I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return of an honest review.
The dramatic beginning sets the pace and scene for a twisty tale of betrayal and deception. The reader is given an omnipotent view of events, and the author’s use of dramatic irony is good. The main protagonists are unreliable, leading to unexpected twists to intensify the suspense and keep the reader guessing.
The author’s original perspective on the child abduction theme works well and delivers a poignant and suspenseful read.
Gemma Rogers was inspired to write gritty thrillers by a traumatic event in her own life nearly twenty years ago. Her debut novel Stalker was published in September 2019 and marked the beginning of a new writing career. Gemma lives in West Sussex with her husband, two daughters.
Escape to the sun and head off to Italy, with the wonderfully warm and ever-so-page-turning Leonie Mack!
TV journalist Lou feels battered and bruised after her divorce from Phil, the father of her daughter Edie. Her confidence and sense of fun have steadily been drained away, and she isn’t sure who she is any more.
When the opportunity arises to accompany Edie on a music camp in Italy for a month in the summer, Lou jumps at the chance for new adventures, new horizons and new friends. The hazy warmth of the summer sun, shining brightly over the stunning Lake Garda, slowly brings Lou back to life.
Nick Romano, Edie’s music teacher, loves being home in Italy, but coaching his students for their concert in Milan, is bringing back difficult memories. His blossoming friendship with Lou is the perfect distraction, although a summer fling would be easier to conduct without the scrutiny of his mother Greta, not to mention the interference of his extended Italian family.
As the summer passes, full of sunshine and breath-taking scenery, gelato and delicious feasts, Lou and Nick get ever closer. But as the time for farewell creeps up on them, will they be able to say goodbye and leave their memories behind in the Italian sun, or can a summer romance last a lifetime?
Leonie Mack is back with a sizzling, sun-baked love story.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I love romance set in Italy, and as this one is set around Lake Garda, somewhere I’ve visited, I couldn’t resist it.
Just about to be divorced Lou, is still reeling from the fallout, we meet her ex in the opening chapters, and he is not likeable. Her confidence is low despite her career in front of the TV cameras, and it’s clear she is a kind and loving woman who doesn’t value herself. Her latest meeting with Mr (Nick) Romano right after her latest confrontation with the ex is unsettling for them both and makes her wonder whether helping out on the school music camp in Italy is sensible.
The chemistry sizzling between Lou and Nick gets hotter in beautiful Lake Garda, and there are lots of nearly moments that are romantic. The conflicts to their possible relationship are both internal and external, but they are good for each other, and you want them to find happiness together.
The musical setting adds authenticity to the story and is integral to Nick’s backstory. The balance of humour, poignancy and romance is good, and the ending is romantic and uplifting.
Leonie Mack is a debut novelist whose first book My Christmas Number One was published by Boldwood in September 2020. Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children. Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!
Damn him. Phil was winning this game. His look was tolerant. His eyes were warm, even vaguely fond. Lou was losing. Her jaw was clenched so hard she felt like a petulant child with braces. She smoothed her hand down her tailored skirt. Confronting him in her work clothes was supposed to remind her she could deal with him like an adult. But really, she wanted to run home and change into her sweats, as she usually did after her shift.
‘She’s eleven, Lou. This is her last summer before secondary school. Can’t you let up a little?’
He was the voice of reason, too? Phil never raised his voice because he never needed to. He was the kind of man who spoke and it was done. He was attractive, too – even now at forty-four – which meant he’d never had to stay single for long. She couldn’t blame the woman who’d become his girlfriend only a few months after their separation – except that she could blame her and she would. It was the right of a nearly officially ex-wife, right?
‘All Edie wants to do is play music. Elite tuition and orchestra rehearsals is her idea of paradise. I’m not forcing her to do anything.’
His lips twitched. ‘And a few weeks in the Italian sunshine is your idea of a nice free holiday?’
Strike one. She would have been satisfied to hear him behaving like the juvenile ex-husband, except that he was an expert at pressing her overdeveloped sense of her own inadequacy button.
