Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Murder Mystery

A Village Murder Frances Evesham 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @FrancesEvesham #AHamHillMurderMystery @rararesources #cozymystery #murdermystery #villagelife #BoldwoodBloggers #BlogTour #AVillageMurder #BookReview #Somerset #RachelsRandomResources #TuesdayBookBlog #TuesdayMotivation

An English village can be deadly, when your past catches up with you…


In the beautiful rural Somerset village of Lower Hembrow, crammed full with English eccentrics, something is amiss…

Landscape gardener Imogen Bishop has spent the last thirty years trying to forget one fateful school night but when her estranged husband Greg Bishop is found dead in the grounds of her fathers Georgian hotel, danger threatens to overwhelm her.

Retired police officer Adam Hennessey, hoping for a peaceful life running his traditional Somerset country pub, finds himself drawn into the unfolding drama in the hotel across the road.

Imogen, Adam and Harley the stray dog form an unlikely partnership as they try to untangle a knot of secrets, solve a murder mystery, and bring a killer to justice.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I have to admit that cosy and murder mystery is my ultimate escapist read. This first book in ‘A Ham Hill Murder Mystery has an engaging village ethos, authentic characters and an intriguing murder mystery plot.

The mystery plot is layered and full of twists. The main protagonists are relatable and easy to like. The dog is the star of the show for me. The dynamic between Adam and Imogen is believable and promises to be a gripping series.

The rural setting contains all the recognisable village nuances. The people are equal parts nosy and supportive.

Frances Evesham is the author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea mysteries set in her home county of Somerset. Boldwood plan to republish the complete series with the next new instalment due in Autumn 2020.  Frances is also starting a new cosy crime series set in rural Herefordshire with thefirst title being published in June 2020.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Psychological Thriller

Reckless Gemma Rogers 5*#Review @GemmaRogers79 @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #BoldwoodBloggers BlogTour #BookReview #CrimeFiction #FamilyDrama #urbanfiction #RachelsRandomResources #MondayBlogs

English teacher Izzy Cole wanted a fresh start.

A new town, a new home, a new school.

But when sixth former Nicky Stevens sets his sights on her, he begins to reel her in at a time when she’s most vulnerable. Soon Izzy is risking her family, her career and her life as she finds Nicky wants more than she ever planned to give.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Authentic characters, a believable scenario and some surprising twists make this an absorbing read.

It’s a story of two parts. Firstly the forbidden attraction. Izzy behaves recklessly and betrays her position of trust. You understand her motivations, but she crosses a line that anyone with children finds hard to condone. Nicky’s manipulation of Izzy in a depraved narcissistic game makes the second part of the story dark and chilling.

This is an intense and immersive story well-paced and believable.

Extract from Reckless Gemma Rogers

Steadying my breathing until I felt in control, I pulled open the door and stepped into the busy corridor, almost colliding with the frowning headmaster.

‘Ah, there you are. Welcome, Isabel.’ He smiled, opening his arms wide and, for a worrying second, I thought he was going to envelop me in a hug.

‘Izzy, call me Izzy. Sorry, you had someone in your office,’ I explained but he waved me away.

‘No problem. Now, Izzy, let me take you through to your classroom. As I mentioned before, you have a lovely year eight class that you’ll be form room teacher for. You’ll be known as 8C; they are all aged between twelve and thirteen. They’ll be with you for about twenty minutes twice a day, each morning and afternoon, where you’ll take the register. I looked after them for part of last year and they are a smashing bunch.’ Mr Scott strode quickly down the corridor and I hurried to keep up. My skirt too tight at the knee to walk fast. Why did he look after a form? In my previous school that would have been unorthodox for a headteacher.

‘Will I teach my lessons from the same classroom?’ I asked.

‘Yes, absolutely, that will be your classroom.’ He glanced over his shoulder. ‘Still raining out there?’ I nodded, remembering my umbrella in the boot of the car.

‘Afraid so, but I think it’s slowing down. The Great British Summertime, eh,’ I said, palms dampening as a tirade of bewildered-looking students pushed through the doors and ploughed towards us.

Someone bumped my shoulder and mumbled an apology.

‘Stevens,’ Mr Scott said sternly.

The boy turned around and my stomach plummeted to the floor like a sack of potatoes.

‘Yes, sir?’ he replied in a bored tone, his mouth in a tight smile.

‘You bumped into Mrs Cole. Can you apologise please?’ He hadn’t seen me properly; hadn’t registered me yet. But I saw him, clearer now he wasn’t behind a windscreen. Blond shaven head, blue eyes, vaguely resembling a young Jude Law. Athletic-looking, he stood almost as tall as the headteacher. Our eyes met, and I thought I heard him gasp.

His smile faded, and he stuttered, ‘I, I did.’

‘He did,’ I agreed, unsure why I was defending him. I eyed him coldly. He could have killed us this morning.

‘Off you go and tuck that shirt in,’ Mr Scott instructed, nodding towards his untucked T-shirt, before we carried on down the corridor.

As he held open the classroom door to 8C, I glanced behind me in the direction we’d come from. The boy, last name Stevens, was still standing there, staring at me. A permanent fixture in the corridor as students scurried around him. I paused, my hand briefly touching the small mound on my head. My thumping skull stepped up a notch. Mr Scott’s voice was muffled in the background. As I crossed the threshold into the classroom, I took one last look down the corridor, sure I saw the corners of the boy’s mouth curl upward.

