Friday 30 June 2023

Cold Snap (Cold Justice - Most Wanted) by Toni Anderson (2023)

 


PUBLISHER DESCRIPTION

Evidence that a notorious criminal is hiding out in a small, seaside town in rural Maine leads to an FBI agent going undercover in this new Romantic Thriller from New York Times bestselling author Toni Anderson.

Grady Steel returns to the insular community of Deception Cove, Maine, where he spent his troubled youth unfairly labeled the town’s bad boy. Now a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, Grady is on a risky undercover mission, hunting one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives.

Recovering from a broken marriage, Brynn Webster comes home to the sleepy small town—where nothing ever happens—to help her parents run their seaside cafe during her mother’s illness. After diving into the frigid waters of the winter harbor to rescue a dead man, Brynn begins to realize that the ocean isn’t the only place swirling with dangerous undercurrents.

Grady befriends the pretty manager of the local cafe in an effort to unearth the town’s closely guarded secrets. Deceiving Brynn isn’t easy, though, especially when he starts to fall for her. Then, when decades-old crimes lead to modern-day murder, Grady’s mission becomes a race against time as he strives to catch a ruthless killer—before Brynn becomes the next victim.

All the books can be read as standalone novels. Hot romantic stories with thrilling plots and guaranteed happily ever afters, they do contain strong language.

                                    

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Cold Snap is an addictive romantic thriller with nail-biting suspense, tension, and unexpected twists. The story is quite dark where Eli Kane is concerned, but that's to be expected from someone on the FBI's most wanted list.
I really liked Brynn. A refreshing female character; strong and resourceful. She showed what she was capable of in an emergency quite early in the story. She was a real heroine throughout much of this book and not a cliche damsel in distress.
Drama and intrigue abound, and the revelations made at the end took me completely by surprise. The author has such a way of writing characters that there was even a minute or two where I wanted everything to work out for the bad guy even though I knew what he had done in the past. A very tense final few scenes made this book very memorable.

I read this book in a day, and I couldn't put it down. An excellent read from start to finish.

 

                        Cold Snap is out now Amazon

Wednesday 28 June 2023

The Hotel by Louise Mumford (2023)

 


Four of them went to the hotel

Four students travel to Ravencliffe, an eerie abandoned hotel perched on steep cliffs on the Welsh coast. After a series of unexplained accidents, only three of them leave. The fourth, Leo, disappears and is never seen again.

Only three of them came back

A decade on, the friends have lost contact. Oscar is fame-hungry, making public appearances and selling his story. Richard sank into alcoholism and is only just recovering. Bex just wants to forget – until one last opportunity to go back offers the chance to find out what really happened to Leo.

Ten years later, they return one last time

But as soon as they get to the hotel things start going wrong again. Objects mysteriously disappear and reappear. Accidents happen. And Bex realises that her former friends know far more than they are letting on about the true events at Ravencliffe that night…

    Genres #Thriller #Mystery #Suspense #PsychologicalThriller #MysteryThriller
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        A solid four stars for a mystery steeped in intrigue, tension and creepiness.
          As someone who lost a friend very young, I really felt for the remaining three friends and sympathised with how grief affected the next ten years of their lives. I couldn't imagine going back to the scene to make a movie and I agreed with Bex on that score. However, the possibility of finding out what really happened to Leo was a pull too difficult to ignore.
            I loved the descriptions of the hotel. It had quite a dark history. The grounds and the building itself were creepy and had a haunted feeling made more so as the tragic story of past inhabitants was revealed. It was a complete mystery as to what had really happened to Leo and I didn't have a clue until the big reveal.
              The story is told in dual timelines where the narration jumps between the group exploring the house in the present day mirroring the group's activities ten years previously. This added to the haunted feel of the story.
                The conclusion to the mystery was riveting, emotional, tense and fraught with danger. There were a few surprises and twists but with the mystery solved I was happy that the future seemed that little bit brighter for my favourite characters. 
                The Hotel is out now Amazon

Monday 26 June 2023

The French Chateau Dream by Julie Caplin (2023) Audiobook narrated by Sophie Roberts.

