When Mia inherits her beloved grandmother’s summer cottage, Birch Thorpe, in Sweden, she faces a dilemma. Her fiance Charles urges her to sell and buy a swanky London home, but Mia cannot let it go easily. The request to carry out an archaeological dig for more Viking artefacts like the gold ring Mia’s grandmother also left her, offers her a reprieve from a decision – and from Charles.
Whilst Mia becomes absorbed in the dig’s discoveries, she finds herself drawn to archaeologist Haakon Berger. Like her, he can sense the past inhabitants whose lives are becoming more vivid every day. Trying to resist the growing attraction between them, Mia and Haakon begin to piece together the story of a Welsh noblewoman, Ceri, and the mysterious Viking, known as the ‘White Hawk’, who stole her away from her people in 869 AD.
As the present begins to echo the past, and enemies threaten Birch Thorpe’s inhabitants, they will all have to fight to protect what has become most precious to each of them…
I received a copy of this book from Headline Books in return for an honest review.
Atmospheric and romantic this is timeslip romantic novel covers the time spectrum from the days of Vikings to the present day. Mia inherits a Swedish cottage from her grandmother, she wants to keep it, but her partner wants her to sell so he can maintain his social-climbing lifestyle in London. The cottage is of archaeological significance and Mia agrees to the dig, to give her time to reach her decision.
Meeting archaeologist Haakon proves to be a meeting of minds and inevitably the chemistry between Mia and Haakon sizzles. As the dig progresses echoes of the past emerge, and the forbidden love of Ceri and Viking, White Hawk flows across time. Both stories are engaging and focus on the impossibility of the romances.
Rich in historical detail, these stories have a believable sense of place and time. The characters are complex and coupled with the vivid imagery, this story is a sensual delight. Echoes of danger, intrigue, and timeless love, make this timeslip romance an addictive absorbing read.
Christina Courtenay lives in Herefordshire and is married with two children. Although born in England, she is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan and she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East and other parts of the world.
Christina is a former Chairman of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has won several of their prizes – the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a historical short story in 2001, the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2006 and the RoNA for Best Historical in 2012 and 2014 (see below).
Her debut novel Trade Winds, a historical romance and adventure story, was short-listed for the Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction 2011. Her second novel, The Scarlet Kimono, received the Best Historical Fiction prize for the Big Red Read 2011. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan both won the RoNA (Romantic Novelists Association Award) for Best Historical Romantic Novel (Highland Storms in 2012 and The Gilded Fan in 2014), while The Silent Touch of Shadows (time slip) won the Festival of Romance award for Best Historical in 2013.
Christina also writes contemporary YA and New England Rocks was shortlisted for the RoNAs in the YA category in 2014. (The second book in the series, New England Crush, was published under a different name – Pia Fenton.)
As well as her novels, Christina has had four Regency novellas published, all available in Large Print and as ebooks.
Her hobbies include genealogy, archaeology (the armchair variety), listening to loud rock music and collecting things. She loves dogs, reading and chocolate.
Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.
Two Secrets …
Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.
One Hidden Life …
How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?
Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.
For readers of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Katherine Webb, Lucinda Riley and Juliet West.
“Passion, intrigue and family secrets drive this complex wartime relationship drama. A page turner. I loved it.” #1 bestselling author, Nicola May
Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.
Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.
Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.
In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption.
Her mission? To save the crown of France by convincing a young noble not to join the ill-fated Eighth Crusade.
But nothing goes as planned, and Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed youth on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.
From the rainy villages of medieval France to the scorching desert of Tunis – Isobel faces her destiny and tries to fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing that a wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I haven’t read any previous books in this series. The concept of time travel and the future world, Isobel comes from, is understandable. The historical setting has a good sense of place and time. It is atmospheric and vividly described.
Isobel is a corrector, sent back to the correct history, inadvertently altered by another time traveller. She has nothing to lose. Emotionally damaged after she killed a child in a car accident, she knows that failure means death. Success means life can continue, but in the time zone where she is. Isobel can never go back.
The story is told from her first-person point of view, but even when she witnesses the horrors of the time, her reactions are superficial. Her lack of emotional depth is apparent. Possibly due to her past life experiences. She is hard to empathise. Many of the relationships, whilst acceptable in the middle ages, seem wrong from a 21st-century viewpoint, but they do make the story authentic, despite its fantastical premise.
The sense of adventure, albeit misguided comes across well in this story. The plot cleverly interweaves fact and historical fiction. A considered and well-written time travel story with strong, vibrant characters and a fast-paced plot.
Jennifer Macaire is an American living in France. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
What would you change if you could go back in time?
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early-onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story – translated from Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot – explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?
I received a copy of this book from Pan MacMillan – Picador Books in return for an honest review.
