Thursday, 14 November 2019

Blog Tour - The Rectors Daughter by Jean Fullerton - review

Blog Tour - The Rectors Daughter by Jean Fullerton - review

Today is my stop on the Blog Tour from Rachels Random Resources for the latest historical romance by Jean Fullerton - The Rector's Daughter.

This is a sweet, heartwarming, romantic historical saga and I’m sure fans of this genre will already be familiar with the author as she is a prolific and well-loved saga writer.

The rectors daughter of the title is Charlotte, the only daughter of reverend Percival Hatton, Rector of the title who is a very dislikeable character who’s nasty nature puts you firmly on Charlotte's side from the start. As she attends the opening of the new tunnel beneath the Thames we get an idea of what her life is like as she is bossed around and made to feel like a second class citizen. 

This story is set mainly in Rotherhithe, London in the early 19th century when the ground breaking Rotherhithe tunnel under the River Thames was being constructed. Anyone familiar with the area will recognise well known landmarks and enjoy reading how it differed in the past from today.

There is thwarted love and plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading.

It’s a nice easy to follow story with a loveable handsome hero from a lower class than it is respectable for a well-bred young woman to fall in love with, so of course she does fall head over heels. Her snobbish father magicks up an unlikely and unlovable suitor for his daughter and banishes her to be wed post haste.

The plot is a little predictable but the story won’t fail to enchant readers of romantic sagas with lots of historical detail about the locations, well drawn and believable characters and a hero to rival Ross Poldark in your affections.

The Blurb

Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Percival Hatton, has been content to follow the path laid out for her. Charlotte has an understanding with Captain Nicolas Paget – every inch the gentleman – who she expects someday to marry. But then she meets Josiah Martyn, and everything changes...

A driven and ambitious Cornish mining engineer, and the complete opposite to Captain Nicholas, Josiah has come to London to help build the first tunnel under the river Thames. When unpredictable events occur at the inauguration of the project, Josiah and Charlotte are suddenly thrown into an unexpected intimacy.

 But not everyone is happy with Charlotte and Josiah growing closer. As friends turn to foes, will they be able to rewrite the stars and find their happy ever after, although all odds seem to be stacked against them…?

Buy the book here

Amazon UK - 
Amazon US -

Author Bio – Jean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Jean Fullerton Author

Find her on Social media
Social Media Links –
Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_

Why not support the blog tour by joining both my fellow bloggers who share todays tour date with me?

Monday, 4 November 2019

Blog Tour and Review of Mother and Child by Annie Murray

Blog Tour and Review of Mother and Child by Annie Murray

Today I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Mother and Child by Annie Murray.
 I was invited by #LoveBooksTours and @panmacmillan and am thrilled that I loved the book.

My Review

I was ever so pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. It flows beautifully and really appeals to me as most of the women in it are over 40.
It reminds me a lot of books I’ve read by Amanda Prowse. It’s a very emotional read dealing with some very dark subject matter but its written sensitively and with a deftness and skill that had me galloping through it.

It’s the story of Jo, a middle aged woman going through a dreadful crisis. She and her husband Ian have upped sticks and moved house, trying to create a new start for themselves at a time they are both still grieving over the pointless death of their teenage son Paul. Seething with grief and simmering with bitterness at the feckless youth who’s recklessness took the life of their beloved boy, they bumble from day to day with little to say to one another anymore.

Ian holds in his grief in a blokey manner, going to work in the small garage business he has built up, his grief simmering beneath the surface and threatening to erupt and overwhelm him. Jo can’t face her old job as a teacher, feels she has nothing in common with her friends and for a while her only company is Ian’s Mum Dorrie, ageing and rather frail. The 2 women are very close and as Jo draws strength from caring for Dorrie, the old lady begins to confide about her own past and losses to Jo. This part of the story caters somewhat to Annie Murrays saga fans and is evocative and holds a few mysteries and tragedies of its own as it unfolds.

Bit by bit Jo finds the strength to start trying to build a new life and in a moment of desperation signs up for a yoga class where she finds some great new friends and builds some inner strength.

She reads an article about a 30 year old tragedy in Bhopal India which strikes a chord featuring a photo of a boy who reminds her of Paul, she finds a little solace trying to help the people affected by this tragedy and finds it helps her come to terms with her own loss, little by little. The author has written this book to help raise awareness of this tragic event which 30 years on is still having dreadful repercussions and you can read more about this tragedy on her website and also find out more about her other books. 

This novel raises subjects like death of a child, loss, grief, suicide, depression and the aftermaths of industrial negligence so it was never going to be a light and fluffy read. 

