When a mysterious note arrives for seven months pregnant nurse Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.
As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.
Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A spine chilling domestic set psychological thriller. Like the previous novel ‘Her Name Was Rose’, the plot is believable and therefore menacing. The plot has many twists and you understand how Eli cannot trust anyone in her life.
Told from three points of view, there is a sense of dramatic irony, as you as the reader know more than the main protagonist. However can you believe what you read, or are you being misled?
Addictive, Authentic and Audacious and worth reading.
Tess Piper was fourteen when her adored twin sister Edie disappeared.
She has spent the last twenty years building a life away from her fractured family, desperate to escape the shadow of the past.
Only now she needs to confront the huge hole her sister’s disappearance left in her life because a body has been found. The police are shining a spotlight on the Piper family. And secrets are about to surface.
After all, it’s common knowledge that more often than not, these crimes are committed by someone close to the victim. Someone they trust. Someone they know…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story is a fusion of family drama and psychological thriller and it works. Tess Piper is an unreliable protagonist, she is still grieving the disappearance of her twin sister twenty years later and lives her life on the edge as a memorial to her twin. She drinks and smokes too much and is estranged from her close family.
Told from the twins’ points of view, one historic and one present day, the background to Edie’s disappearance and its subsequent effect on Tess and her family’s life is explored. The characters are believable and in most cases hard to empathise, but you do understand why they are as they are.
When a body is found, Tess has to return home and confront the secrets she’s been hiding from. The story is easy to read but much of it is dark and you feel Tess and her family’s emotional angst. The plot is deceptively simple, but just as you think you know what happened, another piece in the puzzle is revealed and another player introduced.
This is an authentic family drama, full of poignant events. I did manage to work who betrayed Edie but not all the circumstances.
A well thought out domestic thriller with strong characters and a clever plot.
An eye for an eye. Cabhan Morton wants to leave the Russo crime family for good and live in peace with his daughter, Alice Rose. But the Russos won’t let him walk away without a fight.
A tooth for a tooth. Franny Doyle would do anything for Cabhan and Alice, but helping them escape the vindictive Russo brothers won’t be easy. The only place they’ll be safe is back in Essex with Alfie Jennings.
A daughter for a daughter… Franny knows she won’t be welcomed by Alfie with open arms – but she doesn’t have a choice. The Russos are out for blood and they won’t stop until Alice is dead…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books, and so this affects my review of Fatal. As a standalone, the story works, but the characters don’t, you need to know their stories before the events in Fatal, and so to fully appreciate this story read Toxic first.
The story is fast- paced, violent and focused on the seedier side of life. This gives it the necessary authenticity for a gangland novel. Believable characters and a realistic plot make this an adrenaline packed read.
If you are a fan of gritty, organised crime based thrillers this will excite you.
He knows the man is guilty. And he will do anything to prove it…
PC Gareth Bell watches the psychopath who stabbed Bell’s partner stroll out of court a free man. Somebody on the inside tampered with the evidence, and now one of Brighton’s most dangerous criminals is back on the streets again.
Bell’s personal mission for revenge takes him onto the other side of the law and into the dark, violent underworld of the glamorous seaside city. Soon he faces a horrifying choice: risk everything he holds dear, or let the man who tried to kill his partner walk free.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins- Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Brighton, popular holiday destination since the Regency times. Known for its cafes, bars and the fabulous shopping, but beneath the surface is a criminal world that preys on the vulnerable.
Gareth Bell is a policeman with a mission, to bring to justice the man who almost killed his partner, but how far will he go and what is he prepared to risk to achieve his aim?
One event leads Gareth Bell, the protagonist on a path that blurs the line between right and wrong. Gareth’s actions and motivations are realistic. Violent scenes are common in this novel and a little repetitive, probably as it is all seen from Gareth’s point of view.
This is a fast-paced, authentic police procedural. It is full of action but there are also details of police procedurals, which are an intrinsic part of the job and often hamper the capture of criminals, in the main protagonist’s opinion.
If you enjoy police procedurals this has lots of it, which should appeal. The dilemma and its fallout makes for an interesting plot and provides insight into PC Gareth Bell’s character, and I look forward to the next book in the series.
Detective Inspector Kieran Shaw’s not interested in the infantry. Shaw likes the proper criminals, the ones who can plan things.
For two years he’s been painstakingly building evidence against an organized network, the Eardsley Bluds. Operation Perseus is about to make its arrests.
