Monday 28 March 2016

Nocturne for a Widow: Sybil Ingram, Volume 1 by Amanda DeWees (Author, Publisher), Elizabeth Klett (Narrator)

An enchanting blend of Victorian gothic romance, romantic comedy, and ghost story from the author of the Daphne du Maurier Award-winning With This Curse!
The year is 1873, and Sybil Ingram has come to a crossroads. Once she was the toast of the London stage, but now that she's 28 years old - very well, nearly 30 - her draw isn't what it used to be, and her theater troupe is foundering. When her trusted mentor asks her to take the blame for his financial misdeeds, Sybil sees no choice but to retire from the life she loves and move to America to marry New York City hotel magnate Alcott Lammle. But her path to happiness is cut short when Lammle dies suddenly - and in financial ruin.
Widowed, nearly penniless, and unable to return to England, the determined diva sets out to stake a claim on Brooke House, an eccentric neo-Gothic manor in the wilds of the Hudson River Valley. She soon finds, however, that a ghostly presence wants her gone. Even worse, her claim is challenged by the most insolent, temperamental, maddeningly gorgeous man she's ever met: Roderick Brooke, a once-famous former violinist whose career ended in a dark scandal.
Soon it's a battle of wills as Sybil matches wits - and trades barbs - with Roderick, finding herself increasingly drawn to him despite her growing suspicion that there is a connection between him and the entity that haunts Brooke House. But an even greater threat arises in the form of the mysterious, powerful queen of local society, Mrs. Lavinia Dove. For reasons that Sybil can't imagine, Mrs. Dove is determined to oust Sybil from her sphere...and the lengths to which she will go are chilling indeed.
By turns mysterious and moving, sparkling and spooky, Nocturne for a Widow follows a spirited heroine through adventures in life, love, and death. From the colorful theatrical world of late-Victorian London to the American wilderness, Sybil's travels will test her mettle - and her heart.

5 stars
I am enjoying Amanda DeWees books immensely. 
Nocturne for a Widow is the beginning of a new series based on the character of Sybil Ingram, an actress, whom we first meet briefly in With This Curse.
Although the story is a bit predictable, in a way that was one of the things that I liked about it. I could sit back and watch the fireworks. 
Sybil and Roderick are at loggerheads right from the moment they lay eyes on each other. They declare outright war as they wait for the judge's decision on who will inherit the house. Sybil is very quick witted and their little squabbles and snide comments provide much humour and entertainment as they progress from enemies to truce, friendship and love. 
I enjoyed the ghostly activities in the house. The haunting of the house was well written and it added an extra layer of mystery and atmosphere.
The side characters were intriguing. Mrs Dove was a nasty piece of work and I couldn't wait to see how Sybil would deal with her. The night of the musicale stands out as one of my favourite scenes.
I also listened to the audio version of the book, narrated by Elizabeth Klett. Once again she performs the story with elegance and ease. It is very easy to listen to and she adds something a little bit special to the story. Sybil's character in particular really comes to life. The narrator inflecting her tone of voice allows us to hear more clearly the sarcasm and barbs pointed at Roderick and Mrs Dove, that a reader might otherwise miss.

I purchased the Kindle copy of Nocturne for a Widow but I received the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
Nocturne for a Widow can be purchased at Audible and Amazon

Saturday 26 March 2016

Cold Justice Series Box Set, Volume I: Books 1-3 by Toni Anderson (Author, Publisher), Eric G. Dove (Narrator)

If you love romantic suspense, don't miss the first three books of Toni Anderson's award-winning Cold Justice available in one thrilling bundle!

A Cold Dark Place (Winner of the New England Readers' Choice Award in Romantic Suspense and Aspen Gold)

FBI Agent Mallory Rooney is hunting the monster who abducted her twin sister and begins to suspect there's a vigilante operating outside the law. Former CIA assassin Alex Parker works for a clandestine government organization hell-bent on taking out serial killers before they enter the justice system. Alex doesn't enjoy killing, but he's good at it. He's good at dodging the law, too - until a beautiful rookie agent has him wondering what it might be like to get caught.

Cold Pursuit (Winner of the 2015 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award for Romantic Suspense)
A single mom and her son escape with their lives after terrorists attack an American mall. When the boy is targeted for death, an FBI agent helps them disappear and ends up falling in love. But can he keep them safe when the players are more powerful than he ever have imagined and he doesn't know who to trust?

