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

The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger Suzanne Fortin 5*#Review @suefortin1 @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #Timeslip Dual Time #HistFic #WW2 #France #Extract #TheForgottenLifeofArthurPettinger

Sometimes the past won’t stay hidden, it demands to be uncovered…

Arthur Pettinger’s memory isn’t what it used to be. He can’t always remember the names of his grandchildren, where he lives or which way round his slippers go. He does remember Maryse though, a woman he hasn’t seen for decades, but whose face he will never forget.

When Arthur’s granddaughter, Maddy moves in along with her daughter Esther, it’s her first step towards pulling her life back together. But when Esther makes a video with Arthur, the hunt for the mysterious Maryse goes viral.

There’s only one person who can help Maddy track down this woman – the one that got away, Joe. Their quest takes them to France, and into the heart of the French Resistance.

When the only way to move forwards is to look back, will this family finally be able to?

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

My Thoughts…

Arthur is ninety-six, and his memory is failing. His granddaughter Maddy comes to live with him as he is unable to cope alone. Her young daughter bonds with Arthur, but he is troubled by something in his past. Maddy is lonely and is resistant when a past lover is drawn back into her life. She wants to stop Arthur from fretting about his past, and maybe Joe is the man to help her?

This dual timeline story follows Arthur back to WW2, where he worked with the French resistance and met the love of his life. This part of the story is atmospheric and full of courageous acts and danger. The other timeline shows Maddy and Esther’s compassion towards Arthur, and there a realistic mix of despair and humour coupled with frustration and patience. The author captures Arthur’s confusion and fear about his memory loss. Maddy and Joe get a second chance at happiness as they try to find the missing pieces of Arthur’s life.

Heartbreak, hope, loss and love define this engaging story. Although the ending made me cry, it left me feeling uplifted.

Suzanne Fortin

Suzanne Fortin is a USA Today and Amazon UK & USA best selling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her books have sold over a million copies and translation rights for her novels have been sold worldwide. She was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband and family.

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Extract from The Forgotten Life of Arthur Pettinger

Well, that was a turn-up for the books. Moaning Minnie had gone and the smiley one was staying. Maddy, that was her name; he was sure of it. Maddy. Arthur repeated the name several times out loud. He wanted to remember her.

Maddy Pettinger. Of course, dear, sweet Maddy – his granddaughter. He could see her when she was a small child, maybe about five or six. She was wearing a blue pinafore dress and her hair was in bunches with blue ribbon. A warmth filled his heart as he could see the man holding Maddy’s hand. It’s his own son, Charles. Charles in his late twenties, a grown man, and he was so proud of Maddy and rightly so; she was such a delightful child.

There was a memory he couldn’t quite see clearly. It was all fuzzy, like the horizon on a road in the height of summer when the heat made everything blurry. The memory was there but it wasn’t clear. Arthur frowned as he tried to look through the heat waves. Slowly the mental image became sharper and Arthur’s heart hurt.

Charles, his dear son – he was no longer with him. He was with Joan. He shouldn’t be with Joan yet. Charles was too young. He was emerging from the blur, standing beyond Arthur’s reach.

Arthur could see himself, looking down, and Maddy was with him, standing at the end of that long road, looking at the man they both loved so dearly.

‘Hello.’

A voice from the doorway made Arthur look up. For a moment he thought it was Maddy, but then he realised it was the girl who came with her. Arthur smiled. ‘Hello, young lady.’

She gave an uncertain smile, which turned into a frown as she looked at his feet. ‘Your slippers are on the wrong feet.’

Wrong feet. Wrong feet. Arthur blew out a frustrated breath. Wrong feet? What was wrong with his feet? He looked down at them. Slippers? ‘Hmm,’ he said. ‘Wrong feet.’

The girl stepped into the room and crouched down in front of him. She reached for his foot and cupped the heel with her hand. She paused and looked up. Arthur wasn’t quite sure what she wanted him to do, but he lifted his foot and watched as she removed his slipper. She repeated the process with the other foot and then put the slippers back on his feet.

‘That’s better,’ she said, standing up.

Arthur nodded. ‘Thank you.’ He wasn’t quite sure what he was thanking her for, but it seemed the right thing to say. He remembered his sweets in the drawer and reaching out, he removed the tin and offered it to the child. ‘Would you like a sweet… err… young lady?’ He wished he could remember her name.

