book review · family · there's a dog · women's fiction

Book Review – Seven Perfect Things

by Catherine Ryan Hyde

You just know this is going to be good!

A heart-stirring novel about the joy that comes from finding love in unexpected places by the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author.

Thirteen-year-old Abby Hubble lives in an unhappy home in the Sierra Nevada foothills where her father makes life miserable for her and her mother, Mary. One day Abby witnesses a man dump a litter of puppies into the nearby river. Diving in to rescue all seven, she knows she won’t be able to bring them home. Afraid for their fate at the pound, she takes them to an abandoned cabin, where all she can offer is a promise that she’ll be back the next day.

To grieving widower Elliot Colvin, life has lost meaning. Looking for solace, he retreats to the hunting cabin he last visited years ago, before his wife’s illness. What he discovers is not at all what he expected: seven puppies and one determined girl with an indomitable heart.

As Abby and Elliot’s friendship deepens, Abby imagines how much better her life—and the puppies’ lives—would be if her mother were married to Elliot instead of her father. But when Abby’s father moves the family hundreds of miles away, Abby and her mother must decide how long they’re willing to defer happiness.

Seven Perfect Things is a story about joy, where to find it, how to know it when you see it, and the courage it takes to hang on to it once you have it.

Add to Goodreads

My Review

Can you guess where this is going? I mean, it has not one dog but seven delightful, cute as a button puppies in it – which makes it a must-read in my eyes.

4 paws from me!

If the current pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that our pets are as much part of the family as their human counterparts, and as this story shows, the dogs are a great deal better behaved! The blurb tells us from the start that the puppies have been dumped in a sack in the river (can I get a boo hiss for the hoomans that did this!!!), so we have to be prepared for a tale of survival, a battle against the odds and a whole lot of love, bemusement and shenanigans to follow.

So, to the story …

After rescuing seven puppies from the river, refusing to leave them at the pound where their future is more than uncertain, and knowing her father will not allow her to take them home, Abby traipses up to a unoccupied cabin nearby to care for them. Buying food and water for them with what little money she has, Abby is determined her puppies will survive. She rushes out of the house each morning to check on them, and again after school, keeping them secret from her dad, although she did tell her mum about them … just maybe not all the facts.

Since school is about to break for summer, she reckons she can spend more time with them while looking for new homes to take them in (she does this with the best of intentions not realising how much she has already grown to love the puppers).

For a couple of days, she copes – helped by some money from her mum (who has guessed from the paw prints on her clothes and her late hours that Abby still has the dogs somewhere). Abby and her mother live in fear of upsetting her father, which makes her mum all the more determined to let Abby have her secret knowing that she is of an age where being responsible for something other than herself will be a valuable lesson.

But, then the owner of the cabin arrives …

Recently widowed, Elliot arrives at his cabin for some alone time, only to find the cabin has been broken into and much of his stuff stolen( not by Abby, I hasten to add). Added to that, when checking out his generator – no longer there – in the shed, he finds Abby’s puppies and a pile of smelly newspaper.

When he takes the same trip as Abby to the pound, the staff member recognises the pups and is sorry to see them again. Elliot cannot leave them to their fate, so he returns to his cabin to find a distressed Abby looking for her dogs. And so begins their relationship which, while it has a rocky start, soon becomes focused on the puppies’ wellbeing. If anything, Abby’s presence stops Elliot from sinking into depression, and instead he is cheered by the antics of the playful seven.

But it can’t go on like that. Elliot will have to leave his cabin eventually, and Abby needs to find homes for the dogs. However, by then the two are firm friends and come up with a plan to look after the puppies which just so happens to also take into consideration Abby’s home life and her mother’s unhappy marriage.

The struggle is real and their plan falls apart early on when Abby’s father decides he’s in charge of his family and “takes” them away. With no way of contacting Elliot, it seems Abby may never see her puppies or Elliot again.

An emotionally-charged story that will keep you reading through to the end to see how things work out.

As always,

blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series · social media

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Hashtag Killer

The Hashtag Killer

Catch a killer or save a child. What would you do?

DI Jen Flowers thought she’d seen it all after fifteen years on the force, but when a vigilante serial killer hits the city and uses social media to gather supporters, she must fight the public and her doubts to catch a murderer and save her daughter.

