blog tour · crime · mystery · thriller

Blog Tour – Eternal Forever

Eternal Forever

Fame, glory and… foul play!

Jessie was a shop worker dreaming of the big time, then YouTube found her. But staying in the limelight requires meticulous management: pop stars are made not born.

With awards night approaching, the pressure’s on for Tito, Jessie’s manager, to whip her into shape. Getting so close wasn’t in the contract, but then neither was him being murdered in Spain.

Alone and scared of the negative publicity, Jessie turns to Mack, her account manager at Eternal Forever, the UK’s first digital legacy management agency. But Mack’s got his own issues: the company’s fast running out of cash, his key developer’s on the turn and a blogger’s suicide looks suspicious.

With the assistance of J-Pop, Mack’s assistant and wannabe reality TV star, Jessie turns sleuth. But in a world where everybody’s watching, it’s hard to escape. Reputation is everything and some people will do anything to protect it.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08D6RNR18

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eternal-Forever-gripping-turner-rethink/dp/1916424554

Author Bio

Most people know crazy cat ladies are a ‘thing’, but I’m a proud crazy guinea pig lady! I love fun in the sun and plenty of cocktails. My happy place is flip flops. I write stories to keep me company – my characters ensure I’m never lonely and always smiling (when I’m not tearing my hair out!)

Social Media Links

www.sylwaters.com

twitter: @waters_syl

insta: @mrbob.guineapig

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/syl.waters.54

Excerpt

Context: J Pop is in Spain and is trying to work out how to catch a killer. He’s star struck, but out of his depth.

What should I do?

The question plagued J Pop like a virulent strain of chicken pox. He’d listened to Jessie’s tale of woe, watched her intently as she’d described the moment Tito got stabbed and she’d run off (on account of being told to, she said emphatically and repeatedly several times), and looked around at the situation he now found himself in.

Deep. That was the key word he felt accurately summed up his current state of affairs. Blessed, was the other, if he was feeling optimistic.

He licked his lips and fanned himself lightly. He could feel his heat rising from being in the presence of the Jessie Adams, the pop star, and sensational superstar of the moment. Just who could Adam and Eve it? If only it wasn’t for the particulars of his present meeting he could feel good, positive. But the problem was, he’d had the low-down on what was to be the big, bloody (literal and metaphorical) mess he was in.

Shit alert!!

That’s what his booming brain had boomed out loud and incredibly clearly.

Shit! Shit! Shit!

He was in it up to… he didn’t know where. He didn’t have a yardstick long enough to measure the depth. Of course, being the professional appearance artist he was, he gave none of the above impression away to the speaker.

Jessie, for all intents and purposes, gabbled on gaily about the mounting amount of shit she was in with absolutely no clue that her recipient had absolutely no clue either about what either of them should do about the situation.

Christ, he needed a drink.

He motioned to the waiter for him to bring them a beer. The girl obviously needed some liquid hydration – and he needed something to dampen down the neurotransmitters in his brain that were leaping about wildly and screaming at him to get the hell outta there and catch the next flight home.

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Uncategorized

Book Blitz – Loser’s Gumbo

Bullet Books Speed Reads #13

Crime Fiction/Mystery/Thriller

Date Published: September 17, 2020

Publisher: Starpath Books, LLC

 

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LOSER’S GUMBO

MURDER WITH A DASH OF ZYDECO…

 

When Mack Mouton finds a dead body in a drum case, Louisiana police suspect
him of the murder. As Mack travels the South, and performs with his band, he
becomes the target of the real killer. Mack is sucked into danger and
intrigue, and discovers a mystery about his deceased father. Will Mack be
the next body in the drum case?

Or…will he evade the killer and solve the puzzle?

 

BULLET BOOKS

ON A PLANE… ON A TRAIN…FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET!

 

Bullet Books are speed reads for the busy traveler, commuter, and
beach-goer. All are new original crime fiction stories that can be read in
two to three hours. Gripping cinematic mysteries and thrillers by your
favorite authors!

Page turners for fans who want to escape into a good read.

