I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
Jess is a determined and desperate woman who will do anything to save her family business. She is astute, and knows how society works, and decides to become one of them to achieve her aims. Noel is a carefree, gentleman entitled but not arrogant and he is smitten with Jess.
This is a sensual romance with great chemistry between the couple. The conflict to their happy-ever-after revolves around Jess’s lies when the truth is so important to a man with trust issues. The couple’s dialogue is witty and wonderful and carries the story along to its happy conclusion but only after considerable angst and heartache for the mismatched pair.
Olivia Hamilton can do no wrong. Or at least that’s what the community of Fox River, North Carolina thinks of the odd but sweet young lady. She’s hiding a past she’d rather forget, engaged to the town’s most eligible bachelor, and longing for someone to see past the mask she wears. Olivia wants to find herself, forgive herself, and fall in love with someone who sees and embraces her flaws.
Denver MacKenna grew up the fiddle-playing prodigy of not only his hometown of Fox River but of North Carolina and the surrounding states. He plays obsessively and tours as often as possible, escaping a life of loneliness at home. Until he meets a beautiful siren who calls to him and has him making plans to settle down. Denver knows it’s wrong to covet the elusive Olivia, but finds himself inexplicably drawn to the brief glimpses she gives him of her true self.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely gentle romance set in a small town. The romance is sweet, but Olivia is living with controlling parents. She is living half a life until her singing draws Denver to her like a siren’s song.
Olivia’s character development is satisfying, as her slow burn romance with Denver progresses. There is an inevitable conflict with her parents and the man they want her to marry, but finally, her true self emerges independent and strong.
Jess B. Moore is a writer of love stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her accomplished and headstrong children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.
Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family. She takes too many pictures of her cats, thinking the Internet loves them as much as she does. She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.
The Fox River Romance novels combine her interests in family, music, and small towns into thoughtful tales of growing up and falling in love. These books can be read as stand-alone, or as a series starting with The Guilt of a Sparrow.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK- Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an intense family drama. It explores the fragility of relationships and the damage caused by lies and dark secrets. Romy and Michael are a successful couple although she’s undoubtedly put her husband’s career as a barrister above her career aspirations she’s happy until she receives a letter. It makes her question her belief in her husband, her life to date. What should she do?
The ensuing moral dilemma damages her marriage and forces her to leave. Second chances avail themselves, but a life-changing event forces Romy to return to her former life and face the consequences.
Driven by vivid characters, this is an absorbing story full of darkness and mystery. Romy’s role as a mother defines her and almost forces her into a prison-like existence. Clever twists and contemporary issues make this story relevant.
The pacing is slow, but this fortifies the suspense, and the powerful ending is worth the angst.
From the author of Our Kind of Cruelty comes an enthralling, irresistible novel of psychological suspense about three women and the destructive power of buried secrets.
When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, an adoring husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous, wealthy, and cherished by those who knew her—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, and maybe even themselves.
A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the listener must untangle to answer the question Who killed Nancy?
Imperfect Women explores guilt and retribution, love and betrayal, and the compromises we make that alter our lives irrevocably.
I received a copy of this audiobook from Orion Publishing UK and Hachette Audio UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a story about three women who met at college and have kept in contact. Eleanor, Mary and Nancy are different personalities, but their bond is strong. When Nancy dies the guilt, lies and secrets emerge, as Eleanor and Mary try to find out who killed Nancy.
Told from the women’s viewpoints in differing timelines, it is introspective, and audio is the perfect media for this. The mystery of who killed Nancy is the underlying theme, but the emphasis is on the lies and secrets the women keep and how these affect them.
The narration is professional and brings the characters and stories to life. Initially, some of the voices irritate, but as the story progresses, you get used to them.
The story is dark and poignant, but the women are believable and relatable and easy to empathise. The slow pacing intensifies the emotion and suspense in this contemporary insight into relationships.
Pilot Blair Snyder doesn’t believe in soulmates. But when her best friend begs her to try the matchmaking service Liaisons International, she ends up on a date with the gorgeous Matteo Rinaldi. The night that follows is incredible, intense—so she leaves without even telling him her name. Now she has a billionaire in hot pursuit—and a secret identity flying his private plane!
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Blair and Teo are clients of Liaison International. Blair, an ex-fighter pilot, is a reluctant participant. She’s persuaded, by Miranda, her best friend and owner of the agency, to give it a try. Teo needs a date to ward off his sister’s clumsy matchmaking. The attraction they experience on first acquaintance is powerful and unexpected.
The sensual romance is well-written, but the emotional connection, between the couple, is missing until the end.
Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.
This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?
But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK in return for an honest review.
The predictability of this story’s foundation makes it relatable, and when it all goes wrong so much more chilling. Orla and Kate best friends embark on a long-awaited weekend away. Orla, a new mum, is torn between rekindling her friendship and lost identity and staying home with the child she idolises. She goes and quickly gets into the weekend away vibe. Unfortunately, the next morning Kate is missing, and so is Orla’s recollection of the night before.
The story follows Orla trying to find Kate and what she uncovers along the way. There are lots of twists, plenty of smokescreens and unreliable characters. Who can she trust? The suspenseful, pacy plot engenders a sense of danger.
I like the dynamic between Orla and her unlikely hero. The ending is true to the psychological thriller genre, unexpected, unexplained and unsettling.
One unsolved murder. A best friend determined to right the wrongs of the past.
On the 21st August Tabitha Rice disappeared without a trace. All the signs point to murder, but no signs point to a murderer. The easiest answer is her husband, Rick. But he protests his innocence and there is little proof he is the murderer.
Annabella knows there is more to the story than what the police are telling. Tabitha was her best friend and she vows to uncover the truth.