Gemma Rogers

Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Stalker is her debut novel which Boldwood will publish in September 2019 and marks the beginning of a new writing career.  Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters and bulldog Buster.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Soul Killer Ross Greenwood 5* #Review #DIBarton @greenwoodross @BoldwoodBooks #PoliceProcedural #Suspense #noircrime #PsychologicalThriller #BlogTour @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #boldwoodbloggers #BookReview

‘Repent in this life, rejoice in the next…’

A murder made to look like suicide. Another that appears an accident. DI Barton investigates the tragedies that have shattered a family’s lives, but without obvious leads the case goes nowhere. Then, when the remains of a body are found, everything points to one suspect.

Barton and his team move quickly, and once the killer is behind bars, they can all breathe a sigh of relief. But death still lurks in the shadows, and no one’s soul is safe. Not even those of the detectives…

How do you stop a killer that believes life is a rehearsal for eternity, and their future is worth more than your own…?

Ross Greenwood writes gritty, heart-pounding thrillers, with twists aplenty, and unforgettable endings.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Soul Killer is a noir crime thriller. The antagonist’s, first-person point of view, gives unique insights into an abusive childhood and motivation for subsequent crimes. Alongside this is a third-person perspective detail the police investigation.

There’s an authentic mix of psychological suspense and police procedural. A complex plot keeps its clues well hidden. DI Barton’s character continues to develop in a realistic and relatable way. This is the second in the series but reads as a standalone too.

The Soul Killer is riveting crime fiction with a twist of psychological suspense.

Ross Greenwood

Ross Greenwood, an author from Peterborough, has written six crime thrillers. He uses his experience of travelling and working all over the world to create layered believable characters that will capture your imagination. In 2011, Ross decided to take on a new challenge and became a prison officer. He writes murderers, rapists and thieves brilliantly because he worked with them every day for four years.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Humour

How Not To Be A Loser Beth Moran @BethCMoran @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers #BoldwoodBlogTour #Extract #AudioExtract #Family #UpLit #Mother #Son#Friendship #Love #Courage #MondayBlogs #MondayThoughts #Humour

AMY PIPER IS A LOSER. SHE’S LOST HER CONFIDENCE, HER MOJO AND HER WAY.

But one thing she has never lost is her total love for her thirteen-year-old son Joey, and for his sake she knows it’s time for a change. But first she has to be brave enough to leave the house…

What she needs are friends and an adventure. And when she joins a running group of women who call themselves The Larks, she finds both. Not to mention their inspiring (and rather handsome) coach, Nathan.

Once upon a time Amy was a winner – at life, at sport and in love. Now, with every ounce of strength she has left, she is determined to reclaim the life she had, for herself and for Joey. And who knows, she might just be a winner again – at life, sport, and love, if she looks in the right places…

Uplifting, funny and unforgettable, Beth Moran returns with a joyous tale of friendship, love and facing your fears.

Amazon UK

How Not To Be A Loser – Beth Moran – Extract

Stop Being a Loser Plan

Day One

It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t get woken up by my phone alarm blaring, spring out of bed and decide today was the day. I didn’t open up Facebook and one of those irritating quotes – embrace the rain if you want to dance under the rainbow – actually inspired someone for the first time ever to change something. After cajoling my son, Joey, out of bed, I didn’t gaze at his beautiful face as he poured a second giant bowl of cereal, raving about the school football match coming up, and in a surge of love and regret suddenly experience the pivotal moment in a decade of non-moments.

In fact, apart from the invitation that arrived in the morning post, most of the day went precisely as expected. Which was, in summary, exactly the same as pretty much every other weekday. I waved Joey off to school, reminding him to hand in the form about the meeting that evening and cleared away the breakfast dishes. I worked at my desk in the kitchen, breaking the monotony of writing about corporate social responsibility policies by swanning off to eat lunch in the living room, because that’s the type of wild and crazy woman I am.

I rescued Joey’s football kit from festering on his bedroom floor and stuck it in the wash, because despite telling myself on a daily basis that it’s time he learnt the hard way, circumstances dictate that I also live with an extra-large pile of parental guilt, so I make life easier for him where I can.

By the time Joey came home at four, I had spoken to no one since he left, unless you count talking to myself. Oh, and to the enormous spider who appeared out of nowhere and started edging across the kitchen while I debated whether to have another chocolate cookie or the bag of seeds I’d bought precisely to avoid eating a whole packet of cookies.

‘I’d get out of here if I were you. While your impressive size might earn you respect in the spider world, my son doesn’t take kindly to home invasions by anything with more legs than him, and he’ll be home any minute. Go on, shoo. Or else I’ll have to squish you.’

Too late. While the spider was weighing up whether to heed my advice, Joey burst through the front door, in his usual whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm.

‘Hey, Mum. I’m starving, are there any of those cookies left?’

I clicked save and pushed my chair back to face him. ‘Hi, Joey, and yes, I had an okay day, thanks. How was yours?’

‘Oh. Sorry, yeah. It was good, actually.’ He paused, mid-search of the snack cupboard, to offer an apologetic smile. ‘We did this experiment in science where we had to heat up this white stuff, and— WHAAAAAAT!?’

In an instant, my strapping thirteen-year-old reverted to a frightened child, leaping up to sit on the worktop, cookie packet hugged protectively to his chest.