Cold Light of Day (2015 Winner of the Heart of Excellence for Romantic Suspense, and Book Buyers Best Contest)
Physicist Scarlett Stone is the daughter of the most notorious Russian agent in FBI history. With her father dying in prison, she's determined to prove he's innocent, but time is running out. Using a false identity, she gains access to the Russian ambassador's Christmas party, searching for evidence of a set-up. Former Navy SEAL, now FBI Special Agent, Matt Lazlo is attracted to Scarlett, but when he discovers she lied to him about her identity, he hunts her down with the ruthless efficiency he usually reserves for serial killers. Scarlett's scheme fails, but as agents involved in her father's investigation start dying, Matt and his colleagues begin to wonder. Could they have a traitor in their midst?

Review 5 stars
I absolutely love this series and I can't get enough. Each title is a must read and an auto buy for me when they are published.
You can start the series for free by downloading A Cold Dark Place from Amazon for your Kindle Just be warned- you won't want to stop at book one.

The audio version of these books are brilliant. Eric. G. Dove does a superb job of performing each of the characters and making their voices sound unique. There are a lot of male characters to differentiate between and he is able to change his tone of voice and accent with ease. He does a great job with the female voices as well. I've listened to books 1-4 now and they are among my favourite books to listen to.

I purchased the Kindle copies of Toni Anderson's Cold Justice series but I received a copy of the audio books in exchange for an honest review.

The Stonegate Sword by Harry James Fox (2015)

Do you love historical fiction, knights in armor and romance? How about a tale with all of these set in future North America? Escape to a passionate world of danger, love, war and redemption -- the world of Stonegate. 

The Old Empire is gone 
But tales still tell of marvels from long ago-flying machines and devices run by the power of lightning. Now grass grows in the streets and rusted hulks are all that remain of the proud machines. A new time of troubles now threatens. The free towns of the rugged mountains and plains are in the path of conquest. The Prophet's armies are coming, filled with hatred and armed with terrible, rediscovered weapons. Donald of Fisher, outcast and alone, is in the path of the march, searching for Rachel, who has been captured by the Raiders-minions of the Prophet. But how can he find and rescue one small captive in a wilderness teeming with enemies? And even if he succeeds, should he wield his sword beside the tiny band of defenders? Is Donald to become yet another victim, or is he, just possibly, the deliverer promised in prophecy? What can one person do in the face of a war that will shape the future of a continent? 

The Stonegate Sword would not be my typical reading choice but the blurb grabbed my attention and I thought I would try something new and I'm glad I did.
The story is set in the future where civilisation has reverted to a more medieval setting in relation to technology and a feudal society.  
There is a subtle Christian theme running through the story. But it is essentially a coming of age story as Donald, a young man more accustomed to book learning, is thrust upon a battle strewn path in search of his beloved Rachel. 
Donald has one adventure after another and goes through many ups and downs in his quest to rescue Rachel. The pace is quite gentle and I found myself relaxing into the story rather than reading it at breakneck speed. I enjoyed reading the vivid descriptions of the natural landscape. The battle scenes were particularly well written and engrossing.
I was intrigued by the notion that civilisation has lost all its advancements in technology and are relying on what can be learned from surviving texts. It provokes the reader to think about how this came about and how people would survive a catastrophe of this sort. Unfortunately for women in this new age they seem to have lost their voice; having no more status than being a man's wife, daughter, something to fight over or rescue. With the lack of religious institutions to keep women down I'm not sure this would be a realistic development. I would have liked to see some female characters taking a leading role in society and being a force to reckon with in their own right.

The Stonegate Sword is well worth a read and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good adventure story.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday 21 March 2016

Vunerable (Morgans of Nashville #4) by Mary Burton (2016)


The Smallest Mistake

Three went in; one came out. For five years, no trace has been found of two high-school friends who went hiking in the woods near Nashville. The third teen, Amber Ryder, was discovered at the bottom of a ravine with a broken arm, head trauma--and zero memory of the horror that put her there. 

Will Put You

What started as a cold case has become a fresh hell for forensic technician Georgia Morgan. Another woman's body is found in the woods, and it leads to the missing teens' remains. But while Georgia works with Amber to try and reawaken her memories, her gut tells her the worst is yet to come. 

