Blog Tour: Rome For The Summer by Lynne Shelby

Rome For The Summer

Delighted to be taking my turn on the tour today for Rome for the Summer by Lynne Shelby. It’s especially exciting as today is publication day for the book, so happy publication day, Lynne! My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Kate Harper has always loved the painting that has hung in her parents’ dining room for years, never suspecting that it is worth a fortune. When her art dealer boyfriend cheats her family out of the proceeds of the painting’s sale, she is left devastated and alone.

Kate discovers that two hundred years ago, the girl in the painting, Charlotte Browne, ran off to Rome with the artist who painted her portrait, but her eventual fate is unknown.

Hoping to uncover the mystery of what happened to Charlotte, Kate seizes the chance of a summer job in Rome, where she strikes up a friendship with artist Jamie Taylor. As they explore the city and start to piece together the surprising secrets of Charlotte’s life, Kate finds herself wondering if a summer in Rome can mend a broken heart…

I’m on a roll with the travel romance novels at the moment, and I was particularly looking forward to reading this one, as Rome is one of my favourite cities in the world and I couldn’t wait to be whisked off there again – if only vicariously – to explore in the company of broken-hearted Kate and handsome artist, Jamie.

The premise behind this book is fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the blending of light romance with the historical thread. You more often see historical themes explored in a more serious way, so this was a refreshing change and I think it really worked. The historical aspects complemented the contemporary story without dragging it down. I felt the contrast between Kate’s travels to Rome in the 21st century and the same story being experienced by Charlotte in the 19th worked brilliantly to highlight how much harder it was for women back then; you will leave the story feeling glad that you weren’t a female in the 1800s!

If you enjoy immersing yourself in foreign locations via literature, you will love this book, because the author really captures the spirit and beauty of Rome in this novel. Having been a couple of times, it is a place I am familiar with and love very much, and this story gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings I get whenever I think about that beautiful city, its sights, sounds, smells and flavours and the vibrant, welcoming people. It has made me want to return as soon as possible (which much be an overdue event, as threw my last coin in the Trevi Fountain more than five years ago) and, if you’ve never been, you’ll be searching for flights to the Eternal City as soon as you’ve turned the last page.

All this aside, the essential ingredient of any romance novel is, of course, the romance, and the central relationship in this book does not disappoint. Kate is a warm, likeable and sympathetic character and you will be firmly on her side from the beginning. Jamie is a suitably swoon-worthy foil for her, and watching their relationship grow is a pleasure and a privilege. All the ingredients are present for a happy ending, and the tension between them, whilst a slow boil rather than a roaring inferno, feels all the more genuine and with better prospects because of it.

All in all, another fantastic summer read to add to the growing pile for packing in your summer suitcase. Better make sure there is plenty of room on your Kindle, as there are some marvellous romance novels being published just in time for the holidays.

Rome for the Summer is out today in ebook and paperback formats and you can get your copy here.

Make sure you visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews and other content:

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About the Author

Lynne Shelby Author Photo

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction and romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing (re-released in e-book as Meet Me In Paris) won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and her fifth novel, Love On Location, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists’ Association Award – the Jane Wenham-Jones Award for Romantic Comedy. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city with her writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband and has three adult children who live nearby.

Connect with Lynne:

Website: http://www.lynneshelby.com

Facebook: Lynne Shelby Writer

Twitter: @LynneShelby5

Instagram: @lynneshelbywriter

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Blog Tour: A Wedding in Tuscany by Sandy Barker

A Wedding in Tuscany

I’m such a big fan of this series so I’m thrilled to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for A Wedding in Tuscany, the latest in the Holiday Romance series by Sandy Barker. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me a place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

A Wedding in Tuscany

The Parsons sisters are all loved up.

Sarah is living in Sydney with Josh and their cat, Domino, but is anxious about her fast-approaching fortieth birthday.

And Cat is still living in London with her flatmate, Jane, but is in a long-distance relationship with Jean-Luc, her childhood sweetheart and recently re-discovered love.

One of the sisters receives a surprise wedding proposal – it’s a yes! – and everyone heads off to Tuscany for a destination wedding.