The child hesitated before poking around in the tin, examining the sweets, finally settling on a pink one. She unwrapped it and popped it into her mouth. ‘Esther. My name’s Esther.’

‘Esther. Esther, Esther, Esther.’ Arthur tapped his head as he repeated the name. He wanted it to stick. ‘Well then, Esther, what are you doing today?’

‘I’ve made a YouTube video.’

Arthur was baffled. He had no idea what one of them was, but she looked pleased about it. ‘Is that right? Good for you.’

‘I have one hundred and fifty subscribers.’

Again, she looked immensely proud of this but alas Arthur was clueless. He nodded and smiled all the same. ‘One hundred and fifty, eh? That sounds a lot.’

Her smile dropped and she gave a shrug. ‘Not really. Some people have thousands.’

‘Quality not quantity. Happiness should be measured in quality.’

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

The Silent Victims Alex Coombs 5*#Review @AlexHowardCrime @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #DIHanlon #TheSilentVictims #noircrime #BlogTour #BookReview #MondayBlogs @rararesources #Extract #boldwoodbloggers

DCI Hanlon faces the toughest decision of her career as a string of political murders lead to a deadly confrontation.
A controversial, right-wing German politician is due to speak at the Oxford Union. Following a series of murders linked to a violent anarchist group, the city is on high alert. DCI Hanlon has been partnered with DI Huss to ensure the speech goes smoothly and that there will be no more killing.

Meanwhile, as Hanlon traces the person behind the murders, she soon realises that the chilling truth has a terrible price. Is Hanlon willing to meet the cost?

The final gripping case for DCI Hanlon.

This book was previously published as An Incidental Death by Alex Howard.

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

My Thoughts…

The final book in the DCI Hanlon series moves firmly into the realm of politics. Hanlon is on protection duty for a controversial foreign politician. Unsurprisingly this means danger for the enigmatic detective.

The settings are numerous and vividly brought to life. The characters are believable, and some the personification of evil. The story has many twists which make it addictive reading.

This is a topical urban thriller with a memorable detective team, a unique leader and provides a suitably exciting and poignant end to this series.

Extract from The Silent Victims – Alex Coombs

Melinda Huss was dying. She wasn’t in any pain, the local anaesthetic in her side had taken care of that, all she could feel as the blood trickled out from her right side was a faint tickling sensation as it flowed down her skin and a spreading warmth as it pooled underneath her body. 

She was lying on her back on a massage table in the spa and treatment centre of the luxury hotel’s lodge. The room was small and clinical, its only decoration three severe black and white Robert Mapplethorpe photographs of flowers, their curled foliage like organs from a human body. They had an ethereal, fleshy, beauty all of their own. 

There was a table with a laptop on it and two charts on the wall – one featuring traditional Chinese medicine meridian lines where chi was said to flow, another, brightly coloured, indeed almost the only other colour in the room, showed the main chakra positions from Indian yoga. 

The other source of colour in the room was the enormous red stain that spread out across the white sheet covering Huss’s torso. 

She was quite calm, tranquil almost, but she could feel herself becoming light-headed. She wondered how much blood she had actually lost. She felt another warm trickle down her body. It seemed to be leaving her body in irregular bursts. It wasn’t unpleasant. In fact, if you had to choose a way to die, bleeding out like this was not a bad way to go at all. 

She lifted her head and looked down at the Velcro straps that secured her arms and legs. She had tried before to break her bonds or wriggle free. She had been unsuccessful. She wasn’t going to try again. 

She could feel her will, and her strength, draining away. She thought of Enver Demirel, her fiancé. She thought of Hanlon. Her fierce, attractive face, and she thought of the long road that had led here. 

To this place. To this death. 

Kriminalkommissar Claudia Meyer of the Baden Württemberg Landeskriminalamt strode out of the foyer of the baroque building just off Karlplatz in the historic Alt centre of Heidelberg. 

It was incredibly noisy. Horns were beeping in the narrow mediaeval streets where traffic had backed up. Sirens wailed, police were shouting commands at a vociferous crowd that had gathered. 

The red sandstone castle on the hill above looked down on the small, picturesque town below. The scene that she had just witnessed in the first floor drawing room was as gruesome as any the castle had seen in its long history. There had been an eye-opening amount of blood. 