So when a low-level Bluds member is stabbed to death on Gallowstree Lane, Shaw’s priority is to protect his operation. An investigation into one of London’s tit for tat killings can’t be allowed to derail Perseus and let the master criminals go free.
But there’s a witness to the murder, fifteen-year-old Ryan Kennedy. Already caught up in Perseus and with the Bluds Ryan’s got his own demons and his own ideas about what’s important.
As loyalties collide and priorities clash, a chain of events is triggered that draws in Shaw’s old adversary DI Sarah Collins and threatens everyone with a connection to Gallowstree Lane…
I received a copy of this book from Atlantic Books – Corvus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is the third book in the Collins and Griffiths series, although this story reads well as a standalone. I needed more backstory on the two detectives, to fully appreciate their relationship.
This is a story about knife crime and gangs and their omnipotent presence in parts of London in the 21st century. The crimes and the gang’s influence on the young men in the area, make this story believable. The police procedural aspect is authentic and well-written. The problems experienced by the Met as different departments clash, whilst pursuing competing outcomes is realistic.
Told from several points of view, the story gives all sides and the boundaries are blurred. The reader can understand why gangs are so attractive to young men who have no family life and little to look forward to in the future. The infighting within the police force is also seen to be counterproductive to the end goal of crime solving.
A dynamic police procedural with harrowing true to life characters and crimes that will draw you into a world of crime, dysfunction and gangs.
Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping – and steamy – love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling… Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world-famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.
So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching
at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda – owned
by superstar author Arran Jamieson – could this be just the thing to fire up
Brie’s writing – and romantic – mojo?
Brie’s sun-drenched Italian summer could be the
beginning of this writer’s very own happy-ever-after…
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review
This story didn’t draw me in immediately, the tone was so negative. Since this author is known for her positivity, I decided to read on. After the first chapter, I realised the reader is in the main character’s head, and she is in a bad place. So don’t be put off, read on.
There is a lot to like in the remainder of the story, a stunning setting, which I love. Having visited the Lake Garda region in 2004, I can confirm that the author’s description really does capture the essence of this lovely region. The writers’ retreat is also interesting, interspersed with writing and publishing tips, this gives the story its authenticity.
Brie’s life is nothing like her public persona and she begins to wonder if romance exists beyond the passionate words she creates in her sexy novels. When she meets Arran, there is chemistry but also conflict. They are both emotionally raw and have seemingly incompatible personality traits.
I liked the realistic nature of their relationship, with two characters that get under your skin, until you really want them to have their happy ending.
An enjoyable romance, full of vivid imagery and believable characters, and for the most part is positive and heartwarming.
can think of is that Brianna Middleton. Wow, that lady knows how to write a sex
scene. Just thinking about the gorgeous guys she features in her books is
enough to get me in the mood to jump into someone’s arms!’ She laughs and for
one moment a look of horror passes over my face.
Oh, dear! Am I unwittingly killing the art of romantic love by concentrating on the intense passion and the hot sex? Isn’t that a modern-day disease, anyway? We want everything instantly and it seems that people forget that some things are worth waiting for. Wasn’t it more exciting when couples didn’t jump into bed before they’d had a chance to get to know each other? And then when they did get to that point it held more meaning. How many people wake up the next morning regretting the night before, I wonder?
we’re all looking for a hero.’ I smile up at her in the mirror, doing my best
to push aside my concerns.
me about it! I can’t remember the last time a guy held a door open for me. Or
picked up the tab for a meal out without expecting to go Dutch.’
glancing in the mirror and relieved to see that my face isn’t giving anything
excuses herself to go and mix up the colour for the first step in the
transformation. She returns wheeling a cart with two black bowls both
containing a creamy white mixture. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the colours
aren’t too loud.
you turn up the music, please?’ She addresses the receptionist who is manning
the desk. ‘I love this one.’
washes over me. It’s not a record I know but at least it curtails the
conversation. I’m not being moody but the less said the better.
my eyes for a moment to rest them, I’m horrified when a sudden jolt rouses me.
There’s a buzzer on the shelf in front of me and it’s jumping around. I can’t
believe I fell asleep.
returns, and I follow her over to the basin. I’d forgotten how good it feels to
be pampered and the head massage alone is a tonic. I didn’t realise I was quite
so stressed out and now I’m longing for that full body polish and massage Mel
and I have booked for later this morning.
