I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This domestic suspense story explores the human consequences of love, money and power. It embroils the reader in an intricately built world of abuse, deceit and lust with believable characters and insidious suspense.
Told from two perspectives; journal entries from Nina, the first Mrs Ford and Tabitha, the second Mrs Ford’s past and present points of view. The story draws the reader into two parallel worlds of the rich and poor and explores what someone will do for power and wealth. Tabitha and Nina are both unreliable protagonists, but they both engender the reader’s empathy. Connor is weak and driven by the need for money and not as easy to like. The cast of secondary characters all add to the story and provide its plot twists.
The fast-paced plot builds a world of betrayal and division. It blends introspection and criminal investigation to deliver an absorbing story. I guessed part of the outcome, but that adds to the enjoyment, and the poignant conclusion is both realistic and satisfying.
I received a copy of this audiobook from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story demonstrates the claustrophobic and immersive qualities of psychological suspense so well. It begins with a traumatic incident in Regi’s life. The reader knows this is important but not why. Regi’s painful past and mental health issues define her and make everyday life difficult. Her housemates are younger but supportive. The story believably depicts Regis’ OCD, but its repetitive nature is emotionally draining on the reader and slows the pace.
The narrator produces an excellent interpretation of the story and its nuances.
Regi is a complex character, an unreliable protagonist with secrets. The suspense building is good, there are menacing undertones, and some clever changes in plot direction that keep the listener guessing. The focus on social media gives this story an immediacy and relevance.
Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is an addictive story. The suspense builds as the story progresses, and every chapter brings a new twist. Who to believe? Who is the true antagonist in this claustrophobic, creepy domestic suspense?
Jade tries to make a new start after a messy love affair and subsequent mental health issues. She’s not an easy character to like, or understand, and the extent of her mental health issues are unclear. She makes a good unreliable protagonist.
This is a multi-viewpoint story which adds to the plot’s complexity and suspense. All the neighbours have secrets and are unreliable, especially since one may be the story’s antagonist. This is a well-paced story that held my interest, and the final twist ends the story perfectly.
Prior to turning her attention to writing, Debbie Viggiano was, for more years than she cares to remember, a legal secretary. She lives with her Italian husband, a rescued pooch from Crete, and a very grumpy cat. Occasionally her adult children return home bringing her much joy… apart from when they want to raid the fridge or eat her secret stash of chocolate.
She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?
Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. While Emily breaks free, she’s forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.
Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 – and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.
David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a disturbing, intense psychological suspense, an insightful and sensitive exploration of domestic and child abuse and the resultant damage. The subject matter is difficult to read. Emily and Jack’s vulnerability and the perversions of David and his ilk are well-written without the need for an overly graphic description. This exploration of a contemporary issue is relatable and sinister because it parallels reality.
The characters are defined, and flawed some are easy to empathise because of their vulnerability. Others are despicable and easy to hate.
Although this more suspense than a thriller, the writing style and structure keep the momentum and make this a page-turner. The pacy plot keeps the reader on edge, the undercurrents of menace apparent and intensify as the story progresses.
This is noir crime creating a gritty, vice-ridden world that you want the protagonists to escape.
British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott (also known as Helen Blenkinsop) loves to escape with an exciting and emotional read, and that’s what she aims to write too. Based in Bristol, she’s also lived and worked in London and Birmingham. All three cities feature in her pacy suspense thrillers. Her latest psychological thriller, ‘Bright Lies’, begins in North Somerset with a posh art exhibition in Bath. Young Emily meets the man who will change her life and cause her to run away to a squat in Birmingham, work in a nightclub and get further entangled in a web of lies.
To write ‘Bright Lies’, Helen has had advice from thirty beta readers on subjects as varied as police procedure, drug abuse, grooming, art, music, DJing and clubbing. She’s grateful to them and to her editor, Katharine D’Souza, for making huge improvements to the story.
Helen’s earlier 5 book Trail series is a lighter read focused on a vodka business. Snow Mountain is a premium vodka made in the former Soviet Union, and its owners have blood on their hands. The saga follows the fortunes of two families running the business and what happens when they fall out with each other and with a London gangster. Glamorous heroine Kat is the girl readers love to hate at the beginning of the series, but by the last book, she has won them over. Book research for the series included prison life, hotel research and vodka. Helen especially enjoyed a tour and tasting with the helpful folk at the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.
Like 10% of us, many of Helen’s family are dyslexic. While she is not, she wants her books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. She publishes her thrillers in a Large Print dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. (You can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.) Audiobooks are definitely on the cards – watch this space!
Helen likes speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, she’d love to hear from you.
Helen is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.
A mother who disappeared… When Beth was 10 years old, her beautiful, wild mother Alice walked out and never came back. Beth’s life since hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but now she is happy and settled, with a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home.
An unexpected visitor… Then one day there’s a knock at the door. Alice has returned. Overjoyed to have the chance to rebuild their relationship, Beth invites her mother to move in.
