Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Suspense

Keeper of Secrets Lynda Stacey 4* #Review @LyndaStacey @RubyFiction @ChocLitUK #Suspense #Secrets #FamilyDrama #Mystery #BlogTour #BookReview #RomanticSuspense @rararesources #BlogTour

#KeeperofSecrets

Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist. 

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes. 

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …

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

My Thoughts…

Intriguing, poignant and romantic, ‘Keeper of Secrets’ is romantic suspense full of mysteries to solve, an undercurrent of menace and a strong family drama. Set predominately in Doncaster, it has an urban feel, with poverty, and strong family values at the forefront. The sense of place and the authentic characters are evident and give the plot a sense of realism. The prologue sets the ethos for the story. Young sisters bullied and escaping from their tormentors, only to experience something even more devastating.

The setting for the archaeological dig is real, although the artistic license comes into play with the exact nature and the timings of the dig. The descriptions are excellent and bring the setting to life in a vivid, visual way.

Aggie’s poignant secret is also grounded in reality and makes it sadder. Cassie is a strong, loyal character, she is willing to put herself in danger for the woman who raised her, and this makes her the perfect protagonist.

The mysteries are well written, but it the atmospheric setting, and sense of unease Cassie experiences that keep you turning the pages. The romance is a lovely lighthearted side of the story, which stops it becoming too dark and sinister.

The ending draws the mystery element to a satisfactory close.

An easy to read romantic suspense with intriguing elements of mystery and absorbing family drama.

#LyndaStacey

Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years. Prior to this, she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices, helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

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Posted in #Sale, Book Spotlight, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

The Christmas Calendar Girls Samantha Tonge @Aria_Fiction @SamTongeWriter #BlogTour #BookPromo #99p #Festive #Christmas #Heartwarming #MondayBlogs @rararesources

This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood…

Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.

#TheChristmasCalendarGirls

Fern and her best friends call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).

As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.

In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.

Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?

This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.

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Heart-warming, cosy and charming, get The Christmas Calendar Girls for just 99p for a limited period!

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#SamanthaTonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.
When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. 
She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award

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Posted in Blog Tour, Friendship, Romance

Saving Grace Jess B. Moore #spotlight @authorjessb @rararesources #YoungAdult #Comingof Age #blogtour #indie

Brandt Grace is trouble no matter what he says or does, always getting in his own way, and trying to prove he can do better and be better only to fall on his face.  Saving Grace follows Brandt’s unintentional fall for Lola Donovan, the previously friendly girl turned quiet ghost of a girl. They connect at rock bottom, finding an unexpected source of strength in each other. Can they find a way to leave the past behind and build a future together?

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#JessBMoore

Jess B. Moore is a writer of love stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her accomplished and headstrong children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.  

Jess lives in small-town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family. She takes too many pictures of her cats, thinking the Internet loves them as much as she does. She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.  

The Guilt of a Sparrow is her debut novel combining her interests in family, music, and small towns into a thoughtful tale of growing up and falling in love. Her second book, Fierce Grace, follows similar themes in a whole new way and can be read as a tie-in or stand-alone. The Worth of a Penny (sequel or stand-alone) released March 2019. Look forward to more books from Jess in the Fox River Romance series.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry Caroline Roberts 5* #Review @0neMoreChapter_ @_caroroberts @fictionpubteam #Puddings #Northumberland #Festive #Recipes #FamilyDrama #Romance #BlogTour #BookReview

#ChristmasatRachelsPuddingPantry

Cosy up with the new novel in the Pudding Pantry series, full of love, laughter, kisses under the mistletoe, and plenty of delicious pudding!

The first snow is falling over Primrose Farm, the mince pies are warming, and Rachel can’t wait to share a kiss under the mistletoe with her gorgeous new flame, Tom.

If only it was all comfort and joy . . . The arrival of Tom’s ex brings an unwelcome chill to the farm. And despite Master Baker Mum Jill’s valiant efforts, the new pudding pantry business is feeling the pinch.

With a spoonful of festive spirit, a cupful of goodwill with friends, and her messy, wonderful family by her side, can Rachel make this a Christmas to remember?

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I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – One More Chapter in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The Northumberland setting is perfect for a festive edition of the pudding pantry. It is idyllic in many ways, but this story serves up a healthy portion of real life, with its picture-postcard Christmassy setting, and lovely comforting puddings.

