Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Holiday Romance

Christmas Once Again Jina Bacarr 5*#Review @JinaBacarr @BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers #Festive #Timeslip #HistoricalRomance #1943 #1955 #Serendipity

#ChristmasOnceAgain

ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS IS TO SAVE THE MAN SHE LOVES…

On a cold December day in 1955, Kate Arden got on a train to go home for Christmas.

This is the story of what happened when she got off that train. In 1943.

In 1943 Kate Arden was engaged to the man she loved, Jeffrey Rushbrooke. She was devastated and heartbroken when he was called up for wartime duty and later killed on a secret mission in France.

But what if Kate could change that? What if she could warn him and save his life before Christmas?
Or will fate have a bigger surprise in store for her?

Christmas Once Again is a sweeping, heartbreakingly romantic novel – it’s one woman’s chance to follow a different path and mend her broken heart…

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#BoldwoodBlogTour

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

My Thoughts…

Historical romance with a timeslip element is one of my favourite genre combinations, especially when there is a forbidden romance and a festive setting. Set mainly in 1943, it follows Kate’s story, as she falls in love, only to have her heartbroken when her true love is killed in WW2. Christmas is a painful reminder of all she’s lost, and she’s never felt able to return home until circumstances conspire in 1955, and make it a mercy mission she can’t ignore.

Full of mystery, poignancy and classic romance, the story is easy to read. I couldn’t put it down, I wanted to know what really happened, and if there was a chance for Kate to be truly happy. Kate is a complex, independent woman, like so many women who lost their partners in the war. Despite her strength, much of her emotional pain is hidden, and this has prevented her from moving on with her life. Her life stopped in 1943, perhaps now she can find the answers she seeks, and live, rather than going through the motions.

The historical detail brings the story to life. Written with vivid imagery, it unfolds in your mind like a movie. A lovely escape to a different time and place, full of heartbreaking romance and intriguing mystery and Kate’s chance to live another life, but should she?

#JinaBacarr

Jina Bacarr is a US-based historical romance author of over 10 previous books. She has been a screenwriter, journalist and news reporter, but now writes full-time and lives in LA. Jina’s novels have been sold in 9 territories.

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Extract From Christmas Once Again – Jina Bacarr

Chapter 1 Posey Creek, Pennsylvania
December 12, 1943


‘I bet you my last pair of stockings, little sister, I’ll be saying I do before Christmas.’

I whirl around in a circle, pretending the most wonderful man in the world is holding me in his arms, my heart soaring. A pot of Ma’s meat gravy simmers on the burner, the smell tickling my fancy to have my own kitchen soon. So many wonderful memories here. Planked floors, big white stove humming with good cooking, Ma’s rocker and her rosewood sewing box. Wallpaper dotted with daisies, their yellow petals turned golden over the years – and four ceramic angels lined up on top of the spice rack. A tradition we do every year along with listening to the holiday radio shows, but this Christmas is even more special to me. It’s crazy I feel so confident, even though he hasn’t actually asked me yet. But I know he will.

Eyes popping, Lucy swallows the spoonful of jam she shoved into her mouth. ‘You, Kate? Married?’ Slender and graceful like a young doe, she’s not as tall as me, though at sixteen she’s already filling out her sweaters. Dark brown hair rich with honeyed highlights frames her oval face and an army of freckles deepen in color on her cheeks as she laughs. ‘I hear Santa’s taken.’

I ignore her sarcasm and scoop Ma’s holiday cherry jam onto crackers. ‘It’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone.’ I wink at her, not letting up with my tease. I can’t. I’m too excited. Lucy adores secrets. Her face beams with excitement, like she got away with something without Ma finding out. Like using a pillow case for a laundry bag since bedding is hard to come by, or borrowing my two dollar face powder when she thinks I’m not looking.

Despite my affection for her, I pray she keeps my news under her hat. She loves to talk as much as she loves flirting with the soldiers down at the canteen, but I have to tell somebody the news or I’ll burst. What are sisters for if you can’t tease them? Besides, when Jeff does ask me, I’ll need her help fitting my bridal suit to get the hem straight. A gray suit with a frog clasp I made from extra silk Ma had left over from before the war. I’m lucky to have it. I want to look pretty for him. I never thought of myself as the pinup type, but Jeff makes me feel special and loved. He says I stand up taller when he catches my eye and that brings me closer to kissing him. Ma also noticed how much more confident I am. She was curious about why I saved up for two months to buy a blue silk hat with a wispy veil to go with my red coat with the fake fur collar when I have a perfectly good black hat.

