Posted in Book Spotlight, Guest post, Mystery, Romantic Comedy

The Cornish Secret of Summer's Promise Laura Briggs #GuestPost @PaperDollWrites @rararesources #ALittleHotelinCornwall #RomCom #Cornwall #PublicationDay

As spring slips away from the hotel Penmarrow, excitement builds for an exclusive auction hosted at the hotel, featuring priceless possessions from a Hollywood actress turned lady of the manor, including her famous diamonds. Celebrities and collectors form a crowd that is keeping Maisie and the rest of staff busy, even as Maisie faces a crossroads for her manuscript.

But when the diamonds are stolen and Sidney is accused by the authorities, Maisie’s dilemma as a writer is pushed aside out of fear that his future in Port Hewer is in jeopardy. Desperation to prove that someone else is behind the theft will lead Maisie to uncover a very different secret outside of jewel thieves and village rumours… one that could change her life and her future forever.

Can Maisie deal with the latest secrets exposed — including those that paint Sidney’s past in a questionable light? And as summer’s dawn alters her idyllic life in Cornwall, will Maisie’s feelings for Sidney change as well?

Amazon UK

#PublicationDay
Guest Post Laura Briggs Fun Facts about My Romance Series ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’

Thank you so much to Jane for letting me stop by and share with her lovely readers today. It’s publication day for Book Four in my Cornish romance series about aspiring author Maisie who finds herself working at a historic hotel by the sea. This latest instalment is filled with romance, secrets, and even a bit of mystery—and I thought it might be rather exciting to share with you some of the fun facts behind the story’s creation. So here goes:

  • The concept for a plucky young American woman entangled with a daring theft on foreign shores was inspired partly by the 1989 TV movie adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit. It, too, features a ‘fish out of water’ scenario for a daring young heroine, a grand and mysterious foreign adventure, and a rugged, British love interest with a little bit of mystery in his past! Blake Edwards’ 1960’s comedy The Pink Panther was another influence, especially for Maisie’s latest brush with jewel thieves, along with the Road to Avonlea season four episode “The Disappearance” guest starring Diana Rigg and Robby Benson. I really love daring adventure stories with romantic settings and a touch of mystery, as you can see!
  • References to Doctor Who abound in my Cornish series, since both Maisie and her would-be love interest Sidney are huge fans of the classic science fiction show.  But there’s a more subtle nod to the franchise in this book, with the choice of ‘Eccleston’ as a surname for the silent film star whose possessions are being auctioned at the hotel—the same last name as that of the actor who portrayed the 9th incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 series revival (the very first series of Doctor Who that I ever watched, in fact!).
  • The jewelled dragon mentioned among the famous actresses’ collection in the story was inspired by the one featured in the 1991 Disney television movie Bejewelled, while the theft of a diamond necklace harkens back to the 1981 classic The Great Muppet Caper. Both of them are films that remind us that a little bit of mystery can pop up in any kind of story.
  • The character of Detective Anson is a nod to such classic literary investigators as Lord Peter Wimsey, Maigret, and Hercule Poirot. Every classic genre mystery has a distinctive, inscrutable investigator at its heart, after all.
  •   The Lady Marverly novel that pops up in the hands of various characters throughout the story is meant to be a (rather obvious) reference to the ‘bodice ripper’ type paperbacks one used to see for sale in supermarkets, often featuring the male model Fabio on the cover. I thought it would be nice to pay subtle tribute to the original ‘standard’ in romance literature that everybody has seen, with its memorable and oh-so unmistakable hunky male models on its covers!

So hopefully these fun facts will make you curious enough to check out Maisie’s newest adventure, as well as the rest of the series. The first four stories are available in eBook format, with book five currently on pre-order!