‘It’s not a holiday for me. I’m going as a chaperone and I have to pay my own way. The only reason I’ve volunteered is because Edie is one of the youngest kids going. Most of the parents are looking forward to the three weeks of childcare before the competition’
‘You can always send her to us. You know that. You don’t have to martyr yourself.’
Lou choked on his sympathy, wishing he would do the same. She took a deep breath. She should have accepted by now that Phil’s wiring where she was concerned would never change.
‘Can we get back to the point? Edie wants to go and it’s a unique opportunity. This youth music festival only happens every four years. She’ll get to play in an orchestra under a professional conductor and participate in a competition.’
Phil held up a hand. ‘I did read the information you emailed me. But I fail to see why our eleven-year-old has to participate in a very expensive competition. You’ve already forced my hand with the school choice. I’d say you’re pretty low on credit with me at the moment.’
Lou recoiled. She needed ‘credit’ to get Phil to consider her opinion about their daughter? How was an ex-wife supposed to earn credit? Not only was she forced to serenely ignore the practical difficulties of having day-to-day responsibility for their daughter alone, but Phil still required her to manage him to make sure they did their best by Edie. Good God, it was miserable.
Phil looked at her with his unflappably perfect haircut and warm eyes with their distinguished crinkles that on her would be called crow’s feet. It was clear why she’d thrown herself at him twelve years ago when she’d been a young and stupid graduate with too little understanding of the world’s faults – and far too little contraception. What was less clear was how she was supposed to deal with him now.
‘You know how much she loves playing the violin.’
‘I know, she does little else.’
Edie practised especially diligently at Phil’s because it meant less time with the obsequious girlfriend.
‘I’m still not sure I want to encourage her obsession.’
‘Then you’ll be happy to know the camp takes that into account. Although they rehearse every day, there’s also time dedicated to outdoor activities and confidence-building. I think we can both agree that it would be good for Edie to have some confidence outside her musical talent.’
The faintest glint in his eye was the only clue that he was feeling the pressure. But Phil never backed off. Instead, he calmly went on the offensive. ‘So, you plan to make Edie do a high ropes course while you sit in the sun at Sirmione sipping an Aperol Spritz?’
The perfect family. The perfect chance. The perfect lie.
A stunning novel about motherhood and betrayal
When Kate moves to London after the disappearance of her sister, she’s in need of a friend. A chance meeting leads Kate to Della, a life coach who runs support groups for young women, dubbed by Kate as ‘the Janes.’
Della takes a special interest in Kate, and Kate soon finds herself entangled in Della’s life – her house, her family, and her husband. It’s only when she realises that she’s in too deep that Della’s veneer begins to crumble, and the warnings from ‘the Janes’ begin to come true.
Why is Della so keen to keep Kate by her side? What does Kate have that Della might want? And what really lies beneath the surface of their friendship?
Kate trusts Della, and Della trusts Kate. Their downfall is each other.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Relatable characters and a well thought out plot make this psychological suspense an absorbing, chilling and sometimes poignant story.
Kate’s sister left home when she was ten, and she never saw her again. She spent her subsequent years making up for her sister’s disappearance whilst never recovering emotionally from her loss. As an adult, Kate is in London pursuing a lead about her missing sister. She is vulnerable when she meets life coach Della, who draws her into her life like a spider capturing prey into their web.
The story takes many unexpected twists seen from Kate’s viewpoints but remains believable because of unreliable protagonist Kate’s sense of abandonment and susceptibility to manipulation. Themes of societal expectation of women, social class, family relationships, obsession and loss are recurrent. As the story progresses, the noir elements dominate, making it both addictive and disturbing to read.
The ending is impactful and offers hope and a sense of closure for both Kate and Della.
The perfect house, the perfect husband and the perfect life… or is she just faking it?
Life has been a bit of a rollercoaster for Ella. Growing up as the ‘less successful’ identical twin to her ‘perfectly successful’ sister, Emma, has left her feeling isolated, inadequate and let’s face it.. a little bitter.
When Emma unexpectedly reaches out to Ella in a time of need, Ella suddenly finds herself with the opportunity to fill in for her sister and experience how the other half live.
