Saturday, 16 November 2019

Hand of Miriam (A Bayla and the Golem Novel Book 1) by Eva Gordon


On an archaeological expedition, Bayla Gideon, is widowed by a supernatural force and branded with the Hand of Miriam or Knowing Eye. Threatened by evil, she awakens the golem; a mythical man of clay, who protected the Jewish community over three centuries ago.

The golem, Gesher, is surprised. Freedom –by a beautiful, enchanting woman. His desire is to return to the celestial spheres and regain his status as an avenging angel. Yet, Bayla challenges his mind, body and soul. Would he risk his return to the heavens for her?

Besides, dealing with the otherkind, mad inventors and an unrelenting matchmaking aunt, Bayla is equally determined to resist her steamy attraction to the striking fallen angel.

Thrust into a malevolent war, which includes facing Jack the Ripper, they must resist the magnetic pull toward each other, while protecting the world from encroaching evil.


This was a good enough story but I found that it dragged quite a bit in the middle and could have been a bit shorter. It picked up again towards the end. I really liked the beginning of this novel. It was full of mystery and drama as we were introduced to the characters.
I enjoyed the mix of mythical creatures and Victorian London at the time of the Ripper murders.  It was a good premise for lots of action and drama.
Bayla was an interesting and likeable character but I would have liked to read the stories where she helped the police to solve crimes rather than just being told this is what she did.

Although the romantic scenes and dialogue had me cringing there was plenty of adventure and suspense to hold my attention and keep me entertained.
The steampunk elements were fun and including Jewish history and culture in the storyline made it more interesting. 
The narrator did a good job and I will probably listen to the next book when it comes out on Audible.


Thursday, 14 November 2019

The Business of Blood (The Business of Blood #1) by Kerrigan Byrne (2019)


The Business of Blood, an all-new intriguing historical mystery from USA Today bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne, is available now!

London, 1890. Blood and death are Fiona Mahoney’s trade, and business, as they say, is booming.

Dying is the only thing people do with any regularity, and Fiona makes her indecorous living cleaning up after the corpses are carted away. Her childhood best friend, Mary, was the last known victim of Jack the Ripper. It’s been two years since Fiona scrubbed Mary’s blood from the floorboards, and London is no longer buzzing about the Ripper, but Fiona hasn’t forgotten. She hasn’t stopped searching for Jack.

When she’s called to a murder in the middle of the night, Fiona finds a victim mutilated in an eerily similar fashion to those of the Ripper, and only a few doors down from Mary’s old home. The relentless and irritatingly handsome Inspector Grayson Croft warns her away from the case. She might have listened, if she hadn’t found a clue in the blood. A clue that will lead her down a path from which there is no return.

As a killer cuts a devastating swath through London, a letter written in blood arrives at her door, and it is only then that Fiona realizes just how perilous her endeavor is. For she has drawn the attention of an obsessive evil, and is no longer the hunter, but the prey.

Fiona Mahoney is in the business of blood. But she’s not the only one.

With intriguing twists, blood-chilling discoveries, and dazzling prose, USA Today
Bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne shows that a woman’s work is never done, even when is sleuthing out a serial killer.


Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2W79Brj

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/BusinessofBlood
Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/31q7Q9T

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2qfPPhw


Review 

This is one of the best new historical mysteries I've read in a long, long time. Jack the Ripper inspired stories never seem to get old and tired to me especially when they are as well executed as The Business of Blood. I always associate the East-End in the 1880's with it being a dangerous, dark, grimy and rough place.
The gruesome murders in the novel really suited the setting and helped create a  dark menacing tone. 
The side characters were very intriguing and well thought out. The Hammer and his associates may have been quite scary people but I loved how they jumped in to help Fiona when she needed them. The characters are not all straightforward good or evil. No one in real life is like that so this made everything more realistic and I found myself sympathising at times with some shady characters! 
The author's wealth of knowledge about the time period is very evident. There were some heinous crimes committed in real life at this time and the author was able to draw on these for inspiration. Kerrigan's knowledge of Irish history is spot on and I was impressed with how well she wrote the Irish characters. She really understood the issues and feelings involved in being an Irish person in London at the time.
I really enjoyed Croft and Fiona's relationship from their early interactions and bickering to a truce and friendship by the end. Fiona begins to see past his gruff exterior and I can't wait to see the pair get closer as they solve more cases in the future. I am also intrigued with The Hammer and how he might complicate things for Fiona.