There were a couple of blue and silver VW squad cars from the cop shop on Eppelheimer Strasse parked on the narrow cobbled street outside, and the front door of the large, detached town house had been sealed off. The blue uniformed police on the door watched her as she passed. She nodded at the driver of the van that she recognized as belonging to Forensics which was pulled up on the pavement. 

The street where all this commotion was occurring was in one of Heidelberg’s most fashionable quarters. It was university land, but the house she had just left was startlingly expensive, even by Stuttgart standards. Prices had risen steeply in latter times. It was the kind of place that only fairly recently had become gentrified and was now increasingly being colonized by non-German investors. It lay in the heart of the city, near the exclusive Hauptstrasse. It wasn’t the kind of place you associated with violent death; more expensive shopping and a Kaffee and a slice of Sachertorte

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.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Extract, Horror Fiction, Paranormal

The Lazarus Child Jay Raven #Extract @JayRavenAuthor #BloodRiders @rararesources #Paranormal #Horror #histfic #Vampires #BlogTour

To save his missing daughter a distraught slayer must venture deep into the heart of darkness

Legendary vampire hunter Anton Yoska is on the edge, tormented by the rumour that the precious child he once thought dead is still alive and lost in a world of monsters.

One creature alone knows for sure what happened to Gretchen, but Terek Modjeski won’t divulge his secret – revelling in the twisted power over his long-time foe.

Despairing and drinking heavily, Anton stumbles from near disaster to near disaster as he puts his team in jeopardy, testing their friendship and loyalty to snapping point.

Only one diabolical solution is possible – to confront Terek in his maximum security cell and force the bloodsucker to end his game of cat and mouse. But making the cunning infernal talk will mean employing brutal methods that go against every code Anton has ever lived by, forcing him to become as much of a demon as the leeches he hunts.

Face to face with the evil, taunting vampire, the desperate slayer takes a decision that will change his destiny forever – sending him hurtling into danger to confront a terrifying truth about his lost child that risks not only his sanity but the future of mankind.

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Extract from The Lazarus Child Jay Raven

In this extract vampire slayer Anton Yoska visits Transylvania’s most notorious maximum security prison to interrogate one of its most feared Undead captives. But to get there he has to cross an eerie, fog-shrouded lake.

The boat set off, paddles splashing in unison, gliding smoothly into the smog. Immediately, chill wisps of fog swirled around them in a ghostly dance and, pulling his heavy cape tighter around himself, Anton glimpsed back over his shoulder. The jetty had already evaporated, all sign of Quintz and the wagon swallowed up in the grey haze. Up ahead was just the same – an impenetrable blanket of vapour blocking any view of the boat’s destination.

Each stroke of the oars intensified the sense of peril, and it was difficult to resist a growing apprehension, as though they were voyaging through some haunted, ethereal realm.

It wasn’t just the eeriness that troubled him. A dark ultimatum made him brood – Leopold’s condemning words fresh in his memory even though it had been some weeks before: “I tire of this whole business, Yoska. I only kept the infernals alive at your insistence that Terek Modjeski could produce useful information about the Brethren’s numbers and intentions. But, so far, your attempts at interrogation have proved useless. Not one jot of intelligence. Nothing. How many times is it now that you’ve questioned the prisoner?”

“Three times.”

“And you’ve failed dismally to make him talk. Intolerable. Simply intolerable. I thought you were supposed to be the man whose very name made nosferatu tremble. Well, it’s obvious that this is one infernal who doesn’t share their trepidation.”

Trying to argue had been pointless. The Crown Prince was implacable, declaring: “Frankly, I am of a mind to hand it all over to Julius Gant. I can promise you he will get results, unfettered by your tedious morality or squeamishness.”

There was no mistaking the sincerity of the threat.

“But what about my daughter?” Anton had asked, aghast. “If I’m denied access to the creature how can I ever learn the truth of what happened? He’s my only hope.”

“Not my problem, Yoska. And very soon, it won’t be yours either. I suggest that if you really want to find out the fate of your girl, you stop treating Terek Modjeski as though he is a human. He is a thing, less than a thing. A parasite. His very existence is a blasphemy. Break the monster’s silence, before I have Gant do it.”

One of the musket men touched his shoulder jolting him from the recollection.