Reunite with favourite characters from the Holiday Romance series in one of the most beautiful locations yet for love, laughter, wedding vows, and just a smidge of sisterly mayhem.

I was so sad when I heard that this book was going to be the last in this wonderful series but, if it has to end, what a way to go out. What could be a more exciting and romantic read than the whole Holiday Romance gang travelling to Tuscany for a rustic, Italian wedding? There is absolutely nothing I enjoy reading more at this time of year, when I am anticipating my own summer travels, than a beautiful, light-hearted book that combines a trip to a gorgeous, exotic location with a huge dollop of love, and this book has both in spades.

I’m not going to give away who is getting married or what actually happens but, needless to say the path to the altar is bumpy and strewn with pitfalls and calamities, just as you’d expect in the perfect romance novel. I mean, if there are no problems, there’s no story, right? All the things you can imagine that might go wrong when trying to arrange a wedding at a distance occur, and we eagerly ride the rollercoaster to the altar with the bride and groom and their families. On this trip, Sandy takes us via Tuscan castles, vineyards, medieval Tuscan cities, naked Italian gods in human form and… actually I don’t need to say any more do I? I completely had you at ‘naked Italian gods’ and you are definitely going to buy this book now, I know!

Sandy’s books always combine easy, flowing writing with rounded and appealing characters, fully immersive locations where you can smell the lavender and rosemary wafting off the page, and a thrilling plot. The conclusion of the story filled me with all the feels and I think this was the perfect way to round off this wonderful series. Whilst I’ll miss Cat, Sarah, Jaelee, Lou and the rest of the gang immensely, I can say goodbye knowing that they all have achieved their happy ever afters, just as it should be. And, of course, they are all there, waiting patiently on my shelf if I decide I ever want to catch up with them again.

This book is the perfect armchair travel read, and an ideal summer book. I cannot recommend it highly enough and, if you haven’t already read the previous four books in the Holiday Romance series, now is the perfect time to pick one up.

A Wedding in Tuscany is out now in ebook and will be published in paperback on 18 August. You can buy a copy here.

You can follow the rest of the tour for this book by visiting the blogs detailed below:

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About the Author

Author Photo Sandy Barker

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. 

Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

The series continues in That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney and there are two more to come in 2022. Her standalone novel The Christmas Swapcelebrates her favourite time of the year, and next up is The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.

Connect with Sandy:

Website: https://sandybarker.com/

Facebook: Sandy Barker Author

Twitter: @sandybarker

Instagram: @sandybarkerauthor

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Blog Tour: Not The Plus One by Belle Henderson

Not The Plus One

I’m taking my turn on the blog tour today, unfortunately not with the review I had hoped for this book, but a spotlight post instead. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for offering me a place on the tour and to the publisher and author for my digital copy of the book.

Not the (plus) one

Tilly’s got her invite, now this single mum needs a plus one.

But she’s far too busy parenting her little girl, stopping her mum from over injecting her face with filler, and playing happy families with her pompous coffee-fuelled ex. Oh yeah, and there’s the new guy at work who is gunning for her job. So Tilly really doesn’t have time for any of the grief that relationships can bring. She just wants the fun, not the red flags. And it just so happens that a nice-looking man has recently caught her eye. He’ll do… for now… just perfect.

Except he’s a little elusive. After a wild hen do including a very ropey boat trip, a gobby gate crasher and a dodgy male stripper, a series of dating disasters leaves Tilly feeling disheartened. When that familiar gorgeous face pops up on the dating website, she thinks all of her Christmases have come at once. Could he be the plus one?

Tilly’s too nice and she really needs to set some boundaries if she wants to be happy. Is there such a thing as the perfect plus one? Will her mother’s obsession with tweakments ever stop? Can Tilly compete with the sexy but infuriating new guy at work?

This books sounds like a lot of fun, don’t you think? As well as being intrigued by poor Tilly’s life juggling dilemmas – which sound all too familiar to anyone who has ever been a single parent – I was particularly looking forward to meeting Tilly’s mum who sounds like a wild character.

Unfortunately, due to some personal and health issues, I have not been able to complete reading the book in time to include my review for the blog tour today. However, I can tell you that I have started the book and so far is is proving too be the entertaining read I was hoping it would be and I am really looking forward to finishing it and bringing you my review next week.

