Posted in Book Review, Guest post, Historical Romance

O’Roarke’s Destiny Shehanne Moore 5*#Review (Cornish Rogues Book1) #BlackWolfBooks @ShehanneMoore #HistoricalRomance #19thCentury #Cornwall #GuestPost #PublicationDay

#CornishRogues

Once he’d have died to possess her, now he just might…

Beautiful, headstrong young widow Destiny Rhodes was every Cornish man’s dream. Until Divers O’Roarke cursed her with ruin and walked out of Cornwall without a backwards glance. Now he’s not only back, he’s just won the only thing that hasn’t fallen down about her head—her ancestral home. The home, pride demands she throw herself in with, safe in the knowledge of one thing. Everything she touches withers to dust.

He’d cursed her with ruin.
Now she’d have him live with the spoils of her misfortune.

Though well versed in his dealings with smugglers and dead men, handsome rogue Divers O’Roarke is far from sure of his standing with Destiny Rhodes. He had no desire to win her, doesn’t want her in his house, but while he’s bent on the future, is there one when a passionate and deadly game of bluff ensues with the woman he once cursed? A game where no-one and nothing are what they seem. Him most of all.

And when everything she touches turns to dust, what will be his fate as passion erupts? Will laying past ghosts come at the highest price of all? 

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My Thoughts…

Cornwall in 1801 rife with smugglers and excise men trying to catch them is the setting for this clever, passionate and witty novel. Destiny Rhodes is cursed, everything she touches turns to dust. All she has left is Doom Bar Hall, her ancestral home, and now even this is in jeopardy.

Divers O’Roarke is a man with an agenda and so many secrets. He left Cornwall in the wake of tragedy, but not before he’d cursed the young woman he thought responsible. Now he’s back, the victor, but what he finds is not what he expected. What he feels is not what he thought, but he has a mission, and being turned to ashes by a cursed woman is not part of it.

The setting for this story is atmospheric and authentic. The subtle use of historical detail, lets you visualise nineteenth-century Cornwall. The sinister smugglers, the close-knit community, the rugged beauty of the coast, and the ethos of danger and suspicion, Amidst the roaring sea and windswept coastline, the story of two people, both emotionally bereft, and driven unfolds.

The dialogue is sharp and amusing, and the internal musings even more so. You spend a lot of time in Destiny and O’Roake’s minds, and they are both full of confusion and conniving.

The plot is pacy and twisty. Just trying to work out who O’Roarke is, keeps you guessing. Then there’s the exciseman Lyons, who becomes increasingly sinister. This story is inclusive, you feel part of the deadly game Destiny and Divers are playing, experience their anger, bewilderment, fear, and the passion they cannot hide. The intriguing plot comes to an intense conclusion, revealing who Destiny and Divers O’Roake are in more ways than you can imagine.

‘O’Roarke’s Destiny’, is historical romance for the twenty-first century. Complex mind games, passionate, sensual romance, and a fast-paced riveting plot that rides the waves of time. I’m looking forward to meeting the next ‘Cornish Rogue.’

Guest Post – Shehanne Moore – Inspiring Destiny

Firstly Jane, thank you so much for inviting me here today to your wonderful book review blog, which is such a help to authors and for your continued support.  Always appreciated.

I actually got the idea for O’Roarke’s Destiny the night we sold our house back in 2014. Yep, a while ago and I actually started it when I finished the Viking and The Courtesan in 2015 and put it aside because other scheduled books got in the way. I’d lived in this particular house for almost 30 years and it was a hard house to leave for many reasons, nor was this necessarily a chosen thing.  Although looking back now I don’t know what I was worrying about.  Anyway, the first night the house was on sale, the second viewer arrived—the dad of one of my pupils who lived along the road. I thought they’d come about something to do with the lessons. Anyway, he soon dashed that hope when he said, ‘I will make you a good offer tomorrow morning first thing. I have already put my house on sale in the hope and prayer of this one. But I know this must be upsetting for you, so don’t show me round, I  was burned on the house sale three doors along a few months ago, so you don’t have to.’   And he was as good as every word. Well, as I joked to a friend a few days later, I should have said, ‘And I come with this house. I just need a room.’ Then I thought … bingo, idea for a book there.

Ideas, mind you, are nothing like what ends up on paper.  This book started as a frothy battle over a house that only starts a few years later when the hero brings home another woman, a fiancée and the heroine housekeeper doesn’t like this and she discovers her own feelings for the hero. While this had its merits, another idea—a stronger one–formed, that was to start the book at the point where the house has been lost in a card game to a man where there’s past history.  But, this seemed a little contrived, given this man has been sort of lost to the world for years. What was he even doing back in the neighbourhood?  So I suppose my next piece of inspiration was in the books of Daphne DuMaurier, the smuggling, piratey books I’ve long loved. Having tackled, pirates, Highlanders, Vikings, I’d wanted to do a book about smugglers. Where better to do that than in Cornwall? Why not make that world the backdrop to the story.

Books aren’t just nothing like the idea that you start with—well mine never are, alas–they are about keeping the story going. There’s only so many times two people can argue about the choice of dining room wallpaper for example or the fact that that’s the best antique dishes sitting out at the bin, so while this starts out as a battle over a house, that is only a first layer, with lids to be lifted on a couple who are slogging it out over so much more within themselves and where they are in their lives when the story opens.  And that’s not actually the house at all.

