Relationships are complicated. Long-distance ones, even more so.
When Lisa Millar met AJ Williams online through mutual friends, she wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the man of her dreams. She was even less prepared to discover that he already had a wife. In a heart-wrenching story of love attempting to transcend miles, Lisa finds herself pregnant and on the wrong side of the Atlantic from the man she loves.
Will their love conquer all? Or will the intricacies of a relationship woven across the Atlantic be too much to take and tear them apart once and for all?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Another passionate chapter of the internet romance between Lisa and AJ. This new adult romance is emotional with touches of humour and sadness that draw you into their lives and make you care what happens to them. Lisa’s pregnant, and this leads to a new vulnerability, whilst highlighting the drawbacks of her relationship with A.J.
The story is sensitively written, and the characters, as in the first book, continue to be believable.The story charts the rough with the smooth, before tumbling to the inevitable cliff hanger, which is a signature of this series.
Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.
When a young woman comes forward saying she’s the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He’s busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring. Puri’s indomitable Mummy-ji, however, is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur’s life and final hours?
Driven by a sense of duty – the original case was his late father’s – Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.
I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A charming cozy mystery, set in India, with a charismatic detective, whose life is constantly invaded by his Mummy-ji, who knows her son well. She is happy to manipulate him for her ends. A clever woman, observant, well-connected and a natural investigator, she is effectively a silent partner in the private detective firm.
Indian customs and society are integral to the story, and historic events are also included, which add interest to the plot.The cast of characters is eclectic and enigmatic and gives this story its quirky appeal. There are several cases to be investigated, but it is the one Puri wants to ignore that proves the most absorbing and challenging.
This is the fifth book in the series, but it is possible to read as a standalone, as I did. However, series like these are always worth reading from the beginning.
At times humorous and often poignant, this is a well-written mystery with a memorable detective, a diverse set of cases and a distinctive cultural ethos.
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries and The Delhi Detective’s Handbook. Twitter.
When Charlie Thorpe met Holly Renton, they were not a match made in heaven…
Holly lives and works in the beautiful town of Willowbury in Somerset. An incorrigible optimist, she is determined to change the world for the better.
Charlie Thorpe, on the other hand, is the ultimate pragmatist. As Willowbury’s new member of parliament, he has to be. While he’s determined to prove himself to the town, as far as Holly’s concerned, he’s just another politician on the make.
But when their paths cross again, it’s clear they’ve got more in common than they think. Can Holly and Charlie overcome their differences and work together, or are they destined to be forever on opposite sides? And why does Holly have a funny feeling she has met Charlie before…
Let Fay Keenan whisk you away to a world of glorious country views, unforgettable characters and once-in-a-lifetime love.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A family drama with a gentle romance between two unlikely individuals, who find they share more common beliefs than they thought. The setting in a small Somerset town is charming and realistic, and the political and social issues raised are integral to the story but resonate. This story has important messages but still manages to remain entertaining.
The pacing is slow, which takes a little getting used to but you do warm to the characters, once you get to know them. Similarly, the romance is realistically delivered in tantalising snippets, but they get there in the end.
Contemporary causes, family drama, and sweet romance are all found in this originally crafted story, with a relatable small town ethos.
The Weekender – Fay Keenan – Extract
‘White sage is all very well,’ Holly Renton reflected, ‘but the ashes are a bugger to get out of the carpet.’ Earlier that morning, before the shop had opened, Holly had carried out a ritual called smudging, which was meant to purify the energy in a building, promote positivity and remove negative energies. Picking up the dustpan and brush, she emptied the pungent remains of the dried herb bundle she’d ignited and then wafted around the windows and doors of the shop into the bin.
‘I know you recommend this all the time for other people’s houses, but why are you so bloody obsessed with doing it in the shop?’ Rachel, Holly’s sister, glanced down at where Holly was still brushing the rug under the mullioned front window of ComIncense, the shop specialising in herbal remedies and well-being aids that Holly ran in the sleepy but nonetheless New Age small town of Willowbury and smiled. Just beyond the shop’s counter, the door that led to Holly’s small back yard was open and Harry, Rachel’s three-year-old son and Holly’s nephew, was playing happily with a set of wooden animal-shaped blocks in their own lorry, which had come from a box of assorted toys that Holly kept specifically for the younger customers. Holly didn’t believe, unlike some of her business-owning neighbours, that children should be banned from places like hers, and since the early-spring weather was warm and pleasant, Harry had trundled out into the sunlight to play.
