A beautiful and heart-breaking story set in South Africa where two mothers – a century apart – must fight for their sons, unaware their fates are inextricably linked.
Orange Free State, 1901. At the height of the Boer War, Sarah van der Watt and her six-year-old son Fred can only watch as the British burn their farm. The polite invaders cart them off to Bloemfontein Concentration Camp promising you will be safe here.
Johannesburg, 2010. Sixteen-year-old Willem is an outsider who just wants to be left alone with his Harry Potter books and Britney, his beloved pug. Worried he’s turning out soft, his Ma and her new boyfriend send him to New Dawn Safari Camp, where they ‘make men out of boys.’ Guaranteed.
The red earth of the veldt keeps countless secrets whether beaten by the blistering sun or stretching out beneath starlit stillness. But no secret can stay buried forever.
I received a copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing in return for an honest review.
This book based on historical events and entities evokes disturbing, and resonating images for its readers. Colonialism in South Africa during the early twentieth century is seen through the eyes of Sarah, interned in a camp by the British during the Boer War, in the wake of a scorched earth policy. Sarah’s diary gives an astute, poignant and thought-provoking insight into her exposure to the war and subsequent imprisonment, with her young son. It exposes a dark side of humanity, that is sobering. The two sides of being human are exposed, through the riveting prose.
Forced to stay at a camp by his mother and her partner, Willem’s life, in 2010, is a living nightmare, difficult to read, but horrors that need bringing into the light.
This story exposes and informs eloquently, the writing style makes the content easy to absorb, and the vivid images portrayed are hard to forget.
Damian Barr is an award-winning writer and columnist. Maggie & Me, his memoir about coming of age and coming out in Thatcher’s Britain, was a BBC Radio 4 ‘Book of the Week’, Sunday Times ‘Memoir of the Year’ and won the Paddy Power Political Books ‘Satire’ Award and Stonewall Writer of the Year Award. Damian writes columns for the Big Issue and High Life and often appears on BBC Radio 4. He is creator and host of his own Literary Salon that premieres work from established and emerging writers. You Will Be Safe Here is his debut novel. Damian Barr lives in Brighton. @Damian_Barr
Kalinda Evans works for the Anglo-Boer war foundation in Canada. She’s sent to South Africa to make sure everyone who lost their lives in the war will be remembered. On her drive to the guest farm in Kimberley, South Africa, Kalinda picks up a female hitchhiker and is startled when just moments later, the woman vanishes. Kalinda would be convinced she was dreaming…except there’s still a white lace handkerchief on the passenger seat.
Extreme sports enthusiast and computer game designer Zack Carteris always after the next big challenge. He’s far too busy for romance and adheres to a three-date rule until he meets his parents’ latest guest. When she relays the story of her mysterious experience, Zack’s family shares the local ghost story. Kalinda and Zack work together to solve the puzzle of the ghost and how it all ties in with the war and the work Kalinda is doing.
As their attraction grows, Zack realizes he no longer feels the need to prove anything to himself. He only needs to prove to Kalinda that he’s more than a good time.
I enjoy romance with a twist, and this unusual story has more than one to entice the reader.
Set predominately in South Africa it explores the romance between Kalinder and Zack. Kalinder experiences an unnerving encounter when she offers a lift to a lone woman while travelling to a guest farm. Zack is at the right place and time to help, but neither expects the attraction that ignites between them.
There is a credible, supernatural thread to this romance, which draws the past and present together. Whether this is a local folk tale or reality, the ghost’s presence touches Kalinder and Zack’s lives.
The historical detail gives depth to the plot making it a unique romantic story.
A story of accepting the past and looking forward to the future with heartfelt romance and believable characters.
I received a copy of this book from Tule Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
He was the photographer, she the model and on a sunny beach on Mahé, she stole his heart. But Darryn isn’t ready for the powerful feelings Hannah elicits, so when another photographer implies he’s also slept with Hannah, Darryn uses it as the perfect excuse to walk away.
But when they meet again, he can’t ignore his instincts—Hannah is in danger. Lies and threats make targets of them both, and faced with a situation of pure terror, Darryn is forced to realize he’ll do anything to protect her. And to keep her with him, always…
Finally, ‘Touched to the Depths’ explores the tantalising mystery hinted at in the first three books. With sinister elements, this story is darker than the earlier stories. Hannah is a model whose life has been lived in the shadows, since an unfortunate event two years previously. Her brief but passionate liaison with Darryn, the dark and moody Cavallo brother is part of the reason but Hannah’s secret is much darker and threatens her and those she loves. There is a delicate balance of back-story and present day in this book, which elaborates on scenes from earlier stories but this time from Hannah’s point of view. Her secretive behaviour is borne out of love for her family and the surly Darryn but is it safe to share her secrets or must she face the danger alone? There is a strong psychological thriller element in this final story due the unbalanced mental state of the antagonist. This coupled with Hannah’s independence and fierce loyalty to those she loves makes for a page turning read. Danger lurks in every page and Hannah although courageous is an exasperating heroine at times. Darryn is the last Cavallo brother to admit he is in love and this almost costs him his future happiness. His arrogance and dismissal of Hannah’s career proves to be a major source of conflict and one that must be resolved if they are ever to be happy. This is a great finale to an enjoyable series. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
My review of the third book in the ‘Touched’ series by Elsa Winckler
Schoolteacher Dana Roux doesn’t need sexy hotel tycoon David Cavallo to add to her troubles. They have absolutely nothing in common—she’s a simple schoolteacher in a small coastal town, and he has more money than he knows what to do with. Besides, as a former journalist, he’d remember the news stories about her dad’s alleged involvement in a dirty, Ponzi-like scheme, and his subsequent suicide. The last thing she wants is for the dark shadow of that scandal—and tragedy—to fall upon her once again. Especially since she knows her dad was innocent.