I just smiled.

‘What’s there to tell?’ Lucy points to my bare finger smeared with jam. ‘You’re not wearing a ring, so you can’t be engaged.’

I smile. ‘You don’t know everything about me.’

‘I know you’re sweet on some guy.’

I raise a brow. ‘Snooping again?’

‘Me?’ She bats her eyelashes. ‘I don’t have to. Not the way you go around singing to yourself when you come home from your job at the mill. How you stop and sigh when we walk past Wrightwood House on our way to town.’

A winsome smile makes my lips curl. I love working at the paper mill. I started out in the typing pool after I graduated from high school. I worked my way up to private secretary to Mr Clayborn in the billing and acquisitions department. He needed a girl who could think and not just type, he said. Nothing top secret about what I do, but I’ve been told not to ask questions. Anyway, I have other things on my mind. Even when I’m dead tired from typing a pile of my shorthand notes, I get warm all over when I think about the man I want to marry.

A light comes on in Lucy’s swimming green eyes. ‘So my big sister has stars in her eyes for Jeffrey Rushbrooke.’

‘Don’t get your garter belt in a twist.’ I grab another cherry jam filled cracker. ‘You don’t know anything of the sort.’

Surprisingly, Lucy goes quiet, like she’s mulling over her reply before saying something that might upset me. She gossips more than Mrs Widget the neighbor, but she’s a good egg. Bouncy and full of cheer, especially this time of year. She loves Christmas as much as I do and helped me pile Ma’s holiday cherry jam into glass jars.

For me, the Christmas season begins when Ma takes us kids cherry picking in the woods. Lucy, Frank Junior, and me. When the days are long, the nights are hot, and the cherries are big and sweet and perfect to pick for jam. Before the war, Ma made the sweetest jam in the county with cinnamon and lemon zest, but since rationing started, we’ve had food shortages. We cheered when the government doubled the sugar rations so we could make jam for the boys passing through our small town. The trains stop here every day and Lucy makes it a high priority to meet the train and flirt with the soldiers. She talks about nothing else.

‘He’ll never marry you, Kate,’ she says, her sad puppy eyes showing real concern. I’ve never seen her look so serious. ‘You know what Ma says about them rich people.’

‘Those rich people.’

She wriggles her nose. ‘It doesn’t matter how good you talk, we’re not his kind.’

I shrug. ‘The bet’s still on.’

‘You’re a fool, Kate Arden.’ She sighs. ‘Falling for a guy who doesn’t know you’re alive.’

Lucy never went up to Wrightwood House with Ma and me when we were kids, never knew Jeff and I were pals. I grin. ‘He knows.’

She stares at me straight on. ‘Then why don’t you bring him around the house to meet Ma and Pop?’

‘You know I can’t.’ The hoarseness in my voice reveals how much that hurts me. Because my romance is a secret. Is Lucy right? Am I a fool?

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Extract, Guest post, Romance

Secrets of the Mist Kate Ryder 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @KateRyder_Books #BlogTour #GuestPost #Extract #Timeslip #Romance #EnglishCivilWar #HistoricalRomance #Supernatural #Love #Relationships #Dorset #VillageLife #BookReview

#SecretsoftheMist

A gorgeous timeslip romance.

Maddie is restless in London. She has friends, a job and a sort-of boyfriend, but something in her life is missing. Then she visits the ancient village of Walditch, deep in the Dorset countryside. Something stirs in her, and on a whim she buys a centuries-old cottage and moves there three months later. Her friends think she’s crazy, but for Maddie it feels like coming home.

Late at night in the cottage, Maddie hears strange noises and sees mist gathering indoors and out. When she starts investigating the cottage’s history, she becomes drawn into the tragic story of a family who lived here 400 years ago. Meanwhile, Maddie starts to fall in love with a local carpenter – but he has a relationship already…

Can Maddie solve the riddle of the past? What is her connection with the family that lived there so many years ago? And can she and her true love ever be together?

Previously published as The Forgotten Promise.