“There it is,” the guard pointed out, as the mist thinned and a forbidding structure loomed in the distance.

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

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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.

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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.

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Posted in Blog Blitz, Christmas Read, Excerpt, Extract, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe C.P Ward #Extract #CPWard #BookBlitz #Festive #Christmas #Excerpt #Romance #Friendship #ChristmasattheMarshmallowCafe #LakeDistrict

When downtrodden checkout assistant Bonnie Green receives a letter from a mysterious uncle, she can hardly believe her eyes.

Gifted a hundred-year lease on a famous cafe situated in the middle of a mythical theme park, Bonnie sets off with her best friend Debbie on an adventure to a hidden valley in the Lake District where they will find new friendship, love, and happiness, all set against the magic of Christmas … and more marshmallows than they can possibly eat….

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A Christmas Land WelcomeExcerpt from Christmas at the Marshmallow Cafe C.P Ward

After a harrowing journey north, Bonnie and Debbie finally arrive at Christmas Land. Will it live up to their expectations?

Bonnie and Debbie climbed off as the train’s doors opened. They found themselves standing on a platform lacking even a ticket office. As the train pulled away, chugging across the marsh and then vanishing back into the forest, they looked at each other, both shrugging.

‘Well, we’re here,’ Bonnie said.

‘What an awesome place. Like, how long do we have to wait for the next train back?’

‘There’s a road over there, through the trees. And a sign. Look.’

Carrying their suitcases, they climbed down a set of steps and made their way across the clearing to where a forest trail led into the trees. A faded wooden sign with an arrow said CHRISTMAS LAND THIS WAY.

They headed down the trail, the trees closing in to block out the sky overhead. Debbie clutched Bonnie’s arm, squeezing so tightly that Bonnie had to repeatedly prise her fingers free in order to allow the blood to resume flowing.

The trail kept up a winding meander which didn’t allow them to see too far ahead, as though holding back its secrets until the last moment. Bonnie was fully expecting to turn a corner and find a sign telling them they’d been duped, when Debbie jerked to a stop, pulling Bonnie with her.

‘What happened?’

‘Can’t you hear it?’

‘What?’

‘Music.’

Bonnie listened. Debbie was right. A faint tinkle of music came through the trees. It was too indistinct to make out any kind of a tune, but she felt sure it was familiar.

‘I don’t believe it,’ Debbie said. ‘Jingle Bells. Don’t they know it’s November?’

They started walking again. As they closed on the source of the music, Bonnie was able to pick up the tune. Jingle Bells, played on a loop.

‘It’s so weird,’ Bonnie said. ‘Standing in a pine forest in November, hearing the most famous Christmas Song of all played over a speaker.’

‘Look,’ Debbie said. ‘Here it is.’

They stepped out from behind a large pine leaning across the path and found Christmas Land standing in front of them.

Huge ornate gates held a sign.

WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS LAND

WHERE THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS NEVER ENDS

On either side, gatehouse towers rose, all fake stonework and plastic snow. Electric candles flickered in windows, illuminating the silhouettes of reindeer and elves.

One gate stood open. As they approached, Bonnie saw how it was now open forever, the upper hinge broken off, leaving the front corner buried in the ground. Bushes had grown up to claim it, the roots of saplings rooting it into the earth.

Inside the gates were lines of pretty chalets and a visitor centre. The roofs were loaded with pine needles and she could see even from this distance that several windows had plywood boards where glass should have been. A Ferris wheel standing in the centre of a main square had a sycamore growing eight feet high through the window of the closest car to the ground, clearly indicating that it hadn’t turned in some years.

‘It’s derelict,’ Debbie said. ‘Abandoned. Wow, this is way more awesome than I was expecting. Man, if only I had a metal band, this would be amazing for some press photos. An abandoned Christmas theme park in the middle of the forest—’

‘We prefer to simply say neglected,’ came a voice from inside one of the gatehouse towers, and a lower window opened to reveal a ruddy-cheeked man wearing a top hat and a green suit. Large sideburns made Bonnie immediately think of the bankers in Mary Poppins.

‘While it might look in a little disrepair, I can assure you that there is still plenty of fun to be had in Christmas Land, three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. Do you have a reservation? If not, don’t worry. We have plenty of chalets available.’ Then, breaking kayfabe for the first time, he looked down at the red gloves covering his hands and grimaced. ‘Most of them, actually.’