As Annabella delves further into the past, she uncovers sides to Tabitha that she never saw coming, and she finds herself asking the question… Was this murder? Or is there more to Tabitha Rice’s story than meets the eye?
Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at a prestigious PR firm in London. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in to the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.
Say, wouldn’t it be a gas if all of us here are pretending to be something we’re not?’
1957: Iris Bailey is bored to death of working in the typing pool and living with her parents in Hemel Hampstead. A gifted portraitist with a talent for sketching guests at parties, she dreams of becoming an artist. So she can’t believe her luck when wealthy socialite Nell Hardman invites her to Havana to draw at the glittering wedding of her Hollywood director father.
Iris is thrilled to escape to a faraway city by the sea. But she soon realizes that the cocktails, tropical scents and azure skies mask a darker reality. As Cuba teeters on the edge of revolution and Iris’s heart melts for troubled photographer Joe, she discovers that someone in the charismatic Hardman family is hiding a terrible secret. Can she uncover the ugly truth behind the glamour and the dazzle before all their lives are torn apart?
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK, Transworld Publishers – Black Swan in return for an honest review.
This story captures the thirst for glamour and the diminished role of women that epitomises the 1950s. Intelligent but naive Iris inwardly rails against her life but feels ill-equipped to alter its path. A talented portraitist who works in a typing pool marriage is the only way out. Meeting socialite Nell is unexpected. Nell’s surprise invitation means Iris can escape for a while.
Clever use of visual imagery brings pre-revolution Cuba to life. Lies, mystery, politics and secrets are interweaved into this glitzy yet tawdry story. Some characters have more depth than others, but all make up a cast of players that give insight into the final months of Havana before the revolution.
Iris’ character development is significant as she experiences the facets of humanity and the turmoil of a country on the precipes of political change.
Rachel Rhys is the pen-name of a much-loved psychological suspense author. She is the author of the Richard and Judy bookclub pick, Dangerous Crossing and the bestselling A Fatal Inheritance. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.
Everyone remembers the day the girls went missing.
May Day 1912, a day that haunts Missensham. The day two girls disappeared. The day the girls were murdered. Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were never meant to be friends. From two very different backgrounds, one the heir to the Caldwell estate, the other a humble vicar’s daughter. Both have their secrets, both have their pasts, but they each find solace with one another and soon their futures become irrevocably intertwined. Now, many years later, old footage has emerged which shows that Iris Caldwell may not have died on that spring morning. The village must work out what happened the day the girls went missing…
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus- Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Lost Girls is a surprisingly poignant story of two girls, from different social classes, who dared to defy society’s norms. An old home movie, showing a girl who went missing, believed abducted and murdered, is the catalyst for a surprising chain of events.
The characters are complex and flawed, and their story is full of dark secrets, and desperate emotion. An absorbing, engaging story, with a uniqueness that keeps you reading.
Guest Post- Jennifer Wells-The Lost Girls
The little moments which bring the past back to life
There is something quite eerie about old films. I don’t mean cinematic classics or even the first Hollywood movies. I’m talking about the old cine films that survive from the early twentieth century. Such films were shot using cumbersome machines, where filming depended on an operator who could doggedly turn a crank handle for minutes on end. These machines produced images that are little more than light and shadow – grainy outlines and stuttering movements – yet there is something about them that is very alluring.
Among these films are some of the very first home movies. They show horse-drawn trams battling through busy shopping streets, exuberant workers spilling from factory gates, football matches, political marches and family events. The women wear shawls or gloves, their skirts swishing around their ankles as they walk. The men strut boldly, their hands thrust into the pockets of their suits. But whether young, old, rich or poor – everyone wears a hat.
The films I am describing are now over a hundred years old. The Edwardian era is a time that has become unfamiliar to us. When you watch such films, the horse-drawn trams and long skirts seem like things that only ever existed in the pages of history books, and the people appear, not as busy shoppers or factory workers, but ghosts.
It is the ghost-like quality of such films that gave me the inspiration for the opening scene of my latest novel, THE LOST GIRLS. The novel opens in 1937 with a public screening of an old film – a lost home movie that had been shot 25 years earlier on May Day 1912. As the audience watch entranced, the image of a girl in a white dress flashes on to the screen. Her face is one that they all recognise – Iris Caldwell, a girl who was thought to be dead by that May Day morning. A girl presumed murdered.
When I first started writing THE LOST GIRLS, Iris Caldwell was little more than a ghost to me. She was no more than one of those old cine film images, her face in shadow and her movements slow and stuttering. But I wanted to give life to a character who might have appeared in one of these old films, and soon the girl in the white dress became flesh and blood to me. Iris Caldwell became a girl who, like many others, loved to read novels and longed for friendships. She also became a girl with terrible secrets and forbidden desires. We live in a time that is very different from 1912. The horse-drawn trams, long skirts and a multitude of hats belong to a world that seems very strange to us. Yet, among the grainy faces that peer out from the past, we can sometimes spot a smile or a wink – something that reminds us that the people who lived back then were not so different to us after all. It is these little moments which bring the past so much closer again.
Jennifer is the author of THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS, THE SECRET and THE LOST GIRLS published by Aria Fiction. Her novels involve the themes of family, betrayal and love and are set in the home counties in the early 20th century. Jennifer lives in Devon with her young family and cats.
Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.
Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .
Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.
In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This book has many positive qualities. It’s cleverly plotted, with complex and relatable characters, and a good balance of humour and poignancy. It explores family and personal issues, with honesty and sensitivity.
The dramatic beginning draws the reader into the family drama. Delving into past family interactions and individual stories, an astute and insightful look at the family reveals deceit, infidelity and mental health issues. There are many characters, some hard to empathise, but they all play an integral part in the unfolding story.
Its slow pace and length, make it an ideal holiday read?