Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow Jessica Redland 5* #Review @JessicaRedland @BoldwoodBooks #BlogTour @rararesources#Friendship #UpLit #Secrets #FamilyDrama #MentalHealth #Relationships #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers

Every family has its secrets, and at Hedgehog Hollow there is no exception…


It was always Samantha’s dream to run her beautiful rescue centre, Hedgehog Hollow, full-time. But just as her wish comes true, she becomes a victim of her own kindness when she finds herself with a house full of guests – all with their own problems and secrets – looking to her for support.

When her self-absorbed cousin, Chloe, unexpectedly turns up at the farm – swiftly handing over her baby to Samantha to care for – trouble is definitely brewing. Especially as Chloe won’t tell anyone why she’s left her husband, James…

As Samantha juggles new hedgehog arrivals, family dramas and her own health challenges, it soon becomes clear that she needs to start putting herself first for once. Little does she know that life-changing secrets from the past are about to unravel and turn their lives upside down…

Return to glorious Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a heartwarming, emotional but uplifting story of family, friendship and moving on from the past.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story has a serious focus and is full of family drama, which has emotional and physical consequences for lovely Samantha. Hedgehog Hollow is full of hedgehog residents, and Samantha’s house is full of humans who need emotional support from her. The story is a dual viewpoint of Samantha and her cousin Chloe. If you’ve read previous books in this series, you’ll know Chloe is not particularly likeable. This book explores her story and past secrets, which shed light on her attitude and motivations.

This is an emotional story, and it immerses the reader in the characters’ lives. Chloe’s insights make her more understandable, but she is still not my favourite person. Samantha is everyone’s friend, and whilst this is admirable, you want her to take care of herself too.

This is another absorbing instalment of life at Hedgehog Hollow with characters you are invested in and an enticing mix of humour, poignancy and romance.

Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland writes uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community set in Yorkshire where she lives. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast and her Hedgehog Hollow series takes them into beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.

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Extract from Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – Jessica Redland

Chapter 1 

Samantha 

I sat on Thomas’s bench with a mug of tea in one hand, the other hand stroking Misty-Blue’s warm belly as she lay sprawled across my lap. 

‘Listen to that,’ I said to her, cocking my head to one side. ‘Isn’t it so peaceful?’ The only sounds were the chirp of birds, the buzz of insects and Misty-Blue’s gentle purrs. 

‘No babies crying for once,’ I added, not that I really minded. Archie and Lottie were adorable. Their parents, Paul and Beth, were also great house guests. They couldn’t have done more to help with the cooking and cleaning despite Beth still recovering from a near-fatal fall down the stairs at her flat and Paul, Josh’s dad, having Hodgkin lymphoma – a type of blood cancer. 

Closing my eyes, I tilted my head back towards the sun. It was a bright, warm Sunday in the middle of June, so Paul and Beth had taken advantage of the gorgeous weather and driven Archie and Lottie to the coast. Josh – owner of Alderson & Son Veterinary Practice – had been called out to a goat emergency an hour ago so I was on my own at Hedgehog Hollow, enjoying a rare and precious moment of tranquillity. 

After a few minutes, I opened my eyes and sipped contentedly on my tea. My heart fluttered as the diamonds on my engagement ring sparkled in the sun. We hadn’t made any plans for when we’d marry yet. It didn’t feel right to set the date until Paul had been through the next round of chemotherapy later this month and we were, of course, still hoping a stem cell donor would be found. 

Everyone had been thrilled at the announcement of our engagement. We’d invited our closest family for afternoon tea last Sunday so we could share the news. After that I’d called my best friend Hannah, who excitedly squealed down the phone. 