I was thrilled to receive an advance reading copy of this book and I genuinely can't wait to read the rest of the series as it becomes available.


                                               About Kerrigan

Kerrigan has done many things to pay the bills, from law enforcement to belly dance instructor. Now she’s finally able to have the career she’d decided upon at thirteen when she announced to her very skeptical family that she was going to “grow up to be a romance novelist.” Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in almost every story.
She lives in a little Victorian coast town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington Statewith her wonderful husband. When she’s not writing you can find her sailing, beach combing, kayaking, visiting wineries, breweries, and restaurants with friends, and hiking…okay…wandering aimlessly clenching bear spray in the mountains.


Connect with Kerrigan
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2LsaJTm
Facebook: http://bit.ly/2ZnBVWw
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2IPJTCG
Twitter: http://bit.ly/30xkPqv
Instagram: http://bit.ly/2ZbXbmQ

Stay up to date with Kerrigan by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/33VpuF0

Website: https://www.kerriganbyrne.com/

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Starlight Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennett (2019)

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                        




If you want a gorgeous, charming, uplifting, and romantic read you won't go wrong with Starlight Over Bluebell Castle.

Jess and Tristan are such great characters. It was obvious from the beginning of the book that they were meant to be together and I couldn't help but mentally yell at Jess to give him a chance every time she dithered about making a decision. Thankfully she followed her heart.
The permanent residents of Bluebell Castle are loving, kind and full of fun. The feel good factor oozes from every page they grace.
The setting of Bluebell castle is a beautiful and magical place. If it was possible I would book in there myself for a holiday! The next best thing for me though is to read the previous books in the series. I haven't read the first two but I am sufficiently charmed enough to start them now.

Starlight Over Bluebell Castle is a lovely read and thoroughly deserving of 5 stars.



#StarlightOverBluebellCastle #NetGalley

Thursday, 31 October 2019

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman



"Bateman's scintillating first Bow Street Bachelors Regency is full of intense emotions and dramatic twists. Intelligent, affable characters make this fast-paced novel shine, especially for fans of clever women and the men who sincerely admire them. Future installments will be eagerly anticipated by Regency readers." -- Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Introducing the Bow Street Bachelors—men who work undercover for London’s first official police force—and the women they serve to protect. . .and wed?
WILL A FALSE MARRIAGE


Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
LEAD TO TRUE AND LASTING LOVE?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him—and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?




A feel good, romantic and funny Regency romp.
The story is well researched and I learned something new about the era. 
The characters were really likeable and I couldn't help but get a good feeling as these two fell in love.
The story was exciting in places which kept me glued.
I loved it and can't wait for the rest of the series.


Excerpt

Chapter 1.

London, March 1816.

