Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Author Spotlight: Robin Hawdon.

Number Ten: Dramatic Thriller By One Of The UK's Most Prolific Playwrights, Robin Hawdon.

Buy Link- Amazon

I'm delighted to welcome Robin Hawdon to the page today to talk about his five star reviewed 'No. Ten.'

Author Post by Robin Hawdon

My long writing career has been extremely eclectic – perhaps too eclectic. I have written novels in varied genres, plays in all genres, film scripts, poetry, news articles – you name it, I’ve dabbled with it (see my website). I love intelligent thrillers, both in book and cinematic form, so this time I decided to try my hand at this market and write a fast action thriller. And as I’m very interested in politics (we are casting a new play about Churchill and Chamberlain at the moment) I decided to put the UK government at the centre of the story. I’m also a fan of the Jason Bourne stories, so the idea of having a junior innocent member of Number Ten Downing Street’s staff falsely implicated in a plot to bring down the government appealed to me.
What has thrilled me since the recent launch is the quality of the Amazon reviews so far. This extract from ditinguished reviewer Linda Hill sums up perfectly the sort of review I had hoped for, and it also gives a better description of what the book is about than I could have done! How could one top this:-

“Wow!  Number Ten begins in explosive fashion and maintains a high-octane, fast pace until the very last word. Reading Number Ten felt akin to riding a rather breathtaking fairground ride and I hardly had time to catch my breath. Although this is fiction, so many similar events to those in the plot have happened recently here in the UK and abroad in countries like Sri Lanka, after Number Ten‘s publication, that any suspension of disbelief that might have been needed simply evaporated. The action in Number Ten felt real, vivid and only too scarily possible.
It is obvious that Robin Hawdon writes with a director’s eye. He understands exactly what information is needed to hook the reader, to create setting and to drive the action, making reading the book an almost cinematic experience. Number Ten would translate into the most fabulous television series because the pace is perfect and there are surprises that shock in a scenario that is utterly believable. On occasion, the reader only receives information at the same time as the characters so that it feels as if you’re part of the action too. Indeed, I found the quality of the writing completely engaging. The present tense used for Rafik creates an immediacy and ongoing threat, and those passages involving the hero Paul are slick, sophisticated and superbly crafted. I think the natural quality of the direct speech adds to the sensation that Number Ten is something special.
Themes of corruption, love, loyalty, betrayal, threat, politics in many forms, idealism, policing – I could go on – weave their way through this exciting story so naturally, making this book all the more captivating.
I so enjoyed Number Ten. If I say that I had to give up trying to sleep at three in the morning because I only had 40 pages or so left to read and I kept wondering what was happening in my absence, you’ll know how powerful a hold the narrative had on me. It is a glorious thriller that kept me enthralled throughout. I really recommend it.”

             Thank you for visiting today.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Dashing Widow (The Regency Romps Series #1) by Elizabeth Bramwell Narrated by Julia Eve (2019)

#Regency #Romance #GeorgetteHeyer


Abigail Merriweather is learning the hard way that the Ton does not look kindly on newcomers to its ranks - especially when that newcomer is a dashing young widow whose wealth comes from the trades. Were it not for the gentle guidance of her best friend, Abby doubts she would have survived the Beau Monde's disapproval for even a week - and especially not the critical gaze of the Earl of Gloucester. The man is insufferable, arrogant, and everything that Abby hates about the Ton - except those rare moments when he laughs, and Abby's heart starts to beat in a most uncomfortable rhythm.
George, Earl of Gloucester, is horrified at the scrapes his sister's best friend keeps falling into. True not all of them are her fault, but that doesn't change the fact that her actions reflect poorly on his family. Since Mrs Merriweather doesn't have any intentions of leaving London before the Season's end, there's nothing for it but for George to step in and help her navigate the treacherous waters of the Ton. She's impulsive, tempestuous, headstrong, and willful; in short, everything that he claims to dislike in a woman...except after spending time with Abigail Merriweather, he's starting to wonder whether her faults are what make her so endearing.
Abby and George may be developing a strange sort of friendship, but they come from different worlds that are not entirely compatible. The real question is whether they can get past their own prejudices - and the interference of their friends and family - to find out whether an arrogant Earl and a dashing young widow can fall in love without creating a scandal.

