Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Saga

The Mersey Girls Sheila Riley 5*#Review @1sheilariley @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #BoldwoodBloggers #HistoricalFiction #Saga #Liverpool #ReckonersRow #familydrama #BlogTour #TheMerseyGirls #BookReview

Liverpool 1950

When Evie Kilgaren takes over the running of the back office at Skinner and Son’s haulage yard, she has no idea she is walking into a hive of blackmail, secrets and lies.
Her fellow co-worker and childhood nemesis, Susie Blackthorn, is outraged at being demoted and is hell-bent on securing the affections of local heartthrob Danny Harris.
Grace Harris, a singer on the prestigious D’Angelo transatlantic ocean liners, is returning home engaged to be married. But Grace is harbouring her own shocking secrets and something valuable her fiancé very desperately wants back.

As we return to the lives and loves of those who live and work in the Mersey Docklands, not everything is as it seems and love and luck are rarely on the same side.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The second book in the Reckoner’s Row series is another gripping family saga focusing on the women and their lives in 1950s Liverpool. The story has moved on. Evie has an office job with prospects at the haulage yard where she discovers inconsistencies that need solving. Susie resents Evie and is determined to make trouble. Grace has a more glamorous life as a cruise ship singer, but life is about to get complicated.

The characters are believable and draw you into their story. The plot has a touch of mystery, romance and many poignant moments. There is a good sense of place and time, and the historical details bring the story to life.

This is an enthralling saga, which involves the reader in the characters’ lives and makes what happens matter to the reader.

Extract from The Mersey Girls – Sheila Riley

Another performance ended with a standing ovation and the thunderous applause rang in her ears as, straightening her spine, Grace stood taller, flicked back her abundance of chestnut curls, and dipped a curtsey before leaving the stage. She would take a walk round the deck before turning in for an early night, but first she must feel the balmy breeze waft through her hair, let her thoughts wander…

‘Going somewhere?’

Grace gave a small gasp of surprise. She hadn’t seen the figure sitting alone at a nearby table. She felt her heart flip when she recognised Bruce D’Angelo, the son and heir of the man who owned the shipping line, was speaking to her.

‘It’s such a wonderful night I thought I’d take in the sights.’ Grace smiled, professionally friendly, like an air hostess, or an assistant in a high-class store.

‘Such a wonderful night for a beautiful lady,’ he said, rising from the chair.

‘I bet you say that to all the girls, you smooth talker,’ she replied, noticing he stood with the aid of a barley-twist walking stick in one hand, and held out his other hand towards her.

‘Bruce D’Angelo,’ he said, as if needing to introduce himself, and Grace realised she was staring when he explained, ‘war wound, shrapnel hit my leg and broke my thigh bone in three places, the doc said I was lucky to walk again.’

‘So, you’re quite determined, then?’ The words slipped effortlessly from her lips and his smile was somewhat apologetic. ‘Why are you sitting here, alone, with just a book for company? Everyone else is having a good time.’

‘I might ask you the same thing,’ Bruce said, as the smile in his voice matched the twinkle in his chocolate-brown eyes. ‘I’m just a guy who likes reading more than partying. What’s your excuse?’

‘I’m just a girl who likes her own company sometimes.’ Realising she may have overstepped the mark, she said, ‘Sorry, my mouth opens without engaging my brain. Sometimes, even I don’t know what’s going to come out of it.’

His laugh was an easy-going rumble that made her glad he hadn’t taken offence.

‘You were terrific tonight, as always.’ His accent was Ivy League with a touch of Southern charm and Grace began to relax. ‘I was here, listening.’ His friendliness gave Grace the confidence to jest.

‘Don’t tell me you’re stuck out here ’cause you’ve got no mates?’ she said in the broad Liverpool dialect that she had trained herself to lose over the years and was amused when his brow furrowed.

