Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Historical Romance, Romance, Saga, Victorian Romance

The Christmas Wedding Dilly Court 4*#Review @DillyCourt @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #Christmas #Wedding #HistoricalFiction #saga #TheVillageSecrets #BookReview #VictorianRomance

Holding the letter in trembling hands, Daisy’s future crumbled before her – the words engraved on her heart forever.

The village of Little Creek, the long winter of 1867

The first flakes of snow are falling when Daisy Marshall, secretly engaged to her master’s son, finds herself jilted at the altar.

Heartbroken, Daisy flees to the small village of Little Creek, nestled on the coast of Essex. There she is warmly welcomed – but the village is poverty-stricken, suffering under a cruel Lord of the manor. And when cholera hits, the villagers are truly in dire straits.

Determined to help, Daisy makes new friends in earnest doctor Nicholas and dashing smuggler Jay – but also dangerous new enemies, who threaten to destroy everything she’s built. Can Daisy save the village and find happiness in time for Christmas?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

A well researched historical saga, of family drama, mystery, poverty and romance. The social divide apparent in Victorian England is explored here.

Daisy, a governess lives in no man’s land, somewhere between upstairs and downstairs. In love with the heir to the household, she hopes her position will be confirmed, but he lets her down, and she returns home, heartbroken and unemployed. Moving to a small Essex village with her family, she feels at home, but the cruelty of the ruling classes blights the villagers’ lives who live in fear, poverty and squalor.

Daisy finds friendship and a warm community, but evil lurks and threatens the life she builds. This is a detailed, passionate tale of Victorian life, which draws you in, as the descriptive writing and authentic characters bring this era of change to life.

A festive start, to what promises to be a riveting series for romantic saga devotees.

Posted in Author Interview, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, New Books, Romance

Lorna Gray Author Interview Mrs Ps Book of Secrets/The Book Ghost #AuthorInterview @MsLornaGray @0neMoreChapter_ #30DaysofBookBlogs #PublicationDay #LiteraryFiction #HistoricalFiction #Romance #Mystery

#LornaGray #AuthorInteview

December 14 2019 is publication day for Mrs Ps Book of Secrets (UK) and The Book Ghost (US). I reviewed this original literary fiction novel on Wednesday, as the first stop on the #30DaysofBookBlogs Tour. Read my review here

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Today I have an author interview with Lorna Gray to share…

Author interview with Lorna Gray

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets (UK) / The Book Ghost (US)

What are the inspirations behind your latest story?

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets explores several themes, such as loss, returning home, belonging and family. But as you probably don’t want an essay from me, I’ll just describe the first idea I had for this book – where it all began.

The opening lines in the book speak about Lucy’s mother and grandmother performing a rather unusual war service. They were spiritualists and throughout WWII they regularly held séances in an attempt to guide the wandering souls of poor lost soldiers out of the filthy quagmire of war into the peace of the hereafter.

Those few lines in the book are autobiographical. Only in my case, it was my grandmother and great-grandmother. They acted on the principle that some of the war dead might be so shocked by their sudden end that their souls wouldn’t quite know how to move on. My great-grandmother believed she was playing a vital role in reaching out a kindly hand to them through the medium of a séance. She certainly gave comfort to their families at home who had received awful news.

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets grew from that little piece of history. It is in part a ghost story, although this definitely isn’t a novel about wartime spiritualism. What those women did was done in the spirit of giving. I didn’t want to turn the dead into a speaking part for Lucy, my heroine, where she might simply move a marker around a table to instantly demand answers to her questions.

Instead, her story is more about being sensitive to the echoes that are left behind when someone has passed. Have you ever gone into the library of an old house or a quiet garden and felt a sense of the people who have gone before? Do you ever go somewhere and find that your mind can strip away the modern layer from the scene to leave you with an idea of its history?

This is what Lucy experiences as she is pushed by the secrets of her uncle’s publishing business into exploring the boundaries between her memories and an old mystery that ought to have nothing to do with her at all.

I wanted her to walk that very fine line between reaching out and letting go.