I enjoyed listening to this book. Abigail and George are a cute couple. Their bickering at the beginning is fun to watch as it is obvious that they are attracted to each other. I couldn't wait to see them get together. They had many sweet moments and one of my favourites was the dancing lesson.
The style of this book reminded of stories written by Georgette Heyer. They make you laugh and leave you with a warm feeling at the end.
This was a great start to the series and I look forward to more.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Earl's Runaway Governess by Catherine Tinley (2019)

Who knew living with an Earl…
…would lead to such temptation?
Marianne Grant’s new identity as a governess is meant to keep her safe. But then she meets her new employer, Ash, Earl of Kingswood, and she immediately knows his handsome good looks are a danger of their own! Brusque on first meeting, Ash quickly shows his compassionate side. Yet Marianne doesn’t dare reveal the truth! Unless Ash really could be the safe haven she’s been looking for…

I love the governess trope in Regency romance especially when it is well written and charming. Catherine Tinley manages to put her own stamp on this well worn theme to create a likeable couple and a feel good romance that I couldn't put down. Everything about the story was well developed; the side characters, Marianne's background, Ash's background, their budding romance and intrigue and menace that followed Marianne. I really enjoyed her friendships with the people she worked with and loved how they stood up for her and disapproved of Ash when things went awry.
Marianne's stepbrother, Henry, was a nasty piece of work and I was glad that the author didn't shy away from showing how much of a brute he actually was.  It made Marianne's submission believable and added a more urgent sense of danger to the predicament she found herself in.
The conclusion of the story was particularly heartwarming and I couldn't wait to see Ash deal with Henry and confess his feelings to Marianne.
This was a lovely read and I look forward to reading many more books by the author.

Available to buy now at Kennys  Amazon  The Book Depository 

Monday, 15 July 2019

Death Comes to Bath ((A Kurland St. Mary Mystery Book 6) by Catherine LLoyd (2018)


Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw (2019)

The Space Between Time

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth...

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She's the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She's also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is a dark comedy about love and loss.  It’s also about memory and how a childhood remembered can years later falsely distort what we feel about those closest to us.

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world.  She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation.  Tom Cruise is almost an adopted uncle.

She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist whose theories on the universe have been much ridiculed.

The story centres on Emma’s childhood in Edinburgh and East Lothian, and the overpowering event of her mother’s death, apparently in a freak lighting strike.  

However, the secret that only Emma knows is that her mother’s death was no accident.  It precipitates a suicide attempt, and estrangement from her father.

Emma stumbles through university and finds work as a journalist in Edinburgh, although she is once more becoming mentally unstable and, following the death of her father, again tries to commit suicide.

It’s while she’s in a mental institution that her psychiatrist suggests she writes a memoir of her life, to help her make sense of everything that’s happened to her, and The Space Between Time is the story she writes.

The tragic-comic story, aimed at both male and female readers, has heart, humour and warmth.  Its central message is that, even at the worst of times, a second chance can often be just around the corner.

In coming to terms with her life and the deaths of her parents, Emma finds ultimate solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe – which offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.


A difficult book to put down!
The story is deeply moving and poignant but I was struck by how much humour was laced throughout. Right from the opening chapter there were plenty of funny lines and observations. It was so well written that I knew straight away I was going to enjoy the book. I was right!
I felt that there was a perfect balance between the humour and the more serious elements of the story.
This was a very enjoyable read and a welcome change to my usual reading choices.

Available to buy now Amazon

Sunday, 9 June 2019

An Officer's Vow (Gentlemen Book 2) by Penny Hampson (2019)

The future looks bleak to Major Nate Crawford. Depressed after being sent home from the Peninsular Campaign as unfit for service, he contemplates ending it all. Then an unexpected opportunity for adventure beckons in the shape of a delightfully intriguing runaway heiress. He will prove his worth as an officer and a gentleman by offering his help. He has a plan…Lottie Benham is desperate. Her life is in danger and she needs a place of safety until her next birthday. The unexpected proposal from this attractive, but intimidating officer could be the answer to her prayers. Not normally a risk-taker, she decides to gamble all by placing her trust in this charismatic gentleman, who she suspects might be more in need of help than she.But the best laid plans… Caught up in conflict, danger, and deception, will Lottie and Nate survive to find the perfect solution to their problems? An Officer’s Vow is the second in Penny Hampson’s Regency-set Gentlemen series, following the exploits and misadventures of a loosely linked group of friends. Penny Hampson Writes History, Mystery, and… a touch of Romance.

Adventure and intrigue in Regency England. The action starts in the opening scenes where Nate and Lottie collide on the road and it's a fast paced tale from there on out.
Lottie and Nate made a sweet couple but I found them infuriating in the way they constantly misinterpreted each other's feelings. It seemed to take a long time for them to straighten things out in the end.  
Lottie was a great character. She was strong and brave. I was glad that she wasn't a complete damsel in distress. 
This is book 2 in the series and can be read as a standalone. The Duke of Wheatley and Francis intrigued me. I look forward to reading more about them and their adventures.

Buy Link Amazon

Connect with Penny Hampson on Twitter 

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Death and the Harlot: A Lizzie Hardwicke Novel, by Georgina Clarke (2019)

A gripping historical crime debut from an exciting new voice.