Once he’d have died to possess her, now he just might…

Beautiful, headstrong young widow Destiny Rhodes was every Cornish man’s dream. Until Divers O’Roarke cursed her with ruin and walked out of Cornwall without a backwards glance. Now he’s not only back, he’s just won the only thing that hasn’t fallen down about her head—her ancestral home. The home, pride demands she throw herself in with, safe in the knowledge of one thing. Everything she touches withers to dust.

He’d cursed her with ruin.

Now she’d have him live with the spoils of her misfortune.

Though well versed in his dealings with smugglers and dead men, handsome rogue Divers O’Roarke is far from sure of his standing with Destiny Rhodes. He had no desire to win her, doesn’t want her in his house, but while he’s bent on the future, is there one when a passionate and deadly game of bluff ensues with the woman he once cursed? A game where no-one and nothing are what they seem. Him most of all.

And when everything she touches turns to dust, what will be his fate as passion erupts?  Will laying past ghosts come at the highest price of all?

Black Wolf Books Amazon UK Amazon

#ORoarkesDestiny

When not cuddling inn signs in her beloved Scottish mountains alongside Mr Shey, or spending time with their family, Shehanne Moore writes dark and smexy historical romance, featuring bad boys who need a bad girl to sort them out. She firmly believes everyone deserves a little love, forgiveness and a second chance in life.
Shehanne caused general apoplexy when she penned her first story, The Hore House Mystery—aged seven. From there she progressed to writing plays for her classmates, stories for her classmates, plays for real, comic book libraries for girls, various newspaper articles, ghostwriting, nonfiction writing, and magazine editing. Stories for real were what she really wanted to write though and, having met with every rejection going; she sat down one day to write a romance, her way.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance

Two Tides To Turn R.R.Gall 4*#Review #Guestpost #RRGall @rrgall1 @rararesources #historicalfiction #Mystery #LiteraryFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Scotland #BlogTour #BookReview

#RRGall

A family ripped asunder.
A terrible secret lurks in a thrilling novel of love, grief, and mystery.

Patrick thought his grandfather, John, died before he was born.
In later life, he finds out that it wasn’t true. For the first five years of Patrick’s life, they stayed in the same small village.
So why were they kept apart?

Patrick wishes to search the past to find the reason – but only if he can be united with his young daughter first.
And that means bringing her home to Scotland.
It means journeying to France to take her away from the care of her mother, Patrick’s ex-wife.

In 1915, with the war raging in Europe, John is a young man working on the family farm. Not yet old enough to enlist but aware of its looming threat, he meets Catherine. But his attempts at courtship end suddenly when an accident rips his life apart.

Told in alternate chapters, set, mainly, in South-West Scotland, this is the dramatic story of Patrick, interwoven with John’s traumatic life.

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#TwoTidesToTurn

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

My Thoughts…

Two men, in two time periods, both battle against their demons and life’s injustices. Patrick and John are related, and Patrick is on a quest to explore the mystery surrounding his grandfather.

Patrick is confused and unhappy, his marriage to a younger woman ends badly, and he loses contact with his daughter. His plan to reunite with her is the focus of his story. His need to find out what happened to his Grandfather equates to his need to find parallels and assume some control in his own life.

John’ story is set in Scotland during the early twentieth century. The setting and historical details of this time period are interesting and bring John’s character to life. His story is poignant. The ominous presence of World War 1, is another claustrophobic element in this part of the story.

The stories are well written and the mystery is carefully revealed, in a plot that has many twists. The male characters are complex and realistic. The female characters are much more simply drawn, perhaps because they are seen from John and Patrick’s point of view, and they both lack an intrinsic understanding of what motivates them?

A deep, and sometimes dark story of two men’s lives, with a good mystery to solve and an overriding theme of sadness and loss.

Guest Post – RR Gall – Two Tides To Turn
How Stressed Are you?

The candle is wicked. The man is rugged. The dignitary is present to present the present to the present champion. It is the timekeeper’s job to record the latest record.

This has been bothering me for a while now – the lack of guidance. And I take my hat off to anyone trying to come to grips with the rather tricky, awkward language of English. It must be extremely difficult when given no direction on where to stress certain words. In some ways, it is amazing how this language has become so prevalent. At the moment, more people speak it than any other – approximately 2 billion – with native speakers by far in the minority.

A quick scan through other languages shows that many have steady rules on where the emphasis should be. In Spanish, unless indicated by an accent, the stress is on the penultimate syllable if the word ends in a vowel, or if there is a vowel followed by the letter ‘s’ or ‘n’. If not, the stress will be on the last syllable.

In Italian, again if there is no direction, the stress tends to be on the penultimate syllable.

And in Greek, it appears they take no chances, shovelling on more accents than coal on the Flying Scotsman, but with the rule that only the last three syllables are ripe, and can be picked, for stressing.

In English, we are left to fend for ourselves.

One bright aspect though, I hope I’m right in saying, is that our lack of rules makes English ideally suited for cryptic crosswords. Such crosswords do exist in other languages, but only in a handful of them – German, Hebrew, Italian, Hindi, and a few others.

Back to the start then. How did you get on with the sentences?

The candle has a wick. The candle is wicked(1) (one syllable, pronounce like tricked).

The man has a rug (or toupee, hairpiece). The man is rugged(1) (like hugged).

(Are there any rugged(2) men who are rugged(1)? Perhaps not – or maybe is a matter of taste. I’ll leave you to come to a conclusion on that.)