I tried my cousin Chloe next but she didn’t answer. Loyalty towards her after years of close friendship meant it didn’t feel right for her mum – my Auntie Louise – to hear first so I held off phoning her, trying Chloe repeatedly over the next few days but without success. On Thursday, fed up that messages to get in touch urgently had seemingly been ignored, I phoned Auntie Louise, who was also delighted. Then I texted Chloe: 

* To Chloe 

Josh asked me to marry him! I’m so excited. I’ve been trying to get hold of you all week as I ideally didn’t want to tell you my big news by text but you haven’t responded to my messages and I’m worried. I hope you’re okay. HOT TIP! There’s a woman on a farm in Huggleswick who is always here for you. You know where she is if you ever need her xxx 

So far, she hadn’t responded and I was determined not to let it dampen my excitement. If Chloe had decided to have an epic strop, I wasn’t going to bend over backwards this time. I’d waved the white flag plenty of times and now it was her move. 

I’d also sent a quick text to Mum: 

* To Mum 

I hope all’s well with you. Just letting you know that Josh asked me to marry him and I said yes. Not planning to set a date yet. Sam x 

She hadn’t responded but I hadn’t expected her to, although I had hoped she might, even if it was just one word: ‘congratulations’. I wasn’t going to let her dampen my excitement, either. 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Friendship, New Books, Psychological Suspense, Suspense, Travel

The Wild Girls Phoebe Morgan 4* #Review @Phoebe_A_Morgan @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #PsychSuspense #Relationships #Friends #Botswana #TheWildGirls

In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

  • THE BIRTHDAY GIRL: Has it all, but chose love over her friends…
  • THE TEACHER: Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…
  • THE MOTHER: Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…
  • THE INTROVERT: Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is atmospheric psychological suspense that explores friendship, relationships, and secrets. The Wild Girls, four friends who grew up together, all different personalities but a close-knit friendship group until the night they weren’t. Two years later and no one is in contact. A surprise invitation to celebrate a birthday in Botswana brings back memories, some good, others troubling, but will they go? Of course, they do and find themselves in a hostile environment which quickly turns toxic.

The suspense building is good, but not enough is made of the Botswanan location. Told in three parts from multiview points some first-person, others third-person. The secrets are gradually revealed as the events of their estrangement become clear. The three women are unreliable protagonists and hard to empathise with. The story is well-plotted, and the final chapters are particularly twisty and impactful.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Friendship, New Books, Noir, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Therapist B.A.Paris 5*#Review @BAParisAuthor @HQStories #psychological #Suspense #domestic #relationships #secrets #lies #friendships #BlogTour #BookReview #TheTherapist #publicationday #PsychSuspense

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it.

Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Therapist is an addictive blend of cleverly crafted characters, nail-biting psychological suspense and a puzzling plot. Alice and Leo move into the exclusive gated development in London to begin their lives together. Alice is unsure if London life will suit her, but Leo wants to live in London, and she wants to see more of him.

Told exclusively from Alice’s perspective, she soon reveals herself as an unreliable protagonist. A past family tragedy still defines her life, and she sees the change of lifestyle as a way of living again. Alice dislikes The Circle’s sinister ethos. A series of unexpected revelations intensify her emotional vulnerability to breaking point. Everyone has secrets, and Alice isn’t sure who she can trust. The house’s tragic history immerses Alice until her life starts to unravel, pushing her relentlessly towards danger.

Short passages from the past with undefinable characters intensify the sense of menace and suspense towards the climactic, twisted conclusion. The final shocking twist is well disguised. This is a book you won’t want to put down. It will have you checking you’ve locked the doors.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, New Adult Romance, Parenting and Famlies, Romance

Homecoming Luan Golding 4*#Review @HQStories @LuanGoldie #FamilyDrama #LiteraryFiction #Friendship #Relationships #Love #BookReview #Homecoming

For years Yvonne has tried to keep her demons buried and focus on moving forward. But her guilt is always with her and weighs heavily on her heart.

Kiama has had to grow up without a mother, and while there is so much he remembers about her, there is still plenty he doesn’t know. And there’s only one person who can fill in the gaps.

Lewis wants nothing more than to keep Kiama, his son, safe, but the thought of Kiama dredging up the past worries Lewis deeply. And Lewis doesn’t know if he’s ready to let the only woman he’s ever loved back into his life.