And while she experiences all of that, I particularly wanted her to find a new friendship with Robert, her uncle’s second editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press. He is the key to the other elements of the story, which involve books, and being valued, and about putting down roots in a new place and discovering whether or not they will hold firm.

Ampney St Mary near Fairford and Cirencester helped to inspire the mystery
Image Credit Lorna Gray

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets / The Book Ghost is set in the immediate post-war era, 1946. What made you choose this particular time?

I knew I wanted to bring Lucy home to a small old fashioned publishing business. I nearly set it in the present day. But then I uncovered a small piece of research about paper rationing in the war and post-war period.

Paper rationing had a massive impact on books and publishing in the 40s and early 50s. Did you know that during the war, one of the big London publishers – Penguin, I think – managed to get a large order to supply paperbacks to the Canadian army? They didn’t take payment in the form of money. They arranged for the Canadian government to send them a shipload of paper across the Atlantic because they were so desperate for supplies.

After discovering all that, I couldn’t wait to delve into the world of a small publishing business and its secrets in the era of paper rationing.

Moreton in Marsh was a wonderfully atmospheric location for a 1940s publishing business
Image Credit Lorna Gray

What is it about the post-war period that interests you?

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets is my fourth historical novel. You may not be aware that before writing this mystery, each of my previous novels has been inspired by oral history. I have always been passionate about understanding the past. The post-war period is long enough ago that for me it satisfies my urge to write about history, and yet it is modern enough that when I want to know more, I can simply ask someone to share their memories.

It makes writing and researching the period endlessly fascinating.

Do you enjoy writing stories that cross the genre boundaries? Why is this?

The way my writing seems to cross genre boundaries must come from my own reading. I don’t think I’m ever constrained by genre. I read anything from classics to modern romance and literary masterpieces and memoir.

How do you research your stories? 

Everything is researched, even down to the details of the weather. Luckily, the internet is an extraordinary resource. And then I ask people to share their memories too.

When you aren’t writing, what other interests do you have?

I keep far too many animals! Some years ago, I had the idea that I might breed goats, but when it came to finding good homes for the kids (young goats), it turned out to be very hard indeed. People weren’t terribly honest about what they intended to do with them. So now my husband and I have a large and ageing herd of pets, and they give me endless hours of happiness.

When reading to relax, what kind of books do you choose? Why do they appeal to you?

I treasure any book that has many layers. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who finds it impossible to judge a book by its cover. So I always read based on recommendations by a few trusted people. I also love to return to favourite books, discovering new details each time.

An obvious example is that I’ve read Pride and Prejudice many times. I first read it when I was a teenager and I vividly remember that initially, I could only see the characters through Elizabeth’s eyes. But then I read the book again some years later, and it turned out that the evidence had been there all along that characters such as Mr Darcy really weren’t as Elizabeth believed them to be. I love that depth of detail.

 Can you give us a brief insight into Mrs P’s Book of Secrets /The Book Ghost?

Look out for the accidental misspellings of Ashbrook. There are a few deliberate typos for the purpose of the plot, but the more I explored the concept of ‘an influence’, on Lucy’s search for the secret of a little girl’s abandonment, the more these errors crept in. For all my wise words about there being no tangible apparition in this book, the ghost certainly wanted to have his or her say. I asked the proofreader to leave them untouched.

There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.

The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.

But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.

For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Paranormal, Political Thriller, Suspense

A Portrait of Death; The Versipellis Mystery Series Book One Rhen Garland 5* #Review @RhenWitch #VictorianCrime #BlogTour #Book Review #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #PoliticalThriller #Detective @rararesources

In the quiet English village of Marmis Parva, a weekend house party is organised by a society hostess and all the top names are invited.

But this is no ordinary party.

Two men are savagely murdered during the course of the first evening and a young man, presumed dead, returns home after two years imprisonment in South Africa bringing with him proof of treason.

Detective Chief Inspector Elliott Caine’s long-awaited holiday in the Lake District is cancelled as he is brought in to investigate the peculiar nature of the murders. More bodies are discovered and Elliott has to manoeuvre between high society, Government protocols, and the heinous nature of the crimes if he and his old friend Detective Sergeant Abernathy Thorne, are to catch the sadistic killer and the traitor lurking amongst them.