 


You are invited to a summer of sparkling champagne, warm buttery croissants and a little bit of je ne sais quoi… With a broken heart and a broken spirit, Hattie is in need of a summer escape. So when an opportunity comes up to work at a beautiful, stately chateau in the Champagne region of France she books her flights quicker than the pop of a cork. Romance is the last thing Hattie is looking for but then she wasn’t expecting gorgeous Luc to stroll into her life. With picnics in the warm French sun and delicious foodie trips to the local market, Hattie starts to wonder if a holiday fling – or maybe even something more – might be just what she needs.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

A delightfully heartwarming story and the perfect summer escapist read. Hattie is a darling of a  character, determined to build a new life for herself and carve a name in the industry of event and wedding planning. Her cousin's wedding at a French chateau and winery is the perfect opportunity. I was rooting for Hattie all the way through this book as she faced plenty of obstacles and sabotage along the way. 
Luc is a likeable character and has his own family issues to work through but he and Hattie make a cute pairing. There were times when I wanted to shake Hattie as she let misguided guilt and obligation sway her mind with a useless ex. With much relief, the conclusion dealt with matters satisfactorily with Hattie taking control of her own destiny aided by a little nudge from new friends and family.
The supporting cast in this story was charming and I could really see what Hattie's life would be like in the future with these people around her and a thriving wedding and champagne business to keep them all busy.
A wonderful story to listen to as the narration was performed well. The French accents were nicely done. It added to a sense of being in France but gentle enough that they weren't distracting. 

The French Chateu Dream will be published on the 30th of June.

 

Thursday 15 June 2023

Gathering Of The Four by A.E Bennett

 


Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopia    Length: 503 pages       Published: 2nd April 2021

Blurb

"In the Realm, every citizen knows their place."

Leora of Mae is a young woman orphaned at birth and raised on a remote farm. As a wielder of Xanthcraft, her abilities set her apart from her adoptive family and the other villagers.

Shortly before her twentieth birthday, she learns of her family’s plot to sell her into servitude. Fearing for her life, she flees from the only home she’s ever known—defying societal conventions and breaking the edicts of the Realm.

As she runs, Leora meets Roland Shallowbrook, a traveller on the Thieves’ Road; Lady Aurora Verte, daughter of a powerful member of the gentry; and the White Rider Leopold, a soldier with a secret.

Together, this found family will have to band together to survive.

Set in the distant future during the return of the Hale-Bopp comet, Gathering of the Four is the first book in The Serrulata Saga.

About the Author

A.E. Bennett lives in Washington, D.C. She is originally from North Carolina.

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A well-deserved five stars for an unputdownable and thrilling action-adventure. At 503 pages it should be a chunky read but it doesn't seem like it at all. The story never loses momentum even for a moment and I found myself flying through this story at top speed. The second in the series is already published so I'll be diving into that book as soon as possible!

Gathering Of The Four has excellent character development and world-building. I had a very clear picture of who everyone was and the world they inhabited. Each character was equally interesting and important to me. Even the villains were written in such a way that you wanted to read more scenes involving them. 

The reader goes through a gamut of emotions as the characters individually experience pain, fear, and betrayal before finding hope and love as a band of friends fighting for survival. Their path is fraught with danger making it a nail-biting experience from start to finish. There is a real sense of evil and oppression in society. The sovereign and his advisor rule the land like a dictatorship and their army of White Riders enforce every dictate. The White Riders are suitably terrifying because of their ruthlessness and lack of mercy. It makes thrilling reading as the White Riders hunt the Four across the land.

Leopold's backstory really pulled me in. We learn more about him and his family than we do Leora and I found his story appalling but fascinating. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the little child he used to be and for what happened to him when he began his training to be a White Rider.