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

My Thoughts…

I live in a sixteenth-century converted barn, and just standing in it, thinking how long it has stood over looking the Exmoor landscape is awe inspiring. So, I can fully appreciate the inspiration behind, this lovely timeslip romance set in Dorset.

Serendipity plays an important part in this book. I was drawn to Maddie’s story, as soon as I read about her unexplained, and out of character attraction to the old cottage, formerly a blacksmith’s, when she visited the village as part of her work. The story is cleverly written, so that Maddie’s experiences at the cottage are believable. Set in the present, as she brings her new home up to date, there are many slips into the past as historic events and a time defying love unfolds.

Maddie’s leaves a well-paid career and a glamorous life in London behind her. At a crossroads in her life she is not sure why, but as the story progresses, things start to fall into place. Her meeting and attraction to Nick is powerful but fraught with conflict. Their chance of something developing seems remote.

The characters are complex and realistic, the situations they find themselves in believable. The pacing and the timeslip element make this an absorbing read. I couldn’t put it down, literally I read it into the night.

The poignant ending is perfect, and the epilogue draws everything together in this gentle, timeslip, romantic story.

Guest Post – Kate Ryder – Secrets of the Mist

Hello Jane,

I’m so thrilled to be invited on your guest post.  Thank you!

Do you ever wish you had a second chance to meet someone again for the first time?  I have explored this theme in Secrets of the Mist, a time slip romance that encompasses self-discovery and a great love resonating across the ages.  With supernatural, historical and geographical overtones, it should appeal to fans of Kate Mosse, Diana Gabaldon and Barbara Erskine.

A few years ago, my husband and I moved to Cornwall and bought a derelict, 200 year old cottage.  Whilst carrying out extensive renovations and taking the cottage back to its shell, we discovered a time capsule left by a previous owner.  The contents were fascinating, if not that old (circa 1980), and made me consider previous occupants during the past two centuries, the lives they led and the dramas that may have taken place within the four walls of our cottage.

Apart from spending days mixing cement, procuring building materials and helping to install the plumbing and electrics (must remember to add these to my CV!) I was also selling complementary health products at country fairs throughout Devon and Cornwall.  One day, a chance conversation with a fellow trader set my creative juices flowing as she described a Dartmoor cottage she once owned, which had an unusual, internal stained-glass window and unaccountable cold corners.  Well… that was all the encouragement I needed!

At the time I was a member of a local writers group and, suitably fired up, I penned a short story.  The room fell silent as I read it out to my fellow writers and all wanted to know what happened next.  During this period I had to travel up to the South East on a fairly regular basis.  On one particular trip I took a detour to Dorset and discovered the villages of Walditch and Shipton Gorge, which became the setting for the tale.  Furthermore, whilst researching the villages and surrounding area, I uncovered historic events on which to pin the story.  Three months – I mentioned I was fired up, didn’t I? – and 85,000 words later, I had a novel!

I self-published the book as The Forgotten Promise, and this version achieved one of the first Chill with a Book “Book of the Month” awards.  I am very fortunate that Aria agreed to publish the novel and, with further time-slip development, it is now Secrets of the Mist.  Lastly, but by no means least, I must mention the lovely cover, which has a softly haunting feel and is totally appropriate to the story.

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Kate Ryder writes romantic suspense with a true-to-life narrative. Her passion is writing (a period during which she studied acting only confirmed her preference for writing rather than performing!). Since then she has worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. Kate lives in Cornwall with her husband and a newly acquired rescue cat.

In 2017 Kate signed a 4-book publishing contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus). Her first novel, ‘Summer in a Cornish Cove’, saw her nominated for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award. Under its original self-published title, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, ‘Secrets of the Mist’, was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s “Search for a Star” and awarded a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.

Extract From: Secrets of the Mists – Kate Ryder

We arrived in Walditch late morning, having first visited the Bridport estate agents, Randall & Mather, to pick up the keys for The Olde Smithy. As we pulled up alongside Walditch village green I noticed a few people already sitting outside the Blacksmith’s Arms. Casually, I wondered if there might be an opportunity of work in that establishment.

Clambering down from the van, I stretched and rubbed my hands together. ‘OK, let’s get cracking.’