However it’s also about friendship and support, rebuilding relationships and starting over.

The author, being an accomplished an popular saga writer is reaching out to a somewhat different audience with this book and its possible some of her die-hard fans may not adapt easily to this more contemporary type of novel. I loved it. 

The title refers to a statue raised for the survivors of the Bhopal disaster but is also relevant to the theme of a Mothers love for her child, which Jo feels for her son.

The Blurb

Jo and Ian’s marriage is hanging by a thread. One night almost two years ago, their only child, Paul, died in an accident that should never have happened. They have recently moved to a new area of Birmingham, to be near Ian’s mother Dorrie who is increasingly frail. As Jo spends more time with her mother-in-law, she suspects Dorrie wants to unburden herself of a secret that has cast a long shadow over her family.

Haunted by the death of her son, Jo catches a glimpse of a young boy in a magazine who resembles Paul. Reading the article, she learns of a tragedy in India . . . But it moves her so deeply, she is inspired to embark on a trip where she will learn about unimaginable pain and suffering.

As Jo learns more, she is determined to do her own small bit to help. With the help of new friends, Jo learns that from loss and grief, there is hope and healing in her future.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey - my #bookreview for a #randomthingstour

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey - my #bookreview for a #randomthingstour

My thoughts on this wonderful book

As an impassioned devourer of historical fiction, I was intrigued and delighted to receive an invitation to read The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey and join in the blog tour.

What I thought, was that it might be a sweet, glitzy romance, an enjoyable read. I wasn’t even that positive about the era it's set in – the roaring twenties is perhaps not my period of history, of choice (or maybe that should read wasn’t)

What I didn’t realise is the HUGE impact this book would have on me. Probably the MOST romantic love story I’ve ever read and the most utterly heartbreaking too. The authors' wonderful skill is so great that I actually became the main character, Selina for the duration of the book. 

It begins with a lonely 9-year-old, Alice, missing her Mum who has gone away on a business trip with Papa. Left in the dauntingly huge stately home of her austere and remote grandparents, with a stern governess to care for her, her unaffectionate grandparents and the occasional tenderness of her mother’s loyal maid Polly.

Miserable and lost, Alice seizes on the chance to occupy her time until her beloved mother Selina returns, by throwing herself wholeheartedly into a mysterious treasure hunt, left by her mother with clues provided by Polly which lead Alice to discover, in glimpses, the story of Selina’s earlier years. As she discovers hints and clues, we the reader, are treated to a little more depth of detail about this engaging young woman’s youth.

In the 1920s Selina was one of the bright young things, whiling away her time in a flurry of parties, and high spirited japes, often fuelled by alcohol and occasional brushes with drugs, sex and drunken car chases. Always in the news and not always for the right reasons, she is a flibbertigibbet, shallow and spoilt.

With her close friend Flick by her side the two young women dance, laugh and party like there’s no tomorrow, mixing with the well to do and wealthy in whose circle they move.

Circumstances suddenly throw Selina in the path of a handsome and pretty darned gorgeous painter Lawrence. But being from a different class entirely, the two can never be friends or even seen speaking in public. It’s one thing for a young woman of class to be seen falling about drunk at a party (as long as the RIGHT kind of people are at the party) It would be quite another for 2 people of obviously different ends of the social scale to be at the same party and actually socialise – now that WOULD be frowned on!

But as is the way of the world the 2 are drawn to each other like moths to a destructive flame.

What follows is an utterly delightful love story, revealed in spoonfuls that I guzzled down. It honestly made my heart ache.

The stories of then and now begin to intertwine, mysteries unfold and little pieces of my heart began to break off as it becomes apparent that a happy ending is unlikely and not quite everything is exactly as it seemed. 

There are some very poignant scenes in the latter portion of the book, which I defy even the most hard-hearted reader not to shed a tear at. But if you’re that unemotional, perhaps this isn’t the book for you, it is unashamedly romantic and a real tearjerker. 

This IS a book for anyone who has ever loved, lost or dreamt of something they can’t have. 

It’s a book to read at night, tucked under the duvet with a big box of tissues. (Oh yes I ugly-cried myself to sleep over this book - Waaahhh)

It’s about enduring love, abiding friendship secrets and loss. With a nod to the changing roles of women and society and a reminder of how times have changed, a few lovely little twists along the journey, adorable Alice and Selina whom I wanted to despise for her apparent brittle shallowness and instead loved for her rich depth and tenacity.

