Posted in Cover Reveal, Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance

For the Love of a Pirate Laura Nelson #CoverReveal @Shockaboo @CayellePub @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #Historical #Romance #paranormal #gothic #timeslip #FortheLoveofaPirate

A jaded middle-aged woman attends a museum exhibit featuring the wreck of a pirate ship. A dead pirate from the wreck makes spiritual contact with her, pleading for her help to rescue him from purgatory. Along the way, she discovers both their pasts through a series of dreams. Another pirate covets her body for his own nefarious purposes. She becomes determined to rescue the pirate who has become her friend while figuring out how to prevent the other pirate from taking over her body.

Amazon UK

I am 57, and I am a graduate of Augustana College of Rock Island, Illinois. I wrote some in college, then stopped. I took it up again after attending the Real Pirates Exhibit in Denver, Colorado in 2011. I have since written several non-fiction articles about some of the pirates who sailed on the Whydah Galley. In the past few years, I’ve compiled them into two books titled The Whydah Pirates Speak. I have also published several short stories, which have appeared in two anthologies (listed on my Amazon page), and in several magazines. I live in Cochiti Lake, NM, with my three cats. When not writing, I enjoy walking, reading, and Tai Chi.

Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Historical Fiction, Humour, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Saga, Short stories

Sometimes In Bath Charles Nevin ​4*#Review @charlesnevin @rararesources #LiteraryFiction #Humour #HisFic #Bath #shortstories #guestpost #SometimesInBath #BlogTour #BookReview

Sometimes in Bath is a captivating story-tour through the city’s history conducted by Charles Nevin, the award-winning journalist, national newspaper columnist, author and humorist.

Beau Nash, Old King Bladud, young Horatio Nelson, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet, the Emperor Haile Selassie and many more spring to life in episodes shimmering with the curious magic of Britain’s oldest resort and premier purveyor of good health, happiness and romance for the last 2000 years.

Each story has an afterword distinguishing the fiction from fact, adding enthralling historical detail – and giving visitors useful links to Bath’s many sights and fascinations Sometimes in Bath is warm, witty, wistful and will be loved by all who come to and from this most enchanting and enchanted of cities.

Amazon UK The Book Guild

Guest Post – Charles Nevin – Sometimes In Bath

How do you like your historical fiction? Romantic, an exciting escape into the consolations of the beguiling past? Realistic and instructive as well as entertaining? Or all of that?

I’m all for the all-in approach. And I have a great weakness for a touch of humour being thrown into the mix. Which is why one of my very favourite pieces of historical fiction is the marvellous ‘No Bed For Bacon,’ by Caryl Brahms and S J Simon, a wonderfully entertaining re-telling of Shakespeare and his life which clearly inspired the Oscar-winning Shakespeare In Love of Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench fame.

So when I moved to Somerset and fell under that old Bath magic of healing waters, mythic origins, Roman bathing, Georgian larks and the finest cast list ever encountered of charmers, chancers, characters and charlatans, I didn’t need much encouragement to set them down in a series of stories set throughout this richest of histories. Step forward, to name but a few, Bladud, mythical founder and wannabe aviator; a Roman governor with gout; Alfred the Great; Sir John Harington, Elizabethan inventor of the water closet; Beau Nash, Georgian master of its revels; Dr Johnson; Horatio Nelson; Charles Dickens; the Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, in Bath in exile; and, oh, yes, Jane Austen’s Mr Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Thus, Sometimes In Bath; which was tremendous fun, and is, I hope tremendous fun, a happy canter through the city’s history, with some balancing poignancy and wistfulness mixed in.

But possibly not that realistic, which presented me with a problem. A career as a journalist entails many things: and one of them (believe it or not) is a compulsion to establish fact and differentiate it from the speculative and the unfounded. I’m one of those sad people who cannot watch any drama ‘based on’ historical events and characters without afterwards rushing to Wiki to find out how based and how true.