When Kiama seeks Yvonne out and asks her to come with him to Kenya, the place that holds the answers to his questions, she knows she can’t refuse. And this one act sets in motion an unravelling of the past that no one is ready for.

Moving between London and Kenya, and spanning almost two decades, Homecoming is a profound story of love, family and friendship. It’s about coming to terms with your past, and about what happens when we finally share our truths.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a poignant story about culture, family, friendships and love. Yvonne and Emma became friends at university, their cultures and family lives differed, but their friendship was strong until Lewis. There is a love triangle at the centre of this story, but only two people are aware they are in it. Yvonne’s life, marred by her guilt over Emma and her loss of the two people she loved most in life, agrees to a journey to Kenya with Kiama Emma’s son.

The story moves between the early days of their friendship to the present day. A tragic event alters everyone’s lives. Believable characters, relatable relationships and well-described setting make this an absorbing read. Parenting, culture, race and social class underpin the narrative in a way that resonates. There are many poignant moments in this story, but ultimately it is positive and uplifting.

Read my review of Nightingale Point

Posted in Blog Blitz, Extract, Young Adult

Dating the It Guy Krysten Lindsay Hager @KrystenLindsay @CleanReads_ #Extract @rararesources #YoungAdult #Teen #ComingofAge #Romance #Friendship #Relationships #Celebrity #BlogBlitz #DatingtheItGuy

Emme starts dating a popular high school student who happens to be from a famous political family. It seems like everyone at school either wants to be Brendon Agretti or date him. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world and it doesn’t help that his picture-perfect ex seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend dumped her and her whole world is off kilter with her grandparents’ health issues. Life suddenly seems easier pushing Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you’re dating the it guy.

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Extract from Dating the It GuyKrysten Lindsay Hager

In this scene, Brendon is trying to help Emme retrieve her paper and she’s overthinking about everything and realizing that he’s so much sweeter and more considerate than other guys at their school. Oh, and that intuition thing with the basketball player happened to me back in the day!

While I tried not to drool, Brendon put the computer in “safe mode” and was able to save my paper to a drive. He started up his laptop for me, and I leaned over him while he explained how to use it. The side of his ear and neck were hot. I never knew anyone could have such amazing ears. People take things like ears for granted when it comes to the cuteness factor.

“Did you get all that?” he asked.

I had no idea what he was referring to, but I nodded. Why couldn’t I keep my head around this guy? It wasn’t like I had grown up in a convent or something and this was the first guy I had ever seen. I never had trouble talking to guys before, so why was I thrown by him? Well, other than the fact he was amazingly hot and nice. Nice. I didn’t even believe in the myth of the “nice guy,” but Brendon seemed to be one. I had noticed last year that even when his friends would make fun of people in the hallways at school, he never did. And who else would have come over to try and fix my computer and bring along his laptop in case I needed it? Okay, I needed to focus. After all, my grandmother always warned me about falling into the whole “knight on a white horse” thing. She said women did not need rescuing and I could take care of myself, and with the exception of this laptop thing, I could. So why did I act stupid around him?

“I think it’s a virus.”

“Huh?” I glanced up.

“I think you have a virus,” he said. “You should probably take it in and have it checked out. Wish I could fix it, but what can I say? I’m not that smart.”

A guy who admitted he couldn’t fix something? Grandma didn’t warn me about that happening. In fact, she wouldn’t believe such a thing existed.

“Well, thanks for trying and getting my paper off there. I can use my mom’s computer if you want your laptop back. I hope I didn’t infect you…” Ugh, why couldn’t I just be normal for two seconds? “I mean, I put this drive in your computer—”

“I have tons of virus blockers and stuff on there. It should be fine. Are you sure you don’t need it anymore?” he said. “How’s your paper coming?”

I shrugged. “It’s coming. Thanks again for coming over. I thought I was going to have to throw holy water on it to—” Shut up, shut up, shut up, you little weirdo. “I mean, thanks for coming over. See ya tomorrow.”

As soon as he left, Mom came into the room to ask if my computer was fixed.

“No, but my friend was able to get my paper for me. I guess I have a virus.”

