Sunday, 29 January 2023

Murder At The Seven Dials (A Bow Street Duchess Mystery Book 1) by Cara Devlin (2023)

 


A murdered opera singer. A duke drenched in her blood. For Bow Street Officer Hugh Marsden, the brutal killing is a straightforward case. Ever since his exile from polite society, the chance to arrest a high and mighty peer of the realm has never presented itself. Hugh won’t snub the opportunity now.

But Audrey Sinclair, the Duchess of Fournier, is certain her husband is wrongly accused, and she’s determined to prove it to the arrogant Bow Street officer, even if she must employ her most peculiar ability—or perhaps curse—to guide her investigation. After all, a duchess can do as she pleases.

Exasperated with the meddling duchess, Hugh is convinced she is protecting her own secrets, and the duke’s. But when Audrey’s discoveries persuade him to believe the true killer is still at large, he has no choice but to join her in the hunt—if only to keep her from becoming the next victim.


Oh, I really loved this book. Everything about it appealed to me; historical, murder, paranormal, romance and mystery. 

The Duchess and Hugh become unlikely allies after her husband is arrested for the murder of an opera singer. Hugh is certain he has the right man until the evidence starts to create doubt in his mind. He and Audrey keep crossing paths as she conducts her own investigation and they eventually begin to trust one another and work together. I enjoyed watching them become friends and the spark between them will surely lead to more sexual tension in the next book.

The main characters all have interesting backstories. There is still some mystery surrounding Hugh's past but there is enough to understand his background and it will be interesting to find out more as the series progresses. 
I liked Audrey's husband, Philip and it leads me to worry about whether there is an impending death for him somewhere along the line to eventually allow Audrey and Hugh to marry.
Hugh's eyes and ears on the street, the boy he calls Sir, was a cute addition and I hope he gets involved in more cases and is rewarded well.

The murder of the opera singer was brutal. It set an ominous and suspenseful tone to the story as Audrey began her investigations by interviewing people any of whom could potentially be the cold-blooded killer. 
I found this book difficult to put down and I finished reading it fairly quickly. 
I can't wait until March for the next book in the series, Death at Fournier Downs.

A well-deserved five stars for Murder At The Seven Dials. 




Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Irex by Carl Rackman Blog Tour


Irex by Carl Rackman

BlogTour  TheWriteReads 




Blurb


In the harsh winter of December 1889, the sailing vessel Irex leaves Scotland, bound for Rio de Janeiro. She carries three thousand tons of pig iron and just three passengers for what should be a routine voyage. But Captain Will Hutton soon discovers that one of his passengers hides a horrifying secret that threatens the lives of everyone on board. As the Irex battles relentless storms, Hutton fights battles of his own as he becomes mired in the intrigues of his passengers.

When the Irex is wrecked off the Isle of Wight six weeks later, it falls to the county coroner, Frederick Blake, to unravel the events that overtook the doomed ship. He quickly runs into opposition - powerful forces within the British Establishment are working to spike his inquest. Locked in a conflict with the sinister agents sent to obstruct the investigation, he begins to discover that nothing aboard the Irex is what it first seemed, while the evil that stalked the ship now threatens anyone who seeks to expose it...

Irex is an atmospheric mystery, set in a rich Victorian world, packed with intrigue, twists and unforgettable characters — the gripping first novel by Carl Rackman.

Irex took the Silver Medal in the Historical Fiction category of the #RBRT 2017 Book Awards.

Review

I love mystery and historical novels and as someone who lives in a coastal area with a rich maritime history, I found this novel about the ill-fated Irex very appealing. It's a fictional and thrilling reimagining of the events behind the sinking of the Irex in 1899. Captain Hutton is responsible for life on board the ship but what is he supposed to do when there is a serial killer on board and he is blackmailed into silence? There is a foreboding sense of unease as passengers and crew become sick or violent. As a storm rages the devilry on board the Irex ratchets up and Captain Hutton is faced with murder and the threat of mutiny. As the ship sinks, the crew of the Irex show their mettle and loyalty as they try to survive and apprehend a killer before the ship is lost. Mrs Barstow, one of the passengers, was an interesting character but I didn't completely understand her. Her personality seemed to evolve and change. It would be interesting to read some of the events from her perspective, with more of her back story and what motivated her to make the decisions she had made in life. The wrecking of the Irex is a tense and suspenseful section of the novel. The author describes the scene, the fear and the resolve of the sailors very well. The difficulty the lifeboats faced in the storm was described in nail-biting detail. I loved the dual storyline- jumping between life on board the ship and the coroner's investigation. Both were equally exciting and thrilling and I found myself turning the pages quickly as the story progressed at a fast pace. I enjoyed the snippets of humour in the book and the little dark twist at the end was a deviously delightful touch. Irex ticks a lot of boxes and anyone who likes historical mysteries, or nautical-themed books is sure to enjoy this one.

