I received a an audiobook from Avon Books UK – Harper Collins Audio UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I listened to an audiobook copy of this story, which is absorbing and enjoyable.
The narrator is professional and brings each of the characters to life through her different voices. It’s easy to feel part of the dialogue with her narration.
The story begins on the precipice of something awful and then goes back in time to discover what events lead to this moment. Predominately told from three points of view it explores the women’s longstanding friendship and the secrets they hide with each other and alone.
The characters are diverse and relatable you are invested in their lives. You empathise with them because of their flaws and mistakes. The logical plot has many twists and features domestic abuse, rape, and murder. The crimes are heinous, but not overly graphic, but the emotional and physical damage is believable.
The conclusion ties up any loose ends and gives hope, and possible future dilemmas for Lily, Mackenzie and Robin.
What happens when love takes you to unexpected places?
Heather Douglas appears to have it all. But living on a farm in the Scottish Highlands with her partner, Rory Fraser, all while bringing up their adorable toddler, Harry, isn’t easy. As a former librarian, Heather is worried that she’ll never fully fit into life on Fraser Farm. And after the death of her beloved mum five years ago, Heather feels lost, as well as guilty for holding back accepting Rory’s marriage proposal because she can’t imagine her wedding without her mother.
So when ex-boyfriend, Stewart, appears in the village of Glendale, it’s a shock to the system. The man who broke her heart years ago now has big plans for the neighbouring farm and wants Heather to be part of the development. Knowing that she’s living a very different life to the one they had planned at university leaves Heather wondering if she has made the right choices since she and Stewart broke up. Especially when things start to go very wrong on the farm …
This Christmas, Heather will need to face her fears and let go of the past or risk losing everything. She will need love, faith, and a whole lot of hope! Return to the beautiful Highlands village of Glendale with the latest book in the bestselling Glendale series – the perfect cosy, uplifting, romantic read.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is my first book in the Glendale Hall series, and I loved it. There’s a vibrant highland community with authentic characters who enrich the story and draw you into their world. A wonderfully wintry setting is the backdrop for this story of family, friends and choices. Heather and Rory have a highland farm. Anxiety and grief dominant Heather’s life and make her question her life choices. Rory is supportive but struggles to understand Heather’s worries.
There are characters from previous books featured in this, but it’s a standalone story. Heather and Rory’s future is jeopardised, by someone from Heather’s past, and as this conflict is real, you fear for their happy ever after.
The plot is simple but effective, you empathise with Heather’s dilemma but mostly with Rory whose love never wavers. All this angst is amid threats to the way of life, snow and the festive celebrations. Emotional and relatable this is a perfect festive read.
Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of three novels, THE SECOND LOVE OF MY LIFE, SUMMER AT THE KINDNESS CAFÉ, and COMING HOME TO GLENDALE HALL. She has been chosen for W.H. Smith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for an RNA award. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.
Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.
It was teatime on Tuesday, and nobody had died yet…
In a world where the men are at war and the women keep the home fires burning, Christabel Fyttleton is faced with domestic crises involving lodgers, rationing, maypole dancers and Kaiser Bill (don’t ask!) – as well as her most daunting challenge ever.
Not only that! There’s a sudden death – again – as though she hasn’t enough to cope with already.
But is it murder, misadventure, or merely misfortune?
I received a copy of this book from Darkstroke Books and the author in return for an honest review.
This historical mystery set in 1918 has a lovely sense of place and time. The author captures the essence of 1918 England, with the war nearing its end leaving a trail of devastation, grief and emancipation in its wake.
The story focuses on the family of three sisters, grandmother and mother and their menagerie of animals. The cast features many characters living in the village who all contribute to the vibrancy of the story. The story is simple but engaging with humour, poignancy and romance all interwoven into the historical mystery.
The mystery surrounding the body is one element of this, but the enchantment is in the everyday lives of the Fyttleton women at such a historically iconic time.
Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the International Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.
She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries. The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, an Amazon best-seller, the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.
The Merry Month of Murder, the second book in The Fyttleton Mysteries – Published 10th September 2020
Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina.
Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in.
When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.
But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?
Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secrets, log fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely festive slice of community spirit, friendship and love. Immi has faced a lot of grief in her young life, but she’s showered with love by her grandfather and the community where they live, she feels blessed. Her love life is peachy with Gray except they don’t see each other as much as they like, so she writes a letter to Santa.