‘I have not got the faintest idea what you just said.’ Bruce laughed, and Grace laughed too. ‘Champagne?’ he asked, nodding to summon a waiter, and pulled out a chair for her to join him. The crew would be eager to know what it was like drinking the finest, most expensive champagne with Bruce D’Angelo.

SheilaRiley

Sheila Riley wrote four #1 bestselling novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves and is now writing a new saga trilogy under her own name. She has set it around the River Mersey and its docklands near to where she spent her early years.  She still lives in Liverpool.

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#TheOrphanDaughter

Read my review of The Orphan Daughter Book 1 in Reckoner’s Row series.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Family Drama, Historical Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction, Saga

The Orphan Daughter Sheila Riley 5*#Review @BoldwoodBooks @1sheilariley #HistoricalFiction #Saga #Liverpool #ReckonersRow #crimefiction #familydrama #BlogTour #extract

WINTER, LIVERPOOL 1947. 

Evie Kilgaren is a fighter. Abandoned by her mother and with her father long gone, she is left to raise her siblings in dockside Liverpool, as they battle against the coldest winter on record. But she is determined to make a life for herself and create a happy home for what’s left of her family.

Desperate for work, Evie takes a job at the Tram Tavern under the kindly watch of pub landlady, and pillar of the community, Connie Sharp. But Connie has problems of her own when her quiet life of spinsterhood is upturned with the arrival of a mysterious undercover detective from out of town.

When melting ice reveals a body in the canal, things take a turn for the worst for the residents of Reckoner’s Row. Who could be responsible for such a brutal attack? And can Evie keep her family safe before they strike again?

A gritty, historical family drama, full of laughter and tears from the author of Annie Groves’ bestsellers including Child of the Mersey and Christmas on the Mersey.

Paperback – Amazon UK Digital – eBook

#boldwoodblogtour

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

My Thoughts…

I love reading a book that you become absorbed in from the first page. ‘The Orphan Daughter’, has this quality, and it’s an enthralling story, with historically authentic characters, whose lives you feel part of, especially the two main female protagonists Connie and Evie.

The historical period for this book, the post WW2 era, and the terrible winter of 1947 is a time I often heard my grandparents and parents talk about. The historic details are believable, and the setting and characters portrayed using vivid imagery, which brings the book to life.

Evie’s hardships are all too common during this time, the euphoria of the ending of war recedes, leaving the bombed cities, damaged infrastructure and relentless poverty for many. Life is hard in Reckoner’s Row, although the community is tight, it is wary of outsiders and unforgiving to those who break the unwritten laws. Evie wants to get out and make something of her life, but love and responsibility draw her back, into the world she longs to leave. This is an emotional family drama, where women are important, they keep families together, and have to subjugate their ambitions.

Angus is an outsider, there to investigate. He and Connie have an attraction, but she is loath to risk her heart and reputation on a fling. There is a mystery element, in this story, which adds to the family saga theme. The air of menace increases as the story progresses. Connie and Evie find that their daily hardship is not the only danger they face.

‘The Orphan Daughter’ has an authentic historical setting, complex characters, with intriguing elements of crime and mystery cleverly woven into the story. An enticing start to the ‘Reckoner’s Row’ series.

Extract from The Orphan Daughter – Sheila Riley

CHAPTER 1
SUMMER 1946
Nineteen-year-old Evie Kilgaren gathered her mane of honey-coloured hair into a loop of knicker elastic before taking a vase of heavy-scented lilies and freesias into the kitchen. The flowers were barely faded when she rescued them from the churchyard
bin that morning.

Placing them in the centre of the table, she hoped their heady scent would mask the smell of damp that riddled every dwelling in the row of terraced houses opposite the canal and add a bit of joy to the place.

‘Who’s dead?’ her mother, Rene, asked. Her scornful retort was proof she had already been at the gin and Evie’s heart sank. She had wanted today to be special.

Surely her dead father’s birthday warranted a few flowers. Even if they were knockoffs from the church – at least she had made an effort, which was more than her mother had.