But as Ella navigates the world of gossiping mothers, rebellious teens and trying to play the model housewife (not to mention avoiding the temptation of attractive men at the school gates…) will she discover that all is not always as it seems on the other side?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This author has the talent to take everyday characters and scenarios, drawing out the humour, poignancy, and romance in them. Faking It is the perfect example of this. Ella and Emma are identical twins but with different lives and luck. When Ella’s life implodes, and her sister unexpectedly reaches out to her, she grabs the opportunity to live her sister’s life for a while.
This is a lovely combination of hilarity and poignancy as Ella realises that things aren’t always what they seem and what she truly wants in her life. The characters are relatable, but avoid being stereotypically and the plot has a few unexpected twists as it unfolds.
This story is packed with vibrant characters and vivid events, cleverly written to create a heartwarming and uplifting escapist read.
Portia MacIntosh is a bestselling romantic comedy author of 12 novels, including It’s Not You, It’s Them and Honeymoon For One. Previously a music journalist, Portia writes hilarious stories, drawing on her real life experiences.
1861. George’s life changes forever the day he meets Lucy. She’s beautiful and charming, and he sees a future with her that his position as the second son in a wealthy family has never offered him. But when Lucy dies in a suspected poisoning days after rejecting George, he finds himself swept up into a murder investigation. George loved Lucy; he would never have harmed her. So who did?
Now. On the surface Cassie is happy with her life: a secure job, good friends, and a loving family. When a mysterious gift in a long-forgotten will leads her to a dark secret in her family’s history she’s desperate to learn more. But the secrets in Cassie’s family aren’t all hidden in the past, and her research will soon lead her to a revelation much closer to home – and which will turn everything she knows on its head…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A dual timeline novel set in the Victorian era and the present day, this emotional story about love, family, and secrets is an engaging read. George and Cassie’s initial connection is through genealogy. George is a distant relative in Cassie’s family history. The story begins with an extract from George’s will noting a bequest to the wife of a prison chaplain. Moving to the twenty-first century, Cassie finds an unexpected connection in her family tree.
George is a naive man who seeks, but never finds, parental love, he needs. Cassie has parental love, but never recovered emotionally, from an early life experience. Cassie and George’s emotional vulnerability connects them. They are flawed and naive but easy to empathise. Both timelines give the reader a good sense of time and place. It’s easy to visualise the Victorian household and the differences in society’s expectation in the differing centuries.
The brutal contrasts of Victorian society are portrayed well in a story with many poignant moments. George, despite his lack of worldliness, is loyal, and you want him to find the happiness he deserves. Both stories have family and love at their heart. The plot reveals its secrets in a way that keeps you turning the pages.
Believable emotion, clever connections and historical detail make this an intriguing and satisfying story.
Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019.
Village Affair comes a laugh out loud new Westenbury tale…
As the Yorkshire village of Westenbury mourns the loss of one of their own, the women can’t help but contemplate who will fill the vacancy in one handsome widower’s life…
Grace Stevens has decided it’s time to move on without her husband. He’s off gallivanting around Devon in search of a new life, and good riddance. It’s time to go back to teaching, so Grace returns to Little Acorns and takes on an unruly class of pre-teens.
As she deals with disasters in – and out of – the classroom including an accidental dalliance with her most troublesome pupil’s dad, helping track down a drug ring and keeping up with her closest girlfriends, Grace begins to wonder more and more about the sparkle in David’s eyes and the sparking chemistry between them.
Could Grace be the one to fill this village vacancy?
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A Village Vacancy takes the reader back to the Westenbury for another tale of laughter, love and life. This is a standalone story, but many of the characters previously featured in other books about Westenbury, and you will be intrigued to see what has gone before.
The funeral of one of the village’s enigmatic women introduces the cast of characters. Amanda’s loss is felt both in the community and her personal life. A mystery surrounds her untimely death, which gives this tale of village life an added dimension.
Grace takes centre stage in this story as she copes with her dysfunctional family life and wonders if romantic happiness is within her grasp. Westenbury experiences city problems in this story which are topical and give the story its contemporary edge.
