falling out and now are estranged. This is a lengthy novel, but there is a lot to unravel and reveal to the reader. The historical detail makes this an immersive read.

The women are drawn together by a desperate plea for help from one of them to solve one last code. The characters are flawed and relatable you get to know them well and empathise with them. The race to solve the code is suspenseful and draws on the past and the women’s connections.

This is an enjoyable, epic read which shines a light on one of the most secretive and vital areas of the second world war.

Kate Quinn

Kate Quinn is a native of southern California. She attended Boston University, where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice.

A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance detailing the early years of the infamous Borgia clan. All have been translated into multiple
languages.

She and her husband now live in Maryland with two black dogs named Caesar and Calpurnia

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, New Books, Parenting and Famlies, Romance, Saga, Travel

You Let Me Go Eliza Graham 4*#Review @eliza_graham @AmazonPub #HistFic #contemporary #family #saga #WW2 #France #Legacy #LakeUnionPublishing #BlogBlitz #BookReview @rararesources #MondayBlogs

After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall—while she herself has been written out of the will. With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?

When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past. In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect those she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heartbreaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever?

Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?

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

My Thoughts…

This is a poignant dual timeline story, a family saga from occupied France in the 1940s to the present day. The prologue gives clues about the story’s secrets and the heartbreaking discoveries to follow.

Two sisters Morane and Gwen, find their relationship strained when their beloved grandmother Rozenn bequeaths her house to Gwen. Morane has already suffered, and now she feels rejected by her grandmother. A chance discovery leads Morane on a quest to find out about Rozenn’s life in occupied France, which has surprising consequences.

The dual storylines are well written, both full of vivid characters and emotion. The historical timeline is particularly engaging, as it conveys the horrors and stark choices of life in occupied France. The familial relationships are relatable, and the plot twists keep the reader engaged.

This is a family saga of betrayal, forgiveness, love and sacrifice with a satisfying conclusion.

Eliza Graham

Eliza Graham’s novels have been long-listed for the UK’s Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day’s ‘Hidden Gem’ competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.

She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she’s made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Extract, Young Adult

Dating the It Guy Krysten Lindsay Hager @KrystenLindsay @CleanReads_ #Extract @rararesources #YoungAdult #Teen #ComingofAge #Romance #Friendship #Relationships #Celebrity #BlogBlitz #DatingtheItGuy

Emme starts dating a popular high school student who happens to be from a famous political family. It seems like everyone at school either wants to be Brendon Agretti or date him. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture-perfect ex seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend dumped her and her whole world is off kilter with her grandparents’ health issues. Life suddenly seems easier pushing Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

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Extract from Dating the It GuyKrysten Lindsay Hager

In this scene, Brendon is trying to help Emme retrieve her paper and she’s overthinking about everything and realizing that he’s so much sweeter and more considerate than other guys at their school. Oh, and that intuition thing with the basketball player happened to me back in the day!

While I tried not to drool, Brendon put the computer in “safe mode” and was able to save my paper to a drive. He started up his laptop for me, and I leaned over him while he explained how to use it. The side of his ear and neck were hot. I never knew anyone could have such amazing ears. People take things like ears for granted when it comes to the cuteness factor.

“Did you get all that?” he asked.

I had no idea what he was referring to, but I nodded. Why couldn’t I keep my head around this guy? It wasn’t like I had grown up in a convent or something and this was the first guy I had ever seen. I never had trouble talking to guys before, so why was I thrown by him? Well, other than the fact he was amazingly hot and nice. Nice. I didn’t even believe in the myth of the “nice guy,” but Brendon seemed to be one. I had noticed last year that even when his friends would make fun of people in the hallways at school, he never did. And who else would have come over to try and fix my computer and bring along his laptop in case I needed it? Okay, I needed to focus. After all, my grandmother always warned me about falling into the whole “knight on a white horse” thing. She said women did not need rescuing and I could take care of myself, and with the exception of this laptop thing, I could. So why did I act stupid around him?

“I think it’s a virus.”

“Huh?” I glanced up.