C.P Ward

CP Ward is an author from Cornwall in the UK.

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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.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Romantic Comedy

Winter at Wishington Bay Maxine Morrey 4*#Review @Scribbler_Maxi @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #RomCom #boldwoodbloggers #BlogTour #BookReview #extract #publicationday #WinteratWishingtonBay

Eighteen months ago, Sophia Jones finally walked out on her unhappy life.

With a tricky divorce ongoing, money is tight and so when friends offer her a housekeeping job while they’re away travelling, she accepts.

Nate McKinley is hesitant when his brother, Gabe, offers him the use of their home in the picturesque village of Wishington Bay. But he has a book to a write and an imploded marriage to recover from, so maybe a change of scene is exactly what he needs. 

As Wishington Bay works its magic, friendship blossoms between Sophia and Nate. For Nate, finally feeling able to be himself with someone who is honest and down to earth is a revelation. 

But Sophia has a secret and a jealous colleague is determined to blow her cover. Can she really keep her old life in the past or is it destined to destroy this new, happy one too?

Take a trip back to Wishington Bay this winter and find out…

A deliciously heart-warming and romantic read, perfect for a cosy winter’s evening, from the author of the bestselling Winter’s Fairytale.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Set in the idyllic community of Wishington Bay Sophia is healing and starting enjoy her new life. She has friends, a job, but still keeps a secret that could destroy it all. Looking after Nate for her friend Holly makes her feel good until she meets him.

This is an enemy to lover second chance romance for Nate and Sophia. The characters are flawed, realistic and easy to empathise. Honesty and trust are important to Nate. He values this in his fledgeling relationship with Sophia. She knows her secrets may damage what they have, but Nate has unfinished business with his soon to be ex-wife too.

This is character-driven reliant on dialogue interchanges between the protagonists to move the story forward. This adds to the realism but slows the pace a little.

The ending, whilst not a shock, does ramp up the external conflict. The ending shows how much the two characters have developed positively.

Extract From Winter at Wishington Bay – Maxine Morrey

‘Morning, Sophia!’ Ernie raised a hand being kept toasty by a thick sheepskin glove. ‘Bit nippy today.’

I waved back and nodded in agreement, the bobble on my woolly hat bouncing as I did so. ‘Just a little!’ I grinned at both him and the typically British understatements. It was absolutely bloody freezing.

Wrapping my coat a little tighter, I dug my hands into my pockets and hurried along the cobbled village streets. Now that the bulk of the tourists had gone for the winter, it was easier to do without having to negotiate round the shuffling window shoppers of summer who filled the narrow pavements during the high season. Not that Wishington Bay ever entirely closed. Its renowned beauty, and relatively sheltered position, made it popular even out of season, and of course the brilliant reputation of Ned’s restaurant, where I worked as a waitress, brought people from miles away all through the year.

I took extra shifts at the restaurant whenever I could, which on many occasions was over a weekend thanks to one particular colleague, Corinne. She’d been hired by Ned as a favour to old friends and was apparently there more for the ‘life experience’ rather than any need to earn a decent income. The latter part was covered most indulgently by her father, allowing Corinne to be far more concerned with fitting work around her social life, rather than the other way round. My own circumstances, however, dictated that I would never turn down the opportunity to earn a little extra cash, and why I was now hurrying along the road that led towards the edge of the village.

The idea that I would ever be in a position to need to earn money at all was still one that occasionally took some getting used to but I had, in general, adjusted fairly well to this new circumstance, and thanks to Carrie and her sister-in-law, Holly, I was on my way to the first day of another new venture.

As I turned into the private lane that led down to Holly and Gabe’s house, I looked across from the raised position and took in the curve of the bay, the pale sand today edged with a sea of bright turquoise. Above it, puffy white clouds chased each other quickly across the blue sky. The sun shone, although there was little warmth from it, but the rays caught the tops of the white horses as they danced across the water before breaking onto the shore. I took a deep lungful of the cold, sharp air, tasting the salt in it, and smiled to myself, realising that despite my reduced circumstances I was lucky to have ended up at Wishington Bay. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I snapped a couple of pictures of the beautiful scenery to upload onto my Instagram later before heading on down the lane towards the house.

