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

Snowflakes Over The Starfish Cafe Jessica Redland 5* #Review @JessicaRedland @BoldwoodBooks #BlogTour @rararesources #Romance #Friendship #Heartwarming #UpLit #Family #Relationships #Loss #Love #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers #WhitsboroughBay #BonfireNight #festive #cafe #SnowflakesOverTheStarfishCafe @bookandtonic

Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

Two broken hearts.

Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness, as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…

An unexpected meeting.

Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…

The chance to love again.

Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? Afterall, with courage, nothing is impossible…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Hollie and Jake’s path to future happiness is emotional and ultimately uplifting. Both have experienced loss, and the resultant grief has shaped their view of life. Hollie copes by fulfilling her mother’s dream, Jake follows his vocation and avoids personal relationships. The story unfolds from their dual perspectives beginning in the past.

It explores loss and its emotional effects sensitively. The community and the main protagonists are vividly portrayed and easily visualised. There is an intricate balance of humour and poignancy which is authentic.

The wintery coastal setting is vibrant and is the perfect background for this heartwarming read.

Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community set in Yorkshire where she lives. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast and her Hedgehog Hollow series takes them into beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Holiday Romance, New Books, Romance, Travel

The Little Blue Door Francesca Catlow 4*#Review @FrancescaCatlow @SilverWoodBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #TheLittleBlueDoor #CorfuwithCatlow #SelfDiscovery #Loss #Love #Romance #Friendship #Family #Travel

In the post-pandemic world Melodie feels lost and alone, desperate to find something to remind her of her previous life. She sets out on a trip to Corfu to reconnect with happier times, only to be haunted by memories and events from the past. While travelling Melodie meets an intriguing and handsome man who has the potential to change her future. However, will the young girl from the plane with piercing green eyes be the one to open the door to Melodie’s fate?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a story of contrasts. It is emotional, filled with knowledgeable descriptions and immerses the reader in life on Corfu. I’ve read many stories about this island, but the contemporary edge and originality make this a little different. It’s Melodie’s story of returning to Corfu in the aftermath of the global pandemic we are currently living through.

The warmth of her Greek friends, their way of life, and her memories allow her to heal and look to the future as she experiences a heartfelt journey of self-discovery. There is a slow-burn romance with themes of friendship and family drama.

It’s an exploration of modern life with a vivid setting and well-crafted characters and relationships.

Francesca Catlow

Francesca Catlow loves to travel. Born and raised in the heart of Suffolk, Catlow has travelled extensively in Europe with her French husband and, more recently, their two young children. Of all the places she’s been it is the Greek islands that have captured her heart. She visits as often as family commitments allow.

She has previously written plays alongside being a lyricist and performer. This book is the first in a series.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Giveaway, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Her Previous Self Anne Allen @AnneAllen21 5*#Review #TheGuernseyNovels #HerPreviousSelf #HistoricalFiction #1800s #gothic #Guernsey #contemporaryfiction #Family #Friendship #Romance #intrigue #mystery #timeslip #BookReview #BlogTour #MondayBlogs @rararesources

Two women, living two hundred years apart but closer than sisters.

Mary, miserable in her  marriage to Thomas Carre, a merchant and privateer and living in the newly-built family mansion in Georgian Guernsey.

Lucy, separated from her husband after a tragic loss and now acting as an unwilling sitter for her elderly grandfather, Gregory Carre, who has inherited the same mansion.

Lucy is haunted by Mary’s continued presence in the house and finds herself being pulled more and more back in time. How is it possible for her to live as Mary? To experience scenes from her tragic life? Lucy is forced to come to terms with Mary’s grief as well as her own.

The more enmeshed she becomes the more anxious Lucy is to discover the truth. Why is Mary still restless? What caused her mysterious disappearance two hundred years ago?

And can Lucy move on from her own loss to find happiness again?

Amazon UK Amazon

I received copies of these book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I’ve read all the stories in ‘The Guernsey Novel series, and this one travels further back in time than previous ones but still retains its unique connection to the island. Georgian Guernsey was built on privateering and most likely smuggling. It is against this dangerous background that part of this timeslip story takes place.