“I think you have a virus,” he said. “You should probably take it in and have it checked out. Wish I could fix it, but what can I say? I’m not that smart.”

A guy who admitted he couldn’t fix something? Grandma didn’t warn me about that happening. In fact, she wouldn’t believe such a thing existed.

“Well, thanks for trying and getting my paper off there. I can use my mom’s computer if you want your laptop back. I hope I didn’t infect you…” Ugh, why couldn’t I just be normal for two seconds? “I mean, I put this drive in your computer—”

“I have tons of virus blockers and stuff on there. It should be fine. Are you sure you don’t need it anymore?” he said. “How’s your paper coming?”

I shrugged. “It’s coming. Thanks again for coming over. I thought I was going to have to throw holy water on it to—” Shut up, shut up, shut up, you little weirdo. “I mean, thanks for coming over. See ya tomorrow.”

As soon as he left, Mom came into the room to ask if my computer was fixed.

“No, but my friend was able to get my paper for me. I guess I have a virus.”

“So your friend was able to get it for you,” she said, smirking. “How interesting you called a guy to help you.”

“What? Oh, because only guys know about computers. That is so sexist, mother.”

“I meant because you got ready like you were going to the prom,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I saw you wearing makeup just to do your homework.”

I rolled my eyes and told her I had to get going on my homework. She made smooching noises as she got her laptop for me. It would be nice to have a mother who didn’t have the social skills of a six-year-old. Before I got back to work, I decided to light some candles. It was Tuesday, so I lit my pink cotton candy scented soy candle to draw love. Grandma was the one who had told me how different candle colors meant different things and which days you should light which candle. I wondered if the pink candle thing actually worked. It had never done anything for me before, but what if this time was different? Chances were nothing would ever happen with Brendon and me, but what if he was my soul mate? Stranger things had happened. Like the time I had a dream years ago about a player throwing up during basketball finals. I mentioned it to my dad, who’d seen me predict stuff before, so he bet on the game with some of his friends. Well, I was right about the guy having the flu, but he still played, and his team won. Dad wasn’t happy. Grandma told him that’s what he got for trying to “abuse my gift for profit.” However, my “gift” wasn’t helping me figure out how to talk to Brendon. Okay, forget talk, I wanted him to fall for me.

I sat back on my bed. I couldn’t think of one other person who would have dropped everything to come over to help someone they barely knew. It had to mean something, right? I had a weird feeling he and I were supposed to be more than just partners in class.

I tried to picture what it would be like to date Brendon and imagined him taking me to a restaurant on the water. One of those places that put up Christmas lights year-round so everything’s all romantic and sparkly. It would be private and dark, so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting sauce on my chin or trying to use my knife and fork. I was convinced back in the day I had missed the lesson on how to properly use silverware. Maybe I was sick that day like I was the day when everybody learned how to tell time, which meant for the rest of my life, I had to pretend I couldn’t see my watch clearly whenever someone asked what time it was As I sat there, I wondered if he believed in love at first sight and the whole soulmate/kindred spirit thing. Then I wondered if he had any feelings for me at all.

Krysten Lynsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, Can Dreams Come True, and In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety . True Colors won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book as well as the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Best Friends…Forever won the Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.

​Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton. 

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

The Warrior’s Innocent Captive Ella Mathews 4*#Review @ellamattauthor @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks #HistoricalRomance #medieval #HistFic @rararesources #BlogBlitz #BookReview #TheHouseofLeofric

An impossible choice:

His family or love

As steward to the Earl of Borwyn, Erik Ward had only admired sheltered noblewoman Linota Leofric from afar – until he has to escort her on a dangerous journey. When she’s kidnapped, he rescues the courageous beauty, revelling in finally having her in his arms. But Erik has a secret plan to reunite his family – now he’s forced to choose between that and his growing feelings for Linota…

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

My Thoughts…

This story happens at more or less the same time as the previous book in the series but with two different protagonists giving the reader another medieval adventure in the House of Leofric series.