When Caine’s past comes back to haunt him, will his judgement be too clouded to focus on solving the crime?

Will the Boer spy’s identity be uncovered before they can flee?

How are these murders connected to another in New York?

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

My Thoughts…

I love the way this Victorian murder mystery is set out. Two prologues, one detailing an event in New York, one with distinctly supernatural overtones, and then the story is divided into parts. The story has a timeline, which is often used in contemporary police procedurals and murder mysteries, and this device is cleverly used here to introduce suspects and false clues.

The murders are gruesome and the atmosphere is menacing. This is also a political thriller, with hints of treason. The traditional country house setting lulls the reader into believing that nothing exciting is happening here, but two murders and a host of political intrigue belie that assumption by the end of the book’s opening chapters.

The characters are complex, in keeping with the Victorian setting, but many have reasons to kill, but the question is would they murder in such a macabre way? The detective team are enigmatic and easy to like, clever, eccentric and full of flair, they are a match for the murderer, but will their humanity be their undoing?

An atmospheric setting, believable historical characters and twisty plot make this story stand out, and the reader looks forward to the next one in the series.

#RhenGarland

Rhen Garland lives in Somerset, England with her folk-singing, book-illustrating husband, approximately 4000 books, an equal number of ancient movies, and a large flock of stuffed sheep.

She enjoys the countryside, peace, and Prosecco and the works of Ngaio Marsh, Glady Mitchell, John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson, Agatha Christie, and Terry Pratchett.

“I watch far too many old school murder mystery films, TV series, and 1980s action movies for it to be considered healthy.”

“A Portrait of Death” is a murder mystery thriller with paranormal touches set in late Victorian England and is the first book in the Versipellis Mysteries Series.

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

Mrs Ps Book of Secrets Lorna Gray 5* #Review @MsLornaGray @0neMoreChapter_ #LiteraryFiction #HistoricalFiction #postwar #1946 #TheCotswolds #loss #Mystery #FamilyDrama #Romance #FriendShip #BlogTour #30DaysofBlogs #LornaGray #TheBookGhost #MrsPsBookofSecrets

Mrs Ps Book of Secrets

There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.

The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.

But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.

For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets will be published in the US as The Book Ghost.

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

My Thoughts…

1946 is such an interesting time in British history. The immediate post-war years were very hard on the people. Rationing of food and other essential goods, men returning from the war changed both physically and mentally. Women, who had kept the country’s farms and industry running in the WW2, forced back to their former lives. This led to inevitable adjustment and unrest, after the relative freedom of wartime, for women, in terms of employment. Then, there were the men who didn’t return from the war and the widows who had to carry on.

Lucy, known as Mrs P, is one such widow, who finds herself unemployed in 1946 and bereft of the husband who was hers for such a short time. Returning home to her aunt and uncle and their Cotswold printing business is the only viable alternative, but even here things are not the same. They have a lodger and new employee, and Lucy struggles to fit in. The historical setting of this book proves to be the perfect backdrop for this story, and the details of life at the time and the intricacies of the printing and publishing world are absorbing.

This is Lucy’s story of coming to terms with her loss, accepting her world as it is now, and learning to live again. As the story progresses, events from Lucy’s past illuminate her present unsettled feeling, and her search to belong. The mystery of the missing girl, she discovers in a book, entangles itself with her childhood and loss, making her question everything, doubt those she should trust, and obsessively search for what happened to the young girl.

There is also a lovely friendship, which flowers into romance for Lucy. Slow-burning, because even though she feels physical attraction, feelings of guilt and fear of loss, push any thoughts of life beyond her single state, away for Lucy initially.

The echoes of her childhood, recent bereavement and the strange events that occur serve to haunt Lucy’s already emotionally unstable mind. The reader experiences this first hand, as the story is told in the first person. Sometimes, this is an uncomfortable place for the reader to be, the emotions are raw, and realisation slow to arrive, but the ending makes the angst worth suffering.

