1920s · blog tour · book excerpt · book review · crime · historical fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Safe Game

TheSafeGame copy

Welcome to the book tour for The Safe Game by Wes Verde. Read on for more details!

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The Safe Game

Publication Date: July 22nd, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Crime Thriller

New Jersey, 1928.

The Cons – Roy, Urbane, and Victoria – made a living by separating fools from their money and rarely stayed in one place for too long. Keeping food in their bellies and a roof over their heads often meant hopping from one game to the next, barely staying ahead of the law or poverty and sometimes both. That was until the day Roy – the Idea Man – thought he found a big score; one that would put the Cons on Easy Street. No more scraping by. No more hungry nights in the cold or picking pockets in desperation. Maybe even enough to get them out of this life for good. But things were never that simple. When a tragic death brings the law snooping around, the Cons find themselves running afoul of cops, gangsters, and other powerful people – ones with secrets. The Cons have gotten out of scrapes before, but their luck may soon run out and this particular game may end in luxury, a jail cell, or an early grave.

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Excerpt

Today she was on fire. Heads started to bob and the group pressed closer, trying to get a better look at the device.

With her work done, Victoria fell quiet. The excitement of the crowd was properly kindled now. A contended grin curled up her full lips. To Urbane’s surprise, her sharp eyes suddenly found his. At first, he thought it might be a fluke. Or perhaps his supposedly concealed location had been somehow compromised. Before he could stress himself over the matter, she winked. Then, all other thoughts fled. Just as his face started to heat up, she returned her attention to Roy. It was his turn to bring it home.

“Now, I’ve been given strict instructions by Treasury Department officials to accept no less than two thousand dollars for this device,” he intoned formally.

This was met with groans of disapproval and one or two boos and justifiably so; one could buy a small house for that amount of money. It was a far higher bid than in previous towns.

Feigning surprise, the Idea Man continued. “You understand, surely, that such a sum would be recovered in a matter of weeks if the prescribed regiment is followed?”

Urbane wondered if that was right. Knowing the scam – game – he had not previously given much thought to its premise. Having lost sight of Victoria for the moment, he quickly did the math in his head and came up with about fifty days. This was with the assumption that the machine was operated every five hours… and that it was not a scam.

As one who dealt in numbers and concrete reality, this world of deception was foreign to him. How people could believe such an outlandish proposition boggled his mind. A naturally curious sort, Urb simply could not fathom the lack of such in others.

Outside, Roy let the groans begin to subside before he extended the olive branch.

“Hang on, now. Hang on. Well… it will mean some hard questions from my superiors. Maybe even some shady bookkeeping on my part. But if that is asking too much, perhaps a discount might be considered. Just for the hard working folks of Lawrence, mind you.” In a quieter voice, he added, “But I must implore you to please keep this just between us. I could go as low as twelve hundred dollars.”

Again, boos. Though, fewer than before. In the end, Roy was obliged to drop the bid twice more before a collection hat started passing around. Urb shook his head, astonished. Roy and Victoria could steer a crowd the same way he could tickle a lock or build a mechanism. For the price of a decent used car, these people had accepted this deal that should have been too good to be true – of course it was. The crowd soon divided into two factions, apparently debating how the forthcoming riches would be allocated.

One man emerged as the representative of the group, holding the collection hat. Urbane’s eyes went wide. It was more cash and coin than they had made in the past three towns put together. If properly budgeted, it could well be enough to carry them into summer. The crowd shifted and he caught sight of Victoria again. She had also glimpsed the considerable sum. Like Urb, she bit her lower lip in anticipation. Seeing the curve of her face and the swell of her hips, he nearly forgot about their windfall and most everything else for that matter.

And he was not the only one to take notice. Would-be suitors were not an uncommon issue. As a professional hazard, Victoria tended to attract male attention like iron filings to a lodestone and today was no exception.

It was a young fella. The excessively confident ones often were and Urbane frowned as this one fixed Madame Charmer in his sights. She inspired many emotions: infatuation, longing, lust. Urb was a thinking man, but after six months of living and working in close proximity, even he could not fully resist her allure. Watching others make the attempt for her affection, even knowing they were doomed to fail was not good for his heart.

Though entirely capable of rebuffing such attempts, it seemed Vic had not yet detected her latest admirer. As the young man drew closer, Urb realized too late that something was off. This fellow had none of the telltale signs of one about to ask for a date.