‘You’ve got to refresh places from time to time,’ Holly replied. ‘Especially when there’s been a lot of negative energy about, and since all of the scandal with Hugo Fitzgerald, I really felt like this place needed a spiritual cleanse!’
‘You can say that again,’ Rachel reached under the wooden apothecary’s dresser that displayed countless jars and pots of dried herbs and flowers, all purporting to be of some spiritual or physical benefit, to retrieve one of the toy llamas that Harry had thrown under it. ‘What a way to go…’
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ Holly replied, still sweeping. ‘At least, having had a massive coronary, he wouldn’t have known much about it.’
‘But what a waste of a good plate of scones and jam!’ Rachel grinned. ‘Mum told me that his constituency agent found him face down in them at his desk.’
‘I wouldn’t have fancied digging him out of them,’ Holly said. ‘But from the size of him, the heart attack was an accident waiting to happen. And gossip has it, he had his finger in a lot of pies, not just the odd plate of scones.’
‘Oh, you know how the rumour mill goes into overdrive when something like this happens.’ Rachel, who had more of a tendency to see the good in people than her sister did, dismissed Holly’s comments with a wave of her hand. ‘I mean, I’m not saying he wasn’t a prat, but nothing was ever proven about his financial misdemeanours. Although I have to admit, since he couldn’t have given a stuff about Harry’s condition, and getting access to these new drugs, I’m hoping the new guy will be more receptive to the cause.’
‘It’s still bloody unfair that he gets to swan in here and take the seat after only the quietest by-election,’ Holly grumbled as she replaced the dustpan and brush on the shelf behind the counter. ‘I mean, the guy’s only a year older than me and he’s been parachuted into one of the safest seats in the country. Even if we have a change of government, he’s unlikely ever to lose his seat. What if he’s just as crap as Fitzgerald and couldn’t care less about us here in his constituency? We’re stuck with him until he chooses to retire.’
‘Give him a chance,’ Rachel said reasonably. ‘He might be good for this place.’
‘Have you made an appointment to see him yet?’ Holly asked, glancing down to where Harry was now building a tower of exotic wooden animals that was getting more and more precarious the higher it got.
From the outside, Harry looked like any other energetic three-year-old, but on the inside, it was a different story. Weeks after he’d been born, Rachel had been launched into a perpetually revolving carousel of physiotherapy, medications and experimental trials in an attempt to alleviate the chronic condition, cystic fibrosis, that would, in all likelihood, limit Harry’s life. The latest medication, which might make a huge difference to Harry’s life expectancy, was currently being held up because the government was still negotiating with the pharmaceutical company involved over a reasonable price to supply it to the National Health Service. How it was possible to put a cost on a life such as Harry’s was a source of increasing frustration and heartbreak for Rachel and the family.
‘Not yet,’ Rachel sighed. ‘If Hugo Fitzgerald couldn’t be arsed to do anything other than toe the party line, then why should this new guy be any better? Especially if he is a total rookie. I doubt he’ll stick his neck out for Harry.’
Noticing Rachel was, unusually for her, close to tears, Holly hurried around from behind the counter and gave her sister a hug. ‘Don’t let it get you down,’ she murmured. ‘I’ll always be right there with you, campaigning to get this little munchkin the treatment he deserves.’
‘I know,’ Rachel replied, giving Holly a shaky smile. ‘I’m fine, really. It’s just when he has a bad day, it reminds me of the challenges he’s facing, which will only get worse as he gets older. And knowing that the new medications could potentially make those challenges so much easier to face…’
‘We’ll get there,’ Holly said. ‘I’ll be with you every step of the way, like I always have been. And I still think it’s worth a punt with this new guy, you never know.’
‘I’ll try and get in to see him over the summer,’ Rachel replied, breaking the embrace from her sister and grabbing the last of the wooden animals to add to Harry’s tower of jungle wildlife. ‘Can I make a drink?’
