The Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald #BookReview (@DMacDonaldAuth) @bookouture #TheRunawayWife #NetGalley

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“One evening in early August, while mashing the potatoes for dinner, Connie McColl decides she’s had enough…

Connie McColl is tired of solving one family crisis after another – usually involving her unruly grandchildren – while her husband Roger spends all day at his beloved golf course. Surely it must be time for her to shake off her apron and start living again?

So Connie packs a bag, gets in her little green car and drives off…

On her journey from England to Scotland, Connie stops in on long-lost friends and makes all sorts of colourful new companions along the way. As Connie has the time of her life, sleeping under the stars and skinny dipping in the sea, she finally begins to rediscover herself. And she starts to wonder, will she ever be ready to return home? 

Or will this summer change her life forever?”

It was the front cover that initially drew me to request this book. Its cartoon-like illustration made me think I was going to get a light, humorous and uplifting read that wouldn’t be too taxing and it definitely lived up to those expectations, but it was oh so much more on top.

I fell in love with Connie immediately. Any woman who has run a family (and let’s face it, that’s most of us) for any length of time are going to recognise aspects of themselves in Connie. Completely taken for granted by her neglectful husband, Roger and three grown up children, she finally snaps and takes off in her battered old car heading for who knows where in search of respite and excitement – who hasn’t dreamed of doing that from time to time? (Go on, admit it, the thought has crossed your mind!) You have to admire Connie for having the guts to do it and we are rooting for her from the start.

With no plan in mind, Connie goes where the whim takes her and, by a series of fortuitous accidents plus as a result of her warm and approachable nature, she makes some great new friends along the way, has some mild adventures and generally enjoys herself. Seeing her discovering herself as a individual along her journey and watching her blossom is heart-warming and you can’t help but privately cheer her on.

Meanwhile, back at home, her self-absorbed husband and spoilt children start to realise how much Connie has done for them in the past and how lost they are without her. However, they are still more concerned about the inconvenience to themselves that how she must have been feeling and this just made me feel even happier that Connie had left the selfish bunch behind and was finally having some fun. Consequently, whatever naughtiness Connie gets up to on her trip (and there is some, she is a feisty woman), you can’t possibly blame her, given what she has put up with over the years!

The one aspect of this book I was not expecting, and where I totally under-estimated it, was the real depth and poignancy that the storyline took on towards the end. This novel deals with some really serious issues in a way that was very unexpected from the cover. I don’t want to include any spoilers in the review so I can’t really say too much but I can say that the author has managed to weave these into an otherwise humorous story very deftly and it did not feel at all unbalanced or off kilter. I was really surprised and impressed with the subtlety of how this was done and, in my opinion, it took the book to a level I was not expecting when I started it.

Connie, of course, finally returns home – a new woman and ready to confront the issues she has with her husband and family. I thought I knew where this was going but, just when I was complacently settled in for my predicted ending, the author blew me out of the water again with a twist I did not see coming at all.

This book is a delight. It is really refreshing to see a book with a main character over the age of 40 and I enjoyed every minute of it. Pick it up, I promise you it delivers more than you might expect.

The Runaway Wife is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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About the Author

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The Runaway Wife is Dee’s first (published) novel but in fact she wrote her very first book – at around seven years of age! This was a love story which she duly illustrated before sewing all the pages together up one side. Writing was what she ‘was good at’ in school and she won several essay competitions, but then life got in the way and she didn’t pick up a pen again until after retirement.

Dee left Scotland and headed for London at the beginning of the swinging sixties. After typing her way round the West End she became an air stewardess on long haul routes with BA (then BOAC) for eight years. After that she did market research at Heathrow for both the government statistics and for BA, she became a sales rep., and was the receptionist at the Thames Television Studios in Teddington when they had the franchise.

She then ran a small B&B for ten years in Cornwall, where she lives with her husband. Dee has one son and two grandsons who live locally.