At the same time, another speaker fired a bombshell question directly at Roy.

“How is this not counterfeiting?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

portrait_3_small

Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy. Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger. A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible. Wes Verde

My Review

The cover of this book really drew me in, and the author did a fabulous job in recreating the 1920s, both in setting and societal expectations. The main characters – Roy, Victoria, and Urbane – are three people you wouldn’t imagine ever joining forces. With such diverse backgrounds, the unifying factor is the hustle. Each, in their own way, is skilled at separating fools from their money, and as a combined force, their success should only improve. And yet, their lifestyle is a daily struggle, moving on constantly, never setting down roots, and always but always looking over their shoulders.
When it looks like a con might backfire badly, Roy has had enough. As the Idea Man, he reckons he has the perfect job for them, one which will reap the rewards they dream of and allow them to enjoy the high life of their victims for a while.
But is going back to the place where his ex-wife and children still live such a good idea? And can he really expect to keep that fact from Urb and Vic?
As their plan develops, there are side hustles to keep them going, and when one of these ends badly for Victoria, it brings the cops into the neighbourhood. Can they pull it off in time?

The story blends intrigue and romance, and a class divide that accentuates the haves from the have-nots. There are so many villains; when the cons are the good guys you know it’s a fun read.
From corrupt police to pretentious elitists, and a tribalist “union” – there’s an innocent woman killed, a slimeball killer to be unveiled, and a con to perfect.
Tension, excitement, mystery, and with the cons being such likeable characters, it’s not hard to stay invested in the story. This is a long book but the fun, risky and diverse ways of making money kept my interest. The arrival of a new cop – Willie Doyle – in the district, untainted by corruption, heightens the risks the cons must take, and it brings them closer together. I wanted them to succeed and to bring down the elitist establishment who’d had things their own way for too long.

The only downside – if it can be called such – is that I was so caught up in the cons’ lives that I forgot all about the details revealed in the prologue and so seeing those points referenced at the end came out of the blue. Nonetheless, those points are interesting in their own right and prove the research the author did to create such an evocative setting.

Book Tour Schedule

September 19th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Bonnie Reads & Writes (Review) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

Timeless Romance Blog (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

Stine Writing (Spotlight)  https://christinebialczak.com/

September 20th

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

@brandidanielledavis (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brandidanielledavis/

@itsabookthing2021 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021/

@readingwithwrin (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/readingwithwrin/

September 21st

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@fle_d (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/fle_d

@jadeisreading (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/jadeisreading/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Spotlight) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/  

September 22nd

@louturnspages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Bunny’s Reviews (Spotlight) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

September 23rd

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

 Book Reviews by Taylor (Review) https://www.bookreviewsbytaylor.com/

@mels_booksandhooks (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

@calmstitchread (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/calmstitchread/

Sadie’s Spotlight (Spotlight) http://sadiesspotlight.com/

Book Tour Organized By:
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blog tour · book review · Giveaways · humour · romantic comedy · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Janet Jackson’s Yorkshire B&B (plus a giveway – UK only)

Janet Jackson’s Yorkshire B&B

Yorkshire lass and dental receptionist Janet Jackson has just taken a big risk. Using all her savings, she’s turned her spacious garage into a Bed and Breakfast, slapped a sign on it and without any experience at all, is now awaiting her very first guests.

With a moody teenage daughter and a crazy sister to contend with she’s already got her work cut out. The trouble she soon discovers, is that guests have undesirable habits, annoying pets and endless demands. ‘Is it bloody worth it?’ she asks herself a dozen times a day. Janet gradually learns her trade – but not without being tested to her limits. The question is: will she come through the experience with her bank balance, cottage and her sanity intact?

Hugely entertaining but a word of warning: if ever you’ve thought of running a B&B, read this hilarious debut novel first– you might want to think again!

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Janet-Jacksons-Yorkshire-B-ebook/dp/B0B77SK3QK/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Janet-Jacksons-Yorkshire-B-ebook/dp/B0B77SK3QK/

Author Bio

Becky Papworth has spent 20 years making people laugh as a TV Producer on shows like Have I Got News For you, Rab. C. Nesbitt and Citizen Khan.

She’s hoping to entertain some readers with this account of running a B&B, much of it based on her actual experience, she’s not saying which bits…

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/beckypapworth1

https://www.instagram.com/beckypapworth/

Giveaway to Win a Lottie Shaw’s Seriously Good Hamper (Open to UK only)

For full information and extra photos of this hamper please look at https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/lottieshaws/product/fabulous-treat-hamper

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link under the above graphic.  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.