A life that comes crashing down… At first, everything seems wonderful. But then Beth’s friends begin to drift away, strange things start to happen at home, and rumours begin to circle about her past. As the mysterious events around Beth become darker and more dangerous, she is forced to question everything. Is somebody in her life trying to destroy her happiness? And how far will they go?
An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood, from the author of Manipulated Lives.
Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.
Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?
In The Memories We Bury the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The sense that something is not right hits you from the reading the initial pages of this story. The author creates a claustrophobic ethos with undercurrents of menace as the two main characters share their stories.
Morag and Lizzie are unreliable protagonists. This is evident from the outset, but what the reader doesn’t know is which viewpoint is the least trustworthy. Morag and Lizzie are believable characters. Lizzie’s lack of nurture in childhood left her with low self-esteem and vulnerable to manipulation. Morag’s childhood was similarly lacking in parental care. The fallout from her childhood only manifested when she became a mother.
The disturbing elements and suspense build as the story progresses. Guessing the outcome, as I did, makes the story a satisfying read. Both characters engender empathy, but in addition to poignancy, this story has a distinct domestic noir theme which is disturbing and makes you think.
Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy , specializing in the study of the mind.
Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first book, Manipulated Lives, a collection of five fictional novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists.
She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.
I can’t forgive myself. Not after what I did. Could you?
This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.
But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.
Tense, emotional and gripping, Susan Lewis’s latest novel is a spellbinding story of love, family, and the price of forgiveness.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a contemporary emotional story focusing on crime, domestic abuse, family and forgiveness. From the beginning, you aware that someone is seeking forgiveness, but alongside this runs the story of three women, a mother, daughter and grandmother who are seeking a new start. The connection, if any between the two stories, is not immediately apparent.
The characters, especially the female protagonists, are well written. The familial relationship is powerful. This is a story of forgiveness, healing and love. It demonstrates the importance of these in all relationships in a way that resonates.
Despite his actions, the antagonist draws reluctant empathy from the reader, which increases, as the story progresses. Not all the characters are likeable, but they are authentic and play their part, in this family drama with a moral dilemma.
This story is addictive and hard to put down. The protagonists are admirable and human.
Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including One Minute Later and Home Truths and My Lies, Your Lies. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs.
Withholding the Key, Third and Final Book of With Emma Trilogy.
Will Emma unlock her heart and truly allow herself the happiness she deserves?
Emma Andrews finds herself and everyone she cares about within the walls of the penthouse. Only, this time, it was her who locked the door and threw away the key. Emma finds herself not only planning to take Jarret out for good, but trying to destroy his empire and all who are within it.
Jarret won’t know what hit him…
What Emma doesn’t expect is to see a face that before had only appeared in her dreams.
With Chance’s life holding on by a thread, Emma is pulled to him. Will he prove his love to her, allowing Emma to completely unlock her heart to him? Or, will the man that has taught her to accept her strength, be the man Emma finds her true-self in the bounds of his love…
There is one thing for certain, in order to take Jarret out, Emma will need to rely upon the bond formed from an unexpected friendship.
T. L. Mahrt is a former business owner, where she utilized her education in cosmetology, barbering, and massage therapy for several years. She was raised on and is currently living on a farm in Nebraska, where you can find her running barefoot in the countryside with her loving husband, inspiring children, and massive dogs.
After having her son, who was born with Cerebral Palsy and DYRK1A Syndrome, she made the life altering decision to stay home to care for her two children and pursue her love of writing. She has a passion for romance and poetry where her overactive imagination, along with her adventures and upbeat lifestyle drives her motivation for her writing.
T. L. Mahrt has a thirst for knowledge and is currently working on her Bachelor of Applied Science in Communication Studies degree.
Secrets can kill and Danni Brooks knows that better than anyone.
When her husband and two of her three children perish in a devastating house fire, Danni is sure it is arson. She’s even more sure that her and her eldest daughter Mia were meant to die in the fire too. But they are just a normal family. Who would want them dead?
Mia doesn’t talk. She can’t. She is locked in her own world where no one, not even her mother can reach her.
Desperate for answers, and convinced the truth might help her to reach her daughter, Danni tries to piece together the events leading up to that murderous night and uncover the arsonist. But with so many lies to untangle, what is the truth?
Prepare to have your breath taken away by an unforgettable twist that will leave you reeling…
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an excellent domestic noir with unreliable protagonists and a powerful plot that resonates.
Danni awakes in the middle of the night she hears the family dog barking and goes to investigate. The suspense begins from the first page and takes the reader in diverse directions most of them inconclusive. Danni witnesses the horrific devastation of her family by fire except for her eldest daughter. Superficially, the story follows Danni’s investigation into the arson that caused it.
The story is told mainly from Danni’s viewpoint, but two other viewpoints also tell their story. Nameless these characters keep their secrets until the end. This is a hard-hitting story with graphic images of abuse that evidence Danni’s motivation and state of mind. The well-paced plot is immersive, and twisty making this addictive and disturbing reading.