So how to combine this with my flights of Bath fantasy? Just expect readers to do their own research? That seemed a little unmannerly, a touch unfriendly, somehow ungenerous, mean.

The solution I hit upon was to follow each story with an afterword explaining what was fact and what was my invention. And, further, to set the story in its historical context.

This has the added benefit of building up a history of the great city chapter by chapter, with an interesting further dash of fascinating fact and anecdote. So you will learn of the theories of Bath’s great architect, John Wood, on magic and druids, and the significance of the layout of his crescent, circus and square, of the mysterious symbols decorating his buildings; of the origin of the Bath Bun and the end of the noted Bath dandy highwayman, Sixteen String Jack Rann; of how the great Roman bath was rediscovered in Victorian times; of John Betjeman and his fight to save fine Bath buildings, and the truth behind his famous poem, “In A Bath Teashop”; of how Haile Selassie regained his Ethiopian throne in a remarkable campaign of the Second World War; and of the city’s great goddess, Sul, begged in writing on little lead tablets by many a citizen in the time of Rome to curse thieves and vagabonds.

You will learn, too, where to see those tablets and find other places and features mentioned in the book: a veritable cornucopia of Bath, compiled with love and fascination and imagination, and written, as I say in the dedication, for all those come to and from the city. And why not you?

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

My Thoughts…

Bath holds a fascination for so many people, even those who have only passed through it. There is a wealth of history, coupled with colourful historical and literary characters embodied in this city. This book, captures many of them, in a humorous, knowledgeable way.

The characters, real or imaginary, are brought to life with astute observation and wit. The engagingly visual descriptions make imagining the characters and settings effortless. Each story completes with a narrative on the fact and fiction and where further historical knowledge is available.

This book is a delightfully different literary adventure to the ancient city of Bath.

Charles Nevin

Charles Nevin has written for, among others, the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times, and the New York Times. Sometimes in Bath is his second book of fiction following Lost in the Wash with Other Things, a collection of short stories. He has also published three books of non-fiction – Lancashire, Where Women Die of Love, a paean to the neglected romance of his native county; The Book of Jacks, a history and lexicon of the name, and So Long Our Home, a history of Knowsley Road, the famous old ground of St Helens Rugby Football Club. Charles lives in an old watermill near Bath, which is ideally placed for his forays into the enchanting city.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Travel

A Crown in Time Jennifer Macaire 4* #Review @jennifermacaire @AccentPress @rararesources #BlogTour #TheTempusUTimeTravelSeries #timeslip #historical #timetravel #TheCrown #France #Tunis #TheCrusades #SCFI #Giveaway #BookReview #FridayReads #FridayMotivation

#ACrownInTime

In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. 

Her mission? To save the crown of France by convincing a young noble not to join the ill-fated Eighth Crusade.

But nothing goes as planned, and Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed youth on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.

From the rainy villages of medieval France to the scorching desert of Tunis – Isobel faces her destiny and tries to fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing that a wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch.

Waterstones Amazon UK Amazon Amazon Australia

#BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

I haven’t read any previous books in this series. The concept of time travel and the future world, Isobel comes from, is understandable. The historical setting has a good sense of place and time. It is atmospheric and vividly described.

Isobel is a corrector, sent back to the correct history, inadvertently altered by another time traveller. She has nothing to lose. Emotionally damaged after she killed a child in a car accident, she knows that failure means death. Success means life can continue, but in the time zone where she is. Isobel can never go back.

The story is told from her first-person point of view, but even when she witnesses the horrors of the time, her reactions are superficial. Her lack of emotional depth is apparent. Possibly due to her past life experiences. She is hard to empathise. Many of the relationships, whilst acceptable in the middle ages, seem wrong from a 21st-century viewpoint, but they do make the story authentic, despite its fantastical premise.

The sense of adventure, albeit misguided comes across well in this story. The plot cleverly interweaves fact and historical fiction. A considered and well-written time travel story with strong, vibrant characters and a fast-paced plot.

