Publication Day Review: Love Life by Nancy Peach #BookReview

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Today is publication day for Love Life, the debut novel by Nancy Peach. Happy publication day, Nancy. I have been lucky enough to have received an advanced copy of the book for the purposes of review, and am delighted to share that review with you today. Huge thanks to the author and her publisher for providing me with a digital copy of her book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Palliative care doctor, Tess Carter, is no starry-eyed heroine. After all, if your dad left without a backward glance and you found your last boyfriend in bed with another guy, you wouldn’t believe in romance either. And the voices in Tess’s head – you know, the ones that tell you you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not clever enough – well, these voices are very loud. Very loud indeed. Especially when the disagreeable son of one of her patients starts challenging her every decision.

Edward Russell might have a big job and a posh voice, but Tess is determined not to let him get to her, especially if she can get her inner monologue to stop with the endless self-sabotage. And Edward, it turns out, may be less of a prat than he first appears…

In the real world, where gentlemanlike manners and out-of-the-blue declarations of love are a story-book fantasy, it’s up to Tess to decide whose voice to listen to … and how to make her own heard.

A romance book set in a hospice might not be something many feel-good book lovers would rush to pick up but, like the tag line in the book says, ‘Love can be found in the most unexpected of places’ and, similarly, a moving and uplifting love story can be found in the most unexpected of plot lines.

The main character is Tess, a young doctor working in palliative care in a hospice. Tess has been very hurt and let down by most of the men in her life (except her brother, Jake, who I was kind of in love with by the end of the book), so she is swearing off love and concentrating on her career. This approach is tested by the reappearance of a face from the past, which sets in motion the romantic escapades of the book.

Tess will be a very relatable character to most readers of the novel. Despite everyone around her being able to see that she is a capable, caring, genuine, accomplished human being who anyone would be privileged to know, she is riddled with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy and is constantly at war with these feelings which hold her back from having the kind of life she dreams of. This is amusingly illustrated by the warring voices she has in her head, one always telling her what an abject failure she is, the other trying to buoy her up. The fact that the second voice is that of Jane Austen added an extra layer of amusement for me, as the author has captured her voice perfectly. Whilst we may not all have voices literally talking to us as Tess does, we can all relate to what the author is trying to demonstrate – how loud and persuasively our inner critic can seem to us and how much they can influence how we feel and act.

There is no getting away from the fact that the book deals with a difficult topic, that of grief, and how grief again affects the way we act towards those around us. However, the topic is obviously something that the author is experienced in, understands and manages to deal with with a light and sympathetic but authentic touch. She manages to capture the emotion without the book straying into the realms of the terribly depressing, which I think is quite a skill, and may be unexpected to people who are taken back by the blurb. Readers should not let the idea that the book deals with end-of-life issues put them off. As someone who has dealt with a tragic and deeply personal loss in her life, I found the writing relatable and also slightly comforting. The scene in the church near the end, in particular, resonated deeply with me but in a positive way. It’s a hard sensation to describe but I did not come away from this book feeling maudlin.

The chemistry and relationship between the two main characters was believable and charged with heat. I had worried that it might feel inappropriate, given the circumstances of the plot, but it didn’t, even when a scenario in the book WAS inappropriate (people who have read this will know what I mean!) I really wanted Tess and Ed to end up together, I cared deeply about the outcome. The author did a good job of leaving the question of whether it would work out or not hanging, and it caused me real pain to think they wouldn’t. You cannot possibly ask for more from a romance novel that to create this kind of investment by the reader in your characters and their story.

If I had any complaint at all about this book, it would be that I felt the author slightly over-egged the pudding on the use of colloquial dialogue for the Yorkshire-based characters (and I speak as a native of the county) and I wish this has been dialled back slightly. Also, I took the quote in Chapter 8 about people whose well-read and well-loved books remain looking pristine being untrustworthy as a personal affront, as my books always look like they have just come from the shop no matter how many times I have read them! However, if you are a serial book-abuser from any other county in the UK, none of this will bother you at all, I’m sure.

Joking aside, I really loved this book. It dealt sensitively with some difficult issues, portrayed a believable and enthralling relationship, and walked the line between humour and pathos beautifully. I have no hesitation in recommending the book at all and back up this recommendation with the fact that I have purchased a copy of it myself for future re-reading. There is no better accolade I can give a book than spending my hard-earned cash on it.

Love Life is out today as an ebook, and will be available in paperback and audiobook formats on 9 December. You can order you copy here and anywhere else great books are sold.

