Grace Quinn loves her job at Cohen’s Convenient Storage Company, finding occasional treasure in the forgotten units that customers have abandoned. Her inquisitive nature is piqued when a valuable art collection and a bundle of letters and diaries are found that date back to the 1930s.
Delving deeper, Grace uncovers the story of a young English woman, Connie Levine, who follows her heart to Italy at the end of the Second World war. The contents also offer up the hope of a new beginning for Grace, battling a broken heart and caring for her controlling mother.
Embarking on her own voyage of discovery, Grace’s search takes her to a powder pink villa on the cliff tops overlooking the Italian Riviera, but will she unravel the family secrets and betrayals that Connie tried so hard to overcome, and find love for herself?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK – Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Grace needs to escape from her daily life, she has a broken heart, a controlling mother and a family who take her for granted, no wonder she enjoys her work, where she is appreciated. Finding some letters and treasures in a storage unit whose payments have lapsed, Grace finds a kindred spirit in Connie. She finds both, courage and solace whilst learning her story and tracking down her heirs.
There is a good mystery to solve, romance, but most of all a journey of self-discovery for Grace. The Italian scenes are vividly described and give the story added interest. The historical aspect of the story is well-written and shows the problems faced by women in the 1940s. There are obvious similarities between Connie and Grace’s stories, but some important differences too.
This is an emotion-driven story, you feel for both Connie and Grace as they are constrained by their circumstances, familial demands and society’s expectations.
There is a detailed epilogue, which draws the drama together well, and gives Grace the hopeful ending she deserves.
Part of The Sinful Sinclairs. When globe-trotting Charles Sinclair arrives at Huxley Manor to sort out his late cousin’s affairs, he meets practical Eleanor Walsh. He can’t shake the feeling that behind her responsibility to clear her family’s debt, Eleanor longs to escape her staid life. Chase can offer her an exciting adventure in Egypt… But that all depends on her response to his shocking proposal!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Chase, one of the notorious ‘Sinful Sinclairs’, returns to his uncle’s estate, to retrieve his legacy, stored in the folly on his late uncle’s estate. His surprising meeting with Eleanor (Ellie), threatens the creed he lives by.
This not your usual Rake Regency romance. Chase has a Rake’s reputation, but it is at odds with the true man and his actions. Ellie is fiercely independent and willing to sacrifice the truest part of herself, which she denies, to ensure her family’s security.
The attraction is instant, but forbidden, as soon as one obstacle to their romance disappears, another appears, and the internal conflicts are the biggest barrier to their happiness.
The Egyptian setting and the quest for the missing box gives the story added historical interest and mystery. The romance is slow burning, but you do empathise with their unrequited feelings. Chase is a charming man, far too nice to be a Rake, but nevertheless a worthy man for Ellie. She is brave, selfless and intelligent, so glad they get the ending they deserve.
by Penny Penhurst’s courage on the witness stand, meticulous barrister Lord
Hadleigh offers her a housekeeper position at his estate. Despite trying to
stay detached, Hadleigh is charmed by her small child and surprised by how much
he yearns for this proud woman! Can this he break through his own – and Penny’s
– barriers to prove he’s a man she can trust…and love?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Firstly, even though this book is the last in the ‘King’s Elite’, series, it reads well as a standalone. The King’s Elite is a group of brave men who protect the crown against enemies abroad and within. The first three books feature British Spies, Hadleigh is a barrister, very skilled and an integral part of the King’s Elite.
Troubled by his past, he is an advocate for justice and the victims who are collateral damage from their outcome, particularly wives. His meeting with Penny is unorthodox but memorable and it acts as a catalyst for his future actions, which although kindly meant, creates instant conflict with Penny.
Penny, the wife of a traitor, and a victim of domestic abuse values her independence above everything, she sees Hadleigh’s well-meant actions as controlling and dislikes him intensely. Not the most auspicious start to a romance, but circumstances contrive, and chemistry sizzles, and as the sensual heat escalates, the couple learn to trust each other, and their feelings.
The setting; preparing for an important trial, gives the plot and original twist. The romance is lovely, full of conflict and indecision, making the ultimate passion, deserved. There is a further twist, which jeopardises the happy-ever-after but rest assured it ends well. The epilogue perfectly sums up the series, whether you’ve read it all or not.
When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace insomnia and start writing them down. Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.
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Determined to help people, Letty Barton has a double life – she’s a trained doctor! No-one must know ‘Dr Hatfield’ is actually a woman. Called to an emergency, she comes face to face with her patient’s brother, Lord Anthony Ashcroft… They’d once shared a spark-filled flirtation – now he’s a brooding, scarred war-hero. But how long will it be before he recognises her, beneath her disguise, and the sparks begin to fly once more…?