Lucy returns to her island home after a tragic life-altering loss that left her broken and depressed. The strain on her marriage proved insurmountable, and she separates from her husband. Her parents, currently resident at her paternal grandfather’s mansion, offer little emotional support and leave Lucy to look after her ailing grandparent when they take an extended holiday.

The contemporary element of this story charts Lucy’s battle with depression after the loss of her baby. It is emotional and realistic and makes her easy to empathise with. Her vulnerability makes a supernatural experience possible. She feels emotionally connected to Mary, a distant relative who went missing over two hundred years previously.

The timeslip element of this story is cleverly crafted. The two stories are both well-written drawing the reader into different worlds. The story is poignant, and the historical element disturbing, but it’s addictive reading because you are invested in the characters.

Guernsey gives this story added uniqueness, both in the historical detail and contemporary imagery.

This is another compelling chapter in this gentle saga of Guernsey life past and present.

Giveaway to Win 1 x Paperback Copy of Her Previous Self (UK winner)

or e-copy for an international winner.

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

The Inheritance – Book 7  Amazon UK

How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?

1862 Young widow Eugénie faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.

2012 Dr Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey-born but living in England, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child, she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and her close relationship with Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Returning to the island gives Tess a fresh start and a chance to unlock family secrets.

Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.

My Thoughts…

A delightful mix of contemporary and Victorian life on Guernsey, with colourfully described historical details, and an engaging contemporary story full of romance, friendship and family drama.

Tess unexpectedly inherits an old house on Guernsey where she spent her childhood, Visiting her inheritance, she is drawn to the rundown house and being at a crossroads in her life decides to renovate and make Guernsey her home again.

Characters from previous stories make cameo appearances, but the story is standalone. The story slips between 2012 and Victorian times, told from Tess and Eugenie’s points of view. Both stories are complex and interesting, and there is a historical mystery for Tess to solve.

The story features a real historical figure, although the story is fictional, his presence as a character adds authenticity and depth.

Domestic abuse is a primary theme in this book, and it serves to highlight, its prevalence, and the differences and similarities between contemporary and Victorian women, in abusive relationships.

The storytelling is enthralling, the setting vividly described and the connections between the past and present meaningful. A lovely mix of believable characters and a realistic but hopeful ending make reading ‘The Inheritance’, a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

The Betrayal –  Book Six Amazon UK

Book Six of The Guernsey Novels is another dual-time story set during the German Occupation and present-day Guernsey and is likely to appeal particularly to fans of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return. 

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo? 

Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

My Thoughts…

I love this series, it has all the best qualities of a cosy mystery in a breathtaking setting, with just a hint of the supernatural and historical flashbacks that illuminate the present mystery.

Believable, interesting characters are easy to empathise with and draw you into present-day Guernsey and it’s WW2 legacy, most notably the German occupation of the island. The gentle romance and supernatural elements enhance the storyline. The writing is clever as present-day events are determined by their historical roots. 

Whilst they are standalone read; characters and situations from previous novels inform this story. If you haven’t read the other books in the series check out my reviews and read them for yourself.

This story is a pleasing, page-turning read, that makes me want to reacquaint myself with the mystical island of Guernsey.

Echoes of Time – Book Five Amazon UK

The fifth of The Guernsey Novels, Echoes of Time is a dual-time story set in the German Occupation and present-day Guernsey and is likely to appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years…

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey.

All too soon Olive realises she has made a mistake. Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer-however there’s a price to pay. . .

2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own…

Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive.

Thrown together in a bid to find out what happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on? 

My Thoughts…

All the ‘Guernsey Novels’ are defined by their memorable characters, vivid setting and intriguing plots, ‘Echoes of Time’, has all of these qualities and something extra that makes it a gripping and worthwhile read.

The cross over and parallels between Guernsey’s past and present are explored in greater detail in this story and Natalie, who returns to the island after a traumatic incident, experiences life in war torn Guernsey, in a most disturbing way.

Escaping her past Natalie witnesses a woman’s life with a startling similarity to her own, is her subconscious playing tricks on her or is what she dreams and experiences real?

The mystery enfolds in 2010 with flashbacks and time slip to occupied Guernsey in World War Two. The historical element is well researched and often anecdotal and blends with the present in a believable, easy to read way.