There were worse places to find a husband than Newgate Prison.
Of course there were.
It was just that, at present, Georgie couldn’t think of any.
“Georgiana Caversteed, this is a terrible idea.” Georgie frowned at her burly companion, Pieter Smit,
as the nondescript carriage he’d summoned to convey them to London’s most notorious jail rocked to a halt on the cobbled street. The salt-weathered Dutchman always used her full name whenever he disapproved of some- thing she was doing. Which was often.
“Your father would turn in his watery grave if he knew what you were about.”
That was undoubtedly true. Until three days ago, en- listing a husband from amongst the ranks of London’s most dangerous criminals had not featured prominently on her list of life goals. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Or, in this case, for a desperate felon about to be hanged. A felon she would marry before thenight was through. Georgie peered out into the rain-drizzled street, then up, up the near-windowless walls. They rose into the mist, five stories high, a vast expanse of brickwork, bleak and unpromising. A church bell tolled somewhere in the darkness, a forlorn clang like a death knell. Her stomach knotted with a grim sense of foreboding. Was she really going to go through with this? It had seemed a good plan, in the safety of Grosvenor Square. The perfect way to thwart Cousin Josiah once and for all. She stepped from the carriage, ducked her head against the rain, and followed Pieter under a vast arched gate. Her heart hammered at the audacity of what she planned. They’d taken the same route as condemned prisoners on the way to Tyburn tree, only in reverse. West to east, from the rarefied social strata of Mayfair through gradu- ally rougher and bleaker neighborhoods, Holborn and St. Giles, to this miserable place where the dregs of humanity had been incarcerated. Georgie felt as if she were nearing her own execution. She shook off the pervasive aura of doom and straight- ened her spine. This was her choice. However unpalat- able the next few minutes might be, the alternative was far worse. Better a temporary marriage to a murderous, unwashed criminal than a lifetime of misery with Josiah. They crossed the deserted outer courtyard, and Georgie cleared her throat, trying not to inhale the foul-smelling air that seeped from the very pores of the building. “You have it all arranged? They are expecting us?” Pieter nodded. “Aye. I’ve greased the wheels with yer blunt, my girl. The proctor and the ordinary are both bent as copper shillings. Used to having their palms greased, those two, the greedy bastards.” Her father’s right-hand man had never minced words.
in front of her, and Georgie appreciated his bluntness. So few people in the ton ever said what they really meant. Pieter’s honesty was refreshing. He’d been her father’s man for twenty years before she’d even been born. A case of mumps had prevented him from accompanying Wil- liam Caversteed on his last, fateful voyage, and Georgie had often thought that if Pieter had been with her father, maybe he’d still be alive. Little things like squalls, ship- wrecks, and attacks from Barbary pirates would be mere inconveniences to a man like Pieter Smit. In the five years since Papa’s death, Pieter’s steadfast loyalty had been dedicated to William’s daughters, and Georgie loved the gruff, hulking manservant like a second father. He would see her through this madcap scheme— even if he disapproved. She tugged the hood of her cloak down to stave off the drizzle. This place was filled with murderers, highway- men, forgers, and thieves. Poor wretches slated to die, or those “lucky” few whose sentences had been commuted to transportation. Yet in her own way, she was equally desperate. “You are sure that this man is to be hanged tomorrow?” Pieter nodded grimly as he rapped on a wooden door. “I am. A low sort he is, by all accounts.” She shouldn’t ask, didn’t want to know too much about the man whose name she was purchasing. A man whose death would spell her own freedom. She would be wed and widowed within twenty-four hours. From This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Business of Blood by Kerrigan Byrne (2019)



The Business of Blood, an all-new intriguing historical mystery from USA Today bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne, is out now!
Kindle edition available October 24th  AMAZON

London, 1890. Blood and death are Fiona Mahoney’s trade, and business, as they say, is booming.

Dying is the only thing people do with any regularity, and Fiona makes her indecorous living cleaning up after the corpses are carted away. Her childhood best friend, Mary, was the last known victim of Jack the Ripper. It’s been two years since Fiona scrubbed Mary’s blood from the floorboards, and London is no longer buzzing about the Ripper, but Fiona hasn’t forgotten. She hasn’t stopped searching for Jack.

When she’s called to a murder in the middle of the night, Fiona finds a victim mutilated in an eerily similar fashion to those of the Ripper, and only a few doors down from Mary’s old home. The relentless and irritatingly handsome Inspector Grayson Croft warns her away from the case. She might have listened, if she hadn’t found a clue in the blood. A clue that will lead her down a path from which there is no return.

As a killer cuts a devastating swath through London, a letter written in blood arrives at her door, and it is only then that Fiona realizes just how perilous her endeavor is. For she has drawn the attention of an obsessive evil, and is no longer the hunter, but the prey.

Fiona Mahoney is in the business of blood. But she’s not the only one.

With intriguing twists, blood-chilling discoveries, and dazzling prose, USA Today Bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne shows that a woman’s work is never done, even when is sleuthing out a serial killer.


Wednesday, 9 October 2019

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller (2019)


**Named a MOST ANTICIPATED ROMANCE of 2019 by BookPage**

Advanced Praise for THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE

“Biller's complex and intriguing debut, set in 1875 New York City...is part romance, part ghost story,

and part period piece with just enough modern sentiment on the topics of

feminism, mental illness, and abuse.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A chemistry-fueled debut with a bit of a ghost story, great for readers of gothic romance”

—Booklist

"Utterly irresistible. With engaging, original characters and dialogue as crisp as a new apple, Diana
Biller’s debut will have you rooting for Alva and Sam through every spooky twist."
—Deanna Raybourn, New York Times bestselling author of the Veronica Speedwell series
“Take a Joanna Shupe Gilded Age romance, stir in a Simone St. James ghost story, add a pinch of
Julia Quinn banter, and, voila! Sheer fun with a satisfying emotional conclusion.”
—Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author of The English Wife