Where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, in a nondescript coffee shop in Tokyo. This story has only a few characters. Everyone in the coffee shop has a story, and this follows four individuals as they travel back in time, not to change the present, but to understand someone they care about better. Or, to make themselves understood. The time travel has many rules, but for those who follow them, there are surprisingly positive results.
This story is beautifully translated, and the ambience and culture come through the characters and the setting. This is an emotional, quirky tale of discord, misunderstanding, loss and love. The time travellers are ordinary people, they want the opportunity to do something different, in the past. This makes them authentic and relatable, and the story engaging.
The rules of the unexpected time travel are fixed, and give a sense of reality, in a fantasy situation. I understood this world, and therefore enjoyed the story.
Enchanting and original, but strangely believable, because of the authentic characters and the contemporary urban setting.
1960’s Somerset is no fun for cousins Polly and Annabelle Williams. Mourning their non-existent love lives, and the mundanity of village life, their only pleasure is baking – until a chance encounter has them magically transported to the bright lights of London… in 2019!
Promised a chance of love, first they must teach the people of the future about the simpler pleasures of life by becoming Cake Fairies. Over the course of a year they set off on a delectable tour of the UK, dropping off cakes in the most unexpected of places and replacing the lure of technology with much sweeter temptations.
But will their philanthropical endeavours lead them to everlasting love? Or will they discover you can’t have your cake and eat it?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The iconic late 1960s meets technology-obsessed 2019 with cake. Bizzare? Well, only if you try to rationalise it. If you accept the fantasy, filled with magical time travel and enjoy Polly and Annabelle’s quest to get people talking face to face again, and stopping to smell the flowers, this story is fun.
The opening section, which outlines the women’s lives in 1960s Somerset is detailed and slows the pace, but the younger age group, this book is targeted at, may need the detail, to see why life in 2019, is so amazing and terrifying for the intrepid time travellers.
The gem of this story is Polly and Annabelle’s adventure in 2019 and the good they achieve there. The humour is plentiful, there are romance, cake and food in abundance. It’s the perfect book for romantic foodies, who have unending imaginations.
Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.
Cake, cocktail, churros, ice cream and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s rules.
It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch. How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An original plot that involves timeslip from the 21st-century present day to 17th century Italy.The story centres around Clementina, a young girl who is naive and impressionable. A fusion between timeslip and fantasy in a contemporary and historical setting, it does require you to open your mind, to magic, time travel.
It takes a while, to set the scene, as the book is mainly told from Clementina’s point of view. Some chapters introduce a strange mystical woman. In Clementina’s contemporary school there is a rather creepy man, who is instigating the quest for objects, from the seven wonders of the world. There is a tenuous connection with twenty-first-century environmental problems.
I like the story’s themes, and the timeslip into 17th century Italy, but the plot seems overly complex and it’s hard to follow all the elements, as written, even though you understand the reason for them. The writing is vivid and descriptive, but the author’s vision and fantasy world need to be clearer to the reader.
Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.
Previous books by Olga Swan:
An Englishwoman in America, From Paradis to Perdition, Pensioners in Paradis, The Mazurek Express, Lamplight, Vichyssoise, 3rd Degree Murder.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Giveaway Link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Having refurbished her inherited house and upcycled her whole life
in the process, Freya – now happily married to Patrick, and
with a small child – has to transform
her tiny stone barn into a romantic hideaway for a mystery guest who is also
looking for change. With Christmas only a week away, things don’t go according
the past old uncertainties are resolved when an elderly woman seeks the truth
of a legend on Christmas Eve and confesses to a deception; a Tudor wife listens
to a story that must never be repeated and is given a precious relic that must
never be displayed; and in the early nineteenth century an old woman tells a
younger one the story of the hares at Ladywell.
Past and present are only a whisper apart when Freya learns of an astonishing discovery that will make Ladywell famous, but meanwhile, her house is full of unexpected visitors, she has a turkey to cook – and a very special secret of her own that must be told.
I received a copy this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This novella is a Christmas visit to ‘The House At Ladywell’, the first book in this series, which I have yet to read. There is a helpful character list, with each characters motivation, or special quality. This is useful if you haven’t met the characters before.
The story is divided into the past and present, There is an engaging contemporary story with a festive theme. A mystery that connects the present day to the historical timeslip elements in the story, which cover different historical periods. All of this is in a novella format, and yet it reads like a novel, the contemporary story isn’t rushed. The historical interludes add information and interest to the main plot.
I enjoyed the story and the characters, and although it reached a satisfactory conclusion, I wanted more. So, I’m off to read The House At Ladywell and recommend this festive offering, if you’re seeking something atmospheric, and original for your Christmas reading.
Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.
She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond
mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries and The
Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, is the first in a new series,
The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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?
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.
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?
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?
I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
‘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
‘Now, there’s an offer I can’t possibly refuse, but won’t that be a tad messy?’
As the last train leaves, will life ever be the same?
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
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…
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
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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.