Connect with Dee:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDeeMacDonald/

Twitter: @DMacDonaldAuth

#BlogTour The Ghost of Glendale by Natalie Kleinman #BookReview (@NatKleinman) @rareresources

The Ghost of Glendale

At last! Today is my stop on the blog tour for Natalie Kleinman’s self-published Regency novel The Ghost of Glendale and I am very excited to talk to you about this book. Huge thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part. Let’s have a look at the details of the book.

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“At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before.

Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.”

I have to admit, Regency romance novels are not a genre that I read. I have heard other people raving about Georgette Heyer and others of that ilk but have never been drawn to Regency as a genre. However, something about this book piqued my curiosity when I was offered the chance to read it and, now I have, I am wondering why it has taken me so long to discover it.

This is a rip-roaring tale of family feuds, restless spirits, rugged Scotsman and feisty heroines, wrapped up in the restrained and genteel conventions of Regency England which is an interesting juxtaposition. The heroine of this book, Phoebe Marcham, is forged in the best traditions of the tempestuous renegade, baulking against the confines that society placed on women at this time, in the vein of an Elizabeth Bennett or a Jo March. Considered to be an ‘elderly spinster’, unmarried in her late twenties, she is not unduly worried by her situation until the equally unconventional Duncan Armstrong storms into her life.

At the same time, an unsettled family spirit is demanding that Phoebe explore her family history and clear his blackened name so his soul can rest and she can bring a two hundred-year-old feud to an end. Along the way there are cousins to be married off, cantankerous aunts to mollify, nefarious suitors to weed out and the social whirl of Regency England to navigate. Never a dull moment.

This book was easy to read and tremendous fun. The author has done a wonderful job of reflecting the language and mores of the time period and developing some rounded and likeable characters, as well as keeping you hooked on the mystery of the family ghost. I am sure any of you picking up this book will be as carried along by the story as I was.

Thank you, Natalie, for introducing me to a whole new genre, I look forward to reading more of your work.

The Ghost of Glendale is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the blog tour, you can find the details below.

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About the Author

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Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale. 

Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students. 

Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.

Follow Natalie on:

Blog: https://nataliekleinman.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatalieKleinmanAuthor/
Twitter: @NatKleinman

Forever at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn #BookReview (@DarcieBoleyn) @canelo_co #ForeverAtConwennaCove #NetGalley

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“Following heartbreak, Zoe Russell found a haven in Conwenna Cove. As the owner of the village diner and a volunteer for the local greyhound sanctuary, she’s happy with her peaceful life.

Local surfer Nate Bryson plans to leave Conwenna and see the world. He wants to shake off his reputation as a ladies man and start again somewhere new. Before departing, Nate decides to raise funds for the dog rescue home as a way of giving back to the community.

When Nate approaches Zoe to help with the charity event she sees there’s more to him than meets the eye. Nate can’t believe he’s failed to notice the kind and beautiful woman right before him. But can two such different people ever be together, especially if one of them is determined to leave?”

Today is publication day for this book so, Happy Publication Day, Darcie, look like I am just going to sneak my review in under the wire to celebrate this day with you!

I have only just finished reading this book and I am still basking in its lovely, warm, uplifting glow. Despite the fact that the tentative improvement in the weather seems to be over here for now, I’m feeling a summery optimism.

This book tells the story of vulnerable Zoe, rebuilding her life after being badly let down by people she trusted and determined not to let anyone hurt her that way again, and Nate, equally determined to live life to the full and not end up with any regrets at not chasing his dreams. Despite their reservations, Zoe and Nate are pulled together over the course of a summer in Conwenna Cove, and must decide if they will give in to their mutual attraction, or let their pasts and their fears keep them apart. The story is set in the chocolate box village of Conwenna Cove on the Cornish coast.