Maxine Morrey

Maxine Morrey is a bestselling romantic comedy author with eight books to her name including Winter’s Fairytale and the top ten hit The Christmas Project. She lives in West Sussex. Her first novel for Boldwood, #No Filter, was published in November 2019.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Crime, Extract, Gangland Crime, ganglit

Villain Caro Savage #Extract @CaroSavageStory @BoldwoodBooks #CrimeFiction #ganglit #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources

To catch a villain sometimes you have to become one.
Bailey’s Back! From the bestselling author of Jailbird.

Detective Constable Bailey Morgan is back doing what she does best – working undercover.
This time she has to infiltrate the inner circle of a notorious underworld family. Posing as a fellow villain, she is on a one-woman mission to bring the family to their knees.

But things are never that simple. Bailey finds that she is forced to confront shadowy wraiths from her past and will come face-to-face with a set of devastating revelations that will shatter her world and threaten her very existence.

With only herself to trust, Bailey is on her own and the stakes are higher than ever.

Amazon UK

Extract from Villain – Caro Savage

At that point, the door of the restaurant swung open, letting out a gust of noise which made him turn his head sharply, all thoughts of the mysterious figure dropping from his mind. He saw that a couple had emerged into the chilly night and it looked like they were heading in his direction. A bolt of anticipation shot through him. Here was his opportunity, the chance to earn some money.

The man ambled along in a self-assured swagger, his black leather jacket flapping open despite the freezing weather. The woman was wrapped in a figure-hugging fur coat, below which a pair of slender long legs ended in towering stiletto heels. The woman, in particular, looked quite glamorous, like some kind of model or actress, and both of them looked considerably well-off.

The couple were laughing, the man saying something indiscernible in a low rumble, the woman tittering in response, their puffs of breath frosting in the night air. It sounded like they were tipsy, bathing in the high of a good evening.

They were drawing closer, the woman’s heels clacking sharply on the pavement as she tottered along a little unsteadily, her arm hooked into the man’s elbow, their conversation becoming more clearly audible the nearer they got.

‘Now remember you promised me,’ the man was saying in a rough, gravelly voice.

‘When we get back to the car,’ the woman replied, with a coy twinkle in her eye.

‘I’ve been waiting for it all evening,’ he said with a leering grin. ‘And I can’t wait any longer.’

‘You won’t be disappointed,’ she purred seductively.

Dave readied himself for their imminent approach. They were only a few metres away now. He projected the appropriate air of two parts dejected to one part cheerful and one part humble, a recipe he’d spent some time refining.

‘Spare some change?’ he said as they passed, making sure not to sound too whiny.

The man stopped abruptly, pulling the woman to a halt beside him. He peered down at Dave, the smile dropping off his face. Up close, Dave absorbed his appearance – a large diamond stud in his left ear, his loud shirt open at the collar revealing a heavy gold chain around his neck, a chunky, expensive-looking watch on his left wrist and one of those rings with a gold sovereign in it on the little finger of his right hand. He certainly didn’t look short of cash, that was for sure. And he appeared to be coked up, if the wide twitching eyes and the clenching jaw were anything to go by.

Dave suddenly felt uneasy. Just beneath the surface, he could detect the whiff of violence, as if this was the kind of bloke who thought nothing of doling out a beating to anyone who looked at him the wrong way. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut. He wondered if the man was going to assault him. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had done so. He felt a faint quake of fear. He gulped and braced himself for a possible kicking.

Caro Savage

Caro Savage knows all about bestselling thrillers having worked as a Waterstones bookseller for 12 years in a previous life. Now taking up the challenge personally and turning to hard-hitting crime thriller writing, Jailbird was published by Boldwood in October 2019.

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Posted in Extract, Historical Fiction, Saga

Minnie’s Orphans Lindsey Hutchinson #Extract @LHutchAuthor @BoldwoodBooks #MinniesOrphans #boldwoodbloggers @rararesources #Saga #historicalfiction #HistFic #BlogTour

The Fitch children are finally safe, after they and their friends were rescued from the grim orphanage Reed House by Minnie and Billy Marshall. Their children’s home Marshall’s is full of love and laughter, and a world away from their terrible ordeal of being sold to Una Reed for five shillings.There are many more children who still need a home, especially in a world where the workhouse is the last option for desperate families, and so Minnie makes it her mission to build Marshall’s into a refuge for all the waifs and strays. 