‘Of course,’ Holly said. ‘I’ve got some organic fair-trade matcha tea in the kitchen.’
‘Is that the super-energising stuff?’ Rachel asked. ‘After being up with Harry last night, I could certainly do with a lift.’
‘Honestly, it’ll keep you going until midnight!’ Holly said. ‘Go on… you know you want to.’
‘All right,’ Rachel replied. ‘But if I end up buzzing around Willowbury like a wasp for the rest of the day, I’m blaming you.’
‘Fair enough. And make me a cup, too,’ Holly called as Rachel disappeared up the stairs to Holly’s flat above the shop. Popping the dustpan and brush behind the counter again, she continued the conversation, since Rachel had left the door to the flat open. ‘Perhaps I should give this new guy the benefit of the doubt,’ she said, adjusting the labels on the jars of dried herbs and plants on the dresser so they all pointed uniformly outwards. ‘After all, new blood could be a good thing.’
‘Perhaps we should be fair and reserve judgement until he’s been in the job a few months,’ Rachel said over the bubble of the kettle. ‘You never know, he could be just the tonic this place needs, politically.’
‘You always try to look on the bright side, don’t you?’
Fay Keenan is the author of the bestselling Little Somerby series of novels. She has led writing workshops with Bristol University and has been a visiting speaker in schools. She is a full-time teacher and lives in Somerset. Fay’s new series for Boldwood will begin with The Weekender.
A heart-warming Christmas story to put you in the mood for the festive season.
All I want for Christmas is you … or you? Eve Halligan is back in her hometown for Christmas after a whirlwind few years touring with her band, the Molotovs. A lot has changed since she left, but two things have stayed the same. One: Eve is head-over-heels in love with Lucien Malikov, the Molotovs’ bad boy lead singer. Two: Lucien is completely indifferent to her. Still, Eve dreams that this could be the Christmas where she convinces Lucien that they’re made for each other. But when childhood friend and local caterer Theo Wright comes back into her life bringing with him festive cupcake and sausage roll conundrums, Eve begins to question whether her Christmas dreams have been wasted on the wrong man…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A lot is going on this Christmastime for Eve, as she returns home after touring with a band. Eve has always loved Lucien, he has always used her. Will this Christmas see her finally shed her rose coloured glasses, or will she continue to play Cinderella, to this arrogant, deceitful Prince Charming? Theo, another friend from the past, who she let down to pursue Lucien, hopes so.
This is a lovely story of friends to lovers, and self-realisation, as Eve finally realises her how talented she is, and how fantasy often fails to live up to expectation.
The glitzy glamour of the boyband lifestyle and the importance of family and true friends at Christmas are in sharp contrast in this story. Eve knows she is the reason for the band’s success, for so many reasons, but still, she allows Lucien to put upon her. This makes her frustrating in the beginning, but her final realisation that she doesn’t need anyone but herself to succeed is gratifying.
The friend to lover trope is well written here, and the romance is slow-burning but worth the wait. The festive setting is lovely. There’s a good balance of humour, poignancy and romance in this short story, which delivers a Christmassy romantic tale with a contemporary twist.
Jackie Ladbury writes heartwarming contemporary and historical women’s fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, she determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into her stories. Her life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying as she now lives a quiet life in Hertfordshire with her family and two cats, spending her days making up stories and finding excuses not to go to the gym.
She’s setting the terms… In business and pleasure!
Lucas Waring was my brother’s best friend—before he broke my heart and betrayed my family. Yet one glance from those dark, intense eyes, and that bolt of aching need returns. Now Lucas wants my business. But the nice Eva he knew is gone forever and naughty Eva wants her cake, and a taste of deliciously hot Lucas, too. Only my heart’s about to pull the biggest betrayal of all…
I received copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A seductive festive treat with heartfelt emotion, sensual romance, and a strong female protagonist. There is real character development in this story, which reflects on the event when Eva was eighteen, and how much she has changed ten years on. Yet her passion for Lucas remains stronger than ever. External conflict is strong in this romance, but Eva wants the truth and is determined that this time, everything will be on her terms.