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Women’s education was not the norm in Regency times, so a well-educated woman, either had to waste her skills, or use subterfuge to achieve her full potential. Letty is a medical doctor, who works under a pseudo name, disguised as a man. Her life is complex, two identities two lives and when she meets Lord Ashcroft, it becomes even more so.
There is intriguing chemistry between the Tony Ashcroft and Letty, in her female persona. Both sense a familiarity that they cannot pinpoint. The unlikely romance is full of intrigue, confusion and sensual heat.
It is an entertaining quirky, romantic read, that highlights Regency society’s unforgiving conventions, in respect of both women and those of less than perfect countenance.
Part of Penniless Brides of Convenience: Eloise Brannagh has witnessed first-hand the damage unruly passion can cause. Yet she craves freedom, so a convenient marriage to the Earl of Fearnoch seems the perfect solution! Except Alexander Sinclair is more handsome, more intriguing, more everything, than Eloise anticipated. Having set her own rules for their marriage, her irresistible husband might just tempt Eloise to break them!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Marriage of Convenience is always an interesting trope in romance, firstly it was commonplace in Regency Society, but in Regency Romance, it is the beginning of something that is anything but convenient, and usually involves, heartbreak, passion and soul searching, as is the case for Eloise and Alexander.
Both seem excellent candidates for a marriage in name only, but close proximity, friendship and chemistry make their fight to remain platonic, a cocktail of amusing, frustrating and poignant. They have to work hard for the chance of real love, both have emotional damage, secrets and real fear of letting go and the consequences.
Eloise is a vibrant woman, with independent interests that are explored in this story and enrich it with historical detail and vivid imagery. Alexander is not what he seems, and even though he endeavours to offer Eloise some transparency, he retains secrets that offer the ultimate conflict to any real happiness they may achieve.
A lovely cast of characters, some of which will get their own stories?
An enjoyable, impeccably detailed historical romance, with authentic, believable characters, a good plot and a satisfying end.
Bold and clever, THE CAVANAUGHS are unlike any other family in early Victorian England!
Lord Kit Cavanaugh is all business and a gentleman of means. He has discovered his true path and it doesn’t include the expected society marriage.
Miss Sylvia Buckleberry is a woman of character whose passion is her school for impoverished children. The only way Sylvia can save her school after it is forced out of its building is by working with Kit, but this proves to be a daunting task…
Kit and Sylvia fight for the futures they hold dear. Together they are an unstoppable duo.
I received a eopy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
The decadence of the Regency era lends itself to romance and passion, but the Victorian era is less showy, more introverted, and harder to romanticise. Stephanie Laurens manages to explore the major themes of the Victorian era, invention, innovation, insurrection and poverty, yet still, produce a devastating romantic hero and a passionate romance between Kit and Sylvia.
‘The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh’ is the second in ‘The Cavanaugh’s’ series. but reads well as a standalone. The historical details focus on Victorian philanthropy and enterprise. Both championed by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. If you enjoy the TV series ‘Victoria’, this explores the era and its people with similar vivacity and vivid imagery.
The romance begins gently, the barely acquainted couple meet again and both see a different side to the person they first met. The old adage of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ comes to mind when reading this story. As Kit sees beneath Sylvia’s cold austere mask, and she realises there is more to him than the rakehell, he purports to be.
The plot is varied and complex and has an essential undercurrent of menace, which makes historical romance enthralling. The insight into Victorian society is authentic and engaging and provides a perfect setting for this romantic adventure, so in keeping with the period.
We are introduced briefly to other members of the Cavanaugh family, Rand and Felicia, who feature in book one of the series and Stacia and Godfrey, whose stories are yet to be told. The scandalous and emotionally damaging spectre of Kit’s late mother has made him cautious of women and society. Sylvia’s independent, intelligent outlook on life is refreshing and makes him seek something he never believed he would.
Adventure, romance, and even a Victorian villain this story has a little of everything and is as enthralling and enjoyable for lovers of historical romance and fiction.
Separated by time and distance, two sisters seek answers for all they’ve lost
When Alice Verinder’s beloved sister Lydia goes missing, Alice boards the Orient Express bound for Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, determined to find her.
Lydia was governess to the Sultan’s young children and though her letters spoke of exotic delights and welcoming hosts, the reception Alice receives is decidedly cold and answers unforthcoming.
Now, as Alice digs deeper into the secrets of a land foreign to her she has only Englishman Harry Frome to help her. But as their search uncovers unforeseen dangers and exposes an unexpected ardour, is Alice ready for the truths they’ll uncover?
was a journey I made a few years ago. I was lucky enough to travel to Venice on
the Orient Express (a special occasion trip) and fell in love with the train.
The compartments, dining carriages, even the mosaic bathrooms, are almost
unchanged since the train’s heyday. And whereas nowadays the journey to
Istanbul is a special once a year event, in 1907 there was a regular service
from London to Constantinople. I wondered what it must have felt like for a
young woman travelling alone for the first time in her life and on such a
Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?