‘How long’s that been there?’ he shrieked.

‘Not long.’

‘Why didn’t you tell me the biggest spider in the universe was right behind me?’

It was a pointless question. We had been through this too many times before. Joey knew that the reason I hadn’t told him was because of what would inevitably happen next.

And, in line with the rest of the day’s predictability, it did. After a brief negotiation about Joey’s phobia, the value of the spider’s life and what I was willing and able to do about both these things, given that I didn’t think it was quite worthy of calling either the police or pest control, I ended up scooping the monster arachnid in both hands and facing my own worst nightmare.

‘Ready?’ Joey looked at me with solemn eyes as he gripped the door handle. He tried to keep his voice steady, but the rise and fall of his chest betrayed his terror.

I nodded, aware that my own eyes, while the exact same light brown as my son’s – caramel, his dad used to call them – were darting wildly like two wasps caught in a Coke bottle.

Before I had time to take another wheezing, shallow breath, Joey flung the door open and ducked behind it. I threw myself forwards, crashing against the door frame, eyes now firmly squeezed shut, and flicked my hand outside. A sudden gust of wind sent me reeling back in panic.

‘CLOSE THE DOOR!’ I gasped, clutching at my heart as it careened about my ribcage and stumbling back into the middle of the kitchen.

‘Is it gone? Are you sure it’s gone?’ Joey garbled back.

‘Yes! It’s gone. CLOSE THE DOOR, JOEY, NOW!’

I heard the door slam, took another two calming breaths and forced my eyes to take a peek. ‘Oh, please.’

The spider levelled me an ironic gaze from the welcome mat. It was so humungous I could see the lazy challenge in each of its eight eyes.

‘What? What? What is it? Is it still here?’ Joey spoke from where he’d scrambled behind me.

‘It might be.’

‘WHAT? Where-is-it-what’s-it-doing-is-it-moving-is-it-near-me-how-is-it-still-inside? MUUUUUM!’

‘It may have blown back in and now be sitting on the mat.’

Beth Moran is the author of three previous books, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

The Whitsborough Bay Series Jessica Redland @BoldwoodBooks @JessicaRedland #Friendship #Relationships #Romance #FamilyDrama #Uplit #NorthYorkshire #BlogTour #Extracts #WhitsboroughBay #boldwoodbloggers

SOMETIMES LOVE CAN BLOOM WHERE YOU LEAST EXPECT IT…

For Sarah Peterson, it’s time for change. Coming out of a dead end relationship and having had enough of city life, she just needs to escape and have a fresh start – a new job, a new home and a new lifestyle.

So when her Auntie Kay unexpectedly offers her the opportunity to take over her flower shop, Seaside Blooms, the timing could not be more perfect. She could escape to the beautiful seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, start a new chapter in her life – and learn how to run a business!

But, as she packs up her life in London, she isn’t prepared for the discovery of a clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for twelve years. All of the predictions have come true, except one: she’s about to meet the man of her dreams. Oh, and his name is Steven…

As she prepares for the biggest move of her life, Sarah can’t help but wonder if Seaside Blooms could be a new beginning for love too?

A warm, uplifting novel of love, friendship and destiny from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is a new, revised and updated edition of a novel previously published as Searching For Steven.

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New Beginnings at Seaside BloomsAudio Extract

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – Extract

It was now after half six. Sod it! I couldn’t do this anymore.

* To Jason

This is killing me! Where are you taking me? I’m all ready and awaiting my instructions! Please tell me you haven’t forgotten xx

I hoped that reading my birthday cards again would distract me. It didn’t. A little voice in my head kept telling me he had forgotten and Clare’s joke about McDonald’s or my local might not be far from the truth. Perhaps he was frantically phoning round restaurants right now and that’s why he hadn’t been in touch. Another text arrived and, finally, it was from him. Please don’t say McDonald’s

* From Jason

South Kensington Tube Station. 1915hrs. Table booked for 1930hrs xx

Butterflies stirred in my stomach. Oh my God! South Kensington. Could it be…?

I hastily shoved my phone in my bag, pulled on my coat and left the flat, legs shaking as I strode towards the tube station. It was just a coincidence. There were hundreds of restaurants in South Kensington and we could be going to any of them. With Jason’s track record, it could be McDonald’s. But what if…?

He’d taken me to Luigi’s to celebrate me moving down to London shortly after we started seeing each other. During dessert, the man on the table next to us proposed to his girlfriend. It was such a moving and romantic moment and, on the way home, Jason said that he could imagine proposing there too. But that didn’t mean he’d booked a table there tonight to propose to me, did it?

When I reached South Kensington tube station, it took all my willpower to stand still on the escalator when all I wanted to do was to shove past the travellers, run up the steps, and skip across the concourse screaming, ‘Yes, Jason, I will marry you.’

I spotted him by one of the exits. My breath caught as I saw what he was wearing. Classically tall, dark, and handsome, he looked particularly hot in the three-piece suit he’d bought for his brother’s wedding last summer. After his firefighter uniform, it was my favourite outfit on him. Although to be perfectly honest, with a toned body like his, I preferred no clothes at all.

‘Happy birthday.’ He bent down and gave me a soft kiss. I breathed in his musky scent and those butterflies went crazy. ‘You look good.’

‘Thank you.’ I whipped open my coat like a flasher, revealing the LBD I’d agonised over wearing for fear I’d be overdressed.