Suffering from blackouts and abandoned as a child by her father, Ruby Vasquez has been chasing that one scoop to make her an internet star. Living with an alcoholic mother who hates her, Ruby discovers a secret about the vigilante’s first victim, which puts her in the killer and DI Flowers’ sights.

Jen and Ruby have to overcome the secrets in their past while battling each other to discover the Hashtag Killer’s identity. Jen will have to choose between keeping her daughter safe or finding a killer, while Ruby will need to decide if becoming famous is more important than doing the right thing.

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08SPBY6QZ

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08SPBY6QZ

Author Bio

Andrew French is a man of no wealth and little taste.

He lives amongst faded seaside glamour on the North East coast of England.

He likes gin and cats but not together, new music and old movies, curry and ice cream.

Slow bike rides and long walks to the pub are his usual exercise, as well as flicking through the pages of good books and the memoirs of bad people.

Social Media Links – Website, Twitter, Instagram, FB page

My Review

An original and timely police procedural with an abundance of twists along the way. The Hashtag Killer, as you might expect, uses the power of social media to bring the killings to the public’s attention, and wannabe influencer Ruby Vasquez cannot resist keeping the story alive with her blog posts.

From the moment Ruby realised she was first on the scene, she was in “detective” mode on the dark web, finding information that a regular internet user would not see about the victim. Her reporting of that info played a massive role in managing the public’s opinion of the victim, and rather than call out for the killer’s arrest, there was instead a sense of justice having been done in ridding society of a rapist. Suddenly, the killer became a vigilante whose actions were appreciated – definitely not the ideal scenario for the police’s investigation.

The story was told from various points of view – DI Jen Flowers, blogger-journo Ruby and the killer him/herself (no spoilers here!) Such an approach allowed the readers great insight into the lives of Jen and Ruby, and how the story impacted their lives. For me, the killer’s chapters were overwritten and full of excessive details that had me skimming ahead. It soon became clear that the person who “claimed” to be the killer couldn’t possibly be, and that aspect made the killer’s chapters a struggle for me to get through.

Things picked up considerably when looking at the investigation from DI Flower’s perspective, and with Ruby’s efforts to remain relevant in the cut-and-thrust world of social media. The friction between the police and the news reporting made for great tension and kept the story moving at a good pace, adding another layer of drama and anxiety to the police’s need to stay ahead of the game if they were to ever catch the killer.

An interesting and original take on a crime investigation, highlighting the difficult job the police have when public opinion is swayed by the force that is social media.

For more news and reviews,

blog tour · book review · coming of age · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Charity of Strangers

The Charity of Strangers

You can find almost anything in a charity shop, but can you find love?

            You can certainly find friendship and there is both laughter and tears ahead when 19yr old Zaffron, lonely, anxious and without direction, meets Blaire Daintry, good-looking, charming, and gay.

            Both volunteers in the charity shop, he has a hidden agenda, she has secrets,  but they are friends from the start, despite Blaire’s constant sparring with Ida, the stern, good-hearted older volunteer who Zaffron admires. And perhaps Ida has secrets too.

            Together with other victims of the city’s housing crisis, Blaire and Zaffron set up a safe and happy home.  Secure at last, she tells him of the dreadful incident in her childhood that has marred her life, but not even his total acceptance gives her the confidence to start a relationship with an attractive and decent young army sergeant who falls in love with her.

            Is it fear of the truth coming out that holds her back? Or is there some other reason, buried too deep in her heart for her to recognise?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Charity-Strangers-friends-secrets-lies-ebook/dp/B08NXHTG2B/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Charity-Strangers-friends-secrets-lies-ebook/dp/B08NXHTG2B/

Author Bio

I was born and grew up in Lancashire, gained several nursing qualifications and had the privilege of a long and varied nursing career, briefly in the Royal Army Nursing Service abroad, mainly in the NHS in UK.

True love and a happy family came my way and now I have the time to read, write and remember.

Social Media Links

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lilydaleco

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

 Website https://www.alisonburkefictionwriter.com/

My Review

The Charity of Strangers couldn’t be a more apt title for this story as it centres on a group of individuals who meet through volunteer work at a charity shop. They start as strangers but end as good friends, and have a unique bond that unites them from that point onwards.