Buy Link Amazon

Add to your Goodreads shelf Goodreads

About the Author


Hi! I'm Carl Rackman, a British former airline pilot turned author. I spent my working life travelling the world and this has given me a keen interest in other people and cultures. I've drawn on my many experiences for my writing.

I write suspense thrillers with a grounded science-fiction theme. I like reading novels that feature atmospheric locales and I enjoy complex, absorbing storylines combined with rich, believable characters, so that's the sort of fiction I write. I try to create immersive worlds for the reader to explore, and characters who are more than just vehicles for the story.

I come from a naval military background and have held a lifelong interest in military history and seafaring - all my books usually contain some of these elements!

Author Website
Follow Carl Rackman on Twitter


Some Review Excerpts

“Mr. Rackman is an exceptional writer” - Noelle Granger, RA Book Review Team


“A spectacularly good novel” - Terry Tyler, author of The Project Renova trilogy


“A tortuous tale with excellent characterisation” - Tuesday Book Blog


“It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. It’s so good and the quality of the writing is excellent throughout.” - Cathy Ryan, Between The Lines Review Blog


"What a book! I liked the writing instantly and was intrigued by the whole premise of the story." - Amazon Reviewer


"It's rare for me to give 5 stars, especially for a genre that I wouldn't normally touch, but this book is so atmospheric, so gripping, so intriguing, so entertaining that I could not award less." - Amazon Reviewer


Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Death at Crookham Hall by Michelle Salter (2023)

 



Just published today

 The start of a gripping 1920s cozy mystery series from Michelle Salter for 2023. 


Description

A fatal jump. A missing suffragette. An inexplicable murder.
London, 1920. For the first time ever, two women are competing against each other to become an MP. Reporter Iris Woodmore has a big story on her hands when she accompanies one of the candidates to the House of Commons. But it’s a place that holds painful memories. In 1914, her mother died there when she fell into the River Thames during a daring suffragette protest. Then, in the shadow of Big Ben, a waterman tells Iris her mother didn’t fall – she jumped.

Iris discovers that the suffragette with her mother that fateful day has been missing for six years, mysteriously disappearing just after the protest. Desperate to know the truth behind the fatal jump, Iris’s investigation leads her to Crookham Hall, an ancestral home where secrets and lies lead to murder…

The first book in the Iris Woodmore cozy crime series.

Previously published as The Suffragette’s Daughter.

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I love mysteries set in the 1920's and was delighted to start this series from the beginning. 
Once Iris begins researching the candidates for election she stumbles upon more than one mystery associated with Crookham Hall. Simultaneously, the question of what really happened to her mother on the day she died is raised and Iris is determined to get to the bottom of it. Not even a missing maid and murder can put Iris off the case. She worries away at all the loose threads until the truth finally comes to light.
Death at Crookham Hall pushes the boundaries of what makes a traditional cozy as there are some darker and shocking twists to the story that I didn't see coming. I loved that it managed to shock me and take me by surprise. 
The court case was another good twist as we don't normally get to see past the arrest in mystery novels.
I enjoyed the historical detail, the link to the suffragettes and how women were treated by the law and society at that time.
One of my favourite characters was Percy who was very entertaining and funny. He injected a lot of humour into the book and I hope he pops up as a recurring character in the rest of the series.
I'm looking forward to reading Book 2: Murder At Waldenmere Lake when it's published in March.

Death at Crookham Hall is out now Amazon

Sunday, 15 January 2023

Lie To Her : Bree Taggert #6 by Melinda Leigh (Montlake, 2023)


 

Lies from the heart lead to a dangerously intimate case for Sheriff Bree Taggert in #1 Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh’s novel of revenge and fatal deceptions.

When a digital marketer is found murdered in his backyard—hands bound and face smothered by plastic wrap—Sheriff Bree Taggert and criminal investigator Matt Flynn respond to the call. Their investigation focuses on the man’s dating-app profile and the word liar carved into his forehead.

One day later, the killer strikes again.

Both victims are players in the internet dating scene. In their wake, they leave a trail of hurt—and angry—women. But Bree and Matt aren’t convinced the motive is as simple as it appears. Everyone they interview seems to be lying or hiding something.