“Get ready to devour Diana Biller's magnificent debut novel in one sitting. The Widow of Rose
House boasts memorable and vibrant characters, a delicious romance, great period detail, and a hint
of the supernatural. Alva and Sam spring off the page and to life, so that I now feel as though they are

friends of mine. This novel is a treat not to be missed!”
—Alyssa Palombo, author of The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel

Keep scrolling below to read Chapter One

Book Summary

It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time.
However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor Samuel Moore appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life—especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam. Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history—and her heart.
Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

Review


This book ticked all the boxes for me- The Gilded Age, romance, Victorian gothic, mystery, witty banter and two main characters to fall in love with.
I loved the style of writing and its easy flow. The paranormal element and the little bit of ghost hunting in the story was fun and the witty banter between Alva and Sam had me smiling all the way to the end. I found myself reading this story in a short space of time as I couldn't put it down.

Buy Link Amazon  Audible

About the Author

DIANA BILLER lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their very good dog. The Widow of Rose House is her debut novel.


Chapter One



New York City, February 1, 1875



Alva stood on the city sidewalk and sucked in a deep, triumphant gulp of air. The clock had just struck ten—the middle of the eve­ning by New York City standardsand she was surrounded by elegantly dressed men escorting women dripping diamonds and rolled up tightly in furs. A few feet from her, the street was busy with carriages. She could smell the city: The damp fog, the sharp tang of refuse, the high floral notes of perfumed women. Horse dung.
Had she missed it? She wasn’t sure, although she knew she missed the steep, tangled streets of Montmartre already. But it was America that held her future now, even as it held her past. For a second her triumph was tempered by the remembrance of the thin envelope in her pocket, a few brief lines from her mother’s secretary, thanking her for her interest in visiting and regretting that Mrs. Rensselaer would be unable to see her. Alva knew her mother, likely even now sitting down to a stiff dinner with her husband and twelve of their closest friends fifty blocks away, did indeed feel regret. She just suspected it was about giv­ ing birth to her at all.
The restaurant door opened behind her, and, recalled to the moment, she signaled to the boy hailing cabs to find her one.
Excuse me, a deep voice said. Mrs. Webster?”
Oh, for heavens sake. Couldn’t she stand outside for one min- ute without some intrepid lothario assuming she must be wai ing for him? In the less than seventy­two hours she’d been back in the States, she’d been propositioned eleven times. Twice by friends of her father’s.
She glanced over her shoulder at the man, receiving an in­ stant impression of big, though he stood mostly in the shadows. I don’t know you, she said, her voice flat. “Go home to your wife.”
But I don’t have a wife, the man said. He took a hesitant step towards her, leaving the shadows, and her eyebrows lifted. He looked more like a laborer than a man finishing a dinner at Delmonico’s, for all he was dressed in a suit and tie. Sort of dressed, she amended; the suit looked like it had been made for someone two inches shorter and two inches narrower across the shoulders. Do I need a wife to talk to you? Is it a chaperone sort of thing? I have a mother, but she’s in Ohio.
Alva blinked. “You’re not very good at this, she observed. I’m not a man, but I don’t think it’s standard behavior to invoke one’s mother at a time like this.
They stared at each other in puzzlement. He was attrac­tive in the sort of way she’d always imagined the heroes of west­ern folktales to be: tall, broad shouldered, with a strong nose and a square jaw. He could stand to add barber to the list of people he needed to see, though, the one that started with tailor. Actually, looking at the way his dark blond hair fell into his eyes, she thought he’d better have it start with barber and go from there.
There’s been a misunderstanding, he said finally. Perhaps if I introduce myselfmy name is Professor Samuel Moore.
He held out his hand. She looked at it, looked up at him, and did not extend her own. Bafflingly, he smiled at her, as though she’d done something rather clever.
Was he really a professor? He certainly didn’t look like one, not that it mattered, because she made it a policy, these days, never to talk to strange men—
“A professor of what?” she heard herself saying, although she was pleased it at least came out with a nice air of sarcasm and disbelief.