#JenniferMacaire

Jennifer Macaire is an American living in France. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate  (Open INT)

Click on Giveaway link to enter

*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.

Posted in #Sale, Book Spotlight, Historical Non Fiction, Non-Fiction

iNostalgia Book Blitz @inostalgiauk @Lovebookstours #BookBlitz #bookpromo #Sale #nonfiction #historical #Newspaper #photographs

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The team at iNostalgia have a deal on their non-fiction titles now when you purchase them through the iNostalgia store. Three titles for only £25 in their online store.

iNostalgia Website Link

Here is a little snippet of each book available.

Fifteen years on from its original publication, The Changing Face of Manchester, Second Edition brings you up-to-date photographs of today’s modern Manchester. Shot as close to the original images as possible by photographer Justin Garner, you are able to see how much Manchester has changed over the decades through these side-by-side images.

Featuring fascinating stories by author Clive Hardy to accompany the stunning images, you can take home this little slice of Manchester history, and in years to come you will be able to look back and remember those days of old with fond memories.

Around Manchester in the 1950s is a new 160 page paperback book featuring a unique collection of more than 200 unmissable photographs and memories from the Manchester Evening News Archives. Relive the great times of the 50s and share your memories with friends and loved ones.

Around Manchester in the 1960s is a new 160-page paperback book featuring a unique collection of more than 250 unmissable photographs and memories from the Manchester Evening News Archives. Relive the great times of the swinging 60s and share your memories with friends and loved ones.

There are many unmissable images from the Swinging Sixties in Clive Hardy’s brilliant book Around Liverpool and Merseyside in the 1960s.

Around Manchester in the 1970s is a new 160-page paperback book featuring a unique collection of more than 300 unmissable photographs and memories from the Manchester Evening News Archives. Relive the great times of the 1970s and share your memories with friends and loved ones.

The 180+ images, many never published before, come from the fantastic archive of the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal, and the Daily Mirror. The majority capture the life and times of Newcastle during the decade, and there are others showing wider Tyneside. Along with the text, they give a taste of what it was like to live in the region during that unique period.

Fifteen years on from its original publication, The Changing Face of Manchester, Second Edition brings you up-to-date photographs of today’s modern Manchester. Shot as close to the original images as possible by photographer Justin Garner, you are able to see how much Manchester has changed over the decades through these side-by-side images.

Featuring fascinating stories by author Clive Hardy to accompany the stunning images, you can take home this little slice of Manchester history, and in years to come, you will be able to look back and remember those days of old with fond memories.

You can purchase all these wonderful books in the iNostalgia store.

iNostalgia Website Link

Posted in Animal Friends, Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magic

Kim, Leon, and the Sky Path to Africa Barnaby Allen 4*#Review @leeawrites #KimLeon #SkyPathToAfrica #EasyRead #ESL #KidLit #ChildrensBooks #historical #Adventure #Fantasy @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #AnimalFiction

#KimLeonandTheSkyPathtoAfrica

Kim and Leon live on a farm in Suffolk, England. Kim is a schoolboy and Leon is his pet donkey. A rainy day encounter leads them on an adventure far away in Africa. Along the way there are dangers, and fears about who can be trusted. There is also the threatening presence of a slave ship, looming in the bay. Barnaby Allen was a teacher of English and history. In this historical fantasy, he beautifully combines suspense with an immersion in history. This book comes with tasks of writing, acting and drawing. This is a simplified version of the original book. It suits especially ESL pupils.

Amazon UK

#RandomThingsTours

I received a copy of this book from Random Things Tours in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I like the writing style of this children’s adventure story. Resembling poetic verse, it is easy to read and presents the story in a reader-friendly format.

The early part of the story, set in rural Suffolk has a traditional feel. It reads as if it was set in a pre-internet age, or even earlier. That would also explain some of the expressions, which are not twenty-first-century politically correct.

