When Jess Thornton’s dad was lost at sea, the family coped in different ways, alone in their grief. Now, her mum seems to be going off the rails and her sister, Isla, who moved to France, is now back and determined to get their old family home on the market. But the last thing Jess wants this Christmas is for renovations to start on the house. It’s sure to stir up all sorts of memories she’s desperate to avoid. And to make things worse, Isla appears to have hired the most obnoxious builder in the world to do the work. Jess could ignore the fact that women seem to be putty in his hands. But what she finds harder to ignore is the frisson she gets every time she squeezes past him in the mess that is now their beloved old home! Can the family finally start talking and find a way to move on from the past this Christmas?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A lovely story with a festive backdrop. Family drama and romantic comedy are beautifully interwoven, in this tale, which features two sisters, a mother who is lost in grief, and a father who went away to sea and never came back.
There are family secrets, hard truths and many misunderstandings, which have been ignored until now. The time is right for the family to rebuild, Jess is living a half-life, her mother is distracted, and now Isla is back, and being so defensive.
Can Jess keep her family together? Can she face Christmas again, and why does she feel so attracted to the sexy builder who is destroying all her childhood memories?
A poignant, heartfelt story, with believable,flawed characters, full of angst and hidden depths. The slow-burning and sweetattraction between Jess and Seb is tested with a myriad of internal and external conflicts.
Anemotional and realistic family drama. The resolution is in keeping with the story and brings this festive family story to a lovely conclusion.
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 brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.
Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published Christmas 2019.
Rosie is also writing a full-length, standalone book for Christmas 2019, entitled ‘Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage’.
She’s setting the terms… In business and pleasure!
Lucas Waring was my brother’s best friend—before he broke my heart and betrayed my family. Yet one glance from those dark, intense eyes, and that bolt of aching need returns. Now Lucas wants my business. But the nice Eva he knew is gone forever and naughty Eva wants her cake, and a taste of deliciously hot Lucas, too. Only my heart’s about to pull the biggest betrayal of all…
I received copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A seductive festive treat with heartfelt emotion, sensual romance, and a strong female protagonist. There is real character development in this story, which reflects on the event when Eva was eighteen, and how much she has changed ten years on. Yet her passion for Lucas remains stronger than ever. External conflict is strong in this romance, but Eva wants the truth and is determined that this time, everything will be on her terms.
The romance is sizzling and sensual, hotly pursued by the couple’s emotional attachment, which makes this romance endearing, even though, on one level, it is all about the physical attraction. The plot is well- written and the writing style in the first-person point of view, from both protagonists, makes it immediate and believable.
The perfect stocking filler this Christmas.
Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heart-warmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.
Despite a degree in Business Studies and spending many years in the corporate world, the desire to become an author never waned and it’s now her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.
A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she’s not glued to her laptop, she’s wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.
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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.
She didn’t plan on celebrating Christmas… Can he change her mind?
Nurse Harmony Kinkaid grabs the chance to spend Christmas working on a remote Scottish island. Without her beloved grandmother, the season won’t be the same. But her organized world is thrown off balance by her fierce attraction to daredevil Dr Cameron MacRurie. He’s her complete opposite – she’d be foolish to fall for him. Yet as I Christmas lights begin to shine, Cam becomes a temptation impossible to ignore…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Christmas can be the toughest time of the year when you’ve lost someone you love. Harmony, just wants the festive season to be over, now she can’t spend it with her lovely grandmother. Taking a nursing role on a remote Scottish island seems to be the perfect solution, but she didn’t realise that the island belonged to the doctor she was working with, or that he would be so attractive.
The island transforms at Christmastime with a Winter wonderland festival, and the instead of being remote and sparsely populated, it is full of tourists. The island has a cast of lovely characters, all with their own stories, and they all want to know about the new nurse. Harmony fights their inquisitiveness and her attraction to the Laird, without success, and realises that she will leave her heart behind when she returns to the mainland.
An intensely romantic story, this has a vibrant festive ethos, a cast of believable and quirky characters. and a passionate, stormy romance that mirrors the island it takes place on. Grief, loss and learning to trust are themes of this story, which has a charming Christmassy happy ending.
Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.
Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night, she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.
Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.
Eventually, a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.
I received a copy of this book from Wild Pressed Books in return for an honest review.
It’s clear from reading this book that the author has done her research, I read that the story is inspired by her young son’s travels. ‘The Vagabond Guide’ at the end of the book is provided, courtesy of his experience and the author’s thoughts as a mother. She also includes travel and work experiences from other family members, as well as her own travelling exploits.
As someone who has travelled very little, I found the book enlightening. Whilst, it didn’t give me the vagabond travelling bug, I can understand why people do this, especially someone like Maya, the main protagonist. Maya’s previous life was totally different from her travelling experience. It was losing contact with her youngest son and then recovering his journal that made her follow in her son’s footsteps.
This story is partly a travelogue, with fascinating experiences retold, of places Maya sees, the people, her fellow travellers and the food. It is also an emotional journey, feeling closer to the young son, she lost touch with. His journal guides her and us, and this is an emotional journey as much as a geographical one. This is a journey for the senses and the spirit and needs to be read with this in mind. I enjoyed it.
Relationships are an important part of this story, and it’s interesting that Maya’s daughters value her more in her absence as if they are seeing her for her true worth. Her relationship with her husband is also explored, as her independence strains the previous roles in their marriage.
Topical and timeless, if you are looking to escape and are prepared for a gamut of emotions this story is for you.
Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.
But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.
Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family … But can she face the truth?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I finished reading this story feeling incredibly sad, the ending is haunting, full of loss and wasted opportunity, and what if…
This story begins like the domestic thriller, I thought it would be, but it is essentially a suspenseful family drama. Claire’s home life is materially perfect, but under the surface, it is a maelstrom of claustrophobia, discontent and simmering hatred. She wants to escape, from her house’s emotionless perfection, and her empty marriage.
The story is told from Claire’s point of view, before and after Joe’s disappearance; her story is full of resentment, and as it is in the first person, intensely personal. Duncan’s point of view is after Joe’s disappearance, except for one later chapter. This is told in the third person, so his point of view is more objectively portrayed.
This is a family drama, interwoven with strange occurrences that echo what Claire is experiencing. She is an unreliable protagonist, tortured by a past secret, which has dominated her future life. Duncan is essentially an unlikeable character, abusive, and a serial philanderer. It is only when the reasons for this emerge that his behaviour becomes easier to understand. Joe their son is autistic, and he finds the coldness of his parent’s marriage hard to cope with, choosing solitude and the company of his dog in preference to theirs.
This is an unhappy, but believable story. The pace, for the most part, is slow, and the events ordinary and repetitive, because it portrays their life. The twists when revealed have more impact because of this.
The setting is atmospheric and described in detail. The folklore surrounding Claire and Duncan’s home provides an interesting strand of the story, and Claire is haunted by it, in her precarious emotional state.
Guilt and secrets underpin this drama, which is suspenseful, but not in the way you may expect. The ending is well-written and devastating. It draws all the plot threads, and the main characters together in a heartbreakingly tragic way, that resonates.
Poignant family drama, with a suspenseful thread, that explodes into an unexpectedly powerful conclusion.
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!