After wrapping a towel around my head, Zena and I walk back to her styling station. She begins by twisting the majority of my hair up on top of my head, securing it with a clip. Scissors in hand, she turns her attention to the first layer at the back and begins cutting.
With my head tilted forward slightly, I look at the growing pile of debris on the floor. The colour looks okay but then it’s still wet and it’s hard to tell how it will look once dry. It’s been a long time since I wore my hair this short, that’s for sure. I glance across at Mel but she’s engrossed, listening to her iPod. Usually, I love thinking time, but my head is in such a mess that what I need now is a distraction. So instead I grab a magazine from the shelf in front of me and read about the latest red carpet event in Hollywood. I can identify with the sadness behind some of those fake smiles.
The cutting seems to go on forever and I lose interest. I decide it’s time to stop looking in the mirror and wait for the reveal. Eventually, the scissors disappear back into the neat little pouch strapped around Zena’s slender hips. She uses a generous squirt of mousse to scrunch up the longer hair at the front, with her hands, then the blow drying starts in earnest. My head is feeling curiously lighter and it’s a fight to avoid glancing in that mirror.
think we’re done.’ Zena takes a step backwards, sounding pleased with herself.
The girl from the reception desk walks by on her way to the coffee machine.
fleek, Zena. A hot new look there, Ms Middleton, it’s time for a new author
photo! I rang my mum and she just popped in with one of your books, so I
wondered if you’d sign it for me? I have them all! I couldn’t bear to miss one
of your hot, sexy heroes.’
I feel the heat rising up around my ears as my cheeks begin to burn; Zena’s jaw has dropped. Fortunately, Mel steps in, making a big fuss over my new hairdo and then whisks me off to the reception desk. I do my usual writerly scrawl just inside the front cover of the book lying on the counter while raising a smile and trying to look composed.
isn’t until we’re out through the doors and walking down the corridor to find
the nail technician that I feel I can finally breathe. I stop to catch my
reflection in a glass panel and swish my hair from side to side.
look gorgeous, Brie. On fleek, even!’
looks at me with a big smile on her face.
don’t feel like me. I look my age; I look like I’m ready to party.’
‘Well, after some new nails and a relaxing massage you will be. Tomorrow we hit the gym and I’ve booked us a session with a personal trainer. Tonight, we are dining in the spa’s acclaimed Nature’s Best restaurant. Nude food is the theme, as nature intended. They’ve stripped everything away and it’s all about the quality of the produce and keeping it simple.’
have to let me pay for this, Mel. It’s way too much. Just the fact that you’ve
organised all this is more than I deserve. I’ve been a very bad friend,
I lean in to give her a hug.’
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. TwitterFacebook
Charlie Maddison loves being an architect in London, but when she finds out her boyfriend, Dominic, is actually married, she runs back to the beautiful countryside of Westenbury and her parents.
Charlie’s sister Daisy, a landscape gardener, is
also back home in desperate need of company and some fun. Their
great-grandmother, Madge – now in her early nineties – reveals she has a house,
Holly Close Farm, mysteriously abandoned over sixty years ago, and persuades
the girls to project manage its renovation.
As work gets underway, the sisters start
uncovering their family’s history, and the dark secrets that are hidden at the
A heart-breaking tale of wartime romance, jealousy and betrayal slowly emerge, but with a moral at its end: true love can withstand any obstacle, and, before long, Charlie dares to believe in love again too…
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Romantic love is often considered something you can only have when you’re young. Can you imagine your grandmother or great-grandmother falling in love, or do you just see the wrinkles, hear the repetitive stories and remember her forgetfulness?
Charlie reeling from a romantic betrayal finds that her great-grandmother Madge has kept so many secrets in her long life, including finding her true love, and the web of betrayal, deceit and secrets that this event spun.
Madge offers Charlie and her sister Daisy a chance to shine when they seem to be failing at life. Accepting the challenge takes the sisters on a journey of self -discovery and the revelation of Madge’s colourful past.
Told in dual timelines, which makes the story doubly interesting, you see parallels and differences between the two generations of women. There is a lovely balance of humour and poignancy. The romance is sweet and the story inspiring.