“So your friend was able to get it for you,” she said, smirking. “How interesting you called a guy to help you.”

“What? Oh, because only guys know about computers. That is so sexist, mother.”

“I meant because you got ready like you were going to the prom,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I saw you wearing makeup just to do your homework.”

I rolled my eyes and told her I had to get going on my homework. She made smooching noises as she got her laptop for me. It would be nice to have a mother who didn’t have the social skills of a six-year-old. Before I got back to work, I decided to light some candles. It was Tuesday, so I lit my pink cotton candy scented soy candle to draw love. Grandma was the one who had told me how different candle colors meant different things and which days you should light which candle. I wondered if the pink candle thing actually worked. It had never done anything for me before, but what if this time was different? Chances were nothing would ever happen with Brendon and me, but what if he was my soul mate? Stranger things had happened. Like the time I had a dream years ago about a player throwing up during basketball finals. I mentioned it to my dad, who’d seen me predict stuff before, so he bet on the game with some of his friends. Well, I was right about the guy having the flu, but he still played, and his team won. Dad wasn’t happy. Grandma told him that’s what he got for trying to “abuse my gift for profit.” However, my “gift” wasn’t helping me figure out how to talk to Brendon. Okay, forget talk, I wanted him to fall for me.

I sat back on my bed. I couldn’t think of one other person who would have dropped everything to come over to help someone they barely knew. It had to mean something, right? I had a weird feeling he and I were supposed to be more than just partners in class.

I tried to picture what it would be like to date Brendon and imagined him taking me to a restaurant on the water. One of those places that put up Christmas lights year-round so everything’s all romantic and sparkly. It would be private and dark, so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting sauce on my chin or trying to use my knife and fork. I was convinced back in the day I had missed the lesson on how to properly use silverware. Maybe I was sick that day like I was the day when everybody learned how to tell time, which meant for the rest of my life, I had to pretend I couldn’t see my watch clearly whenever someone asked what time it was As I sat there, I wondered if he believed in love at first sight and the whole soulmate/kindred spirit thing. Then I wondered if he had any feelings for me at all.

Krysten Lynsay Hager

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, Can Dreams Come True, and In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety . True Colors won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book as well as the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for children/teens. Best Friends…Forever won the Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.

​Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton. 

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Extract, Family Drama, Friendship, Romance

All You Need Is Love Jessica Redland 5* #Review #Extract @JessicaRedland @BoldwoodBooks #BlogTour @rararesources #Romance #Friendship #Heartwarming #UpLit #Family #Relationships #Loss #Love #BookReview #boldwoodbloggers #WhitsboroughBay #AllYouNeedIsLove

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?


Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam think he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up. 

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

Escape to Whitsborough Bay for an emotional, uplifting story of love and friendship from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland. 

This book was previously published as Bear With Me.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is an emotional story full of angst and loss but mitigated by the strong community ties and friendship at times of need. Jemma and Sam are the main protagonists, and the story unfolds from their perspectives. Initially, separate their stories intertwine as their lives implode.

The character-driven, insightful and immersive writing draws the reader into the characters’ lives. The world-building creates an authentic setting that is easy to imagine from the sensory imagery used.

Relatable characters and contemporary issues are interwoven into a story of friendship, loss and starting over.

Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland is the author of ten novels, including The Secret to Happiness, which are all set around the fictional location of Whitsborough Bay. Inspired by her hometown of Scarborough she writes uplifting women’s fiction which has garnered many devoted fans.

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Extract from All You Need Is Love – Jessica Redland

Jemma 

Three years ago – 21st May 

‘Mum!’ I called up the stairs. ‘Mum! The hearse is here.’ I cocked my head to one side, listening for her reply. Nothing. What was she doing up there? She’d told me forty minutes ago that she was ‘almost ready’ and, as she isn’t one of those women who spends hours teasing one strand of hair into place, there was no reason to disbelieve her. Of all the mornings to take forever, why choose today? Shaking my head, I opened the front door to Mum’s cottage, Bear’s Pad, before Mr Golding, the funeral director, had a chance to lift the grizzly-bear knocker. 