In the meantime, you can buy Not The Plus One here in paperback and ebook formats. And other bloggers are sharing their reviews of the book as part of the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Belle Henderson is a lover of books, big hair and training her beagle not to eat all her furniture and possessions. She lives in sunny Swindon, UK with her family and said naughty beagle.

Belle co-wrote her first romantic comedy in 2019 whilst on maternity leave. In 2020 she was made redundant and in-between parenting and tearing her hair out, she has created another four stand-alone chick lit books, all set in the fictional seaside location of Coolsbay, based in the South-West of England.

People’s idiosyncrasies fascinate and occasionally amuse Belle. She loves to home in on these quirks which subsequently help to breathe life into her characters.

Belle’s books are quirky, romantic, laugh out loud and always a little toe-curling. 

Come swoon (and cringe laugh) with Belle.

Connect with Belle:

Facebook: Belle Henderson Author

Twitter: @BelleHe21599883

Instagram: @bellehendersonauthor

TikTok: https://vm.tiktok/ZMesW9RQA

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Blog Tour: The Gin Sisters’ Promise by Faith Hogan

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I’m delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Gin Sisters’ Promise by Faith Hogan. My thanks to Ayo Okojie of Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and providing me with a paperback copy of the book for the purposes of review. As always, I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

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Three estranged sisters. Six months to come back together.

When Georgie, Iris and Nola’s mother died and their father disappeared into his grief, the sisters made a pact: they would always be there for one another, no matter what.

Now, decades later, they haven’t spoken for years and can barely stand to be in the same room. As his health declines, their father comes up with a plan to bring them back to one another. In his will, he states that before they can claim their inheritance, they must spend six months living together in their childhood home in the village of Ballycove, Ireland, and try to repair their broken relationships.

As the months progress, old resentments boil over, new secrets threaten to come out and each sister must decide what matters more: their pride, or their family. Can they overcome their past and find a way to love each other once more?

This is another warm hug of a novel from Faith Hogan, set in what has quickly become one of my favourite fictional places to visit, the small coastal town of Ballycove. Readers of The Place We Call Home and The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club will be delighted to have a chance to return to Ballycove and, for those of you who have yet to discover it, welcome! You’ll love it here.

I have to say that this book starts out anything but warm and soothing though. Each of the three Delahaye sisters are at a point in their lives where things are falling apart. None of them are happy in their current situations and, having been estranged from each other for years, they don’t even have family to lean on. Then, as a final blow, their father dies suddenly and they are forced back to Ballycove to deal with his funeral and estate. The last thing any of them want is to have to spend time together, but their father had other ideas and has come up with a plan to throw them together one last time and force them to deal with their differences. As plot devices go, it works very well and we are presented with the story of three women trying to untangle years of resentments and misunderstandings against the backdrop of a beautiful Irish town. The perfect recipe for an enjoyable, emotional read.

Faith’s characters are always sympathetic and her exploration of family relationships observant and sensitive and this book is no different. The tense relationships between the sisters certainly hit a nerve for me, as the eldest of four, and the squabbles that have riven the Delahayes apart are entirely plausible. I was immediately engaged with their situation and its outcome and this carried me through the book swiftly and easily. Faith’s writing is always flowing and easy to read, and the hours spent reading this book passed by in the blink of an eye, whilst being entirely immersive whilst I was reading it. Everything I could possibly ask for in a piece of family-focused fiction.

I am always left with a feeling of happiness and satisfaction after reading a Ballycove novel, always moved and emotional and this was another excellent example. Faith has that friendly, Irish charm that makes you feel like a friend is telling you a story about people you actually know. All you need is a comfy chair, a cup of tea and maybe a slice of cake and you can settle down for a good old chinwag with a pal. There is no nicer way to spend a few hours, I highly recommend it.

The Gin Sisters’ Promise is released in ebook and audiobook formats on 9 June and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for other great reviews and content:

About the Author

Faith Hogan New Photo

Faith lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and two very fussy cats. She has an Hons Degree in English Literature and Psychology, has worked as a fashion model and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

Connect with Faith:

Website: https://faithhogan.com

Facebook: Faith Hogan Author

Twitter: @GerHogan

Instagram: @faithhoganauthor

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Blog Tour: One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke

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I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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One of us is a liar. One of us is a stranger. One of us is a cheater.