Erik finds his loyalties impossibly challenged his social standing makes a marriage with Linota unlikely, especially when he betrays her and his friend. Set in turbulent, unforgiving times, where women have no say in their futures. Erik and Linota’s romance is conflicted. Erik is easy to empathise with, and you want him to find happiness. Linota matures as the story progresses.

The final book in the House of Leofric has good character development, powerful dilemmas and gentle romance.

Ella Matthews

Ella Matthews lives and works in beautiful South Wales. When not thinking about handsome heroes she can be found walking along the coast with her husband and their two children (probably still thinking about heroes but at least pretending to be interested in everyone else).

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Political Thriller, Romance, Travel

The Spanish Girl Jules Hayes 5*#Review @JulesHayes6 @books_dash #SpanishCivilWar #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #Family #Love #secrets #Romance #Friendship #TheSpanishGirl #BookReview #BlogTour @rararesources

A country torn apart by war.
Two love stories divided by decades.
One chance to discover the truth… 

Feisty journalist Isabella has never known the truth about her family. Escaping from a dangerous assignment in the turbulent Basque country, she finds her world turned upside down, firstly by her irresistible attraction to the mysterious Rafael, and then by a new clue to her own past. 

As she begins to unravel the tangled story of her identity, Isabella uncovers a story of passion, betrayal and loss that reaches back to the dark days of Spain’s civil war – when a passionate Spanish girl risked everything for her country, and for the young British rebel who captured her heart. 

But can Isabella trust the man she’s fallen in love with? Or are some wartime secrets better left undisturbed…? 

Heartbreaking, gripping historical fiction about the tragedy of war, and the redemption of love.

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

My Thoughts…

This dual timeline novel explores two tragic and turbulent times in Spanish history through the eyes of the people who lived through them. Two love stories echo the other in many ways. Family, love, loss and forgiveness are predominant themes in this politically astute story.

The setting and time periods are the ones that affected Spain and drew the attention and interference of the wider world. This is an emotional story, the political struggles, in both of the timelines, were personal to the people living through them, and the writing reflects this.

Believable and vibrant characters give life to familial relationships and friendships. It’s immersive and insightful, evoking all the reader’s senses, so they feel part of it.

The poignant but positive ending is a perfect conclusion.

Jules Hayes

I have a degree in modern history and I’m fascinated with events from the first half of the 20th century, which is the time period my historical fiction is set.

My work has been longlisted in the Mslexia Novel Competition, and shortlisted in the prestigious Bridport Short Story Competition.

I live in Berkshire, UK with my partner, daughter and dog. Before writing stories, I was a physiotherapist.

Jules Hayes is a pseudonym for JA Corrigan who writes contemporary thrillers. Falling Suns by JA Corrigan (Headline Accent) was published in 2016.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Girl with the Silver Bangle Linda Finlay 4*#Review @HQStories #BlogTour #1910 #Lamorna #Cornwall #ArtsandCrafts #BookReview #HistFic #HistoricalFiction

London, 1910. A cruel twist of fate means Daisy must give up the job she loves painting for a theatre company and move to Devon. Only the silver bangle she wears on her wrist brings comfort, reminding her of a young man who once promised her his heart.  

In Devon, life is very different. Lodging with her uncle at his busy tavern, Daisy must scrub and serve for her keep. And when her uncle catches her sketching, he is furious and forbids her to draw.  

But a chance meeting with two travelling artists offers Daisy a different path, and steeling her courage, Daisy runs away with them to Lamorna, Cornwall, home to a famous group of bohemian artists…  

This heart-warming tale of love and triumph.

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

My Thoughts…

Daisy is artistic and enjoys working painting theatrical scenery, but when tragedy strikes, she forced to relocate to Devon and work for her uncle, who doesn’t pay her and forbids her sketching. Determined to escape from her life of drudgery, she risks all, running away with some travelling artists to Lamorna Cornwall.

Historically correct, vividly described settings form the backdrop for vibrant characters and a story that reflects the artist lifestyle in the Arts and Crafts era. The storytelling is lovely, and it’s easy to become immersed in the character’s lives and empathise with their problems.