‘It’s strange, the way fortune deals her hand.’

The year is 1759 and London is shrouded in a cloak of fear. With the constables at the mercy of highwaymen, it’s a perilous time to work the already dangerous streets of Soho. Lizzie Hardwicke makes her living as a prostitute, somewhat protected from the fray as one of Mrs Farley’s girls. But then one of her wealthy customers is found brutally murdered… and Lizzie was the last person to see him alive.
Constable William Davenport has no hard evidence against Lizzie but his presence and questions make life increasingly difficult. Desperate to be rid of him and prove her innocence Lizzie turns amateur detective, determined to find the true killer, whatever the cost.
Yet as the body count rises Lizzie realises that, just like her, everyone has a secret they will do almost anything to keep buried…

A brilliant piece of writing from Georgina Clarke.
An unlikely  partnership between a bow street runner and a prostitute is needed to find a cold blooded murderer. Lizzie is a sharp witted and sassy heroine who has no difficulty in jumping into the fray in order to find justice for her friend.  Constable William Davenport plays Watson to her Holmes and comes in handy when some brawn is needed. He's an astute and likeable character.  He also has tragedy in his past which instantly evokes sympathy for him. I loved how his friendship with Lizzie developed in this book and I can't wait to see how it evolves as the series progresses. 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Anasazi Intrigue (John and Julia Evans #1) by Linda Weaver Clarke


When a devastating flood takes out several homes in a small town, residents are shocked by the news of also a possible poison spill that kills many of the fish and neighbor's pets. Julia, the town's newest reporter, begins her investigation but realizes the story is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought! Julia and her husband find themselves on the run trying to save their lives while finishing the story of a lifetime! She never realized that being a reporter could be so dangerous. With artifacts, dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants, John and Julia have their hands full.
This is the first in a new series by Linda Weaver Clarke. I enjoyed her other mysteries (Amelia Moore detective Series) and was happy to discover she has another mystery series.
I love history so I really liked the historical aspect to the mystery and I learned something new.
I enjoy reading romance but I find when a series starts with an established married couple I find it difficult to connect with them as I wasn't privy to what came before. The secondary romantic story arc involving the younger generation held my interest more.
There were a few exciting and tense scenes as the mystery developed and concluded. 
Overall, a good read.

Monday, 27 May 2019

The Ghost of Hollow House. A Mina Scarletti Mystery #4 by Linda Stratmann (2019)

Mina Scarletti returns in her most thrilling mystery yet! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Antonia Hodgson… 

A peaceful country retreat has become the scene of relentless terror… 

Sussex, 1872 .
Mina Scarletti is invited to ancient Hollow House to investigate reports of ghostly occurrences.
The current occupants – newlyweds Mr Honeyacre and his wife, Kitty – have been plagued by unexplained noises and strange visions since moving into the property.
And now most of their servants refuse to stay at the house after dark for fear of encountering the ghostly presence of ‘the woman in white’.
A determined sceptic, Mina’s main concern is for Kitty, whose health appears to be dramatically sinking under the strain of all that is going on.
With the help of her trusted adviser, Dr Hamid, and her lively friend, Nell, Mina must get to the heart of the mystery.

Have the maids merely been frightening themselves with tales of the macabre? Is there a rational explanation for what is being reported? 
Or will Mina be forced to admit to the presence of a ghost in Hollow House?

THE GHOST OF HOLLOW HOUSE is the fourth cosy mystery in Linda Stratmann’s intriguing historical series, the Mina Scarletti investigations, a traditional British detective series with a feisty woman sleuth set in Victorian Brighton.

A fun and unique cast of characters. Mina is a physically flawed but plucky individual with a sharp, inquisitive mind.
She is determined to solve the mystery of the haunted house and is of the firm opinion that the mysterious goings on have a more earthly cause than supernatural.
The mysterious and spooky incidents had me hooked as I couldn't wait to see how Mina would figure it all out. I found that the story dragged a little bit here and there when not much was happening.
I did enjoy the little group of friends or sidekicks that she brings along to help. Her brother adds quite a bit of humour. 

This book can certainly be enjoyed as a standalone. This is the first that I have read and I enjoyed it a lot. I plan on going back and reading the series from the beginning.

Buy now at Amazon

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy (The Marquess House Trilogy #1) by Alexandra Walsh. Sapere Books (2019)

A timeshift thriller that will have you completely gripped! Perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper. 

What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII …? 

Whitehall Palace, England, 1539 

When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her. 

Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne. 

Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life… 

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018 

Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy. 

Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire. 

Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified… 

What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard?

And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all? 

THE CATHERINE HOWARD CONSPIRACY is the first book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.