But who could be a killer?

The six of us arrived on the beautiful, sunbaked island of Aegos to leave it all behind, our suitcases packed with flip flops and beach towels, our heads full of dreams for the perfect weekend away with friends…

On the first night, we laughed and danced under the stars. On the second night we went skinny dipping in the warm, summer sea. On the third night the wine loosened our tongues, the lies spilling and the masks starting to slip.

And on the final night it all ignited as we celebrated around the beach fire – for someone, the holiday in Greece would be their last…

This is one of my favourite thrillers that I have read so far this year. I thought I would probably enjoy it, which is why I volunteered for the tour. I am a fan of this author’s work and the blurb suggested it had all the elements I love in a book – female dynamics, exotic location, death…. Even so, it exceeded all my expectations.

The tension in this book is palpable from the very first page and it has all to do with the awkward dynamics between a group of people who have only been brought together by their loose connection to one of their number. Anyone who has ever been on a hen night will recognise the friction between groups of women who don’t know each other, who come from different areas of the bride’s life and are forced into camaraderie and jollity with people they would not personally choose to hang out with. The author captures this feeling absolutely perfectly and it gives this thriller an uneasy feeling even before there is any indication that anything is particularly wrong. It’s easy to see how a tiny nudge can send this trip off the rails.

Once she has set up this tense scenario – awkward group of women, isolated location, too much expectation for the trip – she plays on it beautifully by introducing hints that each of the women is hiding something. Some personal issue, some resentment, some secret, so the reader then doesn’t know who trusts whom or who is in conflict with whom, or who they themselves can trust. This is what makes for the perfect thriller – suspicion. Suspicion abounds between all the characters, and between the characters and the reader and the tension sits like a brick in your chest as you proceed through the story, until it gets to an almost unbearable pitch, because we KNOW something is going to go wrong, which just don’t know what or to whom or why. She dangles us on a string, waiting for the drop. The literary equivalent of Disney’s Tower of Terror.

The pacing of the book is perfect, the writing is easy to read, the characterisation is totally believable and the dynamics between the characters feel authentic and work perfectly for the story. There was not one thing about this book that I didn’t enjoy, it’s a wonderful example of the genre and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for their next fantastic thriller. The perfect book to take to your poolside lounger this summer- just make sure you are travelling with people you trust!

One Of The Girls is out now in ebook, hardback and audiobook formats and will be published in paperback in July. You can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

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Sunday Times bestseller Lucy Clarke writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories. Her debut novel, The Sea Sisters, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and she has since published A Single Breath, The Blue/No Escape, Last Seen, You Let Me In, and The Castaways, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. Lucy lives by the sea with her husband and two children.

Connect with Lucy:

Website: http://www.lucy-clarke.com

Facebook: Lucy Clarke

Twitter: @lucyclarkebooks

Instagram: @lucyclarke_author

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Blog Tour: The Daughter by Liz Webb

The Daughter by Liz Webb cover

I lean in and whisper the question I have never let myself utter in twenty-three years.

“Dad, did you murder Mum?”

Hannah Davidson has a dementia-stricken father, an estranged TV star brother, and a mother whose death opened up hidden fault lines beneath the surface of their ordinary family life.

Now the same age that Jen Davidson was when she was killed, Hannah realises she bears an uncanny resemblance to her glamorous mother, and when her father begins to confuse them she is seriously unnerved.

Determined to uncover exactly what happened to her mum, Hannah begins to exploit her arresting likeness, but soon the boundaries between Hannah and her mother become fatally blurred.

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Daughter by Liz Webb. My thanks to Helen Richardson for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Daughter before I started reading it and I have to say it took me a little while to get into the novel. The book is written in the first person, in the voice of Hannah as she is visiting her dementia-stricken father in hospital after he has had a fall. Hannah’s voice was not clear to me to begin with, I wasn’t even sure if the character was male or female at first and, as a result, it took me a little while to become invested in the story.

