Monday 29 February 2016

Cursed Once More by Amanda DeWees (2015) Narrated by Elizabeth Klett (2015)

Publisher's Summary
The thrilling sequel to With This Curse, winner of the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for historical mystery/suspense!
She went in search of her past...and found danger in the present.
Former seamstress Clara Blackwood seems to have found happiness at last. Having defied the Gravesend Curse, she is a blissfully married baroness and mistress of a grand estate. But now a mysterious summons shatters her contented life.
Clara grew up believing that her mother's family had disowned them. But the grandmother Clara never knew is now entreating her to visit Thurnley Hall, the family seat in Yorkshire. The old lady is on her deathbed and anxious to disclose vital family secrets before it's too late - for Clara's unborn child may be cursed with a horrible fate.
Accompanied by her devoted husband, Atticus, Clara arrives at Thurnley to find intrigue brewing. Her boorish uncle, Horace Burleigh, is greedy for her wealth and desperate to protect the family's mysteries. Superstitious fear of Atticus torments the hulking Romanian servant, Grigore, and even the soft-spoken young ward, Victor Lynch, may have secret motives for getting close to Clara and her husband.
When her grandmother dies under suspicious circumstances, Clara feels compelled to investigate. And when Atticus vanishes mysteriously, she must draw on all her strength and determination to find him before his time runs out...before her life can be cursed once more.

Review 5 stars
Another exciting adventure for newlyweds, Clara and Atticus.
'Cursed Once More' takes place in Clara's ancestral home. Clara is invited to stay and meet her family and she is determined to find out as much as possible about them and her parents. However, there is more to this family reunion than meets the eye. Her grandmother alludes to a terrible family secret but is murdered before she gets the opportunity to divulge any useful information.
Clara's relatives are stranger than Atticus's family and it isn't long before Clara seriously considers certain members of the household of being a cold blooded murderer.  The killer has to be caught before they strike again.

There is a rich cast of spooky and strange characters in 'Cursed Once More.' The crumbling, dreary old mansion and the local people's fear of Clara's Romanian relatives, heavily influenced by vampire lore, lend a moody feel to the story.   

Again Elizabeth Klett, the narrator, does a fabulous job of performing the story. Listening to the audio version certainly heightened my enjoyment of the novel and I will be looking out for her name when considering buying audiobooks in the future.
I loved 'Cursed Once More' just as much as the first book, 'With This Curse,' and, without a doubt, I would recommend both books. 

Buy here Kindle version £2.99

I bought the Kindle version and I was gifted the audiobook from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

With this Curse - A novel of Victorian Romantic Suspense by Amanda DeWees (2014) Narrated by Elizabeth Klett (2015)

Winner of the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in historical romantic mystery and suspense!

Publisher's Summary
Can a curse strike twice in a woman's life? In 1854, 17-year-old chambermaid Clara Crofton was dismissed from Gravesend Hall for having fallen in love with Richard Blackwood, the younger son of the house. Alone in the world, Clara found a tenuous position as a seamstress, but she always blamed the Gravesend curse for the disaster that had befallen her - and for Richard's death soon after in the Crimean War.
Now, more than 18 years later, Richard's twin, Atticus, seeks out Clara with a strange proposal: If she will marry him and live with him as his wife in name only to ease the mind of his dying father, Atticus will then endow her with a comfortable income for the rest of her life. Clara knows that he is not disclosing his true motives, but when she runs out of options for an independent life, she has no choice but to become Atticus' wife.
For Clara, returning to Gravesend as a bride brings some triumph...but also great unease. Not only must she pretend to be a well-born lady and devoted wife to a man whose face is a constant reminder of the love she lost, but ominous portents whisper that her masquerade brings grave danger. "This house will take from you what you most treasure," her mother once warned her. But the curse has already taken the man Clara loved. Will it now demand her life?
Learn how Clara's thrilling story unfolds in With This Curse, an addictive Victorian romantic suspense novel by Amanda DeWees. Listeners who enjoyed DeWees' acclaimed gothic novel Sea of Secrets as well as those who love Victorian mystery and traditional gothic romance alike will be captivated by this strong yet vulnerable heroine and her suspenseful journey through the perils of heartbreak, danger, and love.

Review 5 stars
It has been a long time since I've read a good Victorian gothic mystery. Amanda deWees far exceeded my expectations in 'With this Curse.' If I could make the 5 stars extra shiny in gold I would. I loved this book so much.
It has everything you would expect from the genre; a dark old mansion with strange inhabitants, an overall atmosphere of menace, a mystery, danger, love and betrayal. I was enthralled with the story from start to finish. I enjoyed the slow romance between Atticus and Clara. They are both great characters with a well developed history. Both are easy to relate to and I couldn't wait to see them get together. I really liked that their romance is taken in a sedate pace with more emphasis placed on their inner feelings rather than the two getting their kit off at the first opportunity.                                                             It is for these reasons that this book will suit most people, especially anyone who prefers romance/mystery to be plot driven and without the smut.  
The threat of the curse looming over the household created a dark atmosphere in the story and it contributed to the gothic feel of the novel without making it oppressive and heavy. 
The narrator, Elizabeth Klett, did a brilliant job of reading the story and performing the voices of the various characters. She has a lovely tone of voice, easy to listen to and you soon find yourself lost in the story, not concentrating on or being distracted by her narration.
I didn't want this story to end and I was quite sad when it was over! I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Clara and Atticus and they stayed with me long after I had finished it.
Luckily there's a sequel, 'Cursed Once More,' which I immediately delved into.

Buy here Kindle version £2.99

Sunday 14 February 2016

Change of Plans by Mila Rossi (2016)

Sarah Thompson is a twenty-five year old girl on a mission: go to her friend’s office party, find an attractive guy and lose her virginity. When she meets rough and rugged Jason Hendricks, she knows she’s found her one-night-stand. 