As the list of suspects grows, the killer’s rage escalates, and he leaves a personal and deadly warning for Bree. They must act fast. Because someone Bree loves is targeted as the next to die.

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A fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing. I thought I had a good idea of what to expect from this suspenseful thriller but the author teased me with twists that surprised me. The tension levels and suspense are high, particularly in the book's final quarter when the lives of characters I didn't want anything to happen to were in danger.

I have to admit I didn't have an awful lot of sympathy for the male victims at the beginning of the book and it wouldn't have been too much for me if the author had decided to do away with a few more like them. Although, maybe resorting to murder is slightly overstepping the mark but hey, that's the joy of fiction. 

Bree and Matt are much more professional in their outlook and waste no time looking for evidence, motive and suspects. And there are plenty to choose from. The victims have left a string of angry women behind who feel used and discarded so it's no surprise that they are some of many on the suspect list.

I have read a few of the books in this series but each one is easily enjoyed as a standalone. If you like mysteries and thrillers with more emphasis on solving crime than romance then you will enjoy this series. There is a romantic element but it's in the background and very low-key.

Lie To Her is the 6th book in the Bree Taggert series and will be published on the 17th of January.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

A Guide To Being Just Friends: Jansen Brothers #3 by Sophie Sullivan (2023)


A playful and emotional romantic comedy from the author of Ten Rules for Faking It

Hailey Sharp has a one-track mind. Get By the Cup salad shop off the ground. Do literally everything possible to make it a success. Repeat. With a head full of entrepreneurial ideas and a bad ex in her rearview, her one and only focus is living life the way she wants to. No distractions.

Wes Jansen never did understand the fuss about relationships. With a string of lackluster first dates and the pain from his parents’ angry divorce following him around, he’d much rather find someone who he likes, but won’t love. Companionship, not passion, is the name of the game.

When Hailey and Wes find each other in a disastrous meet cute that wasn’t even intended for them, they embarrassingly go their separate ways. But when Wes finds Hailey to apologize for his behavior, they strike a friendship. Because that’s all this can be. Hailey doesn’t want any distractions. Wes doesn’t want to fall in love.

What could possibly go wrong?

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A slow-burn romance with a bunch of characters I'd like to be friends with.
The best thing for me in this book was the friendships. There is a whole host of side characters in this book with different personalities and qualities in people you would enjoy knowing. Some have appeared in the previous books so it was nice to see them involved in this story. Hailey's friends are funny and supportive. I loved Fiona and her silly quizzes. 
Wes and Hailey's friendship started awkwardly but they were the perfect complement to each other. It was obvious there were sparks between them but they made the conscious decision of being friends. Their bond and friendship blossomed as they spent time together just doing normal stuff. They could be themselves without any judgement or expectations. They were really sweet together. Wes was down to earth, kind and generous but a bit stuck in his ways. Hailey was strong and independent. I liked that she stood up for herself in her relationship with Wes but that she eventually learned to accept help and support from people who love her.
I enjoyed watching them fall in love while not realising it and how they handled it when the penny dropped.

A few characters were new. I liked Leo. He had an interesting story that wasn't fleshed out and I'm wondering if the author isn't completely finished with the Jansen universe.
I would have liked to have seen the Ana situation get resolved more satisfactorily. She got away too easily with her behaviour. I felt that the situation with the father was glossed over as well.
Wes's mother was mentioned but didn't appear in the book and it would be interesting to see how she settles into the neighbourhood. 

A Guide to Being Just Friends is a cute slow burn romance, entertaining, angsty and fun. To be published on the 17th January 2023.
 






Wednesday, 11 January 2023

BLOG TOUR --- A Laird In London (Mills & Boon Historical) (Lairds of the Isles, Book 2) by Catherine Tinley (2022)




 

A Laird in London.

There’s a new Laird in town. Will he leave with a wife? Angus MacDonald has just arrived in London to reclaim his land when he rescues Lady Isabella Wood from a cattle stampede! Their instant attraction is undeniable, but Isabella must wed this Season and Angus isn’t looking for a bride. His wild Hebridean home is a world away from London Society, so Isabella is completely out-of-bounds. Even if their connection is unlike anything he’s felt before.

Purchase Link -https://mybook.to/LairdLondon

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Angus and Isabella have huge obstacles to climb in order to find their way to a happy ever after in this second instalment of the Lairds of the Isles series.