Characters’ flaws make them authentic and human. Natalie finds friendship when she most needs it but will become something more and is she brave enough to let it?

A poignant, well written tale, set on a beautiful island, perfect for holiday reading and anytime you want to escape.

The Family Divided – Book Four Amazon UK

The fourth of The Guernsey Novels, covering both contemporary Guernsey and the time of the Occupation. Likely to appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

One family, divided by death – and money

Andy Batiste, at loggerheads with his degenerate cousin, seeks to discover the truth of his family history. Why was his pregnant grandmother forced to flee to France? What really happened to her husband during the German Occupation, sixty years ago? Who accused Edmund, the elder son and Batiste heir, of being an informer? Was he really a traitor – and who murdered him?

With Edmund’s brother Harold now head of the family, enjoying the wealth which ought to have come to Andy’s father, the family is forever divided. Andy yearns to clear Edmund’s name and restore his father to his rightful inheritance.

Andy is introduced to Charlotte Townsend, newly divorced, lonely and struggling with writer’s block and the consuming threat of impending loss. They meet when she returns for healing at Guernsey’s natural health centre, La Folie, and Charlotte becomes involved in Andy’s family history.

Together they embark on a hunt for the truth…

My Thoughts…

The catalyst for this story is an incident in World War 2. A death accompanied by malicious rumour divides a family. Charlotte, who we met in ‘Guernsey Retreat’, makes a welcome return.

‘The Family Divided’ maintains the mystery and gentle romance, characteristic of this series. This story casts Charlotte in the role of detective as she unravels the secrets and rumour buried in the Batiste’s family’s past, to help and stay close to her new friend Andy Batiste.

Well paced, this story explores the growing relationship between Charlotte and Andy, and lets us glimpse the lives of previously introduced characters, Jeanne, Louise and Malcolm.

I liked the disparity between Andy’s family and Charlotte’s and how it allows both characters to grow and develop. Charlotte’s investigation is believable and what she discovers builds to a tense and well resolved ending.

If you like your mystery with vivid imagery and sweet romance you will definitely enjoy The Guernsey Novels series.

Guernsey Retreat – Book Three Amazon UK

The third in The Guernsey Novels series, likely to appeal to fans of the best-selling book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Two violent deaths. Separated by time, but with a fatal connection…

A man loses his father. A young woman loses her mother. Both in tragic circumstances that lead, when they meet, to surprising revelations from the past. 

Louisa needs to find the father she has never known, to warn him of possible danger – for them both. Her search takes her from England to Guernsey. Malcolm’s journey is more complicated: conceived in Guernsey, his bereaved mother emigrates with him to Canada. Many years later he arrives in India, and from here he is led back to Guernsey to open a health centre at La Folie. This was his father’s home and where he was killed at the start of the Second World War. 

At the heart of the two deaths lie stolen jewels. Valuable enough to kill for. Twice. 

Finding her father brings Louisa more than she bargains for, and her life is transformed, while Malcolm learns that life is, after all, for sharing… 

My Thoughts…

This third book in ‘The Guernsey Novels series is as atmospheric, as the previous two stories. There are two deaths; one historical and one present-day, which force a meeting between Louisa and Malcolm, altering both their lives. The characters are interesting and believable, the setting a delight.

The author’s knowledge of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands gives the story another compelling dimension. This is a must read.

The historical events and their significance are weaved seamlessly into the contemporary plot. There is a welcome return of some characters from ‘Dangerous Waters’ and Finding Mother in cameo roles, which enrich the story.

The plot is easy to follow and provides a perfect foil for the characters to develop, grow and interact. There is intrigue and menace and a myriad of emotions as Louisa balances what she has lost and found and Malcolm tries to make amends for a youthful, foolish mistake. A sweet romance lightens the angst.

I liked the friendship between Louisa and Charlotte and look forward to reading Charlotte’s tale next.

Finding  Mother – Book Two Amazon UK

Three women. Three generations. Sacrifices for love…

Who is she really? Nicole is about to find out as she searches for her real mother; the woman who gave her away at birth. With her marriage in tatters, she sets out from England: travelling to Spain, Jersey and Guernsey before the extraordinary story of her real family is finally revealed.