After finding friendship can turn to romance Rachel and Tom are hoping for some festive romance, but farming is hard particularly in the winter months, and the pudding pantry is not making enough money now the tourists have gone home. Long hours and financial worries, mean romance is low down on the list, and even time together is hard to find.

The reappearance of ex-partners ramps up the tension, and make a happy ever after for Rachel and Tom further away than ever. The strong relationship between Rachel and her mother, grandmother and young daughter is the foundation of this story and makes it such a pleasure to read.

The festive touches are lovely and coupled with the twelve, simple but delicious-sounding recipes, you can visualise Christmastime at Primose Farm.so well.

Resourcefulness and romance triumph in the perfect ending.

The Fourth Bake of Christmas

Blackberry and Apple Jam Sponge Pudding – Grandma Isabel’s Recipe, circa 1946
This handwritten poem had always been tucked into the Baking Bible as a loose-leaf next to a recipe of Rachel’s grandmother’s:

Autumn days, the sky a blue haze. Blackberry picking, Hedgerows thick with brambles, Watch out for the prickles. Purple-stained fingers and mouths, Ripe dark berries sweet with juice, Baskets laden. Ready for home, pass on to Mum, With crumbles, jams and puddings to come!

Recipe

100g/4oz self-raising flour

Pinch of salt 100g/4oz caster sugar

100g/4oz butter 2 eggs, beaten

2tbsp whole milk

45ml/3tbsp homemade or good quality Blackberry and Apple Jam

(or another flavour if you prefer)

Method

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs a little at a time with a spoonful of flour, beating well until eggs are mixed in. Fold in remaining flour alternately with the milk.
Grease and base-line a pudding basin, add the jam to the bottom. Spoon over the pudding mix up to ¾ full. Cover with buttered greaseproof paper, and secure with string. Using extra string to make a handle for ease of removal.
Steam for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a covered pan of boiling water, keeping water topped up to halfway up the pudding bowl sides, until a wooden skewer comes out clean at centre. Allow to stand for 3 minutes before turning out.

Delicious with custard or cream.

Image Credit Caroline Roberts

Caroline Roberts lives in the wonderful Northumberland countryside with her husband and credits the sandy beaches, castles and rolling hills around her as inspiration for her writing. She enjoys writing about relationships; stories of love, loss and family, which explore how beautiful and sometimes complex love can be. A slice of cake, glass of bubbly and a cup of tea would make her day – preferably served with friends! She believes in striving for your dreams, which led her to a publishing deal after many years of writing.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Mystery, Romance

A Perfect Cornish Christmas Phillipa Ashley 5* #Review @PhillipaAshley @AvonBooksUK #BlogTour #Festive #Cornwall #ChristmasRead #Friendship #Secrets #Lies #Love #Relationships #SecondChances #Festivals #BookReview #FamilyDrama

#APerfectCornishChristmas

Return to Porthmellow Harbour in this gorgeous festive romance.

Christmas in Cornwall is just around the corner…

But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.

So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.

Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?

Curl up with this gorgeous novel and savour the world of Porthmellow Harbour.

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I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Christmas the time for family, friends, and memorable presents. Scarlett’s Christmas present last year resonates, but not in a good way. It revealed a family secret, and her family is still reeling from its impact.

She comes to Porthmellow Harbour to stay with her sister Ellie, and find some answers. Full of angst and family drama, this story follows Ellie and Scarlett as they both seek the happiness they deserve. The plot is full of clues, but like all good mysteries, most of these lead to nothing. It is poignant and sometimes humorous and full of romantic moments, It keeps you turning the pages, in anticipation right to the end, which is uplifting, whilst remaining believable.

The characters are full of flaws and so human, most of them are likeable, with one notable exception. This is a story of family, forgiveness and the importance of honesty.

The romance is gentle and full of conflicts, but both sisters have to learn to trust and accept, even the men of their dreams have flaws.

All the family drama plays out, in a lovely Cornish coastal setting, and the excitement and uniqueness of a pagan style festival.

A lovely, Cornish Christmas tale that leaves you feeling festive.

Phillipa Ashley

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Phillipa Ashley is the author of a string of Amazon Top 10 and Bookseller Heatseekers N best-selling Cornish novels. Before she became a full-time writer, she studied English at Oxford and worked as a copywriter and journalist.

She also writes rom coms as Ashley Croft and steamy romance as Pippa Croft.