Literary agents – do writers today need one? – Guest Post-Julie Houston
When I started out on the long – and often winding – road to becoming a published writer, I’d no idea what the role of a literary agent actually was, never mind about how to go about getting one. I just knew that, according to all the self-help handbooks that I bought and loaned from the public library, I had to have one. This was about seven years ago when it was drummed into all new writers that agents were akin to St Peter at the gates of heaven. They held the key to whether you were going to be allowed in to get anywhere near the God-like publisher.
not going to go into how one should go about achieving that status of being an
‘agented writer’ – countless detailed words of advice and articles have been
written on the subject – but I thought I would share with you my own particular
I’d written a book. It started off with the title ‘Harriet Westmoreland does it with class’ (Harriet is a teacher)
became ‘Living La Dolce Vite’ (her
husband spends a lot of time in Italy) then became ‘Compulsive Granite Disorder’ (Harriet, like me, has a bit of a
compulsion for cleaning her granite when stressed) and eventually ended up as ‘Goodness Grace and Me.’ The manuscript
went off to a string of agents. And came back. In those days, agents would
often write little notes as to what they thought, and why it wasn’t for them,
along with the rejection slip. I may be wrong, but these days, when online
submissions to agents are de rigueur, I’m not sure that happens any more. And
then came the glorious, magical week when, like a number 9 bus, three agents,
all interested in my book, came along at once.
based in London, was originally from Yorkshire and was up for the weekend to
see her mum. Could we meet? We most certainly could! And we did, the following
Saturday, for coffee and a chat at Salts Mill near Bingley. By the time I left,
floating back to the carpark on air, I had signed on the dotted line with Anne
Williams of KHLA Literary Agency based in Bristol and London. I had an agent, a literary agent.
She did warn me that my particular genre – we both disliked and eschewed the handle Chick lit, preferring the more grown-up Romantic Comedy/Women’s Fiction – was not faring too well at that point in time, being overshadowed by the rush for psychological thrillers, and had even printed out an article from The Guardian to that effect.
beauty of having Anne has an agent has been that she was formerly a
commissioning editor for one of the big publishing houses. She had, in effect,
been on the other side as it were and, as such, very much knew what editors
were looking for and the pitfalls involved in getting there. Within a few
weeks, my baby had come back to me tracked in red and, once I’d worked out how
tracking actually worked (terrifying to begin with when you’re convinced you’re
going to lose all that red work and have to admit it to this new agent) and taken
my first tentative steps to adding my own tracking in a garish purple alongside
hers, we were on our way.
My agent worked tirelessly to get Goodness, Grace and Me a place with a major publishing house. I was astonished at how few there actually were – this was at the time when even Penguin was amalgamating with Random House – and eventually we made the decision to go it alone. It was a good decision: the book went to #1 in Humour and #64 overall. With the follow-up novels, The One Saving Grace, Looking For Lucy and An Off-Piste Christmas we signed up with White Glove, a publishing division of Amazon for agented-only authors, which would not have been available to me without her. This was a great move: White Glove promoted my books, particularly in Australia, where the first two achieved #1 Humour, and Looking For Lucy went to the top of the charts going to #1 overall.
then came the offer from Aria. I wrote A
Village Affair and Anne brokered a three-book deal with Sarah, one of the
lovely commissioning editors at Aria, to include Coming Home to HollyClose
Farm and, my work in progress, Sing
Me a Secret. While Aria do take un-agented submissions, having my agent at
my side along the way has been wonderful. She’s a professional, knows all about
contracts and the like and still works with me, tirelessly, with that damned
red tracking, telling me off if I’ve written something that might come back to
bite me, but also giving praise if something particularly meets with her
the best thing about my agent is that, after seven years, I consider her a
friend. She’ll meet up with me for coffee or lunch when I’m down in London, has
been over for supper at my house when she’s been back in Yorkshire and always
gets back to me straight away if I email with some thorny question about
publication or needing advice about where my work in progress is heading.
many, successful, published authors go it alone without an agent What I would
say is, if you do find an agent interested in working with you and offer to take
you on to their books, go for it.
road to publication is so much more comfortable with that agent by your side to
hold your hand and share in your success.
peered closely at the woman, scrutinising her features for clues as to who she
Harriet,’ the woman smiled a little nervously. ‘Lydia’s granddaughter.’
Lydia? My sister, Lydia?’ Madge seemed puzzled.
Mum said. ‘You’re Keturah’s daughter?’ She turned to Madge. ‘It’s one of
Keturah’s daughters, Granny. You know. Gosh, Harriet, I’ve not seen you for
years.’ She paused. ‘It must have been at Aunt Lydia’s funeral, what, ten years
and I exchanged looks. Blimey, how many more grannies and aunties were there?