It is delightful, it is beautifully written, it is immaculately atmospheric and it is perfectly charming. Can you tell I loved it? Go ahead read it, if you’ve got this far I know you’ll love the Glittering hour too.

Thank you to @Annecater of Randomthingstours for including me on this tour and introducing me to a book which is a strong contender for my book of the year.

Oh and the cover is divine too dahhling!

The Blurb

The epic and long-awaited new romance from the author of Letters to the Lost, winner of the RNA Award. 

1925. The war is over and a new generation is coming of age, keen to put the trauma of the previous one behind them. 
Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing whose life is dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure; to parties and drinking and staying just the right side of scandal. Lawrence Weston is a struggling artist, desperate to escape the poverty of his upbringing and make something of himself. When their worlds collide one summer night, neither can resist the thrill of the forbidden, the lure of a love affair that they know cannot possibly last. 
But there is a dark side to pleasure and a price to be paid for breaking the rules. By the end of that summer everything has changed. 
A decade later, nine year old Alice is staying at Blackwood Hall with her distant grandparents, piecing together clues from her mother’s letters to discover the secrets of the past, the truth about the present, and hope for the future.

The Author and links

Iona Grey has a degree in English Literature and Language from Manchester University, an obsession with history and an enduring fascination with the lives of women in the twentieth century. She lives in rural Cheshire with her husband and three daughters. 

She tweets @iona_grey.

The book on Amazon

The Publisher Simon and Schuster

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

My Review of A Transcontinental Affair by Jodi Daynard

Review of A Transcontinental Affair by Jodi Daynard

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical drama about a forbidden affair that develops between two passengers on the first coast to coast across the USA train journey by Pullmann express in 1870.

People from quite different backgrounds and situations are thrown together in a small space and passions are aroused.

The book is extremely well written and the locations they travel to and through are beautifully descriptive so I felt I was there with them, travelling across the USA in this newest form of transport, seeing places one could probably only have dreamt of. It's made me long to do this same trip myself today although the charm of the book is in that it is so undiscovered and new. 

The main characters are wonderful, especially the women. and I was rooting for Louisa especially.

I have read some really fabulous books from Lake Union publishing recently and this is another really great read.

This was one of Amazon's Prime Reads offerings and I urge you to give it a try.

Here's the blurb from Goodreads

A sweeping tale of adventure and danger, innovation and corruption, and two women whose lives intertwine in unexpected ways on America’s first transcontinental train trip

May 1870. Crowds throng the Boston station, mesmerized by the mechanical wonder huffing on the rails: the Pullman Hotel Express, the first train to travel from coast to coast. Boarding the train are congressmen, railroad presidents, and even George Pullman himself. For two young women, strangers until this fateful day, it’s the beginning of a journey that will change their lives.

Sensitive Louisa dreads the trip, but with limited prospects, she’s reluctantly joined the excursion as a governess to a wealthy family. Hattie is traveling to San Francisco to meet her fiancé, yet she’s far more interested in the workings of the locomotive than she is in the man awaiting her arrival. As the celebrated train moves westward, the women move toward one another, pulled by an unexpected attraction.

But there is danger in this closeness, just as there is in the wilds of the frontier and in the lengths the railroad men will go to protect their investments. Before their journey is over, Louisa and Hattie will find themselves very far from where they intended to go.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour

Hello blog readers and book lovers. Today I am joining in the Blog Tour for The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker, organised by Randomthingstours.

With its beginnings in Croatia, it brought back memories of a wonderful trip to the former Yugoslavia which I took before the war which split the country apart. It reminded me that the place I explored no longer exists and as well as the country being fractured and broken, it's people are damaged by the atrocities too.

My review – The Museum of lost love – Gary Barker

Today I’m sharing my review of the Museum of Lost love by Gary Barker for the Blog Tour organised by Randomthingstours.

This is a short book, practically a novella so if you’re looking for a quick read this might easily fit the bill. 

Set in Croatia, after the recent war which ripped the country apart, this is mainly about a couple, Katia and Goran and a third character Tyler who is also suffering the aftershock of war, he has fought in Afghanistan and it has left him a broken man. The stories of these characters meander about, intertwining and crossing.

Goran and Katia visit a rather unusual museum in Zagreb, which is apparently based on a real exhibition. The museum of lost love displays all kinds of random memorabilia each item accompanied by a letter from the owner explaining why this object reminds them of a past love and each short chapter is preceded by one such exhibit, which is an unusual and original concept. Clothes and small mementoes line the shelves each accompanied by a letter from the owner telling why their heart is broken.