About the Author

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Nancy is a writer of commercial women’s fiction, a mother of three and an owner of various ridiculous looking pets including a dog who unexpectedly grew to be the size of a small horse. She is also a practicing doctor working for both the NHS and a national cancer charity. Over the years her medical job has provided her with an insight into many aspects of human behaviour, across all walks of life, and she is endlessly fascinated by the people she meets. She has always loved to write and finds the process incredibly therapeutic as well as being a welcome diversion from some of the less glamorous aspects of her other roles. Being a medical doctor, her sense of humour is already quite dark; she prides herself on being able to find comedy in challenging scenarios and has found this to be an essential skill in both her domestic and working life. Love and laughter are the best of medicines and she tries to channel as much of them as possible into her blogs www.mumhasdementia.com  and www.nancy-peach.com as well as her books – casting a wry and discerning eye over the human condition and tackling heavyweight issues with a light comedic touch. 

Nancy’s work has been longlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize and shortlisted for a Harper Collins / Gransnet competition. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and is represented by Tanera Simons at Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Her debut novel Love Life is published by One More Chapter at Harper Collins.

Connect with Nancy:

Website: https://nancy-peach.com/

Facebook: Nancy Peach Writer

Twitter: @Mumhasdementia

Instagram: @nancy.peach

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Book Review: The Chateau by Catherine Cooper #BookReview

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They thought it was perfect. They were wrong…

A glamorous chateau

Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink

The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out…

Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review, for which they have my heartfelt thanks. As always, I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

I really enjoyed Catherine’s debut novel, The Chalet, when I read it last year (you can read my review here) so I was very much looking forward to this follow up, and I can tell you it didn’t disappoint.

The story is a dual timeline, narrated by a married couple, Aura and Nick, who have just purchased a ramshackle chateau in France to renovate. I’d say ‘happily married,’ except that wouldn’t be accurate. They have moved to France after some issues in the UK, the nature of which are gradually revealed through Nick’s narration of the past timeline and their marriage still seems a little shaky, or certainly it looks that way to Aura who is the narrator of the present tense timeline.

As well as the issues in their marriage, they have all the difficulties of integrating into a new community in a new country, and things are certainly a lot livelier and more interesting that a person might imagine life in a quiet rural area of France to be! There are plenty of surprising revelations gradually fed through the story in both the past and present timelines to keep the reader on the edge of their seat throughout.

The characters in the book are drawn in a very interesting way, because none of them are particularly likeable. This is quite a brave step by the author, because it is quite easy to lose the readers if you don’t love any of the characters, but she has given us enough intrigue to keep us hooked regardless. I had no idea really where the story was going, I didn’t see the ending coming and I think the denouement was a surprising and left field step by the author which really worked for me.

All in all, a gripping and entertaining thriller which will delight readers who enjoyed the author’s first book and new readers alike. Highly recommended.

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

About the Author

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Catherine Cooper is a journalist specialising in travel, hotels, and skiing who writes regularly for the Telegraph and the Guardian among others. She lives near the Pyrenees in the South of France with her husband and two teenage children, and is a keen skier. The Chalet was her debut novel.

Connect with Catherine:

Website: http://www.catherinecooperauthor.com/

Facebook: Catherine Cooper Author

Twitter: @catherinecooper

Instagram: @catherinecooperjournalist

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Blog Tour: Starlight Cottage by K. T. Dady #BookReview

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I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Starlight Cottage by K. T. Dady. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Welcome to Pepper Bay. A small close-knit community where you’ll find chocolate box cottages, quaint shops, drama, friendship, and love.

Starlight Cottage – Anna Cooper and Jake Reynolds both live at the luxury London building, River Heights. The only difference is that Jake lives in the penthouse, and Anna lives in a tent on the roof.

When Jake finds out, he offers Anna a chance of a new life in his grandmother’s childhood home in Pepper Bay, and she decides to take the opportunity to see if she really can make a fresh start somewhere else.

The beauty of Pepper Bay, with its quaint shops, chocolate box cottages, and all of Jake’s closest friends, immediately fills Anna’s heart with nothing but love, and it isn’t just Starlight Cottage that she finds herself falling in love with.

This is the first in a new series set in the charming Pepper Bay and sets up the community and a cast of characters that I am sure are all going to get their own full stories in future editions. However, in this first book we are mainly concerned with Jake and Anna in an ‘opposites attract’ story.