My Review

When Janet Jackson decides to convert the “garage/annexe” into a B&B, she does so without any of the usual research most people would do, and she has no idea what awaits her. She soon learns it’s much more work than painting a few walls, and adding some matching cushions, rugs and knick-knacks. Her first guest opens her eyes to everything she has overlooked, and from that point on she is playing catch-up to find out what running a B&B is all about.
Daughter Chloe helps out with building a website and online profile for the B&B and … whoosh, the bookings take off. Janet has to squeeze the cleaning of the room between changeovers with her job at the dentist’s. There are never enough hours in the day, but somehow she manages to pull it off.
The diary aspect of this story means that there’s quite a lot of repetition as she struggles to get everything ready. For me, this slows the pace down considerably as it seems like a never-ending loop of client-clean-client-clean. That said, the clients are diverse and each one teaches Janet another lesson about her growing business.
I really grew to like Janet when her awful neighbour, Laura, objects to her running the B&B and reports her to the council. Fortunately, Sharon at the council (my favourite character by a country mile) takes it all in her stride and guides Janet through the minefield of planning rights and permissions.
Janet’s sister, Maureen (Mitzi), adds a humorous touch with her poetry nights out and her steady stream of men friends. Her laissez-faire attitude rubs off on Janet and she finally puts her divorce behind her and has some fun – in between cleaning, of course.
Overall, it’s a fun read, and watching Janet grow into her new role is amusing, sometimes sad, occasionally repetitive (but that’s just life) but always engaging.

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

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Santa Killer

The Santa Killer

The Santa Killer is coming to town…

One night less than two weeks before Christmas, a single mother is violently assaulted. It’s a brutal crime at the time of year when there should be goodwill to all. When DI Barton begins his investigation, he’s surprised to find the victim is a woman with nothing to hide and no reason for anyone to hurt her.

A few days later, the mother of the woman attacked rings the police station. Her granddaughter has drawn a shocking picture. It seems she was looking out of the window when her mother was attacked. And when her grandmother asks the young girl who the person with the weapon is, she whispers two words.

Bad Santa.

The rumours start spreading, and none of the city’s women feel safe – which one of them will be next?

He’s got a list. It’s quite precise. It won’t matter even if you’re nice.

https://amzn.to/3n7JMG5

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3n7JMG5

Author Bio

Ross Greenwood is the author of crime thrillers.

Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years.

He lives in Peterborough.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenwoodross

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rossg555/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/RossGreenwoodnews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ross-greenwood

My Review

I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series but didn’t find it an issue at all, which considering this is book six goes to show how well the author presents his characters and their backstory.
A series of attacks on women points to a workplace issue, but the attacker is dressed as Santa which ties in with another investigation into threatening letters from Santa too. The letters suggest Santa has a list, but the attacks on these women skew the investigation.
DI Barton and his team have their hands full as the two Santa threads overlap, and just when they think they have the culprit there’s another twist to the tale.
Barton is a great character, and his home life features in this story as much as his working life. The blend is well done and highlights the stresses of his role and its impact on his family life.
For me, the story sagged in the middle with one of the threads, but it gathered pace for an ending that was well worth waiting for. 

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blog tour · book review · Giveaways · historical fiction · prequel

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Girl from Saint Petersburg (with a giveaway & excerpt!)

Welcome the the book tour for Joyana Peters’ latest historical fiction novel, The Girl from Saint Petersburg. The prequel to award-winning novel, The Girl in the Triangle. Read on for more info and a fantastic giveaway!

Petersburg Cover

The Girl From Saint Petersburg (An Industrial Historical Fiction Series Book 1)

Publication Date: July 25th, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

Sacrifice, Starvation and Survival.

What will she do to stay alive? Russia, 1905: Thirteen-year-old Ruth dreams of growing up to marry the boy next door and living peacefully ever after. But when he and her father are forced to flee to America after the Bloody Sunday Massacre, Ruth and the other female members of the family are left behind amid the violence and chaos of revolutionary Russia. Overcoming violence and hunger with a strength she never knew she possessed, Ruth resolves to do what it takes to keep her mother and sister alive—whether it be work, beg or steal. Then she lands herself in a predicament that threatens to put her own neck in a noose. This time she may not be able to keep them all safe, at least not without sacrificing their love for her and all that makes life worth living. In this prequel to the award-winning novel, The Girl in the Triangle, author, Joyana Peters, portrays a tight-knit family fighting to endure at a precarious and crucial time in Jewish history. Join the countless readers who can’t get enough of Ruth and her story.