However, after a couple of chapters, things began to fall into place and my interest was piqued. Hannah is clearly a troubled young woman, engaging in destructive behaviours, and I was curious about what had led her to this place. As we find out more about her dysfunctional family and the tragic events that splintered their family decades before, the reasons begin to make sense, but I was left wondering if she was an entirely reliable narrator, which always makes a book more interesting. Not knowing whether you can believe what the main protagonist is telling you always builds tension, and even Hannah herself questions whether her memories are reliable when they conflict with those of other people present at the time. Who is mistaken? Who is lying to themselves, or others, to hide the dreadful truth?

This mistrust bleeds through to the other characters, particularly her father, who is in a fog of confusion and has begun to mix Hannah up with his long-dead wife, and her brother, from who she has been estranged for 14 years and is practically unknown to her now, and who practises make-believe for a living. Who is telling then truth and who will benefit from lying? These are the puzzles the engaged reader if left to solve.

The cast of characters is small and manageable, the plot engaging and tense and the writing easy to read and flows well. I thought this stood out as a story I hadn’t read before in the domestic thriller genre and, after a shaky start, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It is full of twists and turns and interesting ideas about families, how they work and how they can mess you up. A theme many people will be able to relate to on some level. This book has a different feel to many books in the genre, an interesting edge to it and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a new author.

The Daughter is out now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for other great reviews:

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About the Author

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LIZ WEBB originally trained as a classical ballet dancer but had to give up following a back injury. She then worked as a secretary at the British Library whilst going to night school at the City Lit to get into Oxford University age 23. After graduating, she worked as a stationery shop manager, an art model, a cocktail waitress, stand- up comic, voice-over artist, script-editor, and radio drama producer before becoming a novelist.

Liz Webb was a stand-up comic for ten years performing at clubs across the UK and at festivals in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leicester and Cardiff. At the same time, she worked as a voice-over artist voicing many TV ad campaigns including The Times, Kellogg’s Just Right cereal and Organics hair products.

She also worked for fourteen years as a prolific radio drama producer for the BBC and independent radio production companies.

Liz lives in North London with her husband, son and serial killer cat Freddie.

Connect with Liz:

Website: https://lizwebb.co.uk

Facebook: Liz Webb

Twitter: @LizWebbAuthor

Instagram: @lizwebbauthor

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Blog Tour: Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby

Tell Me Your Lies Cover

You think she wants to help.
You’re wrong.

Lily Appleby will do anything to protect the people she loves. She’s made ruthless choices to make sure their secrets stay buried, and she’s not going to stop now.

When her party-animal daughter, Rachel, spins out of control, Lily hires a renowned therapist and healer to help her. Amber is the skilled and intuitive confidante that Rachel desperately needs. But as Rachel falls increasingly under Amber’s spell, she begins to turn against her parents, and Lily grows suspicious.

Does Amber really have Rachel’s best interests at heart or is there something darker going on? Only one thing is clear: Rachel is being lied to. Never quite knowing who to believe, her search for the truth will reveal her picture-perfect family as anything but flawless.

It is my turn on the blog tour for Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby. My thanks to Sophia Sagir at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Sometimes you read a book and it makes you think, no matter how dysfunctional your family dynamics may be, at least you are not like the people in this book. Tell Me Your Lies is one such novel.

Told from the alternating viewpoints of mother, Lilly and daughter, Rachel, this is the story of some very twisted relationships and the destructive effects that secrets, lies and unhealthy familial links can have on the people involved. Right from the start we can see that Rachel is one very troubled young woman, meeting her we do as she comes round from a drink and drugs binge that ends in her hospitalisation. it is also clear pretty quickly that she sees herself as the black sheep of her successful family and that the relationship with her mother is strained. But is there something darker at play? Lilly brings in therapist, Amber, to help Rachel overcome her demons, but maybe Amber isn’t quite as she seems either.

This is a novel of unpleasant characters, unreliable narrators and deceitful behaviour so the reader is never quite sure who to trust, what is true and what lies around the next corner. Full of revelations and surprises, the book will hook you in and keep you turning the pages to find out what is actually going on behind the lies, behind the facades and at the heart of this family, but you will be afraid you may not like it when you get there. the best kind of page turner.