The main historical part of the story set in Africa reflects on the slave trade. This is an unusual choice for a children’s book, and parents and teachers should be prepared for children’s questions. The adventure element is charming and the detailed information about life in Africa at that time is interesting to adults too.

Kim goes on a character journey in this story, as much as a fantasy, geographical one. Learning about a different culture, and historic events change his perspective. Leon is a magical donkey, who provides Kim with his opportunity for adventure. His outward gruffness hides a wealth of intelligence and kindness and makes him a wonderful role model for Kim and the book’s readers.

The interactive quality of the book is excellent. The tasks make the children think about what they have heard or read and reinforce elements of the story.

A worthwhile reading book for the children and adults, which is rich in cultural and historical details, but delivered in an exciting, magical way.

#BackCover
#BarnabyAllen

Barnaby Allen was born in Suva Fiji, as his father was working there for the British Crown.  He was introduced to literature by his mother, who liked to recite poetry and had a gift of telling engaging stories. As an adult, Barnaby Allen worked in education in several countries mostly teaching English. He loved to travel, classical music, discussions, current affairs, Pacific affairs, family, good food and board games. Barnaby’s children also had the benefit of Barnaby telling stories to them and making the characters come alive with acting out different roles.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance, Saga

In a Kingdom by the Sea – Sara MacDonald – 5*#Review @HarperFiction @MacDonaldSara @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #FamilyDrama #Secrets #Romance #Historical #LiteraryFiction #Cornwall #Karachi #PublicationDay

A sweeping, evocative story of love, secrets and betrayal, set against the stunning backdrops of Karachi and Cornwall.

When Gabby’s husband accepts a transfer to Pakistan, she discovers a new world of heat and colour, of exotic bazaars and trips to the breath-taking Kashmiri mountains. It is an escape she didn’t know she was looking for.

But then a shocking letter from her sister reveals a devastating secret. Gabby is transported back to her childhood home on the Cornish coast, and as memories unravel, so too does her new life in Karachi.

Will Gabby find the courage to face the dark secrets and embrace a different future?

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…

I always enjoy reading a book written by a true storyteller, and this is the case with ‘In a Kingdom by the Sea’. The story flows beautifully, the characters are believable, complex, and draw you into their world. The settings are contrasting, but both are atmospheric and described using vivid imagery so that you can enjoy the sensory experience, as you become immersed in the secrets and mysteries of the plot.

There is a lovely balance of contemporary and historical as the family’s secrets are revisited and revealed. This is a journey of self-discovery for Gabby as she overcomes her emotional setbacks, and finally becomes her true self.

There are many important themes explored in this novel, the political situation in Pakistan, and the difficulty of day to day life there, contrasted against the freedom and relative safety of life in London, and the rural idyll of Cornwall, is most complex and absorbing. I love how the friendships made, and the encounters with individuals are portrayed in a positive, hopeful way. Its authenticity makes the whole book more realistic and enjoyable.

Gabby’s journey, both emotionally and logistically is the driving force of this story, and many women will identify, with at least parts of it. The role of women and the oppression they face underpins this novel, and the strength and resilience of these women resonate.

I will miss the characters and settings in this story, reading it, is a truly positive experience.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Romance

4* Review- Bronwyn Scott- A Marriage Deal With The Viscount- @MillsandBoon @Bronwynscott

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‘I can protect you.’

But she must accept his ring!

An Allied at the Altar story: after an abusive marriage, Sofia is struggling to find acceptance in Society. So when dashing Viscount Taunton needs her investment for his business, she’s surprised by his strong, supportive nature.

In Conall’s arms, she discovers true pleasure. Yet to fully leave her past behind, Sofia must consider Conall’s offer of his full protection – in the form of wedding vows!

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Set in Victorian England, this is an ‘allied at the altar’, historical romance trope, with emotional depth, passion and a heroine and hero who epitomise the enterprise of this era.

