I’m happy to share the cover for a new #ganglit novel due out on 23 January 2020. Look out for my #review and a Q&A with Stephanie Harte on Publication Day, here when I kick off the blog tour in the new year.
Gemma is about to risk it
all for the man she loves. Will she survive entering into a life of crime?
Gemma has always been there for Nathan. He’s the love of her
life and she made a commitment to him, one she’d never consider breaking…
until smooth-talking gangster Alfie Watson comes into their lives and changes
Alfie doesn’t care about true love – he wants Gemma, and the
gangster always gets what he wants. When Nathan ends up owing him money, Alfie
gets payback by recruiting Gemma to carry out a jewellery heist. To everyone’s
surprise, she’s a natural. Until Alfie forgives Nathan’s debt, she has no
choice but to accompany the gangster on more and more daring heists – even
though one slip-up could cost her everything.
Nathan might have fallen under Alfie’s spell, but it doesn’t
take long for him to realise that he needs to save Gemma from his own mistakes
if their marriage is to have any chance of surviving. But when that means
taking on the East End’s most notorious gangster at his own game, will he find
himself up to the challenge?
Book one of NOLA Knights, the heart-stoppingly sexy spin-off series by Men of Haven author Rhenna Morgan
His world. His rules. Her love.
Though his methods may be rough, when it comes to
protecting what’s his, Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s heart is always in the
right place. That’s never been more true than when the gorgeous Evette Labadie
asks him for a job. He knows enough to keep his hands off someone as beloved by
the locals as Evie, but there’s something about her that calls to him—no matter
how badly he burns to make her his.
Don’t think Evie hasn’t noticed the powerful Russian
mafia boss who makes her favorite diner a regular stop. How can she not? He’s
as hot as his reputation is dangerous. But everyone in her struggling New
Orleans neighborhood knows he’s the man to turn to. And right now she needs
money to get her son out of trouble.
Her other needs—needs she knows damn well Sergei can
more than satisfy—will have to wait.
Evie soon finds herself playing Cinderella to a man
who, despite what people believe, is definitely more prince than villain. She
can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day. But when a turf war
between Sergei and a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to
grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her…or walk away from
her best chance at a happily-ever-after of her very own.
I received a copy of this book from Carina Press via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story will draw lovers of contemporary fairytale romance in, like nectar to a bee.
Evie’s strength comes across in the first pages. She’s lost her job, but she has to find another immediately. Her son needs his schooling, and that costs. As the story progresses her character matures, her son is still the centre of her world, but now she realises her actions have consequences, what she has to decide is can she accept them?
Sergei, is an enigmatic man, physically commanding, this is a reflection of his inner strength. He protects those he values, but he is complex and not a good man, in the conventional sense. Organised crime and protection are his worlds, and whilst he would love Evie in his personal life, he keeps her to the fringes, not wanting to sully her.
This a ‘Cinderella’ type romance, but like all true fairytales, it isn’t all hearts and flowers. Crime, danger and violence are part of Sergei’s world. Evie struggles, but she is honest and law-abiding and has her son to think of. Can the chemistry they both feel ever be something more permanent?
The conflicts in this story are realistic and pose moral questions. Should Evie expose her son to a world of crime? Evie has made poor decisions in the past and is determined not to repeat them. So, the chances for a happy ever after for her and Sergei seems remote.
Despite the criminal ethos, the focus is on Evie’s struggle to find a better life for her son. Currently, they live in a poor, high crime area, where he is likely to be drawn into gangs and crime, simply because of where he lives.
Then there’s the romance…
The romance is gentle and courtly, in contrast to the sizzling chemistry. This makes it realistic, because Sergei, doesn’t want to hurt Evie in any way, and Evie has to decide if falling in love with a man like him, is worth the risk.
Compulsive chemistry, realistic contemporary issues and a gentle love story, make this an engaging modern fairytale romance.
A native Oklahoman, Rhenna Morgan is a certified
romance junkie. Whether it’s contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after,
Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape full of new, exciting worlds, and strong,
intuitive men who fight to keep the women they want. For advance release news
and exclusive content, sign up for her newsletter at http://RhennaMorgan.com.
You’ll also find all of her social links there, along with her smoking hot
Brother and sister Peter and Adele Robinson never stood a chance. Dragged up by an alcoholic, violent father, and a weak, beaten mother, their childhood in Manchester only prepared them for a life of crime and struggle. But Adele is determined to break the mould. She studies hard at school and, inspired by her beloved grandmother Joyce, she finally makes a successful life for herself on her own.
Peter is not so lucky. Getting more and more immersed in the murky world of crime and gangs, his close bonds with Adele gradually loosen until they look set to break altogether.