ALL ABOARD!

 

 

 

Manning Wolfe

 Manning Wolfe, an award-winning author and attorney residing in Austin,
Texas, writes cinematic-style, fast-paced crime fiction. Her legal thriller
series features Austin Lawyer, Merit Bridges. Manning is co-author of the
popular Bullet Books Speed Reads, a series of crime fiction books for
readers on the go.

As a graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law,
Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peek into some
shady characters’ lives and a front row seat to watch the good people
who stand against them.

 

Contact Links

Manning Wolfe Website

Facebook

Instagram: @manningwolfe

Twitter: @manningwolfe 

Blog

Goodreads

Sign up for newsletter

 

John T. Davis

 JOHN T. DAVIS has co-authored, under the pen name Miles Arceneaux, five
thrillers set on the Texas Gulf Coast. The first novel in the series, Thin
Slice of Life
, was followed by La Salle’s Ghost, Ransom Island, North
Beach,
and the latest volume, Hidden Sea. His Bullet Book Speed Read,
co-authored under his own name, is Loser’s Gumbo. A journalist by
trade, John makes his home in Austin, Texas.

 

Contact Links

Book Series Website

Twitter: @bulletbooksSR

Instagram

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

 

 

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99p books · book blitz · historical · Regency Romance · romance · Uncategorized

Release Blitz – Tempting the Scoundrel

House of Devon, Book 3

 

Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Release Date: September 23, 2020

 

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Only $.99

September 23-27

 

Below stairs is where the romance begins..

As the most distinguished watchmaker in England, Christian Bainbridge believes in accurate timepieces, not love. He secretly offered his heart years ago, and he’s never gotten it back. When Raine Mowbray stumbles into his life again, Christian realizes the woman he’s worshiped from afar is still the woman he desires above all others.

Raine Mowbray needs solitude and employment, not love. A housemaid forced to flee a loathsome earl’s grasp, the last thing she’s seeking is a man’s amorous attention. When she finds herself unexpectantly paired with a gorgeous watchmaker in need of an assistant, she’s unnerved by his wit, kindness—and clandestine devotion to her.

If you like spirited heroines who fight falling in love and charmingly arrogant heroes who think they know best, then this is the book for you! Snuggle up with Tempting the Scoundrel, a steamy second chance, love-at-first-sight Regency Romance!

 

This is a Downton Abbey-ish novella at 98 pages and 25K words!!

 

Find the entire House of Devon Series on Amazon

 

 

 

About the Author

 

Award-winning author Tracy Sumner’s storytelling career began when she picked up a historical romance on a college beach trip, and she fondly blames LaVyrle Spencer for her obsession with the genre. She’s a recipient of the National Reader’s Choice, and her novels have been translated into Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish. She lived in New York, Paris and Taipei before finding her way back to the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

When not writing sizzling love stories about feisty heroines and their temperamental-but-entirely-lovable heroes, Tracy enjoys reading, snowboarding, college football (Go Tigers!), yoga, and travel. She loves to hear from romance readers!

 

Sign up for my newsletter HERE

 

Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Promo Link

 

 

Purchase Link

Amazon

 

Only $.99

September 23-27

 

RABT Book Tours & PR
book review · crime · NetGalley · police procedural

Book Review – Dead Perfect

Summary

A murdered woman…

When the body of a young woman is found in a local park, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she’s dealing with no ordinary killer. The murder victim has been disfigured; her outfit changed to resemble someone else. Someone Maggie knows all too well…her close friend Dr Kate Moloney.

A determined detective…

Maggie is determined to keep her friend safe, but with Kate already struggling with a threatening stalker, Maggie now fears Kate’s life is in real danger. Who else would want to harm Kate and why else would the killer be turning his victims into exact replicas – his living dolls?

Can Maggie find the depraved killer? Or will Kate become his next living doll?

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My Review

I’d been meaning to read Dead Perfect by Noelle Holten for such a long time, but other books kept creeping into my diary! The struggles of book blogging are real 😉 Finally, I said, “no more!” and I jumped straight in. And now I’m kicking myself for having waited so long. 