The museum seemed to me like a rather mawkish and grim idea, but it helped me to grasp that this country is a place so ravaged by war that all which remains for many is a few broken belongings and a handful of memories of better times. 

Some of the short tales about broken relationships are utterly heartbreaking and all the more poignant in that most of them are people who don’t even feature in the book so you know nothing else about their lives except their heartache yet they are opening their hearts to a bunch of strangers. It’s not really about the exhibits, in fact I must confess I felt a little uncomfortable finding that some of the “exhibits” were used sex toys (Eeewwww), but it's about the letters and stories which accompany them.

When Katia and Goran pay a visit to the titular museum one exhibit jumps out at Goran. The accompanying story was written by a young girl of fourteen in a refugee camp and he is convinced he is the lost love she writes so poignantly about. He feels he must find out what happened to her.

As he tries to rekindle his lost youth and track her down, Katia too faces her demons and heads off the favelas of Brazil where her own past lies hidden.

What follows is fractured story of damaged people, uncovering past tragedies and memories of appalling atrocities, broken promises and lost hope which is, in turn, haunting and uplifting. Featuring actual conflict and conflicting emotions generated by the siblings of love and hatred it's not an easy read but very compelling.

The Blurb
In Zagreb is an unusual museum: it displays mementos of broken relationships. Each exhibit describes a unique story of a broken heart, of love gone awry.

When Katia and Goran visit the museum, Goran stumbles upon an exhibit that seems to be addressed to him, from a girl he met in a Sarajevo refugee camp at age fourteen. A reminder of two days spent together while he and his mother and brother waited anxiously for visas to America to escape the war.

Encouraged by Katia, a therapist, to reconnect with his lost past, Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars. Similarly Katia, adopted by Americans at one week old after her birth mother was murdered in a gangland killing in Brazil, heads back to Brazil to uncover her own family history. 

Meanwhile Tyler, a military veteran and one of Katia’s patients, attempts to put the Afghan war behind him, and finds love in unexpected circumstances.

Drawing upon his own experiences working in conflict zones, Gary Barker’s powerful novels dive deep into human love and longing. Crossing continents, and set against backdrops of war, deprivation, and violence, The Museum of Lost Love is a soulful testament to the resilience of the human heart.

The Author

GARY BARKER is an author, researcher, and human rights activist. He is founder and director of Promundo, an international organization that works with men and boys in more than 25 countries to achieve gender equality and end violence against women. He has been awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship for his work in conflict zones. His previous novels include Luisa’s Last Words, Mary of Kivu, and The Afghan Vampires Book Club (co-written with Michael Kaufman). Barker lives in Washington, DC.

Critical acclaim for Gary Barker:

‘Partly a satirical broadside against the insanity of war by two writers who have spent years campaigning against violence, The Afghan Vampires Book Club also works as a conspiracy thriller, speculative fiction, and full-on descent into hell.’  Herald

Friday, 27 September 2019

Blog Tour - A Phoenix Rising by Vivienne Brereton - Excerpt #APhoenixRising #VivienneBrereton #HFVBTBlogTours

Today as part of the Blog Tour for A Phoenix Rising by Vivienne Brereton I am offering an excerpt as a taster to see if you fancy it.

The book is historical Fiction set in Tudor times and here's the description:

The Blurb

“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.”
Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII.
Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestry
Will Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler – a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy.
The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them.
Sounds gooood doesn't it!

Now here's that excerpt to get you well and truly hooked:

12th September, 1512.
   Cecily Tredavoe and her half-Cornish, half-French first cousin, Tristan d’Ardres, have just escaped a tedious service in the Lady Chapel at Saint Michael’s Mount. Cecily has taken Tristan to the May Day fair, over at Marazion.

   Caught up in Tristan’s good mood, I was happy for him to take part in an archery competition. About twenty archers, of all ages and sizes, were lined up ready to take part, cheered on by a sizeable crowd.
   ‘But only if I can join in, too,’ I said.
   Tristan looked surprised. ‘I didn’t know you’d ever used a bow and arrow. Or a crossbow.’
  ‘Father gave me one of each as a New Year’s gift last year. I’m not very good yet but you’d be surprised how resourceful Lady Catherine can be when she sets her mind to something.’
   Tristan shrugged as he watched the man in front of the equipment tent hand me a smaller lighter crossbow, giving me a broad wink as he did so.
  ‘Good for you, little maid. Even if you have no hope of beating your friend here. Most wenches I know are too busy with talk of fripperies and their sweethearts to pay a mind to men’s sports.’
   Taking the man’s words as a challenge, I awaited my turn with a mixture of mounting excitement and trepidation. There would be several excellent archers amongst the group, one of whom I guessed might be Tristan himself. In front of us, an artificial popinjay, especially built in sections, had been placed on a wooden mount. It was our task to take aim at individual pieces of the bird, winning points for each one. The main prize, and the part each of us, of course, yearned to hit, was the heart section of the popinjay. Whoever managed this, also known as the ‘king shot’, would be crowned champion.
   Walking up to the line chalked along the grass, I passed Tristan looking very pleased with himself, carrying a pair of leather gloves, his prize for hitting one of the legs. ‘Good luck, Lady Catherine. Make sure you don’t hit anyone by mistake, won’t you!’
    Frowning at this loud remark which made everyone around me draw back several feet, I took a deep breath. Then I lifted the crossbow up to my shoulder, aimed it at the bird, pulled the trigger and fired….