But old habits die hard, and one devastating night, Adele is forced to confront her violent past. Dragged back into her worst nightmares, there’s only one person she can turn to when her life is on the line – her brother Peter. After all, blood is thicker than water…
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria in return for an honest review.
‘Born Bad’ is the first book in the ‘Manchester Trilogy’ series, a gritty gangland crime story set in Manchester. I have read this book after reading the other two later books, and so I knew what to expect. It was good to meet Adele and Peter in the early stages of their life, the abuse and lack of care they receive make the people they become in later life.
It’s interesting that different personalities react in diverse ways to their nurturing, or lack of it and the events in this book pave the way for the further books in the series with some surprising twists.
This is a harrowing story. Domestic abuse, neglect and violence are prominent, this is hard to read, but an essential component of this genre. The story is good and well-paced. The characters are complex, flawed and realistic.
If you are looking for a British based, organised crime series, focused on the family, this is a book and series worth reading.
Guest Post – Heather Burnside
One of the themes that feature in Born Bad is mental health. The topic of nature vs nurture interests me and I, therefore, decided to reflect this in the book. Currently, there is a lot of focus in the media on looking after our mental health so I thought it would be an opportune time to explore this issue in Born Bad.
My protagonist, Adele, is affected by mental health in many
ways. To start with we hear Adele’s grandmother, Joyce, talking about Adele’s
father, Tommy’s, side of the family and their mental health issues. She tells
Adele’s mother that Tommy comes from bad blood (hence the title Born Bad) and that he had a mad great-uncle
who was always fighting and who ended up in an asylum.
Joyce also worries that Adele’s brother, Peter, might take after Tommy’s side of the family. Joyce is quite insensitive when she refers to the issue of mental health but, when you bear in mind that this was the seventies, her view was typical at that time. Fortunately, the perception of mental health issues has changed a lot since then.
Adele and Peter have a very traumatic childhood and, as the
novel progresses, they both behave in a way that wouldn’t be considered normal
or rational. Peter’s odd behaviour is first displayed when he is lining up
caterpillars and thrashing them with a whip, taking great delight in seeing
their damaged bodies.
As he gets older Peter becomes involved in criminal
activities in which he doesn’t appear to have a conscience where his victims
are concerned. Is this because of his troubled upbringing, because of genetic mental
health issues or perhaps a combination of the two?
Adele, on the other hand, does have a conscience and she tries
to do the right thing but she is affected by forces that seem to be beyond her
control. Again, she could have been driven by an inherent condition or she
could be so severely affected by her troubled childhood that she reaches
breaking point. Research has shown that both genetics and upbringing can affect
a person’s mental health.
Adele’s mother, Shirley, also has her own problems and
relies on a diet of pills to get her through each day. However, rather than
being seen as a hereditary illness, her mental health issues stem from the
stress of being married to a drunken, violent and unfeeling man. Adele sees her
as weak but, like her grandmother, her point of view could be the result of
poor awareness in the 1970s regarding mental health issues.
Mental health covers a wide spectrum of illnesses with
varying levels of severity. The UK mental health charity, Mind, estimates that
one in four people in the UK each year experiences a mental health problem. Anxiety
and depression are amongst the most common mental health conditions, and while
some of these conditions are manageable, they also vary in severity. There are
some very serious and debilitating mental health conditions too which can greatly
affect a person’s quality of life.
I think we have come a long way in highlighting mental health issues and breaking down the taboos which have previously surrounded the subject. However, we still have some way to go both in educating people about mental health and in providing greater levels of care to those affected.
Extract From Born Bad – Heather Burnside
to Deborah’s agonised screams, Adele continued to kick as rage overtook her. It
was only the sight of the dinner lady running towards her that brought her to
as she thought about the incident, she felt remorseful. If only Debby hadn’t
decided to do something so daft. If only she could have persuaded her to stop
without losing her temper. But Debby hadn’t stopped. She shouted at her a few
times, and she still didn’t stop. That’s what she would say in her defence. She
had to pull her legs away; it was her only chance.
did she have to kick her?
was feeling desperate. Oh God, it’s no good, she thought, I’m gonna be in trouble no matter
thought about what her father’s reaction would be if he found out. She dreaded
that even more than she dreaded being summoned to see the head teacher.
sound of the bell interrupted her thoughts. It was the end of the lunch period
and Adele entered the school building in a state of trepidation, to the sound
gonna be in trouble, Adele Robinson, for what you did to Debby.’
‘Yeah,’ added another girl, ‘Miss Goody Two Shoes is gonna get done, haha.’
Mr Parry announced that she and Debby were to see the head teacher
straightaway, Adele felt her stomach sink.