Conall, the new Viscount Taunton, has to repair the family estate, which is almost bankrupt after his father’s death. He devises an entrepreneurial scheme to rejuvenate the family coffers and keep the estate workers employed but an outside investor is vital to its success.

Sofia is divorced and ostracised by society, except for her acquaintance with a Duke’s daughter. She meets Conall through this mutual connection and the chance of a business alliance brings the couple together. Sofia’s past threatens to destabilise her new life and only Conall can help her, but can she trust him?

A well layered, suspenseful plot, and complex easy to empathise characters make this very readable. The historical details add authenticity and the story’s passion and romance are emotionally grounded and believable.

A lovely alternative to the glamour of Regency romance.

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

Posted in Book Review

Heads You Win – 4*Review – Jeffrey Archer – #political #historical #thriller @Jeffrey_Archer

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Leningrad, Russia, 1968. Alexander Karpenko is no ordinary child, and from an early age, it is clear he is destined to lead his countrymen. But when his father is assassinated by the KGB for defying the state, he and his mother will have to escape from Russia if they hope to survive. At the docks, they are confronted with an irreversible choice: should they board a container ship bound for America or Great Britain? Alexander leaves that choice to the toss of a coin . . .

In a single moment, a double twist decides Alexander’s future.

During an epic tale of fate and fortune, spanning two continents and thirty years, we follow his triumphs and defeats as he struggles as an immigrant to conquer his new world. As this unique story unfolds, Alexander comes to realize where his destiny lies and accepts that he must face the past he left behind in Russia.

Amazon UK

Waterstones 

My Thoughts…

If you enjoy political sagas with a twist, you’re in for a treat with this book. The storytelling and characters are believable and polished. The serendipitous storyline adds an interesting twist to a well researched, historically based political thriller.

Alexander a young man in the USSR in the late 1960’s is clever but his father isn’t a party member and wishes for a less totalitarian state. His father’s ‘accident’, and the circumstances that follow mean Alexander and his mother need to leave to survive. Escaping in a crate on a merchant ship is risky, but when there is a choice of two, fate takes over and the story splits into a ‘what if ‘scenario as Alexander’s life is explored with two possible outcomes.

Both stories are engaging, with strong characters and many plot twists, once you accept how the story will progress it is an enjoyable read, the ending has its surprises, but I did guess the main one. The moral of this being, I think whatever path you take the outcome is already decided.

An enjoyable read for those who enjoy political thrillers and family sagas with a twist of fate.

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

Posted in Book Review

One Enchanted Evening – Anton Du Beke – 4* Review

London, 1936. Inside the spectacular Grand Ballroom of the exclusive Buckingham Hotel the rich and powerful, politicians, film stars, even royalty, rub shoulders with Raymond de Guise and his troupe of talented dancers from all around the world, who must enchant them, captivate them, and sweep away their cares.

Accustomed to waltzing with the highest of society, Raymond knows a secret from his past could threaten all he holds dear.

Nancy Nettleton, new chambermaid at the Buckingham, finds hotel life a struggle after leaving her small hometown. She dreams of joining the dancers on the ballroom floor as she watches, unseen, from behind plush curtains and hidden doorways. She soon discovers everyone at the Buckingham – guests and staff alike – has something to hide…

The storm clouds of war are gathering, and beneath the glitz and glamour of the ballroom lurks an irresistible world of scandal and secrets.

Let’s dance . . .

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

A delicious, detailed, dance orientated novel, which unfolds against a background of class division, an unprecedented threat to the monarchy and a cosmopolitan hotel whose outward glamour hides a web of secrets.

The characters are believable and vividly depicted, they draw the reader into the story and engender empathy and dislike according to their behaviour. The setting epitomises polite London society in the 1930s. The ballroom’s importance, as a place to see and be seen, is a core theme of this story and is the focal point for the action and dialogue between the main characters.

Like ‘Upstairs Downstairs ‘ and ‘Downtown Abbey’, society’s class division is marked. The ‘lower class’ characters’lives are difficult and provide a thought-provoking reminder of poverty and hardship.

