Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Excerpt, Extract, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense

The Stolen Child Alex Coombs 5*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #London #Essex #TheStolenChild #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

Meet DI Hanlon. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.


Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.

Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.

When the kidnap of a 12-year-old boy blows the case of some missing children wide apart, the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.

Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who is incorruptible enough to handle it – Hanlon.

And then he sends Demirel to spy on her…

Once you start the DI Hanlon series, you won’t be able to put it down.

This book was previously published as Time To Die by Alex Howard.

Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

I’ve read a couple of this author’s later books featuring this character, and it’s interesting to explore her past career as a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. DI Hanlon is dedicated, effective and uncontrollable. If you were a crime victim, you would want her as your Senior Investigating officer.

Set in the second decade of the twenty-first century the story’s subject matter is contemporary and disturbing, parts are harrowing to read but integral to moving the story forward and showing Hanlon’s motivations. Hanlon is an advocate of justice rather than an upholder of the law and easy to empathise. Several investigations are running concurrently in this character-driven story. It focuses on Hanlon and how she is affected by the cases and her subsequent involvement.

The ending is fast-paced, gritty and ultimately satisfying.

Extract from The Stolen Child – Alex Coombs

The compact, concrete shape of the World War Two gun emplacement crouched, hunkered down into the shallow, gravelly soil above the beach on the Essex side of the Thames Estuary near Southend. It overlooked the wide, grey shallow waters on whose far side lay the Isle of Grain and Sheerness. Hanlon guessed it was somewhere out there in those cold, steely waters that the proposed island airport for London might one day take shape. She thought, fleetingly, it would be a pity in a way if it happened. The North Sea waters had a chilly quality that she found rather beautiful. She looked around her slowly, the sky above enormous after London’s claustrophobic horizons. A heron stood on a boulder near the beach, shrugging its wings like an old lady arranging a shawl around her shoulders. Cormorants bobbed along on top of the water and she could see guillemots, their wings folded back like dive-bombers, thundering into the water. The calls of the birds floated towards her on the stiff sea breeze.      

     The tarmac track that led down from the main road above them was old, cracked and weed-grown. The ex-army building’s pitted, grey, artificial stone surface was now camouflaged with yellow, cream and blue-grey lichens and grey-green moss, so that it seemed almost organic, a part of the landscape like a strangely symmetric rock formation. There was a fissured, concrete apron next to the bunker and Hanlon pulled up adjacent to the large, white Mercedes van that she guessed belonged to the forensics team, then got out of her car. She stood for a moment by her Audi and closed her eyes. She felt the cold, fresh sea air against her skin and the breeze tugged at her shoulder-length dark hair. She could smell the metallic warmth of her car engine and the salt tang of the sea. The sound of the small waves breaking on the stony beach a hundred metres or so away were nearly drowned out by the throbbing of the generator next to the Mercedes. She could hear the keening of seagulls, much louder now, wheeling above in the sky. Hanlon stretched the powerful, sinewy muscles in her shoulders and arms and opened her eyes, which were as expressionless as the North Sea in front of her. She looked out over the water, feeling its call. Hanlon loved swimming in the open sea. Earlier that morning, at 6 a.m., she had swum for a steady hour in her local swimming pool, but pool swimming was nothing compared to real salt water. She guessed at this time of year the temperature would be only two or three degrees, colder than a fridge. That wouldn’t deter her. 

     She could taste its saltiness, carried to her lips by the wind.

     A red power cable looped its way from the generator through the heavy, open metal door of the bunker. The door was rusted and pitted by time and the elements, but still substantial. Hanlon stepped over the line of police crime-scene tape that secured the area, blowing like bunting in the sea breeze, and approached the building. Earlier that day, the place would have been bustling with her colleagues from Essex. Now the uniforms had gone and the outside of the bunker, included in the search area, reopened. She didn’t go inside through the forbidding-looking portal designed, she guessed, to be blast-proof, but walked instead along the side wall until she came to one of its long, slit windows that overlooked the beach and the far horizon.

Alex Coombs

Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.

Twitter Facebook Newsletter Sign Up Website

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Psychological Thriller

Bad Girls Gemma Rogers 5*#Review @GemmaRogers79 @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #BoldwoodBloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #CrimeFiction #urbanfiction #BadGirls #PublicationDay

No Body. No Crime. No Time.

