Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Noir

The Orange Grove Kate Murdoch 5*#Review @KateMurdoch3 @RegalHouse1 #Lies #Secrets, #historicalfiction #18Century #France #historicalromance

#TheOrangeGrove

Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue. 

Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the Duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.

The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.

In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.

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

My Thoughts...

The rich historical detail of France, at the beginning of the eighteenth-century, is brought to life, with the intrigues, passions and sacrifices of the five court mistresses, in the house of the Duc Hugo d’Amboise. All the women of varying ages and backgrounds have been drawn into the Duc’s household, his Duchess tolerates their presence until she realises, her husband is falling in love with the youngest, Letitia. Threatened and heartbroken she uses the rivalry and secrets, of her uneasy housemates to remain the household’s dominant female.

I was enthralled from the first pages, this story is a compelling read. The female characters are flawed and beautifully written, all victims of circumstances, they fall into an uneasy alliance, to survive, and make their lives, and that of their children bearable. The society they create is akin to the animal kingdom, one dominant male, a hierarchy of females, that is constantly under pressure. The reality this story portrays is shocking and hard to countenance in the 21st century. In eighteenth-century France, they were considered lucky by most, but the reality is less palatable.

The abuse of status and power is also explored, with the vulnerable at the mercy of the people who should be protecting not abusing them. Status is the lynchpin of eighteenth-century French society, and to maintain it, many were prepared to sacrifice, their beliefs, morality and family.

The plot is constantly twisting as more secrets are revealed and used by the desperate Duchess to maintain her status. Underneath, the courtly manner is something wild and dangerous. Innocents have to become streetwise to survive. All the characters are believable and fascinating, some are easy to empathise and like. The ending is shocking, but it is inevitable the story will not end well for all.

A dramatic and often poignant story, that shows the depths humanity will sink to survive. The ultimate bloody end of this society is not surprising.

#KateMurdoch

Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone CircleShe exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing.

Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.

Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press, December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.

Kate was awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel,
The Glasshouse.

Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.

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Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Friendship, Suspense

The Promise- Teresa Driscoll-4*#Review @TeresaDriscoll @AmazonPub

It was their darkest secret. Three schoolgirls made a promise – to take the horrible truth of what they did to the grave.

Thirty years later, Beth and Sally have tried to put the trauma behind them. Though Carol has distanced herself from her former friends, the three are adamant that the truth must never come to light, even if the memory still haunts them.

But when some shocking news threatens to unearth their dark secret, Beth enlists the help of private investigator Matthew Hill to help her and Sally reconnect with estranged Carol ­– before the terrible act they committed as teenagers is revealed.

Beth wishes she could take back the vow they made.

But somebody is watching and will stop at nothing to ensure the secret stays buried. Now, with her beloved family in peril, can Beth still keep the promise?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An unexpected event brings a terrible secret to the forefront of Beth’s mind, although her life since teenage has been blighted by the promise, she and her two friends made. Told mainly from Beth’s point of view this is a domestic rather than psychological thriller. The present-day story centres around her family and friends and is more of a suspenseful family drama.

Two further points of view are also key to the story, Carol, one of Beth’s school friends and Mathew, the private detective she and her friend Sally hire to find Carol.

The promise and the secret it protects isn’t revealed until two- thirds through the book, although there are clues before this. The late reveal doesn’t spoil the story, which explores Beth, Carol and Sally’s state of mind as the weight of keeping the promise intensifies. The plot is clever and there are two unexpected twists, which impact significantly on the characters and outcome of the story. These are believable but do stray away from the original storyline.

This story lacks the menacing undertone necessary for a psychological thriller, but it still an absorbing read, as the women struggle with their promise, their mental health and the truth’s they have denied for too many years.
The ending is realistic and satisfying but it is the sadness of this story that resonates and makes it worth reading.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Thriller

5* #Review – The Sting – Kimberley Chambers @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam

TWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS

Best friends Tommy Boyle and Scratch always had each other’s backs. Dragged up in care, and cruelly betrayed by everyone they trusted, they made a pact to fight their way out of the gutter – together.

TWO SIDES OF THE LAW

Old loyalties die hard on the streets of London. Tommy throws his lot in with the notorious Darling family – even if it means leaving Scratch to the wolves. She’s destined for a different path, reinventing herself as copper Kim Regan.

ONE DEADLY SHOWDOWN

Now they’re on opposite sides of the law. Running Operation Sting, Kim will rip the heart out of the Darling’s empire – and only her old pal Tommy stands in her way.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

What I love about this story is the author lets you live your characters’ lives, and find out what made them the people they are, before launching into the present day story.

 Set in the seventies and eighties, Tommy and Scratch’s lives are full of tragedy, finding each other is the only light in their dark, young lives. Then events take over and instead of them against the world, they find they’re pitted against each other.

The characters are believable but not always likeable. The motivation for their actions is always clear. This story does highlight the horror of child abuse, which is never an easy subject to read, but it is dealt with sensitively. The abuse the two main characters suffer is integral to their future character development and initially defines the adults they become.

‘The Sting’ is cleverly written, with a unique mix of poignancy and violence. Tommy is an anti-hero and a victim of abuse. The story doesn’t end well, it couldn’t with such a believable plot, but there is hope for some and a lovely twist at the end.