The other three members of the Four also have their own unique talents and quirks, especially Leora who is a Xanthi with very strong but untrained magical abilities. Aurora is clever and educated. Roland is a thief but loyal and quick to defend. Together, they make an unlikely but terrific team.

An addictive read and a fantastic start to the series.

Gathering Of The Four is out now. Amazon

Friday 9 June 2023

The Murder Affair (A Beth Haldane Mystery Book 9) by Alice Castle (2023)

In a quiet little village, mourners gather for a church funeral. But some of the tears flowing are fake – and Beth Haldane suspects foul play…

On a rainy afternoon, Beth Haldane accompanies her elderly mother Wendy to the funeral of her boyfriend and local councillor Len. But as they gather in the church, Beth can’t help but notice how many women are there who look just like her mother.

As the service begins it soon becomes clear that all of the women thought they were Len’s special someone – and one of them even claims to be his distraught wife. Wendy suspects foul play and immediately asks Beth to investigate.

As Beth begins to speak to the women she has to ask, was one of Len’s many disgruntled girlfriends out for revenge? Why was Len borrowing money from the ladies he romanced? And why did his work for the local council seem so suspicious?

Then, Len’s secretary Bella is found dead amongst the dahlias in the churchyard. Beth starts to suspect Len was involved in something far more dangerous than she’d assumed but what did Bella know about his business that led to her unfortunate end?

With the village rumour mill in full swing, fingers start to point at Wendy. After all, distraught Wendy is telling everyone who lends her an ear that Len was murdered – and she saw Len the very evening he was found dead. The clock is ticking for Beth to clear her mother’s name before it’s too late!

A deliciously cozy and gripping murder mystery, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and The Thursday Murder Club.

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A wonderfully addictive read. A mystery that really held my attention all the way through and a host of characters that delight and entertain. This series shows no sign of slowing down. 

I loved the underlying humour flowing through this book. It added a lighthearted touch. In addition to the mystery and murders, Beth had to contend with family life, friendships and frenemies. I found the mean girls subplot to be quite entertaining especially when Beth and her friends met each barb with one of their own. Beth's mother and brother are equally as entertaining and it amazes me that Beth manages to stay sane around them.

For an addictive, light-hearted read and clever mystery the Beth Haldane series hits the mark.

The Murder Affair is out now  Amazon

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Spotlight~ Women of Courage (Three Book Series)~ by Linda Weaver Clarke

 


Check out these book trailers to see more! Vimeo (1)   Vimeo (2)

             #TrailBlazingWomen #HistoricalFiction

Are Courageous Women in Stories More Interesting?

Courageous women in stories seem to draw readers’ attention and grab their

interest. The bravery and strength of character easily draws them into the story. It

takes courage to stick up for one’s rights and defend one’s beliefs. During the

1840s, there were many brave women who fought against injustice and

inequality. Many wanted to have a better education. These women made a

difference and influenced others to make a better life for themselves.

A fairly new historical romance series was released that has received

outstanding reviews on Amazon and Audible Audiobooks. It is called “Women of

Courage.” In these novellas, the spunk and courage of these women seem to

draw the readers into a world of adventure.

In The Light at the end of the Tunnel, Hannah is a young single mother who

has had a few hardships since arriving in America. But the trials in her life only

make her stronger. Hannah realizes she can make something of her life by

opening a hot chocolate shop. She soon finds that starting her own business isn’t

as easy as she thought. But she will not give up. When Thomas learns that she

has spirit, he is intrigued with her.

“This romance wrapped around my heart as it took me into the struggles of

Hannah, such a brave woman… The characters come to life on the page as

Thomas falls for Hannah and adores her child. However, Hannah is caught up in

her day-to-day trials and with her independent streak, she only thinks of making a

life for her and her daughter. Can Thomas get her attention and change her

mind?” ~ Author Gail Pallotta

Hannah isn’t the only one who shows her independent nature. Serenity has

just as much courage. Chasing thieves off her property and entering a horse race 

are just a few things that describe this young Welshwoman’s spunk.