Can you ever escape your past?

Fresh out of prison, Jess Strickland has just six months’ probation to serve until she’s free to get on with the life, she left behind 4 years ago.

With few options available, Jess takes a job at Bright’s’, an industrial laundry company alongside other ex-cons, all eager to keep their noses clean.

Here she finds an ally in Karla but soon learns her new boss Terry, is not all he seems.

Realising she’s no safer on the outside Jess refuses to be a victim any longer.

How far will she go to avoid going back to prison?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a gritty urban thriller with believable characters and events. Jess is on probation and anxious not return to prison. Forced to work in an industrial laundry, she is pushed into an abusive environment but determined not to be a victim.

This is a suspenseful story with good use of pace. Psychological suspense and vivid crime details draw the reader into Jess’ world. The plot has unexpected twists and a dramatic conclusion.

This story has an authentic urban ethos with relatable characters and an absorbing plot.

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.

Twitter Website Publisher’s Website Profile  Instagram Facebook Bookbub Newsletter Sign Up

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

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow Jessica Redland 5* #Review @JessicaRedland @BoldwoodBooks #BlogTour @rararesources #Romance #Friendship #Heartwarming #UpLit #Family #Relationships #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers

Brand new from the top 10 bestselling author of New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.

With new arrivals comes new responsibilities…
The sun is shining, wild flowers are blooming and Hedgehog Hollow is officially open for business.


For Samantha, the proud owner of this beautiful rescue centre, life has never been busier. But with an influx of new hogs and hoglets to take care of, not to mention a full-time job and ongoing family issues, can she accept the possibility that she has taken on more than she can handle?

Fortunately, she has the love of her life, Josh, by her side for support and encouragement. But Josh has his own family troubles to deal with. And soon he must decide if he’s ready to do the one thing he swore he’d never do – forgive his father.

For both Samantha and Josh it’s a season of change and for figuring out whether the past can ever truly be forgotten.

Escape back to wonderful Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting read full of love, hope and forgiveness.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This sequel to Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is full of family drama, forgiveness and fabulous hedgehogs. The research of the setting of this story is obvious and gives this story authenticity and depth of interest.

The author provides a list of recurrent characters, and a catch up of the story so far. There is plenty of background in the actual story to make this readable as a standalone, but it’s so good don’t miss out on the first book in the series.

The story is told from the two main protagonists’ points of view, giving valuable insights into Sammie and Josh’s personalities and thoughts. Their developing relationship faces conflict, from family dramas and threats to the hedgehog rescue centre. This is a character-driven story, some are not likeable, but this makes the story realistic. It also effectively highlights the protagonists’ positive character traits.

Love and forgiveness prevail, making this both heartwarming and uplifting to read.

Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland is the author of ten novels, including The Secret to Happiness, 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.

Twitter Website Instagram Facebook Blog Bookbub

Newsletter Sign Up

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

One Summer in Monte Carlo Jennifer Bohnet 5*#Review @jenniewriter @BoldwoodBooks #Monaco #MonteCarlo #Romance #Friendship #Life #Family #BookReview #BlogTour @rararesources #boldwoodbloggers #OneSummerinMonteCarlo #PublicationDay

Monte Carlo means different things to different people; a billionaires playground, overflowing with glitz and glamour but also where dangerous secrets hide.

For Nanette Weston, and her then fiancé, F1 racing driver Zac Ewart, their dream life came to an abrupt halt 3 years ago following a car accident which Zac walked away from, but left Nanette being airlifted back to the UK, never to return and never to see her fiancé again.

Monte Carlo was a place she wanted to forget, not revisit. But when her friend and employer, Vanessa asks Nanette to look after her children in the Principality for a few months, Nanette knew she had no choice but to return.

As the F1 circus once again comes to town, with Zac in pole position, mistakes of the past, leave legacies for the future…

This book was previously published as Follow Your Star by Jennifer Bohnet.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story captures your interest from the beginning. Nanette is still coping with the aftermath of her accident in Monaco three years previously. Going back is her worst fear, but circumstances conspire, and she finds herself back in the glamorous location not sure if she is ready to face the past.