They seemed to be coming out of the woodwork at an amazing rate. I was totally
lost as to who they all were.
been dead twelve years now,’ Harriet said, reaching for the bundle of baby from
the younger woman as it began to make snuffling noises.
great-aunt Lydia was your Granny Madge’s older sister,’ Mum explained, pulling
up a chair for Harriet and the baby. ‘She was quite a bit older than you wasn’t
yes, much older. There were five of us: Lydia was the eldest and I was the
youngest. There was a good twelve years between us. By the time I was eight or
nine, Lydia was newly married and living over towards Colnefirth.’
trying to work out how we’re all related,’ I said, smiling at the younger
woman, who was looking as perplexed as I felt.
sorry, how rude of me.’ Harriet laughed. ‘This is my daughter, Liberty… Libby.’
you girls and Liberty must be eighth cousins loads of times removed then.
Sorry, can’t work it all out,’ Mum smiled. ‘I was never very good at maths.’
vaguely related. Probably best if we leave it at that.’ Liberty grinned at
Daisy and Me. ‘Oh, and this is Lysander.’ She took the baby back from her
mother and pointed him proudly in our direction.
Golly, that’s a good strong noble name,’ I said. ‘What’s that song we used to
sing at school? Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules; Of Hector and Lysander
diddle um tum diddle iddle um…Sorry, can’t remember the
old chap who, up until then, had been nodding peacefully in his armchair in the
far corner of the residents’ lounge, suddenly shot out of his chair, saluted
Granny, shouted, ‘Damn good soldiers. Bless ’em all,’ and then, just as
suddenly, sat back down and began to snore loudly.
old fool,’ Granny Madge tutted again. ‘I tell you, they’re all mad in here. I
need to get out before I become as crackers as they are. I’m sure it must be
Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestsellers and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate. TwitterFacebook
Jenny Starling has a job on a luxury paddle steamer working for a wealthy businessman. All she has to do is cook for his small number of guests. But things quickly turn sour. Then she discovers the body of one of the passengers in the store cupboard. Who wanted him dead and why? Jenny will have to ignore many red herrings and follow the clues to get to the bottom of a complex and intriguing murder mystery.
JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.
I received a copy of this book from Joffe Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review
Another eclectic cast of characters for Jenny Starling, the enigmatic travelling cook to cater for. I didn’t like this story as much as the first two in the series, maybe because the murder doesn’t happen until halfway through the book?
Jenny is on top form as the reluctant detective, and the police detectives she pits her wits against are clever than most. There are so many suspects and lots of sub-plots in this story and aside from the parrot, who is wonderful, it is difficult to empathise with any of the passengers or crew on the Riverboat.
The plot hides its secrets well, I didn’t work out whodunnit, but Jenny does in her own unique way. A story that takes a while to get going, but worth the wait for the intricate ending.
A body is found near a picture-perfect Cotswolds village… but the upstanding local residents couldn’t possibly be involved, could they?
Murder is the very last thing on Melissa Craig’s mind when one of her neighbours pops in to complain loudly about a minor local robbery. She’s far too busy thinking about her next book…
But when the evening paper lands, there is a shocking headline. A young woman’s body has been found in the nearby woods, and it seems the local robbery may offer a crucial clue. Suddenly the whole village is talking about the murder, but none of Melissa’s neighbours has come forward to say they know who the victim is.
Convinced that the police have got the wrong end of the stick, Melissa can’t resist doing some more digging. When she finds a photograph of the dead girl at her former family home, she realises this is the clue she needs, if only she can find out who took the picture…
Melissa finds an exciting new lead and rushes to follow it. But might she be walking into a trap? Can she work out the truth before she puts herself in harm’s way?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
So lovely to be back in The Cotswolds with Melissa Craig and a cast of wonderful characters. The murders get darker and more menacing and even though this can be read as a standalone story. If like me you’re addicted to this cozy mystery series, you’ll enjoy the developments in Melissa’s life too.
I received a copy of this book from Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an atmospheric tale, with a small town setting, twisty plot and well-crafted characters. Excellent pacing and flow make this such an absorbing and easy read.
Told from Emily’s point of view, as she answers her sister’s request to return to her home town after many years of absence, you discover that Emily is not keen to return, but the reasons why only become clear as the story progresses.
Ordinary events take on sinister connations and everyone has secrets. Emily’s fear and not knowing who to trust comes across well in this story. She feels alone and vulnerable, but this is what makes her determined to solve her sister’s disappearance, whatever the personal cost.
A good domestic suspense novel, that draws the reader in, from the first page.