So far, so predictable, I hear you say, but you would be quite wrong. This book is very different from anything I have read recently and that is entirely down to the very clever writing and character development by Darcie. I’m not sure exactly how to convey what makes this book feel different, except to say that the author has a very light and sympathetic touch. I fell in love with the characters immediately, they are well-rounded and believable, complete with flaws and insecurities, but totally likeable. The plot is gripping – I was desperate to keep reading and know how it was going to end – but it was also very gentle without any of the twists and huge issues that often get shoehorned into modern novels just because that seems to be how it done. This is a very down-to-earth, every day, personal drama that could be played out in any household across the country on a daily basis, but done in a way that is extremely compelling and rich.

The setting is beautiful – I for one can’t get enough of books set by the coast – with just enough description to make it come to life but not so much that it drags. It is very well-balanced.

The novel is narrow, and I mean this in a very positive way. It doesn’t have a cast of thousands. It is focused and tight, homing in on the relationship between two people that really pulls out the intensity of those personal feelings we all recognise and can sympathise with. It is refreshing and made it stand out for me exactly for the gentle nature of the drama that might seem small to the outside world but is of vital importance to the central characters. It is totally authentic and, for that reason, very relatable to everyone.

I hadn’t realised that this was actually the third book that the author has set in Conwenna Cove when I began to read it and I have not read the previous two. However, although there was some mention of characters that were obviously central to the previous novels, this works perfectly as a standalone and not having read them did not detract from my enjoyment of this one bit. What it did do was make me want to read the previous two immediately, and I have now downloaded them to my Kindle. I really look forward to reading more by this author.

This is a wonderful book, as warm and sweet as a dairy ice-cream on a Cornish summer day but not at all sickly. Go on, treat yourself to this book, you deserve it.

Forever at Conwenna Cove is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Canelo and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night.

Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate.

Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

The House of Birds and Butterflies: The Lovebirds by Cressida McLaughlin #BookReview (@CressMcLaughlin) @HarperCollins #TheLovebirds #NetGalley

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“It’s winter at Meadowsweet nature reserve. Wildlife-lover Abby is busy trying to lure in the crowds, and although her event planning is a little on the whacky side, her creative efforts are helping to keep Meadowsweet afloat. She’s not having quite the same luck, however, in getting to know the elusive village newcomer, disgraced celebrity author Jack. It’s clear that Jack has mysterious reasons for staying out of the limelight, and the village rumour mill is in overdrive.

Abby’s passion for the great outdoors is nothing short of infectious and when Jack joins her on a special nature walk, sparks unexpectedly start to fly.
As their relationship thaws, should Abby be on high alert? Or would a new romance be the most natural thing in the world…”

Okay, where did the time go? I swear, no sooner had I started this book than I had finished, so engrossed was I in the story. Forgetting where you are and what time it is is a sure sign of a good read.

This book is part two of the serialisation of Cressida’s latest book, The House of Birds and Butterflies which started with The Dawn Chorus which I reviewed previously. We pick up right where we left off with Abby spending New Year with her mother. Her mother is despairing of Abby’s seeming lack of romance although, of course, she doesn’t know about the mysterious novelist Jack Westcoat and I can understand Abby’s reluctance in telling her pushy mother about her tentative feelings.

To be honest, Abby doesn’t really know where she stands with Jack, she hasn’t heard from him since the winter nature walk so she is throwing herself back into her job promoting the Meadowsweet Nature Reserve with some wacky and creative events, including a fabulous evening set around a swallow murmuration (who even knew what that was before they read this book – not me!) It’s apparent from the owner, Penelope’s cryptic remarks that the Reserve is going to be in trouble if Abby can’t get the visitor numbers up. The secret about Penelope’s past and her abandonment of the beautiful Swallowtail House deepens and I am desperate to get to the bottom of that, especially after the clandestine visit that Abby pays to the building.

This instalment reveals a few more details about the brooding Jack and his bad boy escapades and we are given tantalising glimpses of the spark that could develop between Jack and Abby, if they only get the chance, whilst the local characters seem to be hell bent on getting in their way! Cressida’s writing manages to balance tension, sweetness and a subtle comedy in a way that is very seductive to the reader – it leads you gently and unconsciously on through the story until – surprise surprise – you find yourself at the end and wanting more.