Set in Monaco and The Amazon this story has vibrant locations and vivid characters. Danger and intrigue balance friendship and romance in this engaging story. Vanessa and her new husband face danger in the jungle whilst Nanette wonders if there is more to her accident than she can remember. The romance is gentle and surprising.

This is an intriguing romantic story which lets the reader forget the cold winter nights for a while.

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Twitter Facebook Instagram Website 

Profile Publisher Website Newsletter Sign Up BookBub

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Excerpt, Extract, Friendship, Romance

In Pursuit of Happiness Freya Kennedy 5*#Review @AuthorFreya @ClaireAllan @BoldwoodBooks #boldwoodbloggers #UpLit #Romance #Friendship #Dreams #Family #Derry #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources

The world is waiting…but just outside of your comfort zone.

Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life.
Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she likes it that way.
Or at least, she tells herself she does.
Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love.
But to chase her dreams she needs to take chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own.
Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a lovely feel-good story about having the confidence to follow your dreams. Jo is a writer, but she’s wary of sharing her work, in case it’s not good enough. Her family and friends are supportive, but she has to win an internal battle with herself to be truly happy. The story is set in Derry in Northern Ireland and has an intrinsic authenticity because if the author’s knowledge of the people and place.

The family and friends dynamics are believable, and the world created relatably. The romance is conflicted and gentle full of internal and external conflict. The plot is interesting and has an expected twist.

This is the second book in the series, but it’s a complete story and an enjoyable, easy read.

Extract from In Pursuit of Happiness – Freya Kennedy

Prologue

The pop of the champagne bottle made Jo Campbell jump, even though she’d watched her foster brother, Noah, as he started to twist the cork slowly, and had anticipated the noise that would follow.

Her nerves were on edge, and fizzed just like the bubbly liquid that was being poured into delicate long-stemmed champagne flutes. The hum and chatter of the guests assembled in the next room made her feel giddy. So giddy, in fact, that she downed the better part of her glass of bubbles in one go, prompting her mother to warn her to slow down.

‘But, Mum,’ she said, ‘I’m really, really nervous. What if everyone hates it? What if it bombs and the only reviews that come are one-star assassinations? What if not a single person buys it?’ She didn’t so much as have butterflies in her stomach as giant killer moths – if such a thing existed.

Her mother put down her own almost empty glass. ‘Josephine Campbell. Calm yourself, my wee love. Everyone will love it. Why wouldn’t they? It’s brilliant, and you’re brilliant.’

‘But you are duty-bound to say that. You’re my mammy. Even if it was the worst book in the world, you’d still tell me it was brilliant,’ Jo said.

Her mother, a woman who had raised three children of her own, adopted another and fostered countless more over the years, gave Jo a snippy look. ‘I would not! I’ve always been honest with you and I’m not going to change now. Besides, it’s published. It wouldn’t be if it was rubbish!’

‘She’s right you know,’ Libby Quinn, one of Jo’s dearest friends and the proprietor of Once Upon A Book in Ivy Lane, told her. ‘You’re good. Actually you’re great. This is your moment, so enjoy it. The shop is full and everyone is on your side.’

Libby smiled her usual warm, inviting smile and Jo watched as Noah put his arm around his new fiancée’s shoulder and kissed her on the cheek. They made a lovely couple – Libby and Noah. But then she’d always known that from the moment Libby Quinn had arrived in The Ivy Inn soaked to the skin and covered in grime just over a year earlier. She’d known almost instantly they would be a great pair, and once they had finally admitted their feelings towards each other they had become almost inseparable. Just thinking about Noah’s hearts and flowers proposal brought tears to Jo’s eyes, and it wasn’t that she was jealous. Although if she was honest with herself, she would admit she was.

‘Damn it,’ Jo said, downing the rest of her glass while ignoring her mother’s disapproving looks. ‘I’m not going to cry, I’ll never live it down!’

‘Everyone knows you’re soft as butter, Jo. I wouldn’t worry about it,’ Noah said. He was right, of course, she was as soft as butter on a warm day, but she had more reason than normal to be emotional.

Posters of Jo’s debut novel, The Lies We Tell, lined the walls, replete with official author pictures, in which she looked sultry and serious and not her usual gregarious self.