Zaffron is the principal character who wants more from life but doesn’t know how she might achieve it – living in a squat in fear of her life does not inspire her with much confidence to break out of the comfort zone. With a job interview lined up, she plans to “take” a coat from the charity stop but instead gets caught up in a conversation with the ladies running the store and can’t bring herself to steal from them. Instead she contemplates working there as a volunteer which she hopes might look good when she is really ready to find paid work.

The shop soon begins to mean more to her and she grows in confidence. When Blaire joins the workforce, she loves it even more. He’s closer to her age and a lot of fun. Life is picking up.

However, what Zaffy doesn’t realise is that Blaire is also keeping a secret. As their friendship blossoms, their lives becomes more intricately involved. Blaire moves into the squat and soon things change there for the better. In fact, as far as Zaffron is concerned, when Blaire is around everything seems better.

As time passes, Zaffy’s expectations of her future change – she applies for the assistant manager role at the shop with high hopes while also taking classes at night school for GCSE English. Suddenly she has prospects, she is more independent and with things changing at the squat (including the reason for her being so scared now gone) she is even open to a little romance. Unfortunately, this is where things begin to unravel. But there is a silver lining which I won’t reveal here 😉

I enjoyed reading this; a true slice of life drama that touches upon issues that are often side-lined – homelessness and the housing crisis, abuse and poverty – while also looking at the positive elements of life through friendship, having a purpose in life and caring about others. There are moments of sadness and hurt balanced with joy, hope and love.

Definitely a book I’d recommend to readers of coming of age and women’s fiction. It has a strong core of optimism and friendship wrapped in a shell of harsh reality.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

Uncategorized

Book Blitz – The Exit Strategy


Women’s Fiction

Audio Book Release – February 2021

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press



Tech executive Carly can’t wait to marry the man of her dreams. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers her fiancé is already wed to Ryn — her company’s top investor! Can the two women overcome heartbreak together?

Silicon Valley investor Ryn Brennan is on the verge of achieving everything she dreamed. She’s succeeded in the sexist venture capital world, has a supportive husband, and is about to close the deal of her career. Everything is going exactly as planned, until she meets her husband’s mistress, across the negotiating table.

Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, caring single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her loving fiancé, she’ll secure the complete family she craves. But she’s blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married.

In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak, and ensure their success?



Critic Reviews

Strong women faced with timely struggles. Friendship, forgiveness, and moments of heartfelt laughter. You won’t forget these courageous characters.” Rochelle Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author

SO MUCH FUN. Incredibly fast paced and satisfying, with two believable protagonists and one guy so bad you’ll be dying to see if he get what he deserves.” (K J Dell’Antonia, New York Times bestselling author)

5 Stars! Secrets, betrayals and vulture like venture capitalists will keep you on the edge of your seat.” (Miss W Book Reviews)


Audiobook Excerpt Available at

Soundcloud


About The Author

Lainey Cameron is an author of women’s fiction and a recovering tech industry executive. Her award-winning novel, The Exit Strategy, a #1 Amazon Best Seller, was inspired by a decade of being the only woman in the corporate boardroom. It’s been called a “rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together”.

A digital nomad–meaning she picks locations around the world to live (and write) for months at a time–Lainey is an avid instagrammer, and loves to share her insights. She loves to connect with readers and audio listeners at http://www.laineycameron.com

She’s a proud member and volunteer with Women’s Fiction Writers Association, hosts an Instagram TV show called The Best of Women’s Fiction, and believes community makes the author’s life worthwhile. Originally from Scotland, Lainey has a soft spot for kilts, good malt whisky, and anything equine.


Contact Links

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Promo Link


Purchase Links

Audiobook:

Amazon

Audible

iBooks

Libro

Kobo

Google Play

Chirp Books


eBook:

Amazon

B&N

Overdrive

iBooks

Kobo

Google Play

 

RABT Book Tours & PR
blog tour · book excerpt · historical · mystery · thriller

Blog Tour – Old Cases, New Colours (including an excerpt)

Old Cases, New Colours

(A Dudley Green Investigation)

Sick of working in a world of spies and bureaucracy, Ena Green, nee Dudley, leaves the Home Office and starts her own investigating agency.

Working for herself she can choose which investigations to take and, more importantly, which to turn down.