The political unrest in Europe and England make living life the limit a given, for those able to do so. When secrets unfold and people’s livelihood and reputations are in danger, the true heroes and villains emerge.

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

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Anita Davison – The Bloomsbury Affair – Guest Post – Extract – 4* Review

1905 London is a heady mix of unimaginable wealth and simmering political tensions, and with war looming Flora Maguire wants to keep her family safe.

So when her beloved charge Viscount Edward Trent is accused of murder, she’s determined not to leave the investigation to the police. Flora has trodden the path of amateur sleuth before, but with so much at stake, this time it’s personal.

Slowly the body of the victim found stabbed on a train bound for Paddington starts giving up its secrets, and Flora and her husband Bunny become mired in a murky world of spies, communists and fraudsters. And with the police more sure than ever that Edward is their murderer, Flora must work fast to keep him safe.

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Guest Post – Is Flora Maguire a Suffragist or a Suffragette? – Anita Davison

Book 3, A Knightsbridge Scandal is set in London in 1903 which was the year Emmeline Pankhurst broke away from the National Union of Women’s Social Societies and formed the controversial Women’s Social and Political Union.

My knowledge of Suffragettes was restricted to the scandal of the hunger strikes and Glynis John’s wearing a ‘Votes For Women’ banner in Mary Poppins – well perhaps not quite as simplistic as that, but my facts were sketchy so some serious research was called for.

As an intelligent, forward-thinking woman, it would be odd for me not to give Flora at least a passing interest in the movement. She treads carefully because as a former governess given entry into the middle class, she isn’t secure enough to make waves. By the time Flora gets involved,  Millicent Garrett Fawcett had been campaigning to instigate change in Parliament for women forty years before Emmeline Pankhurst threw her first brick through a window.

I imagine Mrs Fawcett, the sister of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – England’s first female doctor, must have been dismayed by the ‘Deeds Not Words’ policy of the Pankhurst’s, whose methods would surely paint the movement as dangerous and uncontrolled. Many, and Flora is one of them, felt the Pankhurst’s put the movement back years by vandalism, arson attacks and dangerous stunts.

In 1908, one in three of the male population over 21 did not qualify for the ballot unless they owned property or paid a minimum rent of £10 a year. Younger men were happily conscripted to fight Britain’s wars, but had no vote, nor were they old enough to have a pint of beer in a pub. It was certainly a time of responsibility over rights.

That the ‘Votes For Women’ was aimed, initially at least, for women over thirty who owned property and personally paid taxes while domestic workers, shop girls, office staff and even teachers were excluded from their manifesto. The poor and indigent, men as well as women, weren’t seen as worthy of a vote in their own government.

The 1918 Representation of the People Act brought more than five million men over the age of 21 into the electorate without regard to property or class as well as over eight million women over 30; although the majority of these did not qualify for reasons of property ownership. It wasn’t until the 1928 Act that this changed.

Flora is a modern young woman who sees the need for change, but she isn’t the type to vandalise a work of art or chain herself to railings to make her point. She admires Mrs Garrett Fawcett’s principles as the way forward, but regards Mrs Pankhurst’s strategy will become a self-fulfilling prophesy in that women are what men believed all along; irresponsible, flighty creatures in need of guidance and control, incapable of choosing a government.

Also, with so many young men about to be killed in WWI, suppose the remaining women voters outnumbered the men? A prospect which must have terrified the Government of the day.

Flora is also keenly aware that had she remained a governess and not married a solicitor who owned property, she too would have been excluded from any legislation achieved by these women.

While in search of a murderer, Flora attends a National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society meeting and hears Miss Evelyn Sharp expound the new Women’s Social and Political Union formed in Manchester who advocates a campaign of civil disobedience.