Is beloved always a (3) or can it go to (2)? What about crooked and aged? You might be able to come up with a few of your own. If you do, I wouldn’t mind hearing them as I am preparing a more extensive list.

Wait a minute! Oh, no. Just as I was about to pat myself on the back with my new aid to indicate pronunciation, up steps the next sentence, and my method falls flat on its face, no use to anyone. Why didn’t I just write: the dignitary is here to hand over the gift to the current champion? It would have saved any confusion. Never mind.

But don’t get me started on some other baffling pronunciations.

In 1875, the Punch Magazine highlighted the number of different ways the letters ‘ough’ could be said in English with this sentence: “A rough-coated, dough-faced ploughman strode, coughing and hiccoughing, thoughtfully through the streets of Scarborough.”

So am I stressed about all this? A little. And I’ll say again, to anyone taking on my native language, I doff my hat to those learning or learned – now is that ‘learned’ with a (1) or a (2)?

#RRGall

RR Gall lives in Scotland and is the author of:
The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit,
The Case of Colourful Clothes and Kilts,
The Case of the Hermit’s Guest Bedroom
Two Tides To Turn,
A Different Place to Die,
Only the Living Can Die.

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#TwoTidesToTurn
Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Parenting and Famlies

One Day In Winter Shari Low 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @sharilow #festive #relationships #serendipity #marriage #parents #children #secrets #lies #Paperback

#OneDayInWinter
#Aria-HoZBlogTour

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I received a copy of this book from Aria – Head of Zeus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I love stories that have an element of serendipity, and this story of four people, seemingly unconnected, is an engaging read. It follows Caro, Cammy, Lila and Bernadette through 24 hours just before Christmas. Some of the characters feature in other books, so if you are a fan of this author, like me, you may recognise them.

The day is divided into time slots, and each of the four main protagonists has a chapter within. As the story progresses, the reader realises they are connected, and eventually so do they. All of the main characters are complex and realistic. Some have more flaws than others, but they are all relatable, and most are easy to empathise.

The plot is cleverly written, it all fits together and the coincidences are realistic. Coupled with the beautifully written characters, the emotion and poignancy of the story make this is a page-turner that you won’t easily, put down.

The ending is satisfying, it fits, and everyone gets the outcome they deserve.

Guest Post – Christmas Blog Shari Low – One Day In Winter

Confession time! I’m one of those people who has a Countdown To Christmas clock and I check it regularly. Please don’t judge me. I know that I’m supposed to harrumph in disapproval at the frivolity and commercialisation of the festive season, but the truth is I love every flashing-elf-hat, neon-reindeer-on-my-roof, pass-me-a-red-hankie-because-I’m-going-to-watch-It’s-A-Wonderful-Life moment of it.

I embrace the tat and naffness of the season because I absolutely believe that there is no day that isn’t made better by a Santa snow globe.

On the first of December, I break out my favourite Christmas sweatshirt – the one that announces in large letters that I’m a Gangsta Wrapper.

I know the names of all the reindeers: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, Argos, Visa and Mastercard.

And now that my two little yuletide thespians have flown the nest (one who delivered a memorable performance as the third sheep from the left, and the other who had a starring role as that well known Biblical character, Humph the Camel), the younger members of my extended family know that I’m a shoo-in for a ticket and some enthusiastic audience participation if they invite me to their nativity play.

But my very favourite pastime during the season of goodwill? Deck the halls with big blooming piles of Christmas novels.

When I decided to write my first December-time book, One Day In Winter, I knew that I wanted to write stories that came together like a big pile of surprises under a tree. 

The novel follows four characters over the course of a 24 hour period on the Friday before Christmas. Caro sets off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father has been based on a lifetime of lies. Lila decides to tell her lover’s wife of their secret affair. Cammy is on the way to pick up the ring for a proposal to the woman he loves. And Bernadette vows to walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years. As the hours’ pass, their lives intertwine and connections are revealed, with lots of shocks, twists and dramas along the way.

When it first came out in ebook, One Day In Winter was a number one bestseller, so I’m thrilled that it’s now being released in a glossy, shiny, gorgeous paperback.

I hope readers will love it because it makes them laugh, cry and captivates them from beginning to end.

And the extra little gift that the book delivers?

After the last page is turned, it makes the perfect stand for that Santa snow globe.

One Day In Winter is published by Aria in ebook and paperback.

Extract From One Day In Winter – Shari Low

When Gran and Granda passed away, their house had been left jointly to Mum and her sister, Auntie Pearl. When Auntie Pearl married and moved out, they’d worked out a rental agreement and Mum had stayed behind, living on her own until she’d met Jack Anderson at college, got pregnant, married him and he’d carried her over the threshold into the home she’d already lived in for twenty-two years.

Not that Caro could ever remember him being there full-time. He probably was for the first few years, but then he’d capitalised on the oil boom, and ever since then he’d been gone more than he’d been home. Some months he’d be home for a few days, sometimes two weeks, rarely more. She’d never felt neglected or that she was losing out in any way. It was what she’d always been used to and, as Mum always said, just one of the sacrifices they had to make because Dad had a Very Important Job.

The payback for the sacrifice? A couple of years ago, just as her parents should have been starting to contemplate cruises and bucket lists for their early retirement, Jack Anderson had walked out of the door to go to his Very Important Job and he’d never come back.