#LauraBriggs

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

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#GiveawayPrize
Giveaway  – 3 Winners to win a ‘surprise’ three-dimensional pop-up card & receive a digital copy of Book One, A Little Hotel in Cornwall. (Open INT)

Each winner will receive a ‘surprise’ three-dimensional pop-up card handcrafted by an Etsy artist and bearing a clue about the next book in Laura Briggs’ Cornish romance series. The winners will also receive a digital copy of Book One, A Little Hotel in Cornwall.

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 Blog Tour, Book Review, Fantasy, Magic

The Violinist's Apprentice Isabella Mancini 3 *#Review @darkstrokedark @crookedcatbooks @AuthorMancini @IsabellaManci10 #TimeSlip #historical #fantasy #Italy #17thCentury #BlogTour #BookReview #MondayBlogs @rararesources


#TheViolinistsApprentice

A dark journey through time.

It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch.  How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.

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#BlogTour

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

#TheViolinistsApprentice Image Credit Isabella Mancini

My Thoughts…

An original plot that involves timeslip from the 21st-century present day to 17th century Italy. The story centres around Clementina, a young girl who is naive and impressionable. A fusion between timeslip and fantasy in a contemporary and historical setting, it does require you to open your mind, to magic, time travel.

It takes a while, to set the scene, as the book is mainly told from Clementina’s point of view. Some chapters introduce a strange mystical woman. In Clementina’s contemporary school there is a rather creepy man, who is instigating the quest for objects, from the seven wonders of the world. There is a tenuous connection with twenty-first-century environmental problems.

I like the story’s themes, and the timeslip into 17th century Italy, but the plot seems overly complex and it’s hard to follow all the elements, as written, even though you understand the reason for them. The writing is vivid and descriptive, but the author’s vision and fantasy world need to be clearer to the reader.

#IsabellaMancini

Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books.  She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.

Previous books by Olga Swan:

An Englishwoman in America, From Paradis to Perdition, Pensioners in Paradis, The Mazurek Express, Lamplight, Vichyssoise, 3rd Degree Murder.

Twitter Facebook Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past Amazon page for Isabella Mancini Amazon page for Olga Swan

Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of An Englishwoman in America (Open INT)

*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 Blog Tour, Book Review, Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult

Monkey Arkwright Rob Campbell 4*#Review @monkeyarkwright @rararesources #BookReview #BlogTour #mystery #ComingofAge #Teen #YoungAdult #WardensoftheBlackHeart#1

#MonkeyArkwright

Budding writer Lorna Bryson is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father when she meets Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb. The two strike up an immediate rapport and Monkey challenges her to write about him, claiming that he can show her things that are worth writing about.

True to his word, Lorna is catapulted into Monkey’s world of climbing and other adventures in the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town of Culverton Beck.

When the two teenagers find an ancient coin in the woods, claims from potential owners soon flood in, including the mysterious Charles Gooch, who is adamant that the coin is his. But this is only the opening act in a much larger mystery that has its roots in some dark deeds that took place more than a century earlier.

Combining their talents, Lorna and Monkey set about fitting the pieces together in a tale of budding friendship, train-obsessed simpletons, the shadow of Napoleon and falling pianos.

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

My Thoughts…

A curious couple of youngsters are drawn together and into a strange and rather dark mystery, with supernatural elements. The characters in this book are complex and quirky, adding to their appeal, and allowing them to view events in a different light from the norm. The plot is detailed and fits together nicely, it is layered without appearing convoluted and is resolved well.

Both teenagers have sadness in their lives, and perhaps they see this similarity in each other and that’s what makes them friends. They both have strengths and weaknesses, but like all successful partnerships, together they are strong and successful.

An engaging, original mystery with wonderfully individual characters and interesting potential for further stories.

#RobCampbell

Rob Campbell was born in the blue half of Manchester.

He studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Manchester Polytechnic, gaining an honours degree, but the fact that he got a U in his Chemistry O-Level helps to keep him grounded.

Having had a belly full of capacitors and banana plugs, on graduation he transferred his skills to software engineering. He still writes code by day, but now he writes novels by night. Listing his pastimes in no particular order, he loves music, reading and holidays, but he is partial to the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.