For David, flirting with a beautiful woman comes as naturally as breathing. So when he winds up kissing his sister-in-law’s best friend, he realizes Dana isn’t just another pretty pair of lips. But things between them get complicated quickly when he discovers who her father was, and that it was David’s own news story that blew the case wide open and sent her father to jail—and to his death. David’s not sure what to believe, but he knows he can’t let Dana blame him forever. Especially since she insists her father was an innocent man. But when Dana’s life is threatened, he realizes that he might not have uncovered the whole story. And that now, older and wiser, he just might be the only one who can uncover the truth.
This third story in the ‘Touched’ series features Dana, not a Sutherland sister but definitely an honorary member of the Sutherland clan. Her past is fraught with scandal, heartache, and a tragedy that has left her always trying to prove something. She hates the investigative journalist who blew the whistle on her father, and inadvertently caused his death. Dana’s quest to prove her father’s innocence has left her little time for romance but she cannot forget David, another of the dynamic Cavallo brothers. Especially when he wants to help her but does he have an ulterior motive? Packed with dramatic irony, you empathise with Dana as her feelings for David threaten her fragile emotional state. As the mystery of her father’s premature death unfolds the suspense, is nail biting and the danger Dana unwittingly faces gives this story a menacing edge. Dana and David’s relationship is passionate and volatile, especially when his over protective tendencies force Dana into reckless behaviour to reassert her independence. Amidst the fast-paced action, there is the reassuring constant of the two-matchmaking mama’s ensuring that Dana and David have their happy ever after. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Here’s my second book review for Elsa Winckler’s Touched series ‘Touched to the Soul,’
A passion that runs soul deep…
Zoe Sutherland can’t stand the pushy, arrogant architect Dale Cavallo. He was just too damn sure of himself, too handsome, too…everything. Maneuvered into working as the interior decorator on his latest project, a glamorous new hotel, Zoe can’t keep her mind on the job. And worse, the strange man won’t give her access to the hotel’s floor plans. How is she supposed to finish the design when she doesn’t have the plans? And when the obnoxious man distracts her with every smoldering look, every touch…
Dale has one goal: get rid of the pesky interior designer. Since he’s been forced into close proximity with the beautiful Zoe, everything’s gone downhill. And to make matters worse, she’s only out to further her own career—and he’s not about to give her the hotel’s plans so she can steal his ideas. He needs to get her out of his system, and sleeping with her seems like the best way to do that. When it comes to women, he’s found the best way to handle them is to love ’em and leave ’em. But something strange is happening…because after a night of loving Zoe, he’s finding it harder than ever to leave…
Reading ‘Touched to the Heart’ the first book in this series got me hooked on the sexy Cavallo brothers and the feisty Sutherland sisters. ‘Touched to the Soul’ is Zoe and Dale’s story, who met in book one where they seemed to repel more than attract. However, neither is being honest and when they are thrown together the sensual tension is off the scale. If you enjoy watching love grow between glamorous couples, this is for you. The worlds of interior design and boutique hotels collide. The exchanges between Zoe and Dale are full of amusing dialogue, sizzling interaction and serious conflict that makes a happy ever for the couple seems unlikely. However, fairy godmothers in the form of Zoe’s mum and Rosa, Dale’s mum have other ideas. Glimpses of the other Sutherland sister and their best friend’s lives enhance this passionate love story, making reading the next book in the series mandatory. The other star of this book and the series is the setting. The descriptions are not extensive but you get wonderful glimpses of life in South Africa, which makes these stories distinctive. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her spare time, about the types of men she meets and the bad dates she goes on.
While on duty during the annual Wines to Whales bicycle race, a gorgeous, sweaty cyclist walks in and sets her hormones dancing. But he is Don Cavallo; one of the four Cavallo brothers — hotel tycoons, famous as much for their business skills as for the number of beauties regularly seen on their arms.
Don Cavallo has his own issues with the other sex. He has yet to find one who is interested in him and not in his money or hotels. But when this sexy physio puts her hands on his back she not only touches his body, but also his heart.
They’ve both been burned before, but neither of them can stop themselves from playing with fire.
I love stories about sisters and this is the first in a series of stories that explores the Sutherland sisters’ encounters with the gorgeous Cavallo brothers. Set in South Africa and The Seychelles, it’s a story about trust, serendipitous meetings and seeing beyond the outward facade, to the person beneath. The dry humour and romance of this story makes it an easy read but it is Caitlin and Don the unlikely lovers who keep you turning the pages. You want them to be together. Sensual tension sparks, whenever they are in close proximity making for some sizzling scenes. If you are a fan of well crafted characters and hot romance where the ordinary world meets celebrity you will enjoy this and the best thing is there are three more books in this series. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
How often do things end in life and you wish for just one more conversation, one chance to say what you needed to say, ask what has been burning in your heart, and hear the other side of what it was really like, who you really were? Poetry, prose and essays take you through the journey of Hiraeth and Phoenix. They choose to give each other the gift of the other side of the story and what follows is a dialogue that cuts to the core of the reality they created and called their own.
Packed with emotion, this short read is hard to put down, it draws you in and lets you relive Hiraeth’s and Phoenix’s love story, through their eyes. Accusations, complacency and desperation give way to acceptance, forgiveness and hope. The author cleverly uses poetry to reinforce the messages implicit in the previous chapters of prose.
This story is original and realistic and worth reading.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.