Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Holiday Romance, Romantic Comedy

Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay Holly Martin 5*#Review @HollyMAuthor #romcom #uplit #BlogTour #BookReview #SunriseOverSapphireBay #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation #MondayMorning #mondaythoughts

Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.

Aria Philips has lived on Jewel Island all of her life. Even when her sisters Clover and Skye left its stunning shores for bigger and better things, Aria stayed to help her father run their family hotel.

A year after her father’s death Aria’s done everything she can to keep things afloat but the hotel has long been struggling to make a profit. With so few guests Aria risks losing the only home she’s ever had.

Noah Campbell earned his fortune from making hotels a success, and he also just happens to be staying on Jewel Island this summer. Could he be the answer to Aria’s problems? If only he hadn’t kissed her under the willow tree the year before and never called her again. It had been the most incredible kiss of her life, but clearly business and pleasure should never be mixed.

As gorgeous and charming as Noah may be, Aria vows to keep things professional while she seeks his help. But for the past year Noah has been keeping a secret and his return to Jewel Island is about to change Aria’s life forever…

Soak up the sun in Sapphire Bay with this feel-good novel you won’t be able to put down. An unforgettable summer romance

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Gentle romantic comedy set in a picturesque coastal setting. Aria is generous and loving, adopted as a baby, after being abandoned by her birth mother, she always feels the need to fit in. Noah is an astute and rich business developer, but his attraction to Sapphire Bay is personal. Aria and Noah are good people, but with significant trust, and in Aria’s case self-worth, issues. Their relationship is conflicted but full of humour, passion and poignancy.

Authentic characters and a simple plot make this an easy read, filled with heartwarming and uplifting moments, balanced with misunderstanding and sadness. Most of the characters are likeable, but someone has a vindictive agenda. The hotel is a vibrant setting, with lots of scope for future stories?

Enjoyable, escapist reading, perfect.

Holly Martin

I live in a little white cottage overlooking the sea. I studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of my colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when I knew I had to escape. I quit my job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, I emerged wide eyed and terrified that I now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. I taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave me a lot of time to plan out my stories and I now write full time, doing what I love.

I have been writing for 6 years. I was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance 2012. My short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology in 2013. I won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with my novel The Guestbook. I was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Lost Girls Jennifer Wells 4*#Review @jenwellswriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #HistFic #HistoricalFiction #Secrets #Lies #FamilyDrama #BlogTour #BookReview

The Lost Girls – Jennifer Wells

Everyone remembers the day the girls went missing.

May Day 1912, a day that haunts Missensham. The day two girls disappeared. The day the girls were murdered.
Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were never meant to be friends. From two very different backgrounds, one the heir to the Caldwell estate, the other a humble vicar’s daughter. Both have their secrets, both have their pasts, but they each find solace with one another and soon their futures become irrevocably intertwined.
Now, many years later, old footage has emerged which shows that Iris Caldwell may not have died on that spring morning. The village must work out what happened the day the girls went missing…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The Lost Girls is a surprisingly poignant story of two girls, from different social classes, who dared to defy society’s norms. An old home movie, showing a girl who went missing, believed abducted and murdered, is the catalyst for a surprising chain of events.

The characters are complex and flawed, and their story is full of dark secrets, and desperate emotion. An absorbing, engaging story, with a uniqueness that keeps you reading.

Guest Post- Jennifer Wells-The Lost Girls

The little moments which bring the past back to life

There is something quite eerie about old films. I don’t mean cinematic classics or even the first Hollywood movies. I’m talking about the old cine films that survive from the early twentieth century. Such films were shot using cumbersome machines, where filming depended on an operator who could doggedly turn a crank handle for minutes on end. These machines produced images that are little more than light and shadow – grainy outlines and stuttering movements – yet there is something about them that is very alluring.

Among these films are some of the very first home movies. They show horse-drawn trams battling through busy shopping streets, exuberant workers spilling from factory gates, football matches, political marches and family events. The women wear shawls or gloves, their skirts swishing around their ankles as they walk. The men strut boldly, their hands thrust into the pockets of their suits. But whether young, old, rich or poor – everyone wears a hat.

The films I am describing are now over a hundred years old. The Edwardian era is a time that has become unfamiliar to us. When you watch such films, the horse-drawn trams and long skirts seem like things that only ever existed in the pages of history books, and the people appear, not as busy shoppers or factory workers, but ghosts.

It is the ghost-like quality of such films that gave me the inspiration for the opening scene of my latest novel, THE LOST GIRLS. The novel opens in 1937 with a public screening of an old film – a lost home movie that had been shot 25 years earlier on May Day 1912. As the audience watch entranced, the image of a girl in a white dress flashes on to the screen. Her face is one that they all recognise – Iris Caldwell, a girl who was thought to be dead by that May Day morning. A girl presumed murdered.

