Society heiress Evelyn Brooke-Edwards is a skilled interrogator – her beauty making her a non-threat in the eyes of the prisoners.
Farm girl Betty Connors may not be able to type as she claimed, but her crack analytical skills soon find her unearthing covert connections.
German ex-pat Judith Stern never expected to find herself listening in to German POW’s whispered conversations, but the Nazis took her father from her so she will do whatever it takes to help the Allies end this war.
Billeted together in the attic of Latimer House – a place where secrets abound – Evelyn, Betty and Judith soon form a bond of friendship that carries them through the war. Because nothing is stronger than women united.
Tucked away in the Buckinghamshire countryside, Latimer House, a grand country estate, stands proudly – a witness to some of greatest secrets of WW2.
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter and the Author in return for an honest review.
With vibrant characters and based on real-life historical events, this story of courage, friendship and intrigue is an engaging read. Evelyn, Judith and Betty, are three women from differing backgrounds who are billeted together during WW2 at a secret military facility. They all play pivotal roles in the war against Nazi Germany and allow the reader to explore the roles fulfilled by women during this war.
With vibrant characters and based on historical events, this story of courage, friendship and intrigue is an engaging read. Evelyn, Judith and Betty, are three women from differing backgrounds who are billeted together during WW2. They all play pivotal roles and allow the reader to explore the roles fulfilled by women during this war.
The characters are cleverly created and easy to empathise with. Their friendship is realistic and full of humour, love and poignancy. The story has an intriguing ethos and gives the reader a great sense of place and time.
This is an absorbing historical read with vivid characters and events.
Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.
She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.
Between them, the two Js have written eighteen novels, The Secrets of Latimer House being the latest.
Dolly Perkins and Jack Larkin have grown up in the notorious gin palaces of Birmingham.
It’s a world of happiness and friendship, but also violence and poverty. Now that Dolly runs the Daydream Gin Palace on Gin Barrel Lane she can finally control her own destiny, but sometimes fate still plays its hand.
Keen to expand her empire, Dolly and Jack take on a new pub, but they are in for a shock when a foul smell in one of the bedrooms turns out to come from a body hidden in the wall.
As the police hunt for their suspect, rumours abound, spread by the local urchins – happy to be used as runners for a little bit of food and a coin or two.
But rumours can be dangerous, and as one of the worst winters on record covers everything in snow, Dolly and Jack have to fight for the lives they have made for themselves, and for the urchins that they have come to think of as family. Will the arrival of a new baby on Gin Barrel Lane bring the promise of new hope, or will the long-awaited thaw uncover new secrets and new tragedies…
The Queen of Black Country sagas is back on Gin Barrel Lane with a rip-roaring, heart-warming, page-turning story of family, friendship and beating the odds.
Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson.
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?
I received copies of these book from the author in return for an honest review.
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.
Thetimeslip 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.
*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.
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.
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.
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 knew about the stolenRenoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?
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.
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?
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 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…
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.
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…
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.
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…
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 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…
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 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.
Two women raised as sisters. Bound by a secret that could tear them apart . . .
Since childhood, Jen and South African-born Kemi have lived like sisters in the McFadden family home in Edinburgh, brought together by a shared family history which stretches back generations. The ties that bind them are strong and complicated.
Solam Rhoyi is from South Africa’s black political elite. Handsome and charismatic, he meets both Kemi and Jen on a trip to London and sweeps them off their feet. Kemi, captivated by Solam and wanting to discover more about her past, travels to South Africa for the first time. Jen, seeking an escape from her father’s overbearing presence, decides to go with her.
In Johannesburg, it becomes clear that Solam is looking for the perfect wife to facilitate his soaring political ambitions. And as the real story behind Jen and Kemi’s connection threatens to emerge, Solam’s choice will have devastating consequences for them both…
I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a compelling and complex, mainly historical saga that spans continents and cultures. At its core is the sisterly bond between two women who grew up together despite having different birthplaces, cultural identities and families. The story begins in Southern Rhodesia in 1921 and concludes in 2010 in Cape Town. Short chapters and parts propel the reader through family history and political change until we reach the time when the sisterly bond is tested and family secrets revealed.
Well researched historical details and realistically crafted characters make this an absorbing read. It does move through time quickly, but the story’s focus is on the sisters and how their bond is tested. Solam is a pivotal character who represents South Africa’s changing political climate. His political ambition makes him manipulative and ruthless, especially in his interactions with the soul sisters.