Wow what a read! I was absolutely enthralled by the all the mysteriousness in the opening chapter and the excitement built even more as the story progressed.
Some historical stories can make for dry reading when the author gets bogged down in historical fact however this book was exciting from the get go. 
I couldn't wait to figure out the strange relationship Perdita and Piper had with their grandmother and why she left them her entire estate despite cutting them out from her life. 

The dual timeline made for exciting reading. I loved the history of the Tudor period but I also loved the contemporary characters. I found myself not wanting to leave either timelines when the narrative switched from one to the other.
I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy when it becomes available.

This is a masterfully executed and brilliant piece of storytelling. 

 From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.

Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!
Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.


                               Extract from the novel

Prologue: Pembrokeshire, 1542

“Is there news?” asked the man as the shadowy figure of the Abbess appeared in the doorway.
“She bleeds heavily. We may not be able to save her.”
“And the child?”
“You must pray, sir, pray as you have never prayed before.”
The man bowed as the elderly nun glided from the room on silent feet. It had been this way for hours. He did not see how she could continue: his beloved niece, the culmination of his family’s hopes and dreams, whom he had betrayed, selling her into a cursed marriage as though she were horseflesh.
How, he thought as the hours passed and self-pity, fear and weariness overwhelmed him, has it come to this? Waiting in such a godforsaken place while she fights for her life in childbirth. He swore vehemently to himself, staring out of the window as another bleak, cold day dawned. The sky was heavy and bloated with the threat of more snow; the frost glistened like poison on the rutted track leading away from the tiny priory. Then he heard a step behind him.
A tall, imposing young man wrapped in a travelling cloak, entered the room. His presence filled the gloomy space with an intense glamour. Even though his cloak had been designed to disguise his status, it was still made from a thick, sumptuous wool and his boots glistened oxblood red. To his side was a sword and in his belt a sheathed dagger. Incongruously, he cradled a newborn baby in his arms, his serious expression softening as his tiny charge gurgled.
“Well?” demanded the older man.
“A girl,” replied the younger, handing his small charge into his companion’s arms, “and a boy. Twins.”
“Twins?” the older man exclaimed. “And…?”
He could not bear to say his niece’s name.
“Weak but alive, as is the boy-child. This little one, though, she’s a fighter,” he said, a boyish grin lighting his handsome features.
“Charles, you mustn’t become attached to the child,” said the older man. “We have no choice but to see this through. If we don’t, you know the consequences.”
Charles nodded, even though it was clear from his expression that he was apprehensive about their plans.
The baby gurgled and the older man looked down at his great-niece. His breath caught in his throat as her brilliant blue eyes, still unable to focus, glanced towards him. Her tiny hand came free from its wrapping and waved towards his face. Instinctively, he reached out and her minute, perfect fingers gripped his thumb. She stared at him for a fraction of a moment and as his heart contracted with love, a name floated unbidden to his lips.
“Elizabeth,” he whispered, and then in a tender voice, almost unrecognisable as his own, “you have your mother’s hair.”
A sharp knock on the door caused all three to start. Covering the space in two strides, Charles threw it open to reveal a slender young woman. Stepping back to admit her, she gave him a small smile then hurried forward, bobbing to the older man.
“She is comfortable, as is the boy. If they make it through this day, then there is a chance.” Her voice was low, determined. “Mother Abbess has informed me that the horses and the litter are ready, sir.”
The older man nodded.
“Take her, Charles,” he said, thrusting the baby back into the arms of his conspirator. “Take her and flee. The future of our very nation relies upon her safe passage.”
Charles gathered the baby into his cloak.
“Until we meet again, sir,” he said. The men clasped hands.
“Until that day, Charles, may God’s grace go with you.”

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Seven Letters by Sinéad Moriarty (2019)

Sarah loves being a mother - it defines her.

Every year she writes a birthday letter of love to her adored daughter, Izzy, now seven. And after she falls pregnant, she promises Izzy that the arrival of a baby brother will make their family complete. So when she collapses a few months later, the safe happy life Izzy knows is shattered.

With Sarah's future, and the future of her pregnancy, in their hands, her husband and sister disagree fiercely about her treatment. The once close family starts to fall apart.

The clock is ticking, and the doctors need a decision. Can those who love Sarah get beyond the fog of grief and anger to figure out what's for the best? Can they ever forgive each other for the decisions they make?
Will Izzy lose everything she knows and loves?

Sinéad Moriarty is my go to author for emotional reads.
Her books are centred round families and are very character driven. The hard choices and sacrifices these ordinary people have to make will have you debating what you would do in a similar situation.
A powerful story that will stay with you.

Be prepared! You will need a big box of tissues and chocolate to go with this book!

You can find Seven Letters Here