Anna has had a tough life. Raised without parents, she latched on to others who don’t treat her well and finds herself homeless and living in a tent on the roof of a posh apartment building in London with only her dog for company. Jake lives in the penthouse, and meets Anna by chance, eventually figuring out where she is living and taking her under his wing, despite them being totally different in every way, from personality to circumstance.

Anna as a character was someone that my heart went out to from the beginning. She seems kind and sweet, but way too trusting and I just wanted someone to take care of her. Her most recent ex is one of the most despicable characters I have ever seen written in a book and I was desperate for him to get him comeuppance, so the author has done a great job of getting me invested in the outcome of the book from early one.

Jake was a totally different personality and I wasn’t sure about him to begin with. He didn’t seem like a good fit for Anna, and I was worried he was going to crush her further, and I suppose that this tension is what makes for a compelling story. However, the author gradually reveals hidden depths to Jake, and we see that his life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses and that he has his own problems that make him more sympathetic.

Once we leave London and arrive in Pepper Bay, I was completely sold on the charming setting and great community that the author has created there and can see how this is going to make the beginnings of a great series. This is the perfect type of cute, cosy romance that will ease you out of summer and into the darkening, cooling days of autumn and you begin to curl up on the sofa of an evening and lose yourself in a good book.

If I had to pick any faults with the book that just stop it being a five-star read, I would say that the feelings between Anna and Jake develop a little too quickly to be entirely credible, given their vastly different circumstances, so the plot requires quite a stretch on the suspension of disbelief front. There were also a couple of places where events took an inexplicable jump and I thought I had missed a page out, which made me a bit confused (although I was reading late at night sometimes so it could just be my sluggish brain!).

Overall, I enjoyed the book very much and would not hesitate to recommend it to fans of the genre. An exciting new author to look out for.

Starlight Cottage is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews:

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About the Author

Author, reader, mum, chocolate lover, and a huge fan of a HEA. I was born and raised in the East End of London, and I’ve been happily writing stories since I was a little girl. When I’m not writing, I’m baking cakes or pottering around in my little garden in Essex, trying not to kill the flowers. I’m the author of contemporary romance, middle-grade, and the thought-provoking thriller about mental illness, The Focus Program.

Connect with K. T. Dady:

Website: https://ktdady.com/

Twitter: @kt_dady

Instagram: @kt_dady

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Blog Tour: Before Pittsburgh by Kasie Whitener #BookReview

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Tony is dead and Brian’s world has unraveled. Still grappling with the harsh reality that his best friend’s suicide was not a nightmare that he just hasn’t awakened from, Brian plummets into a dark period of drinking and desperate actions.

Seeking healing and redemption for his ingrained belief that it should have been him, not Tony, that’s dead, Brian travels across the U.S. and Spain for answers. He starts counting the days in Barcelona: bar fights and threesomes. The months in San Francisco: short stories and a new romance. The seasons in Tucson, Nashville, Manila, and Seattle: The Crew growing up and apart. Three years unfold between before-Tony-died and after. Brian thinks he has finally left Virginia and its ghosts behind.

A near miss on September 11th brings time to a standstill and Brian faces a new devastation.

With so much work to be done Before Pittsburgh, Brian’s world expands in unexpected ways but contracts in the same old patterns of loss, redemption, and mourning. Can he earn his place in the lives of the people he loves? Or will he remain disconnected, unforgiven, and alone?

I’m delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Before Pittsburgh by Kasie Whitener. My thanks to Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part, and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book is very different to my normal reading choices for a number of reasons. One of the reasons I love blogging is that it pushes my reading out of its comfort zone and makes me pick up books I would not normally come across. You never know when you are going to discover a gem, or a new genre that you might normally have overlooked. of course, you are never going to love everything you read, but you won’t know unless you try!

This is the second book in a series. However, I didn’t know this going in and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book at all, it works perfectly well as a standalone. The main protagonist is Brian, a man in his early twenties who is struggling in the aftermath of his best friend’s suicide. This is the first thing that is very different to the books I normally read, most emotional fiction I read is written from a female perspective, so this was an interesting departure. The author, despite being female, has done an amazing job of getting under the skin of the protagonist and I was totally immersed in Brian’s pain and struggle. The writing of his distress and self-destructive behaviour is very visceral, which makes for a powerful but difficult read at times.

The book is written mainly in first person from Brian’s perspective, but there are also a series of emails between Brian and various other characters in the story, which breaks up the narrative and provides a clever and insightful glimpse into their personalities. The book takes place across a number of years and disparate locations and, whilst these are detailed at the beginning of each chapter, I did find it tricky to keep up with where in time and space we were at times which broke my concentration a little.