He wolf-whistled and I flushed from head to toe. ‘I approve. Although you may be a little over-dressed for what I have planned later tonight.’

I flushed again and Jason laughed as he took my hand in his. ‘Shall we?’

‘Where are we going?’ I tried to sound casual but failed abysmally. Please say Luigi’s. Please.

He winked at me, grinning widely. ‘It’s a surprise.’

Oh my God!

It could only have been three minutes, but I swear that walk felt like an hour. My sweaty hand kept slipping from his, I stumbled several times and I even hiccupped, causing Jason to ask if I’d been on the wine before leaving the flat.

The Italian flag and deep green canopy of Luigi’s loomed ahead of us. My breathing quickened and I mentally prepared myself: must not look gutted if we walk past, must look happy wherever he takes me.

But we didn’t walk past. We stopped. We went in. He gave his name and we were led to a table towards the back where a bucket of champagne on ice was waiting for us. Champagne. Proper Champagne. Jason always said that supermarket own-label Cava was overpriced. Which could only mean… Oh. My. God!

I put my glass of champagne down as Jason pushed the candle aside and reached for my hand across the table a few minutes later.

‘You really do look gorgeous tonight,’ he said.

‘You don’t scrub up too badly yourself,’ I whispered, barely able to speak for anticipation of what was coming.

His dark eyes twinkled as he gazed at me over the table. ‘Thank you. I thought I should make a special effort. It’s a special occasion, after all.’

Eeeeeeekkkkk!

‘I haven’t given you your birthday present yet.’

WHEN IT FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING IS AGAINST YOU, SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A LITTLE BIT OF HOPE…

Married to her childhood sweetheart for over twelve years, Elise feels like starting a family is the next natural step. However, her husband, Gary, has other ideas…

Suddenly single, Elise is completely heartbroken and struggling to start over on her own. But when she’s enlisted to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sarah, she has to put on a brave face, put her own feelings aside and find a way to get over Gary. Fast.

So when she meets handsome, recently-divorced, Daniel, she thinks he could be just what she needs. But why can’t she shake the feeling that he must be too good to be true?

Will she ever be able to take that leap and trust again?

An uplifting read of love, loss and finding yourself from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as Getting Over Gary

Amazon UK

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove Audio Extract

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove – Extract

‘I have exciting news,’ Jess announced when we’d placed our food orders. ‘Bay Brides called earlier and the bridesmaid dresses are ready early. They’ll be in on Wednesday so I’ve made an appointment for a fitting a week tomorrow at two. Are you free?’

I grinned at my younger sister – a shorter, slimmer version of myself. ‘How exciting!’

‘We don’t have any plans for next Saturday, do we?’ I asked, turning to face Gary.

‘I don’t know about you, but I’ll be going into the surgery.’

I frowned. ‘I thought you were going in tomorrow.’

‘I’m doing both. Maybe the one after too.’

It was on the tip of my tongue to say, ‘But we always spend weekends together,’ but what was the point? I had two choices: confront Gary and spoil the whole evening or ignore him and focus on my little sister’s news. Forcing a bright smile, I said, ‘Two’s perfect. Can Izzy and Megan make it?’ The wedding was less than three months away on the first Saturday in August. I was chief bridesmaid, supported by Jess’s best friend, Izzy, and Izzy’s four-year-old daughter, Megan.

Jess nodded. ‘I texted Izzy earlier. They’ve got no plans.’

‘Brilliant. Do you know when your dress will be ready?’

‘Four weeks later. I managed to order a bigger size just in time and I’m desperately hoping it will still fit on the day.’

I frowned. ‘Why would you need a bigger size? You haven’t put on weight, have you?’

Jess and Lee exchanged big grins.

‘She hasn’t,’ Lee said. ‘Well, not yet anyway…’

I gasped as realisation hit. ‘Oh my goodness! Are you saying…?’

‘We had our twelve-week scan this afternoon and everything’s looking good. In fact, it’s looking doubly good.’

I gasped again and clapped my hand over my mouth. ‘Twins?’

Jess nodded and I let out a little squeal as I leapt up and dashed round the table to hug them both.

‘Congratulations you two,’ Gary said. ‘Wow! Twins? Two kids? That’s some news!’ He stood up, shook Lee’s hand and kissed Jess on the cheek.

‘I can’t believe it!’ I sat down again. ‘My baby sister’s having her own babies, which means I’m going to be an auntie. I’m so excited for you both. Twins? That’s so amazing. And that’s cause for celebration.’ I signalled a waiter and ordered a round of drinks including a very large glass of wine for myself, then giggled as I added, ‘Make that two. One per baby.’


*Winner of Chill With a Book Book of the Year 2019 Award as Dreaming About Daran*

FOR CLARE O’CONNELL, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART ACHES…

Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:
1. Don’t talk about Ireland
2. Don’t think about Ireland
3. Don’t go to Ireland
4. Don’t let anyone in

And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future is all that counts, isn’t it?

However Clare is about to realise that you can run from the past, but you can’t always hide from it…

When her boss insists she travels to Ireland for work, Clare finds herself drawn back to the village of Ballykielty – the home of her family, and the home of her secrets. The one place where vowed never to return to again…

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Will Clare stick to rule number four?

Can she be brave and face up to her family and the demons of her past?

An emotional novel of family, friendship and dealing with your past from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as Dreaming About Daran.