In that moment, Jo felt a swell of pride and achievement. This was her moment. She’d finally done it. Written a book and had it published. And now she was going to enjoy this launch in her beloved home town of Derry in the north of Ireland.                    

Her little sister, Clara, a self-declared princess, danced in circles around Jo’s feet, enjoying the tulle monstrosity of a dress she had insisted on wearing for the occasion. It was over the top, Jo conceded, but Clara had her big sister tightly wrapped around her little finger.

And all her friends were there. Harry from the corner shop. The regulars of The Ivy Inn, which she was part owner of along with Noah. Her godmother, Auntie Mags, and even Erin, her most trusted confidante. They all grinned at her as if she was a graceful bride about to glide down the aisle.

So far the launch had been everything she had hoped for: copies of her books on the shelves, friends and family sharing the moment and champagne galore. There was just one final ingredient – the icing on the cake: the celebrity guest. Libby had made it her mission to find someone famous to do the launching honours – someone instantly recognisable, but she had refused to tell Jo who it would be.

‘It’s good,’ Libby had said. ‘It’s someone really good.’

Jo hoped it was someone who would suit the gravitas of the launch – and the seriousness of the book she had written. She’d poured years of writing and learning and rewriting and relearning into making this debut, and she had great dreams that one of her writing heroes, maybe Liz Nugent or Liane Moriarty, or local bestseller Brian McGilloway, would do the honours.

When the crowd parted, Jo swore loudly as she saw a life-sized Peppa Pig holding a copy of her book, while Clara squealed with delighted at the superstar guest.

Freya Kennedy (Claire Allan)

Freya Kennedy lives in Derry, Northern Ireland, with her husband, two children, two cats and a mad dog called Izzy. She worked as a journalist for eighteen years before deciding to write full time. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her nieces and nephews, cleaning up after her children (a lot) and telling her dog that she loves her.

She has met Michael Buble and even kissed him. It was one of her best ever moments.

She believes in happy ever afters.

Freya Kennedy is a pen name for Claire Allan, who also writes psychological thrillers.

Website Twitter Twitter Facebook Instagram Bookbub

Newsletter Sign Up

Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Friendship, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Housemate Nina Manning 4*#Review @ninamanning78 @BoldwoodBooks Narrator #HelenKeeley #PsychologicalThriller #Domestic #Suspense #Guilt #Obsession #boldwoodbloggers #Audiobook #Review #TheHousemate @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #FridayReads #FridayThoughts

The perfect life? …Or the perfect lie?

When Regi moves into her new house share, she’s ready for a clean slate. A new home. A new routine. A new identity…

Desperate to escape the shadow of her past that follows her everywhere she goes, Regi finds the ideal distraction in the perfect lives of others on social media.

But as innocent scrolling turns into an unhealthy obsession, Regi will soon learn that seeking perfection comes at a price…

A gripping psychological suspense from the international bestselling author of The Daughter In Law.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story demonstrates the claustrophobic and immersive qualities of psychological suspense so well. It begins with a traumatic incident in Regi’s life. The reader knows this is important but not why. Regi’s painful past and mental health issues define her and make everyday life difficult. Her housemates are younger but supportive. The story believably depicts Regis’ OCD, but its repetitive nature is emotionally draining on the reader and slows the pace.

The narrator produces an excellent interpretation of the story and its nuances.

Regi is a complex character, an unreliable protagonist with secrets. The suspense building is good, there are menacing undertones, and some clever changes in plot direction that keep the listener guessing. The focus on social media gives this story an immediacy and relevance.

Nina Manning

Nina Manning studied psychology and was a restaurant-owner and private chef (including to members of the royal family). She is the founder and co-host of Sniffing The Pages, a book review podcast. Her debut psychological thriller, The Daughter in Law, was a bestseller in the UK, US, Australia and Canada. She lives in Dorset.

Nina’s Author Profile Website Twitter

Instagram Facebook Newsletter Sign Up

YouTube Podcast Bookbub

Read my review of The Daughter in Law

Read my review of The Guilty Wife

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance, Travel

The Villa of Dreams Lucy Coleman 5*#Review @LucyColemanauth @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #TheVillaofDreams #extract #boldwoodbloggers #BookReview #BookTour #Romance #Friendship #Lisbon #uplit

Seren Maddison left behind a rainy Britain to follow her dreams and live and work in Lisbon. The vibrancy, the beautiful scenery and the sunshine, made her fall in love and she knew, instantly, that it would be her forever home.