Over the next couple of hours we unloaded the van, depositing bags and furniture in various rooms. Dan hit his head several times on the low beams of the downstairs rooms, but I had no such trouble. At five feet four inches I was a good ten inches shorter.

‘Must have been midgets in the seventeenth century!’ he muttered, ferociously rubbing his skull.

According to Randall & Mather, the cottage dated back to the mid-1600s, in part. The property details stated: A charming, two-bedroom period cottage situated in Walditch, a village set deep in hilly countryside yet only a mile from Bridport and West Bay. The Olde Smithy offers discerning buyers an opportunity to put their stamp on a property steeped in history but with all modern-day conveniences.

The sitting/dining room, kitchen and master bedroom were in the original part of the building, and all had heavily beamed ceilings and uneven floors, while a two-storey extension, built during the late 1980s, created a hallway, downstairs bathroom and first-floor guest bedroom. A small, overgrown, cottage-style garden to the front opened directly onto the village green and to the rear, immediately accessed from the kitchen, was a courtyard created by a collection of outhouses, one being an outside privy. A pathway led past the outbuildings to a further area of overgrown garden where there were three gnarled and twisted fruit trees, in desperate need of pruning, and the outline of a long-forgotten vegetable bed. To my delight, at the far end, was a neglected pond.

The day passed quickly and we busied ourselves unpacking boxes, stacking shelves and filling cupboards. I had energy to spare. Soon, the cottage soon took shape and by the time the elongating shadows of the oak tree encroached upon the front garden it felt homely. Only the last remaining packing boxes stacked in the hallway and the lack of curtains at the windows declared me a new occupant. I made a mental note to buy fabric during the next few days to remedy this, as I’d been unable to salvage any window dressings from the flat. Being a Victorian conversion, the apartment had tall sash windows to which the landlord had fitted vertical blinds.

As the day progressed, Dan regained a cheerful disposition and his earlier melancholy evaporated. He was busy cleaning the fireplace as I rummaged through a box in the kitchen, searching for elusive teabags. I paused and looked around appreciatively at the beams, the flagstone floor and the view of the courtyard through the small-paned windows. I could already see next spring’s hanging baskets on the outhouse walls. I smiled, instinctively knowing that all that had gone before was simply leading to this day.

‘Hey, Mads, take a look at this,’ Dan called from the sitting room.

I turned and walked to the doorway. A thick haze filled the room and I marvelled at how much dust he’d created. I was about to suggest he let in some fresh air when I noticed all the windows were open wide. I frowned. How strange… The room was full of fog and yet there was a strong breeze blowing outside.

It must have been a trick of the light because, as Dan turned, his blond hair appeared darker and longer and he seemed less tall and lean; an altogether rougher version. I blinked and shook my head, as if brushing away the image. As quickly as he had appeared altered, there he was, once again, the Dan I knew.

‘What have you found?’ I walked across the room and saw a small opening in the stonework to one side of the inglenook. ‘How did that happen?’

‘One of the stones was loose. It came away quite easily when I investigated. I think there’s something behind it.’

‘Clear away a bit more,’ I said, enthusiastically. ‘It might be a bread oven.’

Placing his long fingers into the gap, he teased away at the stones around the opening. For a moment nothing happened but then one suddenly shifted, coming away in his hand. There was a definite edge to the hole. I peered inside at a hidden void.

‘Wow, how exciting!’

Without hesitation, I inserted my hand and felt around, unsure what I expected to find, but apart from a thick layer of dust and rubble, the alcove was empty. Disappointment flooded through me.

‘I’ll make a feature of it,’ I said. ‘I’ll visit a reclamation yard and find a door that fits.’

‘This cottage will give up more of its secrets as time goes by.’

As Dan spoke the words I became aware of an expectant stillness in the air.

‘Why did you say that?’ I asked sharply.

‘Well, these old places always have secrets, don’t they? And this one’s had four hundred years to collect them.’

Suddenly I felt hot and short of breath. Feeling dizzy, I reached out for Dan, as if trying to hold on to something solid; something I could trust.

He caught hold of my arm. ‘Hey, steady, Mads!’

Beads of perspiration pricked my forehead and I struggled to hold back rising nausea.

‘You OK?’ Dan asked with concern.

‘I just need some fresh air,’ I gasped.

‘Tell you what – let’s abandon the tea thing and go to the pub instead.’ This was his answer to most things.