This book is powerful and truthful insight into dealing with the death of a person you love so deeply that you don’t know who you are without them in your life and I really believed in Brian’s reaction to the events in the book. However, the problem I had with it was that I didn’t really like him enough to make enough allowance for his behaviour in response to his pain. Maybe if I had read the previous book, I would be more invested and have more empathy for Brian and be able to cut him more slack in relation to his behaviour. As it was, from the beginning Brian behaves badly and I couldn’t find my sympathy for him. However, I do realise that this is probably largely down to my age. At approaching 50 with teenage daughters, I think my sympathy for the callous attitudes of twenty-something ‘boys’ has long since waned, I’ve become less tolerant of it over the years as I’ve gained maturity and understanding. I don’t think I am particularly the target audience for this novel and someone closer to the age and experiences of the protagonist will be more forgiving, so don’t let the my jaded perspective put you off.

The book was a little slow for me in parts, but again I think it may be because the developing (or not) love lives of young adults hold less appeal to me as I get older and other people will react differently. What I can say is that this is a brave and bold book with important things to say and it says them in a confident voice, coupled with exquisite writing. Despite my lack of empathy with them, there is no doubt the characters are well written and alive on the page and feel like honest portrayals of real people. The story is very moving, the author is skilled at drawing genuine emotion from the reader. It feels like a great accomplishment of a book, if not one that pushed my particular buttons. I would not hesitate to recommend it to the audience it was written for, which I don’t think is 49-year-old mothers from rural Yorkshire.

Before Pittsburgh is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do visit some of the other blogs taking part in the tour as detailed below:

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About the Author

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Connect with Kasie:

Website: https://kasiewhitener.com/

Facebook: Kasie Whitener

Twitter: @KasieWhitener

Instagram: @kasiewhitener

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Book Review: Sleepless in Sicily by Emma Jackson #BookReview

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Under the starry Italian skies, anything can happen…

For most women, getting locked into a storeroom with movie star and undeniable heartthrob Rowan during a pre-production shoot in London would be the stuff of dreams. But for shy makeup artist Lila, it’s more like a nightmare. It doesn’t matter that Rowan is kind, easy to talk to and even more gorgeous up close. With her social anxiety, she can’t bear the idea of being embroiled in gossip and rumours about what exactly they were doing together.

More scandal is also not an option for outspoken Rowan, whose agency is threatening to drop him if he doesn’t toe the line. After the two make their escape, they promise to keep the incident a secret, and when they meet again on set in stunning Sicily, they pretend not to know each other. But between the blue skies and sizzling Italian heat, it becomes impossible to ignore the attraction simmering between them…

Lila and Rowan couldn’t be more different… but can they find a way to bring their worlds together?

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review, for which they have my heartfelt thanks. As always, I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

The cover of this book leads you to believe that is going to be a certain kind of holiday romance that you have seen many times before, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I absolutely love holiday romance stories, I read them by the stack in the summer and have several waiting for my attention as we speak that I can’t wait to sink back into my deckchair and devour in place of actually going on an overseas trip this summer. However, this book doesn’t fall quite comfortably into that niche, it is something a bit different, but no the less fabulous for it.

When you read the blurb, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is going to develop along the standard lines, and it does contain all the bits of those holiday romances you love. A trip to the sun-drenched shores of Sicily, a glamorous film set location, hunky leading man sets shy, ingenue makeup artist’s heart a-fluttering. However, the book goes beyond this superficial love story to delve deeply into the motivations and personality traits of the leading characters in a way that is painfully observant and so realistic that, if you have any of these traits yourself, it will make your heart hurt in empathy. Or that is certainly what happened to me when I read it.

Whether she meant to or not, it is clear to the reader that the author has left a big part of herself on the pages of this novel. Noone can truly write such an authentic character as Lila if they haven’t had some personal experience of what she is suffering, whether themselves or through a loved one. The portrayal in this book of what it is like to live with social anxiety is the closest thing to reality that I have ever read. Although this is something that I experience to a much lesser extent than Lila, her thought processes are something I recognised all too readily, which meant I felt complete sympathy for her throughout the novel, really living the highs and lows with her, feeling the pain and pleasure. Being so immersed in a character’s story is a rare and precious experience and only happens when the author has felt the same thing as they write. I could feel the author living this book as she created it.