His favourite authors are David Morrell, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch & Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

He lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters.

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

Mrs Ps Book of Secrets Lorna Gray 5* #Review @MsLornaGray @0neMoreChapter_ #LiteraryFiction #HistoricalFiction #postwar #1946 #TheCotswolds #loss #Mystery #FamilyDrama #Romance #FriendShip #BlogTour #30DaysofBlogs #LornaGray #TheBookGhost #MrsPsBookofSecrets

Mrs Ps Book of Secrets

There are no white shrouded spectres here, no wailing ghouls. Just the echoes of those who have passed, whispering that history is set to repeat itself.

The Cotswolds, Christmastime 1946: A young widow leaves behind the tragedy of her wartime life, and returns home to her ageing aunt and uncle. For Lucy – known as Mrs P – and the people who raised her, the books that line the walls of the family publishing business bring comfort and the promise of new beginnings.

But the kind and reserved new editor at the Kershaw and Kathay Book Press is a former prisoner of war, and he has his own shadows to bear. And when the old secrets of a little girl’s abandonment are uncovered within the pages of Robert Underhills’s latest project, Lucy must work quickly if she is to understand the truth behind his frequent trips away.

For a ghost dwells in the record of an orphan girl’s last days. And even as Lucy dares to risk her heart, the grief of her own past seems to be whispering a warning of fresh loss…

Mrs P’s Book of Secrets will be published in the US as The Book Ghost.

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

My Thoughts…

1946 is such an interesting time in British history. The immediate post-war years were very hard on the people. Rationing of food and other essential goods, men returning from the war changed both physically and mentally. Women, who had kept the country’s farms and industry running in the WW2, forced back to their former lives. This led to inevitable adjustment and unrest, after the relative freedom of wartime, for women, in terms of employment. Then, there were the men who didn’t return from the war and the widows who had to carry on.

Lucy, known as Mrs P, is one such widow, who finds herself unemployed in 1946 and bereft of the husband who was hers for such a short time. Returning home to her aunt and uncle and their Cotswold printing business is the only viable alternative, but even here things are not the same. They have a lodger and new employee, and Lucy struggles to fit in. The historical setting of this book proves to be the perfect backdrop for this story, and the details of life at the time and the intricacies of the printing and publishing world are absorbing.

This is Lucy’s story of coming to terms with her loss, accepting her world as it is now, and learning to live again. As the story progresses, events from Lucy’s past illuminate her present unsettled feeling, and her search to belong. The mystery of the missing girl, she discovers in a book, entangles itself with her childhood and loss, making her question everything, doubt those she should trust, and obsessively search for what happened to the young girl.

There is also a lovely friendship, which flowers into romance for Lucy. Slow-burning, because even though she feels physical attraction, feelings of guilt and fear of loss, push any thoughts of life beyond her single state, away for Lucy initially.

The echoes of her childhood, recent bereavement and the strange events that occur serve to haunt Lucy’s already emotionally unstable mind. The reader experiences this first hand, as the story is told in the first person. Sometimes, this is an uncomfortable place for the reader to be, the emotions are raw, and realisation slow to arrive, but the ending makes the angst worth suffering.

The conclusion of the mystery is not what you might expect, but it is believable, poignant, and shows how much Lucy has healed. There are still unexplained events, which you may interpret as you please. I am sure that we do not understand everything in this world, and choose to accept Lucy’s explanation.

A gently paced, historically detailed, romantic literary adventure. A young woman’s struggle with widowhood, as she explores an unusual mystery and experiences a few occurrences that defy explanation. Something original to enjoy that demands your ability to concentrate and become part of the story.

#LornaGray

Lorna Gray was born in 1980 in Bedfordshire. Her relationship with the glorious countryside of the Cotswolds began many years ago when she first moved to Cirencester. She has been exploring the area through her love of history, adventure and romance ever since.