‘Good morning, Ms Browne.’ He gave a reverential bow of his head. ‘We’re ready when you are.’ 

‘Thank you. We’ll be out in five minutes.’ I glanced back towards the stairs. ‘Actually, it could be ten. Do we have time?’ 

‘Ten minutes is no problem.’ 

My throat tightened as I glanced past him to the black limousine parked on the sloped driveway and the hearse parked on the road. It was still hard to take in. This wasn’t a day I’d expected to experience for several decades. 

I tried not to curl my lip up at the orange and yellow floral lettering arrangement resting against the side of the coffin. I hated it but Logan, my seven-year-old brother, had requested it because his best friend Billy Thomas had apparently told him that people who didn’t have one were mean and that the dead would come back to haunt them. I could have throttled Billy Thomas. Logan also wanted a floral teddy bear to thoroughly protect him against any risk of ghosts but Mum and I had managed to talk him out of that. The deceased would not have been impressed with a bear. He probably would have haunted us for that. 

‘Mum!’ I called again after I’d closed the door. Still no answer. Just a lot of clattering and banging. 

‘What’s Mum doing?’ Logan looked up from where he was playing with his Lego on the lounge rug. ‘She’s being very noisy.’ 

‘I’ve no idea, but I’m about to find out. Have you been to the toilet?’ 

‘Not yet.’ 

‘Can you do that while I check on Mum? And make sure you wash your hands.’ 

He put down his Lego and pouted. ‘I always do.’ 

‘Logan! What have we discussed about telling fibs?’ 

‘Okay. I promise I’ll wash them. You can smell them if you want.’ 

I smiled at him. ‘Tempting, but I might pass on that.’ 

Logan headed past me and through the kitchen, giggling as he made a big show of sniffing at his hands. Happy that he was doing as asked, I kicked off my stilettos and ran up the stairs. I paused for a moment outside Mum’s bedroom listening to the racket, punctuated with the occasional expletive, then pushed open the door and gasped. 

‘Oh my God! What’s going on? Mum! Why aren’t you ready?’ 

Wrapped in a fluffy cream towel, Mum turned to face me and blew a wisp of dark hair out of her face. 

‘I only bought them on Saturday,’ she said, as if that explained why half the contents of her drawers were strewn all over the floor. 

‘Bought what on Saturday?’ 

‘Black knickers. An M&S three-pack. But I can’t find them, Jemma.’ 

‘Where did you last have them?’ 

She planted her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes at me. ‘Why do people always say that? If I knew the answer, then this wouldn’t have happened, would it?’ She waved her arm across the carnage. 

‘The hearse is here,’ I said, equally unhelpfully. 

Mum frowned. ‘I thought they weren’t due till 10.15.’ 

‘It is 10.15. Well, near enough.’ 

She twisted round to look at her bedside clock. ‘Crap! Why didn’t you call me sooner?’ 

‘Because you told me you were nearly ready forty minutes ago and because I was busy with Logan.’ 

‘Logan? Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, Jemma. Is he ready?’ 

‘Yes. He’s downstairs waiting. We need to go in about seven minutes. Can you manage without the knickers?’ 

Her eyes widened. ‘Jemma-bear! Are you suggesting that I go commando to your father’s funeral? I’m not sure that’s appropriate.’ 

I laughed loudly – also not appropriate for a funeral. ‘I didn’t mean go without any knickers. I just meant without the new black ones.’ 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Extract, Family Drama, Suspense

The Scarlet Dress Louise Douglas 5* #Review @LouiseDouglas3 @BoldwoodBooks #Extract #FamilyDrama #Secrets #grief #loss #Crime #Suspense #BlogTour #BookReview #Missing #ColdCase #boldwoodbloggers #Psychological #TheScarletDress @rararesources

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared twenty-five years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

The past was like water. Once the tide turned, you couldn’t hold it back.’

