Dreaming of Verona by T. A. Williams #BookReview #PublicationDay (@TAWilliamsBooks) @canelo_co @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #DreamingOfVerona

Dreaming of Verona

Happy Publication Day to T. A. Williams for Dreaming of Verona. I’m delighted to have a review of this book today for the publication day push. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation 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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Verona is the City of Love. But will Suzie find romance there or, like Romeo and Juliet, will it all end in tears?

When Suzie is hired to accompany spoiled, abrasive Lady Alexandra Tedburn on an all-expenses paid holiday to Italy, she fears the trip will be a disaster.

But she soon discovers there’s more to Alex than shopping and tantrums, and she’s determined to help her realise her potential – against Alex’s authoritarian father’s wishes.

As they settle in Verona, Suzie can’t stop thinking about local artist Michael, who is still mourning the tragic death of his wife. With Suzie’s future uncertain, and Michael’s past holding him back, it seems there’s no hope for romance in the city of
star-crossed lovers… or is there?

This is my first book by T. A. Williams, although I have a couple of others waiting patiently on my TBR. I was fairly confident I was going to enjoy the book, set as it is in probably my favourite city in my favourite European country, and I have to say I was not disappointed.

This is a really entertaining and charming read about blossoming relationships, both romantic and friendly, set against the beautiful and romantic city of Verona. I absolutely loved the attention to detail in bringing the location to life and making it actually an additional character in the story, and it is obviously a place the author has visited and is passionate about. It is always a real joy for me when a novel really manages to take you to another location and make you feel like you have actually been there.

I immediately warmed to the characters in the book and, although the plot was perhaps a little far-fetched, I was happy to go along with it because it was so beautifully written and such a fun story. The author kept me guessing until the end how things were going to go, which is quite tricky to do in a romance of this type, I genuinely was not 100% sure who Suzie was going to end up with, which made for some real tension in the story. I particularly loved the professor and his Shakesperian-monikered dog, as Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite play, and he was such a sweet character.

One small niggle was the number of times the author referred to Suzie blushing, but I’m nit-picking here. A few too many red cheeks aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was everything that I look for in a book of this genre, with an added maturity of writing that gave it an extra level of depth. I would highly recommend it for fans of Italian-set romances, and I will be ushering the author’s books closer to the top of my TBR, especially when I am looking for a holiday read. It has made me long to take another trip to Verona with my own Romeo in the near future.

Dreaming of Verona is out today and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

TA Williams

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing romantic comedy is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations and, as a writer, I obviously have to go there in person and check them out first. I love my job… 

Connect with T. A. Williams:

Website: https://tawilliamsbooks.com

Facebook: Trevor Williams Books

Twitter: @tawilliamsbooks

The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan #BookReview #BlogTour (@ClaireAllan) @AvonBooksUK @SanjanaCunniah @NetGalley #NetGalley #TheLiarsDaughter

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No one deserves to be taken before their time. Do they?

Joe McKee – pillar of the Derry community – is dead. As arrangements are made for the traditional Irish wake, friends and family are left reeling at how cancer could have taken this much-loved man so soon.

But grief is the last thing that Joe’s daughter Ciara and step-daughter Heidi feel. For they knew the real Joe – the man who was supposed to protect them and did anything but.

As the mourners gather, the police do too, with doubt being cast over whether Joe’s death was due to natural causes. Because the lies that Joe told won’t be taken to the grave after all – and the truth gives his daughters the best possible motive for killing him…

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Liar’s Daughter by Claire Allan. My thanks to Sanjana Cunniah of Avon Books for inviting me on to the tour and for my digital copy of the book, received via Netgalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I read this book in a single day. I absolutely could not tear myself away from it, so caught up was I in the intricacies of the relationships going on between the pages. I hadn’t expected this, as the subject matter of the book isn’t the easiest of topics to read about, but the author deals with it very sensitively and the plot itself was full of tension.