At A Killer's Mercy

Homicide Detective Jake Bishop can't be sure whether Amber is an expert manipulator or the killer's next target. Either way, he's determined to protect Georgia. Because the deeper she digs into the past, the deadlier the secrets that emerge, and a nightmare years in the making is about to come to a bloody, terrifying end…


A fast paced thriller that proved to be a real page turner. The suspense filled story had me reading the entire novel in one sitting.

Georgia and Jake make good team when they are paired together to solve a cold case. They are attracted to each other but instead of acting on it they spend their time trading insults and smart aleck quips.
I would have been happy if their relationship had stayed this way and maybe just ending with them acknowledging their feelings and having a romantic moment. Instead, three quarters of the way through the novel, the pair decide to jump into bed together and they are instantly in love and committed to each other. It was a disappointing development in my eyes and, to me, it read like a box ticking exercise by the author in order to meet the publisher's requirements. A story can be romantic without the sex especially if it fits the story better.

The crime element of the novel was complex and there were a whole host of characters with secrets to hide and reputations to protect. It took a while for me to figure out who the murderer was. I understood the motive behind the original killings five years earlier but I was left puzzled by the more recent killings as no motive was ever given. 

Despite these little misgivings I have about the plot, I would still recommend this book as a good crime thriller. It is part of a series but is easily read as a stand alone.

Vulnerable is due out in April 2016.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Mercy Watts Mysteries by A.W. Hartoin

Mercy Watts is a nurse who, in her spare time, helps her private detective father with his caseload. 

She also happens to bear a striking resemblance to Marilyn Monroe which garners her a legion of fans and unwanted attention. Luckily she has lots of friends and extended family to help her out when the need arises. Despite having a boyfriend, Mercy's first port of call when she needs help is her law enforcement 'cousin' Chuck who also happens to be secretly in love with her. 

This whole series had me laughing out loud and completely stumped with the mysteries and the who dunnits. The storylines are unpredictable and entertaining. I am completely addicted to the Mercy and Chuck storyline and I can't wait for the next book, #6 The Wife of Riley coming out later this month.

The series kicks off with a short story 'Coke With a Twist.'

Mercy Watts' P.I. father ropes her into another investigation, this time to find the truth behind a young woman's attack. The case takes her from a dive bar to sorority row to the gutter, and unless she solves it fast, the case will be her last.

The short story introduces us to the main characters and gives us a flavour of what to expect from the rest of the series.

The story contines with the first full length novel in the series
 'A Good Man Gone.'

Start off the series for Free with A Good Man Gone.

It’s summer in St. Louis and Mercy Watts is on vacation from her parents. The great detective and his nosy wife are on a cruise and Mercy thinks she’s off the hook for doing any investigating for them. But when a family friend has a fatal heart attack, Dad has one of his famous feelings and orders Mercy to look into it. Mercy tries not to get sucked in. She really does, but she’s her father’s daughter. Soon Gavin’s death leads to a more grisly one, the death of a bride on her wedding day. Can the two be connected? Was Gavin murdered? Now Mercy can’t stop. You do for family. That’s all there is to it.

A Good Man Gone is free to download for your Kindle here

Mercy's adventures continue in a combination of short stories and full length novels. 
It isn't necessary to read the short stories in order but the full length novels are better enjoyed if read in sequence.

                                  #2 Diver Down                            
 Buy at Amazon

                                  #2.4 Nowhere Fast (short story)
Buy at Amazon

                              #2.5 Touch and Go (short story)

Buy at Amazon

                              #3 Double Black Diamond
Buy at Amazon

                         #3.5 Dry Spell (short story)

Buy at Amazon


                            #4 Drop Dead Red
Buy at Amazon

#5 In the Worst Way
Buy at Amazon

#5.5 A Sin and a Shame (short story)
Buy at Amazon

About the author
A.W.Hartoin is the author of Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction. Away From Whipplethorn is her first published work. 
A.W. can't remember a time when she didn't love reading. The first book she read over and over again was Harry and the Lady Next Door. He was such a bad dog. 
Anne of Green Gables was the first time she wanted to enter a world and stay there. As an adult she reads almost everything except horror because she likes to sleep....
Happy reading to all!  
(source: Goodreads)

Sunday 6 March 2016

Dangerous Kisses: A Guild of Hybrids Novel (The Guild of Hybrids Book 1) by Alice Lake (2016)


Miss Lavinia Halls is a member of the Guild of Hybrids, a secret society dedicated to helping women in need. When faced with a terrified new client, Lavinia declares that her client’s fiancĂ© must pay for his sins. The fact that she can’t take her eyes off the man’s kissable lips only spurs her resolve to bring her assignment to a quick conclusion. 