This is an enjoyable and escapist read for those who like historical fiction.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Saga, Victorian Romance

Trouble for the Leading Lady Rachel Brimble 5*#Review @RachelBrimble @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #Saga #BlogTour @rararesources #BookReview #Victorian #Bath #19thCentury #TroublefortheLeadingLady

Bath, 1852.

As a girl, Nancy Bloom would go to Bath’s Theatre Royal, sit on the hard wooden benches and stare in awe at the actresses playing men as much as the women dressed in finery. She longed to be a part of it all and when a man promised her parents he could find a role for Nancy in the theatre, they believed him.

His lie and betrayal led to her ruin.

Francis Carlyle is a theatre manager, an ambitious man always looking for the next big thing to take the country by storm. A self-made man, Francis has finally shed the skin of his painful past and is now rich, successful and in need of a new female star. Never in a million years did he think he’d find her standing on a table in one of Bath’s bawdiest pubs.

Nancy vowed never to trust a man again. Francis will do anything to make her his star. As they engage in a battle of wits and wills, can either survive with their hearts intact?

The second in Rachel Brimble’s thrilling new Victorian saga series, Trouble for the Leading Lady will whisk you away to the riotous, thriving underbelly of Victorian Bath.

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

My Thoughts…

Nancy’s story is the second book in this challenging and compelling Victorian saga. Nancy dreams of being on the stage end in ruin until Louisa ( A Widow’s Vow) saves her. Nancy’s life is not what she wants, but her close friendship with Louisa and Octavia keeps her positive. Limited by her gender and social class, Nancy’s life choices are few. This poignant theme is explored well in this insightful story.

Francis’life in the workhouse still haunts him. He hopes to let go of the horrors through the play he is writing. There is strong attraction when Francis and Nancy meet, but can they fulfil each other’s dreams?

The conflicted romance is passionate, but both driven characters are wary of being hurt. They are easy to empathise with, and you want them to find lasting happiness. The dynamic between Louisa, Nancy and Octavia is relatable and provides humour and realism, adding authenticity.

The setting and historical detail are well researched and give the story its ethos and immersive quality.

This is an engaging Victorian romantic saga with a strong theme of social injustice that resonates.

Rachel Brimble

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 20 published novels including the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).

In 2019 she signed a new three book contract with Aria Fiction for a Victorian trilogy set in a Bath brothel. The first book, A Widow’s Vow was released in September 2020 followed by book 2 Trouble For The Leading Lady in March 2021 – it is expected that the final instalment will be released in the Autumn 2021. Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click on link Newsletter Sign Up

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Posted in Audiobook Review, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Humour, Romance

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You Annie Lyons 5*#Review Narrator Nicolette McKenzie @1AnnieLyons @0neMoreChapter_ #Audiobook #Review #Friendship #Family #multigenerational #HistFic #Romance #Uplit

Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

A heartfelt story of life, death, friendship and family.

Audible UK

I received a copy of this audiobook from One More Chapter (Harper Collins Audio UK) via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started to listen to this story. Eudora Honeysett is an older woman who is ready to die. The artwork on the cover is so bright and cheerful, so I continued to listen. The story unfolds into a delightfully, gentle, poignant story about finding friendship and family in later life.

Eudora is eccentric, opinionated and sad until she meets a young girl Rose and Stanley, a good-hearted widower and their friends and family. They see something worth saving in Eudora. Eudora’s current life experiences are increasingly positive, but flashback chapters show a life full of betrayal, loss and sacrifice.

Excellent narration makes the characters vibrant, especially Eudora. Her introspection and dialogue are witty, making her memorable.

This is a lovely story with relatable characters and events.

Posted in Blog Tour, Extract, Historical Fiction, Saga

The Hat Girl From Silver Street Lindsey Hutchinson #Extract @LHutchAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #TheHatGirlFromSilverStreet #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #Saga #historicalfiction #HistFic #BlogTour

Let bestselling author Lindsey Hutchinson take you back in time to the Victorian Black Country, for a tale of love, hardship and fighting against the odds to succeed.