I am sure there is more excitement to come, as there are a few threads that have been started but not developed yet, including the rivalry with the nearby Reston Marsh Nature Reserve, the Wild Wonders TV show and the attractive Flick Hunter. I love the descriptions of the reserve and the wildlife which continued through this book and are another of the things I am looking forward to reading more of in the next instalment.

So come on, Cress, where is Part 3? I, for one, can’t wait to find out what happens next.

The House of Birds and Butterflies: The Lovebirds is out now and you can buy a copy here. All four parts of The House of Birds and Butterflies will be released as a single paperback on 9 August 2018 and you can pre-order a copy here.

Thank you to Harper Collins and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.

When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful Norfolk coastline.

The Music of the Deep by Elizabeth Hall #BookReview @AmazonPub #TheMusicOfTheDeep #NetGalley

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The Music of the Deep


“Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.

After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.

Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.”

Today is publication day for this book, so I am happy to be sharing my review of it with you all as it launches to the wider world, and it is definitely worth picking up. I’m not sure why this title caught my eye on NetGalley as it is not by an author I know – serendipity or more supernatural forces at work? Whatever it was, am I glad it did, as I raced through it in 24 hours and enjoyed every minute.

It is a very hard book to categorise – part ghost story, part nature tale, part women’s fiction – an unusual blend that had the potential to be a jarring mashup but the writer has woven the different elements together very skilfully to make a compelling narrative that had me gripped to the last page.

It follows the stories of three different women. We meet the central character, Alex, as she arrives in the tiny town of Copper Cove on a small island in the Puget Sound on a dark day in December. She is ostensibly there to assist a local woman, Maggie, catalogue the years of research she has done into the local population of orcas, but we soon find out that her story is more about what she is running from than where she is running to. To add to Alex’s tension, Maggie is hiding her own secrets, and her neighbour, Emmie Porter (rumoured to be the local witch due to her amazing powers with animals) is somehow involved. To further add to the tension, Alex is staying alone in a large old house on a hill on the outskirts of a town rumoured to be the most haunted town in Washington State…

The author sets up the story in its location very well. The tiny town, distant from land and civilisation, in the dark days of winter, is suitably claustrophobic and menacing enough to compound Alex’s already well-honed sense of dread and the secrets she gradually unveils grow increasingly creepy. During the last fifth of the book, I was sat up in bed, my heart thumping, ripping through the pages to find out what was going to happen – it really is a page turner.

The story gradually unveils the back story of the three women in a series of flashbacks which work very effectively, gradually pulling in to a point where they start to interweave and finally explode as one at the culmination of the book; it is very skilfully done and the characters are thoroughly drawn and believable, even as parts of the plot are asking you to suspend your disbelief beyond the every day.

One of the main reasons I picked up this book in the first place, and where it did not disappoint was to do with the setting. The Pacific Northwest is an area that holds a particular fascination for me and this book has only increased my longing to visit. The setting lends itself perfectly to the storyline, and the author does an amazing job of placing us firmly in the centre of the landscape. You don’t need to flex your imagination too hard to be able to picture the island, the town, the water and the natural phenomena she describes. I have a particular fondness for members of the oceanic dolphin family and this books blends a lot of interesting information about them into the plot seamlessly.

The book isn’t perfect. I would have liked a little more description about the town itself. To a degree the ending felt a little rushed and there was a flurry of ‘coincidences’ and happenings in the denouement which stretched credibility to the very furthest point of acceptability within the confines of what I believe the book was trying to be. However, all in all this was a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would recommend it without reservation. I doubt anyone who picks it up will regret the time they invest in it.

The Music of the Deep is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Born in San Jose, California, Elizabeth Hall has spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West. She has two grown children. She is the bestselling author of Miramont’s Ghost and In the Blue Hour and now resides on an island in the Pacific Northwest, where she indulges in the fiber arts and keeps an eye out for whales.