I have to say, the vast majority of the characters in this book are unsympathetic to say the least, save the main protagonist Heidi, who had me on side from the start, and her husband, Alex, who seemed to be the only genuinely sane and undamaged soul in the whole book. However, this antipathy towards almost everyone else paid off throughout the course of the novel as the mystery surrounding Joe’s death unfolds and we, the readers, leap from one character to the next in our pursuit of suspects.

The author does a magnificent job of unfurling the information piece by relevant piece to keep our perspective on the story changing from chapter to chapter and tweezing out the  stress unbearably to the end of the book. Just when we think we know what is happening, there is another subtle twist in perspective and we have to rethink what is going on.

This book made for an uncomfortable but gripping read, dealing as it does with the worst in human nature and the lasting damage that does to everyone who comes into contact with it. The author is skilled at straining every nerve of the reader through the structure of the book and the prose and I defy anyone to be able to put this book down for long before needing to go back to it and end the tension. One for people who likes their thrillers with some bite.

The Liar’s Daughter is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check of the rest of the fabulous bloggers taking part in the tour for some alternative reviews:

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About the Author

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Claire Allan is a Northern Irish author who lives in Derry~Londonderry.
She worked as a staff reporter for the Derry Journal for 17 years, covering a wide array of stories from court sessions, to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, health and education and human interest features.

She wrote her first novel in 2006, to mark her 30th birthday and it (Rainy Days and Tuesdays) was subsequently published and became an instant bestseller in 2007.
Claire wrote seven further women’s fiction novels between 2007 and 2015. In 2016 (when she turned 40) she decided to change genre and try her had at domestic noir. Her first domestic noir novel, Her Name Was Rose was published by Avon/ HarperCollins in 2018 and became a bestseller in the UK, Canada, Australia and was a USA Today bestseller.
It was subsequently nominated in the Dead Good Reader Awards in 2019.
Claire has followed up on the success of Her Name Was Rose with Apple of My Eye and Forget Me Not.

Her next novel, The Liar’s Daughter, will be published in 2020.

She is working on a fifth psychological thriller at present.

Claire still lives in Derry with her husband, two children, two cats and a very spoiled puppy.

Connect with Claire:

Website: http://www.claireallan.com

Facebook: Claire Allan Author

Twitter: @ClaireAllan

Instagram: @claireallan_author

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by S. M. Stevens #BookReview #BlogTour (@SMStevens17) #HAHG #AlmostCounts

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Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Horseshoes and Hand Grenades by S.M. Stevens. My thanks to the author for asking me to take part in the tour and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Fragile but practical Shelby Stewart and ambitious, confident Astrid Ericcson just want to start their PR careers in 1980s Boston and maybe find a nice guy to hang out with. But long-buried memories of incest at the hands of her local hero stepfather keep interrupting Shelby’s plans, affecting her health one way after another. And when will she actually date someone her friends think is good enough for her?

Astrid thinks she wrote the book on How to Get Ahead by Flirting but is forced to re-visit her career advancement strategy when her boss Brad takes the innuendos to a whole new, scary level, threatening her job and her safety.

Suddenly, instead of taking charge of their lives, both women find themselves spinning out of control.

In this fast-paced story for the #metoo generation, the women reach new highs and lows in life, work and romance, while struggling to make sense of the abusive relationships that haunt them.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, to be honest. I tend to approach books that purport to have a message with a certain amount of trepidation, as they can often be a little preachy and earnest, which is not something I particularly enjoy in my fiction. However, I have to say that this book really took me by surprise, being thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time, and reaching the perfect balance of both.

This book follows the lives of two young women, Shelby and Astrid, who find themselves in the same circles as they both start work in a PR firm in Boston. Very different women, they don’t get on to begin with, but they are both struggling with private demons and eventually find they have more in common than they believed at first. I am sure most readers will be able to identify with one or other of the main characters – I am more of an Astrid than a Shelby for sure – or at least find some common ground with them, which makes them very sympathetic vessels for the story. I found them both very well drawn and honest portraits of young women. As someone who would be only a few years younger than them, starting my working life in the early 90’s, their stories and behaviour definitely struck chords with me and my experiences.