Nicole becomes an unwitting catalyst for change in that family. Two women are forced to reveal long-buried secrets. One going back as far as the Second World War. Lives are transformed as choices have to be made and the past laid to rest…

My Thoughts…

A marriage damaged, possibly beyond repair prompts investigative journalist Nicole to search for her birth mother. Her decision threatens those who love her, leads to long buried secrets and romantic surprises on the beautiful island of Guernsey.

The setting for the second in ‘The Guernsey Novels series’ is vivid and tangible. The insight into island life makes Guernsey, an important secondary character that informs the actions of Nicole and her birth family.

‘Finding Mother’ is a gently paced story, with nostalgic echoes of magazine serials in the sixties. The characters are outwardly ordinary but their normality cloaks resentment, fear, missed chances and unwavering courage. The emotional tension is realistic and poignant and shrouded in long suppressed mystery.

Addictive and so easy to read; ‘Finding Mother’ builds to a tense crescendo before the secrets are revealed. The characters are complex and believable and make a story of everyday life, memorable.

This story will appeal to lovers of romantic sagas and quality women’s fiction.

Dangerous Waters – Book One Amazon UK

Dangerous Waters is the first of The Guernsey Novels, linked but standalone stories, which will appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Tragedy seems to follow Jeanne Le Page around . . .

Can she really go through it again and survive?

She is lucky to be alive … at sixteen Jeanne was almost killed in a boating accident which brought heart-breaking family tragedy. Now, fifteen years later, Jeanne returns reluctantly to the island of Guernsey following the death of her beloved grandmother. Struggling for breath as the ferry nears the island; she is overwhelmed by a dark foreboding as hazy memories of that terrible day resurface…

Only returning to sell her inheritance – her grandmother’s old cottage – Jeanne has no intention of picking up her old life. But the cottage holds a secret, dating back to World War II and the German Occupation, and Jeanne becomes drawn into discovering more. Then, soon after her arrival, a chance meeting with an old teenage crush leads her to thoughts of love.

Jeanne is forced to face her demons, reliving the tragedy as her lost memory returns.

When the truth is finally revealed, her life is endangered for the second time…

My Thoughts…

This delightful story reflects the island life it depicts; atmospheric, gently paced and full of mystery and romance. The characters are crafted realistically and easy to visualise. This is not an action packed read but the laid back writing style draws the reader into island society and culture. The cast of secondary characters give the story its depth and variety and bring the island community to life for me.

Contemporary favourites cookery and gardening widen the scope of this novel and prevent it from becoming too self absorbed and dark. The descriptions of the cosmopolitan restaurants, food and the cottage garden are vibrant and knowledgeable; as is the insight into the publishing industry.

Jeanne the vulnerable but talented heroine of ‘Dangerous Waters’ is a writer who returns to her childhood home many years after a traumatic incident drove her back to the mainland. Her chosen career has a dramatic boost when she discovers her grandmother’s hidden secrets and much treasured ancestral recipes.

Coupled with reconnecting with friends from her school days and deciding what to do with her legacy, Jeanne’s day to day life is an absorbing read. Jeanne’s poignant flashbacks reveal her traumatic past. Mystery and dangerous undercurrents threaten Jeanne’s emotional recovery until she isn’t sure who she can trust.

‘Dangerous Waters’ is definitely worth reading and I look forward to the rest of the Guernsey Novels.

Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon but originates from Rugby. Finding early on in life that she loved the sea she spent most of her adult years moving from one coast to another. Her happiest time was spent in Guernsey where she lived for nearly 14 years and her books are all set on that beautiful island. Until recently Anne was a psychotherapist but has now retired to write full time. So far she has published Dangerous Waters, Finding Mother, Guernsey Retreat, The Family Divided, Echoes of Time, The Betrayal, The Inheritance and Her Previous Self, forming the Guernsey Novels series. The books focus on love, mystery, drama and relationships. In her spare time she dabbles in art and very occasionally housework.