There’s humour, mystery, romance and poignancy in this insightful story which draws the reader into the village and the lives of its inhabitants. The characters are believable and relatable, which makes their stories engaging and memorable.
Julie Houston is the author of THE ONE SAVING GRACE, GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a Kindle top 100 general bestseller and a Kindle #1 bestseller. She is married, with two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.
To celebrate the publication of A Village Vacancy, I thought it might be a good idea – as well as helpful to readers who have never met her before – to write a little biography of Grace. While all the Midhope/Westenbury novels can be read as total and utter standalones, this, my eighth novel, gives Grace a leading role as well as showing a greater insight into her character, and I wanted to give a little background information to readers who may have never met her before.
So, while my first novel – Goodness, Grace and Me – has Grace playing a major role, the book is essentially Harriet’s story. In this first book, we learn that Grace and Harriet meet on their very first day at grammar school and both become infatuated with a fifth-former, one Amanda Goodners or Little Miss Goodness as Grace dubs her a couple of years later when Amanda is promoted to head girl. The three women meet up again as adults and Grace, staggering from husband Dan’s infidelity, falls for Mandy Henderson’s (as she now is) much younger son, Sebastian.
In the One Saving Grace, while again this is essentially Harriet’s story, Grace is suffering. Unable to conceive a much-longed for child with husband Dan, she is absolutely over the moon when she falls unexpectedly pregnant to Seb Henderson. Unfortunately, Grace suffers severe post-natal depression which renders her unable to look after her son, Jonty properly and destroys the already flimsy relationship with Seb. My intention was to show that Post-natal depression does not discriminate or care who it chooses and can – and does – affect even the most confident, intelligent and outgoing women such as Grace.
I’ve always wanted the reader to have an impression of Grace as a strong, confident and independent woman which she clearly is. While An Off Piste Christmas takes Grace onto the next stage of her life when she becomes the mother of Pietronella who has Down’s Syndrome, all my other Westenbury novels feature Grace only fleetingly where she, together with Harriet, take on much smaller cameo roles.
It was an email from a reader last year asking what was happening to Grace, and could I write a book with her as the main character, that brought about the idea for A Village Vacancy. In this book, published by Aria on October 22nd, I have allowed Grace centre stage. While she might have perhaps previously played a lesser role to Harriet, this one is certainly Grace’s story.
A couple of reviewers have referred to Grace as a maneater who appears happy to discard her husband, Dan when the marriage breaks down once more and Dan moves out. This certainly wasn’t my intention to have Grace viewed as such. Yes, she makes a huge mistake at the start of the book, but this, I want the reader to appreciate, is totally out of character. She tries to argue that she is a strong, independent woman who has the right, on occasion, to please herself as to how she behaves, but deep down she is embarrassed and ashamed as to what she got up to on that night out in Leeds, and I would hate the reader to think of her as naturally promiscuous; she isn’t. Foolhardy, yes, amoral, no.
I wanted to show that the breakdown of two major relationships together with the terrible post-natal depression have combined to leave Grace both vulnerable and desperate for a serious, ‘proper’ relationship for both herself and her two children. If she comes a bit of a cropper in the attempt, I hope the reader will not condemn her but empathise, sympathise even, with what she’s going through. After all, life for many of us isn’t always that straightforward. We are human; we make mistakes.
Luckily, for Grace, there will be a happy ever after.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely story about Gloria, who is an old bus. She’s converted to a playbus and visits different areas so that children can play on her. The illustrations are bright and fun, and the text is easy to read and understand. Great for reading with younger children or for older children to read by themselves.
Max and his family visit Gloria the playbus, but he’s too old for playing on the bus like his younger brother, or so he thinks. After refusing to join in, he makes a mess and then lots of noise. He realises no one is judging, and that he’s having fun.
This is a fun way to learn that you shouldn’t dismiss things without trying them first.
Sue Wickstead is a teacher and an author and writes children’s picture books with a bus theme. She has also written a photographic history book about the real bus, which is where her story writing began.