In the long, hot summer of 1995, twenty-two-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park’s caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice, and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She’s never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run down and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they’re both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story is wonderfully complex. Character-driven, it draws the reader into a world of decay, deceit and death. The discovery of human bones years after a young woman disappeared reopens old hurts in a town that is a shadow of its former self. Marnie, a child at the time of the disappearance, still bears the emotional scars. Will, obsessed with the missing girl Alice, is drawn back to the dying town of his birth, feeling there is unfinished business.

The story gives up its secrets as it unfolds and undulates between the present day and 1995. There are unexpected twists, emotional moments and relentless tension that builds to the story’s end. The setting is well created and complements the plot perfectly. This is a compelling story with many emotionally damaged characters, of which Marnie is my favourite.

This is an immersive story about ordinary people and extraordinary tragedy. It reads, like a Nordic noir set in the English seaside, an engaging balance of introspection and action it’s a page-turner.

Louise Douglas

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of novels including The House By The Sea and Missing You – a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

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Extract from The Scarlet Dress – Louise Douglas

A lively wind danced across the estuary flatlands, shimmying the feathered heads of the reeds that lined the rhynes. Marnie Morahan headed back down the track with the dogs: her own beloved Tessy and the foster dog, a monstrous-looking animal that Jenna at the rescue centre had named Mister. He had short legs and a chest so barrelled that he waddled rather than walked. His head and neck were covered in scars and old wounds from his days as a bait dog, one ear almost completely gone, the other with chunks missing like a leaf got at by snails. His grizzled snout was encased inside a Silence of the Lambs-style muzzle designed to protect him from himself. If another dog came too close, Mister might try to kill it and he was already on his final warning. His next aggressive bite would be his last. 

Marnie loved all animals, even difficult-to-love ones like Mister; especially ones like him. It was people she struggled with. It was a two-way street. Marnie didn’t trust people and most people thought she was weird with her old black clothes and boots, her piercings and tattoos, her hair shaved close to her skull, her sullen expression and downcast eyes; her reluctance to be involved with anyone except for her immediate family, Jenna and her dog-training clients. Her muteness. Marnie knew people called her a misfit, and worse. It didn’t hurt because she was used to it; she’d been the odd one out all her life. Sometimes she worried that her oddness would become an embarrassment to her daughter, Lucy, or worse, that bullies might target Lucy because of her, but fortunately Lucy was a sunny, friendly girl, popular at school. She accepted Marnie as she was and expected others to accept her too. Lucy understood that Marnie could no more change than the sun could rise in the west: she didn’t need to be close to people and people didn’t need to be close to her. 

The track was stony. Gritty puddles had formed in the potholes. The grass that grew in shabby green strips was submerged in the wet. The hedgerows on either side had lost their leaves months earlier and were black and twiggy, and the branches of the wind-worn trees above were jagged, mistletoe growing like ragged hair in the pits of their joints. Deep ruts made by ploughs in undulating stripes across the fields were full of water that reflected the light. 

Clouds raced across a high, wintry sky that morning; a flock of lapwings banked steeply into the air, flashing white then black. Tessy stopped to sniff at a pile of dung and Mister looked up at Marnie with bloodshot, prize-fighter eyes, confused because he did not understand the joys of sniffing. 

Marnie put her hand in the pocket of her ancient coat and pulled out a handful of dried pilchards. She offered one to Mister through the muzzle, but the dog backed away, believing it to be a trick, expecting to be punished. Marnie dropped the treat on the ground. Mister stared at it, but made no move to eat it. 

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, New Books, Novella

Eleven Days in June R P Gibson Colley 4*#Review The Tales of Little Leaf @RupertColley #1985 #Devon #Village #ComingofAge #Relationships #Love #humour #PublicationDay #MondayBlogs

Dan is 20, lives in a sleepy village in Devon and works in a small DIY shop. He likes numbers and hero worships Lord Nelson. But he finds ordinary people difficult to understand and he’s certainly never kissed a girl. His mother mocks him, he misses his father and he pines for Ollie, his only childhood friend who truly understood him.

But, despite it all, Dan thinks he’s happy enough. Until one June day, the beautiful and mysterious Libby walks into his shop – and into his life.