That being said, this book is quite a slow burn, rather than a heart-racing, pacy novel and you may have to stick with it in the beginning until it buries its claws into you and hangs on. Because all of the characters are fairly unpleasant, there won’t be anyone that you are particularly rooting for, which could make it hard to care about what happens to them. However, the writing is great and the author’s voice is fairly light for the subject matter, but compelling. She knows how to construct drama, and this made the book easy to read for me.

I found this to be an accomplished and engrossing debut and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking for something new in the psychological fiction genre. An exciting new voice to watch out for.

Tell Me Your Lies is out now in all formats and you can buy your copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About The Author

Kate Ruby credit Simon Annand

Kate Ruby is a producer and screenwriter, with a highflying career in television. Tell Me Your Lies, a psychological thriller, is her debut novel and is currently in development for a major TV show. As an executive producer for drama, she spent a decade at the BBC, working on shows including Spooks and Being Human. Currently Head of Television for a global production company, she has worked on major Netflix shows including Watership Down, Traitors and The English Game. She has recently worked on the BBC/HBO adaptation of JP Delaney’s bestselling thriller The Girl Before, starring Gugu Mbatha Raw and David Oyelowo.

Connect with Kate:

Twitter: @katerubybooks

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Blog Tour: Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose by Alison Weir

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I am so thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose by Alison Weir. Alison Weir is one of my favourite historians, and the Plantagenets are my obsession so I couldn’t wait to read this. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Elizabeth of York Cover

The spellbinding story of Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor queen.

An English Princess, born into a war between two families. Eldest daughter of the royal House of York, Elizabeth dreams of a crown to call her own. But when her beloved father, King Edward, dies suddenly, her destiny is rewritten.
Her family’s enemies close in. Two young princes are murdered in the Tower. Then her uncle seizes power – and vows to make Elizabeth his queen.

But another claimant seeks the throne, the upstart son of the rival royal House of Lancaster. Marriage to this Henry Tudor would unite the white rose of York and the red of Lancaster – and change everything. A great new age awaits. Now Elizabeth must choose her allies – and husband – wisely, and fight for her right to rule.

Many people will tell you that their favourite period of history is the Tudor period, and it is easy to understand why. It is peopled by some of the most fascinating characters that ever lived – Henry VIII, Elizabeth I – and was a time of massive and lasting political change in England. Alison Weir has written some of the most detailed and fascinating books, both fictional and non-fiction, on this period and it a well known authority on the subject. For me, however, it is their predecessors, the Plantagenets, with whom I have always been fascinated – I am an avid Ricardian – and I was excited to see how Alison Weir would deal with the life of Elizabeth of York, the last Plantagenet and the woman who united the houses of Lancaster and York to bring the Wars of the Roses to an end.

Many people won’t know much about Elizabeth of York, and even I have not read about her as widely as I have Edward IV and Richard III, but she was a woman at the crux of one of the most turbulent and transformative periods of history. She was the key piece in strengthening Henry Tudor’s fairly weak claim to the throne after the Battle of Bosworth and bringing to an end decades of civil war in England. Mother of Henry VIII, she was well aware of her place in history and what she needed to do to secure her family and this book explores her life in great detail.

This is a fictional account of Elizabeth’s life, so Alison Weir has imagined how she will have been feeling about the events that shaped her life but, this being Alison Weir, the historical foundation of the book is firm which allows the reader to relax into the story without worrying about the accuracy of what they are reading. At over 500 pages, this is a hefty novel that covers Elizabeth’s whole life from the age of 4, when her mother is first forced to take her children into sanctuary when Edward IV is briefly exiled to Burgundy, until her death at the age of 37. Every event of her life in between is explored in detail and, whilst some may find the constant cycle of peace and threat tiresome, it is merely an accurate reflection of the history and, therefore, for a history buff, it is captivating.

Elizabeth, as all women were at the time, was basically a pawn in the power struggle going on between the warring factions for the throne. First promised to the Dauphin of France by her father in peace negotiations with the French King, after her uncle Richard took the throne following her father’s death, he proposed to marry her to cement his claim, she was finally married to Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth. As the eldest child of Edward VI, Elizabeth would have had the right to reign as Queen in her own right, had the laws of succession not prevented women taking the throne at this time, so Henry Tudor’s move in making her his queen was a canny one. It brought about an era of relative peace and security within England itself for a couple of generations at least.