Amazon UK

Coming Home To Seashell CottageAudio Extract

Coming Home To Seashell Cottage – Extract

‘Your friend Pete was right,’ I said when the closing credits started rolling. ‘Cracking film. What did you think?’

‘I agree. The king thing was a spooky coincidence, don’t you think?’

In the film, best friends Edmond and Fernand exchange a chess king when one of them overcomes a challenge, to symbolise who is ‘king of the moment’.

I nodded towards the king nestled in his fruit bowl. ‘Did you plant it there knowing it was in the film?’

Ben shook his head. ‘Honestly, I’ve never seen the film or read the book so I didn’t know about the chess piece. I genuinely found that bad boy sitting on my doorstep, just like I told you.’

‘Are you sure?’

‘Have you ever known me to lie?’

He made a good point. He was one of the most honest people I knew, although, unlike me, he was tactful with his honesty. Generous to a fault, ridiculously considerate of others and gifted in spades with patience, Ben definitely deserved his nickname of ‘Saint Ben’. By contrast, I could be pretty blunt and to the point, not particularly patient and quite selfish. I was lucky he only called me ‘Irish’ because I probably deserved something a little less affectionate.

‘Tell you what we can do.’ He grinned at me, wrinkled his nose in a clear act of mischief, then lifted the king out of the fruit bowl. Picking up a chilli pepper discarded from his curry in his other hand he said, ‘If you eat the whole chilli, you win the king.’

I was about to refuse his stupid challenge, but then he added, ‘I bet you can’t do it.’

Defiantly, I picked up the chilli and shoved it in my mouth. Tears streamed down my face, my nose ran like a tap and my head felt as if it were about to explode. But that king was going to be mine. Nobody told me what I could and couldn’t do and I would come out on top whenever challenged. Always.

‘Oh my God! I can’t believe you just did that.’ Ben handed me a box of tissues. ‘Serious respect to you, Irish.’

I gasped for breath and rasped, ‘Wait till I tell your sister what a mean boy you are.’

He laughed. ‘You’re king of the moment, Irish. He’s all yours.’

And so it began.

Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland is the author of nine novels including Searching for Steven which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay.  Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

Copycat Diane Saxon 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @Diane_Saxon #CrimeFiction #Thriller #BlogTour #BookReview #PoliceProcedural #DSJennaMorgan #psychologicalsuspense

IS HE STILL OUT THERE?

Brand new psychological crime from the author of The Keeper.

When a beautiful, red-haired nurse’s body is found mutilated in her house in Lawley the morning after a date with Detective Constable Ryan Downey, all eyes turn to him.

With a very specific modus operandi, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan and her team know exactly who the offender is, the trouble is he’s currently serving a life stretch in HMP Long Lartin.

It soon becomes evident to DS Morgan and her team that there maybe a copycat killer is on the loose.

In a race against time, they need to track down the copycat and discover who is pulling whose strings?

Amazon UK

#boldwoodbloggers

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

My Thoughts…

The second book in the DS Jenna Morgan series is even better than the first. This book is a mix of police procedural and psychological suspense, and the author fuses them expertly, to produce an adrenaline-fueled story, coupled with an authentic investigative theme.

The police team are believable and full of interesting complex characters. Jenna is a skilled detective, who puts her career first, she is a good leader and a reliable partner, Her relationship with Mason is complex and realistic, and very effective. Romance is not high on her priority list, but it does shimmer in the background, with a past acquaintance. The romantics are given a little hope, as this story progresses.

The crimes are detailed and grisly. The author uses just enough graphic description, to let the reader appreciate the evil of the antagonist, and the horror of the crimes. The plot is well thought out and has intriguing twists. I did work out the solution, but it is well hidden.

The level of psychological suspense and menace the story has is powerful and makes this a real page-turner.

Looking forward to Jenna’s next case, hope its soon.

#DianeSaxon

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Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to write psychological crime. The Keeper is her first novel in this genre and introduces series character DS Jemma Morgan.  It will be published by Boldwood in October 2019. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

Read my review of The Keeper, the first book in the DS Jenna Morgan series here

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

A Springtime to Remember Lucy Coleman 5*#Review @LucyColemanAuth @BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #Romance #France #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Relationships

#ASpringtimetoRemember

Let Lucy Coleman transport you to glorious, sun-drenched France, for the perfect feel-good read. Paris and the Palace of Versailles have always meant a lot to TV producer Lexie. Her grandma Viv spent a year there, but her adventures and memories were never discussed, and Lexie has long wondered why they were a family secret.

When work presents the perfect excuse to spend Springtime in Versailles, Lexie delves into Viv’s old diaries and scrapbooks, and with the help of handsome interpreter Ronan, she is soon learning more about the characters that tend to the magnificent gardens, now and in the past.

In amongst the beauty and splendour of the French countryside, a story of lost love, rivalry and tragedy unfold. Can Lexie and Ronan right the wrongs of the past, and will France play its tricks on them both before Lexie has to go home? Will this truly be a Springtime to Remember…?

Amazon UK Paperback eBook

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

My Thoughts…

Beautifully descriptive, this story portrays the ambience of France so well, the author’s love of the Palace of Versailles, is apparent, and this translates easily into Lexie’s first impressions and total enchantment with this iconic French location.

This story has a slow-burning romance with oodles of simmering passion, a family drama and mystery, which intertwines serendipitously with Lexie and Ronan’s budding romance. The characters are believable and easy to root for, and the historical input gives the story realistic depth and added interest.