While working on two investigations, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cases-Colours-Dudley-Investigation-Sisters-ebook/dp/B08Y9887QM/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Cases-Colours-Dudley-Investigation-Sisters-ebook/dp/B08Y9887QM/

Author Bio

I was bought up in a pub in a small market town called Lutterworth. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be an actress and a writer. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live with so many characters to study and accents to learn. I was offered Crossroads the first time around. However, my mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job that I could fall back on if I needed to, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful salon and wig-hire business in the theatre for a place at East 15 Drama College and a career as an actress, working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.

In 1995, with fewer parts for older actresses, I gave up acting. I taught myself to touch-type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau and began writing articles and presenting radio.

In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I swapped two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. Since then, I have written nine novels. The first four, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, tell the stories of four sisters in World War 2. My current novel, Old Cases, New Colours, is a thriller/detective story set in 1960. I am writing Christmas book – Christmas Applause – and a Memoir; a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns from my days as an actress.

Social Media Links

Madalyn Morgan’s books- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Madalyn-Morgan/e/B00J7VO9I2

Blog – https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter – www.twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Pinterest – www.pinterest.co.uk/madalynmorgan

Instagram – www.instagram.co.uk/madalynmorgan1

Excerpt

Intro: Ena is called as a witness for the prosecution in a murder trial at the Old Bailey. When she is cross examined by the defence lawyer of a German spy who murdered her colleague the lawyer twists what she says in an attempt to discredit her.

‘I believe you worked closely with Director Bentley at the Home Office?’

‘Yes.’

‘How many years had you worked with him?’

‘Thirteen.’

‘Thirteen years!’ the defence lawyer exclaimed. He looked at the jury. ‘Thirteen years,’ he said again. ‘And you would have us believe that in all that time you never once suspected he was a spy?’

‘No.’

‘What changed your mind, suddenly?’

‘I had reason to question Richard Bentley’s motives in a certain matter.’

Anderson swung from left to right, his black gown flaring theatrically as he looked around the court. ‘Reason to question? Motives? A certain matter? It all sounds very Machiavellian.’ He put his hand up to his face, his fingers on his lips. ‘And who was it that gave you reason to question the Director of The Home Office?’

Ena had been waiting throughout the cross-examination for a question like this. ‘I am not at liberty to say.’

‘Was it the same person who fed you lies about my client and his lover, Hugh Middleton? The truth is, Mrs Green, Hugh Middleton was not the victim in the relationship. The victim was my client. Mr Middleton cheated on him, lied to him and stole from him. My client regrets the outcome of their relationship and wishes there had been some other way. Alas,’ O’Shaughnessy’s lawyer looked down and sighed, his voice growing deeper and softer as if with emotion, ‘there was no other way.’ The defence lawyer then turned to the jury, cleared his throat, and in a matter-of-fact way, said, ‘During one of Middleton’s aggressive outbursts he attacked my client who, fearing for his life, struck out in self-defence, accidentally killing Mr Middleton.’

Ena looked across at the dock for the first time. She held O’Shaughnessy with a cold stare. As arrogant as ever, he grinned at her. Still looking at O’Shaughnessy, Ena said, ‘Hugh Middleton did not lie, cheat or attack your client. On the contrary–’

‘And how would you know, Mrs Green!’

Ena looked back at the defence lawyer. ‘I am not at liberty to say,’ she said again.

‘Whether you tell the court or not is of no consequence,’ Anderson said, ‘because, Mrs Green, the information that you received came from Nick Miller, a man of dubious character who owned the Minchin Club, a nightclub that my client and his lover frequented in Brighton.’ Anderson looked at the jury, leaned his elbow on the edge of the witness box and crossed his legs as if he was at a bar waiting for a drink. Then, as if something had that second come into his mind, he turned and faced Ena. ‘Perhaps you know Nick Miller better by his real name, Nicolaus Müller – a German spy who became a south London gangster with whom you accompanied to Austria. Is that not so, Mrs Green?’

‘I–’

‘I know!’ Anderson spat, shutting Ena down, ‘You are not at liberty to tell us what information Müller gave you for his freedom.’

‘Before Ena could retaliate, Anderson turned to the judge. ‘No more questions, My Lord.’

Ena looked up at the judge in disbelief. She then looked pleadingly at Sir John.’

The judge waved his left hand. Sir John was already on his feet.

‘If I may, My Lord.’

The Judge nodded.

‘Mrs Green,’ Sir John said with a reassuring smile, ‘would you tell the court why you were not at liberty to answer some of the questions asked you by my learned friend?’