When I first started writing THE LOST GIRLS, Iris Caldwell was little more than a ghost to me. She was no more than one of those old cine film images, her face in shadow and her movements slow and stuttering. But I wanted to give life to a character who might have appeared in one of these old films, and soon the girl in the white dress became flesh and blood to me. Iris Caldwell became a girl who, like many others, loved to read novels and longed for friendships. She also became a girl with terrible secrets and forbidden desires. We live in a time that is very different from 1912. The horse-drawn trams, long skirts and a multitude of hats belong to a world that seems very strange to us. Yet, among the grainy faces that peer out from the past, we can sometimes spot a smile or a wink – something that reminds us that the people who lived back then were not so different to us after all. It is these little moments which bring the past so much closer again.

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer is the author of THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS, THE SECRET and THE LOST GIRLS published by Aria Fiction. Her novels involve the themes of family, betrayal and love and are set in the home counties in the early 20th century. Jennifer lives in Devon with her young family and cats.

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Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Mystery on Hidden Lane Clare Chase 4*#Review @bookouture @ClareChase_ #MurderMystery #cozymystery #Suffolk #Village #Writer #amateursleuth

Meet Eve Mallow: an American far from home, a professional busybody… and an amateur detective?

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

An unputdownable page-turner

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

The essence of a good British murder mystery is an intelligent amateur sleuth. Good observational skills, an unassuming manner, which encourages confidences and an unbridled fearlessness, to confront, potentially dangerous people, and situations head-on. Writer Eve Mallow has these qualities.

Eve Mallow writes obituaries. An American, living in London, she is divorced, and her twins are now grown-up. She takes a job writing an obituary for a famous cellist and visits the Suffolk village where he lives to find out more about him.

Observant, she soon realises that this is not a straightforward death. Finding out her subject was murdered, draws her further into his previous life, to find the truth. She quickly endears herself to the villagers and begins to uncover some surprising revelations.

The setting is perfect for a murder mystery, unspoilt, picturesque, remote, with many unobserved places, perfect for committing murder. The cast of characters is complex, eccentric, and flawed. They are the sort you may find in any English village, which makes them relatable. The plot has twists and misinformation. and many suspects. The first victim had many unpalatable traits and so there is a veritable queue of people who may want him out of the way.

Eve is relentless in her investigation and willing to put herself at risk, unsurprisingly she solves the case. There is lots of scope in this series, both in terms of the protagonist and the setting, and I look forward to reading the next book.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Hattie Goes To Hollywood Caroline James 4*#Review @CarolineJames12 #cozymystery #HattieGoesToHollywood #AmateurSleuth #FemaleDetective #Rurallife #VillageLife murdermystery #cumbria #Giveaway #Drake @rararesources

A Cumbrian Village…
Three suicides…
A red-hot summer…

Join super-sleuth Hattie as tempers and temperatures rise in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood. With mischief and shenanigans aplenty, will Hattie discover the truth?

A funny and intriguing mystery – the first in a new series by Caroline James

When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer for years, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?

Amazon UK Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

A good cozy mystery should have the following attributes. A cast of complex characters, some of which must harbour dark secrets. Plenty of opportunity for humour, but despite this, the potential for a heinous crime. An enigmatic, quirky amateur sleuth, and an idyllic setting that seems at odds, with what happens there.

‘Hattie Goes To Hollywood’, has all of the above. The residents of Hollywood village are quirky and not necessarily what they seem. The plot has lots of comic moments and humorous dialogue. There are three suicides, but are they suicides, or something more sinister? Hattie a recent widow, returns to her native Cumbria, to live in the rundown cottage, her aunt left her. She needs something to do, and being friendly, inquisitive, observant and tenacious, making a career out of private investigation seems feasible. The village of Hollywood is delightfully rural, but its beauty hides darkness.

Hattie is a complex forthright woman whose no-nonsense manner attracts confidences and indiscretions. She has a positive outlook on life, has a good heart, and a weakness for attractive men. I loved her. The writing is full of vivid imagery, so you can easily imagine the village and its occupants. The mystery is well-plotted, and the humour tempers the severity of the crime effectively. The characters are realistic, full of eccentricities and flaws, and bring the story to life. Like many cozy mystery amateur sleuths, Hattie has an animal companion. Not what you’d expect, but Drake does have intuitive detective skills.

A clever, comical cozy mystery, making this a wonderful escapist read.

Giveaway to Win a cuddly Drake toy! (Open INT)
Be in with a chance to win Drake, Hattie’s faithful pet duck! Tall Drake & Handsome – A gorgeous soft toy who will be your friend for life.

Click on Giveaway link to enter here

*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.

Caroline James

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Books by Caroline James:

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me Jungle Rock

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

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Posted in Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Holiday Romance, Romance, Travel

The Christmas Holiday Sophie Claire 5* #Review @HodderBooks @SClaireWriter #Romance #Festive #Rural #Village #Provence #grief #secondchance #BookReview #Holiday

Can a trip away lead you home?

After a bad break-up, eternal optimist Evie Miller has moved to the small village of Willowbrook to finally pursue her dream of opening a craft shop. Unfortunately, with money worries and an ex-boyfriend determined to track her down, her fresh start isn’t going entirely to plan.