This story is full of charm and emotion and allows the reader the chance to explore the mysteries of France and Lexie’s family. A lovely way to escape the depths of an English winter, to the romance and warmth of France. from the comfort of your armchair.

#LucyColeman

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humour, Romance

The Weekender Fay Keenan 4*#Review @faykeenan @boldwoodbooks #Familydrama #Romance #humour #Somerset #politics #smalltown #BoldwoodBloggers #Willowbury #Extract #BookBloggers #BookReview #BlogTour

#TheWeekender

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. 

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

My Thoughts…

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

1

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?’

#FayKeenan

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.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Saga

Good Girls Amanda Brookfield 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @ABrookfield1 #BlogTour #Author #Interview #Extract #FamilyDrama #ComingofAge #Sisters #Secrets #Romance #Saga

GOOD GIRLS NEVER TELL TALES…

Everyone that meets Kat Keating is mesmerised. Beautiful, smart and charming, she is everything a good girl should be.

Her sister Eleanor, on the other hand, knows she can’t compete with Kat. On the awkward side of tall, clever enough to be bullied, and full of the responsibilities only an older sibling can understand, Eleanor grows up knowing she’s not a good girl.

This is the story of the Keating sisters – through a childhood fraught with secrets, adolescent rivalries, and on into adulthood with all its complexities and misunderstandings.  Until a terrible truth brings the sisters crashing together and finally, Eleanor begins to uncover just how good Kat really was.

Good Girls is a love story, a coming-of-age story, a mystery and a tear-jerker. But most of all it’s a reminder of who to keep close and who to trust with your darkest secrets. 

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

My Thoughts…

Two sisters, once close, but who have become estranged as they grew older. Eleanor, the older has her own reasons, but she’s never understood her sister Kat’s. Drawn together again, by a cruel stroke of fate, is it too late to reconnect?

This is an excellent family drama, with dark family secrets that devastate the once close sisterly bond. The story begins with Eleanor rushing to be with her sister, and them drifts back in time to the mid-1980s when they were young girls, and then the early 1990s, when Eleanor left for university.

The historical events slowly illuminate the present discord and misunderstanding, but all is not revealed until it is in some ways, too late to make amends. Serendipity plays a part in this story, as it often does in reality, and Eleanor gradually comes to terms with her past and the possibility of a hopeful future.

The cast of characters resonate, they all play a part in Eleanor’s life but have their own motivations and flaws, which makes them real. The story is realistically peppered with laughter, sadness, anger and despair. It is a poignant reminder that you cannot sometimes trust those closest to you, and of the rollercoaster nature of life.

An emotional family drama, with a realistic plot and memorable characters.

Author Interview – Amanda Brookfield – Good Girls

What inspired you to write ‘Good Girls’?

My original idea was to write about two sisters who are driven apart and then re-connected by the same man, deciding to get in touch by email after twenty years.  But then the story took off in a hundred other directions, as stories do!

What interests you about family drama? Why are stories about sisters so absorbing?

We all come from families of one kind or another – our upbringings forge us, whether we like it or not – and I love looking at the myriad ways we try to deal with that.  Sisters are a prime and rich example (I have two of my own!), being a relationship that is full of rivalries and ups and downs.  But there are also, always, the ties of love and loyalty that continue to bind us as siblings, long after we have gone our separate ways in the adult world.  This is a fascinating seam to explore as a novelist.

Dialogue is very important in a family drama story.  How do you make your dialogue realistic?

You can have the most gripping plot, but if the voices of the characters do no ring true then it will fall flat.  The way I work is to hear my characters speak inside my head.  In fact, often snatches of dialogue – of how my characters would communicate – arrive at unexpected moments when I am away from my desk, driving the car say, or walking the dog.  I have learnt to trust these snatches and write them down – it is my imagination working overtime, and 9 times out of 10 it is absolutely right.  I guess it is like being an actor, trying to get inside the psyche of a protagonist.

How do you create your characters?  What makes them believable and real?

Constructing a character is a bit like doing a jigsaw.  You decide what they look like, and where they live; what age they are and what they do for a living.  You give them hopes, hobbies and fears.  Then you throw events at them and see what they do!  If there is enough substance to your creations, enough humanity, the the way they behave under pressure will feel real and credible for the reader.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I read as widely as possible – mostly fiction, but also memoir, travel and some history.  I love being surprised by what I find on the page and always have my antennae up to learn new things, both creatively and factually.  If someone recommends a book to me passionately enough, then I will always give it a go!  I also try to avoid reading books that I think might be similar to whatever I am working on – I hate the idea of being influenced or feeling that someone has already gone where I am trying to go.

What are you currently writing?

I am halfway through a novel about a woman plucking the courage to leave her abusive husband – one of those subtle monsters that no one else knows about.  I am writing the story from my heroine’s point of view, so it has an intensity that feels new and exciting.  It is important for me to feel that each new writing project is stretching the boundaries of what I have done before.

Extract from ‘Good Girls’ – Amanda Brookfield
CHAPTER ONE
January 2013

Eleanor decided to take a taxi from the station, even though she knew it would cost ten precious pounds and mean a wait. Being so rural, only a handful of cars served the area, but she didn’t want to be a bother to Howard, her brother-in-law. She texted both him and Kat to say she would be there within the hour and stayed as warm as she could in the small arched station entrance. It was a cold, dank morning, not raining for once but with air like icy metal against her skin.