The conclusion of the mystery is not what you might expect, but it is believable, poignant, and shows how much Lucy has healed. There are still unexplained events, which you may interpret as you please. I am sure that we do not understand everything in this world, and choose to accept Lucy’s explanation.

A gently paced, historically detailed, romantic literary adventure. A young woman’s struggle with widowhood, as she explores an unusual mystery and experiences a few occurrences that defy explanation. Something original to enjoy that demands your ability to concentrate and become part of the story.

#LornaGray

Lorna Gray was born in 1980 in Bedfordshire. Her relationship with the glorious countryside of the Cotswolds began many years ago when she first moved to Cirencester. She has been exploring the area through her love of history, adventure and romance ever since.

This is Lorna’s fourth post-WWII mystery. Her three previous novels are In the Shadow of Winter (2015), The War Widow (2018) and The Antique Dealer’s Daughter (2018). She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband.

5* #Review

Read my author interview with Lorna Gray

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery

Children of Fire Paul C.W.Beatty 3*#Review @cw_beatty #TheBookGuild #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #CrimeFiction #19thCentury #BlogBlitz #BookReview @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

#ChildrenofFire

Can Josiah solve the puzzle before more people die, or is he out of his depth?

In 1841, at the height of the industrial revolution in the North West of England, Josiah Ainscough returns from his travels and surprises everyone by joining the Stockport Police Force, rather than following his adopted father’s footsteps into the Methodist ministry.

While Josiah was abroad, five men died in an explosion at the Furness Vale Powder Mill. Was this an accident or did the Children of Fire, a local religious community, have a hand in it. As Josiah struggles to find his vocation, his investigation into the Children of Fire begins. But his enquiries are derailed by the horrific crucifixion of the community’s leader.

Now Josiah must race against time to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale before more people die. This is complicated by his affections for Rachael, a leading member of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from Ireland.

Can Josiah put together the pieces of the puzzle, or is he out of his depth? Children of Fire won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Prize for 2017

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#ChildrenofFire

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

My Thoughts…

A curious mix of the historical fiction and murder mystery genres. The story is rich in historical detail and has a well-plotted murder mystery. The suspects are plentiful and the murders are vividly written. Josiah is a complex detective, who is ambitious, with secrets of his own.

The setting of the story in Victorian England, in an industrial setting, is of intrinsic interest, and the focus on a radical religious group explores, prejudice, religion and the communities that evolved, in the wake of the industrial revolution.

Its originality is appealing and it will suit those who appreciate historical fiction with a contemporary dash of a murder mystery.

Paul C.W.Beatty

His latest novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd. 

Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.

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#ChildrenofFire
Posted in Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Death Makes No Distinction Lucienne Boyce 4*#Review @LucienneWrite #historicalfiction #CrimeFiction #18Century #Mystery #historicalcrimefiction #London #socialclass #BowStreetRunner #ADanFosterMystery @SilverWoodBooks @rararesources

#DeathMakesNoDistinction

Two women at opposite ends of the social scale, both brutally murdered.

Principal Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is surprised when his old rival John Townsend requests his help to investigate the murder of Louise Parmeter, a beautiful writer who once shared the bed of the Prince of Wales. Her jewellery is missing, savagely torn from her body. Her memoirs, which threaten to expose the indiscretions of the great and the good, are also missing.

Frustrated by the chief magistrate’s demand that he drop the investigation into the death of the unknown beggar woman, found savagely raped and beaten and left to die in the outhouse of a Holborn tavern, Dan is determined to get to the bottom of both murders. But as his enquiries take him into both the richest and the foulest places in London, and Townsend’s real reason for requesting his help gradually becomes clear, Dan is forced t face a shocking new reality when the people he loves are targeted by a shadowy and merciless adversary.

The investigation has suddenly got personal.

Book Depository Wordery Foyles Amazon UK Amazon

#DeathMakesNoDistinction

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

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Dan Foster Mystery series reads well as a standalone, but to fully appreciate Dan’ previous life, I presume reading the first two books in the series would be best.