This was a fabulous, fast-paced read. Admittedly, I haven’t read the others in the series, but I’ll be putting that right very soon. 

When the body of a woman is found in a local park, Staffordshire police are naturally called in. But, unfortunately for DC Maggie Jamieson, the victim bears an uncanny resemblance to someone she is rather fond of – a colleague and good friend, Dr Kate Moloney. Maggie is attracted to Kate, a fact which often blurs her actions and leads to her overreacting or missing key leads. 

But why would Kate be the next victim? It’s a coincidence, surely?

Maybe not. Because Kate has been on the receiving end of some odd gifts and letters. It would appear she has a stalker. 

And this is not the only victim – another woman is found soon after bearing the same resemblance. Yet, after further investigation, the two dead women are nothing like Kate – who has a penchant for black, Goth-style clothing and makeup. Rather, it seems the killer has changed their appearances to look like Kate. Eek! 

On top of that, he has also performed a rudimentary lobotomy on both victims too. 

Concerns are rife that Kate is his likely next victim, and Maggie invites her friend to stay with her until security measures can be taken at Kate’s own home. 

From here on, Maggie tries not to leave Kate on her own – anywhere. This becomes untenable for Kate, and causes a rift between the two of them. 

The story is a cat and mouse chase to find the killer, but he has hidden his tracks well. Clues come and go, leads vanish into nothing and it seems they will never find him. The pace in the last few chapters picks up even more as the killer seeks his prey, and the police seek the killer.

It’s an exciting read and a real page-turner overall. There are a few inconsistencies towards the end but nothing that prevented me from wanting to know the outcome. 

Thank you NetGalley and One More Chapter for my copy of Dead Perfect. 

As always, 

 

art · book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Renaissance Italy · WWII

Book Review – The Night Portrait

Summary

“This is a truly original novel that has earned its place among my favorite works of historical fiction.”–Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of The Gown

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction during World War II.

Milan, 1492: When a 16-year old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace—and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.

Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back. 

Two women, separated by 500 years, are swept up in the tide of history as one painting stands at the center of their quests for their own destinies.
 

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My Review

Combining two of my favourite topics – WWII and art – I needed no persuasion to read this book. 

It centres on Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, from the moment he is called upon to paint it in the 15th Century until its many journeys during WWII between Poland and Germany when the portrait was “saved” by the Nazis – read “stolen” – destined for Hitler’s project to have the best art collection in the world. 

Told through four viewpoints, the story spans the centuries connecting the past with the present.  Leonardo and Cecilia (the subject of the portrait and mistress of the Duke of Milan) are the 15th Century perspectives, while the modern day characters are Edith (the art conservator whose role it is – against her will – to list the art on behalf of the Nazi government) and Dominic (one of The Monuments Men tasked with tracking down the stolen art as the war comes to an end).

Their stories weave effortlessly across the timelines, and I particularly enjoyed how she ended a chapter with a certain line, only for the next chapter to start with that line. Though the characters were centuries apart, they shared a vocabulary and a mindset. 

The scenes in Renaissance Italy between Leonardo and Cecilia showed two people, both wanting to make their mark. Leonardo yearned for his ideas on flying and weapon-building to be taken up by the Duke, and agreed to paint the portrait to keep in the Duke’s favour. Cecilia wanted to be more than a nun, after her brothers ruined her chance of marriage in her home village. Once she met the Duke, she had high hopes of being his wife. Needless to say, both Leonardo and Cecilia had unfulfilled dreams, yet their lives were nothing if not extraordinary even after their first encounter. 

Edith objected to being sent to Poland, away from her ailing father who suffered dementia. She objected to the work she was forced to do. It was a moment of clarity that made her realise she had a duty to preserve the art she found, and some day return it to its rightful owners. Dominic, a talented artist himself, wanted at first to have a more proactive role in the war. He felt he had a cushy number, until he too had that moment of clarity and understood that saving the artwork was an important role not just to return it to its owners, but to secure it for future generations.