This is a fantastic book that takes the sun lounger novel to a different place. I’m not sure if I felt this just because I could relate so closely to the main character, but it has all the elements I look for in a summer read, as well as a profoundly relatable character in Lila. It left me feeling moved and seen in a way that in unusual in a genre many people deem superficial and fluffy, which just goes to prove that the people who look down on romance, probably don’t read many. True gems are out there if you look hard enough, and this is one.

If you are looking for something both entertaining and insightful to add to your holiday reading, here it is.

Sleepless in Sicily is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here. What are you waiting for, go, go, go.

About the Author

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Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Following her debut, SUMMER IN THE CITY and ONE KISS BEFORE CHRISTMAS were released in 2020 and her next contemporary romance SLEEPLESS IN SICILY is scheduled for 29th July 2021.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://esjackson.co.uk

Facebook: Emma Jackson Author

Twitter: @ESJackson1

Instagram: @emma_s_jackson

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Book Review: Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan #BookReview

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In the Eternal City, no secret stays hidden forever…

Lottie Archer arrives in Rome excited to begin her new job as an archivist. When she discovers a valuable fifteenth-century painting, she is drawn to find out more about the woman who left it behind, Nina Lawrence.

Nina seems to have led a rewarding and useful life, restoring Italian gardens to their full glory following the destruction of World War Two. So why did no one attend her funeral in 1978?

In exploring Nina’s past, Lottie unravels a tragic love story beset by the political turmoil of post-war Italy. And as she edges closer to understanding Nina, she begins to confront the losses in her own life.

I am delighted to be posting my review of Two Women in Rome by Elizabeth Buchan today. I received an advance digital copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of review, and I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I am all about novels set in Italy at the moment. For some reason, it is a place I am craving a visit to in these times where it is practically impossible to go anywhere at all. So since I can’t hop on a plane there at the moment, I am taking my tours via books, and Two Women in Rome is my latest foray.

A lot of my armchair travelling is done via romcoms, but this is a much more serious book, with a dual timeline that centres on Lottie in the present day and Nina, back in the 1970s when Italy was going through a period of immense political upheaval. Lottie, an archivist, discovers a lost painting, and a cache of papers that tell part of Nina’s story. Lottie becomes almost obsessed with uncovering what happened to Nina, largely because she can relate to her in some way, her struggle to fit in to Roman society as an English woman, and for authenticity when there are parts of your life which cannot be revealed for a variety of reasons.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although it was a rather slow burn. The switching between Lottie’s current life in Rome and Nina’s time there in 1970s was easy to follow, and the women have two distinct voices in the book which each spoke to me with equal strength. I found the historical exploration of Italy in these tumultuous years absolutely fascinating. It is not a period of Italian history I am familiar with at all, and it made me want to go and read more about it, always a sign that a book has caught my imagination. I found the things that Nina is forced to do to carry out her work quite shocking, again not something I have ever thought much about before but intrigued me a great deal. I am sure that the author has researched the topic thoroughly and that what she describes is authentic, which makes it even more unbelievable.

Lottie latches on to Nina’s story as a way to explore her insecurities as an alien in a foreign land, especially when she is married to a man who has lived there so long that he is part of the place, and has a long history with the people and the city, part of which makes Lottie feels threatened. She also has parts of her past missing, which she hasn’t really processed, and investigating Nina’s story is a way of working through all this, and finding something in Rome that is hers, anchoring her to the place and marking herself out as an individual, instead of an appendage to her husband. I could really understand where she was coming from, her story really resonated with me and I was invested throughout in her quest.

This is a thoughtful, considered and rich novel that explores a time and place that will be alien to most of us. It takes the reader beyond the superficial tourist experience of Rome and in to the darker, seedier underbelly of the city and part of its history. It gave me a view of the place from a new perspective, as well as pulling me in to an involved mystery that was fascinating. Speckle all that with complex romantic issues, and you have me thoroughly hooked.

An engaging and rewarding read that provides something for anyone looking for a book with a little more depth to take to their sun lounger this summer.

Two Women in Rome is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Authors

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Elizabeth Buchan was a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily, international bestseller Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and The New Mrs Clifton. She reviews for the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail, and has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes. She was a judge for the Whitbread First Novel Award and for the 2014 Costa Novel Award.
Connect with Elizabeth:
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Book Review: The Queen’s Spy by Clare Marchant #BookReview

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1584: Elizabeth I rules England. But a dangerous plot is brewing in court, and Mary Queen of Scots will stop at nothing to take her cousin’s throne.