International artist Reid Henderson has homes in Lisbon and London. Following his painful divorce, his dream is to turn his luxurious home into an art school and gallery.

When Seren and Reid first meet there is an instant attraction, but they are both people who have been hurt, and each have dreams that are so far apart, they aren’t even on the same page. 

Can they enjoy one summer of happiness together, as life bestows a gift of memories to cherish for the rest of their lives? Or is their destiny to chart a path into the future, in a home where dreams can come true?

Seren and Reid may be about to discover that love is as much about what you are prepared to give up, as what you are prepared to keep hold of. Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to sun-drenched Portugal where true love really can conquer all, and home is where the heart is.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts

A little sunshine and warmth on a cold winter’s day are always welcome. This romantic tale of compromise, dreams and love, takes you on an emotional angst-ridden journey full of heartwarming romance that leaves you uplifted.

Seren decides that striving for her father’s approval is a fool’s errand and finally leaves England to follow her dreams in Lisbon, Portugal. She wants to develop her art and works towards the dream by organising and event that incorporates many aspects of the creative world. Love is not on her agenda, but fate has other ideas when she meets Reid, a recent divorcee and artist. Both are emotionally damaged and driven by their career project, yet the chemistry is undeniable, but is a Summer love strong enough to withstand the Winter of reality?

This is a story about dreams and how they can change and having the courage and insight to chase what makes you happy whatever the consequences.

Extract from the book…

Prologue

October

How many people are lucky – some might say foolhardy – enough to grab the chance of a fresh start? Well, I’ve been offered a job opportunity which is going to turn my whole life upside down. Three weeks today, I will be saying goodbye to the UK and jumping on a plane to Lisbon.

After working for my father for six years, the day that I finally decided I’d had enough and I handed him my letter of resignation, his reaction was one of disbelief.

‘You’re making a big mistake, Seren,’ he warned me. ‘Don’t expect me to bail you out if things go wrong. It’s a tough world out there and you’ve led a privileged life – you just don’t appreciate that fact.’

With his words ringing in my ears, I walked out of the office feeling… free. You can’t live life trying to please a man who uses a balance sheet as a measuring stick.

My father takes pride in the fact that he worked hard to build up his business, which allowed him to provide a good standard of living for his family. That makes him sound like a loving man, doesn’t it? But somewhere along the way it changed him, and not for the better. In a sad twist of irony, the father I remember from my childhood was different – as a family man he was kinder, more forgiving and less driven. I can’t remember when exactly he stopped appreciating the small things in life, but it’s a loss I mourn.

Working for my father for the last six years has destroyed not only the relationship I have with him but has also meant stifling my own ambitions. And my poor mother is caught in the middle, her heart torn as the chasm grows between us all. My father longed for a son and instead he got a daughter. One who wanted to please him, until he side-lined me for a total stranger. Three months after Stuart Lang arrived, I resigned. He saw me as a threat and wasted a ridiculous amount of time and effort in systematically undermining every decision I made. Obviously, he wasn’t quite as astute, or confident about his own abilities as my father perceived him to be. Mind you, my plans to leave were well in hand, even before his first day on the job.

It’s time to pack up my things and put them in storage.

There is no looking back, only forwards from now on. It’s up to me to manifest the sort of life I want to live and, yes, I’m a little scared, but it’s also empowering.

Lucy Coleman

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Summer in Provence and 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.

Twitter Facebook Instagram Website Bookbub Newsletter Sign Up

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

Moonlight Over Studland Bay Della Galton 5*#Review @DellaGalton @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #Family #UpLit #Romance #Animals #Dreams #Friendship #BlogTour #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers #PublicationDay

‘Utterly uplifting, pure escapism’ Trisha Ashley, bestselling author

Animal loving Samantha Jones is on a mission to ‘live the dream’.
When best friend Abby has a beautiful baby boy Sam’s priorities change and she realises she wants more from her life.

Uninspired with her dull day job Sam plans to expand Purbeck Pooches, her seaside pet sitting business into a full-time career and embarks on a mission to find her perfect man.