Caro felt the familiar inner rage start to build now and she squashed it back down. He’d left them a week before her thirtieth birthday, so she was old enough to process her parents splitting up by some mutual consent. Yet she couldn’t. Because it wasn’t mutual and he’d bolted when her mother had needed him most, walked out to a new life and he hadn’t looked back.

For a long time, Caro didn’t understand why.

Only now, did she realise that on the Importance scale, the job was up there with his Very Important Secret.

Maybe.

She still didn’t believe it to be true.

She must be wrong.

Mistaken identity.

Surely?

Yet, here she was, sitting on a train, on a cold December morning, on her way to Glasgow.

She pulled her iPad out of her satchel, logged on to the train’s Wi-Fi, then flicked on to the Facebook page she’d looked at a thousand times in the last few weeks.

It was one of those coincidental flukes that had taken her to it in the first place.

It had been late at night, and she’d been sitting beside her mum’s bed in the hospital, feeling like she’d been battered by the storm that was raging outside. She shouldn’t even have been there because it was outside of visiting time, but the nurses overlooked her presence because her mum was in a private room at the end of a corridor, and they made exceptions when it came to patients at this stage in their lives. Yvonne’s eyes were closed, her body still, but Caro wanted to stay, whether Yvonne knew she was there or not. It was the first night of the October school holiday, so she didn’t have to get up early to be the responsible Miss Anderson for a class of eleven-year-olds the next morning.

Instead, she could just be Caro, sitting there passing the time catching up with Facebook. She only dipped in and out of it every few weeks, caught up with a Carpool Karaoke, the launch of a new book, or maybe a movie trailer.

A promotional link appeared for the new Simple Minds tour, twenty dates around the country, yet another band riding the nostalgic affection for the eighties and nineties.

Before she could stop it, the opening bars of Jim Kerr’s voice belting out ‘Don’t You Forget About Me’ flooded her head and she felt the bite of a sharp-toothed memory. Her dad had been a big fan, their music playing alongside Oasis and Blur on his CD player when he was home or in the car on the few mornings he was around to take her to school, and that had been his favourite song.

The irony in the title didn’t escape her. Don’t You Forget About Me. If only she could forget he ever existed, then she wouldn’t have to deal with the soul-sucking fury that he wasn’t here.

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Shari Low is the No1 best-selling author of over 20 novels, including One Day In Winter, A Life Without You, The Story Of Our Life, With Or Without You, Another Day In Winter and her latest release, This Is Me

And because she likes to over-share toe-curling moments and hapless disasters, she is also the shameless mother behind a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. 
Once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, a labradoodle, and two teenagers who think she’s fairly embarrassing except when they need a lift.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post

Daddy’s Girls Sarah Flint 5*#Review @SarahFlint19 @Aria_Fiction #CrimeFiction #PoliceProcedural #Crime #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #London #DCCharlieStafford

#DaddysGirls

He wasn’t always a killer. At first, he just wanted to talk.

 D.C. Charlie Stafford has an odd case on her hands. And it may be her toughest one yet.

A burglar who isn’t interested in valuables, the subject of Operation Greystream is a strange but smooth operator. In the dead of the night, gloved and masked, he visits the elderly. He doesn’t hurt them and, if they beg, he won’t take anything of real value. All he wants is conversation… and they’re powerless to refuse him.

But then 87-year-old Florence Briarly is found by her friend, cold to the touch and neatly, too neatly, tucked into bed. And Charlie realises this case has taken a sinister, urgent turn. Now, this stealthy burglar has had a taste of murder, it’s only a matter of time until he craves it again…

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

My Thoughts…

Another exciting range of investigations for DC Charlie Stafford and her colleagues. This book illustrates the problems faced by detectives, the procedures that must be followed and how the law can sometimes work against them, It is its authenticity that makes this such a readable crime thriller. There are also moral questions explored in this story. Can something be illegal, yet in most people’s eyes morally right?

There are multiple crimes for the team to solve in this book, which shows the complexity of modern police work, and the many competing demands they have to satisfy, with often limited resources. Mistakes are made, which have consequences, and the team have to live with this

Whilst, the overt violence is less than in previous stories, the trauma that the victims suffer is palpable and well described. This is also a family drama. How do family members react, when someone they know and love becomes a criminal or a victim? Can this, sometimes, misguided loyalty, impede the police investigation? Suspense builds with each crime, and it is only the relentless, painstaking detection and forensic evidence that will solve the crimes.

This reads as a standalone, but if you enjoy authentic police procedurals, with believable family drama and complex characters, read the series.

#Daddy’sGirls
Guest Post – Sarah Flint – Daddy’s Girls

It’s been a long, but exciting year!

Well, it’s been just over 13 months since ‘Broken Dolls’ was published and boy, what a year!

In that time, I’ve written ‘Daddy’s Girls’ and a new standalone book, (yet to be revealed) travelled New Zealand, Australia and the UK and beaten breast cancer – not necessarily in that order!

I think I said in my last blog post that with the smooth comes the rough – and my rough was a fairly hefty dose of hospital admissions and treatment. The smooth, was hearing that I was fully cured of my cancer, and meeting an incredibly courageous lady on my ward, who gave me the thrill of actually finding a total stranger who had read all my books – for the first time ever. The rough to that meeting was that within a fortnight I heard she had sadly died, but I will always remember her bravery and fortitude and the time I spent chatting with her and her lovely husband.