This is not a light read by any means but, for anyone fascinated by the rise of the Tudors it is a must read novel about the woman who secured their dynasty, and a riveting imagining of how life must have been for a woman buffeted by the winds of a fate that was out of her hands. I thought it was marvellous and a welcome addition to my collection of novels about the period.

Elizabeth of York: The Last White Rose is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure to check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour:

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About the Author

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Alison Weir is the bestselling female historian in the United Kingdom, and has sold over 3 million books worldwide. She has published twenty history books. Alison is also the author of twelve historical novels, including the highly acclaimed Six Tudor Queens series all of which were Sunday Times bestsellers. The complete short-story collection, In the Shadow of Queens, accompanies this series. Alison is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an honorary life patron of Historic Royal Palaces.

Connect with Alison:

Website: http://www.alisonweir.org.uk

Facebook: Alison Weir

Twitter: @AlisonWeirBooks

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Blog Tour: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

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I am thrilled to be topping off the blog tour for Guilty Women by Melanie Blake, the follow up to last year’s sensational Ruthless Women (you can read my review of that book here.) My thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Guilty Women Cover

Can they get away with murder?

On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…

All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

If you have read my review of the prequel to this book, Ruthless Women (and, if you haven’t, why not? Go and remedy that immediately, I put the link above!) you will know that I absolutely adored it. It was a flashback to the outrageous ‘bonkbusters’ I devoured in my youth, in the best traditions of Shirley Conran and Jackie Collins, and I could not wait to return to the set of Falcon Bay and the lives of its cast and crew. You can read Guilty Women as a standalone but I think you will get much more enjoyment from your reading of the book if you have read Ruthless Women first and are familiar with the characters and their back story.

This book picks up only eight weeks after the end of the last book, and the women are all still reeling from the shocking events that ended that novel. Despite their closeness, and what they have risked to protect each other, they are all struggling with the secrets they are keeping and their feelings about what they have done, and the cracks in their friendship are beginning to show. They are all doing their best to get on with their jobs and keep Falcon Bay at the top of the ratings, but there is more than one person trying g to throw a spanner in the works and derail their best efforts.

Everything that made the previous book so marvellous is here again in spades. Sex (and, I mean, sex in graphic detail, no holds barred. if you blush easily, you might want to avert your eyes from these parts), drugs, glamorous women, gorgeous men, betrayal, revenge, rows, fist fights, death, drama and destruction are all present and correct, and the book is action-packed from start to finish. Just as with the last storyline, there is shock after shock in the plot as the author does not let the tension up from a moment and takes the story to unexpected places.

As before, the strength of this book lies in the writing of the female characters, who are all beautiful and driven and loyal to one another and their friendship is at the heart of the story. This makes appealing to anyone who likes to see women get the upper hand in a male dominated world. Despite all the trials she puts them through, they remain true to one another which is lovely to see to the end.

I wasn’t quite sure what the point of the Honey Hunter storyline was, it seemed to start off strong and then peter out into nothing of any significance, but other than that there were no weak parts of the story. It is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through murder and mayhem, if those are the kinds of things you like to romp through, and I loved every second of it. The ending has left me asking whether we have seen the last of these fabulous women, I am sincerely hoping not.

Guilty Women is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you go back and revisit the other blogs that have featured on the tour for alternative reviews:

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About the Author

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MELANIE BLAKE is the bestselling author of Ruthless Women, which became a Number 4 Sunday Times hardback bestseller and an ebook bestseller in 2021, selling over 150,000 copies. Guilty Women is her second novel about the cast of Falcon Bay, and her first with HarperFiction. Growing up in a working-class household with severe dyslexia, Melanie has her own Rags to Riches story, just like that of her characters – at 15 she was told by her school career advisors that her decision to work at a record shop was ‘a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in her career’. They were wrong. By 19 she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by 26 she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers. She also created her own acting agency from scratch which became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK. Melanie still represents a high-profile stable of actresses, but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a author, playwright and producer.

Connect with Melanie:

Website: https://www.melanieblakeonline.com/

Twitter: @MelanieBlakeUK

Instagram: @melanieblakeuk

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Blog Tour: The Hidden Child by Louise Fein

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London, 1929.

Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face an uncomfortable truth: Mabel has epilepsy – one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide their daughter away so as to not jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.

Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?

I am delighted to be joining the blog tour today for The Hidden Child by Louise Fein. Louise has written a fabulous piece for me to share with you about how she went about researching the book. My thanks to Graeme Williams for inviting me on to the tour and to Louise for preparing the piece for me.

Now over to Louise:

Researching The Hidden Child

Writing historical fiction means I need to do a good deal of research for each book I write. Fortunately, I love research as I spend as much time researching as I do writing. As with all my books, research for The Hidden Child began with reading generally as much as I could about not only the time-period in which the book is set, namely the late 1920’s, but also about the setting (chiefly London, Surrey, and an epilepsy colony), and the social and political events of the time. I also researched the background for my characters who were partly based on, or inspired by, real people. Wherever possible I like to travel to locations for settings to get a real sense of the place. Once I began writing, more specific details needed to be researched in depth. This often slowed the writing process, as it might take me a whole morning to research something which ended up being just one sentence on the page. 

To gain a deeper understanding, I read a wide variety of non-fiction and fiction written at the time as well as historical commentaries and academic papers. I also needed to do a lot of research about eugenics, and the condition of epilepsy and its perception and treatment at the time. I researched the position of women across the classes, the rise of feminism after the first world war, birth control and the reason why it was encouraged for the lower classes rather than the professional and upper classes. I also carried out research into class and politics, the American eugenics movement, French and American research into epilepsy treatments, and legislation in the UK and the USA which led to the incarceration and mistreatment of those regarded as ‘the unwanted’ in society. 

One of my main characters, Edward, is very loosely based on a real person, Sir Cyril Burt, who was a psychologist and educationalist, instrumental in setting education policy for the nation. He was also a prominent eugenicist and much of the policy for setting up the nationwide grammar school system in England during the first half of the twentieth century was based on his eugenicist principles and now somewhat discredited research into intelligence. I read about him, as well as books written by him. I have included other real people in the book, such as Marie Stopes, Leonard Darwin, ‘Junior’ Rockefeller and other well-known names who might not be associated with eugenics. Much information could be found on-line through resources such as The Wiley library and The Wellcome Library. 

I was lucky to complete most of the research for this book just prior to lockdown in 2020. I was able to visit a school for children with severe epilepsy which was once an epilepsy colony. They were kind enough to open their archives for me. I also, through a local history organisation, was able to look at the archives of other colonies and asylums in the area, so my fictional colony is based on a combination of all of these institutions. 

Once all the research is done, it is important to be able to set it aside and focus on the story. This is after all fiction, and whilst I always try to write with authenticity, the majority of my research never makes it into the book. Instead, I aim to infuse the writing with it, so the reader is immersed into another world.   

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A lovely insight into a writer’s way of working. The Hidden Child is out in paperback today and in all other formats and you can buy a copy here.

Do please visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for reviews of the book and other great content:

The Hidden Child Blog Tour Facebook

About the Author

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Louise Fein was born and brought up in London. She harboured a secret love of writing from a young age, preferring to live in her imagination than the real world. After a law degree, Louise worked in Hong Kong and Australia, travelling for a while through Asia and North America before settling back to a working life in London. She finally gave in to the urge to write, taking an MA in creative writing, and embarking on her first novel, Daughter of the Reich (named People Like Us in the UK and Commonwealth edition). The novel was inspired by the experience of her father’s family, who escaped from the Nazis and arrived in England as refugees in the 1930’s. Daughter of the Reich/People Like Us is being translated into 11 foreign languages, has been shortlisted for the 2021 RSL Christopher Bland Prize, the RNA Historical Novel of the year Award 2021 and long listed for the Not The Booker Prize 2020.

Louise’s second novel, The Hidden Child, was published in the Autumn of 2021. Louise lives in the beautiful English countryside with her husband, three children, two cats, small dog and the local wildlife who like to make an occasional appearance in the house. Louise is currently working on her third novel.

Connect with Louise:

Website: https://www.louisefein.com

Facebook: Louise Fein

Twitter: @FeinLouise

Instagram: @louisefeinauthor

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