And this is the crux of the book. Astrid’s story, in particular, rung some uncomfortable bells and made me think back to things that happened to me as a young, professional but inexperienced woman starting work in a legal firm, in a very male-dominated specialism. Whilst not having to deal with things going as far as they do for Astrid, I certainly had some encounters that made me uncomfortable at the time and, looking back, amounted to sexual harassment and an abuse of power by men in senior positions. And I can understand why I, at the time, and Astrid in the book struggled to know how to deal with them. The fact that these experiences will be commonplace for most women reading this book makes me immensely sad and furious at the same time, and I hope that the world has moved on and things have improved for when my, currently teen, daughters hit the work place.

And it isn’t just in the workplace that the women struggle with self-image, self-worth and drawing boundaries, it happens in the home and in social settings too. And one thing that did strike me about the book is that it is not condemnatory of men in general, only those with predatory intent. It also does a good job of highlighting how women can be messed up and make poor decisions based on past experiences and their upbringing, plus societal expectations of the female gender. There are also instances of women objectifying men in a way that we probably need to examine, as well as pointing the finger at the opposite sex for their bad behaviour. All in all, it does a good job in provoking internal questioning on gender politics in general, and for that reason can make for uncomfortable reading at times.

If this does all sound like it is veering to the issue-heavy read I baulked at in the opening paragraph though, I’m giving you the wrong impression. All of these issues are presented by way of an entertaining and pacy story of three young women navigating their way through the early years of adulthood and freedom and learning some difficult truths and important life lessons along the way. There was not a part of this book that was dry or heavy or lecturing and I fairly raced through it. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it infinitely more than I anticipated and I owe the author an apology for every doubting that it would be different.

This is a book for anyone who is interested in examining gender politics at the same time as enjoying an entertaining story of female friendship and empowerment.

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour for alternative reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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S.M. Stevens began writing fiction during back-to-back health crises. First, she broke her pelvis in three places in a horseback riding fall, and used the recuperation period to write Shannon’s Odyssey, a middle-grade novel for animal-lovers. Soon after, Stevens was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. During her five months of treatment and subsequent recovery spell, she wrote Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers for musical theatre-loving teens. Two additional Bit Players novels followed. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is her first adult book. After watching reactions to the #MeToo movement, she decided it was time for a novel that takes people into the minds of victims so they can understand why many women don’t speak up about their harassment or assault, and why some do. When not writing, she provides marketing and public relations services to solar energy companies. She is from Gorham, Maine, and now lives in Clinton, Mass., and Washington, N.H. She has also lived in Italy and in the U.K., where she was Group Public Affairs Director for National Grid.

Connect with S. M. Stevens:

Website: https://authorsmstevens.com

Facebook: Author S M Stevens

Twitter: @SMStevens17

Instagram: @s.m.stevens

Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson #BookReview #BlogTour (@davewatsonbooks) @WildWolfPublish @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TalesOfWhatTheF*ck

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I’m happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Tales of What The F*ck by D. A. Watson. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for the blog tour invitation and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawn shop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the Fuck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.

Well, I stepped well outside my comfort zone with this book, but that is always one of the pleasures of book blogging, reading things you would not normally pick up. This is definitely a book that would not usually find its way in to my reading schedule, and I’m still not 100% sure what I just read, but it certainly shook me out of any reading complacency I may have found myself in!

This book is extremely hard to categorise, such a random mix of flash fiction, poetry and short stories across a very diverse bunch of genres, with not much to link them except the perverse mind that wrote them all. And I think that the mind which came up with all of these may be something we don’t want to dwell on too much, because a lot of the stories are very dark and twisted!

Any one of a squeamish disposition should steer well clear, along with anyone offended by swearing. However, readers of a more robust and curious nature may wish to dip a toe in and explore this unique compendium of dark tales. If you do, you will encounter the unexpected at every turn, come face to face with criminals, psychopaths, aliens and much, much more around every corner, and wonder how you ended up where you find yourself.