There’s only one thing standing in her way: Tom, the queen’s trusted apothecary, who makes the perfect silent spy…

2021: Travelling the globe in her campervan, Mathilde has never belonged anywhere. So when she receives news of an inheritance, she is shocked to discover she has a family in England.

Just like Mathilde, the medieval hall she inherits conceals secrets, and she quickly makes a haunting discovery. Can she unravel the truth about what happened there all those years ago? And will she finally find a place to call home?

I was provided with a copy of The Queen’s Spy by the publisher via NetGalley for the purposes of review, so my thanks to them. I have reviewed the book honestly and impartially.

I was a huge fan of Clare Marchant’s debut novel, The Secrets of Saffron Hall, so I was very keen to read her ‘difficult second novel’ which features a character from the first novel, but has moved forward slightly in time historically to the court of Queen Elizabeth I.

Well, Clare has made the ‘difficult second novel’ look as easy and breezy as the first with this book. Again we are dealing with a dual timeline, in modern day Norfolk, and sixteenth century London, following the lives of two nomadic souls. In the present day, rootless Mathilde has travelled to England to find out more about an unexpected inheritance and family she had no idea existed. However, she has no intention of staying in the ancient house with its hidden secrets any longer than she must. But the ghosts that haunt the place aren’t keen on letting her go until she has uncovered their stories.

Back in the 1500s, Tom also also travelled from France to make a new life. Both deaf and mute, he also finds it difficult to fit in and put down roots, until he finds how useful he can be to England’s powerful Queen in her war against the cousin who would usurp her throne. Tom and Mathilde’s stories run parallel in their quests for a home and a family they never knew they wanted or believed they could ever have.

What I really loved about this book, and what makes it stand out for me in the canon of dual timeline romances, is the featuring of a male protagonist as the vessel for the story in the past timeline. Clare slips as easily into the skin of sixteenth century male servant just as easily as she did the shoes of her female protagonist in the historical part of her previous novel. She has managed to capture life from his perspective – poor, foreign, physically disadvantaged – absolutely perfectly so that he feels fully authentic and really brings the period to life. The peril in which those without power lived day to day, subject to the whims of their capricious overlords and living in a court full of danger and intrigue. You can feel the fear emanating from the pages.

Equally, in the modern day, I loved the prickly character of Mathilde, thrust into an equally strange environment. Fiercely independent but secretly lonely and vulnerable, she has put up a barrier to everyone else that is going to be hard for anyone to break down. However, over the course of the novel we understand, along with the other characters, why she is as she is and how to get at the real person underneath. Despite her awkward character, you can’t help but sympathise with her, and long for her to see what she could have if she lets people in.

The author has woven the two timelines together perfectly again, the transition between past and present not at all jarring to the reader. Bothe timelines are alive with imagery – sights, sounds, scents bringing each setting fully to life. Exploring the flat, open landscape of Norfolk, and the dank, crowded streets of Elizabethan London with equal aplomb, this is a truly transportive novel. Particularly emotionally, I found, as both the plights of Mathilde and Tom moved me, especially the ending.

This is a great read for anyone fond of this historical period, fans of dual timelines, or those who just love a well-written, immersive novel exploring love and relationships and what humans really need to live fulfilling lives.

The Queen’s Spy is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Growing up in Surrey, Clare always dreamed of being a writer. Instead, she followed a career in IT, before moving to Norfolk for a quieter life and re-training as a jeweller.

Now writing full time, she lives with her husband and the youngest two of her six children. Weekends are spent exploring local castles and monastic ruins, or visiting the nearby coast.

Connect with Clare:

Facebook: Clare Marchant Author

Twitter: @ClareMarchant1

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Blog Tour: Dead Secret by Noelle Holten #BookReview

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Psycopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the paperback release of Dead Secret, Book 4 in the maggie Jamieson thriller series by Noelle Holten. It is no secret that I LOVE this series ( you can read my previous reviews here, here and here.) My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for giving me a place on the tour, and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Maggie Jamieson has become one of my favourite characters in detective fiction over recent years, so I was very keen to get back to finding out what was going on in her world. This time, one of their own is caught up in some trouble, just to ramp up the drama.