The two protagonists are quirky characters, but they are good people and as the story progresses you like them more. This story emphasises the meaning of Christmas, family and coping with what life throws your way, and the result is a heartwarming and ultimately satisfying festive read.
Extract from the book…
I read an article the other day, giving tips on how to manifest the life you want. You begin by writing a letter and… burning it. Whether you want to free yourself of worry, realise a dream, or simply declutter your mind, a well-respected life coach believes that the universe is listening. I’m not sure how I feel about that statement, but I can see how it might be cathartic for some people – assuming they have the guts to do it properly.
What I’m discovering, though, is that being honest with oneself isn’t easy. After almost an hour, most of it spent with a pen in my hand hovering over the piece of paper in front of me, it remains blank. Even though I love the idea of releasing negative energy into the ether, or drawing positive energy towards me, I can’t do it. I’m not ready to bare my soul to anyone. Least of all, myself.
Maybe I’ll write a letter to Santa, instead, and burn that. Start small and work your way up, Immi, I tell myself. As one of my three jobs involves wearing an elf costume every weekend in December, I figure that if I’m not ready to reach out to the universe, Santa is the next best option.
This year I’m hoping Christmas is going to be a truly joyful occasion to make up for the disappointments of last year. When the man you love – your soul mate – is supporting a parent through the big C, life can feel as if it’s on hold. I won’t lie, it’s been tough. My mind and my body ache when he isn’t here with me because I’m simply going through the motions rather than living my life.
Anyway, what harm can it do to honour an age-old tradition? After all, I’m one of Santa’s biggest fans. They say the act of believing makes things happen and I’ve seen that with my own eyes. So here goes:
When I was six years old, I wrote you a very special letter. I handed Dad the sealed envelope and we stood together, hand in hand, as he threw it onto the fire. I watched in fervent anticipation as the wisps of pale grey smoke, tinged with little curls of white, disappeared up the chimney.
Everyone thought I was asking you for a doll’s house, but actually, I asked you to bring my mum back home to us. Dad didn’t understand why I burst into tears on Christmas morning, after I’d unwrapped the wonderful presents beneath the glittering tree. And, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had asked for the impossible.
Every year until I was twelve, when I wrote my last letter, I just asked for toys, books and clothes, as the other kids did. But in my heart there was only one thing I longed to have, because I honestly believed that it would make my life complete.
But I appreciate now how lucky I was, and that the true magic of Christmas was there all along. I was surrounded by love. The love of my dad, my grandparents and our friends. No child could ask for more than that.
This year there is only one thing on my list and it’s to be able to celebrate Christmas with the man I love, Gray, by my side. I need it to reassure me there really can be an us and that life isn’tgoing to cheat me, yet again.
Just keep everything crossed for me, will you? That’s all I ask. And keep up the good work. A lot of people believe in you, regardless of their age. In today’s world that’s both magical and inspiring, because what is life without hope?
With much love, Immi
Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.
An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.
Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…
When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is compelling domestic noir suspense with multi-faceted characters. An intense and intriguing plot ends with a dramatic twist, expected in this genre of suspense.
Amelia and Jack’s are a loving couple, easy to empathise. Told mainly from their viewpoints, the story occasionally includes Evelyn is Roger’s lover,’s viewpoint. She is a sinister figure, but not everything is straightforward. Is Amelia and Jack’s view of events reliable?
The domestic setting’s ordinariness contrasts perfectly with the simmering tension, and the reader is on edge wondering what will happen next. The author uses sensory imagery effectively making this an immersive reading experience, and at times claustrophobic.
After thirty years in corporate life in London, half of which was running a successful events company, I decided to take a chance to write the novel that was ‘in me’ since I was a child. Gilding the Lily is the result of this and is a domestic noir story which I hope will keep you on the edge of your chair/sofa/bed/train/plane-seat….
The pretty market town of Sterndale is a close-knit community where everyone thinks they know everyone else. But at a lavish summer wedding a local celebrity is discovered slumped in the gardens, the victim of a violent assault that leads to a murder investigation. As the police search for answers, suspicion and paranoia build – and the lives of the locals are turned upside down. Secrets that lurk beneath the pristine façade of Sterndale come to light as detectives close in on the truth… A gripping and moving thriller with the emotional drama
I received a copy of this book from Headline Publishing Group via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Murder in a small English town with numerous suspects a celebrity angle, and so many secrets drew me to this story, and it fulfils its potential. A senseless crime rocks the small town of Sterndale, but someone isn’t surprised. This is atmospheric murder mystery focuses on the characters revealing deep secrets hidden away from the public eye. Multi viewpoints inform the story and give the reader an omnipotent view of events, but not everyone is truthful.