‘Yeah, I could do with a drink.’

He smiled at me.

‘And dinner’s on me,’ I said weakly, hurrying towards the door.

‘Now, there’s an offer I can’t possibly refuse, but won’t that be a tad messy?’

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Historical Romance

The Stationmaster’s Daughter Kathleen McGurl 5*#Review @HQDigitalUK @KathMcGurl #Timeslip #HistoricalRomance #Railways #SteamTrains #FamilyDrama #BlogTour @rararesources #Mystery

As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?

Dorset 1935

Stationmaster Ted has never cared much for romance. Occupied with ensuring England’s most beautiful railway runs on time, love has always felt like a comparatively trivial matter. Yet when he meets Annie Galbraith on the 8.42 train to Lynford, he can’t help but instantly fall for her.

But soon the railway is forced to close and a terrible accident occurs within the station grounds, Ted finds his job and any hope of a relationship with Annie hanging in the balance…

Present-day

Recovering from heartbreak after a disastrous marriage, Tilly decides to escape from the bustling capital and move to Dorset to stay with her dad, Ken. When Ken convinces Tilly to help with the restoration of the old railway, she discovers a diary hidden in the old ticket office. Tilly is soon swept up in Ted’s story, and the fateful accident that changed his life forever.

But an encounter with an enigmatic stranger takes Tilly by surprise, and she can’t help but feel a connection with Ted’s story in the past.

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

MyThoughts…

I’ve read most of this author’s timeslip novels, and they keep getting better in terms of mysteries to be solved, emotional, poignant life journeys to be explored, and believable characters that you empathise with from the first page. The genealogy connection between the past and present is always cleverly done and is the author’s unique selling point, something that makes her stories both engaging and original.

Both Ted and Tilly’s stories are very emotional and poignant, Ted’s tragic love story in the 1930s is particularly touching, his honesty and simplicity make him vulnerable, and whilst you empathise with him, you are also horrified by others manipulation of his innocence. Tilly is also on a knife-edge, after the abusive behaviour of her husband, whose lack of compassion is horrifying. Her emotional recovery with the help of her father Ken and friend Jo is heartwarming, and the railway restoration society plays its part too and connects the past and present in a believable, interesting way.

The story is complex but easy reading, as it slips convincingly and effortlessly from the present to the past. Connections are made, clues given, with insights into the time and place, moving the story on, but letting the reader enjoy the experience.

The perfect escape, which will appeal to a wide audience who like genealogy, history, mystery and romance.

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery

4* #Review The First Time Lauren Pailing Died – Alyson Rudd @HQStories @allyrudd_times #LiteraryFiction #timeslip #love #grief #family #friends #mystery

Lauren Pailing is born in the sixties and a child of the seventies. She is thirteen years old the first time she dies.

Lauren Pailing is a teenager in the eighties, becomes a Londoner in the nineties. And each time she dies, new lives begin for the people who loved her – while Lauren enters a brand new life, too.

But in each of Lauren’s lives, a man called Peter Stanning disappears. And, in each of her lives, Lauren sets out to find him.

And so it is that every ending is also a beginning. And so it is that, with each new beginning, Peter Stanning inches closer to finally being found…

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

My Thoughts…

This story may not appeal to everyone. You have to be willing to accept the concept of parallel lives that exist but only come to your notice, if you act in a certain way. Lauren Paling as a young girl, sees snapshots of her other possible lives, she learns not to share these insights with others who don’t understand, but then she dies and the emotional rollercoaster journey begins.

In each life she is different, and although surrounded by those who love her, they may relate to her, in different ways. The stories explore, love friendship, relationships loss and grief in a poignant way.

Lauren is searching for a mystery man in each life, without knowing his significance to her, if any. This is a story that can be read more than once, and perhaps needs to be, to fully grasp everything it is about, but that might just be me?

The historical scene-setting is well done, I grew up in this time frame, and I enjoyed the mid to late 20th Century references. Each life has subtle differences to authenticate it to Lauren, as part of her struggles to accept her new present and forget what has gone before.

The plot is detailed and the characters are likeable and believable, despite the extraordinariness of the storyline. This has a uniqueness, because of its emotional content and characterisation, even though the parallel lives concept is often used in science- fiction literature.