Libby’s sudden appearance turns Dan’s ordered existence upside down. But Dan soon realises that Libby isn’t who she seems. Who exactly is she? What is she hiding, and, more importantly, who’s that threatening man always looking for her?

In trying to help Libby, Dan comes to realise what’s missing in his own life, and, in turn, appreciates what’s really important…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a coming of age story, set in a sleepy Devon village in 1985. Dan is 20 but appears younger. Outwardly remote he is affected deeply by others’ perceptions of him. His dysfunctional childhood made him overly dependant on his mother and losing contact with a close childhood friend, also impacted him.

The story is short and simple, but the relationships, emotional angst and development are complex, Dan is likeable, and he has more friends than he realises. The adventure with Libby, the glamorous interloper, make him appreciate that.

This is an introspective story, but it’s an emotional read with heartwarming and poignant moments.

There is a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

What Now? Shari Low 5*#Review @sharilow @BoldwoodBooks @rararesources #WhatNow #selfdiscovery #Romance #Friendship #Marriage #Relationships #BlogTour #BookReview #romcom

The follow-up sequel to the bestselling ‘What If?’ from Shari Low


Twenty years ago, Carly Cooper went on an epic quest to track down all the men she’d ever loved and lost in the hope that one of them was her Mr Right.

Now, two decades and two teenage sons later, she thinks she might have got it all wrong.

As the years have passed, lots of things have changed, leaving Carly asking ‘What Now?’

With a divorce and an empty nest on the horizon, Carly sets off once more to Los Angeles with her band of trusty girlfriends, to find the carefree, wild and adventurous Carly Cooper that she used to be.

On this latest quest, Carly discovers a few home truths and has to decide If her marriage is worth saving or is there a new happy-ever-after out there, just waiting for her…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

What Now? is the sequel to What If? the story that began it all. It is feisty, fresh and funny with standout characters, emotion and relatability. Carly’s life after almost twenty years isn’t quite what she imagined. Her sons are everything she wanted, but her marriage is over after years of making do. Her vulnerability is undeniable when Mark her soon to be ex-husband arranges to take the boys away on the family holiday they always promised themselves.

Carly’s caring friends organise a trip to LA to stop make her realise that proves to be a revelation and forces her to confront past decisions. There is so much to love in this story, especially the friendships, the laughter and the romance.

A lovely escapist read full of emotion and laugh out loud moments.

Shari Low

Shari Low is the #1 bestselling author of over 25 novels, including One Day In Summer and My One Month Marriage and a collection of parenthood memories called Because Mummy Said So. She lives near Glasgow.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Revenge Fiction, Friendship, Suspense, Thriller

Ruthless Women Melanie Blake 5*#Review @MelanieBlakeUK @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview @MidasPR #SoapOpera #Thriller #Relationships #Friendship #Revenge #suspense #RuthlessWomen

Ambition can be deadly…

Ruthless Women takes readers on a wild ride behind the scenes of beloved TV drama Falcon Bay, beamed globally to millions three days a week from its picturesque location in the Channel Islands. But even in this beautiful coastal spot, tensions swirl. Once one of the world’s most popular soap operas, but now with ratings and syndication at an all-time low, the production has been sold to an American business woman, beautiful and malevolent Madeline Kane, the new network owner who arrives on the tiny island just off Jersey, determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to number one.  

Writer Farrah, star Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who keep the show on the road. But Farrah is losing episodes to the network’s lead male rival, Catherine is terrified of the public falling out of love with her and Amanda’s evil husband Jake, vice president of the network, is plotting to get his own wife kicked off the show.

As the dawn of a new era begins, cast and crew turn against each other with loyalty, decency, and trust, replaced by scandal, betrayal, and an outrageous ambition to survive.

In a true battle of the sexes, these women will do anything to stay on top. But can they team up to bring down their male rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge tear their long held friendships apart?