The romance is sizzling and sensual, hotly pursued by the couple’s emotional attachment, which makes this romance endearing, even though, on one level, it is all about the physical attraction. The plot is well- written and the writing style in the first-person point of view, from both protagonists, makes it immediate and believable.
The perfect stocking filler this Christmas.
Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heart-warmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.
Despite a degree in Business Studies and spending many years in the corporate world, the desire to become an author never waned and it’s now her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.
A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she’s not glued to her laptop, she’s wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.
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When Franco, a teenager living in the monastery at Monte Cassino in 1944 uncovers a long-lost Roman Eagle, the fabled Aquila for the Jupiter Legion, he sets in motion a desperate struggle to prevent the Nazis from using it to win the war. In a do-or-die mission, Franco and Dulcie, a teenage mountain girl, must steal the Eagle back and escape before its deadly power is unleashed. Pursued by the implacable forces of the SS they will discover not just the secrets of the Eagle but also themselves.
I received a copy of this book from The Conrad Press in return for an honest review.
I like the staging of this story before the tale, set towards the end of WW2, begins. The legend of Jupiter’s Fire is retold in an exciting visual way. The story is fast-paced. with recognisable historical characters, and full of visual imagery, which allows the reader to see the events in their mind as they unfold.
The protagonists are youthful and the mix of courage and naivety is realistic. The ethos of the final months of World War two is well portrayed, and the historical characters add authenticity to the story. There is a strong thread of myth and supernatural in this story, which makes the conflict the young couple have to face harder and their chances of success less likely.
An interesting story in the style of the ‘mythical search for the holy grail’, against a background of evil, legend and war, full of dangerous secrets and self-realisation for the two young protagonists.
William Osborne – Born 1960 – educated at Greshams School, Holt, Norfolk and Robert Louis Stevenson, Pebble Beach, California, studied law at Cambridge,(MA), barrister at law, Member of the Middle Temple. Screenwriter and member of Writers Guild of America (West) – Author (published works, 1994, 1998, Hitler’s Angel, Winter’s Bullet, Jupiter’s Fire). Lives in Norfolk, enjoys life, film, dog walking, cold water swimming, lego, collecting odd stuff, driving his beach buggy.
Maya Galen’s oldest son, Jamie, left home eight years ago after a massive row with his parents and now Joe, her youngest child and apple of her eye, has cut off all contact with them too.
Called to Australia to identify the body of a young man, Maya is given her son’s journal. After a sleepless night, she decides that the only thing she can do is follow in Joe’s footsteps and try to discover her most basic human self. Eschewing a monetary lifestyle, from now on she must rely on her physical and emotional strength to survive.
Following Joe’s hand-drawn maps and journal entries, she travels from Australia to Denmark and beyond, meeting many other travellers along the way and learning valuable lessons.
Eventually, a crisis forces her to return home and confront the end of her marriage, but also a new understanding of what family, in the widest sense, really means.
I received a copy of this book from Wild Pressed Books in return for an honest review.
It’s clear from reading this book that the author has done her research, I read that the story is inspired by her young son’s travels. ‘The Vagabond Guide’ at the end of the book is provided, courtesy of his experience and the author’s thoughts as a mother. She also includes travel and work experiences from other family members, as well as her own travelling exploits.
As someone who has travelled very little, I found the book enlightening. Whilst, it didn’t give me the vagabond travelling bug, I can understand why people do this, especially someone like Maya, the main protagonist. Maya’s previous life was totally different from her travelling experience. It was losing contact with her youngest son and then recovering his journal that made her follow in her son’s footsteps.
This story is partly a travelogue, with fascinating experiences retold, of places Maya sees, the people, her fellow travellers and the food. It is also an emotional journey, feeling closer to the young son, she lost touch with. His journal guides her and us, and this is an emotional journey as much as a geographical one. This is a journey for the senses and the spirit and needs to be read with this in mind. I enjoyed it.
Relationships are an important part of this story, and it’s interesting that Maya’s daughters value her more in her absence as if they are seeing her for her true worth. Her relationship with her husband is also explored, as her independence strains the previous roles in their marriage.
Topical and timeless, if you are looking to escape and are prepared for a gamut of emotions this story is for you.