                      *                               *                               * 

               ‘The heart! The wench has hit the heart!’
      I allowed myself a small smile of triumph. <<What Tristan and the man running the competition (a pair of naysayers) don’t know is that I’ve got one of the best archery tutors in Cornwall>> He was always full of praise for my coordination, telling me he’d never seen anything like it in either lad or maid. Of course, as an only child with indulgent parents, it helped I was able to spend as many hours practising as I wished.
  As we walked away from the makeshift butts, I glanced down at the posy ring now adorning a finger on my right hand. After a fair amount of scrabbling around amongst the stallholders, a more suitable prize had been found for a female winner than a brace of pheasants (almost certainly) poached from the land of a local lord, perhaps even our own. I twisted the gold band (still a little big for me) with the fingers of my other hand, admiring the stars engraved around the circumference. On the inside, written in black were the words:  My brightest star, my one true love. N.’ Even though I knew the ring (like the pheasants) was probably stolen, I vowed never to take it off but wear it in memory of this happy day.

                               *                                   *                             *

     Not long after this, the clock chimed again. However, instead of the reassuringly long twelve chimes, there was the unmistakably ominous sound of not one…but three single chimes.
  Aghast, we stared at one another.
  ‘Three o clock!’ gasped Tristan.
   ‘Quick,’ I said. ‘Follow me. There’s not a moment to lose.’
 Racing down the cobbled streets of Marazion, we soon found ourselves standing on the shore again, looking back towards the Mount. We were also looking at the waves beginning to swirl against the shore at our feet, and the much higher ones at the end, near the entrance to the Mount.
   ‘We’ll never make it in time,’ Tristan said.
   ‘Of course we will.’
   ‘We won’t. When does the causeway reopen?’
  ‘Not until late evening. Come on. I promise you we’ll be fine. Stop acting like a whey-face. Surely you don’t mind getting your clothes a bit wet. Think how sad it would make our two families if we missed my mother’s birthday celebrations.’
  ‘Very well. But I’m not happy about it. Not at all.’
    Deep down, nor was I. As a Cornish girl born and bred, I knew it was sheer folly to attempt a crossing in these conditions. As we began the journey back across the partially covered causeway, I could hear my father’s voice in my head, warning me as he’d done so many times before:
  “Never cross the causeway if you see large waves at the far end. The high tide is fickle and has a mind of its own. It can come in much faster than you think. Before you know it, it’ll take away both your breath and your life

The Author

Born near historic Winchester in the UK, Vivienne Brereton has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in medieval history at university where she met her future husband. Three sons later and six countries she called home, she finally felt ready to write a novel.

Words have always played an important part in Vivienne’s life whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English to foreigners, or just picking up a good book. In preparation for her novel, she read intensively on the skills needed to write well and did an enormous amount of research which she greatly enjoyed. Having three sons was helpful when she came to write about the characters, Tristan and Nicolas. All those squabbles she had to deal with came in very handy. She also used her husband and sons as guinea pigs for her Tudor cookery attempts with varying degrees of success (abuse).

Seeing ‘A Phoenix Rising’ in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Review - Here to Stay - Mark Edwards

Review - Here to Stay - Mark Edwards

My Review

Bloody hell Mark Edwards knows how to f**k up your mind.

His books just get scarier and creepier and I'm actually quite glad I don't live next door to him, 'cause where does he get his ideas from?

This is a brain-numbingly intense read, that creates the inlaws from hell, brings them into your beautiful posh house and when you're ready to scream with frustration the bloodshed begins.
It begins with a lovely romance, Elliott meets a beautiful woman and after falling head over heels proposes quickly and the pair get married, who cares they haven't known one another very long - they have the rest of their lives to get to know each other.