The taxi driver who pulled up some twenty minutes later exuded an attitude of reluctance that made Eleanor disinclined to make conversation. When they hit a tail-back, thanks to a loop round the old Roman bridge, still not fixed from the heavy flooding over the New Year, he thumped his steering wheel. ‘A bloody joke. We can land men on the moon and still it takes three weeks to fix a few old stones.’ Eleanor murmured agreement but found that she didn’t mind much. The fields on either side of the road were still visibly waterlogged. After the grimy mêlée of south London, it was a visual feast – ethereal, shimmering silver bands engraved with the black reflections of leafless trees and smudgy January clouds.

The usual criss-cross of feelings was stirring at being back in such proximity to the landscape of her childhood. Just twenty miles away, her father was a resident in a small care home called The Bressingham, which he had once included in his rounds as a parish priest, days long since lost to him through the fog of dementia. Howard and Kat’s substantial Georgian house was ten miles in the opposite direction, on the fringes of a town called Fairfield. They had moved from Holland Park seven years before, a year after the birth of their third child, Evie. At the time, Eleanor had been surprised to get the change of address card. She had always regarded her little sister and husband as life-long townies, Kat with her posh quirky dress-making commissions to private clients and Howard with his big-banker job. It was because they saw the house in a magazine and fell in love with it, Kat had explained at one of their rare subsequent encounters, in the manner of one long used to plucking things she wanted out of life, like fruits off a tree.

But recently life had not been so cooperative. A small tumour had been removed from Kat’s bowel and she was in bed recovering. Howard had reported the event earlier in the week, by email, and when Eleanor had got on the phone, as he must have known she would, he had said that the operation had gone well and that Kat was adamant that she didn’t need sisterly visits. No further treatment was required. She would be up and about in a matter of days. Their regular babysitter, Hannah, was increasing her hours to plug gaps with the children and he was taking a week off from his daily commute into the City. ‘But I am her sister,’ Eleanor had insisted, hurt, in spite of knowing better. ‘I’d just like to see her. Surely she can understand that.’ Howard had said he would get back to her, but then Kat had phoned back herself, saying why didn’t Eleanor pop down on Saturday afternoon.

‘Nice,’ said the driver, following Eleanor’s instructions to turn between the laburnums that masked the handsome red-brick walls and gleaming white sash windows and pulling up behind the two family cars, both black, one a tank-sized station wagon, the other an estate. He fiddled with his satnav while Eleanor dug into her purse for the right money. I am not the rich one, she wanted to cry, seeing the visible sag of disappointment on his sheeny unshaven face at the sight of her twenty-pence tip; I am merely the visiting elder sister who rents a flat by a Clapham railway line, who tutors slow or lazy kids to pay her bills and who has recently agreed to write an old actor’s memoirs for a sum that will barely see off her overdraft.

Howard answered the door, taking long enough to compound Eleanor’s apprehensions about having pushed for the visit. He was in a Barbour and carrying three brightly coloured backpacks, clearly on the way out of the house. ‘Good of you to come.’ Brandishing the backpacks, he kissed her perfunctorily on both cheeks. ‘Brownies, go-carting and a riding lesson – pick-ups in that order. Then two birthday parties and a bowling alley. God help me. See you later maybe. She’s upstairs,’ he added, somewhat unnecessarily. ‘

‘The Big Sister arrives,’ Kat called out before Eleanor had even crossed the landing. ‘Could you tug that curtain wider?’ she added as Eleanor entered the bedroom. ‘I want as much light as possible.’

‘So, how are you?’ Eleanor asked, adjusting the offending drape en route to kissing Kat’s cheek, knowing it was no moment to take offence at the Big Sister thing, in spite of the reflex of deep, instinctive certainty that Kat had said it to annoy. At thirty-eight she was the big sister, by three years. She was also almost six-foot, with the heavy-limbed, dark-haired, brown-eyed features that were such echoes of their father, while Kat, as had been pointed out as far back as either of them could remember, had inherited an uncanny replication of their mother’s striking looks, from the lithe elfin frame and flinty-blue feline eyes to the extraordinary eye-catching tumble of white-blonde curls. ‘You look so well,’ Eleanor exclaimed, happiness at the truth of this observation making her voice bounce, while inwardly she marvelled at her sibling’s insouciant beauty, utterly undiminished by the recent surgery. Her skin was like porcelain, faintly freckled; her hair in flames across the pillow.

‘Well, thank you, and thank goodness, because I feel extremely well,’ Kat retorted. ‘So please don’t start telling me off again for not having kept you better informed. As I said on the phone, the fucking thing was small and isolated. They have removed it – snip-snip,’ she merrily scissored two fingers in the air. ‘So I am not going to need any further treatment, which is a relief frankly since I would hate to lose this lot.’ She yanked at one of the flames. ‘Shallow, I know, but there it is.’

‘It’s not shallow,’ Eleanor assured her quietly, experiencing one of the sharp twists of longing for the distant days when they had been little enough and innocent enough to take each other’s affections for granted. They had been like strangers for years now in comparison, shouting across an invisible abyss.