Angus is in town with one goal in mind; to buy back land on his island from its English owner. Marriage especially to an English lady is out of the question. Things don't always go to plan; not only is the land not for sale but he finds himself head over heels for the lady he saved from a stampede in Hyde Park. He knows she is off limits but he can't help but look for her at the park every time he is there. 

The beginning of Isabella and Angus' friendship is humorous, sweet and heartwarming. Both characters are extremely likeable as is Angus's sister Eilidh. You can't help but get pulled along with their hopes and dreams only for them to be dashed as reality hits. Isabella's brother, Freddy, won't countenance her marrying a Scot and Angus is determined to marry someone from the island who will be content to live in that remote and harsh environment. 

Time is running out for both of them as Isabella is under immense pressure to choose a husband and to do so within a fortnight.

I was intrigued by the relationship between Eilidh and Isabella's other brother, Max. There were subtle hints of an attraction there and it will be interesting to see if their story continues in a further book in the series.

A Laird in London concludes in a satisfying and uplifting way. Isabella manages to stand up for herself and a solution is found to all the obstacles standing in their way.

A lovely read guaranteed to put a smile on your face as you turn the pages.


                                       

Catherine Tinley is a multi-award-winning author of witty, heartwarming historical romance. Her first novelWaltzing with the Earl, won the Rita® Award for Best Historical Romance in 2018, whileRags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021 as well as the HOLT Medallion, and A Waltz with the Outspoken Governess won the RoNA Award for Best HistoricalRomance 2022. She has loved reading and writing since childhood and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.comon facebooktwitter, and Instagram

https://linktr.ee/CTinley

Enter to Win a signed copy of A Laird in London (Open INT)  

             Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions–Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s RandomResources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s RandomResources will delete the data.I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Thank you to Rachel @rararesources for organising the Blog Tour.




Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Built to Last by Erin Hahn (St. Martin's Press, 2022)

 


Shelby Springfield has spent the last ten years trying to overcome her past, sanding it away like she does the rough spots on the vintage furniture finds she makes over. But as a former child star, it’s hard to forget a mediocre pop career, a meltdown widely documented by the paparazzi, and a huge public break with her former co-star Lyle Jessup. It’s also hard to forget her other co-star and childhood sweetheart, Cameron Riggs -- the one who got away. Anytime Shelby has called, Cameron has come running… and then he runs right off again to chase stories around the world by making documentaries, too scared to admit what he really wants. But when Lyle stirs the pot, getting the two back in the spotlight with a home renovation show, Cameron can't help but come on board. There's something in it for everyone -- almost. Cameron wants to come home and set down some roots. Shelby wants to prove to the world she's not the messy party girl anymore. And Lyle wants to twist the screws on his two childhood friends who had more chemistry than he could dream of with anyone. Sparks and sawdust fly as Shelby and Cameron film the pilot for 'Homemade' and battle Lyle’s shenanigans at every turn. Erin Hahn’s sparkling rom com debut, Built to Last, is a second-chance romance sure to have readers falling in love fast.

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I found myself fully engrossed in this novel straight from the beginning.
Shelby and Cameron are childhood friends who find a way back to each other after being apart for most of a decade. Both have gone through changes in career but  Shelby also fell into the inevitable pitfalls you would associate with fame, Hollywood, and the pop industry. I loved that Cameron never hesitated for a second when he got a call for help from her out of the blue. The pair were destined to be together they just needed to figure that out for themselves.
It is billed as a rom-com but it reads more serious than that with a sprinkling of comedy mixed in. Shelby didn't have a supportive family growing up and she was manipulated into working from a young age by her mother. Her father wasn't a big part of her life until she made the decision to leave LA and began working with him in his home renovation business. 
Shelby has a close-knit group of friends who are very supportive and invested in her friendship and potential romance with Cameron. The townspeople love Shelby and it was heartwarming to see them interacting with her, especially the older people for whom she restores furniture with such great care, expertise and respect.
Shelby isn't the only one with nice friends. Cameron's friend Kevin knows all his history with Shelby. There is great banter between the pair with a lot of teasing and funny moments. Cameron also develops a close bond with Shelby's Dad. He also mends his relationship with his brother and dad. 
Some of the humour comes from the villains in the story- Shelby's mother is a piece of work as is Shelby's ex-boyfriend and her former friend. I just loved watching Shelby stand up for herself with these people and do so with humour and class.
The swoon-worthy romantic ending was super sweet and satisfying. It also left me wondering about Shelby's friend Lorelei and if there is a sequel in the making.

Available now Amazon