But the lovely Gemma comes with a family in tow, Mum, Dad and younger sister Chloe and when she invites them to stay he can't say no, (please say No, Elliott) after all his gorgeous house is plenty big enough for them all to not get under each other's feet.

But they prove at first to be mildly annoying, and I'm reading it thinking, well they aren't really THAT bad! But they get worse and WORSE and his life begins to spiral terrifyingly out of control and they're in his house and he can't get shot of them and what is Gemma hiding? What is wrong with Chloe? WHY did he let them in and most importantly how the hell is it going to end??

A must-read for fans of this wickedly clever author and anyone who loves a twisty macabre domestic Noir thriller.

You can get your copy now from Amazon

The Blurb

A beautiful home. A loving wife. And in-laws to die for.

Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.

The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about . . .

As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Dragon Lady by Autumn Bardot - Extract and blog Tour

Dragon Lady by Autumn Bardot - Extract and blog Tour

Today I'd like to invite you along on the Historical Fiction virtual Blog Tour for the hot and exciting Dragon Lady by Autumn Bardot.

As I haven't yet managed to read this book I'm offering a free extract to tempt you to investigate further. I think you'll agree that Dragon Lady offers something sultry and exciting for readers of historical fiction set in exotic locations. Its a story based on a factual character, of a determined young woman and her struggle to succeed in a world where women are only valued for their bodies


By the time the lookout sighted Donghai Island I was familiar with both Zheng Yi’s temperament and the ship’s layout.
Man and boat were much the same. The iron-like strength of the main mast matched Zheng Yi’s unyielding and strong will. The watertight camphor and pine bulkheads were as impenetrable as Zheng Yi’s command, his leadership sealed by experience as a former Tâyson rebel leader. The pirates’ tiny sleeping compartments on the lower deck corresponded to the size of Zheng Yi’s intolerance for laziness and disrespect. Like the giant retractable rudder that controlled the ship’s course, so too did Zheng Yi guide me towards a new direction. His squad boss face was as rough and crude as his ship’s exterior. His private face—expressive and handsome—much like the lavishly appointed saloon and cabin. His smile-sneer, I decided, was meant to confuse and intimidate.
Zheng Yi was the first man I respected. The first man who made my stomach flutter.
Like today, when he strode into the saloon where Golden Moon, the headman’s wife, taught me how to mend a broken teacup with rivets.
“Donghai Island is just ahead.” Zheng Yi examined the teacup’s seam. “Excellent. Do you enjoy this sort of work?”
“It’s a satisfying way to pass a few hours, although I much rather the helmsman teaches me how to steer.”
Golden Moon covered a giggle with her hand.
“That’s a man’s job.” Zheng Yi’s mouth scowled but his eyes flashed with pleasure. He set down the teacup, beckoned me to follow, strode out the door, and to the ship’s bow. “How long has it been since you set your feet on land?” His gestured to the strip of land in the distance.
“I went with Madam Xu into port to conduct business.”
“I’m not talking about the odor and noise of a thousand merchants. How long since you felt sand between your toes, smelled fresh flowers, rested against a tree, and slept on solid ground?” His brow lifted, expectant.
“I don’t remember.” Memories of fragrant orange blossoms, tall grass, bird songs, insect hums, and comforting stillness rushed into the locked-up place in my heart. I squeezed shut my eyes, willed myself not to cry.
Zheng Yi’s thick brows knotted with concern. “Do you miss the life stolen from you?”
My spine rippled with fear. Was Zheng Yi’s plan to sell me to someone on the island? I took a ragged breath and met his incomprehensible gaze. Perhaps this was his way of telling me he was getting rid of me. How foolish of me to think I had any value other than being his concubine. And although my flower girl skills included fawning over a man enough to make him a repeat customer, I knew this was no whore’s game.
My life rested in Zheng Yi’s hands. His rough pirate hands. He was nothing like the queue-wearing, soft-bodied, rich men I entertained with flattery and false sighs. If Zheng Yi had reason to believe I playacted, that my respect for him was false, he would kill me. My answer must be true, leave no room for misinterpretation, and yet excite and delight him.
“Do I miss my former life?” I twisted my lips.  “I don’t miss the poverty. If Father hadn’t sold me I would be married to another poor farmer and birthed nine children by now. I don’t miss the flower boat either, even if I did wear silk. The work was dull and too boring for my curious mind.” I touched his hand, which rested on the rail. “For ten years I have merely existed. All joy gone. Until you came. The sea. Your ship. You. I’m alive. You’ve made my soul sing.” I looked out at the sliver of land. “I don’t know your intentions. Whether you want to sell me or kill me, but it doesn’t matter. You and your ship, for some reason, make me happy. And a little bit of happiness is better than none at all. I thank you, Zheng Yi.”
Zheng Yi pushed me against the bulwark, his lust evident, and wrapped me in his arms. “I won’t sell you, Xianggu. You’re not mine to sell.”
My stomach lurched with fear. “What!? Am I the chieftain’s property? Your Uncle Qi?”
Zheng Yi’s mouth dropped open. “No. No. You’re mine. Not as a slave but…” He rubbed his grizzled cheek against mine, “you delight me in ways I can’t explain.”
My heart leapt. I delighted him! In unexplainable ways! Which meant he liked me, not just my flower girl skills. “Is your wife on Donghai?” I kept my voice light. How could he not have a wife? Or several?
Zheng Yi rubbed his chin. “Wives are expensive and dull.”
“Why do you think the flower boats are always so busy?” My mischievous grin made Zheng Yi laugh.