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Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Holiday Romance, New Books, Romance, Travel

Summer at the French Olive Grove 5*#Review Sophie Claire @HodderBooks @SClaireWriter #Romance #Family #Friendship #Rural #Village #Provence #grief #BookReview #Holiday #France #SummerAtTheFrenchOliveGrove

Filmmaker Lily’s life is all about work and adventure. So when she suffers an accident on her travels and finds herself recuperating in the quiet French seaside village where she spent her childhood, she can’t wait to escape. Not least because Olivier – Lily’s childhood friend and former crush, who she has spent the last thirteen years avoiding – is staying next door . . .

Strong-minded masterbaker Olivier is happily settled in St Pierre, preparing to marry and put down roots. But Lily’s return to the village risks turning his carefully-laid plans upsidedown, and as the pair rediscover their familiar rivalry and fun, sparks fly.

Is Lily really as fearless and independent as she seems on the surface – or is she just running from the past? And what if Olivier is the only one who can teach her what it really means to be brave?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Lily is an intrepid filmmaker with a conscience. Whilst filming at a coffee cooperative run by women in Columbia filming Lily is courageous in protecting the women when they are threatened but doesn’t come out of the incident unscathed. Returning to her grandmother in Provence has bittersweet memories, especially when she is met at the airport by Olivier, her best friend and teenage crush.

The friends to lovers romance between Lily and Olivier is conflicted. It develops realistically with many heartwarming, humorous and heartbreaking moments. Lily’s grandmother is a lovely character who has always positively influenced her life. The story flows well with an absorbing setting and believable cast of supporting characters.

The romantic tension is intense, and the reader realises how important the couple’s friendship is. Lily and Olivier undergo significant character development until they reach a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

Friendship, family romance and self-realisation make this an engaging summer read.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship

The Last Goodbye Fiona Lucas 4*#Review @FionaLucasBooks @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #TheLastGoodbye

Anna’s world was shattered three years ago when her husband Spencer was killed in a tragic accident. Her friends and family think it’s time she moved on, but how can she when she’s lost her soulmate?  

On New Year’s Eve, Anna calls Spencer’s old phone just to hear his voicemail greeting. But to her surprise someone picks up. Brody answers and is the first person who truly understands what Anna is going through. As they begin to speak regularly, Anna finds herself opening up and slowly she discovers how to smile again, how to laugh, even how to hope.  

But Brody hasn’t been entirely honest with Anna. Will his secret threaten everything, just as it seems she might find the courage to love again? 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A bereaved young woman is the main focus of this insightful and sensitively written story. It shows that grief and finding the positivity to move on with your life is unique. Original plot twists and relatable characters make this an engaging story. The friendship that builds between the bereaved woman and the man who answers her husband’s old phone is realistically paced. You believe in the characters and the many heartbreaking moments in this story resonate. Ultimately, its a story of loss, love and most of all, hope.

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

The Scarlet Dress Louise Douglas 5* #Review @LouiseDouglas3 @BoldwoodBooks #Extract #FamilyDrama #Secrets #grief #loss #Crime #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview #Missing #ColdCase #boldwoodbloggers #Psychological #TheScarletDress @rararesources

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared twenty-five years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

The past was like water. Once the tide turned, you couldn’t hold it back.’

In the long, hot summer of 1995, twenty-two-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park’s caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice, and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She’s never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run down and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they’re both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story is wonderfully complex. Character-driven, it draws the reader into a world of decay, deceit and death. The discovery of human bones years after a young woman disappeared reopens old hurts in a town that is a shadow of its former self. Marnie, a child at the time of the disappearance, still bears the emotional scars. Will, obsessed with the missing girl Alice, is drawn back to the dying town of his birth, feeling there is unfinished business.

The story gives up its secrets as it unfolds and undulates between the present day and 1995. There are unexpected twists, emotional moments and relentless tension that builds to the story’s end. The setting is well created and complements the plot perfectly. This is a compelling story with many emotionally damaged characters, of which Marnie is my favourite.

This is an immersive story about ordinary people and extraordinary tragedy. It reads, like a Nordic noir set in the English seaside, an engaging balance of introspection and action it’s a page-turner.