The Silent Daughter – Kirsty Ferguson – Extract
Danielle Brooks awoke with a start, the dankness seeping into her cold bones. She rolled over, pulling the blanket up around her chin, her shoulders chilly in the frigid room. While she loved it most of the time, sometimes she hated the old house, the creaking of the settling wood and pipes, the third stair that squeaked sharply every time you stood on it just right, the broken bathroom doorknob that her husband Joe had meant to fix but had never got around to.
Danni sighed. Joe, snoring loudly beside her, had woken her up again, just like he had every night for the better part of two decades. She untangled herself from the blanket and swung her legs out, wincing at the cold of the floorboards as she placed her bare feet on them while she felt around for her slippers. Danni fumbled for her dressing gown, eventually finding it at the foot of the bed. Shrugging herself into the voluminous gown, she knotted the tie to fit around her waist, pulling it tight. Wondering why it was so large on her, hanging from her delicate frame, she realised she had put on Joe’s by mistake. Too tired to find her own and open herself up to the cold again, she pulled the collar higher around her neck. Danni looked at the alarm clock resting on the bedside table, reminding her the dawn was still hours away.
Wearily pushing herself up from the old, sprung mattress, she slid her feet into her worn slippers, scrunching up her toes in the end, trying to magic warmth into them, the fluffy innersole long since gone.
Need another blanket. Too bloody cold in here.
Danni stumbled from the bed tiredly, yet walked without hesitation, knowing her way to the door having made her way over the floorboards hundreds of times in the darkness. She quietly went through the doorway, turning the knob and closing the door as she left. Her bladder was calling to her as she walked across the landing to the bathroom, leaving the door with the broken handle open a bit. If you closed it all the way, you became trapped in the bathroom until someone came to let you out. It happened to their son Noah more often than you’d think. Many a time Danni had found him, eyes filled with fresh tears, spent ones wetting his face, snot running down to his lip.
Danni would sit on the floor beside him and, as he crawled into her lap, she would wipe the tears from his five-year-old face. He would look up at her, love for her burning in his hazel eyes. He looked so much like his dad, with the same colour eyes and tanned skin. She would kiss the top of his head and mumble how much she loved him into his sweet-smelling hair. Her middle child Alexandra, big sister to Noah at nine and a half, would also rescue him. She never laughed at him, never made fun of him for forgetting and locking himself in again, or for crying.
Her oldest daughter, Mia, was almost a woman at seventeen years of age, as she was so fond of telling her father when he refused to let her do what she wanted. Dress how she wanted, go out with her best friend, stay up past her bedtime. Joe and Mia didn’t always get along and Danni found herself playing referee more than she’d like to. They seemed to constantly be at odds with each other these days. They used to be close, Joe and Mia, but in the last couple of months they had drifted from having a loving relationship to sometimes outright hostility from Mia and anger from Joe. Danni didn’t understand why, and when she broached it with Joe, he just gave her the old she’s a teenager line. It felt wrong, but Mia refused to talk to her about it too, so Danni had no choice but to watch them grow apart, saddened by the growing divide. Danni hadn’t thought about her for a long time but now, in the darkness of the home she shared with her family, the memories came rushing back. Beth, her tormentor, her abuser, her sister, flashed through her mind.
Kirsty Ferguson is a born and bred Australian. She writes crimes and mystery novels. Her stories center around strong women and dark themes that are topical and relevant to today. Kirsty chooses to deconstruct and enthrall her readers with the secrets of any everyday person behind closed doors. She has long been a lover or writing and reading, creating stories from a young age.
Zoe fainted on her wedding day, and she never knew why. She’s always felt sure something bad happened. Ten years later, she’s going to find out what…
It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Zoe was sitting in her hotel room, in her perfect white dress, looking forward to the moment when she would make kind, handsome Toby her husband.
Then, there was a blank.
They said she must have fainted, overcome with emotion. But nothing felt quite right afterwards. Did something happen in that missing time?
Now, Toby and Zoe have two beautiful children and a perfect life. They’re planning their ten-year anniversary party for their family and friends. The invitations have been sent, the food ordered. They’re going back to the grand hotel where they got married.
But as the anniversary gets closer, it becomes clear not everyone is looking forward to celebrating. She catches Toby lying about where he’s been. One of her best friends seems to be ignoring her. And someone is spreading stories that might stop the party from happening at all.
Zoe is increasingly sure that she doesn’t have the full story. But does she want to know the truth, if it will destroy everything?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Wife is another edge of your seat, intriguing read from this author.
Zoe cannot remember part of her wedding day, it’s not bothered her unduly, but as she organises her tenth wedding celebration, her life starts to unravel, and she’s not sure why.
This is a family drama with touches of noir, especially as the plot reveals the true events surrounding Zoe’s memory loss. The clues are there, and I did work out part of the mystery, but this increased my enjoyment of the story.
The pacing is perfect, the characters layered and hiding secrets and the final revelations breathtaking.