This is quite a different take on a WWII novel; refreshingly so. It doesn’t gloss over the atrocities at all, but nor are these events at the core of the story. Clearly a lot of research went into this book; its detail is sublime. Fans of historical fiction will be sure to enjoy this book. Highly recommended. 

My thanks go to the publishers – One More Chapter – and Netgalley for the e-copy I received. To the author, Laura Morelli, my congratulations on a great idea, beautifully told. 

As always, 

book blitz · excerpt · Giveaways · historical fiction

Book Blitz – Five Wives (plus US giveaway)

5Wives

I’m thrilled to share award-winning novel, Five Wives by Joan Thomas with all of you today. Read on for more details and a chance to win a print copy of the book!

FiveWivesCoverArt_GG

Five Wives

Publication Date: September 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins CA

In the 1950s, in the aftermath of World War II, five American families moved to Ecuador, determined to take the Christian gospel to a pre-Neolithic Amazonian tribe they called “the Auca.” The Waorani (proper name) were just as determined to maintain their isolation, and killed the missionary men at their second meeting. Four of the wives remained in Ecuador and one, Elisabeth Elliot, went further into the rainforest with her three-year old daughter to live with the Waorani.

Joan Thomas’s fictional treatment of this incident explores themes that are both eternal and immediate: faith and ideology, autonomy and self-protection, cultural understanding and misunderstanding, grief and doubt, and isolation. Five Wives rises out of immaculate research, including a visit to the ruins of the Elliot house in Ecuador, and out of the author’s own experience with the thinking and imperatives of evangelical missions. The novel sinks into the points of view of characters who are bound by past choices, yet make their own personal bargains in the midst of a crisis.

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Available on Amazon and Indigo

Here’s an excerpt:

You know, Marj, I haven’t told you everything. I didn’t tell you exactly how it happened.” “Okay. So tell me.” 

“Well, remember there was a really low ceiling on Tuesday? The clouds were rock-solid all  day, they never broke. But when I was flying home, just as I was crossing the Napo, a hole opened  to the southwest. It was shaped exactly like a keyhole, and it was low, close to the horizon, so the  sun was streaming through at an angle—it was like one of those pictures you see of the Rapture.  Everything was in 3-D. The big old kapok trees were throwing shade on the canopy, and I could see  the shadow of the Piper skimming over the jungle ahead of me, almost as if it was leading me on.  That was how I spied that dimple in the forest. The chagra. I would never normally have seen it. It  was like I literally saw God’s hand. I saw God reach down and open the clouds with a finger. He  was saying, Look, Nate. Look. There you go.” His eyes are fixed on her through this whole story.  “If God’s calling me, Marjie, he’s calling you. You made a vow.” 

He drops back on his pillow, and after a minute she lies down too.  

He has never, ever pulled this before. Not once since the day she stood with a bunch of  woody-stemmed lilacs in her hand and promised to obey him. The minister explained what the vow  meant: Nate obeyed the Lord, and Marj obeyed Nate with the same respect. It struck Marj then as  an efficient arrangement—and she knew she had more hope of dealing with Nate than she ever did  with God. 

She lies on her back and listens to the song of the crickets and frogs and cicadas, and to  Nate’s breathing, which, now that he’s said his piece, quickly turns to a gentle snore. Possibly she  sleeps, because the next time she opens her eyes, the room is bright and her thoughts are clear and  Nate is lying on his side looking at her.  

Who can find a virtuous woman, her children rise up and call her blessed.

“Listen,” she says, rolling over to face him full on. “I’ll stop fighting you on this. But  Debbie is not going to boarding school in Quito. I’m not sending my little girl to an orphanage on  the other side of the Andes.” 

In the morning light, she sees a blink of assent so quick only a wife would catch it.

 

About the Author

Joan-Thomas-hi-res-600x543

 

 

 

 

Joan Thomas’s fourth novel Five Wives won Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Described by the Globe and Mail as “brilliant, eloquent, curious, far-seeing,” it is an immersive dive into a real event, the disastrous attempt by five American families to move into the territory of the reclusive Waorani people in Ecuador in 1956.