The pacing is slow mirroring reality as the detectives sift through the suspects. The characters are relatable, and the plot hides its secrets well. The small town ethos facilitates the story’s immersive quality and makes the characters and events believable.
This is an engaging story for readers who enjoy a murder mystery set in a small town.
When Evie Kilgaren takes over the running of the back office at Skinner and Son’s haulage yard, she has no idea she is walking into a hive of blackmail, secrets and lies. Her fellow co-worker and childhood nemesis, Susie Blackthorn, is outraged at being demoted and is hell-bent on securing the affections of local heartthrob Danny Harris. Grace Harris, a singer on the prestigious D’Angelo transatlantic ocean liners, is returning home engaged to be married. But Grace is harbouring her own shocking secrets and something valuable her fiancé very desperately wants back.
As we return to the lives and loves of those who live and work in the Mersey Docklands, not everything is as it seems and love and luck are rarely on the same side.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book in the Reckoner’s Row series is another gripping family saga focusing on the women and their lives in 1950s Liverpool. The story has moved on. Evie has an office job with prospects at the haulage yard where she discovers inconsistencies that need solving. Susie resents Evie and is determined to make trouble. Grace has a more glamorous life as a cruise ship singer, but life is about to get complicated.
The characters are believable and draw you into their story. The plot has a touch of mystery, romance and many poignant moments. There is a good sense of place and time, and the historical details bring the story to life.
This is an enthralling saga, which involves the reader in the characters’ lives and makes what happens matter to the reader.
Extract from The Mersey Girls – Sheila Riley
Another performance ended with a standing ovation and the thunderous applause rang in her ears as, straightening her spine, Grace stood taller, flicked back her abundance of chestnut curls, and dipped a curtsey before leaving the stage. She would take a walk round the deck before turning in for an early night, but first she must feel the balmy breeze waft through her hair, let her thoughts wander…
Grace gave a small gasp of surprise. She hadn’t seen the figure sitting alone at a nearby table. She felt her heart flip when she recognised Bruce D’Angelo, the son and heir of the man who owned the shipping line, was speaking to her.
‘It’s such a wonderful night I thought I’d take in the sights.’ Grace smiled, professionally friendly, like an air hostess, or an assistant in a high-class store.
‘Such a wonderful night for a beautiful lady,’ he said, rising from the chair.
‘I bet you say that to all the girls, you smooth talker,’ she replied, noticing he stood with the aid of a barley-twist walking stick in one hand, and held out his other hand towards her.
‘Bruce D’Angelo,’ he said, as if needing to introduce himself, and Grace realised she was staring when he explained, ‘war wound, shrapnel hit my leg and broke my thigh bone in three places, the doc said I was lucky to walk again.’
‘So, you’re quite determined, then?’ The words slipped effortlessly from her lips and his smile was somewhat apologetic. ‘Why are you sitting here, alone, with just a book for company? Everyone else is having a good time.’
‘I might ask you the same thing,’ Bruce said, as the smile in his voice matched the twinkle in his chocolate-brown eyes. ‘I’m just a guy who likes reading more than partying. What’s your excuse?’
‘I’m just a girl who likes her own company sometimes.’ Realising she may have overstepped the mark, she said, ‘Sorry, my mouth opens without engaging my brain. Sometimes, even I don’t know what’s going to come out of it.’
His laugh was an easy-going rumble that made her glad he hadn’t taken offence.
‘You were terrific tonight, as always.’ His accent was Ivy League with a touch of Southern charm and Grace began to relax. ‘I was here, listening.’ His friendliness gave Grace the confidence to jest.
‘Don’t tell me you’re stuck out here ’cause you’ve got no mates?’ she said in the broad Liverpool dialect that she had trained herself to lose over the years and was amused when his brow furrowed.
‘I have not got the faintest idea what you just said.’ Bruce laughed, and Grace laughed too. ‘Champagne?’ he asked, nodding to summon a waiter, and pulled out a chair for her to join him. The crew would be eager to know what it was like drinking the finest, most expensive champagne with Bruce D’Angelo.