The big draw for this book is that parts of it are very funny, if your sense of humour takes a turn towards the black side, and there are a lot of wry observations on the vagaries of modern life and relationships. This book will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly different, and the author is obviously talented, lending a hand to a lot of different styles. One for those times when you fancy stretching the boundaries of your experience and opening your mind a little.

Tales of What The F*ck is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here.

Make sure you follow the rest of the tour for the reactions of other bloggers to this book.

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About the Author

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D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Pubishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland, and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

Connect with Dave:

Facebook: Dave Watson Books

Twitter: @davewatsonbooks

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton #BookReview #BlogTour (@missyadabright @CassGrafton) @canelo_co @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #TheParticularCharmofMissJaneAusten

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Delighted to be a late addition to the blog tour for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen today. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey for asking me to step in and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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When a time travelling Jane Austen gets stuck in modern-day Bath it’s up to avid Janeite Rose Wallace to save her… because she’s the only one who knows that Jane exists!

Rose Wallace’s world revolves around all things Austen, and with the annual festival in Bath – and the arrival of dishy archaeologist, Dr Aiden Trevellyan – just around the corner, all is well with the world…

But then a mysterious woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to the great author moves in upstairs, and things take a disastrous turn. Rose’s new neighbour is Jane Austen, whose time travel adventure has been sabotaged by a mischievous dog, trapping her in the twenty-first century.

Rose’s life is instantly changed – new home, new job, new friends – but she’s the only one who seems to have noticed! To right the world around her, she will have to do whatever it takes to help Jane get back home to write Rose’s beloved novels. Because a world without Mr Darcy? It’s not worth living in!

I was intrigued by the premise behind this book as soon as I read the blurb and, being a huge Jane Austen fan, could not resist picking it up and seeing where it would take me. To some bizarre places is the answer, but it was a lot of fun to go along with the ride.

We follow the adventures of Jane Austen devotee, Rose, as she prepares for the visit of her online friend, whom she has never met in person before, and the annual Jane Austen festival in Bath. She is also trying to suppress her feelings for a hunky archaeologist who happens to be one of her clients. Then a mysterious neighbour moves in upstairs and this is when her life takes a weird turn.

This book took a little while to get going, to be honest. There was quite a lot of time spent setting up Rose’s current life in Bath and giving hints about the real identity of her new neighbour, before all is revealed and the action really starts. I could have done with it getting moving a bit quicker but, that being said, it is easy reading and I did very quickly fall in love with Rose, her friends and her life in Bath. This is very important when we come to the part where everything is threatened by some strange twists of fate.

Quite what mind-altering substances led to the plot of this book being conjured up are something you will have take up with the authors, I hadn’t realised that excessive consumption of Mansfield Park could have this effect, but it certainly is out of left field. However, if you can just go with it and suspend your disbelief for the duration of the book, you will have a lot of fun with Rose and Jane on their adventures.

I thought the authors did a great job capturing the spirit of Jane, and the charm and appeal of Bath. Also, despite the fact this is a light and breezy read, I did feel a great deal of tension when Rose’s life is changed and the future looks like a world without the novels of Jane Austen in it. There was definitely a sense of peril there which was a little unexpected after the first half of the book and the stress had me turning the pages looking for my happy ending!

I particularly love the fact that the authors obviously share my appreciation of Persuasion as Jane Austen’s finest book and the letter written by Captain Wentworth as the most romantic letter ever written in English literature and something all men should be using as a template if they really want to capture a woman’s heart. Imagine a world without that letter in it? Inconceivable! (I know, that’s from The Princess Bride, I’m on a roll with my favourite romances here, just go with it.)

Despite a slowish start, this book is a sweet, charming, pleasurable, if slightly off-the-wall, read that I highly recommend and I really look forward to reading the second book in the series. If I could ask just one thing, I would wish that the paperback had the same cover as the digital version as I really LOVE it and would adore to have a copy to grace my shelves.