‘I have signed the Official Secrets Act. The work I did at the Home Office was… highly sensitive.’

‘Top Secret?’

‘Yes.’

‘Thank you. You were also asked questions that you were not given time to answer. I apologise in advance if the questions I shall ask you now are repetitious.’ Ena nodded. ‘On the day of McKenzie Robinson’s funeral, did Mrs Robinson accuse you of killing her husband?’

‘No. Mrs Robinson said it was my fault that her husband had been killed, not that I had killed him.’ 

‘Your fault? Why?’

‘Director McKenzie was going to help me with an investigation I was working on before he was murdered. He gave his wife a folder to give to me, which she gave me on the day of his funeral.’ Tears filled Ena’s eyes as Mac’s last words came into her mind. “Make sure Ena Green gets this.”

‘No,’ Ena said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, ‘Eve Robinson did not accuse me of killing her husband. ‘Her exact words were, “I hope what you find in there was worth my husband’s life. If you hadn’t come to the hospital to see him, he would still be alive.”’

‘Thank you for clearing that up, Mrs Green.’ With a sympathetic smile, Sir John said, ‘Are you happy to continue?’ Ena nodded. ‘I think the court has been misled about your association with Mr Nick Miller. Would you describe the relationship between yourself and Mr Miller and tell the jury why you travelled with him to Austria?’

‘There was no relationship. Nick Miller had been taken into Police custody for questioning. He had valuable information that the security services – my department in particular – and the Police needed in order to expose a large and deep-rooted spy ring. As you know, the Director of the Home Office was the head of the cell, Helen Crowther and Shaun O’Shaughnessy were members. Nick Miller said he would release the information once he had arrived safely in Austria. I didn’t choose to go with him, he insisted I went as insurance.’

Ena looked at the jury. ‘But I did have a personal reason for accompanying Nick Miller to Austria. Nick had proof that Helen Crowther, who was found dead on December 23rd, 1958 in my office, had killed herself. Crowther went to extraordinary lengths to make her suicide look as if my husband had murdered her. I flew to Austria with Nick Miller to save my husband from being hung for a murder he did not commit.’

‘Thank you, Mrs Green.’ Sir John turned to the judge. ‘No more questions My Lord.’

For news and reviews

As always,

blog tour · crime · excerpt · Female sleuths · kidnapping

Blog Tour – A Chance Encounter (including an excerpt)

A Chance Encounter

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Pre-order Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08X1PN4VH #kidnapping

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X1PN4VH

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57237006-a-chance-encounter

Trailer – https://youtu.be/g2U11opEcqs

Author Bio

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley.

Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Social Media Links

https://raeshawauthor.com/

https://twitter.com/RaeShawauthor

Rae Shaw Facebook page

Rachel Walkley

Extract

Reluctant bodyguard, Julianna, is keeping a watch on her charge, Hettie, at an important fundraiser for a charity. Also there is Mark, a man she is covertly spying on for reasons she’s not entirely sure about. Mark has no clue that he’s also being watched, and his curiosity draws him to chat to Julianna.

‘Hi, Mark.’ Her attempt at nonchalance failed. She fidgeted with her earpiece.

‘Julianna. Haven’t seen you for a couple of weeks. What have you been up to?’

‘Oh, this and that. Keep doing weekend work for extra money. Tonight being an example.’

She was avoiding eye contact now, so overtly, he nearly laughed out loud. For an expert in blending into her environment, she wasn’t trying very hard. He shouldn’t mock. Julianna had a challenging job marking the Haynes family wherever they went. Hettie in particular wasn’t keen on the extra layers of protection. She had griped to Mark when he queried the cost of CCTV cameras in the gallery. Not for the art, she had glowered, for me. Jackson prized his wife beyond any artwork.

‘Where is she?’ he asked.

‘Over there. Chris is back by the door.’

She gestured and he spotted her. Hettie Haynes had bounced back from pregnancy brilliantly. Her dress, a turquoise number with silver slithers, was moulded around her hourglass hips and bountiful breasts. She shook hands, moved, spoke and shook hands again. The perfect hostess.

‘She doesn’t look as tired as last time I saw her,’ he said absent-mindedly.

‘She weaned the kid on to solids and since then the kid’s been sleeping like a baby should. Sleeping.’