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Excerpt

Ruth woke to banging on the front door. Half-asleep, she blinked against the morning light. Ester shifted on the pillow next to her. “What’s happening?” “I don’t know, Bird.” Ruth patted her head. “Stay here. I’ll find out.” Ruth tiptoed out of the bedroom and toward the front door. Her mother was crouched on the floor and peering over the window sill. Her eyes were puffy and red. “What are you doing?” “Shh!” Momme tugged Ruth down beside her. “Don’t let them see you.” “Don’t let who see us? Where’s Tatty? Why were you crying?” Ruth glanced around. Momme clenched Ruth’s wrist. “I need you to listen. They’ll break in soon. And they will interrogate and hurt me. You need to be brave.” “Interrogate you? I don’t understand. Where are Tatty and Jeremiah?” “Tatty left for America last night, but we can’t tell them that.” Ruth shivered. Her father gone to America without saying good-bye? “Why? Did Jeremiah go too?” An odd blankness came over her mother’s eyes. She seemed about to answer when an axe crashed through the door. “Stay in the bed. Cover yourselves to hide and don’t leave Ester.” Momme pushed Ruth toward the bedroom. Ruth scrambled to her feet and ran. She looked over her shoulder to see her mother dusting herself off. As the door gave way and the czar’s soldiers invaded the house, her mother’s lips moved in silent prayer. Ruth found her sister hiding under the covers and held a finger to her lips as she crawled beside her. Ester nodded, suddenly appearing older than her ten years. As the men’s voices rose in the next room, Ruth wrapped her arms around Ester and they lay trembling. There was a slap followed by a muffled sob. Ester cried out. Ruth clapped her hand over Ester’s mouth, but heavy boots stomped toward them and the covers were soon ripped away. Two soldiers glared down from either side of the bed. They grabbed the girls with rough hands. “Ruth!” Ester screamed. “She’s a child!” Ruth begged. “Please, leave her be.” The soldiers ignored her and dragged the two girls from the house. The street was in chaos. There were more soldiers, and families shivering in their bed clothes. Why was this happening? The soldier flung her onto the ground, knocking the wind out of her. She scrambled toward Ester, but a soldier stepped between them. “Please, don’t hurt us, sir!” “That depends on your mother. If she tells us what we want to know, we won’t need to.” Ruth tried to squash her instinct to reach for her sister, and instead forced herself to look for her mother. And there she was—standing with her chin high, in the middle of four soldiers. Ruth could see a dark splotch on her face. Was it blood? But she remained straight and tall. She wasn’t even crying. Ruth was amazed by her mother’s control. How did she manage to appear so unaffected? A soldier with a drooping mustache stepped close to Momme. “Where are they?” he growled. “I told you, I don’t know,” she replied. “I don’t believe you.” He cracked her on the back of the head with the butt of his rifle and kicked her in the stomach. “Try again. Where are they?” Momme crumpled forward, coughing. “I don’t know.” “This is pointless. Grab the girl.” He gestured toward Ester. The soldier standing near Ester grabbed her. Ester thrashed in his arms. “No!” Momme lurched forward. “She doesn’t know anything and neither do I. They never returned home.” “But they were in the square yesterday?” the droopy mustache soldier asked. “Yes.” “What was that? I can’t hear you.” He cupped his ear. “Yes, they were there,” Momme’s voice rang out louder. Ruth closed her eyes at Momme’s words. This was about Abraham and Jeremiah and wherever they’d gone yesterday. What trouble had they gotten themselves into? The soldier leaned into Momme’s face. “And the meetings?” Momme turned away. He popped her in the forehead with his rifle butt so hard she flew backwards. “Answer me!” A shriek pierced the air. Ruth saw a man being pulled out of his house. His wife reached for him, but the soldiers held her back. They forced the man to his knees and a soldier held a pistol to the back of his head. A shot rang out. The man slumped forward. Ruth looked to her mother’s horror-stricken face. Droopy Mustache grabbed Momme by the hair. “Perhaps––now you see how serious we are, drabke?” Momme moved her head up and down. “They never came home. They must be among the dead.” “And the meetings?” “They attended them,” she croaked. “But if they’re dead, what does it matter?” He studied Momme. Finally, he turned to the other soldiers. “Search the house again.”

