book review · historical fiction · recommended · women's fiction

Book Review – A Guardian of Slaves

Description

Willow Hendricks is now the Lady of Livingston. She manages this plantation with her father and best friend Whitney Barry. The two women continue her parents’ secret abolitionist mission. They use the family’s ships and estates to transport escaped slaves along the channels to freedom. Willow’s love for Bowden Armstrong is as strong as ever, but she is not ready to marry and have a family because of her attention to these noble pursuits. Torn by her love for him, can their bond survive his reluctance to support her efforts with the Underground Railroad?

Meanwhile, whispers among the quarters sing praises of a mysterious man in the swamps helping slaves escape. He is called the Guardian. They believe he will save them from brutal slave catchers and deliver them to the promised land. Masked bandits roam the countryside, but the Guardian and the criminals evade capture. A series of accidents and mysterious disappearances raise alarm throughout the region. Who can Willow and Whitney trust? One false move or slip could endanger the lives of everyone they love and bring ruin to the Livingston Plantation.

Add to Goodreads

My Review

5/5 stars

After reading book one – A Slave of the Shadows – I couldn’t wait to get started on this second book in the series.

As expected, Naomi Finley delivers more of the same high quality historical fiction in a story that is filled to the brim with heart and hope. The pain and horrors that the characters have to endure is offset by this hope and the knowledge that the forces of good are doing their damnedest to right these  many, many wrongs.

Told from numerous viewpoints, the story will suck you in. Seeing the story develop from every angle is what gives it such depth and quality, added to which the author’s descriptive scene setting will make you feel you’re in the midst of everything. It’s truly an immersive read that kept me reading late into the night.

Since her father’s untimely death, Willow is now running the Livingston Plantation, and her desire to give all the slaves freedom has not waned. But with that not an option, she and her uncle (Ben) and best friend, Whitney continue to do whatever they can to help the slaves, particularly those being hunted. Of course, she has to keep up appearances, for to be caught aiding the slaves in any way would be a hanging offence. This double life, naturally, brings her face to face with all sorts of obstacles – some pleasantly surprise her, while others are horrendously shocking and life-changing.

There are mysteries galore in the story, particularly around the “Guardian” who is deemed the saviour of the slaves, and the “masked men” who are the complete opposite. A newcomer – in the form of Silas Anderton – brings drama and speculation to town, and his links to Willow’s past are horrifying and dangerous for her.

Yet, all this runs alongside several emotional storylines – some heartbreakingly sad (Mary Grace & Gray) and others heartwarmingly wonderful (Jimmy & Ruby).

The relationship between Willow and Bowden is on and off throughout until it really seems dead in the water. Willow and Ben grow closer as they reveal more secrets in her father’s journal. Of course, it goes without saying that Whitney and Willow are a tour de force, a formidable twosome, until the idea of marriage raises its head and challenges their bond. Mammy and Jimmy are two of the most beautiful souls you could ever care to meet, so full of love despite all that has befallen them. Indeed, every character plays a part in making this an epic tale of its time. It feels authentic in each and every detail (as I can neither verify nor deny how life was lived in those times, all I will say is that the story flows effortlessly and doesn’t shy away from the harsh horrors which makes for a well-rounded tale).

A third book is in the offing, but not planned until late 2020.

What will I do until then? 😦

I do know I’ll be waiting for it.

As always,

 

 

 

blog tour · book review · British · family · historical fiction · saga · women's fiction · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Lost Daughter – with Giveaway

The Lost Daughter

Hull, 1930. A terrified woman runs through the dark, rain-lashed streets pursued by a man, desperate to reach the sanctuary of the local police station. Alice Goddard runs with one thing in her mind: her daughter. In her panic she is hit by a car at speed and rushed to hospital. When she awakes, she has no memory of who she is, but at night she dreams of being hunted by a man, and of a little girl.

As the weeks pass and her memories gradually resurface, Alice anxiously searches for her daughter, but no one is forthcoming about the girl’s whereabouts – even her own mother is evasive. Penniless and homeless, Alice must begin again and rebuild her life, never giving up hope that one day she will be reunited with her lost daughter.

Purchase Links

From 22nd – 29th August, The Lost Daughter will be at the bargain price of 99p.