They aren’t drawn from real life in the sense of my actually knowing people just like them. But as a writer, you imbue your characters with what you’ve gained from life and what you’ve seen of relationships and the way they work. I don’t have a sister myself, but it wasn’t too difficult to tune into the feelings of Alice and Lydia, given the period in which they live and their very different personalities.
Lydia Verinder has been working as a governess at
Topkapi Palace in Constantinople, while her elder sister, Alice, has been forced to take responsibility for their ailing parents.
Alice hasn’t heard from her sister for months and suspects
thoughtlessness – Lydia has always been indulged. She loves her and admires
Lydia’s courage and passion, but feels resentful that she has been left caring
for the household. Though her
feelings are decidedly mixed, Alice becomes increasingly worried by her
sister’s silence. Bravely, she decides to go to
Constantinople herself and
search for Lydia, and once there she meets a whole lot of other characters –
but not all of them are benevolent!
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
Looking back at the novels I’ve written, it’s setting that seems pre-eminent. Maybe it’s because I write historical fiction, but when I respond especially to a setting – it could be a house, a city, a garden, or in this case a train – I begin to imagine what it must once have looked like, who might have lived there, who travelled there etc. Once I start to people the setting, the questions come and I uncover the problems the characters are facing – then my plot is on its way!
What made you decide to become a writer, and why does this genre appeal to you?
I’m not sure you actually decide to be a writer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed to put pen to paper. As a small child, I wrote poems, at grammar school, there were short stories that I never dared mention – creative writing was definitely not encouraged. And I kept on writing through the years, but between family, pets and my job as a lecturer, there was little time to do more than dabble. However, when the pressures eased, I grabbed the chance to do something I’d always promised myself – to write a novel. The nineteenth-century novel was a favourite to teach so it’s no wonder I ended up writing historical fiction.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
I read fairly widely. Naturally enough, I love historical fiction, particularly when there’s suspense, a mystery, maybe a death or two. And I like crime a lot, but not when it’s unduly violent and gory – psychological crime is a favourite. I love the unwrapping of a personality. The occasional literary fiction – some of Colm Toibin’s books, for example – hit the mark, and I’m a huge fan of Kate Atkinson and the way she combines the popular and the literary so well.
What are you currently writing?
This year I’ve embarked on a crime series, and changing genre has proved quite a challenge. But though I’m planning on one or more deaths in each book, there’s a focus, too, on relationships, including some romantic temptation. The series is set in the 1950s, a period when women were pushed back into the kitchen after the Second World War and generally lacked independent careers or their own money, and where marriage and children were seen as a woman’s only goal. My heroine, needless to say, kicks against that. She’s married but not entirely happily. However, her husband’s profession allows her to travel to different countries, where she’s certain to face a crime that needs solving. The first in the series, The Venice Atonement, will be published in July and I’m currently deep in the Caribbean, writing volume two!
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A beautifully told story of sisterly love, impetus youth, and evil. The Tale of Two Sisters is set in the vibrant historical background of early twentieth century Turkey. Full of vivid imagery and intricate historical details, you can imagine the opulence and the culture the two sisters experience.
The plot is believable and well thought out, the twists and turns, which keep the reader guessing are plentiful and the mystery keeps its terrible secrets to the end.
Lydia is a woman before her time, driven by political equality, yet naive and ill-equipped for what she becomes embroiled in. She is selfish and flawed, but her exuberance and zest for life’s experiences make this forgivable, Ultimately she becomes a heroine.
Alice is the antithesis of her sister, dependable, selfless and resigned to subjugating her needs for the good of her parents and sibling. She is easy to empathise. Her courage is notable and as the story progresses her adventurous and impulse qualities come to the fore, making her share more with her sister than you would first imagine.
Gentle pacing reflects the many obstacles Alice faces as she tries to discover her sister’s whereabouts. Told from both sisters’ points of view, the story is full of emotion, historical interest and suspense, as the mystery surrounding Lydia’s disapperance is solved. There is also a tender, unexpected romance, which adds extra depth to the story and allows its ending to be hopeful.
If like me, you love historical fiction with a mystery to solve, and just a touch of gentle romance, this lovely tale will draw you in.
Merryn Allingham was born into an army family and spent her childhood moving around the UK and abroad. Unsurprisingly it gave her itchy feet and in her twenties, she escaped from an unloved secretarial career to work as cabin crew and see the world.
Merryn still loves to travel and visit new places, especially those with an interesting history, but the arrival of marriage, children and cats meant a more settled life in the south of England, where she has lived ever since. It also gave her the opportunity to go back to ‘school’ and eventually teach at university.
She has written seven historical novels, all mysteries with a
helping of suspense and a dash of romance – sometimes set in exotic locations
and often against a background of stirring world events.