This book has two distinct storylines to follow. Firstly, Lucy has found an unidentifiable beaten woman at the gates of her as-yet-to-be-opened refuge and feels obliged to take her in. The woman is scared and reluctant to reveal her story; as a survivor herself Lucy sympathises and doesn’t pressure her, but is curious about what she has gone through. Then there is the body of the young man, killed in the woods by a blow to the head. Whilst the investigation into this is going on, it becomes apparent that Maggie’s DCI and his family are missing and may be in terrible danger. Is this enough chaos to keep you entertained?

It definitely was for me as, along with the police, I tried to follow the threads of the different investigations they were juggling. There seemed to be so many loose ends to follow and red herrings to eliminate, and the small team were pulled in all directions trying to follow the different leads, none of which made much sense to begin with. Quite how the author managed to plot all this out and keep it straight I have no idea, in my imagination the plot looks like an impossibly tangled ball of wool with just a few loose ends trailing out which, eventually and with great skill, Noelle manages to gently pull until it all unravels neatly and beautifully into a straight line. So clever.

I was honestly flummoxed through most of the book. I even had a suspicion about someone close to Maggie that has always been one of my favourite characters and now I feel quite guilty about that! Although I did guess one tiny aspect of the outcome, the big reveal I had no idea about and it came as a complete shock, which only happens in the best type of thriller.

Alongside the mystery, we delve further into Maggie’s complex love life and her own tussles with her relationship status and how she feels about it. The portrayal of Maggie as a confused and vulnerable person in her love life contrasts sharply with her confident, maverick work persona and lends her a depth that makes her a more likeable and relatable character. She is someone I become more and more fond of as the books progress, and it parts of what makes me so eager to come back to them each time a new one is released.

All in all, this is an entertaining thriller that makes for compulsive reading. If you are already a fan of the Maggie Jamieson thrillers, this new one will not disappoint. If not, what are you waiting for? Dive one now, you won’t regret it.

Dead Secret is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour and visit some other fab blogs:

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About the Author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Connect with Noelle:

Website: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk

Facebook: Noelle Holten Author

Twitter: @nholten40

Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

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Blog Tour: Under A Greek Moon by Carol Kirkwood #BookReview

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It’s my turn on the blog tour today for Under A Greek Moon by Carol Kirkwood and I want to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Hollywood actress Shauna Jackson left the Greek island of Ithos twenty years ago and thought she would never return. Reeling from a scandal that has tarnished her success, she is drawn back to the beautiful olive groves and endless azure skies – and to the secrets she has tried hard to forget.

Looking down from his hilltop villa, enigmatic tycoon Demetrios Theodosis knows he can’t change the past, and looks to the future through his tempestuous daughter Ariana, but in trying to tame her free spirit, is he driving her further away?

Set against bleached white houses bounded by a sapphire sea, a yearning for the truth will compel them both to confront their shared past, and take them back to a distant summer that seemed to hold so much promise …

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The blurb makes it sound like a standard summer romance set on foreign shores. However, it starts out with a young girl being drawn into a glamorous world of money, fast cars and yachts where she is out of her depth and at the mercy of a playboy tycoon, so it initially read more like the start of a bonkbuster from the 1980s. In fact, the author even pays homage to Jackie Collins and Colleen McCullough early in the novel. Whichever of these genres the book was going to fall into was not going to be a problem for me, I love them both.

The story jumps around in time a little, between Shauna’s youth and the present day, so you need to pay attention to what is going on to keep up, but then the story is entertaining. Shauna is one of the luckiest people in the world, I have to say, with all the breaks she gets in her life. I wish just one of these things had ever happened to me, so be prepared to suspend your belief just a little. If you can do this, you will find a fun and intriguing story that will whisk you from Ireland to Monaco to Greece to LA, and from the student halls of Manchester to the Grimaldi palace. If you are looking for some pure escapism in you summer reading, this book will hit the spot.

Shauna is a sympathetic character to carry the story, and the author does a great job of getting the reader on side early in the book (despite her great dose of the luck of the Irish following her about). Demetrios is also a great character to play off against her. He is suitably ambiguous to begin with for the reader to wonder about his motives and worry about Shauna, but redeemable as we see things from his perspective as the book progresses. Carol also gives us some great minor characters to flesh out the story, Roxy and Nikos being my particular favourites.

I did enjoy this book, reading it over the course of only 24 hours. I loved the globe-trotting aspect particularly, and the glimpse into some of the sparkling worlds of monied Europe and Hollywood. However, I did feel that this book hadn’t quite decided what it wanted to be. Packaged as romance, but with bonkbuster undertones, I wish it had planted itself firmly in one camp or the other.