On that note, during my travels I’ve also met some fantastic people; both personally and professionally, who have become friends, fans and followers and I count you, as avid readers, bloggers and tweeters, among them. From my local writers group, to contributors and visitors at Bristol CrimeFest it has been amazing to hear your stories. You have all been an incredible support during this year and I have heard from many who have, or are, going through similar tribulations and have very much appreciated your motivational offerings and words of wisdom. I hope I can now do the same in return.

Thank you x

When thinking about my friends and family, my thoughts always return to a similar theme. What would you do to save, protect or avenge a family member or good friend? Would you be prepared to lie for them, or even die for them? It’s a theme that drove ‘Daddy’s Girls’, and has steered my newest standalone.

Thomas Houghton was loosely based on a suspect I arrested during my time as a police officer in the Metropolitan Police. The man’s history fascinated me as he had very few, and very minor criminal convictions, yet he appeared to have committed the most heinous burglary and knife-point rape imaginable. What drove him to commit that crime? And why had the man’s daughter been prepared to lie and even take on a false identity herself, in order to cover for him? Was it love, fear or simply bewilderment that compelled her ill-conceived loyalty?

Out of those questions came ‘Daddy’s Girls’, a story that evolved in order to provide a fictional reason for the man’s actions – his decline into drugs, mental illness and criminality – and the imaginary outcome for both he and his daughter.

I witnessed my own mother’s battle with multiple sclerosis, so I know how devastating it can be to watch someone you love change from an outgoing, active person to someone unable to walk, talk or feed themselves. The toll on carers, physically, mentally and emotionally is far harder than, I think, we as a society appreciate. Could this be a reason for Thomas’s crime? I don’t know, and I don’t excuse it, but it seemed to make sense as a work of fiction.

The book could equally have been named ‘Mummy’s Girl’, as I also wanted to explore the motivations of the victim’s child when searching for justice. How had Florence Briarly’s daughter acted? Could one crime be judged to have been morally right, even if legally wrong? Why can standing-up for your parent in one situation be considered wrong, while acting for your parent in another be judged as right?

It’s an interesting dilemma and one that seems to rear its ugly head on a regular basis in the media, along with the question of how safe you really are in your own home and what steps can you lawfully take in order to protect your loved ones, and your possessions?

Ooh – it’s a moral and legal nightmare! But it makes for great stories.

Throw into the mix Charlie, with her unfailing quest to get justice for the victim and her continuing loyalty to Hunter, as well as Ben’s on-going problems, and you have my latest offering. I have really enjoyed exploring the dilemmas in all the storylines, as well as finishing the book on a note of intrigue. It certainly has made me want to continue Charlie’s story – and I hope it will make you want to do the same.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Many thanks.

Sarah xx    

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years, Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

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Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Noir, Psychological Thriller

The Truth Naomi Joy 5*#Review @naomijoyauthor @Aria_Fiction #psychologicalthriller #contemporaryfiction #BlogTour #GuestPost #Extract #DomesticThriller #Noir

Perfect wife. Perfect life. Perfect crime.

Anthony is not the man everyone believes him to be. And Emelia is not the woman he wants her to be.

Theirs was a whirlwind romance, Anthony was the doting boyfriend, the charismatic and successful career man who swept her off her feet. But now Emelia is trapped in a marriage of dark secrets and obsession. She is no more than something Anthony wants to ‘fix’, one of his pet projects.

Emelia has no escape from the life that Anthony insists on controlling, so she shares her story through the only means she can – her blog. Yet Anthony can never find out. Forced to hide behind a false name, Emelia knows the only way that Anthony will allow her to leave him, is death.

Trapped with a man she knows is trying to kill her, Emelia is determined that someone will hear her story and Anthony will meet his ends. That everyone will discover the truth.

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

My Thoughts…

A story of two halves as many psychological thrillers are.

The story begins with a blog post, Emelia has a life-limiting condition and wondered if she would have the chance of a normal marriage. Anthony was more than she thought possible until he wasn’t. Once married, things change and the doting man becomes increasingly controlling. Limiting her life, even more than her physical state does.

This is a domestic thriller, claustrophobic and dark, and you wonder if she has it in her to escape. Then there’s a twist that turns this into a noir psychological thriller, where you doubt what you read, and don’t know who to believe, and wonder if anything that came before is ‘The Truth’?

The ending has another twist and leaves ‘normal’ minds with more questions. Based on a collection of real events, this is chilling, claustrophobic and clever, something different.

Guest Post – Naomi Joy – The TruthNotes on Inspiration

If you ask authors where they get their inspiration, you’ll receive a range of answers. It might be an amazing location that’s captured their imagination – I think of Mandy Baggot’s Greek settings or Pat Black’s dark forests. They could have picked up on trends in our society – how more and more people are meeting one another online (Click, L.Smyth). It could have been a big change in their own lives – a new baby, a new job, a new man on the train (The Note, Z.Folbigg) – that sparked their creative fuse. I read about an author whose grandparent had lived through the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and written a diary about the day – inspiration indeed. It could be other worlds, imagined worlds, or a hypothetical question they’re keen to explore. But for me, my interest is usually piqued by a real-life person, most often a fascinating female case-study who’s done something terrible. I love to start from that point and imagine what’s come before: how did this evil emerge? What made this person who they are? Why?

Before I started writing The Truth, I was inspired by a collection of real people who’ve all committed the same sociopathic crime and, though I can’t go into detail about the specifics, as soon as I heard about them I couldn’t do anything else until I’d written a version of their stories myself.