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Daughter-Sylvia-Broady-ebook/dp/B07F3KPN1J

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Daughter-Sylvia-Broady-ebook/dp/B07F3KPN1J

 

Author Bio – Sylvia Broady was born in Kingston upon Hull and has lived in the area all her life, though she loves to travel the world. It wasn’t until she started to frequent her local library , after World War 2, that her relationship with literature truly began and her memories of war influence her writing, as does her home town. A member of the: RNA, HNS, S of A and Beverley Writers. She has had a varied career in childcare, the NHS and East Yorkshire Council Library Services, but is now a full-time writer. Plus volunteering as a Welcomer at Beverley Minster to visitors from around the world, and raising money for local charities by singing in the choir of the Beverley Singers, both bringing colour and enrichment to her imagination and to her passion for writing.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/SylviaBroadyAuthor

https://twitter.com/SylviaBroady

Website: https://sylviabroadyauthor.com

Giveaway – Win 2 x paperback signed books of The Lost Daughter and The Yearning Heart (Open Internationally)

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

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

 

My Review

There’s a huge amount of story going on in this book. Despite a large cast, the focus remains on Alice and her daughter, Daisy, who was taken from her in such an uncaring manner.
The story spans several decades, beginning in the 1930s, covering World War II, and then the post-war years. Throughout, Alice becomes ever more determined to find her Daisy but, as needs must, carries on with her life assuming Daisy is in a loving home and well cared for.
The multiple viewpoints in the story bring an ever-increasing poignancy to the desperation they both share: Alice to find Daisy, and Daisy to be found.
An enjoyable read, though a little repetitive at times, but nonetheless giving great insight to the issues faced by mothers and children during those years. The inability of the authorities to right the wrong done to Alice is unfortunately a sign of the times, but fortunately as the years pass we see things – including the law – change in Alice’s favour.
The large cast – Alice’s family, Johnny, Evelyn and Talli among others – brings hope for better times, though good fortune is not always forthcoming for all of them.
Entertaining, interesting sub-plots are beautifully interlinked, resulting in a well-told tale with a great emotional pull.

You can find more news and reviews on these blogs:

As always,

book review · chick-lit · fun · NetGalley · romantic comedy · summer reading

Book Review – Probably the Best Kiss in the World

Jen Attison likes her life Just So. But being fished out of a canal in Copenhagen by her knickers is definitely NOT on her to do list.

From cinnamon swirls to a spontaneous night of laughter and fireworks, Jen’s city break with the girls takes a turn for the unexpected because of her gorgeous, mystery rescuer.

Back home, Jen faces a choice. A surprise proposal from her boyfriend, ‘boring’ Robert has offered Jen the safety net she always thought she wanted. But with the memories of her Danish adventure proving hard to forget, maybe it’s time for Jen to stop listening to her head and start following her heart…

Add to Goodreads

My Review

Probably the best rom-com I’ve read this year!

Just like brewing beer, a good romantic comedy requires a mix of great ingredients. In this case, the author has created probably the perfect blend of characters. (And, yes, I will probably overuse the word probably in this review – but that’s probably a good thing, right?)

So, we have a reluctant leading lady in Jen Attison. As a list-maker myself, I can relate to her organisation prowess, although she definitely has better ‘follow-through’ skills than I do. Jen is – or so she thinks – content with her lot, and would happily continue with her job, her brewing, and her relationship with Robert …unless something out of the blue happens. Luckily for Jen, it does.

Enter our leading man (Move over Robert!) in the form of Yakob (as he is known for most of the book).

While Jen might be sceptical and wary of romance, Yakob most certainly isn’t. He knows when he’s found the one for him. The trouble lies in convincing Jen too. Added to the fact that she is engaged to Robert – and Jen is nothing if not loyal – then any relationship with Yakob is out of the question.

To be honest, sometimes I wanted to scream at Jen, and tell her to put herself first for a change. But there’s no telling some people. Well, unless you have a sister like Lydia. Where Yakob fails to convince Jen of anything, Lydia charges like a bull in a china shop, determined to make her big sister see beyond her so-called duties and responsibilities. You see, Jen feels she has to protect Lydia (for reasons why, you’ll need to read the book 😉 LOL), add that to the fact that she has already accepted Robert’s proposal and couldn’t possibly let him down (cue screaming from me!), and Jen is bogged down by a sense of loyalty and duty. Probably not the most ideal mindset with which to enter into marriage!

Jen digs her heels in (she gives “stubborn” a whole new meaning), a move that threatens her relationship with Lydia – something she could never, ever have foreseen. Could her sense of duty ruin everything? Does she really want to marry Robert? Could she settle for a life without brewing her wonderful, artisan beers?

Jen may well be the main character in this story, but without Lydia, Yakob, and even Robert’s family, she wouldn’t be able to carry the story. She is well meaning, but somewhat smothering towards Lydia; at work, she’s dismissive of her bosses (Robert’s sisters) and a little condescending of their ideas (well, crocheted tampons are real 😉 so maybe they’re not as ridiculous as Jen might think). Yet, despite having control-freak tendencies, she seems to fall apart when Robert maps out their future, one in which her brewing passion is denigrated to hobby status at best. Where did the real Jen go? Well, it took a dip in a canal in Copenhagen to start the process, and a few secrets to railroad it too.

