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

The Forgotten Gift Kathleen McGurl 5*#Review @KathMcGurl @HQStories @rararesources #Timeslip #HistFic #ContemporaryFiction #TuesdayThoughts #Mystery #Family #Secrets #Parenting #BlogTour #BookReview #Geneaology #TheForgottenGift




What would you do to protect the ones you love?

1861. George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?

Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…

Discover a family’s darkest secrets today.

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

My Thoughts…

A dual timeline novel set in the Victorian era and the present day, this emotional story about love, family, and secrets is an engaging read. George and Cassie’s initial connection is through genealogy. George is a distant relative in Cassie’s family history. The story begins with an extract from George’s will noting a bequest to the wife of a prison chaplain. Moving to the twenty-first century, Cassie finds an unexpected connection in her family tree.

George is a naive man who seeks, but never finds, parental love, he needs. Cassie has parental love, but never recovered emotionally, from an early life experience. Cassie and George’s emotional vulnerability connects them. They are flawed and naive but easy to empathise. Both timelines give the reader a good sense of time and place. It’s easy to visualise the Victorian household and the differences in society’s expectation in the differing centuries.

The brutal contrasts of Victorian society are portrayed well in a story with many poignant moments. George, despite his lack of worldliness, is loyal, and you want him to find the happiness he deserves. Both stories have family and love at their heart. The plot reveals its secrets in a way that keeps you turning the pages.

Believable emotion, clever connections and historical detail make this an intriguing and satisfying story.

Kathleen McGurl

Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance, Saga

One More For Christmas Sarah Morgan 5*#Review @SarahMorgan_ @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #FestiveRead #Christmas #Family #Love #MothersandDaughters #Sisters #RomCom #HolidayFiction #OneMoreForChristmas

Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.

And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…

As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Snow and the Scottish Highlands at Christmas seems idyllic, and that’s what Sam’s hoping for as she and her sister try out a highland lodge for her bespoke festive holidays’ company. They always spend the festive season together, but this time their estranged mother is coming too. Gayle has a successful company, but her family life is non-existent. This is not something she worries about until she has an accident and realises how alone she is.

The story told mainly from the three women’s point of view is engaging, poignant and realistic. The setting may be like a fairytale, but the angst is real and threatens the magic of the season. There are humour and romance are interwoven into the emotional minefield of past loss and secrets. The flawed characters are appealing, and you want them to find familial happiness.

The romance is magical and passionate. The childlike perspective from Tabitha, light relief in this emotional tale and the end of this story is positive and uplifting.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Festive Read, Romance, Travel

All About Us Tom Ellen 4*#Review @TomEllen7 @HQStories #TimeTravel #Romance #December #Winter #Festive #SecondChances #BlogTour #BookReview #AllAboutUs #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation #Paperback

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

Two loves. Two lives. One destiny…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The festive season crystallises memories good and bad for most people and Christmas 2020 proves to be a memorable one for Ben. At a low point in his life, he has a serendipitous meeting with a man who gives him a watch and food for thought. What follows, defies belief but at such a magical time of year, anything is possible, right?

Ben, his wife Daff, best friend Harv and Alice the what-if lover are all well-described, relatable characters in this engaging story. The festive twist comes from the December time frame and the contemporary interpretation of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.

This story focuses on the turning points of Ben’s life when he makes life-changing decisions. Given the opportunity, should he change them? Revisiting the past forces Ben to see things differently, not everything is as he remembers it, and this is important for his future actions.

There’s a new adult romance, coming of age, loss, love and magical time travel in this reflective story.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Suspense

The Smuggler’s Daughter Kerry Barrett 4*#Review @kerrybean73 @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #Timeslip #HistoricalFiction #ContemporaryFiction #Mystery #WeekendReads

Only she knows the truth. Only she can save them.

1799
Emily Moon lives with her mother in an inn on a clifftop in the darkest reaches of Cornwall. After her father mysteriously disappears, her mother finds solace at the bottom of a bottle, and the only way to keep afloat is to turn a blind eye to the smugglers who send signals from the clifftops. But Emily knows that the smugglers killed her father to ensure his silence, and she will not let his murder go unpunished…

Present day
After a case ends in tragedy, police officer Phoebe Bellingham flees to Cornwall for a summer of respite. But rather than the sunny Cornwall of her dreams, she finds herself on storm-beaten cliffs, surrounded by stories of ghosts and smugglers – and the mysterious Emily Moon, who vanished without a trace over two centuries ago. As rain lashes down around her, Phoebe determines to find the truth behind the rumours – but what she uncovers will put herself in danger too…

A haunting and moving timeslip novel

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Smuggler’s Daughter is a mysterious timeslip story, connected by place and two women. This is an atmospheric story in both 1799 and 2019, with the danger of smugglers and an underlying menace.