Mark raised an eyebrow at Julianna’s knowledge of Hettie’s breast-feeding status.

‘Drove her last week and she made a point of saying how much better things were now that she has several successive hours sleep a night.’ She turned her face fractionally to Mark’s. ‘I don’t ask, she just spews this stuff out.’

‘You’re not keen on babies then.’ Mark couldn’t imagine Julianna spewing anything. Babies were different.

It wasn’t intended as a question, but Julianna pursed her lips, then smirked. ‘Not other people’s; I can’t help it.’

He tapped his nose a few times. ‘I’ll not tell her. Diplomacy suits you.’

‘Comes with the job. One mustn’t get too attached to the client.’

‘He wasn’t in the car then?’

She laughed. ‘Oh no. Definitely a different atmosphere when he’s in the car.’

Jackson would monopolise any conversation and make it his own. It explained her snark.

‘She’s on the move. I’ll have to change location. Wouldn’t do to lose her; that would be a serious black mark.’ Julianna toyed with the piece of wire around her neck.

‘String you up by the balls?’ Mark chortled, then abruptly cringed.

A smiley-faced Julianna rescued him. ‘Well, more likely my nipples, don’t you think?’ she said slyly and with a pronounced wink. She walked, purposely and carefully, to the other side of the room.

Mark raked his fingers through his hair. What a tease she had become since their first meeting. Was it a genuine attempt at provoking him into action? He needed more evidence. He rolled back the conversation to what she had said about Hettie. Each time he met somebody familiar with Jackson and Hettie Haynes he wondered how well they knew the couple. Julianna undoubtedly had insider information and was bound to secrecy about it.

A familiar voice spoke by his ear. ‘Mark, enjoying the evening?’

For news and reviews

As always,

blog tour · book review · crime · police procedural · series

Book Review – Last Seen

I can see her, shouting with laughter as she swings as high as she can, her beautiful blonde curls flying out behind her. I can feel her tiny hot hand in mine, and my heart aches. My little girl. If only I’d listened to my gut. Then maybe she’d be safe here with me…

When five-year-old Molly Reynolds is snatched from the park in the small village of Otterfield, Detective Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Noel throws herself into the search, sick with worry for the quiet, sensitive little girl and her distraught mother.

Wasting no time, Bernie finds a small green cardigan under a bush in the park. It still has the smiley face sticker Molly won that week at school. It’s the first in a chain of clues – and Bernie can’t shake the feeling that it was left deliberately, as a message.

But Bernie encounters a wall of silence. Otterfield is a close-knit community, yet no one in the village seems to care that Molly is missing at all. Why?

And then Bernie makes a chilling discovery: twenty-five years ago, another little girl went missing from the area. Her name was Sophie, and all they ever found of her was her teddy bear, hidden under a bush. Now Bernie knows she’s in a race against time to save Molly’s life.

Bernie’s team work round the clock to find a connection between the two girls, and just when they think they’re making progress a devastating tragedy strikes at the heart of the case. Molly’s family have been hiding a secret, and now their little girl is in greater danger than ever.

Can Bernie outwit the most warped criminal she has ever faced and bring Molly home safe, or will another innocent life be lost?

Add to Goodreads

My Review

I’m always delighted to get in on the first book in a new police procedural series. Last Seen has set the bar very high and I’ll be looking out for Joy Kluver’s next book for sure.

Detective Bernadette (Bernie) Noel is a former Met Police officer and, at first, it’s not clear why she has transferred out of London to a Wiltshire town where the pace of life is decidedly slower. Nonetheless, she soon faces a major investigation when a five-year-old girl, Molly, goes missing from a local park.

Keen to get search parties organised, she is quick to start door-to-door enquiries with locals in the area, only to find them unwilling to get involved in the search. Mystified as to why none of them are interested in a child’s life, she pushes on. When they find a child’s fleece and a pushchair in the bushes with no prints or DNA other than the child’s, it becomes obvious that this was no random abduction.

Whilst this is going on, we learn a little more about Bernie’s past. Having just returned from a family funeral, she seems concerned that her whereabouts as the lead investigator will have revealed her identity. But to whom? On top of that, she fears a hand-delivered note may mean that they have already found her? But who is looking for her and why?