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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

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About the Authors

Ada

Ada has lived all her life in Southern California, which makes her intolerant to any weather above or below 72 degrees Fahrenheit. She grew up much more fond of reading than sports or socializing and still tends to ignore everyone she loves, all her responsibilities and basic life needs when she’s in the middle of a book.

She is luckily married to a handsome and funny man who doesn’t mind that the laundry never gets put away and she has three amazing children. Ada spent over a decade as a photographer before dedicating herself to writing, though she still believes that life should be documented well and often.

There is nothing she loves more than a good, subtle love story whether it be in real life, tv, movie, theatre or book form… well, except cake. She also really loves cake.

Connect with Ada:

Facebook: Ada Bright

Twitter: @missyadabright

Instagram: @adacakes

Cass Grafton

A proud bookworm since childhood, Cass writes the sort of stories she loves to read – heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.

She has an over-active imagination, is prone to crying with happiness as much as she is at sadness, but when it comes to her writing she leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.

Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine, and enjoys them in any combination. She currently splits her time between Switzerland, where she lives with her husband, and England, where she lives with her characters.

Connect with Cass:

Facebook: Cassie Grafton

Twitter: @CassGrafton

Instagram: @cassgraftonauthor

Cass & Ada have a joint website, which you can find at https://tabbycow.com.

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue by Samantha Henthorn #Spotlight #BlogTour (@SamanthaHfinds) @annecater #RandomThingsTours #CurmudgeonAvenue

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The house on Curmudgeon Avenue should be happy now, the nincompoop residents have all met their sorry ends. But they haven’t quite left… now that a new family move in can the house find peace? Or are the ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue going to interfere with the goings-on, romance and dramas that new residents bring?

Gordon and Zandra Bennett – along with their lovelorn daughter Krystina move all the way from London to Curmudgeon Avenue. Zandra has her heart set on renovating the four-storey Victorian terrace and hires Harry to rip out the old and bring in the new. Wonder how that will go down with the grumpy, yet proud house? Not to mention Harold, Edna and Edith who are trapped in their previous home with no choice but to haunt Krystina, moan about the new layout and get up to mischief.

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue by Samantha Henthorn. Many thanks to Anne Cater for my place on the tour.

I’m shining the spotlight today on a fun and witty book which is the fourth in a series set in the same house, this time with added ghosts!

The Curmudgeon Avenue books are a series in which the house in which they are set is the narrator of the books, a unique twist on the narrative style which allows us to see all the goings on from an omniscient viewpoint. And what goings on they are! In this book, the former residents of the house have all been killed off in a series of freak accidents, but have returned to haunt the house and cause havoc for the new residents.

Reviewers have described this series, and the new book in particular, as amusing and highly entertaining, and the writer’s style as quirky, frenetic and endearing. If this sounds like something that is up your street (please excuse the pun!), then why not grab a copy of this book or, better yet start at the beginning of the series.

The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue is out now and you can buy a copy here, along with the preceding books in the Curmudgeon Avenue series.

Make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour for reviews and other content:

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About the Author

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Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970-something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’

She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books.

Connect with Samantha:

Website: https://samanthahenthornfindstherightwords.blog

Facebook: Samantha Henthorn Author

Twitter: @SamanthaHfinds

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Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont #Extract #BlogTour (@lucindalamont7) @NextChapterPB @damppebbles #Cupidity #NextChapterPub #damppebblesblogtours

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Britain, World War Two. After newly widowed Martha is invited to live with her wealthy confidante, Mae, she finds herself attracted to her husband.

Meanwhile, an escaped convict is targeting women close to Martha’s new home. After several women are murdered, they realize the danger is closer than they could have ever thought.

As Martha’s passion threatens to unravel her friendships, paths cross with devastating consequences.

I am delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for Cupidity by Lucinda Lamont. My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part.