This book takes the reader on an emotional journey filled with betrayal, love and secrets. It explores culture, family, identity and political change with rich sensory imagery and believable characters that bring the story to vibrant life.
Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic and novelist, formerly Dean of Architecture at City College of New York, who has lived and worked on four continents. Lesley’s bestselling novels include Soul Sisters, Sundowners, Rich Girl, Poor Girl and A Private Affair. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages and are captivating stories about powerful people, exploring themes of racial and cultural identity.
She arrived as a housekeeper Will she leave as a countess? To some, Thornhallow Hall might be tarnished by tales of vengeance and ghosts, but to new housekeeper Rebecca Merrickson it represents independence and peace from her tumultuous past. Until the estate’s owner, William Reid, the disappeared earl, unexpectedly returns… After clashing with him over the changes she’s made to the house, Rebecca slowly unearths the memories that haunt brooding Liam—and her defiance gives way to a shockingly improper attraction to her master!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
The characters in this Gothic style historical romance are easy to empathise with. Rebecca is clever, independent and kind, and her introspective reflections are humorous and insightful. William is a credible anti-hero, but as Rebecca gets to know him, she discovers his guilt and emotional pain.
Their relationship is reminiscent of The Beauty and Beast fairytale in parts and is full of emotion, poignancy and romance. Whilst the gothic element is present, this could have been more developed earlier in the story.
This is an engaging historical romance. The main protagonists deserve to find happiness with each other.
Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day
jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to
finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she
can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a
London, 1817: When Barclay Durbin, a young street preacher, encounters Honora Goodwin, injured on a London street, he doesn’t know she has just escaped from Titania’s Bower, a brothel. Taking her to his ancestral home to recover amongst his family, he falls in love with the vivacious girl and comes to believe that she is divinely appointed to become his wife.
Honora begins to feel similarly and knows that the good-hearted gentleman’s attentions would likely ensure her future happiness, but she is intent on liberating Celia Woodlow – the friend she was forced to leave behind at the Bower. Telling Barclay only parts of her own story, Honora enlists the besotted young man to help her.
When their plan goes awry, Honora realizes that only the truth can deliver them from the emotional and societal maelstrom in which they find themselves. But if she divulges all, what will become of Honora and Barclay’s budding attachment? And will Celia ever gain her freedom?
Out of the Bower tells the tale of a forbidden romance, an ardent friendship, and the ever-essential redemption of self.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story manages to explore the depravity, poverty and social inequity of Regency England without being overly graphic. It follows the fortunes of two young women forced into prostitution and a young preacher drawn to their plight.
The believably crafted characters and well thought out plot make this an interesting read. The writing style and vocabulary make this something that has to be concentrated on, but if the reader is prepared to immerse themselves in this period, it is a thought-provoking read.
A.E. Walnofer spends weekdays mobilizing the soft tissue and synovial joints of patients, and weekends typing out stories that are incessantly brewing inside her head. There are lots of these tales and she hopes to share many more of them with you in the future.
*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. <
London, 1940. Britain is gripped by the terror of the Blitz, forcing Nell Spelman to flee the capital with her young daughter – leaving behind her husband, Arthur, the clockmaker who keeps Big Ben chiming.
When Arthur disappears, Nell is desperate to find him. But her search will lead her into far darker places than she ever imagined…
New York, Present Day. When Ellie discovers a beautiful watch that had once belonged to a grandmother she never knew, she becomes determined to find out what happened to her. But as she pieces together the fragments of her grandmother’s life, she begins to wonder if the past is better left forgotten…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book begins quietly, a young woman and the man she loves climbing the clock tower that houses the iconic clock and Big Ben bell in London in 1939. This gentle love story draws the couple into the London Blitz in 1940 and a secret that lasted over eighty years.
The historical parts of this story are well-researched with authentically crafted characters. The contemporary chapters are also well written, and the solving of the family mystery is immersive and intriguing.
This is an emotional story of courage and secrets that affect a family for a lifetime. The plot flows well, and the pacing keeps the reader engaged until the poignant and satisfying conclusion.
A secret hidden in the past.A family bound by a dark legacy…
Ever since her sister disappeared eleven years ago, Serena Warren has been running from a ghost, haunted by what she can’t remember about that night.