In Cornwall in 1799, Emily witnesses a terrible crime which she vows to avenge. Viewed as strange by her community, she has few friends. Phoebe is reeling from a mistake that left someone dead. She escapes to Cornwall and finds a mystery to occupy her mind.

Both stories are engaging with strong female characters who draw you into their lives and gain your empathy. The well-paced plot provides a medley of mystery, paranormal and romance amidst Cornwall at its most haunting and rugged.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy

Accidentally in Love Belinda Missen 4*#Review @belinda_missen @HQStories @rararesources #RomCom #BlogTour #BookReview

In the space of a week, Katharine Patterson has quit her job, decided to move back home, and broken up with the guy she thought was the one.

No big deal.

Because Katharine has a plan. She’s going to open her own art gallery, just like she’s always wanted. What she’s not going to do is worry about boyfriends.

Then she meets Kit, a handsome and talented local artist. He might be the most stubborn person Katharine has ever met. He might also make her feel like no one ever has before.

And Katharine might be about to fall accidentally in love…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A good rom-com can brighten your day, and this story does that. Katharine has decided that life is for living so newly single and jobless she follows her dream to own a gallery. Romance is not on the to-do list, but meeting opinionated, talented Kit, may change her mind.

This is an enemy to lover trope, the best kind for a rom-com and these characters work this angle so well. There is lots of conflict and humour, as the two strong characters try to get what they want. Katharine is undeniably attracted to the man, but she wants things her way.

This story has some original touches and great realistic characters. There’s plenty of amusement and although the chemistry sizzles the romance is sweet. The author’s use of sensory imagery makes the events easy to visualise increasing the reader enjoyment.

Everything you want in a rom-com, fun, friction and a fabulous ending.

Belinda Missen

Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being set up by a friend two states away.

Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crime, Family Drama

In Cold Blood Jane Bettany 5*#Review @JaneBettany @HQStories #CrimeFiction #InColdBlood #BlogTour #BookReview #DIIsabelBlood #FridayReads

No secret can stay buried forever…

As the Whitworth family begin renovations on their new home, their plans are brought to an abrupt end when they discover a body buried in the back garden.

DI Isabel Blood and her team are called to investigate, but as she approaches Ecclesdale Drive, a feeling of unease settles in her gut.

The property cordoned off is number 23. The house she used to live in as a child…

The forensic team estimate that the body has been in the ground for up to forty years – coinciding with the time Isabel’s family lived in the house.

Isabel’s father vanished without a trace when she was fourteen years old. And with her mother remaining tight-lipped about her father’s disappearance, Isabel can’t escape the unnerving sense of dread that it’s his body, buried in the garden.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a fabulous debut crime novel. Its well-crafted plot has engaging and relatable characters and an authentic urban setting. Isabel Blood is a time-served police detective who juggles family and work life with the help of a supportive partner and professional colleagues. She is believable and easy to empathise, essential characteristics for the lead detective in a police procedural.

The East Midland’s setting in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire is familiar to me, as I lived there for many years. The author conveys it’s idiosyncracies thorough dialogue and description so well.

The plot has depth and unexpected twists that keep the reader absorbed and guessing. The ending is suspenseful and concludes the case satisfactorily. Hopefully, there will be more books in this series with its realistic team dynamic, and likeable lead detective.

Jane Bettany

I am the author of In Cold Blood, a crime novel published by HQ (HarperCollins) featuring DI Isabel Blood and set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge. The book won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition, which was for women writers over the age of 40 who had written a novel with a protagonist in the same age range.

In Cold Blood is my first novel, but I have been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for over twenty years, many of which have appeared in women’s magazines, literary magazines, newspapers and online.