Struggling to move the case forward, Bernie soon finds her position leading the case is at risk. This only fuels her determination to find Molly, with or without the villagers’ help. Aided by a strong team who have the same goals, Bernie is able to double-down and slowly but surely the pieces begin to fit together. But can she find Molly before she is made to step aside?

The investigation soon raises questions about Molly’s family which seems to link her disappearance with another case many years before. As the secrets are revealed, the reason behind the villagers’ reluctance to help becomes known – and it’s a cunning and clever twist, though not one that sits comfortably with Bernie and her team. How can people leave a child’s life in danger as some sort of payback for past events? It is most curious and fascinating.

This story has a compelling mystery at its core but it is the strong cast of characters who carry it through to its conclusion along with family drama, intriguing backstory, and great teamwork and dedication from Bernie’s colleagues.

An excellent start to a new series. I’ll be back for more.

My thanks go to the author, Bookouture and Netgalley for my advanced copy which I have reviewed voluntarily and with pleasure.

As always,

blog tour · book review · dual timeline · historical fiction · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – You Let Me Go -plus giveaway

 You Let Me Go

After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall—while she herself has been written out of the will. With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?

When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past. In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect those she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heartbreaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever?

Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/You-Let-Me-Eliza-Graham-ebook/dp/B08HN92DLQ/

US – https://www.amazon.com/You-Let-Me-Eliza-Graham/dp/1542017106

Author Bio

Eliza Graham’s novels have been long-listed for the UK’s Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day’s ‘Hidden Gem’ competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.

She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she’s made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.

Social Media Links

Website www.elizagrahamauthor.com

Facebook ElizaGrahamUK

Giveaway to Win 3 x Paperback copies of You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham (Open to UK / USA only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK and USA 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

I know, it’s another book with a WWII connection. What can I say? I love this era, but don’t let my idiosyncrasies put you off. YOU LET ME GO is more than historical fiction, this is a dual timeline story that brings it bang up to date.

Admittedly, it’s a slow burner, but all of that background info only adds to the story as a whole. I guess it could be a little trimmer, but I’m not complaining because, for me, all those details really pay off once the second half gets going and Morane (Morie) heads off to Brittany to look into her grandmother’s past.

Morie had always been closer to her grandmother Rozenn, much more so than her sister, Gwen. It , therefore, came as no surprise to see her portray similar traits to Rozenn as the truth unravelled. This made Rozenn’s decision to leave her Cornwall home entirely to Gwen such a mystery. It made little sense, if any, and proved to be the catalyst for Morie’s trip to France. Was she peeved? You bet. Did she struggle to hide her feelings? Absolutely. Which is why putting some distance between herself and her sister seemed to be the right thing to do …before she could say something she might later regret.

Morie, you see, had had her own fair share of troubles up to that point – a horse riding accident, a failing business due to her partner’s gambling addiction. So this news from Rozenn’s will was the nail in the coffin. By going to France maybe she would be able to understand her grandmother’s decision.

Arriving in St Martin, the village from which her grandparents left France for Cornwall, Morie met up with ancestors of villagers who knew Rozenn and Luc. There was some initial reluctance to tell Morie anything, and the puzzle seemed to be missing more pieces than ever until she met with Madame O’Donnell, whose father remembered Rozenn’s family. It was during a conversation with him that Morie discovered her grandmother was not an only child – that she had a brother and a twin sister. So why had she kept their existence a secret all these years?

Piecing the past together, Morie encountered yet more surprises. Including one that would change her own life forever, and which proved her grandmother had made the decision about the Cornish house for a very good reason.

The second half of the book became compelling reading. The author paced the chapters perfectly, swapping point of view at critical times that meant I just had to read on. By the end, I had an inkling as to what was to come for Morie, and it was just as delightful and emotional as I expected.

Neither Morie nor Rozenn are the most instantly likeable of women, but their personalities grew on me and I thoroughly enjoyed how the story came to its conclusion. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves dual timelines and who can hang in through the slow start. It’s worth it. Trust me 😉


For more news & reviews:

As always

book review · crime · series · thriller

Book Review – Cry for Help

Shivering in the early morning chill, the caretaker flips the switch on the Ferris wheel and stumbles back in shock. The teenage girl’s body is slumped in a halo of pretty colored lights, long red hair spilling over her tear-stained cheeks, her eyes fixed forever on her dangling feet.