As the story reaches a climax so shocking readers will be talking about it for decades, one thing is certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive… 

Amazon UK

18th February 2021

The Genre…

Over 25 million people in the UK watch soaps a week and now they’ll get a true glimpse of what really goes on behind the scenes of TV’s most  popular shows, and examples of the desperate trade off’s their beloved leading ladies go through to survive the very game they are in. Ruthless Women shows that what takes place behind the cameras is way more juicy than on….

Even the actresses, who Melanie was worried would be angry about what she’s written, are raving about Ruthless Women too.  Well, some of them are….

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

My Thoughts…

Scandalous, sexy thrillers based on real experiences and personalities are always addictive. Ruthless Women’s vibrant characters and vivid scenarios make guessing the inspiration behind them a must. The abuse of authority and prejudice are relatable, and the intelligent way the women fight against them believable. The female characters are flawed but easy to empathise. Hidden agendas and twists make this an intriguing read.

Scandal, secrets and sex underpin the story of a ruthless boss determined to make a once top-rated show great again. The dynamic between Farrah, Catherine, Amanda and Sheena is insightful and the force behind the story. It is both their strength and weakness, which Madeline exploits to her advantage.

This story has a poignant side which gives it depth and immerses the reader into the characters lives. The noir world simmering below the surface of television’s glamorous facade is the perfect setting for this story of ambition, friendship, revenge and scandal.

The suspense builds coupled with striking sensory imagery, as the story develops and the final chapters are full of twists, with a climactic ending.

I can’t wait for the next book.

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

Melanie Blake

As one as the UK’s most successful agents, managers and publicists for music stars and TV actresses, Melanie Blake has represented some of the most famous faces on British television and international screens.

Where her debut novel, the No. 1 bestseller The Thunder Girls, was inspired by the early years of her career  spent working in the music industry, her follow up novel Ruthless Women is heavily influenced by the last 15 years Melanie has spent representing more female actresses than any other agent in her genre. Nicknamed The Queen Of Soaps, there is no one better placed to write a novel based around a continuing drama and its leading ladies.

As one of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, over the years Melanie has had two careers at the top tier of the entertainment industry. Her first 10 years were as a music manager with a roster of award-winning artists and the second decade as one of the UK’s leading acting agents representing some of the most famous faces on British television. The Thunder Girls is inspired by her time in the music business and Ruthless Women which is out in 2021 is inspired by her years in the world of soap opera and drama.

With no formal education herself, Melanie is a true champion for working class women who are so often overlooked in our society. The Thunder Girls is a celebration of women from diverse demographics and all the lead characters in the novel are over 40 and working class. As well as having written the book, Melanie has penned The Thunder Girls the play which embarks on a nationwide tour in 2021. 

Melanie Blake might just be the world’s biggest Jackie Collins fan. She first read Rock Star aged 9, after smuggling the copy out of the library by telling the librarian it was for her mum!  Melanie was dazzled by Jackie Collin’s world where women clawed themselves from poverty into glamorous, moneyed lives. In Jackie Collins’ novels, women were bosses and winners who achieved everything they wanted and it was these novels that inspired Melanie to become her own boss and a lady entrepreneur.  In 2017 Melanie’s connection with Jackie Collins came full circle, when after Jackie’s sad death she bought five pieces of Jackie’s jewellery at auction – two rings and three necklaces inlayed with morganite, citrines and diamonds – which she wears every day.

For the first time, Melanie reveals her biggest secret – that her career actually started as an ‘extra’ on the set of Coronation Street and EastEnders. It was there she began clawing her way from the bottom of the ‘Soap Opera ladder’ to the very top, going on to represent the leading ladies of the very shows she was hired to stand in the background of. It’s a one in a million story, by a uniquely determined woman. From extra to celebrity agent, she’s seen it all and that journey enabled her to write ‘the must read book of 2021’.

18 February 2021

Melanie will be launching the book alongside two of TVs leading ladies Coleen Nolan and Beverly Callard who will be spilling the beans on their own personal lives for a digital book launch “Melanie Blake’s Girls Night in” that members of the public can buy tickets to for £10 including a copy of the book.  

A Girls Night In With Melanie Blake | Projects | Fane