If you enjoy variety in your reading and enjoy a lovely, out worldly story this is for you.

Posted in Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Saga

The Butterfly Room -5* #Review – Lucinda Riley @panmacmillan @lucindariley #saga #family #literary #fiction #historical #secrets

Posy Montague is approaching her seventieth birthday. Still living in her beautiful family home, Admiral House, set in the glorious Suffolk countryside where she spent her own idyllic childhood catching butterflies with her beloved father and raised her own children, Posy knows she must make an agonizing decision. Despite the memories the house holds, and the exquisite garden she has spent twenty-five years creating, the house is crumbling around her, and Posy knows the time has come to sell it.

Then a face appears from the past – Freddie, her first love, who abandoned her and left her heartbroken fifty years ago. Already struggling to cope with her son Sam’s inept business dealings, and the sudden reappearance of her younger son Nick after ten years in Australia, Posy is reluctant to trust in Freddie’s renewed affection. And unbeknown to Posy, Freddie – and Admiral House – have a devastating secret to reveal . . .

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

My Thoughts…

‘The Butterfly Room’ takes you on an atmospheric, emotional journey full of memorable characters and sensual experiences.

Posy Montague spent her early childhood in Admiral House, her most cherished memories are catching butterflies and playing make-belief with her father. He is the driving force in her life, her mother fading into the background when he is around until she discovers something that shatters the illusion.

Moving between Posy’s often difficult childhood years, and her current life in Suffolk, Admiral House is a constant, but its crumbling glory means Posy has to accept, change is inevitable.

Posy’s life journey explores many themes, notably family life and dysfunctional families, women’s position and role in society, love, romance, relationships and money. Posy is a complex girl and woman, with a self-deprecating sense of humour and quirky personality, often associated with only children brought up in adult households.

This story is an effortless read. You are drawn in by the quality characterisation. What happens to the family matters, even though they are flawed, often selfish, and in some cases completely unlikeable. The plot is layered, revealing its secrets gradually until you are spellbound, yet completely unprepared for the final revelations. The last part of the book is suspenseful and poignant as the domestic drama intensifies.

The ending is hopeful and satisfying as Posy and her family finally realise what truly matters in life.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

The Botanist’s Daughter – Kayte Nunn – 4* #Review @orionbooks @KayteNunn #paperback #Botany #HistoricalFiction #Timeslip

A buried secret…

Present day: Anna is focused on growing her new gardening business and renovating her late grandmother’s house. But when she discovers a box hidden in a wall cavity, containing watercolours of exotic plants, an old diary and a handful of seeds, she finds herself thrust into a centuries-old mystery. One that will send her halfway across the world to Kew Gardens and then onto Cornwall in search of the truth.

A lady adventurer…

1886: Elizabeth Trebithick is determined to fulfil her father’s dying wish and continue his life’s work as an adventurer and plant-hunter. So when she embarks on a perilous journey to discover a rare and miraculous flower, she will discover that the ultimate betrayal can be found even across the seas…

Two women, separated by centuries. Can one mysterious flower bring them together?

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

My Thoughts…

A lovely timeslip novel containing some unusual themes, which give it a uniqueness and quirky appeal.

An unexpected find when updating a house bequeathed to her by her beloved grandmother sets Anna on a mystery tour that reveals family secrets and takes her on a much-needed journey of self-discovery.

Elizabeth pushes against society’s conventions in Victorian England. When her much-loved father dies, she feels duty-bound to fulfil his dying wish This is not the selfless act it appears, as she has always wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps.

Both stories are engaging, and courageous in their own way. Elizabeth’s is perhaps the bravest and for me the most absorbing, because she sets out to visit Chile in South America, with only her maid, after living a sheltered, if unconventional life in Cornwall.

The story focuses on botany and botanical art and discoveries in great detail, this is fascinating and gives the story an authentic feel. The geographical descriptions likewise are well done and bring the settings to life. This is important in a story like this where the main protagonists are motivated out of their comfort zones to discover the truth. You have to experience what they do to believe it could happen.

The dual time perspectives are well- written and the links and crossover between past and present well grounded and believable. Neither of the female protagonists is perfect, they are flawed, but you are invested in their story’s and want it to end well.