She lives in a Staffordshire village with her husband and has a grown-up daughter. When she’s not writing, she loves falling off surfboards and following Poldark around in a camper van.

Her latest release is A Perfect Cornish Summer is out now and is an Amazon Top 15 and Heatseekers number 1 best seller.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance

The Giving Heart Toni Blake 4*#Review @AuthorToniBlake @HQNBooks #Romance @RRBookTours1 #BlogTour #TheGivingHeart #PublicationDay #SummerIsland #Friendship #RRBookTours #HQNBooks

#TheGivingHeart

Spend a white Christmas on Summer Island, where the fires are warm and the romance is hotter

Lila Sloan wonders why she ever thought house-sitting for her sister Meg on the remote Summer Island was a good idea. And to make matters worse, local real estate developer Beck Grainger is trying to cut down the beautiful trees that line the property. Lila can’t let this happen; Meg will never forgive her.

Beck can understand Lila’s anger—sort of. The trees are actually on the neighboring property, and the land was zoned for development months ago, so his plans were no secret. But he dislikes being at odds with his friend’s sister, especially because Lila is appealing in every way: loyal, quick-witted and completely stunning.

Lila hates that she’s so attracted to Beck, who seems like a genuinely good man, despite his tree-murdering tendencies. And their chemistry is off the charts. She just wishes he’d let this development go. As Summer Island counts down to a snowy Christmas, Lila and Beck will have to strike a compromise that seems impossible for them both—or risk losing the best thing either of them has ever had.

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

My Thoughts…

The second in the Summer Island series, it’s close to Christmas and it’s snowing, the idyllic setting for this lovely feel-good romance. Lila is on Summer Island to help her older sister Meg, who is taking time out with her new boyfriend. Lila is hurting, after a bad experience at work, which forces her to rethink her career. Helping her sister gives her the solitude she needs until someone disturbs it. Forcing Lila into a confrontation she neither needs or feels capable of, but she has to protect her sister’s business and their childhood memories.

Lila and Beck feel the heat, despite the snow and their difference of opinion. Their relationship is full of conflict, as they battle over the wood, their unwanted feelings, emotional angst and the other person in their relationship. It is through compromise, friendship and understanding of each other’s emotional damage, that finally makes them see that they may have a future.

This reads well as a standalone story, but the cast of characters are lovely, and I would like to read the first one and those that follow.

Emotional romance, compassionate friendships and a lovely snowy setting make this a perfect holiday romantic read.

THE GIVING HEART by Toni Blake – Excerpt

Five long, cold minutes later a tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a winter coat with blue jeans and some weird, worn, leathery sort of cowboy hat on his head came walking down from the direction of West Bluff. Despite herself, and for the first time ever in her life, she found herself envying work boots like the ones he had on because they appeared so sturdy and dry. She braced herself for a fight.

When she looked up at him, two things struck her simultaneously. First, he was ridiculously handsome—with dark hair peeking out from beneath that dumb hat, and dark stubble on his chiseled jaw to match. And second, his warm brown eyes wore that same confused, cautious look as the man on the bulldozer’s as he said, “I’m Beck Grainger. And…there seems to be some sort of problem here?”

Lila drew back. This was Beck Grainger? Who Meg had spoken of so fondly? And even Suzanne, too, during their short visit yesterday, had mentioned him as a friend. Meg had told her he’d been interested in dating Suzanne and she’d declined, but they both still thought he was a great guy.

“Well, I’m Lila Sloan,” she said. “And yes, there’s a problem. I’m not letting you destroy Meg’s property value like this.”

Beck Grainger’s dark eyebrows shot up beneath his leathery brim. “You’re Meg’s sister?”

She gave a terse, crisp nod.

The handsome man sighed, shifting his weight from one work boot to the other. “Look, no one is trying to destroy anyone’s property value. And I assumed Meg knew about this. It’s not a secret. It was brought publicly before the town council and zoned for residential use back in the spring.”

Ugh. None of this was good news. But Lila was certain Meg didn’t know. Her sister had been dealing with a lot this past year and perhaps hadn’t been paying attention to island business. They’d actually discussed these very woods over the Thanksgiving table last week, recalling how they’d played here as children when their grandmother was still alive and running the place. Meg said that a couple of years ago she’d crossed the stream to plant some shade-loving trillium and blue cranesbill among the trees, and that the small blooms had added color visible from the patio each of the last two summers. Meg loved and valued these trees. And Lila brimmed with anger that no one had made Meg aware of this—but that was neither here nor there. “I can assure you she doesn’t know.”