Under a Greek Moon is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats and will be published in paperback in November. You can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour for this book and see the opinions of some other great bloggers:

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About the Author

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 Carol Kirkwood is one of the BBC’s most loved TV presenters, best known for presenting the weather. She lights up viewers’ homes every day, appearing on programmes such as BBC Breakfast, Strictly Come Dancing, Wimbledon Tennis Fortnight, and Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

She is hugely popular with fans and Carol frequently trends on Twitter. Beyond the television screen, she can often be found ensconced in a book, singing, dancing, and driving fast cars.

Connect with Carol:

Twitter: @carolkirkwood

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Publication Day Post: The Missing Pieces of Us by Eva Glyn #BookReview

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There are three versions of the past – hers, his, and the truth.

When Robin Vail walks back into widow Isobel O’Briain’s life decades after he abruptly left it, the dark days since her husband’s unexpected passing finally know light. Robin has fallen on hard times but Izzie and her teenage daughter Claire quickly remind him what it’s like to have family…and hope.

But Robin and Izzie are no longer those twenty-something lovers, and as they grow closer once more the missing pieces of their past weigh heavy. Now, to stop history repeating, Izzie and Robin must face facts and right wrongs…no matter how painful.

Today is publication day for The Missing Pieces of Us by Eva Glyn, so huge congratulations to Eva today. I previously reviewed this book when it was in a slightly different version, so I am reposting my review here today to celebrate publication of this book by One More Chapter.

(Please note, the review is of the original version of the book, I have not read the revised version, although I have been advised that the book remains substantially the same.)

I really did not know what to expect from this book, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be fantasy or magical realism, either of which I would have enjoyed, but it is neither. It is a surprising, powerful and emotional story of relationships, family, grief, loss and the way our minds react to trauma. I found the novel profoundly moving and was hooked from start to finish.

The author draws a trio of very strong and likeable characters in the novel, in Izzie and Robin, who tell the story in a dual narrative, and Izzie’s daughter, Claire, who is both an anchor and a catalyst in the tale. The story moves easily between Izzie and Robin’s recollection of events, and between current and historic happenings – it is incredibly well constructed. I thought the premise was fascinating and deftly explored, how reliable are our memories of events and how much does our psyche alter them to protect us from ordeals that we are not emotionally equipped to survive.

The Faerie Tree of the former title of this book is symbolic, and represents people’s hopes and dreams, a place where the protagonists come to reveal their innermost wishes, offload their concerns and voice their fears in the hope someone can hear them and help them process these desires. It then represents a place of blame and haunting, when those hopes and dreams are dashed and there is no one else to inculpate. It draws the focus of the family’s pain and becomes a way of them reaching out to it, and then each other, to share and understand and come together. I thought it was a really beautiful idea that was carried off without any mawkishness or sentimentality. The author explores the ideas of our connections to nature and spirituality through gratitude to the earth and its bounty, how this is important to some but misunderstood and ridiculed by others but, in the end, it is something that is likely to be fundamental to the survival of our species and our planet. Jane does this very cleverly and subtly, without any hint of preachiness, but I felt it through the narrative and it really resonated in present times.

The core of this story though, is love and relationships, how difficult they can be when people can’t make themselves understood by one another, or really understand themselves. In the end, success really comes down to openness, open-mindedness, trust and commitment. It feels to me a very true and very resonating story, and it left me warmed and thoughtful. It also contained some gorgeous pieces of description.

I really loved this book and I hope it finds its way to a large audience because it is a thoughtful, insightful and rewarding piece of work.

The book is out now as an ebook, and will be published in paperback in October, and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Eva Glyn writes emotional women’s fiction inspired by beautiful places and the stories they hide. She loves to travel, but finds inspiration can strike just as well at home or abroad.

She cut her teeth on just about every kind of writing (radio journalism, advertising copy, PR, and even freelance cricket reporting) before finally completing a full length novel in her forties. Four lengthy and completely unpublishable tomes later she found herself sitting on an enormous polystyrene book under the TV lights of the Alan Titchmarsh Show as a finalist in the People’s Novelist competition sponsored by Harper Collins. Although losing out to a far better writer, the positive feedback from the judges gave her the confidence to pursue her dreams.

Eva lives in Cornwall, although she considers herself Welsh, and has been lucky enough to have been married to the love of her life for twenty-five years. She also writes as Jane Cable.

Connect with Eva/Jane:

Website: http://janecable.com

Facebook: Jane Cable

Twitter: @JaneCable

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