Your daughter is missing. Did someone close to you take her?
Seven-year-old Beatrice has gone missing. Her mother Claire’s whole world has been turned upside down in just one moment and she can’t stop shaking. She’s desperate to find her precious daughter, but nothing about the day she disappeared makes sense…
The mother-in-law: Jill was meant to be looking after Beatrice. She says she didn’t take her eyes off the little girl but her version of events doesn’t add up… Claire has never got on with her, so why should she trust her now?
The husband: He should have been with their only child. Instead, he changed the plans without telling Claire. She didn’t think there were any secrets between them, but maybe she was wrong?
The first wife: Laurel has always been jealous of Claire’s family. Has her husband’s ex-wife taken her daughter?
Which one of them is lying? And who really knows where Beatrice is?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via Netgalley in return for an honest review..
This is a compelling read. The author’s ability to take a traumatic incident and weave an ethos of menace and suspense is what makes her stories so addictive. Told from multi viewpoints, the reader gains insight into the two unreliable protagonists and the unknown antagonist.
The family unit is scrutinised, and the devastation a missing child causes is convincingly written. The believably written relationship dynamics immerse the reader into the characters’ traumatised world. The story keeps its secrets well, and although I did work out the antagonist, the author still has the final word.
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
The Therapist is an addictive blend of cleverly crafted characters, nail-biting psychological suspense and a puzzling plot. Alice and Leo move into the exclusive gated development in London to begin their lives together. Alice is unsure if London life will suit her, but Leo wants to live in London, and she wants to see more of him.
Told exclusively from Alice’s perspective, she soon reveals herself as an unreliable protagonist. A past family tragedy still defines her life, and she sees the change of lifestyle as a way of living again. Alice dislikes The Circle’s sinister ethos. A series of unexpected revelations intensify her emotional vulnerability to breaking point. Everyone has secrets, and Alice isn’t sure who she can trust. The house’s tragic history immerses Alice until her life starts to unravel, pushing her relentlessly towards danger.
Short passages from the past with undefinable characters intensify the sense of menace and suspense towards the climactic, twisted conclusion. The final shocking twist is well disguised. This is a book you won’t want to put down. It will have you checking you’ve locked the doors.
Carla Sullivan’s 50th birthday is fast approaching when her whole world is turned upside down. Discovering her feckless husband is having yet another affair and following her mother’s death, she is in need of an escape. Finding an envelope addressed to her mother’s estranged sister Josette in the South of France gives Carla the perfect plan.
Seizing the moment, she packs her bags and heads to Antibes to seek out the enigma known as Tante Josette. But as the two women begin to forge a tentative relationship, family secrets start to unravel, forcing Carla to question her life as she has always known it.
I received a copy of this audiobook from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I read the digital book in 2019. The audiobook edition brings the characters to life in an engaging way. Carla’s character is easy to empathise, as she comes to terms with her family’s secrets. The narrator differentiates between the different characters and genres believably. This story is easy to listen to and perfect to escape with.
The author’s knowledge and love of France come through clearly in this story. The setting is vivid, beautiful, and sometimes in sharp contrast to the revelations at the villa.
This is a multi-generational family drama. Carla’s life isn’t easy, an unfaithful husband, looking after her sick mother, and an empty nest, something needs to change. Uncharacteristically she takes an opportunity to visit Antibes and her estranged aunt.
Forgiveness, love, relationships and secrets, are interwoven into this engaging story. It’s a chance to see an ending as a new beginning. The issues explored are emotionally draining, but the outcome is hopeful and makes the angst worthwhile.
The characters are flawed, sometimes they lack the courage to take the first step to something better, but they are easy to empathise and believable. The setting is a lovely contrast to the drama and emotions, and the story’s ending is heartwarming.
Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.
Berlin, 1942: for four years, the men in field grey have helped themselves to country after country across Western Europe. For Werner Nehmann, a journalist at the Promi—the Ministry of Propaganda—this dizzying series of victories has felt like a party without end. But now the Reich’s attention has turned towards the East, and as winter sets in, the mood is turning. Werner’s boss, Joseph Goebbels, can sense it. A small man with a powerful voice and coal-black eyes, Goebbels has a deep understanding the dark arts of manipulation. His words, his newsreels, have shaken Germany awake, propelling it towards its greater destiny and he won’t let—he can’t let—morale falter now. But the Minister of Propaganda is uneasy and in his discomfort has pulled Werner into his close confidence. And here, amid the power struggle between the Nazi Chieftains, Werner will make his mistake and begin his descent into the hell of Stalingrad.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus in return for an honest review.