As a result, Flora becomes a passive Suffragist, as opposed to a Suffragette. She believes society needs to be more equal, not just for wealthy, upper-class ladies who preside over tea tables in drawing rooms. That progress will be made naturally and organically, not by slashing paintings or setting fire to post boxes.

Millicent Fawcett worked tirelessly until her seventies for international women’s suffrage, the opening up university education to women, raising the age of consent, making horticulture a possible employment for women, criminalising incest, providing homes for middle-class working women, and even for offering a German ‘open-air treatment’ to tuberculosis sufferers.

An excellent Blog which provided me with facts and interesting stories on the Women’s Suffrage Movement is Elizabeth Crawford’s Women and Their Sphere:   https://womanandhersphere.com/

My Thoughts… 

Historical fiction with a murder mystery brings together two of my favourite genres. This is a later book in the ‘Flora Maguire series’, but it reads as a standalone. The mystery is created and solved within the book, and any backstory for the characters and their interrelationships is provided in the early chapters. 

England in 1905 was characterised by political intrigue and a shifting in the social and gender class systems.  This story uses the ethos of unrest to dramatise and authenticate the mystery Flora sets out to investigate. There are lots of historical facts, so the reader is able to step back in time as the story progresses.

Flora’s social conscience and independent spirit, make her an intriguing and believable protagonist.  Her husband Bunny is an excellent sidekick and the long-suffering Inspector, the essential final ingredient for this type of mystery.

Like all murder mysteries, the plot is twisty and full of false starts, with numerous suspects. The motive behind the mystery is well concealed and trying to decide what really happened is a satisfying experience.

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

Extract 

Chapter 2

Flora tugged her shawl tighter around her exposed shoulders and shivered in the cool wind gusting across the porch. It had been a warm day for April, but as night drew in, splatters of rain-streaked the windows from air cooled to a wintry chill. She raised a hand to wave at Alice who occupied the seat beside William in his two-seater Spyker motor car.

‘She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?’ Bunny sighed.

‘Indeed, she is.’ Flora leaned into her husband’s one-armed hug. ‘I hope I’ll look as good when I reach Alice’s age.’

‘I meant William’s motor car.’

Flora tutted, nudging him. ‘Our Berliet is perfectly adequate and far more practical. Besides, there would be no need for a chauffeur and you would have to discharge Timms.’

‘Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that.’ He followed the gleaming green vehicle with his eyes until it disappeared around the corner.

Flora knew the prospect of losing Timms would not appeal. The chauffeur’s previous employer, a former client of the firm of solicitors Bunny worked for had been jailed for fraud. On learning that the man’s out-of-work valet was also a keen amateur mechanic, Bunny installed him in the mews behind the house. The pair spent hours tinkering with the engine of Bunny’s beloved motor car; more like friends than employer and chauffeur. In their brown coveralls and with their heads ducked beneath the metal hood, even Flora was hard put to tell them apart.

‘Well, despite the host’s unexplained absence, I think the evening was a success.’ Flora returned to the relative warmth of the hallway.

‘I’ve already apologized for that.’ Bunny tightened his arm around her and nuzzled her hair just above her ear before guiding her back into the sitting room, where Stokes was clearing away the coffee cups and empty brandy glasses. ‘You do realize bringing them together without warning like that could have gone horribly wrong? Suppose they had harboured some long-buried resentment in the intervening years, or worse, didn’t like the person they had each become?’

‘That didn’t occur to me,’ Flora lied. ‘I was confident they would behave as if the last twenty years had never happened.’

‘William couldn’t keep the smile off his face, and all those long looks.’ Bunny chuckled.

‘He was like a young boy with his first tendre.’

‘Except this particular tendre had already produced a grown-up daughter.’ Flora summoned a distracted smile, her thoughts still on William and whether or not he might be recalled to Russia if the situation there worsened.

‘Stokes,’ Bunny halted the butler on his way out with a loaded tray. ‘Before you retire, would you kindly bring us some fresh coffee?’

‘Of course, sir.’ Stokes bowed and left.