Sue once worked with a playbus charity based in Crawley. This led her to write the photographic history book about the project. The ‘Bewbush Playbus’ book was published in 2012.
Sue then began to write a fictional tale about the bus. ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name and has now been followed by more picture books which all indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.
Gloria is the most recent book and is based on the summer play-schemes which operatedduring the school holidays providing a safe place for children to meet and to play.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway Links 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.
A family reunited on a holiday of a lifetime…what could possibly go wrong?
When 70-year-old Charlotte Perkins submits an essay to the ‘Become a Jetsetter’ contest, she dreams of reuniting her estranged children: Lee, an almost-famous actress; Cord, a handsome Manhattan venture capitalist; and Regan, a harried mother who has never forgiven Charlotte for buying her a Weight Watchers gift certificate for her birthday.
But when she wins the cruise, the reality is not quite as she expected. As they sail from sun-drenched Athens, to glorious Rome, to tapas-laden Barcelona, lovers old and new join the adventure, and long-buried secrets are revealed.
Can four lost adults find their way back to themselves, and to each other? And more importantly, can they do it without killing each other?
A funny and deliciously sun-scented novel about the courage it takes to reveal our true selves, the pleasures and perils of family, and how we navigate the seas of adulthood to cruise – we can only hope – toward joy.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This story has the perfect mix of family drama and exciting holiday destinations. Charlotte is determined to reunite her family after losing her closest friend. Entering a writing competition, to win a cruise, seems the right thing to do. The story gives insight into past relationships and secrets the family members are keeping. The cruise ship setting works well. There’s nowhere to run, and this intensifies family tensions.
Brittle and flawed characters gradually share their past and present issues, making them easy to empathise. The family dynamic is complex but relatable. The intense emotion relieved by humorous moments.
The vividly described holiday locations add contrast to the story too. The vibrant imagery makes this story a sensory delight. The perfect balance to the literary dialogue as the family drama unfolds.
Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway. She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants… Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
An adrenaline-inducing beginning guarantees the reader’s attention from the start The main protagonist, is desperately searching for her family amidst a raging firestorm. The story rewinds to the days preceding the firestorm, and you begin to see what life’s like in Ash Mountain.
Character-driven, this is an addictive intricate story. Each of the characters is believable and ordinary. This authenticity makes them fascinating. The town’s dynamic relationships; family, friends and frenemies are interweaved to form its ethos.
The story slips back in time thirty years to illuminate currents events and motivations. Dark satirical humour enlivens the plot which explores terrible abuse and betrayal from Fran’s past. The final chapters are immersive and intense.
This story is an enthralling balance of humour and poignancy exploring contemporary issues of abuse, prejudice and catastrophic disaster.
Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1.
Her 2019 dark comedy thriller Worst CaseScenario was a Book of the Year in both The Guardian and Daily Telegraph.
Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband.
From unrivalled passion to an unforgettable revelation!
Orla O’Reilly knew the father of her three-year-old son must be out there somewhere. But suffering from amnesia, she’s unable to recall his name. Until Tonino returns, and suddenly their overwhelming connection comes flooding back…
Mills & Boon Modern – Seduction, glamour and sinfully seductive heroes await you in luxurious international locations.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon in return for an honest review.
An engaging romantic story, Glamorous, like you, expect from a Mills and Boon Modern, but with a strong emotional theme. The heroine copes with a less than idyllic parents, and the legacy of a terrible accident. Orla’s love for her son and her stepsister is believable and heartwarming. They drive her actions, as she copes with amnesia after a car accident, three years previously. The second unexpected meeting, between Tonino and Orla, is cleverly written, with undercurrents of guilt, passion and surprise. The gradual reveal of Orla’s memory culminates in a last poignant revelation that motivates her to seek her happy ever after.
Tonino is revengeful, to begin with, but avoids the stereotypical billionaire forcing the heroine, to his way of thinking. His character development and insight is refreshing and relatable and makes this story special. The inclusiveness of the story is also notable and welcome.
Passion meets parenting in a contemporary realistic way.