Mr Parry led the two girls down the long corridor towards the head teacher’s office and told them to wait outside while he knocked on the door. After he had been inside for a few minutes, he came back out and asked Debby to go inside. He then lowered his eyes towards Adele and told her to wait there until she was called for. She noticed the look of disappointment on his face and felt ashamed. Then, with nothing further to say, he left her standing outside the head teacher’s office, trembling with fear.
After what seemed like an endless wait, Debby came out of the office and looked away from Adele as she walked past her.
shouted Miss Marchant.
was already in tears by the time she entered the office and presented herself
at the other side of the head teacher’s large desk.
then, what have you been up to?’ asked Miss Marchant.
I didn’t mean it,’ muttered Adele.
mean what? And for heaven’s sake, speak up, young lady.’
didn’t mean to hurt Debby,’ Adele sobbed.
from what I’ve been told, you’ve got a bit of a temper, haven’t you young
by now very tearful, nodded in response.
can’t hear you!’ thundered Miss Marchant.
was so worked up that she thought she would vomit at any minute. To her
surprise, just when she reached the point where she felt she might faint, the
head teacher seemed to relent.
Miss Robinson, although I don’t condone your behaviour in the playground, I
have received glowing reports from your class teacher. So, I’m going to let the
matter rest on this occasion. However, I would suggest that in future you keep
that temper of yours well under wraps.’
Miss,’ answered Adele.
quickly made for the door, feeling a mixture of relief and shame, but before
she could get to the other side, she was stopped by Miss Marchant’s stern
if I ever hear of any repeat of this behaviour, you will be punished severely!’
Miss,’ Adele replied as she dashed from the office.
to be away from the head teacher’s office as soon as possible, Adele rushed
down the corridor and into her classroom.
Parry raised his eyes from the papers on his desk and abruptly ordered Adele to
sit down in the vacant seat next to Tony Lord, who had a reputation for being
the best fighter in the school.
Adele felt everyone’s eyes on her, a tear escaped from her eye. She was greeted
by a barrage of questions from the other children sitting at the table. Adele’s
feelings of guilt and shame made her shy away from their questions, even though
she could tell they were impressed that she’d beaten Debby up.
are you crying if you won the fight?’ asked Tony, puzzled.
‘Don’t know,’ muttered Adele, dipping her head.
Read my reviews of Blood Ties and Vendetta, the other books in the series.
Heather Burnside spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. After taking a career break to raise two children Heather enrolled on a creative writing course. Heather now works full-time on her novels from her home in Manchester, which she shares with her two grown-up children. Twitter Facebook
DI Kelly Porter is back, but so is an old foe and this time he won’t back down…
When a teenage girl flings herself off a cliff in pursuit of a gruesome death, DI Kelly Porter is left asking why. Ruled a suicide, there’s no official reason for Kelly to chase answers, but as several of her team’s cases converge on the girl’s school, a new, darker story emerges. One which will bring Kelly face-to-face with an old foe determined to take back what is rightfully his – no matter the cost.
Mired in her pursuit of justice for the growing list of victims, Kelly finds security in Johnny, her family and the father she has only just discovered. But just as she draws close to unearthing the dark truth at the heart of her investigation, a single moment on a cold winter’s night shatters the notion that anything in Kelly’s world can ever truly be safe.
Guest Post – Rachel Lynch Will DI Kelly Porter always stay in the Lake District?
With Kelly’s experience, it’s always possible that someone like her would be seconded or invited to join or help out elsewhere. Constabularies regularly share resources, and of course, crime is often national and even international (like in Dark Game). I can see Kelly going back to London, and I can also picture her further afield. Her reputation has grown over four books and continues to do so.
The settings so far have created a credible, dark and
mysterious world of crime that is different to that found in cities, but Kelly
will find herself in demand elsewhere in the future, that is certain. She is
eminently capable of helping other agencies too, such as government departments
and the military. Police procedural theory is always developing, as crime- and
criminals- become more daring and complex to evade ever tightening laws and
methods to catch them. Kelly loves catching criminals, who invariably think
themselves cleverer than the system. She also champions the families of the
victims, who suffer much longer after a crime has been solved.
The crime genre is a fluid one, and the illegal activity
contained within doesn’t have to always be the most shocking and depraved acts-
it can be about issues such as domestic abuse, school bullying, drug taking,
theft, embezzlement or arson. It’s the interplay between the protagonist and
the antagonists that is important to me. The criminal always sees themselves as
one step ahead of Kelly, but their confidence always quickly unravels as she
identifies even the smallest of mistakes. Like any human undertaking: crime
isn’t an exact science, and there are too many variables to go wrong:
technology, forensics, traitors, money trails, accidents and witnesses.