The Liars, inspiration came from a number of toxic women I’d worked with, but, more interesting than their devious and despicable behaviour, was what made them that way. I read about how modern office culture favours competition and actively encourages employees to cut-down their competitors rather than collaborate, and thus the office-culture at the heart of the story was born.

As I sit down to work on my third novel for Aria Fiction, I will follow the same process, so, if you hear about any deranged and dastardly women: send them my way!

Naomi Joy is the pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

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Extract from ‘The Truth’.

‘Emelia? Are you up?’

My ears prick, and I tune into the crescendo of footsteps, the turn of a lock, the twist of a doorknob. I push my laptop under the bed, determined to keep my blog a secret. It’s not that I don’t trust him, I just… It thuds as it hits the damask rug beneath and I recoil my arm quickly, pulling the covers back over my body and up around my neck to make it looks as though I’ve been sleeping rather than typing, but this sudden movement throws fistfuls of confetti-dust into the splinters of light in the room and I worry he’ll suspect that I’ve been up to something.

He knocks.

‘Come in,’ I reply.

My dressing gown fans as the door opens, the gust catching the silk sleeve and part of the body, transforming it, for a second, from inanimate object to ghostly spectre.

‘Morning, darling. How are you feeling?’

He peers at me through full-moon black-rimmed spectacles, the paper-thin skin beneath his eyes tinged purple – not enough sleep – his long fingers curled around the door handle. His carefully groomed moustache quivers above his top lip flicked up at the ends. He’s excited about something.

‘Any better?’ he asks.

‘No,’ I croak from my resting place. ‘I still feel like death.’

He walks towards me, eyebrows crooked, wedding ring flashing as he passes through the bursts of sunlight. He dabs the sweat slathering my brow and folds back the duvet gently, eager to help, but the movement releases the smell of my own stench into the otherwise beautiful room. His lips pucker in response. He tries not to gag.

‘I want to take you somewhere today,’ he says, bitter coffee on his breath.

I turn my head fully towards him and we lock eyes.

‘Where?’ I ask too quickly, too eagerly, droplets pooling anew in the curve of my lower back.

‘The excavation. I thought it might make you feel better.’

I smile, elated for a moment, then look away, my eyes on the opposite wall. There are a couple of problems with this suggestion. The first: he’s promised this before. I must not get my hopes up. The second: I am sick, deathly unwell, and, though I have the will to leave, I’m not sure there’s any possible way that I can. My stomach twists and jealousy rumbles in its pit. He is well. He can go wherever he likes. He can work and, better still, he loves his job. Anthony’s a famous archaeologist and, although that might sound oxymoronic, to those in the industry he’s a rock star. Literally.

‘I’d love to,’ I answer.

Despite my reservations, I am hopeful that I will go outside today. In fact, it is imperative that I do; Anthony is nothing but kind and patient with me and yet my brain is turning me against him, doubting his intentions. If I could just find the strength to ignore the searing pain in my abdomen, the tightness in my chest, the raging sweats, the all-consuming itch of my skin, the fire beneath, things would start to improve, we’d get back to who we were before. I know we would. My heart thumps, already exhausted, as I heave my reluctant body up to a seated position and swing my feet to the floor. I balance on the edge of the mattress, letting the black spots from my headrush pass, and, just as I’m about to stand, my toes hit the edge of my laptop hidden beneath the bed, making me jump. I glance behind me, hoping he won’t have noticed.

‘Now then,’ he says softly, taking my hand. ‘Time for your medicine.’

Two pills land in my palm – Antriptophene – and for once I stutter at what he’s given me: I don’t recognise this brand and I’m immediately suspicious of it. I look at the long drink of lukewarm water left on the bedside table overnight, coated now with a thin film of dust. Something doesn’t feel right.

‘What are these?’

‘Your doctor’s recommended them, they’re supposed to be excellent.’

I look at the pills again, at the blocky red writing atop bright orange casing and make a decision.

‘I’m not taking these.’

Anthony’s face breaks with lines, lips curling at my refusal, shocked that I would even question what he’s giving me. Taken aback, he stalls, then relents, folding them into his hand and leaving the room without another word, his tall frame pausing momentarily in the light of the doorway.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Question of Us Mary Jayne Baker 5* #Review @MaryJayneBaker @Aria_Fiction #RomCom #Yorkshire #PubQuiz #Romance #Humour #VillageLife #Friends #Family #Anxiety #Community #Relationships #BlogTour #BookReview #GuestPost #bookbloggers

#AQuestionofUs

Two best friends. Eight pub quizzes. One-shot at love…

There are some people who seem like they have all the answers in life. Clarrie Midwinter isn’t one of them.

At the age of 26, tomboy Clarrie is still struggling to become a ‘proper’ grown-up. She’s eternally strapped for cash, she hasn’t had a date in nearly a year and her attempts to quit smoking tend to take a nosedive after the second pint. Most annoyingly of all, her ladykiller best friend Simon just won’t stop asking her out. The only thing keeping her sane is her pub quiz team, the Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers.

But when Simon bets her a date their team will win the quiz league, Clarrie is forced to confront what she really wants out of life – and love. Is it finally time for her to grow up?

Gloriously irreverent, badly behaved romantic comedy from the author of Meet Me at the Lighthouse.

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

MyThoughts…

Another original romantic comedy from the author, whose love of Yorkshire is evident from reading her believable, hilarious and romantic stories.