Sam soon hits trouble. Her boss accuses her of moonlighting. The perfect man is frustratingly elusive and her parents make a shock revelation.

The odds are stacking up against her but Sam finds that sometimes when you reach for the moon, you get a handful of glittering stars thrown in for free.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is an engaging story about friendship, families and following your dreams set in a Dorset coastal vista. Sam is a great best friend as Abby finds when she turns up on her doorstep heartbroken and pregnant. Sam’s day job as an audio typist is a means to an end. It’s her hobby job as a dog walker and animal sitter that gives her the life she aspires to. Finding the ideal man doesn’t even make her wishlist after her latest heartbreak, but this story shows that following your dreams can lead to some surprising benefits.

Friendship is the predominant theme in this story, but gentle romance makes a lasting impact as Sam’s story progresses. The romantic male lead is not at all stereotypical, which adds authenticity to this heartwarming story. There are lots of lovely characters all believably flawed and one or two eccentrics that given the story its vivacity. The protagonists are older, which reflects contemporary society well.

This is a story about ordinary folks in everyday situations, but their friendship and love are extraordinary. This quality shines through, in insightful, and sensitive writing, making this an escapist, and uplifting book to read.

Extract from Moonlight Over Studland Bay – Della Galton

Sam Jones was beginning to feel a great deal more stressed than she had when she had left Beach Cottage, her home overlooking Studland Bay in one of the most beautiful spots in Dorset, fifteen minutes earlier. Her hands felt slippery on the steering wheel. It was hot for June, plus annoyingly a section of her long dark hair had escaped from its butterfly clip and was flicking round her face as she drove. This was because all of the car windows were down. Abby, who was half sitting, half lying on the back seat, had said she needed the air.

‘Can’t you drive any bloody faster, Sam? I’m in agony here.’

She glanced in the rear view mirror and saw that her best friend and housemate – they’d met in year seven and had been inseparable ever since – was thrashing about. Her head was thrown back, her white blonde hair fanned out against the headrest and her flushed face was screwed up in a very good impression of someone in agony. But, as Abby was prone to exaggeration, if not a full-on drama queen, Sam was nowhere near as worried as she might otherwise have been.

Sometimes she thought the only thing she and Abby now had in common was the fact they were both thirty-six. They had been born exactly a month apart – Sam on 10 May and Abby on 10 June. A month had a lot to answer for in astrology terms. Not that Sam put as much faith in astrology as Abby did. This morning, Abby’s Three-Word Fun Horoscope, which she read every day on her app, had said, ‘Don’t go yet’. Abby, as ever, had put her faith in that until she couldn’t hold off any longer, which is why they were racing along in the car now.

‘Honey, half an hour ago you didn’t want to come,’ Sam pointed out gently. ‘You were dead set on having a home birth. And I can’t drive any faster, it won’t do us any good if I crash.’ Also, she was worried about the two mousetraps, both of which contained live mice, which she’d just remembered were on the back seat of the car in a brown paper bag. The traps were shut, but if they tipped off the seat they might open and release their cargo and Abby was terrified of mice. If there was one thing worse than having a pain-ridden Abby in labour in her car, it was having a pain-ridden and panic-stricken Abby in labour in her car.

Sam knew she should have moved the humane mousetraps before they’d set out, but in all the panic of racing around the house gathering up all the stuff that Abby hadn’t bothered packing because ‘no way am I having an unnatural hospital birth,’ it had slipped her mind that they were there. Fortunately they hadn’t been in situ very long; she had planned to release the occupants in the woods on her way back to get Abby, before she’d realised quite how urgent things had become.

Della Galton

Della Galton is the author of 15 books, including Ice and a Slice.  She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine.  She lives in Dorset. Della’s new fiction series launched with Sunshine Over Bluebell Cliff in May 2020.

Facebook Twitter Instagram Website Newsletter Sign Up

Read my review of Sunshine Over Bluebell

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Noir, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Silent Daughter Kirsty Ferguson 4*#Review @kfergusonauthor @BoldwoodBooks #publicationday @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers #MentalHealth #PsychologicalThriller #suspense #domestic

Secrets can kill and Danni Brooks knows that better than anyone.