I hope you enjoyed reading that extract and if its whet your appetite you can buy Dragon Lady now.

Heres the blurb

The triumph of the notorious Zheng Yi Sao is the fierce and unflinching adventure of how a prostitute became the most powerful and successful pirate in the world.

Xianggu is sold into slavery to work on a floating brothel, her virginity bought by the highest bidder. Determined to rise above her poverty and lowly status, she learns the business from the madam. But a violent midnight pirate raid destroys her ambitions. Kidnapped by the powerful pirate boss, Xianggu embarks on a journey that demands beauty, brains, and brawn. Yet she must do more than learn to wield a sword, sail a ship, and swim across the bay if she hopes to survive. She must prove her worth to the Red Flag fleet.

The winds never blow in the same direction and tragedy forces Xianggu to make a risky decision that changes not only her life but the lives of thousands of pirates. Surrounded by jealous men, devious women, ancient prejudices, and the Qing navy, Xianggu battles to save her empire, her family, and her own heart.

In 18th century China, when men made and enforced the rules, the Dragon Lady lived by her own.

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

#AnEchoOfScandal - @LauraMadeleine - Blog Tour - Excerpt via Random Things Tours

An Echo of Scandal - Laura Madelaine - Blog Tour and a free Extract.

The first thing which struck me about an Echo of Scandal is the Sumptuous cover which perfectly conjures up the settings of Historic Tangier and Spain in the early 20th century.

The Luscious cover

I must admit I'm dreadfully disappointed that I haven't been able to make time to read it yet but also really glad I still have it to look forward to as it sounds like the most perfect bit of autumn escapism.

So, instead of a review to whet your appetite I have a free extract for you which I hope you'll read to see if you fancy reading the book, I know I do.

Heres a description of the book from the publisher Black Swan (an imprint of Penguin Random house books) :

"The sumptuous and seductive world of Tangier in the early 20th century is a world where men make decisions and women follow. But Alejandra is determined to secure her independence, at any cost."

In the dead of night, with blood on her hands, she made her escape.

Accused of murder, Alejandra flees her home, escaping to the southern edge of Spain, where she faces a life of poverty and destitution.

Seduced by the power of the rich and the anonymity that waits across the water in Tangier, Ale makes a bid for a new start. But it will come at a cost: a life of deception. Because Ale’s new friends want to know what she is running from, they want to know who she is and whether they can trust her.

Fifty years later, a young American writer wanders the streets of Tangier, searching for inspiration. When he stumbles across a trace of Ale’s life, he finds himself tangled in a story of scandal, love and danger that has not yet reached its end.

WOW, that sounds so good!
Now here's a generous extract so you can taste the flavour of the authors writing and dive into the heady world of early 20th century Tangier and the heat of Spain.



Take a pony of fresh blood orange juice and another of good Scotch whisky.
 Add into this the same of Cherry Heering and sweet Italian vermouth.
Shake violently enough to break a sweat and strain into a coupe glass.
 An experience rarely repeated.

Blood and Sand.
It’s the name that haunts me. It takes me straight back to that night. Every time I read the recipe, I can’t help but imagine another one, written in its place:

Take one girl as ripe as fruit and one man as hard as liqueur. Throw them together with sweet words turned rotten and fill them with alcohol until the result is inescapable.

It’s the Scotch that does it. After that night, whenever I opened a bottle – however expensive – all I could ever smell was blood.

The Señor was the source of it. The blood had run down the sides of his neck on to the pink flowered rug that had been his gift from Madrid, glistening on the creamy roses before sinking into the pile, as if into sand. His gaze was fixed on the corner of the room. That’s where she stood, with her pretty dress spattered and the broken neck of the bottle still clutched in her hand, the jagged edge dark with his blood. Droplets of it fell into the Scotch that had pooled around her feet, like vinegar into oil.