Sheila Riley wrote four #1 bestselling novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves and is now writing a new saga trilogy under her own name. She has set it around the River Mersey and its docklands near to where she spent her early years. She still lives in Liverpool.
A family’s past pursues them like a shadow in this riveting and emotional novel of psychological suspense by the Amazon Charts bestselling author of All the Little Children.
American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.
Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.
When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.
As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?
I received a copy of this book from the Lake Union Publishing in return for an honest review.
Dylan, American Rose and their son return to his childhood home in Shropshire. The weather is terrible, the house run down and no one makes them welcome. Rose discovers the family is mired in scandal and is determined to find the truth.
Police Sergeant Ellie Trevelyan faces upheaval in her career and family life. The story told from the two women’s viewpoint explores an unsolved cold case and finds it’s not the only crime.
The sense of mistrust and menace is portrayed well in this story. The plot is well-paced, and reveals its secrets gradually, allowing the reader to learn things at pace with Ellie and Rose. This is an emotional and poignant tale of abuse, lies and loss. The characters are flawed and relatable. The is ending is both climactic and informative.
After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.
As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle and the Economist. She has edited books for a Nobel laureate and the palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University.
Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.
Frankie Keegan is struggling. While she tries to make strides in her career, life at home is slowly unravelling as she is haunted by the secrets of her past.
Someone else remembers… As the dark nights draw in, the anniversary of the loss of her brother looms and Frankie is drawn back to the memories of that fateful night 20 years previously. As she descends into a guilt-ridden state, she begins to suspect that someone else is also remembering that night and they are determined to terrify her…
Can she confront her past before it’s too late?
From the international bestselling author of The Daughter In Law, a gripping psychological thriller about family, secrecy and grief – with a twist you won’t see coming.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The suspense grips you in this story from the first words and keeps its hold until the dramatic conclusion.
Frankie’s never recovered from the accident twenty years ago that took her brother. She’s moved on with life, but the grief and guilt remain festering. A functioning alcoholic with her marriage in trouble, she’s a flawed, and unreliable protagonist but you want her to find peace.
Plot-driven this is a detailed story told from Frankie’s viewpoints both past and present. Everyone in her life has their agenda. As the story progresses, it’s hard to know who to trust. The story’s addictive quality keeps you reading, thinking you know what’s going to happen next.
The compelling characters all have a purpose often to confuse the reader. I did realise what was happening late on in the story, but the dramatic ending still resonated.
This is a poignant tale about the payback of youthful indiscretions and damaged minds.
TheGuilty Wife – Nina Manning – Extract
I stood at the top of the stairs and held my breath as my anxiety spiked and my heart pounded in my throat. But I could no longer hear the noise that had drawn me there. As I stood, my foot perched ready to take the first step, I wondered if perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. Maybe the events of the last few days had finally caught up with me. But faces were hovering in front of me. Those people I had trusted. And those who I had hurt.
All those years ago I was trying so hard to make a difference in any way I could. But I was young. And I was foolish. I knew the past would never be able to bury itself, and I had not been able to rest for twenty years because the horrors of that day would stay with me until I took my final breath.
But now it was time to face the past head on. I tightened my grip on my weapon and began the descent to the kitchen. I knew I was now in grave danger. I knew that I had to protect my children and face the person who had found their way into my home.
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.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
This is a poignant story of a women’s life. It is part historical as it traces her time as a young woman in the 1980s with elements of family drama and relationships too. This is a relatable story of hardship, love and loss. It shows the relentless push forward of time and the fleeting quality of life.
Ellie appears to have muddled through life, but when she suffers unbearable tragedy and feels her best years have gone, she is easy to empathise. The grief process and the need to be valued for yourself underscores this story.
The flashbacks to the 1980s brought back memories for me too.
This engaging, lyrical story is full of angst and love with a believable and hopeful ending worthy of the main character.
She is also a poet and a visual artist. She has a Fine Art MA and a BA (Hons) Visual Studies. She has exhibited paintings throughout the UK (as Tracey Scott). She has a long career as a workshop facilitator with community groups and in schools.
Tracey is co-director of an up-and-coming small independent publisher, Wild Pressed Books, which has a growing roster of authors and poets.
Mother of four grown-up children, Tracey spends as much time as possible travelling the UK and Europe in a camper van with her husband and two dogs, writing and editing while on the road.