When her husband and two of her three children perish in a devastating house fire, Danni is sure it is arson. She’s even more sure that her and her eldest daughter Mia were meant to die in the fire too. But they are just a normal family. Who would want them dead? 

Mia doesn’t talk. She can’t. She is locked in her own world where no one, not even her mother can reach her. 

Desperate for answers, and convinced the truth might help her to reach her daughter, Danni tries to piece together the events leading up to that murderous night and uncover the arsonist. But with so many lies to untangle, what is the truth?

Prepare to have your breath taken away by an unforgettable twist that will leave you reeling…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is an excellent domestic noir with unreliable protagonists and a powerful plot that resonates.

Danni awakes in the middle of the night she hears the family dog barking and goes to investigate. The suspense begins from the first page and takes the reader in diverse directions most of them inconclusive. Danni witnesses the horrific devastation of her family by fire except for her eldest daughter. Superficially, the story follows Danni’s investigation into the arson that caused it.

The story is told mainly from Danni’s viewpoint, but two other viewpoints also tell their story. Nameless these characters keep their secrets until the end. This is a hard-hitting story with graphic images of abuse that evidence Danni’s motivation and state of mind. The well-paced plot is immersive, and twisty making this addictive and disturbing reading.

The Silent Daughter – Kirsty Ferguson – Extract

Danielle Brooks awoke with a start, the dankness seeping into her cold bones. She rolled over, pulling the blanket up around her chin, her shoulders chilly in the frigid room. While she loved it most of the time, sometimes she hated the old house, the creaking of the settling wood and pipes, the third stair that squeaked sharply every time you stood on it just right, the broken bathroom doorknob that her husband Joe had meant to fix but had never got around to.

Danni sighed. Joe, snoring loudly beside her, had woken her up again, just like he had every night for the better part of two decades. She untangled herself from the blanket and swung her legs out, wincing at the cold of the floorboards as she placed her bare feet on them while she felt around for her slippers. Danni fumbled for her dressing gown, eventually finding it at the foot of the bed. Shrugging herself into the voluminous gown, she knotted the tie to fit around her waist, pulling it tight. Wondering why it was so large on her, hanging from her delicate frame, she realised she had put on Joe’s by mistake. Too tired to find her own and open herself up to the cold again, she pulled the collar higher around her neck. Danni looked at the alarm clock resting on the bedside table, reminding her the dawn was still hours away.

Wearily pushing herself up from the old, sprung mattress, she slid her feet into her worn slippers, scrunching up her toes in the end, trying to magic warmth into them, the fluffy innersole long since gone.

Need another blanket. Too bloody cold in here.

Danni stumbled from the bed tiredly, yet walked without hesitation, knowing her way to the door having made her way over the floorboards hundreds of times in the darkness. She quietly went through the doorway, turning the knob and closing the door as she left. Her bladder was calling to her as she walked across the landing to the bathroom, leaving the door with the broken handle open a bit. If you closed it all the way, you became trapped in the bathroom until someone came to let you out. It happened to their son Noah more often than you’d think. Many a time Danni had found him, eyes filled with fresh tears, spent ones wetting his face, snot running down to his lip.

Danni would sit on the floor beside him and, as he crawled into her lap, she would wipe the tears from his five-year-old face. He would look up at her, love for her burning in his hazel eyes. He looked so much like his dad, with the same colour eyes and tanned skin. She would kiss the top of his head and mumble how much she loved him into his sweet-smelling hair. Her middle child Alexandra, big sister to Noah at nine and a half, would also rescue him. She never laughed at him, never made fun of him for forgetting and locking himself in again, or for crying.

Her oldest daughter, Mia, was almost a woman at seventeen years of age, as she was so fond of telling her father when he refused to let her do what she wanted. Dress how she wanted, go out with her best friend, stay up past her bedtime. Joe and Mia didn’t always get along and Danni found herself playing referee more than she’d like to. They seemed to constantly be at odds with each other these days. They used to be close, Joe and Mia, but in the last couple of months they had drifted from having a loving relationship to sometimes outright hostility from Mia and anger from Joe. Danni didn’t understand why, and when she broached it with Joe, he just gave her the old she’s a teenager line. It felt wrong, but Mia refused to talk to her about it too, so Danni had no choice but to watch them grow apart, saddened by the growing divide. Danni hadn’t thought about her for a long time but now, in the darkness of the home she shared with her family, the memories came rushing back. Beth, her tormentor, her abuser, her sister, flashed through her mind.