I live in Derby, UK and have an MA in Creative Writing.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Sweet Home Montana Shann McPherson 4*#Review @Shann_McPherson @HQStories #ContemporaryRomance #BlogTour #BookReview #FridayReads #SweetHomeMontana

They say that home is where the heart is…

When a family tragedy strikes, Quinn Wagner travels home to Black Canyon, Montana for the first time in almost a decade. Having left her childhood sweetheart Colt at the altar before she fled, Quinn knows her homecoming will mean facing up to her past.

But when Quinn runs into Colt on her family’s ranch and realises that the old sparks still fly between them, she begins to wonder whether it’s time to come home for good.

As Quinn and Colt become closer, it’s clear they have unfinished business. But Colt is hiding something, and when his secret is revealed it will show Quinn just how much can change in ten long years—and how difficult it is to slot back in to a life that’s moved on without her…

Full of romance, humor and with a guaranteed HEA,

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

An engaging mix of coming of age, family drama and second chance romance. Ten years on, in the wake of a family tragedy, Quinn is forced to return home. She’s left her boyfriend at the altar to follow her dreams. Her reception at home is less than enthusiastic, but she’s matured and is prepared to acknowledge her mistakes. Colt has issues, and secrets, forgiveness seems far away, but he can’t deny the chemistry still sizzles between them.

This is about following your dreams, finding out what you want in life and the emotions associated with this. It also touches on the expectations of women and what happens when we ignore these.

This is a heartwarming, intense second chance romance with a strong element of family drama in a contemporary setting.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Travel

Eleven Lines to Somewhere Alyson Rudd 4*#Review @allyrudd_times @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #Love #Loss #Mystery #Family #serendipity #LiteraryFiction

In a world of what-ifs, a connection has been made.

When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube on his commute, he can’t take his eyes off her. Instantly attracted and intrigued, he’s keen to find out more about his mysterious fellow passenger.

The woman he thinks of as Millie spends all day travelling the Underground, unable to leave for reasons unbeknownst to Ryan. For some inexplicable reason, he just can’t shake the feeling he wants to help her escape her endless commute.

This is a story of love and loss from the author of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died

Amazon UK Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

This story relies strongly on its characters to capture the reader’s heart and keep them reading. The plot is detailed and reflective in keeping with literary fiction, but it also relies on serendipity and how one person’s actions can affect others.

The setting on the underground gives the story an iconic quality. It is also relatable for the millions that have ridden the underground. People watching is inevitable when travelling in such proximity. This story stems from people watching and whether they do have mysteries to solve.

Ryan’s fixation with Sylvie, her compulsion to ride the underground, and his quest to help her is the momentum of this story. The characters are emotional and honest and easy to empathise. Their lives are ordinary but fascinating as is their fatalistic overlaps.

Read this book with no expectations and see what you think.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Suspense

Darkest Night Jenny O’Brien 5*#Review @ScribblerJB @HQStories #CrimeFiction #DetectiveGabyDarin #Wales #BlogTour #DarkestNight #BookReview #17July #Preorder

Christine De Bertrand wakes up to her worst nightmare: rather than the man she went to bed with, lying beside her is her housemate, Nikki – dead. With no memory of the night before, Christine can’t explain what happened, and the police are baffled. For DC Gaby Darin, newly arrived from Swansea after her last case ended in tragedy, it’s a mystery she’s determined to solve. When another woman goes missing, Gaby faces a race against time to uncover the link between the two victims and find the man who vanished from Christine’s bedroom. But as Gaby gets close, the killer gets closer – and soon one of Gaby’s own team is in unimaginable danger…

Amazon UK Waterstones

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

My Thoughts…

The second Detective Gaby Darin book has a well-constructed plot and excellent characters. This contemporary mix of police procedural and psychological suspense told from multi-viewpoints is absorbing. The reader gains an omniscient view of the events but is everyone a reliable narrator?

The story is pacy and intelligently plotted. The crime descriptions are graphic and add to the authenticity. Psychological suspense makes the investigation complex, which makes detecting the criminal harder.

There’s an adrenaline-inducing conclusion that keeps you guessing.

Jenny O’Brien was abandoned in Dublin at the tender age of 17 by her parents when they decided to move to Wales. It was only on the completion of her studies that she was finally able to join them. 
She’s an avid reader and book blogger in addition to being a RoNA book judge. She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. 

In her spare time, she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer.

Jenny currently resides on the island of Guernsey with her husband, children and cats. She works as a nurse and writes in her spare time. 
 

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