Stories like this stand or fall on the quality of the author’s research, understanding of the historical events and the ability to weave fact into fiction believably. This story has authenticity, adrenaline-pumping pace, intricate and vivid historical detail, and creates a believable world of atrocity and war that is both addictive and shocking for the reader.
This story explores the power of propaganda from two protagonist perspectives. One a pilot, the other a journalist both with powerful masters. The story that unfolds is an intriguing balance of action and introspection immersing the reader in the story before delivering the horrors of war and the twists of evil minds.
It’s a pacy read, harrowingly graphic in parts but it’s addictive and stays with you after the last word.
Graham Hurley is the author of the acclaimed Faraday and Winter crime novels and an award-winning TV documentary maker. Two of the critically lauded series have been shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Best Crime Novel.
The first Wars Within novel, Finisterre, was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize.
She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?
Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. While Emily breaks free, she’s forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.
Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 – and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.
David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a disturbing, intense psychological suspense, an insightful and sensitive exploration of domestic and child abuse and the resultant damage. The subject matter is difficult to read. Emily and Jack’s vulnerability and the perversions of David and his ilk are well-written without the need for an overly graphic description. This exploration of a contemporary issue is relatable and sinister because it parallels reality.
The characters are defined, and flawed some are easy to empathise because of their vulnerability. Others are despicable and easy to hate.
Although this more suspense than a thriller, the writing style and structure keep the momentum and make this a page-turner. The pacy plot keeps the reader on edge, the undercurrents of menace apparent and intensify as the story progresses.
This is noir crime creating a gritty, vice-ridden world that you want the protagonists to escape.
British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott (also known as Helen Blenkinsop) loves to escape with an exciting and emotional read, and that’s what she aims to write too. Based in Bristol, she’s also lived and worked in London and Birmingham. All three cities feature in her pacy suspense thrillers. Her latest psychological thriller, ‘Bright Lies’, begins in North Somerset with a posh art exhibition in Bath. Young Emily meets the man who will change her life and cause her to run away to a squat in Birmingham, work in a nightclub and get further entangled in a web of lies.
To write ‘Bright Lies’, Helen has had advice from thirty beta readers on subjects as varied as police procedure, drug abuse, grooming, art, music, DJing and clubbing. She’s grateful to them and to her editor, Katharine D’Souza, for making huge improvements to the story.
Helen’s earlier 5 book Trail series is a lighter read focused on a vodka business. Snow Mountain is a premium vodka made in the former Soviet Union, and its owners have blood on their hands. The saga follows the fortunes of two families running the business and what happens when they fall out with each other and with a London gangster. Glamorous heroine Kat is the girl readers love to hate at the beginning of the series, but by the last book, she has won them over. Book research for the series included prison life, hotel research and vodka. Helen especially enjoyed a tour and tasting with the helpful folk at the Chase Distillery in Herefordshire.
Like 10% of us, many of Helen’s family are dyslexic. While she is not, she wants her books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. She publishes her thrillers in a Large Print dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. (You can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.) Audiobooks are definitely on the cards – watch this space!
Helen likes speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, she’d love to hear from you.
Helen is a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.
Zoe fainted on her wedding day, and she never knew why. She’s always felt sure something bad happened. Ten years later, she’s going to find out what…
It was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Zoe was sitting in her hotel room, in her perfect white dress, looking forward to the moment when she would make kind, handsome Toby her husband.
Then, there was a blank.
They said she must have fainted, overcome with emotion. But nothing felt quite right afterwards. Did something happen in that missing time?
Now, Toby and Zoe have two beautiful children and a perfect life. They’re planning their ten-year anniversary party for their family and friends. The invitations have been sent, the food ordered. They’re going back to the grand hotel where they got married.
But as the anniversary gets closer, it becomes clear not everyone is looking forward to celebrating. She catches Toby lying about where he’s been. One of her best friends seems to be ignoring her. And someone is spreading stories that might stop the party from happening at all.
Zoe is increasingly sure that she doesn’t have the full story. But does she want to know the truth, if it will destroy everything?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Wife is another edge of your seat, intriguing read from this author.
Zoe cannot remember part of her wedding day, it’s not bothered her unduly, but as she organises her tenth wedding celebration, her life starts to unravel, and she’s not sure why.
This is a family drama with touches of noir, especially as the plot reveals the true events surrounding Zoe’s memory loss. The clues are there, and I did work out part of the mystery, but this increased my enjoyment of the story.
The pacing is perfect, the characters layered and hiding secrets and the final revelations breathtaking.
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.