Life is tough for Ella Bancroft. After her father, Thomas, is wheelchair-bound by an accident at the tube works, the responsibility for keeping a roof over their head falls to Ella. Ella’s mother died when she was ten, and her sister Sally lives with her no-good, work-shy husband Eddy, so is no help at all.  If she and her father are to keep the bailiffs from the door, then Ella must earn a living.

But Ella is resourceful as well as creative, and soon discovers she has a gift for millinery. Setting up shop in the front room of their two-up, two-down home in Silver Street, Walsall, Ella and Thomas work hard to establish a thriving business. Before long, the fashionable ladies of the Black Country are lining up to wear one of Ella’s beautiful creations, and finally Ella dares to hope for a life with love, friendship and family.

Meeting the man she longs to marry should be a turning point for Ella, but life’s twists and turns can be cruel. As the winter grows colder, events seem to conspire to test Ella’s spirit. And by the time spring is approaching, will the hat girl of Silver Street triumph, or will Ella have to admit defeat as all her dreams are tested.

The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a heart-breaking, unforgettable, page-turning story of love, life and battling against the odds.  

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Extract from The Hat Girl From Silver Street Lindsey Hutchinson

Ella Bancroft looked down at the tangled mess in her fingers and stifled a sob. She pulled at the ruined hat in an effort to rectify her error, but the steaming process had set the blunder in place. 

A tear slipped from her eye and rolled down her cheek. This was her second mistake in a week. Her first was sticking her finger with a pin and leaving a blood spot on a piece of white tulle. Ivy had ranted and raved as she had snipped off the offending piece of material to rescue the hat. 

Now Ella had spoilt the crown of a felt winter hat, having steamed it into the wrong shape entirely. Thinking quickly, she wondered whether, if she held it over the steamer again, she could re-form it. 

About to try, Ella caught her breath as she heard footsteps on the bare wooden staircase. It was too late, Ivy was on her way up. 

Ella had been employed at Ivy Gladwin’s shop for two years and yet suddenly she had begun making errors. Why? Was it because she was unhappy in her work? 

‘How are you getting on with that order?’ Ivy called as she entered the bedroom, which had been converted to a work room. 

‘Erm… I…’ Ella mumbled as she looked again at the floppy felt monstrosity. 

‘What the…?’ Ivy gasped. Snatching the article from Ella, she held it up between thumb and forefinger. ‘How on earth…? Good grief, girl, can’t you do anything right?’ 

The sob Ella was holding back escaped her lips. ‘I’m sorry, Miss Gladwin, I don’t know what happened.’ 

‘Neither do I!’ Ivy snapped, throwing the felt onto the table. ‘It’s completely ruined! An expensive piece of material at the outset and now it’s a – oh, do stop snivelling!’ 

The sharp slap to her cheek caused Ella to catch her breath and she raised a hand to cover the stinging skin. 

Ella sniffed and tried hard to halt the sobs racking her body. 

‘I… I’m really sorry,’ she managed at last. 

‘Well, you will have to pay for it out of your wages. Now, start again and for God’s sake mind what you’re doing!’ With that, Ivy strode from the room, her long bombazine skirt swishing against her side-button boots. 

Ella stared at the hat on the table and thought about the last two years of her life. She had seen the advert in the local newspaper for an apprentice hat-maker. Having applied and been interrogated by Miss Gladwin for over an hour, she was given the post on a month’s trial. The pay, she was told, would be one pound and ten shillings a week but she must work a week in hand first. Any damages would be taken out of her money before she received it. 

Now she was halfway through this week and already there would be two stoppages from her salary. Ella sighed as she worked out just how much she would have in her hand come Friday. 

The gold flecks in her hazel eyes were accentuated as more tears brimmed before falling. Pushing a stray dark curl from her forehead, Ella moved to the workbench. With a sniff and a sigh, she began her work again, this time selecting the correct block to steam the material over. 

Ella thought once more about her earnings – would there be enough to feed herself and her father? The food in the larder was running desperately low, and she knew if there was only enough for one of them to eat she would make sure it was her dad. 

Lindsey Hutchinson

Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.

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