Two murders, both women who died brutally. One lived on the fringes of the gentry, the other in abject poverty. Yet both were victims, and ultimately in death, they were the same.

Dan is channelled into investigating the murder of the ex-mistress of the Prince of Wales but wants justice for the poorer woman too. A third mystery has personal significance for Dan. The plot is complex, but well-paced and the three mysteries keep the reader interested and intrigued.

The Georgian era is the perfect setting for crime fiction. The disparity between the wealthy and poor is marked, and both classes, prey on the other, in many criminal ways. The historical details and detection skills, show intricate care and give the reader a sense of time and place, which is essential for good historical crime fiction.

An absorbing walk on the dark side of Georgian London, with a likeable detective and heinous crimes. Whilst exploring the social class divide and the low status of women in the 18th century.

#LucienneBoyce

Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature (with Distinction) with the Open University in 2007, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land, in 2012, an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.

Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016 and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.

In 2013, Lucienne published The Bristol Suffragettes, a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

Contributions to other publications include:-

‘Not So Militant Browne’ in Suffrage Stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth (Stevenage Museum, 2019)

‘Victoria Lidiard’ in The Women Who Built Bristol, Jane Duffus (Tangent Books, 2018)

‘Tramgirls, Tommies and the Vote’ in Bristol and the First World War: The Great Reading Adventure 2014 (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership/Bristol Festival of Ideas, 2014)

Articles, interviews and reviews in various publications including Bristol Times, Clifton Life, The Local Historian, Historical Novels Review (Historical Novel Society), Nonesuch, Bristol 24/7, Bristol History Podcast, etc.

Lucienne has appeared on television and radio in connection with her fiction and non-fiction work. She regularly gives talks and leads walks about the women’s suffrage movement. She also gives talks and runs workshops on historical fiction for literary festivals, Women’s Institutes, local history societies, and other organisations. She has been a radio presenter on BCfm and a course tutor.

In 2018 she was instrumental in devising and delivering Votes for Women 100, a programme of commemorative events by the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network in partnership with Bristol M Shed and others. She also campaigned and raised funds for a Blue Plaque for the Bristol and West of England Women’s Suffrage Society.

She is on the steering committee of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network and is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Society of Authors, and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

She is currently working on the fourth full-length Dan Foster Mystery and a biography of suffrage campaigner Millicent Browne.

Lucienne was born in Wolverhampton and now lives in Bristol.

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#ADanFosterMystery

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

The Raided Heart Jennifer C.Wilson 4*#Review @inkjunkie1984 @OcelotPress @rararesources #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #PublicationDay #BlogTour #histfic #HistoricHearts

#TheRaidedHeart

Meg Mathers, the headstrong youngest sibling of a reiving family on the English-Scottish border, is determined to remain at her childhood home, caring for the land and village she’s grown up with. When an accident brings her a broken ankle and six weeks in the resentful company of ambitious and angry young reiver Will Hetherington, attraction starts to build. Both begin to realise they might have met their match and the love of their lives, but 15th-century border living is not that simple, as Meg soon finds herself betrothed to the weakling son of a tyrannical neighbour, Alexander Gray. When tragedy strikes, can Meg and Will find their way back to each other, and can Will finally take his own personal revenge on Gray?

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#TheRaidedHeart

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

My Thoughts…

Forbidden love in a dangerous place and time.

Meg is a young woman living with her family on the borders of England and Scotland in the fifteenth century. The historical detail in this story is absorbing and well researched, the writing is immersive and you experience life during this turbulent period of British history with the characters.

Circumstances bring Meg into close connect with Will when she suffers an injury. Passion, of a youthful kind, ignites between the two young people, even though they realise they cannot be together. The forbidden romance is gentle and shows how the two come of age in this dangerous time.

Meg is a courageous woman, who understands her position in society, and is willing to sacrifice her happiness to ensure the safety of her family. Her love for Will is strong and something she cannot deny. Will has nothing material to offer Meg, and he knows that her family would never allow them to marry. He fights his attraction, but youthful passion makes common sense a distant memory.