Joan’s three previous novels have been praised for their intimate and insightful depictions of characters in times of rapid social change. Reading by Lightning, set in World War 2, won the 2008 Amazon Prize and a Commonwealth Prize. Curiosity, based on the life of the preDarwinist fossilist Mary Anning, was nominated for the 2010 Giller Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award. The Opening Sky, a novel about a family navigating contemporary crises, won the 2014 McNally Robinson Prize and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award.

Joan lives in Winnipeg, a prairie city at the geographical center of North America. Before beginning to write fiction, she was a longtime book reviewer. In 2014, Joan was awarded the Writers Trust of Canada’s prize for mid-career achievement.

Joan Thomas | Facebook | Twitter  

 

Giveaway: Click the link below for a chance to win a copy of the book. This giveaway will run from today until September 21st.

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blog tour · book review · historical fiction · Uncategorized

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Girl from The Hermitage

The Girl from the Hermitage

Galina was born into a world of horrors. So why does she mourn its passing?

It is December 1941, and eight-year-old Galina and her friend Vera are caught in the siege of Leningrad, eating wallpaper soup and dead rats. Galina’s artist father Mikhail has been kept away from the front to help save the treasures of the Hermitage. Its cellars could provide a safe haven, as long as Mikhail can survive the perils of a commission from one of Stalin’s colonels.

Three decades on, Galina is a teacher at the Leningrad Art Institute. What ought to be a celebratory weekend at her forest dacha turns sour when she makes an unwelcome discovery. The painting she starts that day will hold a grim significance for the rest of her life, as the old Soviet Union makes way for the new Russia and her world changes out of all recognition.

Warm, wise and utterly enthralling, Molly Gartland’s debut novel guides us from the old communist era, with its obvious terrors and its more surprising comforts, into the bling of 21st-century St Petersburg. Galina’s story is an insightful meditation on ageing and nostalgia as well as a compelling page-turner.

Purchase Links

http://eye-books.com/books/the-girl-from-the-hermitage (20% off with discount code HERMITAGETOUR. Free UK p&p)


https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Hermitage-Molly-Gartland-ebook/dp/B087BZSXN5

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Hermitage-Molly-Gartland-ebook/dp/B087BZSXN5

Author Bio

 

Originally from Michigan, Molly Gartland worked in Moscow from 1994 to 2000 and has been fascinated by Russian culture ever since.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham and lives in London.

The manuscript for her debut novel The Girl from the Hermitage was shortlisted for the Impress Prize and longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition, the Bath Novel Award and Grindstone Novel Award.

Social Media Links – @molbobolly Twitter

 

My Review

Sometimes, you just know when you’re reading something special. From the opening scene, I had no doubt this would be an exceptional story.

As Mikhail scrapes a strip of wallpaper for that night’s soup to share with his daughter, Galina, the mood is set to perfection. What he can offer her is not enough, he knows that all too well, but he’s doing his best. Having lost his wife not long ago, she is all he has, and all that matters.

When he is commissioned to paint a portrait of The Colonel’s two sons, despite his misgivings, he knows he has to do it. For Galina. Moving in to The Hermitage is an added bonus. There’s more food available, as well as place for him to work. The moment the job starts, and he arrives at the colonel’s home, he is met with opulence and affluence. Theirs is a life so far removed from his own and so many others in Leningrad. Stealing a few biscuits and an apple or two here and there to take home to Galina is a risk he is willing to take. When so few have so much, how can it possibly be wrong? Yet, he knows it is wrong, and fears the consequences if he should be caught.

These slight touches of humanity speak volumes. And, it is with such humility that Galina grows into adulthood. A talented artist like her father, the story progresses forward and depicts Galina’s life through the decades as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Family matters become her priority as society changes and more prosperity comes her way, though she never quite gets used to the “bling” lifestyle of her son and his family. Galina is very much a product of her upbringing.

The story has a biographical quality to it, and in that sense it is quite slow, yet rich in detail, and the world of art and painting is woven through every event connecting the generations.