This is Lorna’s fourth post-WWII mystery. Her three previous novels are In the Shadow of Winter (2015), The War Widow (2018) and The Antique Dealer’s Daughter (2018). She lives in the Cotswolds with her husband.

5* #Review

Read my author interview with Lorna Gray

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Humour, Mystery, Romance

Country Lovers Fiona Walker 5*#Review @fionawalkeruk @HoZ_Books #Romance #RuralLife #Friendship #Equestrian #humour #secrets #mystery #FamilyDrama #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview #ComptonMagna

#CountryLovers

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#CountryLovers

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

My Thoughts…

Horses, romance, scandal and secrets in the delightful rural setting of The Cotswolds. It begins with a nail-biting prologue and then launches into life in Compton Magna several years later. The connection is Luca, someone who has an extraordinary gift with horses. He has a reputation as a womaniser, but he has hidden depths and a plethora of secrets to be revealed as the story progresses.

The characters are many, and all of them richly described in such a vivid way that they are believable. The plot is complex, exploring relationships, village life, family drama and mysterious events and secrets. The Compton Magna stud is the focus of the story, so the horses and dogs are important characters too, which is part of the charm for me.

This is written in true bonkbuster style. It’s long, packed to the rafters with glamorous and enigmatic characters, many of whom behave less than circumspectly. Scandal, secrets and sex are rife in Compton Magna, which is a sharp contrast to the glorious rural setting. The humour is what makes this story so readable, and the snapshots on life and people so astute, that its worth reading for characterisation alone.

I loved this author’earlier stories, and this one reminds me of them, an enjoyable escapist read, full of emotion and sparkling dialogue, in a quintessentially rural England setting.

Fiona’s Writing Corner Image Credit Fiona Walker
Guest Post – Fiona Walker – The Three Big Questions Most Author’s Get Asked Are:

How did you first get published?

The answer I always give is: my novel was plucked out of the infamous Slush Pile when I was twenty-three and sold in a weekend. I was just so lucky!

That was more than half my lifetime ago now, and I still marvel at the Disney Princess naivety with which I stumbled into my writing career in the 1990s. Luck played an undeniable part: right time, right place. But I’d already done the hard bit – written a full-length book – before it surfaced in that slush pile. For me, getting published was enviably easy. My first few books were big best-sellers. I had no idea of the knock backs and soul-searching that would come further along the road. Staying published twenty-seven years later, now that’s taken a lot more blood, sweat and tears…

Yet writing Country Lovers reminded me exactly why I love this job so much, and why I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How do you discipline yourself to do it?

Ask me this, and I’ll tell you I sit alone in a room with my imagination for most of the day, most of the year, at the end of which a book pops out.

Really?

The truth is I procrastinate endlessly. I talk to the dogs, I wander around my office, I play the ukulele I keep on a stand on my desk, I shout at myself, I look up my reviews on Amazon, then everyone else’s reviews on Amazon. I type sentences then delete them. I look at the clock a lot. I make countless cups of coffee most of which get ignored go cold. If I do drink them, I need to get up to go to the loo a lot. I think, think, think about my plot and the characters.

Then suddenly, from nowhere, I’m through the door to my imaginary world and I can’t type fast enough. A thousand words, three, five. Oh hell, I’m on a roll and I need to do the school run. I try to keep in my head what’s going to happen next, the loon mum waiting in her car with the two pairs of reading glasses on her head, muttering repeatedly to herself.

Back at my desk, children abandoned elsewhere in the house, I write on, Seven thousand words, eight. I don’t look at the clock at all. Long-suffering partner makes supper. I appear briefly, thinking about the book all the time, disappear back into my study and tell him I’ll be up to bed in a minute. Ten thousand words, eleven.

At three in the morning, I go to bed, knowing I must sleep. I think about the book until I drift off. My eyes snap open five hours later, still thinking about it, and I rush back to my desk.