Louise Douglas

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of novels including The House By The Sea and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

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Extract from The Scarlet Dress – Louise Douglas

A lively wind danced across the estuary flatlands, shimmying the feathered heads of the reeds that lined the rhynes. Marnie Morahan headed back down the track with the dogs: her own beloved Tessy and the foster dog, a monstrous-looking animal that Jenna at the rescue centre had named Mister. He had short legs and a chest so barrelled that he waddled rather than walked. His head and neck were covered in scars and old wounds from his days as a bait dog, one ear almost completely gone, the other with chunks missing like a leaf got at by snails. His grizzled snout was encased inside a Silence of the Lambs-style muzzle designed to protect him from himself. If another dog came too close, Mister might try to kill it and he was already on his final warning. His next aggressive bite would be his last. 

Marnie loved all animals, even difficult-to-love ones like Mister; especially ones like him. It was people she struggled with. It was a two-way street. Marnie didn’t trust people and most people thought she was weird with her old black clothes and boots, her piercings and tattoos, her hair shaved close to her skull, her sullen expression and downcast eyes; her reluctance to be involved with anyone except for her immediate family, Jenna and her dog-training clients. Her muteness. Marnie knew people called her a misfit, and worse. It didn’t hurt because she was used to it; she’d been the odd one out all her life. Sometimes she worried that her oddness would become an embarrassment to her daughter, Lucy, or worse, that bullies might target Lucy because of her, but fortunately Lucy was a sunny, friendly girl, popular at school. She accepted Marnie as she was and expected others to accept her too. Lucy understood that Marnie could no more change than the sun could rise in the west: she didn’t need to be close to people and people didn’t need to be close to her. 

The track was stony. Gritty puddles had formed in the potholes. The grass that grew in shabby green strips was submerged in the wet. The hedgerows on either side had lost their leaves months earlier and were black and twiggy, and the branches of the wind-worn trees above were jagged, mistletoe growing like ragged hair in the pits of their joints. Deep ruts made by ploughs in undulating stripes across the fields were full of water that reflected the light. 

Clouds raced across a high, wintry sky that morning; a flock of lapwings banked steeply into the air, flashing white then black. Tessy stopped to sniff at a pile of dung and Mister looked up at Marnie with bloodshot, prize-fighter eyes, confused because he did not understand the joys of sniffing. 

Marnie put her hand in the pocket of her ancient coat and pulled out a handful of dried pilchards. She offered one to Mister through the muzzle, but the dog backed away, believing it to be a trick, expecting to be punished. Marnie dropped the treat on the ground. Mister stared at it, but made no move to eat it. 

Posted in Book Review, Friendship, Romance

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird Josie Silver 5*#Review @JosieSilver_ @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview #Romance #Love #Bereavement #Relationships #Friends #TheTwoLivesofLydiaBird

Two love stories. One Impossible Choice.

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible.

But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.

But then something unbelievable happens, and Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay?

A heart-breaking, uplifting story for fans of PS I Love You and Me Before You, this gorgeously romantic novel will make you laugh, cry and remind you of what a wonderful gift it is to love and to be loved.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is such an engaging story. Romantic but with realism. The author explores Lydia’s grief with emotion and sensitivity. Her feelings are relatable to anyone who has lost someone close. She doesn’t take her bereavement journey in isolation there’s a cast of believable characters, who support her
along the way.

There’s a twist to this story a parallel life as the title suggests. She has a choice to make, which affects her and the lives of her family and friends. Lydia is a lovely character, easy to empathise who self-deprecating humour lightens this often heartbreaking story.

The ending is romantic and uplifting and makes all the heartbreak and soul searching worthwhile.

Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Virgin River Series Robyn Carr #Reviews @RCarrWriter @MillsandBoon #BookReview #NetFlix #Romance #SmallTown #StartingOver #Loss #Grief #Friendship #holidayreads #AVirginRiverChristmas #ShelterMountain #MillsandBoonInsiders

I received a copy of these books from Mills and Boon in return for honest reviews.

Shelter Mountian

Discover Paige and Preacher’s Story…

In love, some people are worth fighting for…

For the second time in a year a woman arrives in the small town of Virgin River trying to escape the past.

John “Preacher” Middleton is about to close the bar when a young woman and her three-year-old son come in out of the wet October night. An ex-marine who has seen his share of pain, Preacher knows a crisis when he sees one and this woman is certainly frightened and in need of help. But Preacher’s instinct to protect is more than an engrained sense of duty, for Paige Lassiter has stirred up emotions in him — emotions that he has never before allowed himself to feel.