Beautifully written, highly absorbing and hugely fascinating.

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My Autumn Book Bonanza

blog tour · book review · crime · series · thriller

Blog Tour – Book Review – Ransomed

Ransomed

(The Missing Children Case Files – Book 1)

Some secrets are too big to bury…

Investigative journalist Emma Hunter never thought she’d be a bestselling author. Especially not for a blistering exposé of the brutal horrors committed at a children’s home.

Some secrets breed in the dark…

All she wants is to return home to the anchoring salt air and solitude of Weymouth where questions still fester unanswered and a twenty-year-old secret binds her to the beach.

And some of them always escape…

But then she finds herself sucked into the chaos of another cold case and soon realises the search for the missing girl will not only unearth the rot ravaging the safety of children across the south of England, but could even solve the mystery that has tortured her since she was seven years old…

Ransomed marks the beginning of a nerve-shredding new crime series of feral reckonings and found family in the face of harrowing inhumanity, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Ann Cleeves.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ransomed-absolutely-gripping-favourite-thriller-ebook/dp/B086TS1ZK4/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Ransomed-absolutely-gripping-favourite-thriller-ebook/dp/B086TS1ZK4/

Author Bio

Hi, I’m M.A. Hunter and have been a huge fan of crime fiction since a young age, and always fancied the idea of trying to write some myself. That dream became a reality when One More Chapter signed The Missing Children Case Files series.

Born in Darlington in the north-east of England, I grew up in West London, and moved to Southampton to study law at university. It’s here I fell in love and have been married for fifteen years. We are now raising our two children, on the border of The New Forest where we enjoy going for walks amongst the wildlife. We regularly holiday across England, but have a particular affinity for the south coast, which formed the setting for the series, spanning from Devon to Brighton, and with a particular focus on Weymouth, one of our favourite towns.

When not writing, I regularly binge-watch the latest shows from streaming services, or have my head buried in the latest story from Angela Marsons, Simon Kernick, or Ann Cleeves.

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/Writer_MAHunter

www.facebook.com/AuthorMAHunter

My Review

5/5/ stars

I may have just found a new favourite author to stalk – I mean follow! M A Hunter kicks off this new series with a humdinger of a crime thriller and I’m sure there can only be more great stories ahead.

Emma Hunter has been thrust into the limelight after exposing a paedophile ring working out of an orphanage. As an investigative journalist, she had to earn the trust of the victims in order to bring the perpetrators to justice. Now, her book is a best-seller and everyone knows her name. Including Lord Fitzhume whose granddaughter was abducted a year ago. The case has gone cold, but the grandfather is convinced she (Cassie) is still alive.

Emma is reluctant to get involved. She’d rather retreat to Weymouth and pursue her own case – which is that of her sister who has been missing for over twenty years – but her agent insists that Fitzhume’s case carries greater weight with the publishers, who, after all, will be paying her a substantial amount for her next book.  And so it is that she finds herself teaming up with PC Jack Serrovitz, ready to embark on another investigation. However, the more she digs into the case, the more she realises that something went badly wrong. Is Cassie still alive, and more to the point, will they find her?

Emma is a likeable character and very dedicated to the investigation. The story behinds Cassie’s abduction throws up lots of twists and turns, however the ending is not all tied up neatly. Granted, this is the first in a series, and so I expect the next story to pick up where this one ends. It just means I’ll have to wait a bit longer … but I’m fine with that. Good stories are worth waiting for. 

A compulsive page-turner (or screen-swiper) with plenty of promise for an outstanding series. 

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book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · WWII

Book Review – The Wartime Nanny

The Wartime Nanny

by Lizzie Page

 

The Nazis are everywhere now. We must leave Vienna. It might be that soon our letters won’t get out anymore. Can you help, dear sister? Please, ask for us. Send news, and quickly. Please.

 

London, 1938. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Leeman takes the heart-breaking decision to leave her family behind in Vienna and travel to England to join her cousin Leah in service. Natalie is placed with a wealthy suburban family, the Caplins, as a nanny to their energetic six-year-old.