This is a story filled with humour, emotion, travel, drama, and beer. The romance aspect is slow burning in nature, and there are plenty of twists in the tale as the story develops. A great summer read that I’d recommend to rom-com fans who are looking for originality, fun, family, and a HEA – probably!

I received this book from Netgalley, and this review is given voluntarily.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · recommended · women's fiction

Book Review – A Slave of the Shadows

In 1850 Charleston, South Carolina, brutality and cruelty simmer just under the genteel surface of Southern society. Beautiful and headstrong Willow Hendricks lives in an era where ladies are considered nothing more than property.
Her father rules her life, filling it with turmoil, secrets, and lies. She finds a kindred spirit in spunky, outspoken Whitney Barry, a northerner from Boston. Together these Charleston belles are driven to take control of their own lives as they are plunged into fear and chaos on their quest to fight for the rights of slaves. Against all odds, these feisty women fight to secure freedom and equality for those made powerless and persecuted by a supposedly superior race.
Only when they’ve lost it all do they find a new beginning.
Book 1 presents Willow and Whitney—and the reader—with the hardships the slaves endure at the hands of their white masters.

About the author

Naomi is an award-winning author living in Northern Alberta. She loves to travel and her suitcase is always on standby awaiting her next adventure. Naomi’s affinity for the Deep South and its history was cultivated during her childhood living in a Tennessee plantation house with six sisters. Her fascination with history and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome obstacles are major inspirations for her writing and she is passionately devoted to creativity. In addition to writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, and hosting dinner parties. Naomi is married to her high school sweetheart and she has two teenage children and two dogs named Egypt and Persia.

My Review

5/5 stars

I absolutely loved it. It has movie-like qualities that drew me into the period with dazzling detail, tension and emotion. Strong women throughout battle to control the descent into shame and degradation that afflicts the South as a result of slavery laws. This story is brutal in its depiction of that era, but with a thumping heartbeat that strives for change.

The story starts with a prologue that entices, and sets the tone for what follows. It totally captivated me and I had to see how those events connected with the main character of the book, Willow Hendricks.  Willow grew up without her mother, and was raised by Mammy together with Mammy’s daughter, Mary Grace. As such, her relationship with the slaves on her father’s plantation is based on love and a desire to see them freed. Convinced her father does not hold the same opinion, Willow cannot imagine running her father’s plantation one day, particularly not in the same manner.

Willow also rebels at the thought of not marrying for love, and when an arranged marriage is proposed, her reaction is fiery but also – happily so – effective. Her suitor-to-be, Kip, is just as affronted that she was unaware of the potential match, and insists it will not go ahead. So, while they may not ever be married, their form a strong and enduring friendship.

It’s clear that Willow is opinionated, and not just about her future, but also about the treatment of those she considers friends, not slaves. In particular, her relationship with James, the blacksmith on her father’s plantation, is sweet and heartwarming; she sometimes imagines him to be the father she herself wants, especially during those moments when she and her father are at loggerheads.

There is plenty of tension off the plantation too, primarily in the form of Bowden Armstrong. They seem so diametrically opposed, and their confrontations only fuel Willow’s fiery nature further. There are plenty of subplots running throughout, and the joining of the dots is beautifully done. Change is afoot, but there’s a link to the past that cannot be ignored. Willow faces several surprises and finds she has misjudged those closest to her.

Oh my, I cannot wait to read book two.

 

Add to Goodreads

As always,

blog blitz · series · thriller · trilogy

Blog Blitz – One of Us

One Of Us

‘Leave, or die.’

Jess Dyer has won safety for her sister-in-law Ruth and proved her worth as the leader of her refugee community.

Sarah Evans has stood up to her parents and discovered who she can trust.

But the villagers still aren’t welcome. When the local population expresses its anger, can Jess keep everyone safe? And can she hold it together as Steward when someone she loves dies?

And how will Sarah react when her new fiancee Martin receives death threats, telling him he must leave her, and their village?

One Of Us is a gripping thriller about belonging and acceptance. It’s the third book in the Village trilogy, and the sequel to Sea Of Lies.

Purchase Link:

https://books2read.com/one-of-us

Author Bio 

My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelmcwrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelmcleanwrites/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelmcwrites/

As always,

 

 

blog tour · book review · mystery · relationships · romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Buried Treasure

Buried Treasure

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SN5NWJ2

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SN5NWJ2

 

Author Bio

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

Currently published by Accent Press, each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

Social Media Links 

https://accentpressbooks.com/collections/gilli-allan

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilli-Allan/e/B004W7GG7I

http://twitter.com/gilliallan (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.com

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1027644.Gilli_Allan

https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/gilli-allan/

My Review

The title of this book caught my attention, together with the mention of an archaeological puzzle.  I expected mystery and red herrings, but wasn’t ready for the slow-burning, burgeoning romance that ensued, particularly between the two main characters Jane and Theo.