Suspense and menace increase with the story’s progress. Will Meg survive her fate? Exciting, passionate, and ultimately the ending keeps the spirit of true love alive.

If you enjoy experiencing turbulent historical events, with strong characters, and the taste of forbidden love this adventure is for you.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history and historical fiction whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England for work reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her time-slip novella, The Last Plantagenet?, by Ocelot Press. She lives in North Tyneside and is very proud of her approximately 2-inch sea view.

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Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of The Last Plantagenet? (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  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.

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Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery

The Missing Diamond Murder Diane Janes 3*#Review #ABlackandDodMystery @severnhouse #DianeJanes #MurderMystery #CozyMystery #HistoricalFiction #CrimeFiction

#TheMissingDiamondMurder

Frances Black leaves her domestic worries behind and travels to Devon to solve a family mystery featuring a suspicious death and a missing diamond.

1930. Frances Black is worried – divorce proceedings are underway and her solicitor has learnt of a spiteful letter sent to the court claiming that there is more to her friendship with her sleuthing partner, Tom Dod than meets the eye.

Fran takes Tom’s advice to get away, travelling down to Devon to help the Edgertons with their family mystery. After meeting the charismatic Eddie Edgerton and arriving at their residence, Sunnyside House, Fran soon learns that Eddie’s grandfather, Frederick Edgerton, died in mysterious circumstances when his wheelchair went off a cliff. Was it really an accident? And what happened to Frederick’s precious diamond which went missing at the time of his death? As Fran investigates, she uncovers family scandal, skulduggery and revenge, but can she solve the mystery of the missing diamond?

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

My Thoughts…

This is the third book in the Black and Dod mystery series, and the first I’ve read. This book reads as a standalone, The mystery is solved within the pages of this story, but I did feel I was missing out on the connection between the two main characters.

This story puts one half of the sleuthing duo at the helm. Frances heads to Devon, to avoid jeopardising her long-awaited and much-needed divorce and becomes a temporary house guest at a lovely country house in Devon. The 1930s setting and the upper-class elegance puts you in mind of Agatha Christie’s novels.

The family are mostly charming, and Fran finds she is the subject of one family member’s admiration. The mystery is two-fold, auspiciously she is invited to solve the riddle of the missing diamond, but a recent death occurred at the same time and she questions whether the two are connected.

I found the pacing a little slow, but the mystery is clever, and there is darkness hiding beneath the household’s lighthearted ethos, which gives the story depth. If possible read the series in order, and you will become familiar with the writing style and pace.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery, Saga

Christmas at Pennington’s Rachel Brimble 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books @RachelBrimble #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #Saga #Mystery #BlogTour @rararesources #BookReview #Festive #Christmas1911

#ChristmasatPenningtons

Gripping drama as Pennington’s department store prepares for a glittering Christmas in 1911, but a killer stalks the women of Bath.

Christmas sees Pennington’s at its most glorious, thronged with shoppers, its grand staircase and balcony adorned with holly, mistletoe, tinsel and lights. It should be the happiest time, but dramas are seething beneath the surface.

For Cornelia Culford, in charge of jewellery, a divorce hearing looms, where she could lose custody of her young sons to her overbearing and unfaithful husband.

For Stephen Gower, being head of security at Pennington’s is the perfect refuge from a tragic past at Scotland Yard. But soon the past will call him back, as Joseph Carter and Elizabeth Pennington beg him to help solve the murder of Joseph’s first wife, now that it seems as if the killer has struck again.

For Joseph and Elizabeth, their marriage depends on exorcising the past. But can it ever be laid to rest?

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

My Thoughts…

This is my first trip to Pennington’s and what a delight it is. Set in historic Bath, this historical romantic saga, with a mystery to solve, is full of contrasts. The glamour, and tasteful glitz of the elegant department store, in contrast to darkness enveloping Bath as a murderer, add their menacing presence.

This is the third book in the Pennington’s historical saga but reads well as a standalone. However, the writing, style, the author’s attention to detail and the vividly portrayed characters make me want to read the first two book in the series too.