‘I got them for Dad’s…’ Evie was silenced by the warning flash in her mother’s dark eyes. A warning she had seen many times before. Rene gave a hefty sniff, her eyes squinting to focus, her brow wrinkled, and her olive skin flushed. Evie knew that when
her mother had drunk enough ‘mother’s ruin’, she could be the life and soul of any party or, by contrast, one over could make her contrary and argumentative.
‘I thought they’d look nice on the table,’ Evie answered lightly, quickly changing her answer to try and keep the peace. She should have known better than to mention her father in front of Leo Darnel, who’d moved in as their lodger six months ago and
taken no time at all getting his feet under her mother’s eiderdown. ‘I found a vase in…’ Her voice trailed off. Her mother wasn’t listening. As usual, she’d disappeared into the parlour to darken her finely shaped eyebrows with soot from the unlit grate – make-up was still on ration – dolling herself up for her shift behind the bar of the Tram Tavern. The tavern was barely a stone’s throw away on the other side of the narrow alleyway running alongside their house, so why her mother felt the need to dress to the nines
was anybody’s guess.

Out of the corner of her eye, Evie noticed a sudden movement from their lodger, who was standing near the range, which she had black-leaded that morning. Leo Darnel didn’t like her and that was fine, because she didn’t like him either.

He was a jumped-up spiv who tried to pass himself off as a respectable businessman. Respectable? He didn’t know the meaning of the word, she thought, her eyes taking in the polished leather Chesterfield suite that cluttered the room and seemed out of place in a small backstreet terraced house.

‘None of your utility stuff,’ he’d said, pushing out his blubbery chest like a strutting pigeon. All the time he had a wonky eye on the bedroom door. He would do anything to keep her mother sweet and made it obvious every chance he got to show Evie she was in the way.

He’d been very quiet for the last few minutes, Evie realised. That wasn’t like Darnel. He was up to something, she could tell. He hadn’t interrupted with a sarcastic comment as he usually did when she and her mother were having a tit-for-tat. His elfsatisfied
smirk stretched mean across thin lips as he hunched inside a crisp white shirt and peered at her.

His beady eyes looked her up and down as he chewed a spent matchstick at the corner of his mouth before turning back to the grate. His piggy eyes were engrossed in the rising flames of something he had thrown onto the fire. Her attention darted to the
blaze casting dancing flares of light across the room.

‘No!’ Evie heard the gasp of horror and disbelief coming from her own lips. How could he be so callous? How could he? As he stepped back with arms outstretched like he was showing off a new sofa, Evie could see exactly what he had done.

‘You burned them!’ Evie cried, hurrying over to the range, pushing Darnel out of her way and grabbing the brass fire tongs from the companion set on the hearth, desperate to save at least some of the valuable night-school work.

Two years of concentrated learning to prove she was just as good as all the rest – reduced to ashes in moments. Thrusting the tongs into the flames again and again was hopeless Her valuable notes disintegrated.

‘Mam, look! Look what he’s done!’ Her blue eyes blazed as hotly as the flames licking up the chimney.

‘You are not the only one who can crawl out of the gutter? Mr High-and-mighty!’ Evie was breathless when her burst of anger erupted, watching the flames envelope her books, turning the curling pages to ash. She balled her work-worn hands, roughly red through cleaning up after other people and pummelled his chest. Why? She caught his mocking eyes turn to flint before being dealt a quick backhander that made her head spin.

Her nostrils, which only moments before had been filled with the sweet fragrance of summer freesias and Mansion polish, were now congested with blood as traitorous tears rolled down her cheek. Evie dashed them away with the pad of her hand, ashamed and angry because he was privy to her vulnerability. Her pale blue eyes dashed from the range to her mother, who was now standing in the doorway shaking painted nails.
 

#SheilaRiley

Sheila Riley wrote four #1 bestselling novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves and is now writing a new saga trilogy under her own name. She has set it around the River Mersey and its docklands near to where she spent her early years.  She still lives in Liverpool.

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