At first, Natalie is delighted by the huge house and beautiful gardens, but things aren’t as perfect as they seem. While Natalie dotes on their child, she is increasingly wary of Mr Caplin, whose gruff manor and fascist politics scare her. And then there are those still waiting at home – Mama and her two sisters, as well as a blossoming romance with her English tutor that had only just begun.

But when Vienna falls under Nazi rule, Natalie begins to fear for her family, especially her vivacious, tomboy little sister Libby. Then rumours of a possible escape route from mainland Europe called the kindertransport begin to swirl – can Natalie help her family escape the Nazis before it’s too late?

My Review

3.5/5 stars

Yes, I know, another wartime book. What can I say? I love this genre.

The story begins in 1936 when 16 year-old Natalie Leeman gets a job as a nanny in England with the Caplin family. She leaves her mother and sisters behind in Austria and travels by train alone where she is met by the wonderful Mrs Sanderson who has arranged the position for her. Natalie’s cousin, Leah, left Austria some time earlier and is working for Mrs Sanderson. Leah is actually a driving force behind getting Natalie – and later, her family – out of Austria to safety. 

Natalie enjoys her job, particularly looking after young Hugo, but she is also, naively, somewhat enamoured with Mrs Caplin, who she sees as elegant, beautiful, and – to her detriment – a friend. 

As life for Natalie’s family worsens, she finally comes round to agreeing with Leah that they need to leave. (For a while she was unwilling to accept the dangers her Jewish family faced, and they too were reluctant to admit they were vulnerable.) When letters from home change into appeals for help, Natalie arranges for her mother and younger sister to join her (with the help of Mrs Sanderson). Unfortunately, plans go awry when her newly-married  elder sister falls pregnant and her mother changes her mind about leaving Austria.

Later, that mistake will cost the family dearly as their situation deteriorates further. By now, Natalie is not alone in seeking an escape for her family. The immigration and visa office is swamped by requests and the possibility of meeting the requirements decreases by the day. It is at the immigration that she first meets Erich who is also trying to secure visas for his much larger family. 

As the story develops, the atrocities become more widely known and fears escalate. But Natalie keeps going; she even turns to Mrs Caplin for help, convinced her beloved benefactor will do all she can to help. Sadly, she is disappointed to find that not only is Mrs Caplin a vapid mother to Hugo, but she is also in love with a man who seems to support Hitler and whom she daren’t cross, not even for Natalie. As a result, by the time war actually breaks out, Natalie is no longer a nanny for Hugo, but instead working with Leah in a local cafe. 

The story moves forward to present day and we learn what happened to Natalie and her family, as well as Leah and Hugo. Admittedly, it’s a slow-burner to start but picks up pace in the last third before skipping ahead to modern times.

There are a couple of points that niggled me: How does she meet up with Erich again after their first one-off encounter? Coincidence? There is no mention of a planned meeting? Also, isn’t the title somewhat misleading as she isn’t even a nanny during the war years? Then again, maybe I’m too pedantic when it comes to history (It’s true, I am 😉 frequently!) It also bugs me when a book is described as “unputdownable” – I know it”s a marketing ploy, but it’s hyperbole at best. Okay, rant over! 

I liked Natalie as a character and she grew up a lot during those early years in England. Her childish nature sees her relate wonderfully with Hugo, almost as if she were the mother he deserved rather than the awful Mrs Caplin. Her fears for her family and friends in Austria are heart-wrenching at times, as are the events that befall them. The author has a great talent for really giving her characters personality, her descriptions are so vivid, often humorous, and always memorable. Natalie, Leah & Mrs Sanderson were my stand-out characters, diamonds in the rough all of them, beautifully drawn and with hidden depths. 

An enjoyable read, (not unputdownable though) but nonetheless a good story with memorable characters, plenty of heartfelt emotions, and proof of the goodness of most people during troubled times. 

I would like to thank #NetGalley, #Bookouture and the author #LizziePage for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. I’ll be sure to look out for more by this author. 

As always,