The handsome man’s brow narrowed skeptically. “Well, if it’s a problem for her, why didn’t she just pick up the phone and call me?”

“Because she’s away right now—traveling. And even if she were here, she wouldn’t have known you were the person to call. And maybe she would have done something sensible—because Meg is definitely sensible—like contact someone on the town council. But I, being less sensible and more rash, took a more direct approach. Meg left me in charge of the inn while she’s away—and I can’t let you do this. I just can’t.”

The tilt of Beck Grainger’s handsome head told her he was going to try reasoning with her. “You know, it’s not gonna be that bad. Luxury homes. With big yards. They’ll fit into the landscape.” He even ended the sentence with a wink. Was he serious? Given what Lila had been through recently, he was definitely barking up the wrong tree with an elitist suggestion that rich people made better neighbors.

“I don’t care what you’re building—you’re doing it at the expense of my sister’s inn. People stay here because of the ambiance and atmosphere. They stay here to listen to crickets in the trees and see fireflies blinking in the woods. We played in these trees as kids. They’ve been growing here since…well, since before Summer Island was even Summer Island. I can’t let you tear them down.”

#ToniBlake

USA Today bestselling author Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Since then, she has written over twenty contemporary romance novels. Her books have received the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, her work has been excerpted in Cosmopolitan, and she has been nominated for a RITA Award. Toni lives with her husband in Northern Kentucky.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

The Memories We Hide Jodi Gibson 4* #Review @JFGibsonWriter #LoveBooksTours #Memories #FamilyDrama #Relationships #Grief #Secrets #Friendships #BlogTour #BookReview

#TheMemoriesWeHide

Can you trust your memories?

Laura Murphy thought she could, but that was before she returned home.

When 27-year-old Laura returns to her home town ten years after the tragic death of her then-boyfriend, Ryan Taylor, she isn’t prepared for the nostalgia and memories that resurface. After discovering a newspaper clipping alluding to the fact that there may have been more to Ryan’s death than first thought, Laura is compelled to find out what happened that fateful night. 

Reconnecting with childhood friend Tom Gordon, she begins to unravel the blurred lines of truth and memory. But Tom holds a secret of his own. Not only is he facing losing his family farm, but what he knows could destroy any chance of a future with Laura.

Will Laura have the strength to confront her memories? Or will Tom’s secret be the key to unlocking the truth?

Dealing with the complexities of friendships, love, depression and the consequences of secrets and split-second decisions, The Memories We Hide is a compelling story exploring how memories can’t always be trusted but how they can set you free. 

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

My Thoughts…

This story wasn’t what I expected, which was a woman returning to her hometown to lay some painful memories to rest, and reconnect with old friends.

Laura returns to her small hometown to nurse her mother in her last days. She hasn’t returned home, since the tragic death of her teenage boyfriend, but now she has no choice. Inundated with unwanted memories, and uncovering a mystery, as she sorts through her mother’s things. She must find out the truth, or be running to nowhere for the rest of her life.

What follows is a deepening mystery and a journey of self-realisation and acceptance that is both poignant and uplifting. The pacing is slow, and the story is deep, you spend a lot of time in Laura’s head. Which at times is an exhausting place, as she tries to make sense of what she uncovers.

The supporting cast of characters all have a part to play in the past tragedy and its present resolution. The interactions are relatable and real, and even though everyone has secrets, you empathise.

The small town claustrophobic connection is well done in this story, everyone knows everything, and yet there are still secrets. Laura begins to heal as she accepts she has been running not living, since that fateful night. The ending is powerful and realistic and showcases the careless, narcissistic, naivety of youth beautifully.

Not the easy read I expected, but worthwhile and thought-provoking.

#JodiGibson

Jodi Gibson is an Australian women’s fiction author of both contemporary dramas and light-hearted romantic comedy. She lives on a mini-farm with her husband, daughters, two golden retrievers, one horse, eight chickens and a cat who rules over them all.

Jodi has been making up stories in one way or another since she was young. However, it wasn’t until recent years and after wearing many career hats, that the desire to get the stories out of her head and onto the page, won her over. In 2019, she realised her dream releasing her debut contemporary drama novel, The Memories We Hide.

When she’s not writing, you’ll find Jodi with her nose in a book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next travelling adventure. Twitter