I should have spun on my heel and screamed, should have bellowed murder down into the courtyard below. But I didn’t. And that was the start of all the trouble for me. It’s what brought me here.

I’ve always suffered because of blood. Right from the start, I was told that the two bloods that made me, rich and poor, shouldn’t have been mixed: that they had no business being shaken together and even less business resulting in a child. Some of our customers – like the Señor Ramón Vélez del Olmo who bled out on the rug – called me a mongrel. Most of the girls called me that too, though never to my face.

It was all right for them. They were of somewhere. I was of nowhere, except for the inn. Which is why, I suppose, I eventually named myself for the place. Del Potro.

The Hostería del Potro stood on one side of a small plaza, where the city had once held horse fairs, back before anyone could remember. It was the centre of my world, the plaza, with its fountain topped by a crumbling stone horse, and its tiled rooftops that butted and jostled one another, a cat’s highway down to the river. I knew those roofs and streets as well as my own body, and nowhere better than the hostería, the oldest inn in Córdoba.

I believe I was born there, or at least, was left there soon after. The hostería’s flaking plaster walls absorbed the sound of my first cries. The draught through its cracked windows was the breath that soothed my fevers, the groan of its floorboards was a grandmother’s voice murmuring a lullaby, the clanking of bedposts and the snores of countless men were the familiar sounds of my childhood years.

I had been at the inn longer than anyone, except for Mama Morales. Once, I made the mistake of asking whether she was my mama. She had looked at me with such contempt that I knew the truth immediately: I did not belong to people, to mother or father or family. I belonged to the inn, like the cats born in the stable that lived and died too soon amongst the hay.

I sometimes worry it could still get me into trouble, this talk about the inn. But it seems so small now, so distant, after everything else. I’ll never go back to Córdoba, and anyway, you already know that I didn’t kill the man.

It’s the rest of it that could be dangerous for me; what came after. The only other person who knew it all is dead and gone. Perhaps – at last – I have kept his secret for long enough. I drowned it at the bottom of cocktail glasses and buried it beneath the scrapings left on silver platters. I tied it with white silk and hid it in plain sight. I held my tongue, kept fifty years of silence. Even he could not have asked me for more.

Of course, if he had, I might have given it. But he is not here, is he?

Perhaps silence is no longer the answer.
Perhaps this is a story that should finally be told.

And after all, I have already begun.

There you are - if this has tempted you, feel free to follow this link to buy the book from Amazon uk
Or find it in your favourite book shop.

About the author

Laura Madeleine

After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge.

She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon, eating cheese and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom.

Here is what people are saying about Laura Madeleine

Readers love Laura Madeleine

Quotes provided by the publisher
**** ‘The comparison with Kate Morton is very apt. I was thoroughly swept up in the story. Highly recommended’ *****

**** ‘This is the first novel I have read by this author but it will not be the last’ *****

**** ‘Beautiful, tormenting, poignant and un-put-downable’ *****

**** ‘Will certainly look for other works from this talented author’ *****

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Spotlighting The Beltane Choice by Nancy Jardine for #rararesources

Today I'm joining the Blog Tour for the first in an exciting historical fiction saga series of books by Nancy Jardine.

Entitled The Beltane Choice its the first of a series of 4 books set in Roman Britain the Celtic Fervour Series.

Here's the description to whet your appetite:

AD 71 Northern Roman Britain

Lorcan of the Brigantes knows that unity of the northern tribes is essential when the Ancient Roman legions advance northwards to Brigantia. Yet, everything comes at a price. Using his captive, Nara, as a political bargain with the Selgovae comes with impossible stipulations. Battle at Whorl – Iron Age tribes against the Romans – is inevitable.

Will Nara have her Beltane choice?

The adventures of the Garrigill Clan begin…

How fabulous does this series sound!

Read more or buy it here 

About the Author:

Author Bio – Nancy Jardine writes historical fiction; time-travel historical adventure; contemporary mystery thrillers; and romantic comedy. She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where life is never quiet or boring since she regularly child minds her young grandchildren who happen to be her next-door neighbours. Her garden is often creatively managed by them, though she does all the work! Her husband is a fantastic purveyor of coffee and tea…excellent food and wine! (Restorative, of course)  

A member of the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland; Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Independent Alliance of Authors, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

Social Media Links – 

Blog Tour - The Rectors Daughter by Jean Fullerton - review

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