Eric Yorke, Viscount Mathieson, wishes nothing more than to distance himself from his treacherous fiancĂ©e, but in his quest to do so, he finds himself trapped in the clutches of the unconventional Miss Halls. The delectable yet annoyingly persistent woman seems intent on ruining his life no matter how much he tries to thwart her attempts. 

Her efforts to seek and destroy meet their match in his determination to foil her plans, until their struggles collide in a scandal of enormous proportions. Fated together, they must overcome ruin, danger and heartbreak. Will they be able to survive their past or is their future together doomed?

Review 5 stars

A well crafted story that had me glued to the page.

Lavinia and Eric make a brilliant couple. Their attraction to each other is matched in their ability to outwit and verbally spar with one another. I had a few laugh out loud moments at their antics and verbal exchanges most of which take place with tight lipped smiles in full view and within earshot of polite society. The fact that they are also attracted to each other added to my amusement. The scene involving the orphans was my favourite between the pair. It showed Eric in an endearing light and it sealed my liking of him. 

I loved the idea of women from this time period being involved in and running a secret society where their aim is to get revenge on the men who have wronged their female clients. These are no demure women lounging around drinking tea and doing embroidery. They are a force to be reckoned with and are good at what they do. That is until Lavinia accepts her latest mission and things don't go according to plan.

The romantic exchanges between Lavinia and Eric were refreshingly well written, and a necessary element of the plot rather than just cringey page fillers that you so often find in historical romance. The scenes are kept short and you really get pulled into the moment along with them.

I also loved the suspense element towards of the end of the book which I wasn't expecting but I love it when there is a bit of excitement like this included in the story. The menace was realistic and I got a real sense of the danger Lavinia found herself in.   

I don't think I will be able to get enough of this series!
Highly recommended

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review

Dangerous Kisses is free to read with Kindle Unlimited and is available to purchase here

True Peril by Veronica Forand (2016)


Saturday 5 March 2016

Tea with Milk and Murder (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries ~ Book 2) by H.Y. Hanna (2016)

Publisher's Information

NEW SERIES! While at an Oxford cocktail party, tearoom owner Gemma Rose overhears a sinister conversation minutes before a University student is fatally poisoned. Could there be a connection? And could her best friend Cassie's new boyfriend have anything to do with the murder?

Gemma decides to start her own investigation, helped by the nosy ladies from her Oxfordshire village and her old college flame, CID detective Devlin O'Connor. But her mother is causing havoc at Gemma's quaint English tearoom and her best friend is furious at her snooping... and this mystery is turning out to have more twists than a chocolate pretzel!

Too late, Gemma realises that she's could be the next item on the killer's menu. Or will her little tabby cat, Muesli, save the day?
(** Velvet Cheesecake recipe included!)

This book follows British English spelling and usage.
Clean read: no graphic violence, sex, or strong language.
Genre: humorous culinary, cat cozy mystery series / women amateur sleuth / British mystery

Review 5 stars

A brilliant follow up to 'A Scone to Die For.'

Gemma, once again, lands herself in hot water when she investigates a murder that takes place during her friend's art exhibition. There are plenty of suspects to choose from and her friend's new boyfriend is number one on her list. There are plenty of twists in the story and I was as surprised as Gemma was with the identity of the murderer.

In addition to the mystery, the funny side stories involving Gemma's mother working in the tearoom make for delightful and entertaining reading. Luckily, Gemma has the 'Old Biddies' on hand when things start to fall apart. They keep their noses firmly in other people's affairs and pour tea at the same time.
I love the way Muesli, the cat, is written into the story and comes to the rescue at just the right moment.

There are some developments in Gemma's love life as well but I'm hoping this aspect isn't rushed too quickly to a happy ending for her and Devlin as I am enjoying their little arguments as well as her mother's matchmaking attempts.

Oxford is described in such warmth and detail that it makes me want to hop over for a weekend, take a walk around and drop in for tea.
I can't wait for the next book in the series.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tea with Milk and Murder can be read for free with Kindle Unlimited or purchased here