 

In A Lady of Refinement, Serenity teaches an evening class for adults and helps them to

          read and write and have a better education. Reading is Serenity’s favorite pastime,

where she can go on one adventure after another. She wonders if anyone can

measure up to the heroes in her books. But the adventures soon become real

after arriving in America. When Jonathan meets Serenity, a refined woman from

Wales, he wonders how he can win her heart.

“How I enjoy finding a book that will not let me put it down until I'm done!  This

was the case with A Lady of Refinement.  Linda Weaver Clarke used a true story

of her ancestor’s as a base, and it rang familiar to me, as my ancestors also

migrated to America during the same time period. The main character, Serenity,

is the refined lady and it was such a delight when she bested a few arrogant

males.  My favorite character, however, was Jonathan, who was very taken with

Serenity.  Time will tell if he is successful at capturing her attention.” ~ Louise

Pledge Reviews


There is one more independent woman in this series. The third novella is

about a young woman who stands before an audience and fights against

involuntary servitude and slavery. Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist, wrote:

“When the true history of the antislavery cause shall be written, women will

occupy a large space in its pages; for the cause of the slave has been peculiarly

a woman’s cause.”

In A Mississippi Sunset, Laura McBride is a liberated and courageous young

lady who is convinced that she can help others in her crusade for equality. She

encourages women to fight for their beliefs and be heard. But she soon finds out

that women who speak publicly are looked down upon. When Deputy William

Davies meets Laura, he admires her spunk and determination to fight against

slavery.

“I really enjoyed this sweet and clean historical fiction and romance. A

Mississippi Sunset is part of a series of brave women who were not afraid to take

a stand in what they believe needed to be changed and you will see some

historical figures that appear in this book!  Loved that. This is a very enjoyable

book and it is well worth a read!” ~ Sunnie Reviews

Taking true experiences from the author’s ancestors, this series of novellas

was created. These young ladies were considered “women of courage.”

 

About Author: Linda Weaver Clarke is the author of 35 books. All her

books are family friendly. Linda works at the FamilySearch Center where she

helps people find their ancestors. She also teaches a free class at FamilySearch

about writing biographies and publishing it.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is available on Amazon and on Audible 

narrated by BreAnne Okoren.


A Lady of Refinement is available on Amazon and on Audible  narrated by BreAnne Okoren.


A Mississippi Sunset is available on Amazon and on Audible narrated by Elizabeth Schmidt.



Tuesday 6 June 2023

The Beast and the Bookseller (Once Upon a Wallflower Book 1) by Eva Devon (2023)

She’s about to make a beast of a bargain in this clever and deliciously engaging fairytale twist, from USA Today bestselling author Eva Devon…

All of London gossips about the Duke of Montrose. A recluse. Inflicted with a terrible disease. A gargoyle with a terrible temper. But he’s also the most important patron of the centuries-old book shop that belongs to Miss Elizabeth Sharpe’s family. Now she’s been charged with delivering books to the Gargoyle of London herself—or risk their shop falling into ruin. But surely a duke can’t be that ghastly…

Garrett Maximilian doesn’t give a tinker’s damn what society says about him. Most of them are sycophants, bowing and scraping in his presence. But not this proud, redheaded spitfire of a woman standing before him. In fact, nothing makes him feel more alive than Miss Elizabeth tartly criticizing his books. Perhaps he just needs a plan to keep her close…

The duke’s glower doesn’t terrify Elizabeth as much as it fascinates her. And worse, he looks at her with a dark hunger that should make her shake with fear—not desire. But Elizabeth’s father has sinister plans in store for his daughter…and this beastly duke might be her only salvation.
A regency romance with shades of Beauty and the Beast and Pride and Prejudice.