It really does happen like that sometimes.

Writing Country Lovers was like that.

Where do you get your ideas from?

To which, I laugh gaily laugh and say ‘they’re all around us – just look and listen! I find stories every day in the news, at the school gate, overheard in the train, meeting friends for coffee. It’s limiting the ideas I have trouble with.’ Stock answer, and absolutely true.

But…

When I set out to write Country Lovers I was all-too-aware that it’s my eighteenth full-length novel, on top of which I’ve written countless short stories, some nearer novella length. My novels are big – 600 plus page full-week-on-a-sun-lounger big – and full of multiple strands. I could make at least three smaller novels out of one of them (a friend once joked ‘you put absolutely every plot idea you’ve had in each one because you’re frightened you might never get to write another!’).

That’s a lot of ideas. I genuinely never run out of them, but I do worry I’m going to repeat myself.

Country Lovers might have a setting I’ve used before and a few favourite characters returning in it, but the central story is one I’ve never explored: what would happen if you met your perfect match on the worst night of your life?

I hope the only thing that repeats itself is that incredible luck I had twenty-seven years ago.

Fiona Walker, Oct 2019

#FionaWalker

Fiona Walker is the author of eighteen novels, from tales of flat-shares and clubbing in nineties London to today’s romping, rural romances set amid shires, spires and stiles. In a career spanning over two decades, she’s grown up alongside her readers, never losing her wickedly well-observed take on life, lust and the British in love. She lives in Warwickshire, sharing a slice of Shakespeare Country with her partner, their two daughters and a menagerie of animals.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage Rosie Green 5*#Review @Rosie_Green1988 #festive #Christmas #FamilyDrama #RomCom #Romance #VillageLife #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

#SnowflakesoverMoondanceCottage

When Jess Thornton’s dad was lost at sea, the family coped in different ways, alone in their grief. Now, her mum seems to be going off the rails and her sister, Isla, who moved to France, is now back and determined to get their old family home on the market. But the last thing Jess wants this Christmas is for renovations to start on the house. It’s sure to stir up all sorts of memories she’s desperate to avoid. And to make things worse, Isla appears to have hired the most obnoxious builder in the world to do the work. Jess could ignore the fact that women seem to be putty in his hands. But what she finds harder to ignore is the frisson she gets every time she squeezes past him in the mess that is now their beloved old home! Can the family finally start talking and find a way to move on from the past this Christmas?

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#SnowflakesoverMoondanceCottage

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

My Thoughts…

A lovely story with a festive backdrop. Family drama and romantic comedy are beautifully interwoven, in this tale, which features two sisters, a mother who is lost in grief, and a father who went away to sea and never came back.

There are family secrets, hard truths and many misunderstandings, which have been ignored until now. The time is right for the family to rebuild, Jess is living a half-life, her mother is distracted, and now Isla is back, and being so defensive.

Can Jess keep her family together? Can she face Christmas again, and why does she feel so attracted to the sexy builder who is destroying all her childhood memories?

A poignant, heartfelt story, with believable, flawed characters, full of angst and hidden depths. The slow-burning and sweet attraction between Jess and Seb is tested with a myriad of internal and external conflicts.

An emotional and realistic family drama. The resolution is in keeping with the story and brings this festive family story to a lovely conclusion.

,

#RosieGreen

Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.

Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published Christmas 2019.

Rosie is also writing a full-length, standalone book for Christmas 2019, entitled ‘Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage’.

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#RachelsRandomResources
Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller

The Scorched Earth Rachael Blok 4* #Review #GuestPost @MsRachaelBlok @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #CrimeFiction #Suspense #PsychologicalThriller #PoliceProcedural #DCIJansen #BlogTour

#TheScorchedEarth

Who really killed Leo Fenton?

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.

Ben’s wife Ana has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heatwave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?

St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.