The prologue instantly intrigued, but then, if I’m honest, I struggled to get into the crux of story.
For the first 20% (Kindle reader here 😉 ) neither Jane nor Theo “excited” me to the extent that I cared enough about them.  Early chapters contained a lot of flashbacks and backstory which made it hard to follow. I was constantly flicking back to get facts straight in my head.

Things became much more interesting after that, though, so my perseverance paid off. The couple, with such different backgrounds and life experiences, seemed incompatible – or, possibly they fulfilled the old adage that opposites attract. They clearly had different treasures to uncover, and all that earlier backstory made sense of their behaviour and expectations.

I loved the detail of the archaeological explorations – as I knew I would – and that aspect of the story shone for me with a believable, and obviously well-researched setting. Much as I chose to read this book for the mystery of finding treasure, it became a much more character-focused story with a solid, emotional element running through it.

A story that proved to be much more than it said on the cover.

More content and reviews can be found here:

As always,

book review · NetGalley · psychological suspense · tense · women's fiction

Book Review – The Stillwater Girls

The Stillwater Girls

by Minka Kent

Description:

Two sisters raised in fear are about to find out why in a chilling novel of psychological suspense from the author of The Thinnest Air.

Ignorant of civilization and cautioned against its evils, nineteen-year-old Wren and her two sisters, Sage and Evie, were raised in off-the-grid isolation in a primitive cabin in upstate New York. When the youngest grows gravely ill, their mother leaves with the child to get help from a nearby town. And they never return.

As months pass, hope vanishes. Supplies are low. Livestock are dying. A brutal winter is bearing down. Then comes the stranger. He claims to be looking for the girls’ mother, and he’s not leaving without them.

To escape, Wren and her sister must break the rule they’ve grown up with: never go beyond the forest.

Past the thicket of dread, they come upon a house on the other side of the pines. This is where Wren and Sage must confront something more chilling than the unknowable. They’ll discover what’s been hidden from them, what they’re running from, and the secrets that have left them in the dark their entire lives.

My review:

This book was recommended to me by a good friend who was raving about it, so I jumped on the bandwagon and got a copy for myself, only to hear from the same friend a few hours later – yes, hours – that the ending did not live up to expectations.

Argh! Was I about to waste my valuable reading time on something that would disappoint? A few other reviews – though definitely not all – said much the same thing. It didn’t bode well.

Still, I had the book already – it had to be worth checking it out for myself, after all, I might love it. My friend and I have disagreed over books in the past. (Though, to be fair, we’ve agreed more times than disagreed) Maybe this would be another one of those moments.

And you know what? For the first 75%, I abso-bloody-lutely loved this story. It was well-paced; I could totally empathise with the characters, they intrigued me – it was all good.

I felt for Wren and Sage, left alone in that cabin in the woods, where food was running out but not their hope that Mama and sister Evie would be back soon. When that knock on their door came, I was with them, hiding behind the couch, trembling. The plan wasn’t working out. It was time to leave. I so wanted Wren and Sage to find their mother and sister, and to see that maybe the world wasn’t as bad nor as scary as they’d been told.

Meanwhile, Nicolette and husband Brant lived a charmed life, endless travel opportunities led to recognition for Brant’s photographic career while Nic looked forward to them becoming foster parents after an emergency hysterectomy meant she couldn’t carry a child herself.

Unfortunately, a baby photo in Brant’s sock drawer, and several large withdrawals from her trust fund – without her knowledge – brought doubt to her door. Was Brant cheating? Did he have another family somewhere else?

There was tension every which way, and I raced through the book. It didn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility that the first house Wren and Sage came across belonged to Nic and Brant; and there was a logical reason for Nic to be at home when they knocked on her door. (She usually went to Florida for the winter, but had decided to confront Brant about the money instead)

As the truth came out about the Stillwater Darlings who lived in the cabin in the woods, living a life without electricity or modernity of any kind, it seemed only reasonable – and rather sweet – that Nic would want to help them.

And then came the moment that left me open-mouthed, where the facts of Nicolette’s past were revealed. My first thoughts were that the story had taken a shocking, fascinating and somewhat incredulous turn. While all the connections were finally made, it still left me baffled. Could that have happened? (I’m not going to share the details here in case you’d care to see for yourself) Everyone in Stillwater knew what had happened to Nicolette, including Brant, Cate, (her friend in Florida) and even her parents – and they all agreed to say nothing. Only Nicolette had no idea, no memory of what she’d done.

I loved the author’s writing, she drew me in with strong characters, all the emotional ups and downs you could wish for, and so much dramatic tension. I’ll definitely be checking out her other books. This would be perfect for #bookclubs as it certainly generates conversation. I love that in a book, and I’d recommend those curious enough to check it out for themselves.

My thanks to Netgalley and the author / publisher for a copy of this book; my review is made voluntarily.

As always,