This story’s characters are the members of a pub quiz team, a quintessentially British pastime, ‘The Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers’. A friends to lovers trope, this a gentle romance, despite the often raucous goings-on, and language that dominates the story.

Clarrie and Si have been friends since pre-school, Clarrie harbours a secret and inconvenient passion for her friend, who constantly asks her out, but never she believes in seriousness. She of course, always makes a joke of it and refuses. Now Si has changed the rules, he wants Clarrie to agree to a date if the team win the pub quiz league, what will she do?

The romance is predictably full of obstacles, most of which are Clarrie’s internal battle over her feelings and whether she is brave enough to take a chance on love. Suffering from anxiety issues that already make her life choices difficult, whether or not to risk the friendship they have, for something romantic is a major issue for Clarrie.

The village life experience is interwoven into the story, the gossip, the interfering, well-meant of course, and the secrets that everyone knows. The sense of community and the tight friendship amongst Clarrie and Si ‘s group are realistic and give this story depth and interest.

The romance although slow to start is lovely and worthwhile, enough to satisfy the romantics, and melt the cynics a little.

If you are unfamiliar with the author’s take on life in a Yorkshire village, this book is an experience you won’t forget, and for those of us, who are already fans, this is another great story full of fun, heartache, quirkiness and romance.

Guest Post – Mary Jayne Baker – A Question of Us

Maserati Tim’s Big Pub QuizMary Jayne Baker

In my new Yorkshire-set book A Question of Us, which is published this month, heroine Clarrie’s ladykiller best friend Simon bets her a date their team will win that year’s pub quiz league. As Simon starts putting every spare minute into trivia revision and their team The Mighty Morphin’ Flower Arrangers find themselves climbing up the leaderboard, Clarrie is forced to confront her true feelings for her oldest friend. It looks like Clarrie is going to lose the bet – the question is, does she want to?

To celebrate the release of A Question of Us, quizmaster Maserati Tim has put together twenty fiendish questions to test those little grey cells. Get yourself in the mood for a trivia-filled read below! Hint: you can find some of the answers in the book…

Questions

  1. What type of monkey commonly accompanied organ-grinders?
  2. What was the favourite food of Dandy cowboy Desperate Dan?
  3. By what name is the peace agreement reached in 1998 between the British and Irish governments commonly known?
  4. By what nickname was Louis Armstrong known?
  5. “The lighter way to enjoy chocolate” was an advertising slogan for which chocolate treat?
  6. What were the names of the seven dwarves in the Grimm Brothers fairytale Snow White?
  7. In 1951, which area became Britain’s first national park?
  8. Which persona did David Bowie retire in 1973?
  9. What animal has the Latin name ursus arctos horribilis?
  10. Which movie monster’s enemies include Mothra and King Ghidorah?
  11. Which king did Shakespeare refer to as the “bottled spider”?
  12. In 1477, King Edward IV ruled which traditional sport illegal?
  13. Which dinosaur’s name means “swift robber”?
  14. Who succeeded Richard II to the throne of England?
  15. Who was the fourth actor to play The Doctor in Doctor Who?
  16. James Hargreaves invented what piece of industrial equipment in 1764?
  17. Until the 1980s, which football team’s players were known as “The Biscuitmen”?
  18. Which planet in our solar system is the sixth furthest from the Sun?
  19. In the Old Testament, what were the names of Noah’s three sons?
  20. When sending an email, what do the initials BCC stand for?

So get reading ‘ A Question of Us’ this weekend, answers next Friday

#MaryJayneBaker

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.

For those of you who had a go at Mary Jayne’s quiz, here are the answers.
  1. Capuchin
  2. Cow Pie
  3. The Good Friday Agreement
  4. Satchmo or Satchel Mouth
  5. Maltesers
  6. They weren’t given names
  7. The Peak District
  8. Ziggy Stardust
  9. Grizzly Bear
  10. Godzilla
  11. Richard III
  12. Cricket
  13. Velociraptor
  14. Henry IV
  15. Tom Baker
  16. The Spinning Jenny
  17. Reading
  18. Saturn
  19. Shem, Ham and Japheth
  20. Blind carbon copy
Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Suspense, Travel

Cold Horizon Kristy McCaffrey 5* #Review #ThePathwaySeries @McCaffreyKristy #BookReview #Climbers #Adventure #mountaineering #Romance #Suspense #K2 #Blog Tour #ColdHorizon @LoveBooksGroup #Environment #GuestPost #Travel #LoveBooksTours #DeepBlue

Ambition and courage at the top of the world …

Lindsey Coulson likes to scale mountains. With her sister, Alison, she has made a name for herself climbing the tallest and most treacherous peaks in the world. But when Alison dies on a K2 expedition—the second-highest mountain on earth—Lindsey stops climbing. Unable to shed her grief, it becomes clear she must return to the wilderness and only one place will do—K2, the Savage Mountain.

Tyler Galloway has finally secured a permit from the Pakistani government to bring an American team to K2. When Lindsey Coulson inquires about joining the expedition, he gladly brings the famed mountaineer on board. Her strong climbing resume precedes her, and she’ll be a welcome addition to the small crew he has assembled. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. And both will test his heart.

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

My Thoughts…

After reading ‘Deep Blue’ the first book in the Pathway series, I looked forward to reading book two, ‘Cold Horizon’, and it is just as adrenaline-fuelled, believable and emotional as the first book. The second book is a standalone read, although characters from the first book are mentioned, this is Lindsey and Tyler’s adventure.