But kind hearts can be taken advantage of, and before long, Marshall’s in under attack. Can Minnie and Billy keep their family together and keep all the children safe, or will they be torn apart again? 

The Queen of the Black Country sagas is back with a heart-warming, unputdownable and unforgettable tale of triumph against the odds.

Amazon UK

Extract from Minnie’s Orphans Lindsey Hutchinson

Adam Fitch and Billy Marshall stood waiting at the front of Stafford Gaol as they had done once a month for the last five years.

The door in the huge brick-built gatehouse was firmly locked and was flanked either side by a tall concrete wall.

Adam’s eyes glanced over the women leaning against the wall, awaiting a visit to their menfolk inside. Dressed in rags, some had scruffy children clinging to their worn skirts. Others stood alone as if trying to hide from the stigma of being a convict’s spouse. No one spoke. They simply waited patiently for the echoing sound of the key grating in the lock which heralded that their visit time was imminent.

Shuffling from foot to foot, Adam was eager for the wrought iron gates to swing open. He shivered. The spring sunshine gave very little warmth, but Adam realised it was anticipation which was making him shake rather than the cool air.

Lifting his flat cap, he pushed his dark hair back before replacing it. He heard a whisper from a small girl hiding behind her mother.

‘Is he a peaky blinder?’

‘Don’t be so daft!’ the woman scolded, but she eyed Adam warily nevertheless.

‘Won’t be long now, lad, and then we’ll not be coming again, God willing,’ Billy whispered as he laid a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

Adam nodded and glanced around again at the small group of people who were also waiting. Young men with their own flat caps pulled low over watchful eyes, everyone keen to see whoever it was they had come to the prison to visit.

As he attempted to quell his excitement, Adam’s mind ran swiftly over the last few years of his fifteen-year-old life. His natural father, a pugilist, had been killed in the boxing ring. Adam and his sister were sold to Reed’s Orphanage by his stepfather, who died by the hand of his brother James in a freak accident. When Polly was then sold again to a wealthy family, Adam and his friends broke out to rescue her.

Feeling strong fingers squeeze gently at his arm, Adam glanced at the big man at his side. Billy Marshall, champion pugilist, now retired, had taught him how to box and so defend himself if and when the need arose. Billy had married Adam’s mum Minnie four years previously, and they had bought a massive property in Major Street, which was now a children’s home.

Whilst on the run from Reed’s, Adam and his friends had met up with three boys who were living together, thieving and scavenging to survive. Two of them, Echo and Flash, had joined Adam’s ever-expanding family; the third had been apprehended by the police, which was the reason for their visit here today. Adam and Billy were awaiting the release of Digit, who had served five years for theft.

So lost in his thoughts was he that Adam had not heard the warder come to unlock the doors. The squeal of hinges drew his attention and he again glanced at Billy.

‘They will let Digit out today, won’t they?’ he asked in barely more than a whisper.

Billy nodded confidently, and the two watched the small group of people shuffle forward into the yard. Then the huge wooden doors began to close and Adam felt his stomach lurch. Where was Digit? Had something happened since they had last seen him? Was he ill – had he died? Adam pushed the thought aside as he stared at the huge wooden doors, willing them to open.

‘Bloody hell, Digit – come on!’ Adam muttered.

‘Patience, lad – all in good time,’ Billy said.

Suddenly the door opened, and a young man stepped out into the yard. Toby Hanley, aka Digit, stood for a moment with the sun shining on his thick black hair, which was long and lank and badly in need of a wash. His dark eyes blinked at the bright sunlight, then they searched for the two friends who had promised to be there on his release. His clothes hung on his frame which had once been thickset and muscled but now after five years in gaol, appeared to have lost a little of that mass, although there was still strength beneath the bedraggled appearance.

Lindsey Hutchinson

Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

What If? Shari Low 5*#Review @sharilow @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #WhatIf #selfdiscovery #Romance #Friendship #theone #BlogTour #BookReview #extract #romcom

The book that started it all! A classic retro romcom from #1 bestselling author Shari Low.