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Impulse Book Club, Literary Humour, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Don’t You Forget About Me – 4* #Review -Mhairi McFarlane – @MhairiMcF @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK

It began with four words.

‘I love your laugh. x’

But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else.

So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something.

The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…

I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Believable characters, realistic humour and poignant moments are all to be found in this likeable story set in Sheffield. Georgina’s life has not followed her teenage plan, but then whose does?

However, there’s more to her story than is first apparent, and although I did find this book, dragged a little in parts, I enjoyed it and appreciated the important issues it raises. Particularly, how a young person’s life can be irreparably damaged, by a single action or event.

The story is romantic and humorous, but it goes deeper than a romcom usually does. The humour is often dark or double-edged, and the romance is there, but not in the voluminous quantities the reader would expect from romantic comedy fiction.

Georgina’s family seem to treat her as the ‘joke’, the one who never grew up, but this is her perception and not necessarily their intention. Families are made up of individuals, drawn together by birth and blood, there is always likely to be a generational difference of opinion, which comes across well in this story, as does Georgina’s reactions and thoughts about their opinions on her life choices.

The romance of the story hinges on whether Lucas remembers Georgina, I think he does. His actions are not blameless, but they are understandable, given what he believes, how he feels about her, and what has subsequently occurred in his life.

The sibling relationship in this story is one of its strengths; competitiveness, bossiness and a hierarchy are evident, but the sister bond is unbreakable when threatened by outside forces.

The last quarter of this story has the most impact. Especially, when Georgina finally faces up to and shares what changed her young life. It is heartbreaking to read, but there will probably be parts of it that you can relate to, from your teenage life.  The difficulty Georgina has in verbalising her painful experience is relatable and makes her character memorable.

Well- written, topical and varied this is worth reading, but it’s not a quick, easy read.

Posted in Book Review

The Little Book Cafe – Tash’s Story- Georgia Hill – 5*Review

 

Local estate agent Tash isn’t convinced about joining the new book club at Berecombe’s beautiful new bookshop and café. Dragged there by her friend Emma, she knows she needs a night out. Her boyfriend Adrian is wonderful, and adores her, but has become a bit clingy of late. So when she is introduced to new local farmer Kit, with his scruffy beard and low-key look, it’s a breath of fresh air to chat to someone so un-Adrian. Maybe this book club idea could be fun after all!

But when Tash starts forgetting things and behaving oddly, over-protective Adrian is determined to keep her from her new interest. But if bookclub has taught Tash anything, she should know not to judge a book by its cover…

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

I enjoyed Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Cafe series and expected this one to be similar. It does feature some of the characters I met previously, but this story has a much darker tone. 

Outwardly Tash appears ambitious and successful, her property developer boyfriend dotes on her, and she has the lifestyle she always aspired to. She’s only attending the book club for her friend  Emma and considers it a waste of time.  The first book club meeting is pivotal in Tash’s life. It highlights the cracks in her perfect facade and makes her wonder if a different life would suit her better.

Tash’s gradual realisation that something isn’t right in her relationship is accompanied by out of character forgetfulness. Adrian’s attitude towards her is increasingly controlling, and she knows something needs to change but is she strong enough to face the challenge?

Natasha’s character development is extensive as the story progresses, and her strength of character finally lets her be the person she really is. Adrian is a dark, draining individual with dangerous secrets. The suspense and menace in this story intensify with every scene as Tash fights for her identity. The ending is powerful and satisfying and makes me want to see what happens next. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Not what you’d expect from this author but riveting reading.

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

 

 

Posted in Book Review

No Time to Cry -4* Review – James Oswald

Posted in Book Review

BlogTour: What Did I Do? Jessica Jarlvi – 4*Review

“Kristin is on the run. From her life. From herself.”

When two murders happen in Chicago, a witch-hunt ensues, and Kristin quickly finds herself at the centre.

The problem is she isn’t sure of what she did or didn’t do. Armed with a life insurance payout, she runs away to Sweden to start her life over.

But it’s not that easy to escape the past. And whatever she’s done, someone is on her tail, wanting her to pay…

The question is: could she be a killer and not even remember?

 

Links to buy

 Amazon UK 

Amazon

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2EJuXRk

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2IRxvPO

iBooks: https://apple.co/2Hwy4za

 

 

My Thoughts…

Multiple characters provide tantalising snippets of information in this psychological thriller. Set in Chicago and Sweden, this story has the pacing and sinister elements of a Scandinavian thriller.

All the characters have psychological issues, which makes finding the antagonist difficult. I did work out most the plot before the end, but there were a couple of surprises. What stands out in this story is the unmitigated evil of the antagonist, who is the puppeteer, while all the other characters are puppets to some degree, although few are entirely blameless.

The story’s pace is slow and won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like Scandinavian thrillers this has all the essential requirements.

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

Born in Sweden, Jessica moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. She worked in publishing in the UK for a number of years before heading to Chicago where she edited a magazine for expats. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Last year, she was one of the winners in the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she’s known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!

 

Twitter: @JessicaJarlvi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.jarlvi.graham