Kirsty Ferguson

Kirsty Ferguson is a born and bred Australian. She writes crimes and mystery novels. Her stories center around strong women and dark themes that are topical and relevant to today. Kirsty chooses to deconstruct and enthrall her readers with the secrets of any everyday person behind closed doors. She has long been a lover or writing and reading, creating stories from a young age.

Website Twitter Instagram Facebook

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

The Ice Killer Ross Greenwood 5* #Review #DIBarton @greenwoodross @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #PsychologicalThriller #suspense #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #TheIceKiller

Once, her heart was empty. Now it’s filled with ice…

Ellen’s therapist told her to forget the past, but the life she’s left with is boring. All she wants is to be happy and normal, but the approaching long bleak nights of winter loom heavy before her, especially as she’ll be alone.

But when the secrets her mother put in place to protect her are exposed, Ellen learns the frightening truth. Her history is darker than she imagined. She’s not who she thinks she is, and the real her is a very different person to the one that others have mistreated and exploited.

If there’s hope of a future, Ellen must find answers about the past, and the new Ellen is less forgiving. This winter, there will be more than just discontent, and DI Barton will struggle in his hardest case to date.

How can he find the truth when all the victims and witnesses are dead?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The last book in the DI Barton trilogy but hopefully there will be more as it has refreshing originality. This story follows the dual person point of view of the previous books. There’s a unique insight into the killer’s past that leads to the current killing spree. The third-person perspective charts the police investigation that follows in the killer’s wake.

It’s difficult not to empathise with the antagonist who carries out some personally motivated vigilante killings. This is noir-crime that reveals the underbelly of society and its failings. DI Barton acts up to DCI after surviving a deadly attack in a previous case. The team dynamics are believable, and the personal aspects of the detectives’ lives add authenticity and balance to the crimes they investigate.

The plot is realistically paced and keeps its secrets until the end. This is a poignant crime story with a relatable investigation team.

Extract from The Ice Killer – Ross Greenwood

Carl Quantrill.’

That was my card. Even then, I knew not to aim high. I was a five-out-of-ten, maybe a six if I tamed my black hair, and I was bright enough to know that Danny Stanton wouldn’t have been able to pick me out in a line-up of llamas. At that moment, my expression resembled one.

Carl Quantrill was the mysterious guy at school with slightly too long greasy hair, which covered his eyes. He only responded to his surname as he thought it was cooler than Carl. A suggestion of body odour added to his allure. He drawled and mumbled. I’d had a few conversations with him but often failed to catch what he’d said. I’d be too nervous to ask for clarification and so would smile instead. He would be my first, but that was many years later.

I was crazy about him. I’d worn away Damon Albarn’s face on my Blur poster with kissing practice. As Carl opened the card that day, flames threatened to burst from my cheeks. All I’d written was, ‘To my Valentine’. He couldn’t have known I sent it, yet he immediately turned around and stared my way. He ripped the card to pieces and threw it in the air. The girls gasped, most of them, anyway, while the boys cheered.

Miss Diamond’s mouth opened and closed. She should have stopped there and then but something made her plough on; each new name another dagger driven into my unloved heart.

‘Sally Dawning.’ My best friend, sitting next to me.

‘Scarlett Starr.’

‘Danny Stanton.’

‘Jim Jones.’

And so on, with escalating cheers and boos echoing around the room. But the last letter was for me. ‘Ellen Toole.’

I couldn’t believe my good fortune, even though it was the smallest one by far. I turned to Sally, whose pudgy fingers were pressing her card to the desk as if it might float away. She smiled at me with genuine happiness. I suspected mine was from Sally, because I’d secretly sent hers. The room stilled while I opened my flimsy envelope with trembling fingers. The card had a single white rose on the cover, and I looked inside.

There was only one word in capitals. UGLY.

Ross Greenwood

Ross Greenwood is the bestselling author of eight crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.

Newsletter Sign Up Facebook Bookbub Twitter