When teenager Nikki Jackson’s body is found at an amusement park, just hours after Fourth of July fireworks lit up the night sky, the Lost Creek police rule her death as suicide––a devastating final act from a girl who had lost all hope. But the absence of the knife used to make the wounds on her delicate wrists makes Detective Madison Harper think otherwise. And the partial fingerprint found on the girl’s face proves her right. Someone else was with Nikki in her final moments…

Back home in Colorado for the first time in seven years to investigate the murder of a woman with ties to the son she lost to the care system, the pressure is on for Madison to work both cases at once. Fearing the team has missed a vital clue, Madison searches the crime scene alone and finds the last thing she ever expected: a note proving the victims knew each other, and that the cases are linked. Is this a coincidence, proof a dangerous murderer is on the loose, or a trap set to lead Madison off the trail?

It’s only when Madison finally finds the knife used to harm Nikki, tucked in an almost impossible to find hiding place, that she knows she is closing in on a twisted killer. But the last person she expects to see dragged into the department in handcuffs is her own missing son…

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will have you sleeping with the lights on. Addictive reading for anyone who loves Lisa Regan, Robert Dugoni and Melinda Leigh.

Add to Goodreads

My Review

Cry for Help picks up the story where Shadow Falls ended, with Madison and Nate heading back to Lost Creek after hearing the news that Madison’s ex-girlfriend has been killed.

Having already agreed to help Madison find her son, Owen, Nate understands the new urgency and is 100% willing to get justice for Madison’s wrongful conviction and to find the corrupt cops who framed her. His hatred for the police has only intensified since meeting Madison, and since he has no new information on Father O’Connor who set him up for his fiancée’s murder, he is more than happy to expose police corruption while he waits.

As the two of them, along with former K9 dog, Brody, make their way there, local police are dealing with the death of a teenage girl at the amusement park – first indications suggest suicide but a link between this case and the murder of Madison ex-girlfriend can’t be ignored. After all, two suspicious deaths in a small town like Lost Creek is more than a coincidence.

Once again, the author has created a story with characters you can’t help but care about. Putting aside Nate and Madison (whose history and relationship develop beautifully throughout), the story of the teenage girl – Nikki Jackson – is heartbreakingly sad and written with great compassion and empathy.

That said, the villains are appallingly vile too. As the truth about her ex’s murder becomes known, Madison is forced to face the cruel reality of her relationship with her own sister as well as with some of her former colleagues in the police force.

Clearing her name, finding her girlfriend’s killer and tracking down Owen all combine into one monumental challenge, and the author doesn’t give in to Madison’s demands easily. She really makes her and Nate work for the truth. All of which makes it compelling reading.

A certain scene with flies buzzing around a dead animal had me worried. Surely no one would hurt Brody? Was I more concerned about the dog than catching the killers? Probably 😉 Nonetheless, this made it even more of a page turner.

Another excellent story that ticks so many genre boxes – drama, crime, thriller and suspense – yet holds together as a cohesive whole. And, I’m even more delighted to hear that book three is not far off and Nate’s own story will be further explored and hopefully concluded.

Thanks to the author, Netgalley and Bookouture for my e-copy which I am delighted to review. Congrats!

As always,

blog tour · conspiracies · crime · promo · thriller

Blog Tour & Book Promo – Miniskirts are Murder

Miniskirts are Murder

Porter Norton, his friends and his sarcastic spirit guide, The Gliss, are on the trail of a young actress who went missing in Soho, London, in the Swinging Sixties. Still recovering from their last adventure in the battlefields of WW1, the gang are confronted by a transatlantic conspiracy.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Miniskirts-are-Murder-investigation-Investigations-ebook/dp/B08THXTBGB

US – https://www.amazon.com/Miniskirts-are-Murder-investigation-Investigations-ebook/dp/B08THXTBGB

Author Bio – Des, 52, is a former Times journalist/BBC TV producer. Miniskirts are Murder is the second in the Porter and The Gliss Investigations series, following Dead & Talking in 2019.
Des likes to live out as much of the stories as possible and spent 3 months in the US researching this novel. He runs a film school in London and has just been commissioned to write a limited season TV series intended for Netflix. He is also a keen musician and through work has jammed with people like Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and Jeff Lynne. He is married with 1 daughter.

Social Media Links –

www.desburkinshaw.com

twitter.com/DesBurkinshaw,

facebook as Des Burkinshaw

As always,