Jason knows about MMA fights and boxing. He doesn’t know jack about virgins and wants to keep it that way. When Sarah turns out to be just that instead of the experienced vixen she led him to believe, he’s in for the shock of his life. 

Trying to move on from their disastrous night is easier said than done, as Jason’s guilty conscience can’t let the sweet, brown-eyed girl go. Determined to show her a good time, he tries to convince her that a redo of their time together is a must. Sarah is tempted, but can she stick to her promise and give in only to lust, or will she fall for the brooding fighter?

Review  4 stars

After reading the blurb I was already cringing for Sarah who had made the decision to lose her virginity to a random stranger on a night out. I felt so sorry for her. I was also ready to dislike Jason who was the lucky guy she'd chosen.
The author wrote these opening scenes very well. She had me laughing, feeling sorry for Sarah only a little bit and totally respecting Jason for his actions. After hearing her little cry of pain he stops straight away and she doesn't even have to ask him once let alone need a safe word or beg him 5 times to get off her. He does freak out a little bit because she is a virgin and didn't tell him, but he does so in a completely adorable and gentlemanly way.
Their interactions after this are laced with humour and sexual tension. Sarah's overprotective cousin was another entertaining character and he added an extra layer of humour. I really enjoyed this book. It is a sweet and funny romance, recommended.

This title is currently free for Kindle AmazonUK

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

No Longer Safe by A. J. Waines (2016)

She was your best friend. Now she’s your deadliest enemy – and there’s nowhere to run…
When Alice receives an invitation from Karen, her charismatic University friend, to stay in a remote cottage in Scotland, she can’t wait to rekindle their lost friendship. But two more former students arrive – never friends of Alice’s – and as the atmosphere chills, Karen isn’t the warm-hearted soulmate Alice remembers. Barely is the reunion underway before someone is dead and the fragile gathering is pushed to breaking point.
As the snow cuts them off from civilisation and accusations fly, Alice finds herself a pawn, sinking deeper into a deadly game she can’t escape.
NO LONGER SAFE is a chilling Psychological Thriller that delivers a delicious sting in the tail.

Review 5 stars
A brilliant read that stayed with me long after I'd finished it.
The story has a superb mix of characters; the innocent and shy Alice amongst a host of 'frenemies,' a group of unlikeable and nasty people she used to call friends when they were all at university together. Alice has grown up since her days at university and she begins to question her relationship with these people. She suspects that there is a hidden agenda behind their little reunion and that she is being lied to. 
She becomes friends with a neighbour holidaying in a nearby cottage and together they try to sort out the lies from the truth. The neighbour, however, has his own mystery to solve which complicate matters even further. With a killer living amongst them, a missing child to find and a dead man to hide it is difficult to know who to trust. I couldn't put this book down. The characters are so well written. You know that this group of people are up to no good but you can't quite figure it all out. The story was suspenseful all the way through. Many thoughts and possible scenarios ran through my head as I anticipated what could happen next. Despite this, the author kept me guessing and managed to completely shock and surprise me. I was not expecting it to end in the way it did, and for me, it immediately solidified its 5 star must read status.

It's early yet but I can confidently say that 'No Longer Safe' will be featuring in my end of year list, Top Books of 2016! I received an arc of No Longer Safe in exchange for an honest review.

AJ Waines has sold over 100,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Penguin Random House) and USA (audiobooks).

In 2015, she was featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and was ranked in the Top 20 UK authors on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Southampton, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.  

You can follow the blog tour of No Longer Safe at the following sites

Tuesday 9 February 2016

A Spy's Devotion (The Regency Spies of London #1) by Melanie Dickerson (2016)


Sunday 7 February 2016

Audiobook Giveaway!!! A Scone to Die For: Oxford Tearoom Mystery Book 1 by H.Y. Hanna (2016)

Enter to win the newly released audio book of A Scone to Die For.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

When an American tourist is murdered with a scone in Gemma Rose's quaint Oxfordshire tearoom, she suddenly finds herself apron-deep in a mystery involving long-buried secrets from Oxford's past.
Armed with her insider knowledge of the University and with the help of four nosy old ladies from the village (not to mention a cheeky little tabby cat named Muesli), Gemma sets out to solve the mystery--all while dealing with her matchmaking mother and the return of her old college love, Devlin O'Connor, now a dashing CID detective.
But with the body count rising and her business going bust, can Gemma find the killer before things turn to custard?
(*Traditional English scone recipe included)


A brilliantly penned mystery with lots of humour. 

There are many things that I loved about this book. The author's sense of humour really shines through in this book. I don't usually find the circumstances surrounding a murder to be humorous but I couldn't help it with this one. The murder victim was discovered in the courtyard of Gemma's tearoom with one of her scones shoved in his mouth. I didn't feel too badly about him as he was such a nasty character to begin with.

I loved that Gemma wasn't the only amateur sleuth trying to solve the murder. The 'Old Biddies' proved helpful on occasion and more often a source of hilarity. Gemma's mother is also a great, eccentric character. Between her matchmaking schemes and forever forgetting her Ipad password she injects another layer of humour into the story.

I enjoyed the romantic subplot of the story. I'm not sure Devlin deserves to have a second chance with Gemma this early in the series so I was glad that she has other options to play with. I hope Devlin suffers a little bit before/if they end up together.
The murder mystery itself was well thought out and had an element of suspense which I really enjoy. I also had no clue who the killer was until it was revealed in dramatic style.
The really important and huge mystery of where Muesli the cat disappeared to also came to a timely conclusion and I was (spoiler alert!) relieved that he was okay. 

A really great, entertaining read and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the series.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.