When Caitlin’s body is discovered, Serena returns to her grandfather’s house, nestled beside the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall in Oxfordshire, determined to uncover the truth. But in returning to the place of her childhood summers, Serena stands poised at the brink of a startling discovery – one that will tie her family to a centuries-old secret…
Taking readers from the present day to the Wars of the Roses in the 1400s, and with an enthralling mystery at its heart, The Last Daughter is a spellbinding novel about family secrets. ____
I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A dual timeline novel set in Oxfordshire following the lives of Anne Lovell during the War of the Roses historical period and Serena, in current times, drawn to the area when her twin sister’s body is discovered. The two stories are linked believably, and the supernatural element is well written.
The historical element brings this tumultuous period of English history to vibrant life. The intrigue, mysteries and politics are dramatised fascinatingly. Serena tries to discover what happened to her sister as she researches her family history. Her memories return as she connects with the place and its past.
This is an absorbing story, both timelines draw the reader into their worlds, and the connections between the two are perfectly woven.
As the Americans enter the War, there is renewed energy in the war effort.
With husbands and sons fighting for freedom, the women of Harpers are left to tackle the day-to-day affairs at home and work.
With Ben Harper away, Sally fears she is being followed by a mysterious woman. Who is she and what does she want?
Maggie Gibbs collapses seriously ill in the frontline hospitals and is brought back to England close to death. Can she be saved and what does the future hold for her and her broken heart?
Marion Jackson’s father is on the run from the Police already wanted for murder. She fears he will return to threaten his family once more. And Beth Burrows is pregnant with her second child, worried and anxious for her husband Jack, who has been many months at sea.
As Christmas 1917 approaches what will the future hold for Harpers, its girls and their men at War?
Extract from Wartime Blues for the Harper Girls – Rosie Clarke
London, April 1917
Sally Harper turned to speak to her husband Ben and saw that he’d fallen asleep again in his chair. His newspaper lay beside him – the headlines declaring that America had entered the war – and the cup of tea she’d poured for him ten minutes earlier, untouched by his side. Despite several warnings to Germany from the USA, its submarines had carried on attacking neutral ships carrying cargo bound for Britain. The American President had therefore signed the declaration of war. The news had delighted Ben, who considered that his country ought to have joined long before this so that they could throw the weight of the United States behind her allies in a common desire to bring peace and stability. He considered himself British these days and thought the way an Englishman would that the Americans had dragged their feet.
Sally had no idea where her husband had been for the past couple of weeks but had immediately seen how tired he was on his return home late the previous evening. He was sleeping soundly and though she ought to be leaving for work soon, there was no reason why Ben shouldn’t snooze in his chair if he wished. He worked long hours in his job for the British War Office. She had hoped to have time to talk about what they needed to do for the best at Harpers, the prestigious store he and his sister Jenni owned in Oxford Street. Jenni had her own ideas, but Sally was their chief buyer and for once she wasn’t in agreement with her sister-in-law. Normally, they got on really well and were the best of friends, but just lately Sally had found that she didn’t agree with some of the things Jenni wanted to do in the store.
Her unease was partly due to the fact that Jenni seemed grumpy and distracted, which was probably down to problems in her own life rather than disagreements between them. Jenni now lived in her own apartment and had an entirely independent life after work. She was trying to negotiate a divorce from her husband, who was a General in the American Army, and Sally believed that it was proving difficult for her, though Jenni didn’t speak of it much. The problem at the store was simply that Jenni believed they should just fill the shelves of Harpers’ departments with whatever they could get, regardless of quality, including substandard goods, but Sally was wary of lowering standards too much. Yes, Jenni was right to say it was expected when there was a war on. People had to accept less than they’d been able to insist on in normal times and would be grateful for whatever they could get. While Sally agreed to a certain extent, she still felt they had to be careful. However, she was just the buyer and she needed Ben’s backup if she wanted to fight her corner. Jenni was part owner so therefore her opinion carried a lot of weight and if she insisted, Sally must, of course, give way. It would help if she knew what Ben felt about it.
He’d carried on with his war work throughout these past months, leaving Sally to run the store with the help of the manager, Mr Stockbridge, and various supervisors, though Jenni was a big help now she was living in London. It was her stubborn refusal to return to America that had widened the rift between her and her husband, and her feelings for Mr Andrew Alexander, a brilliant surgeon, that had made her ask for a divorce. Something her husband seemed reluctant to grant.