 

The grumpy, reclusive duke meets a sunny Elizabeth at the bookshop she runs with her father. They bond over their love of books which was charmingly done with their reading of Pride and Prejudice.
The duke did not have a happy upbringing and his father was to blame for much of the suffering he endured growing up. I would have liked to see more of his work in bringing the doctor of the asylum to justice as it was an interesting subplot. The duke's friend, Essex, was a good-humoured and entertaining side character and one I'd like to see more of as the series progresses. As a fairytale retelling this was quite cute and an entertaining easy read.

                                        The Beast and the Bookseller is out now  Amazon

 


                        
     

     

Sunday 4 June 2023

Murder at Waldenmere Lake (Iris Woodmore Mysteries #2) by Michelle Salter (2023)


Description

A murder shocks the small town of Walden. And it’s only the beginning…

Walden, 1921. Local reporter Iris Woodmore is determined to save her beloved lake, Waldenmere, from destruction.

After a bloody and expensive war, the British Army can’t afford to keep the lake and build a convalescent home on its shores yet they still battle with Walden Council and a railway company for ownership. But an old mansion used as an officer training academy stands where the railway company plans to build a lakeside hotel. It belongs to General Cheverton – and he won’t leave his home.

When the General is found murdered, it appears someone will stop at nothing to win the fight for Waldenmere. Iris thinks she can take on the might of the railway company and find the killer. But nothing prepares her for the devastation that’s to come…


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A twisty tale of murder and secret relationships in village life post-war England.
I was not expecting this book to pack such an emotional punch but it did. I didn't see one of the murders coming and it took me completely by surprise. 
I love Iris' outlook on life and how she wants to live it on her own terms regardless of society's expectations. It is refreshing to meet such a character in this genre and I hope she continues to have fun and doesn't cave to societal pressures anytime soon. 
I really love how this series is historically rich in detail. It really feels like I'm in post-war England and can see first-hand the impact the war had on society in general. Shell shock among soldiers is pretty well known and taught in history classes but I had never considered the effects the war had on women who worked on the front line in field or military hospitals.
A fantastic book; an unpredictable and absorbing read.

 

Saturday 3 June 2023

The Body at Carnival Bridge (Iris Woodmore Mysteries #3) by Michelle Salter (2023)

 


How deadly is the fight for equality?

It’s 1922, and after spending a year travelling through Europe, Iris Woodmore returns home to find a changed Walden. Wealthy businesswoman Constance Timpson has introduced equal pay in her factories and allows women to retain their jobs after they marry.

But these radical new working practices have made her deadly enemies.

A mysterious sniper fires a single shot at Constance – is it a warning, or did they shoot to kill? When one of her female employees is murdered, it’s clear the threat is all too real — and it’s not just Constance in danger.

As amateur sleuth Iris investigates, she realises the sniper isn’t the only hidden enemy preying on women.

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This third Iris Woodmore mystery had me completely baffled until the last minute. The murder plot was intricately woven and full of details that may or may not be connected. The attempted shooting of Constance Timpson was another worrying matter. 

Iris has returned from her travels just in time to get caught up in another murder investigation but she has some fences to mend with old friends before she can start. 

There are a lot of changes to Walden and lots of new faces. Some are more likeable than others. I took an instant dislike to Archie, the smarmy new Reverand and I had to wonder at Iris finding him attractive. Plenty of intimidating characters live at the convalescent home for soldiers and this further confuses the matter when Iris is looking for suspects. 

I like how the author uses dark subject material that wouldn't normally be tackled in the genre. The author pays attention to detail in the social history of post-war Britain and uses it to great advantage to further the plot; the effects of the Great War on returning soldiers, the change to society for men and women, the weakening of social class distinctions, women's rights, reproductive rights and terminations etc. Times are changing at a speed which is too fast for some members of society.

I found myself reading through this book quite quickly as I wanted to find out what would happen next. Iris's personal life is as eventful as the investigations she gets mixed up in and I'm looking forward to reading how things progress with her father and his fiancΓ©e, and Iris and her friends.


The Body At Carnival Bridge is out now Amazon