1999.
Carly Cooper is 30, single, and after coming close to saying ‘I Do’ to six different men, she’s wondering if she accidentally said ‘goodbye’ to Mr Right.
But there is a problem.
Her ex-boyfriends are scattered all over the world and Carly lives in 1999; an era before Facebook, Google, smartphones, 4G and Broadband, when it was impossible to track people down with a few clicks of a mouse.
On a mission to discover if she walked away from her ‘happy ever after’, Carly quits her job, her flat, her whole life and sets off on a quest to track down all the men she has ever loved.
Her Mr Right is out there, but can she find him?
And what if he’s moved on from the ex-girlfriend who said goodbye?

A wonderful classic 20th-anniversary re-release.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

With this book, you get the chance to revisit the nineties and eighties briefly and enjoy the first magic novel from this author. Carly on the eve of the millennium is wondering if she’s made the best of her life. Has she missed out on the one?

Carly is a likeable character, funny and self-deprecating and you empathise with her. She revisits old relationships (six) and then decides to find her former lovers to see if she made a mistake. This has hilarious, poignant and romantic results and is an entertaining read.

It’s a lovely book to explore the late twentieth century and escape this one for a little while.

What If? Shari Low – An Extract

Chapter 1

March 1999

Millennium – Robbie Williams

Oh, b**locks.

I love that word. It has a ‘don’t mess with me, I’m a hormonal lethal weapon’ ring to it. I’ve been muttering it dementedly since I got out of bed this morning, because I can’t think of a single thing that’s right with the world today.

I reach over to refill the kettle, dropping the arm of my dressing gown in last night’s dishwater and knocking over my ashtray in the process. It’s not going to be one of my better days. Before you start reaching for the telephone to summon a counselling service to my kitchen, can I just say that I’m having a midlife crisis. I look and feel like Liam Gallagher after a night on the tiles and I can tell you in years, months, days and minutes how long it is since my last sexual experience. But, according to every reputable (trashy) women’s magazine, this behaviour is typical of a single female of my age. One who’s having a midlife crisis, that is.

Do you ever think, ‘What if this is all there is to life?’ Do you ever contemplate your lot and wonder why you’re not a supermodel in Milan? Or the director of a multinational corporation? What about married to an international business tycoon with homes in seven countries? For the purposes of this ponderance, I’m going to ignore that I’ve got forty pounds on any supermodel, I have no cheekbones, zero entrepreneurial skills, I’m a hopeless commitment-phobe and I couldn’t handle seven houses because I get irritated having to run the Hoover round my tiny flat.

But all that aside, look at me now. I’m sitting at my breakfast table alone, having called in sick to work with an ever more ridiculous reason (‘I stubbed my toe in the garden’ isn’t a bad excuse, except that I live in a third floor flat), with absolutely nothing to look forward to except a chocolate croissant and a long linger over the latest edition of Hello! magazine.I can’t help thinking, ‘What if this is it?’ What if this is the way my life is going to be until I’m having Zimmer races up and down the corridor of my retirement home, flirting with old men and cheating at bingo?

I suppose I owe you an explanation for this sudden outpouring of self-pity.

My name is Carly Cooper. I’m careering towards my thirties at terrifying speed, and I pay an obscene portion of my monthly salary to live in a studio-cum-cupboard in the desirable area of Richmond, near London. I arrived here from my native Glasgow via a multitude of countries, adventures and disasters (mostly due to Mr Rights who inevitably turned out to be Mr Couldn’t Be More Wrongs). I’m 5’8”, with long blonde hair (extensions), blue eyes (coloured contact lenses) and ample curves (in many of the non-supermodel places).

I earn a great salary doing a job I detest and therefore spend every penny of it doing things I enjoy to take my mind off work. I am officially a National Accounts Manager for one of the world’s largest manufacturers of tissue-paper products. Translated, this means that I persuade buyers of large multinational companies to sign annual contracts for the supply of their toilet rolls. Don’t laugh. There’s a future in toilet rolls. They’ll be here long after all this modern technology like CDs and carphones are on a scrap heap somewhere.

I’m officially enjoying the single life with no significant other to answer to. Believe me, to paraphrase Jerry Maguire, I absolutely know that I don’t need a man to complete me. I should just be content being a single, cosmopolitan woman of the world. But unofficially, off the record, and with apologies to my fellow singletons everywhere, I’m bored, fed up and itching to be in a couple again.

Shari Low

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 25 novels, including One Day In Summer and My One Month Marriage and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow.

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