This and that, he said, still smiling. Engineering, mostly. She looked at his rumpled clothes. Yes, she could see that, one of those men who always had a tool in one hand and a grease can in the other. She didn’t know they were giving professorships out to men like that, but why not, after all? She was as apprecia­tive of things like trains and working carriage wheels as the next
person.
And now she’d gone and encouraged him. Stupid. I see, shesaid as coldly as she could manage. Well, Im not interested, so I’ll wish you good evening.
But how can you know if youre not interested?” He shook his head in confusion, still smiling at her. The smile was . . . im­ pressive. I haven’t even explained my proposition, yet.
I find that if you’ve heard one proposition, you’ve heard them all, she replied. Stop talking to him, you idiot. They’re not as unique as men would like to believe.
Butwho else has approached you? Was it Langley, from Yale?” His tone turned plaintive. “How did he hear about this before me?”
Langleywho?”
“Piers Langley, he said. “No? I can’t think of anyone else reputable—look here, if you’ve been approached by anyone from that quack Santa Fe institute you should know they’re absolute frauds.”
Institute?” Alva said faintly. “What on earth are you talking about?”
“Your house, of course. I hadn’t realized I was so behind on the news. His face fellWhat must it be like to let all your emo- tions float freely on your face?but he nodded gravely. “If it’s Langley, though, he’s an excellent researcher, and a decent human, too.”
It’s not Langwhat do you want with my house?” It was her turn to sound plaintive.
But that’s what He stared at her, his brows crunched to­ gether. Oh god. I wasn’t—I wouldn’t
To her astonishment, a distinct touch of pink appeared in his cheeks. He cleared his throat.
I beg your pardon, maam. Henry warned methat is, I shouldn’t have; my proposition is not of an intimate nature.
I’m coming to understand that, she said.
“You thought . . . do men . . . they mustgood lord.
She began to feel in charity with this befuddled giant. I deed, she said. I quite agree. But I must ask againwhat is it you want with Liefdehuis?”
To study it, he said. One of my personal interests is in metaphysical energies, you see, and from what Ive heard, your house may prove a most interesting case. Your ghost story is so recent, you know. I hardly ever hear one claiming to be that new—”
He broke off as she shook her head. “You almost had me con­ vinced that you were unlike the majority of your sex, she said. And now I see you are. Im just not sure insanity is much of an improvement.
To her surprise, he smiled again. Youre not the only one who thinks so, he said. The embarrassment had left his face; he was quite relaxed once more. A man who apologizes for a propo- sition and grins at an insult, Alva thought. Where did you come from, Professor Moore?
“And I’ll admit there’s no conclusive evidence yet, he con­ tinued, “but what I have collected looks extremely promising. Certainly promising enough to warrant extensive study.
A hint of cold pierced her thoughts. Firmly, she banished it. “You’re talking about ghosts, she said.
Maybe, he replied. Or I could be studying some kind of alien intelligence that just happens to concentrate in areas cor­ responding to local folklore.
“Alien intelligence.
Invisible alien intelligence, he clarified. “At least invisible to the naked human eye. But ‘ghost’ is probably the easiest term.
Really.”
People tend to go a bit strange when you talk to them about invisible alien intelligences, he confided. “Which is odd, when you think about it, because why are the shades of one’s dead an­ cestors any less unsettling?”
She found herself nodding before the rest of her wits caught up with her. “No, she said, not because the word corresponded with any particular question, but because she had the feeling the only way to survive here was to stick to very black ­and­ white words. His nuances were both compelling and sticky. I’m afraid I won’t give you access. I don’t believe in ghosts, and Im about to start several months’ worth of building work.
Don’t decide yet, he begged. I’m willing to pay you for the privilege, and I promise I won’t be in the way . . . although there is rather a lot of equipment, so I suppose—
The boy hailing cabs caught her eye and gestured as a han­som pulled up beside him.
That’s mine, she said. “Im sorry I can’t help you. Good evening.
“Wait! he said. “I’llI’ll send you a letter. Henry said that was the way to do it—Ill write you and explain more.
“It won’t help, she said as the cab boy helped her into the carriage. Im sorry. Goobye, Professor Moore.
Finally, he sighed acceptance and raised his hand. “Good evening, Mrs. Webster.
As the cab pulled away from the sidewalk, though, she looked back at him, to find him staring after her with his hands shoved in his pockets and that apparently irrepressible grin back in place. An uncomfortable lightness expanded in her chest as she watched him standing head ­and ­shoulders taller than the passersby around him, looking back at her as though he would be perfectly happy never to look at anything else ever again.
What couldn’t I get, if I could look at people like that? she thought, and settled grumpily back against her seat.