Jenni’s problem with her husband was perhaps the underlying cause of her recent moods, but the problem with Harpers was ongoing. As the war bit ever deeper, and Britain was more and more reliant on home-produced goods, it was becoming harder to find enough decent stock to fill their departments. Of late, one or two of their regular suppliers had let them down, supplying either poor-quality materials that Sally had had to return or sending only partial orders. Sally wasn’t sure which annoyed her the most. Jenni said she was too fussy and that they needed to keep their shelves stocked even if some goods were not as good as they were accustomed to selling.
‘We’re in the middle of a war,’ Jenni was fond of reminding her. ‘If a customer complains, remind them of that fact, Sally. It’s not your fault the Government has ordered manufacturers to cut down on production of certain goods – or that we can’t get enough imported goods these days.’
‘No, it’s the Kaiser’s and our Government,’ Sally had replied the last time Jenni had brought it up. ‘Why they had to start fighting and ruin everything, I do not know…’
Jenni had simply laughed at her frustration. ‘That’s men all over! It’s centuries since your last civil war, not so very long since ours back home in America – and that’s even worse, when you fight your own people. Shortages are annoying, Sally but it isn’t like you to let it get you down?’
‘I know—’ Sally had sighed deeply. ‘I think it is just Ben being away so much of the time – and Jenny has been a bit fractious recently. It must be because she misses Ben. She is far more aware of the fact that he isn’t home now than when she was just a baby.’
Their lovely little daughter was now a lively toddler of three years and into all sorts of mischief. Named after her aunt, she was everyone’s little darling. Sally was no longer able to take her to work and settle her in a cot in her office, because she wanted to be into everything. Pearl, her nurse, still came in a few days a week, but also worked three days at the hospital, where the wards were overflowing with injured men sent home from the war. Mrs Hills, Sally’s housekeeper, was very good with little Jenny, but whenever she could, Sally tried to work from home. However, that was not always feasible and sometimes she did take the little girl into the office. Jenny loved it because all the staff fussed over and she was thoroughly spoiled, not least by her adoring aunt and namesake.
‘She’s an absolute imp but adorable,’ Jenni had replied, because she loved her niece and was always indulging her with little gifts and treats of all kinds. ‘If Ben being away is getting you down, you should tell him, Sally. I’m sure if he knew, he could cut down on these trips. I mean, have you any idea what he does when he is away?’
‘None at all…’ Sally had frowned. ‘He says the official title for his job is logistics controller – whatever that is.’
‘It means he’s buying and moving stuff on behalf of the Armed Forces, as you well know,’ Jenni had replied with a frown. ‘But why can’t he do that from an office in London?’
‘He says that he needs to prod officious store managers into sending what is needed for the troops,’ Sally had said and made a wry face. ‘Ben says that if he simply puts a chit in for them to send ammunition to a certain location, it might take weeks for it to be actually sent. By going himself and overseeing the packing and transportation, choosing the men escorting it himself, he gets results in a tenth of the time…’
Jenni had nodded her agreement. ‘Yes, I can see how that would work. We like to get on with things back home, Sally. You English tend to take your time – and the amount of red tape is maddening.’
‘Yes, Ben is forever complaining about that…’ Sally had laughed. ‘You two are so alike in so many ways. Did you know that?’
‘We’re both Americans,’ Jenni had shrugged and then smiled. ‘And we did have the same father. I suppose we may think alike in many ways…’
Jenni had just laughed, clearly pleased to be compared to her brother.
Now, on this sunny morning, Sally’s thoughts were interrupted as Ben opened his eyes and smiled at her. ‘You look pensive,’ he said and yawned. ‘Something wrong, sweetheart?’
‘In a way… but it needn’t concern you, Ben…’
He held out his hands to her, indicating she should sit on his lap. ‘Come and tell me what is wrong, Sally.’
‘Oh, just a little niggle concerning Harpers. It’s the quality of some of the stock these days… it isn’t what we’re used to, Ben.’
‘Ah…’ He nodded but looked resigned. ‘I know just what you mean. I made a stink about some boots that were delivered to an Army depot while I was there. The leather was not up to standard and they will probably fall to pieces after a couple of weeks of marching. I sent them back, but the quartermaster was furious. He said he’d been on to the suppliers every day for months to get them and what was he going to do now…’
‘What did you say?’ Sally was interested.