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#BlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

The second book featuring Dutch detective DCI Jansen, who finds himself mystified by the close-knit English village community. It seems no one believes in plain-speaking, preferring closing ranks, and relying on innuendos.

The story is a sad one. Two brothers take a camping trip two years earlier. One is presumed dead, the other convicted of murder, but is it that simple. Ana, the accused brother’s partner. believes not. She has no chance of proving this until the missing brother’s body is found buried in the village. Now, his brother can’t be the murderer. DCI Jansen has to find the real killer, but although gossip is rife in the village, there is nothing of substance, and everyone is keeping secrets.

DCI Jansen suffers a personal tragedy, which he has to conquer, to stop his emotional state having a detrimental effect on the case. Ana wants to help her partner but doesn’t want to reveal what she knows. She feels threatened, and the suspense and menacing ethos surrounding her are well-written.

There is a strong psychological element to this story, particularly from Ana’s perspective, as events from her past invade her present situation. Events are revealed, from Leo’s point of view, in the past, and Ana, Ben and DCI Jansen’s points of view, in the present. The two timelines create dramatic irony, the reader knowing things the characters don’t at that time.

Scene setting and character dynamics form the first part of the book, this slows the pace, but the short chapters and active voice, keep the story moving satisfactorily, ensuring reader engagement. There are several viable suspects, and even though you may guess who did it, early on in the story, there are plenty of smoke and mirrors. to make you doubt it.

Clever twists and a final reveal, make this a good story, with its solid police procedural theme tempered with psychological suspense.

#RachelBlok

Rachael Blok grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London Comprehensive and is now a full-time writer living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.

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Guest Post- Rachael Blok – ‘The Scorched Earth’, and Ana: where she came from.

The Scorched Earth has a number of different voices, but my protagonist is Ana, a woman struggling with grief as her partner is in jail, and then ghosts from her past emerge: she begins to hear footsteps behind her in a car park late and night; she begins to look over her shoulder…  Ana’s experiences are both ideas I’ve wanted to write about for a while. It was a pleasure to see her come to life on paper.

Women are told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if they’re being attacked…

As a woman, I’ve felt on more than one occasion a burst of fear walking home in the dark, or walking into a car park late a night. My mum, my sister and I all took a self-defence course years ago, and we were told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if we’re attacked – people respond more if their property is threatened! I have no answer for this, but I find it terrifying. This fear resonates in the novel and I think, it’s fear men and women should both be aware of. I always tell my husband that if he’s walking behind a woman on her own, late at night, he should drop back – make sure she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder or be concerned about a threat. And the very real issue of stalking is taken more seriously now than it has been in the past, but there is still some way to go. When relationships break down and men find it hard to let women go, it can be a very scary time, and women find it difficult to get concerns taken seriously, often until after an attack.

They locked him up, but they locked her up, too…

Whilst researching the novel, I spent some time in prison, which is not at all like I imagined! My main experience had been from movies and the TV. I found the reality much scarier. I saw homemade weapons; I heard stories of attacks on officers and other prisoners; I spoke to many different people from all aspects of prison life, and it was such an eye-opener. I think as a society we lock people away in all respects – there’s a sense of being forgotten, completely. Women whose partners are in jail spoke of the shame, and also the halted grief – they miss their partners, but can’t grieve for them, they can’t move on. This grief is something Ana wrestles with, and I hope I’ve done it justice.

The prison scenes almost wrote themselves after I’d visited. Even the smell is distinct. My prison officer guides me into the contraband room, where they keep the confiscated drugs. Spice is the drug they have the most problems with at the moment, which is synthetic cannabis. It’s smuggled into the prisons in all sorts of ways. One of the ways is through books and magazines. The pages are soaked in the spice, and so prisons have to scan all books now. So many ideas for plots!

It’s been a pleasure to write the guest blog and thanks to Jane Hunt for giving me the opportunity to mull over the ideas for the novel. I hope you enjoy The Scorched Earth!