#AmandaBrookfield

Amanda Brookfield is the bestselling author of 15 novels including Relative Love and Before I Knew You, and a memoir, For the Love of a Dog starring her Golden Doodle Mabel.  She lives in London and is currently a Visiting Fellow at Univ College Oxford. Her first book with Boldwood, Good Girls, will be published on 8th October 2019.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Suspense, Thriller

The Keeper Diane Saxon 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @Diane_Saxon #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Thriller #DSJennaMorgan #BlogTour #PublicationDay #BookReview

#TheKeeper

Responding to reports of deadly screams in the Ironbridge Gorge, Detective Sergeant Jenna Morgan is first on the scene to investigate.

As the search intensifies, Jenna soon discovers her sister Fliss’s severely injured Dalmatian, Domino and the naked, tortured body of an unknown woman.

Who is the dead woman and where is her sister Fliss?

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

My Thoughts…

This story begins so quietly, but the subtle suspense builds very quickly. A dramatic twist leaves the reader reeling. Totally addicted, you have to find out what happens next.

There is a psychological element to this story, but not in the traditional sense., as there is no clear, unreliable protagonist. Rather, this is a fast-paced crime thriller, with a well-thought-out police procedural, and a disturbing, menacing ethos. The crimes are not graphically depicted, but are harrowing and resonate.

Jenna Morgan is a likeable detective, who engages with the reader. This crime is personal, you see her flaws and vulnerability seeping through her professional exterior. She’s easy to empathise you want her to have the outcome she seeks.

With an interesting team of detectives, that all have their own stories, this promises to be an absorbing series. The detective team is male-dominated, which may be authentic, but it would be good to see more women on the team in future stories.

The clues to finding the killer are hidden in plain sight, but knowing who increases the intensity. The ending is a pure adrenaline rush.

#DianeSaxon

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Diane Saxon previously wrote romantic fiction for the US market but has now turned to write psychological crime. The Keeper is her first novel in this genre and introduces series character DS Jemma Morgan.  It will be published by Boldwood in October 2019. She is married to a retired policeman and lives in Shropshire.

extract from The Keeper – Diane saxon

Chapter One

Friday 26 October, 15:45 hrs

Felicity Morgan jammed her car into third gear and took the tight bend down the hill to Coalbrookdale with fierce relish. ‘It’s not right! It’s just not right. I’m twenty-four years old, for God’s sake, and still being told what to do!’ She pounded the palm of her hand on the steering wheel and whipped around another curve. ‘

‘Not even told.’ She glanced in the mirror, her gaze clashing with Domino’s. ‘Nope, she didn’t even have the decency to speak to me.’ She floored the accelerator and snapped out a feral grin as the car skimmed over the humps in the narrow road.

‘She texted me. A freakin’ text!’ She shot Domino another quick glance and took her foot from the accelerator as the car flew under the disused railway bridge, past the entrance to Enginuity, one of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

Guilt nudged at her. ‘I know. I know, Domino. We’ve barely seen each other since I moved in because of her shifts and my workday, but for God’s sake. A text? Really? She must have been so peed off to send me a text. It’s her version of not talking to me. She’s done it all our lives.’ Fliss blew out a disgusted snort. ‘What the hell did you eat this time? Her bloody precious steak? One of her fluffy pink slippers? Hah!’

She appealed in the mirror to her silent companion. ‘She said, “Don’t forget to walk the dog.”’ She pressed her foot on the brake and came to a halt, sliding the gears into neutral as the traffic lights halfway down the hill changed to red. They always did for her. Every bloody time. With a rebellious kick on the accelerator, Fliss revved the engine.

‘She called you a dog, Domino. She couldn’t even be bothered to write your name.’ She stared at the big, gorgeous and demanding Dalmatian in her rear view mirror. Her lips kicked up as a smile softened her voice. ‘How could I possibly forget to walk you?’

An ancient Austin Allegro puttered through the narrow track towards her just as the traffic lights turned to green on her side. ‘Bloody typical.’

Domino raised his head to stare with aloof disdain at the passing Allegro and Fliss sighed as the driver’s wrinkled face, as ancient as the car, barely emerged above the steering wheel. ‘There was only once, a few weeks ago, I forgot to walk you. You’d have thought Jenna would have understood. I was hung-over from my break-up drinking bout. You, my darling, were suffering the consequences of a broken home.’ She let out a derisive snort as she put the car into first gear and glided through the lights, back in control of both her temper and her vehicle.

‘Not that you ever really liked Ed. You were just being empathetic. You sensed my…’ she drew in a long breath through her nose, ‘… devastation. You sympathised with me. How was I to know you’d eat your Aunty Jenna’s kitchen cupboard doors off while I was sleeping?’ They still bore the deep gouged teeth marks. ‘We didn’t have any choice but to move in with Jenna. We couldn’t stay with him. He was too mean. He wanted me to get rid of you. Said it was him or you.’

She flopped her head back on the headrest. Ed. The perfect gentleman, tender, gentle, an absolute charmer. To the outside world. Insidious, controlling arse to her. It had taken so long to realise his subtle intention to separate her from her mother, her sister, eventually Domino. The slick manoeuvres to keep her to himself. Unnoticed until her mother fell ill, when, in a flash, it all became clear.

‘Poor Domino.’ She glanced in her mirror to share the sympathy between herself and her dog as she slowed down to pass the stunning Edwardian building she worked in on her right. Coalbrookdale and Ironbridge School dated back more than two hundred years and had firmly entrenched roots at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. With the imposing cooling towers of the Ironbridge power station behind, they shared domination of the skyline from that angle.