I am thrilled to be able to bring you an extract from the book today to whet your appetite. Here we go:

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“‘Come on, Willy, do your coat up. This is going to be the start of a new adventure for us. You’ll get to live with Charlie. I wish I could have lived with a friend when I was your age.’

Martha pulled his zip up as far as his big woolly scarf would allow and pulled his little hat over his ears to make sure as much of his young, delicate skin was covered as could be. She stood up and looked around her. Taking it all in one last time. One last breath in this house. One last smell. The last time she would smell the scent that they had created as a family. The faint scent of John’s boot polish. A whiff of Willy’s talcum powder, and whilst everyone else might not smell it, the sweat and tears of Martha with a slight pang of her royal jelly moisturiser. She could hardly bear to leave this house. Once she shuts the front door for the last time, she shuts out the life she had with John. She shuts out the memories. The plans. Willy’s first few years. The happy times. The struggles.

 Martha had accepted Johnny’s death. She had no other choice. All she had now were the memories.

Every day he was serving in the army she would worry. So many people had lost their lives. So much heartbreak and families torn apart, but he would always come back. Most times with no warning. He would bound in through the front door, dump his bags on the floor, and call out to his family. Firstly, he would pick up Willy in his arms and give him a tight squeeze and plant a big kiss on his little rosy cheek. Willy’s eyes would light up, and he would giggle with pure delight. His little laugh would fill the room with happiness, changing the normally nervous atmosphere instantly. Then Johnny would put Willy down next to his toys and look up at Martha who was watching them. Martha looked beautiful as always. She would be wearing her apron most of the times he came back, with her immaculate victory rolls set in her deep brown, bouncy hair. She had winter-like clear blue eyes and always had her signature slick of red lipstick on.

No matter what the occasion, she always looked glamorous and beautiful, and what made her most beautiful was that she had no idea quite how captivating she was. Johnny would forever be in awe. Everything that had happened, everything he had seen, all the trauma he had experienced, it would disappear when he saw her. She was his everything. She was what drove him when he felt weak. When he was scared, he would be brave for her and his son too. He would do everything in his power for those two. The apples of his eye, and boy, was it good to be home. He would take a step closer to Martha, and she would look at him.

Her stomach flipped every time she saw him. Twelve years together and he still made her weak at the knees; but every time he left, she felt sick to the stomach and would stay that way until he got back. She would finish drying her hands with the tea towel, a household item which had almost become like a comforter for her.

Like clockwork, the emotion would rise in her. She would try to fight it back; but the more she did, the stronger it would get. Her big blue eyes would start to fill quickly with salty tears, and then the first big tear would leak from her perfectly lined, doe-like eye and roll down her cheek; and then another and then another until she was crying uncontrollably. She would fling her arms around him and sob. He would pull her in, one arm around the top of her back and shoulders and the other at the bottom of her back, and gently rub his hand up and down her slight frame, soothe her and tell her it was ok. He was back now.

She hated doing this, and every time promised herself she wouldn’t the next time, but she knew that was a promise she couldn’t keep. She didn’t want him thinking she couldn’t cope, she didn’t want to make his job any harder for him than it was, but the relief to have him home every time was a feeling that would never grow old.

Those memories, for Martha, were to be just that. On April 22nd, 1943 life changed. It was one of those life events whereby people say you will never forget it, but it hadn’t been that way for her, she was already beginning to forget. It was one big blur, and that blur lasted for months.

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About the Author

Lucinda Lamont

Lucinda is 31 years old in lives in Hampshire. Born in Aberdeenshire, she spent the early years of her life in a small fishing town before relocating with her mother to the South Coast.

She is the middle child and only girl with four brothers.

Lucinda began her higher education in studying Performing Arts and then began a degree in Law (but dropped out). She is a qualified hairdresser but the arts always drew her back in and she took up an interest in writing which she now plans to continue to make a career out of.

Mother of one, a baby boy, she works part time for a Business publication and spends her spare time soaking up the Hampshire countryside and plotting her next stories.

Connect with Lucinda:

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Twitter: @lucindalamont7

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