When Paige’s ex-husband turns up in Virgin River and secrets are revealed, Preacher knows his own future hangs in the balance. But if there’s one thing the marines has taught him, it’s that some things are worth fighting for…

My Thoughts… 5* #Review

The second book in the Virgin River series is Preacher and Paige’s story. It’s an emotional and heartfelt tale of domestic abuse, courage, and love. The book’s focus is Preacher and Paige, but there are other storylines and familiar characters integrated with the main story bringing the characters and setting to vibrant life.

This story tackles contemporary issues with sensitivity and immerses the reader in the story. If you are a fan of the TV series, get to know the characters and their lives in depth by reading the books. I enjoyed the TV series more, after reading some of the books.

A Virgin River Christmas – Book 4

A Christmas Miracle in Virgin River

Last Christmas Marcie Sullivan said a final goodbye to her husband, Bobby. This Christmas she’s come to Virgin River to find the man who saved his life, and gave her three more years with him. Fellow marine Ian Buchanan dragged Bobby to safety in Fallujah four years ago then disappeared. Since then, Marcie’s letters to Ian have gone unanswered.

When Marcie tracks Ian to the tiny mountain town of Virgin River she finds a man haunted by his past and afraid to look to his future. Not easily scared off Marcie pushes her way into Ian’s reclusive life to see beyond his pain to the man he once was. The man he can be again.

Ian doesn’t know what to make of the determined young woman who forces him to look into the painful past and, what’s worse, the uncertain future. But it is, after all, a season of miracles and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to banish the ghosts and open his heart.

My Thoughts… 4* #Review

This story focuses on Marcie a recent widow and Ian, a marine who despite his bravery gives up on his career and life to become a recluse in the mountains near Virgin River.

There are appearances from Virgin River regulars, but this is a story of healing and love between the two newcomers.

This is a gently paced, emotional and festive story. Marcie and Ian build a relationship that moves from animosity to understanding in a remote mountain setting.

It highlights the effect of war on veterans, a recurrent series theme, and also shows how a caring community helps everyone within it,

This is a heartwarming, romantic story which resonates.

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

Return to Virgin River Robyn Carr 5*#Review @RCarrWriter @MillsandBoon #BlogTour #BookReview #NetFlix #Romance #SmallTown #StartingOver #Loss #Grief #Friendship #ReturnToVirginRiver #Author #MillsandBoonInsiders #paperback

Struggling with grief after the death of her mother, successful author Kaylee Sloan needs a distraction, to come to terms with life and meet her looming deadline.

With Christmas approaching, Kaylee rents a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing and as she drives north through the mountains she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local bar is the heart of the town and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a stranger in need.

Welcomed by those in Virgin River, Kaylee starts to see her life in a new light. And as she becomes more involved in the town and the people in it, especially local artist and dog trainer Landry Moore, Kaylee realises she may have found her peace. As Christmas approaches, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Kaylee returns to Virgin River to finish her latest novel and survive Christmas without her mum. An unexpected event forces her to accept the communities help and leads her life, in an unforeseen direction.

The story is relatable with easy to empathise characters in most cases. The animal characters add a heartwarming dimension, and the romance is slow-burning with conflict and a satisfying conclusion. Bereavement and moving on after loss are explored in this story positively and sensitively. Whilst Christmas is not the predominant theme in this book there is a festive twist, as the inhabitants give Kaylee new Christmas memories and show her the true meaning of Christmas.

This is a character-driven story focusing on Kaylee and Landry who both have life-changing emotional journeys to make when they meet. The cast of characters will be familiar to those who follow the series but to new readers, they soon become friends too.

If you enjoy small-town romance with a realistic edge and supportive community, this is a series worth reading.

Read my review of Virgin River

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

Hopeful Hearts at Glendale Hall Victoria Walters 5* #Review @Vicky_Walters @herabooks @rararesources #Love #Life #Highlands #Farming #community #Friends #Romance #choices #BookReview #BlogTour #Fridayreads

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.

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I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

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

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.

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