Although easy to read, the pacing is slow in parts. The plot’s vivid imagery holds your interest, and the ending is worth waiting for.

Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Inheritance – Anne Allen – 5* #Review – #TheGuernseyNovels #7 #Mystery #romance #historical #timeslip #intrigue @AnneAllen21

How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?

1862 Young widow Eugénie is left bereft when her husband dies suddenly and faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island in his opulent house only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.

2012 Doctor Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey-born though now living in Exeter, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child, she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and who, according to family myth, was particularly close to Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Tess is keen to find out and returning to the island presents her with the ideal opportunity.

Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.

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

My Thoughts…

A delightful mix of contemporary and Victorian life on Guernsey, with colourfully described historical details, and an engaging contemporary story full of romance, friendship and family drama.

Tess unexpectedly inherits an old house on Guernsey where she spent her childhood, Visiting her inheritance, she is drawn to the rundown house and being at a crossroads in her life decides to renovate and make Guernsey her home again.

Characters from previous stories make cameo appearances, but the story is standalone. The story slips between 2012 and Victorian times, told from Tess and Eugenie’s points of view. Both stories are complex and interesting, and there is a historical mystery for Tess to solve.

The story features a real historical figure, although the story is fictional, his presence as a character adds authenticity and depth.

Domestic abuse is a primary theme in this book, and it serves to highlight, its prevalence, and the differences and similarities between contemporary and Victorian women, in abusive relationships.

The storytelling is enthralling, the setting vividly described and the connections between the past and present meaningful. A lovely mix of believable characters and a realistic but hopeful ending make reading ‘The Inheritance’, a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Guest Post – Anne Allen – The Inheritance
Image Credit – Anne Allen – Hauteville Crystal Room

I would like to start by thanking Jane for allowing me space on her lovely blog, to talk about my latest offering in The Guernsey Novels series.

This book marks a slight change of direction for me in that instead of referencing the German Occupation in Guernsey as in my previous books, I go further back in time to the late 19th C and we meet the famous writer, Victor Hugo. It may not be widely known, but he spent fifteen years in Guernsey while in exile from France, having fallen out with Emperor Napoleon III. He arrived, complete with his wife, children, mistress and various other exiles, in October 1855. Hugo had already been kicked out of Jersey, his port of call, for rude comments about Queen Victoria. The Guernsey view was that if Jersey didn’t want him, he must be worth having!

Image Credit – Anne Allen = Hauteville Red Salon

The inspiration behind my book was Hugo’s house, Hauteville House, in St Peter Port. It’s one of a kind – opulent, over the top, full of quirky features like oak panels carved by Hugo himself, and with a rooftop eerie made from steel and glass where he wrote his novels and poems. I have visited it a couple of times, both when I lived there and two years ago when the idea for this book first surfaced. It is exactly how it was in Hugo’s day and his descendants gifted it to France some years ago and a French flag flies outside to proclaim it as French territory. My last visit was just in time as the house has been closed for nearly two years for extensive renovation, re-opening on 7th April just before my book is published.

Hugo finished writing his most famous work here, Les Misérables, as well as several more novels and collections of poetry. In my book, my character, Eugénie, a young French woman living yards away from Hugo, has a life-changing encounter with him and becomes his copyist. No computers or typewriters around then! His mistress, Juliette Drouet, also helped with the copying and the two women became close. Eugénie, recently widowed, has inherited her husband’s family home but has no income and working for Hugo is her salvation. My story is dual-time and the in the modern part, my character, Tess, is a Guernsey-born doctor now living in Devon and she unexpectedly inherits what was Eugénie’s house from her great-aunt in 2012. There has long been a family myth that Hugo and Eugénie were particularly close and that he may have been the father of her child when she remarried. I had to be very careful about this aspect of the story as Hugo’s descendants still have an apartment in Hauteville House and do visit Guernsey regularly. How to avoid upsetting people! Although he was a known womanizer, as far as is known Hugo had no illegitimate children.

The Guernsey Novels – Anne Allen

Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby.  Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, seven having been published. The books form a series, but each one is a standalone story with links to other books and characters. Although not originally planned, Anne is, in effect, writing a saga of Guernsey; featuring numerous characters and stories covering the German Occupation, Victorian Guernsey and the present day. A mix of family drama, mystery and love, the books have a wide appeal to readers of all ages.

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