Jake Hartwood is also looking to escape his past. Haunted by the loss of his wife, he’s determined not to get close to anyone again – and the last thing he wants is to be celebrating this December.

Hoping to avoid the festivities, Evie and Jake arrange to escape Christmas together as friends in Provence. But will the magic of the season change things between them?

And what happens if one of them starts to feel something more?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton via NetGalley.

My Thoughts…

Evie is an optimist, despite the lack of support from her parents, the tragedy she has suffered, and the abusive relationship she is still trying to escape. Jake has lost the love of his life and finds going on without her difficult. The village of Willowbrook gives Evie a chance of a new independent life, and Jake the chance to hide away until he feels strong enough to carry on. The only problem is Christmas, which brings back painful memories for both.

Evie and Jake’s relationship has a less than auspicious start, but a friendship builds out of their mutual suffering, and escaping together for Christmas offers a solution to both their problems, but is friendship what they want? Or is a holiday romance inevitable?

Heartwarming romance and emotional conflict with a festive twist, set in a lovely English village, and fabulous Provence. The intensity of grief and loss is explored during Christmastime, sensitively, whilst keeping a positive, uplifting ethos. The characters are believable and individual and the settings bring the story to life. A lovely wintery story is written in an easy to read style by a consummate storyteller,

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Psychological Thriller, Thriller

I Dare You – Sam Carrington 4*#Review @AvonBooksUK @sam_carrington1 #Paperback #Game #Thriller #PsychologicalThriller #BlogTour #BookReview

#IDareYou

Mapledon, 1989

Two little girls were out playing. One dared the other to knock on a neighbour’s front door and run away. But this was a game that had deadly consequences – only one girl returned home that evening.
The ten-year-old told police what she saw: a man, village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley, dragged her friend into an old red pick-up truck and disappeared.
No body was found, but her testimony sent him to prison for murder.
An open and shut case, the right man behind bars.
A village that could sleep safe once again.
 

Now…

Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind, but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past.
Thirty years ago, someone lied.
Thirty years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party…
And now he’s out, he is looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?

Amazon UK

#IDareYou

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

My Thoughts…

A twisty plot, an emotive subject, and so many lies and secrets in this village, some of which are dark and dangerous. The disappearance of a village girl in 1989, motivates the village against the one reclusive person, who the children love to taunt. He is the character of urban myths and an easy scapegoat for the murder of the girl, even though the evidence is more circumstantial than factual. Thirty years ago forensic science was far less sophisticated, than now, and all this contributed to Billy’s conviction.

The suspense builds with every chapter, the clues are there, but there is never quite enough before you’re cleverly moved onto another point of view or timeline. The characters are complex but believable, and the plot is slow to give up its secrets but rewarding when it does.

A poignant, tense thriller that draws you into this noir tale, full of suspense and sinister secrets.

Posted in Book Review, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

No One Home -5*#Review-Tim Weaver #DavidRaker10 @MichaelJBooks @TimWeaverBooks #Mystery#Thriller#Suspense

At Halloween, the residents of Black Gale gather for a dinner party. As the only nine people living there, they’ve become close friends as well as neighbours.

They eat, drink and laugh. They play games and take photographs. But those photographs will be the last record of any of them.

Because by the next morning, the whole village has vanished.

With no bodies, no evidence and no clues, the mystery of what happened at Black Gale remains unsolved two and a half years on. But then the families of the missing turn to investigator David Raker – and their obsession becomes his.

What secrets were the neighbours keeping from their families – and from each other?

Were they really everything they seemed to be?

And is Raker looking for nine missing people – or nine dead bodies?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK – Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Investigator David Raker, who specialises in finding missing people is a driven, complex man, who seems to make both enemies and friends wherever he goes. Haunted by his past actions and losses, he is always looking over his shoulder. Empathetic, intelligent, and a risk taker, he is the person you want in your corner if you need to find the truth.

Nine people disappeared without a trace two and a half years ago, and now the son of one of the missing people wants Raker to investigate their disappearance. Over thirty years previously in Los Angeles, a female detective is hunting for a murderer, storylines seem unconnected, but as they both progress they converge and the historical illuminates the present.

Both stories are complex, full of details and vividly written characters. There are many similarities between Raker and Jo, both are dedicated, intelligent detectives, who work in hostile environments. The late 1980s setting portrays the lawless ethos and prejudices of the era perfectly, which makes the retro chapters both atmospheric and authentic.

The present-day, chapters are no less absorbing. The Black Gale hamlet is a contemporary ‘Mary Celeste’, nothing seems out of place, but everything is wrong. As the suspense level increases, even the ordinary events Raker witnesses are menacing.

The final chapters are so vivid, as Raker finally realises the truth, but this is not the end, just the beginning of the most intense, adrenaline-fueled action and despair. Even the ending leaves you wondering, it seems that everything is resolved, but then you go back and begin to wonder if the worst is yet to come.

Clever plot twists, complex characters and a pervading air of despair and menace make this thriller one of the best of 2019.