‘I went to see the factory myself and inspected what they were doing. We sorted out the problem between us and we’ve been promised replacements for next month.’
‘How did you manage that?’
‘Part bribery, part threats,’ Ben said. ‘It is a game we play all the time, Sally. They will pass off faulty goods if they can, but if you put your foot down hard, they normally come through. I threatened to take the contract away from them unless they pulled their socks up sharpish.’
‘Could you do that?’
‘Yes.’ Ben’s mouth set hard. ‘I’ve done it before now. Men need decent boots to march in, Sally – just as they need to get their ammunition when they require it and to be sure that the rations they receive are enough to keep them fighting fit.’
Sally nodded and smiled at him. She supposed she’d always known that what he was doing was important work, but she’d never seen it in terms of men’s lives before, but now she understood more of what he had to do. ‘No wonder you look worn out when you get home sometimes.’
‘It isn’t always easy,’ Ben said with a smile. ‘It involves a lot of driving from one end of the country to the other and hundreds of forms to fill in – and that’s when everything goes to plan. When it doesn’t, I have to spend ages trying to find the right person and that is sometimes more difficult than it sounds.’
‘And then I worry you with my trivial complaints…’
Ben pulled her on to his lap and kissed her. ‘Nothing you do or say is trivial to me, my love. Is anything else worrying you?’
‘What happens if I can’t find enough of the right stock to fill our shelves? Harpers is a big store, Ben, and our stockroom is getting emptier by the week – soon we shan’t have any reserves.’
‘Remember what you did to raise money for the wounded?’ Ben asked. ‘You bought seconds cheaply and sold them for very little, giving a contribution to the fund for wounded men. Do something similar again… take the poor-quality goods but at a lower price and make a thing of civilians sacrificing for the sake of our men over there…’
Sally nodded, looking at him with respect. It was more or less what Jenni was saying. ‘Yes, that could work. Those boots you rejected for the Army for instance—’
‘Would probably last civilians for a few months – bought cheaply enough they would be fine.’ He grinned at her. ‘I think a certain factory manager would be delighted to sell them to you very cheaply, Sally…’
‘Good. I’ll get on to it in the morning,’ she said, smiling and feeling much better than she had in a while. ‘Yes, I can just see the signs we’ll put up – and for each pair of substandard boots we sell, we’ll give something to the wounded fund again…’
Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire. Rosie’s brand new saga series, Welcome to Harpers Emporium began in December 2019.
When young widow, Marie-Ange Norton is invited to Beauregard in France by the mysterious Monsieur Malleval to collect an inheritance, she has no choice but to accept.
But when she embarks on the voyage with her fiery-tempered travelling companion Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, little does she know what waits for her across the sea in turbulent nineteenth-century France on the eve of Napoleon’s return from exile. When she arrives, she is taken aback by Malleval’s fascination with her family – seemingly inspired by his belief they are connected to a sacred relic he’s read about in coded manuscripts by the Knights Templar.
As it becomes clear that Malleval’s obsession has driven him to madness, Marie-Ange is horrified to realise she is more the man’s prisoner than his guest. Not only that, but Hugo is the only person who might be able to help her, and he could represent a different kind of danger.
An evocative historical romance with mystical and sometimes malevolent twists, set in Napoleonic France at a time of political intrigue and social unrest.
The characters are complex and vibrant. Courageous Marie-Ange is independently minded despite her naivety. Hugh is honourable and brave, with a kind heart hidden behind his arrogant facade. Malleval is an arch-villain clever and dangerous with a team of evil followers.
The story is full of secrets and surprises with connections to the Knight’s Templar and the mystic that surrounds them. It explores good and evil in an adventurous and romantic style with pertinent historical detail and a wonderful sense of time and place.
The romance sizzles from the couple’s first encounter. Despite the undercurrents of passion, the romance is courtly and gentle and full of conflict. The mystery and mysticism are what makes this story resonate. It’s the perfect way to escape to a time of adventure, deceit and romance.
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for the past few years. She writes both contemporary and historical romance. Her novels include best selling contemporary romantic suspense novels LITTLE PINK TAXI and ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU, which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Awards, as well as A PARIS FAIRY TALE and BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, was released in February 2021. Her latest novel, HAPPY DREAMS AT MERMAID COVE was released in June 2021. Marie also contributes to the best selling Miss Moonshine’s Emporium anthologies together with eight author friends from Authors on the Edge.