There are a number of stories in this book. The lead story features Cornelia and Stephen, both employees of the illustrious store. Cornelia is facing an acrimonious divorce hearing from her abusive and adulterous husband. She is the sole carer for her two children and fears he may use this against her to gain full custody. She has information that may help her case, but is she prepared for the damage it may do to her and her offspring?

Stephen is a policeman from Scotland Yard with a tragic past. As head of security, he hopes this simpler role will give him time to heal and decide how to move on with his life, which is blighted by guilt. However, a murder and a connection to a past cold case draws him in and forces him to face his demons. He finds an ally in Cornelia, and a willing partner as they try to solve the mystery of their employer’s first wife.

An absorbing family drama, with a beautifully described historical setting. Lies, secrets, fear and mystery lie beneath the Christmas glamour and glitz, and a lovely romance fights for life in the midst of all the drama.

Christmas at Pennington’s has something for everyone, drama, love, mystery and romance in a year of social and political change.

#RachelBrimble

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018, A Rebel At Pennington’s February 2019 and Christmas At Pennington’s September 2019.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. To sign up for her quarterly and new release newsletter, click here to go to her website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

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Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Leaves John Simmons 4*#Review @JNSim @UrbaneBooks #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction #UrbanFiction #1970 #HistoricalFiction #London #Community

#Leaves

Ophelia Street, 1970. A street like any other, a community that lives and breathes together as people struggle with their commitments and pursue their dreams. It is a world we recognise, a world where class and gender divide, where set roles are acknowledged. But what happens when individuals step outside those roles, when they secretly covet, express desire, pursue ambitions even harm and destroy? An observer in the midst of Ophelia Street watches writes, imagines, remembers, charting the lives and loves of his neighbours over the course of four seasons. And we see the flimsily disguised underbelly of urban life revealed in all its challenging glory. As the leaves turn from vibrant green to vivid gold, so lives turn and change too, laying bare the truth of the community. Perhaps, ultimately, we all exist on Ophelia Street.  

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

#Leaves

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in 1970, in London, on a typical cul-de-sac, of the time. The story’s narrator is a young reporter, who is new to Ophelia Street, and the story, divided into the four seasons of 1970 are his impressions of the people and households he shares the street with. The narrator is a shadowy character, you don’t think about him, as the story draws you into its urban tale.

The book is beautifully written, lyrical, but what it depicts and explores is often poignant, and sometimes horrifically violent. The tragedy and violence creep up. You are not prepared for something so terrible, in amongst live’s relentless ordinariness. The impact of these events resonates.

Many of the characters are not easy to like, but you do empathise with their situation. Some of the relationships are strange, and sometimes sinister, and gut-wrenchingly sad.

The time period is faithfully represented. The sexual discrimination, misogyny and social class divide are evident. The depth of despair this period represents, with its collapse of Britain’s industrialisation, strikes and mass unemployment, add to the sense of hopelessness and inevitability this London street represents.

The literary fiction lovers will appreciate the purity of this book, the characters are complex and real, the exploration of community and humanity under pressure is engaging. If you enjoy reading, to experience how others feel and live, this book will meet your needs.

John Simmons
Image Credit:
Stuart Keegan, Bloomsbury Festival

John Simmons is an independent writer and consultant. He runs Writing for design workshops for D&AD and the School of Life as well as Dark Angels workshops. He has written a number of books on the relationship between language and identity, including The Writer’s Trilogy We, me, them & it, The invisible grail and Dark angels. He’s a founder director of 26, the not-for-profit group that champions the cause of better language in business, and has been writer-in-residence for Unilever and Kings Cross tube station. In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Falmouth in recognition of outstanding contribution to the creative sector. He initiated and participated in the writing of a Dark Angels collective novel Keeping Mum with fifteen writers. It was published by Unbound in 2014. He is on the Campaign Council for Writers Centre Norwich as Norwich becomes the first English City of Literature. John also wrote the compelling novel Leaves, which was published by Urbane in 2015

Spanish Crossings was published in March 2018 and The Good Messenger in September 2018.

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