‘None for me, thank you.’ Flora frowned. ‘I shan’t be able to sleep. After such a long day, I would have thought cocoa would have been more appropriate’

‘Coffee.’ Bunny’s eyes hardened and he caressed her shoulder. ‘I have a feeling we might need it.’

‘You’ve been very distracted tonight,’ Flora dragged her thoughts back to the present. ‘Are you sure something isn’t bothering you?’

‘Don’t change the subject. We were talking about your parents.’ Bunny took the place beside Flora on the sofa. ‘I sensed at some point during the evening you became somewhat tense.’ 

‘Did I?’ She sighed having hoped he had not noticed. ‘You might think I’m being selfish, but in all the drama of getting them together again, the past – my past has been overlooked.  I still don’t understand why Riordan told everyone that Alice, or Lily as she was known then, had died.’

‘She left him, Flora. Did it occur to you that might have hurt his pride? Pretending to be a widower meant no one would whisper about him behind his back.’

Flora silently acknowledged he was probably right. Her mother had married the head butler at Cleeve Abbey when she had fallen pregnant by William. The family had made it clear a marriage between Lily and William was out of the question and sent him abroad. Too young and overawed by their respective families to fight back, they had both obeyed. However William pined in America and Lily was miserable at home, until she could stand no more and ran away leaving Flora behind to be raised by the man she married to preserve her reputation. 

Riordan Maguire had adored Flora and despite Lily’s urging, had refused to let her see Flora again, preferring to explain away her absence by spinning a story acceptable for a child.

‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if William and Alice found happiness together after all this time? It’s just—’ she broke off, smothering a yawn at the reappearance of Stokes who set down a tray in front of them, wished them both goodnight and withdrew.

‘I’m going up to bed. Enjoy your coffee.’ As she rose to leave, he grasped her hand and tugged her gently onto the squab.

‘Could you give me a moment, Flora? There’s something I need to tell you. Well, more show you actually.’

‘Something which explains why you were late for dinner?’ she asked, yawning again.

‘In a way.’ He stood, one hand held palm downwards in a command for her to stay. ‘Wait here. I’ll be back in a moment.’

‘Can’t whatever it is keep until morn—’ she broke off with a sigh as she addressed an empty room.

More for something to do than a desire for some coffee, she poured herself a cup and stirred in milk, the gentle tinkling of silver against china the only sound in the room as the hot, aromatic coffee triggered her senses.

The evening she had anticipated with such pleasure should have been one for celebration, but as she had observed her parents smile at each other across her dining table, all her unresolved feelings had resurfaced.

The knowledge that Lily Maguire had cared for other people’s children in a London hospital while her own daughter grew up without her remained a cruel irony. That Alice had instigated contact again went some way to compensating for the past, although a deep-seated antipathy persisted for all the lost years in between.

Flora’s childhood had been far from unhappy with Riordan Maguire, who had always been a loving parent if an uncompromising one. His halo had slipped slightly when she discovered he had known Lily had been alive all this time. He had even destroyed the letters she sent him pleading for forgiveness.  Letters Flora had known nothing about, but which Alice had told her she had written in an effort to see her again. That he had been killed protecting Flora made it impossible to harbour bitterness against him, but also meant he could never explain.

At the sound of the rear hall door closing, she returned her cup to its saucer. The smile she had summoned in anticipation of Bunny’s return faded instantly when she realized he was not alone. A young man with light brown hair hovered a pace behind him, his head down and shoulders hunched as if unsure of his welcome. He lifted his head, his eyes meeting Flora’s for a second before he ducked away, his cheeks flushed red.

‘Eddy!’ A shaft of delighted recognition ran through her and she leapt to her feet, crossed the room in two strides. ‘How lovely to see you. But why are you here this late? Has something happened?’

Born in London, Anita has always had a penchant for all things historical. She now lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, the backdrop for her Flora Maguire mysteries.    Twitter  Website