Tyler is an adventure writer, surfer and mountain climber, and Lindsey, a dedicated climber too, has to be on his next expedition, to climb the savage mountain K2. Not because she wants to conquer it, but to try and assuage the crippling grief of her sister’s death. They always climbed together, this time they didn’t and Alison didn’t come back.

Beginning with a climbing incident, the book backtracks to the beginning of the climb. The details are well-researched, and make the story interesting. Add in the believable personalities of the various climbers, and it is impossible not to be drawn into their adventure. I’ve never understood why people endanger themselves to climb mountains, but now I do.

The dynamic between the climbers making up Lindsey and Tyler’s team is authentic, and the characters realistic. The camaraderie between the different climbing teams, wars with their rivalry, making this story, an insightful study of human nature, as they take on the elemental forces around them.

The developing romance between Lindsey and Tyler gives the story a romantic edge. The setting is dynamic and forbidding and full of vivid imagery. The writing style engages you from the first page, and takes you on a wild, emotional adventure, to the edge of the abyss and back. Lindsey’s emotional and physical journey is difficult, as she faces her guilt and finds inner peace with her sister’s fate.

Guest Post – Kristy McCaffreyThe Belay

K2, located in the Karakoram Mountain Range, is the second-highest mountain in the world at 28,251 feet, straddling the Pakistan/China border. Its icy sides are steep and exposed, and it’s prone to heavy storms and avalanches. K2 wasn’t surveyed until 1852, and the first known climbing attempt was in 1902, with one of the climbers’ none other than Aleister Crowley. They never made it higher than 20,000 feet.

In 1953, with the summit yet to be reached, an American expedition was launched, marking the fifth quest to conquer the mountain. The team was led by Charles Houston, who had attempted to climb K2 in 1938 but had retreated just shy of the summit due to diminishing supplies and imminent bad weather.

High-altitude mountaineering had, up to this point, been an enormous undertaking with the establishment of many camps along the route to the top, taking several weeks of ascents and descents to stock gear, food, and heavy oxygen canisters. Instead, Houston proposed a lightweight expedition, and this would later become known as the Alpine style of climbing.

There were eight men on the team: Charles Houston, a physician; Robert Bates, a climbing friend of Houston’s from their Harvard days, who had also gone to K2 in 1938; Robert Craig, a ski instructor from Seattle; Art Gilkey, a geologist from Iowa; Dee Molenaar, a geologist and artist from Seattle; Pete Schoening, also from Seattle and the youngest member at 25; George Bell, a nuclear scientist from Los Alamos; and Tony Streather, an English army officer.

As they approached the summit, Art Gilkey became ill, most likely with thrombophlebitis (a blood clot). The team decided to descend in order to save Gilkey’s life, despite that his condition was likely fatal. Since he was unable to walk, they carried him in a makeshift stretcher made from canvas, ropes and a sleeping bag.

Somewhere around 24,600 feet, Bell slipped and fell on a patch of ice, pulling off his rope-mate, Streather. As they fell, their rope became entangled with those connecting Houston, Bates, Gilkey and Molenaar, pulling them along as well. Pete Schoening, who had been belaying Gilkey and Molenaar, was now the only climber still standing and was connected to the force of six falling men. He quickly wrapped the rope around his shoulders and ice axe, and he miraculously held all six climbers from plummeting to their deaths. This act became known as “The Belay,” considered one of the most famous events in mountaineering history.

After the climbers had recovered and made their way to a tent at the next lower camp, they, unfortunately, lost Gilkey. He had been anchored to the ice slope as the exhausted climbers had prepared the tent. They could hear his muffled shouts, but when they returned to retrieve him, he was gone. The most likely culprit was an avalanche. Later, members of the team concluded that Gilkey had released the anchors to unburden himself from the team, but the true cause of his death remains unknown.

In more than 150 years of mountaineering, only about 300 climbers have reached the summit of K2, known as the Savage Mountain, while nearly 80 people have died trying.

#KristyMcCaffrey

Kristy McCaffrey has been writing since she was very young, but it wasn’t until she was a stay-at-home mom that she considered becoming published. A fascination with science led her to earn two mechanical engineering degrees—she did her undergraduate work at Arizona State University and her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh—but storytelling has always been her passion. She writes both contemporary tales and award-winning historical western romances.

With the release of Deep Blue, Kristy is launching The Pathway Series, a project she’s been developing for years. Each book will combine her love of animal conservation and environmental awareness, while also shining a light on unique and diverse locations around the world. Come along for high adventure with honourable heroes, determined heroines, and Kristy’s trademark mysticism.

An Arizona native, Kristy and her husband reside in the desert where they frequently remove (rescue) rattlesnakes from their property, go for runs among the cactus, and plan trips to far-off places like the Orkney Islands or Machu Picchu. But mostly, she works 12-hour days and enjoys at-home date nights with her sweetheart, which usually include Will Ferrell movies and sci-fi flicks. Her four children have nearly all flown the nest, and the family recently lost their cherished chocolate Labrador, Ranger, so these days a great deal of attention is lavished on Ranger’s sister, Lily, and the newest addition to the household—Marley, an older yellow Labrador they rescued in early 2018. Both dogs are frequently featured on Kristy’sInstagram account, so pop over to meet her canine family.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

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