As long as Kelly Porter investigates serious crime, she’ll
take on cases large and small, because that’s what stokes the fire in her
belly. She’s seen too many devastated relatives, friends, brothers, mothers and
children to let any criminal get the better of her.
And she can do it anywhere!
Thank you for reading
I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Starting with a tragic event, the reader is still reeling, when a young child faces danger at a fairground. This story deals with every parent’s worst nightmares.
The Lake District setting and weather is an important part of the story as three seemingly unconnected events, form part of the puzzle Kelly Porter has to solve.
The police and forensic procedure is an interesting part of the fast-paced plot, which is full of twists, clues, action, and emotional angst. The crime is contemporary and demonstrates the worrying infiltration of organised crime into rural areas.
Kelly Porter continues to be a great character, clever, and finally coming to terms with her personal demons. The police team and her family provide believable supporting roles and the antagonists are convincingly immoral and driven by money at the expense of human life.
I can’t wait to see where this series goes next.
Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work. Twitter: @r_lynchcrime
An eye for an eye. Cabhan Morton wants to leave the Russo crime family for good and live in peace with his daughter, Alice Rose. But the Russos won’t let him walk away without a fight.
A tooth for a tooth. Franny Doyle would do anything for Cabhan and Alice, but helping them escape the vindictive Russo brothers won’t be easy. The only place they’ll be safe is back in Essex with Alfie Jennings.
A daughter for a daughter… Franny knows she won’t be welcomed by Alfie with open arms – but she doesn’t have a choice. The Russos are out for blood and they won’t stop until Alice is dead…
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books, and so this affects my review of Fatal. As a standalone, the story works, but the characters don’t, you need to know their stories before the events in Fatal, and so to fully appreciate this story read Toxic first.
The story is fast- paced, violent and focused on the seedier side of life. This gives it the necessary authenticity for a gangland novel. Believable characters and a realistic plot make this an adrenaline packed read.
If you are a fan of gritty, organised crime based thrillers this will excite you.
He knows the man is guilty. And he will do anything to prove it…
PC Gareth Bell watches the psychopath who stabbed Bell’s partner stroll out of court a free man. Somebody on the inside tampered with the evidence, and now one of Brighton’s most dangerous criminals is back on the streets again.
Bell’s personal mission for revenge takes him onto the other side of the law and into the dark, violent underworld of the glamorous seaside city. Soon he faces a horrifying choice: risk everything he holds dear, or let the man who tried to kill his partner walk free.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins- Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Brighton, popular holiday destination since the Regency times. Known for its cafes, bars and the fabulous shopping, but beneath the surface is a criminal world that preys on the vulnerable.
Gareth Bell is a policeman with a mission, to bring to justice the man who almost killed his partner, but how far will he go and what is he prepared to risk to achieve his aim?
One event leads Gareth Bell, the protagonist on a path that blurs the line between right and wrong. Gareth’s actions and motivations are realistic. Violent scenes are common in this novel and a little repetitive, probably as it is all seen from Gareth’s point of view.
This is a fast-paced, authentic police procedural. It is full of action but there are also details of police procedurals, which are an intrinsic part of the job and often hamper the capture of criminals, in the main protagonist’s opinion.
If you enjoy police procedurals this has lots of it, which should appeal. The dilemma and its fallout makes for an interesting plot and provides insight into PC Gareth Bell’s character, and I look forward to the next book in the series.
Best friends Tommy Boyle and Scratch always had each other’s backs. Dragged up in care, and cruelly betrayed by everyone they trusted, they made a pact to fight their way out of the gutter – together.
TWO SIDES OF THE LAW
Old loyalties die hard on the streets of London. Tommy throws his lot in with the notorious Darling family – even if it means leaving Scratch to the wolves. She’s destined for a different path, reinventing herself as copper Kim Regan.
ONE DEADLY SHOWDOWN
Now they’re on opposite sides of the law. Running Operation Sting, Kim will rip the heart out of the Darling’s empire – and only her old pal Tommy stands in her way.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction- Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
What I love about this story is the author lets you live your characters’ lives, and find out what made them the people they are, before launching into the present day story.
Set in the seventies and eighties, Tommy and Scratch’s lives are full of tragedy, finding each other is the only light in their dark, young lives. Then events take over and instead of them against the world, they find they’re pitted against each other.
The characters are believable but not always likeable. The motivation for their actions is always clear. This story does highlight the horror of child abuse, which is never an easy subject to read, but it is dealt with sensitively. The abuse the two main characters suffer is integral to their future character development and initially defines the adults they become.
‘The Sting’ is cleverly written, with a unique mix of poignancy and violence. Tommy is an anti-hero and a victim of abuse. The story doesn’t end well, it couldn’t with such a believable plot, but there is hope for some and a lovely twist at the end.