Available for Purchase Here!

About the Author

Joyana Peters Headshot 2

Growing up in New York, she always loved exploring the city, particularly the Lower East Side. This led to her discovery of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the stories it holds.

She currently lives in Northern Virginia where she takes in the sights of DC with her two kids and husband.

Joyana Peters | Facebook | Instagram

My Review

Atmospheric and evocative historic fiction.

Life in Saint Petersburg for Ruth is fairly ordinary – playing cards with her brother and betrothed, arguing amicably over their cheating – until one day, they’re no longer around. With her father, they have had to leave Russia since the czar’s rules have made life very difficult for Jews.
Waiting what seems like forever to hear of their arrival in New York is not easy, and soldiers seem more than willing to abuse the women to find out where the menfolk are. Things gets harder still especially when friends and neighbours also decide to leave before the very real possibility of being “relocated” to The Pale of Settlement.
For a few long, arduous years Ruth, her mother and sister muddle on with what little they have – selling what they can bear to part with and working for a meagre income to put food on the table.
But when Ester falls seriously ill, Ruth has to act quickly. and it is that act that subsequently obliges the three women to leave their homeland. How they do that is fraught with danger, but go they must.

I’m looking forward to following the rest of their journey in The Girl in the Triangle.

Giveaway

We are giving away 2 signed copies for winners in the US and 2 e-Books for international winners! Click below to enter.

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Book Tour Schedule

September 5th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

@ofmoviesandbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/ofmoviesandbooks/

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

Timeless Romance (Spotlight) https://aubreywynne.com/

September 6th

@theenchantedshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/theenchantedshelf/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Revw) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

September 7th

@elinasbookstagram (Review) https://www.instagram.com/elinasbookstagram/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Review) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@readingwithwrin (Review) https://www.instagram.com/readingwithwrin/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

September 8th

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@better_0ff_read (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/better_0ff_read/

September 9th

@bookqueenbee (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bookqueenbee/

Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Book Tour Organized By:

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blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · friendship · real life

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Buttercups in the Basement

Buttercups in the Basement

1967: the summer of love and the year Betty moves into her first home.

Independent. Open. Inexperienced. She is excited to be living with her new husband, William, and committed to returning Hummingbird House to its former glory.

But when she invites captivating new tenants into her home and settles into married life, her world begins to transform in ways she could never have imagined.

She thought she was on a journey toward domesticity and devotion – but her experiences that summer prove to be anything but traditional.

Alternating between the1960s and the present day, Buttercups in the Basement is a delightful exploration of personal awakening, friendships – and what it means to be happy.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Buttercups-Basement-Book-Hummingbird-House-ebook/dp/B09SF7VVG2/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Buttercups-Basement-Book-Hummingbird-House-ebook/dp/B09SF7VVG2/

Author Bio

Jane Harvey is a pen name (shhh). She crafts fun fiction for the thinking woman, where she enjoys exploring unexpected friendships and writing happy endings. This is lucky, because in real life her (prize-winning) fiction is a little bleaker.

She was born and raised on the island of Jersey, and lives with two males and a dog.

She owns an admirable collection of animal vases and unusual lighting.

Social Media Links

Instagram.com/jane_harvey_novelist

Facebook.com/janeharveynovelist

Twitter: @dreenac

My Review

Following on from The Landlord of Hummingbird House, this book focuses on Betty’s story and covers both the late 1960s and present day. As a new bride, Betty and husband William purchase Hummingbird House for their first home, not quite sure what they’ll do with all those extra rooms to start with, but they plan to enjoy redecorating before settling into family life.

Betty is definitely a naive young woman but is happy to give up her job and stay home in the hopes of being a good wife, and, someday, a mother. She throws herself into doing up the place but soon feels lonely being at home all day on her own while William goes to work. But she says nothing, and ploughs her energy into refurbishing the basement.
Eventually, it’s finished, and by now they’ve decided to rent it out – their first tenants being Sandra and her boyfriend Robert. This couple breathe fresh air into the building and into Betty’s life, and she and Sandra strike up a lovely friendship that enables Betty to share her innermost thoughts for probably the first time in her life. Seeing Betty grow and learn from Sandra is delightful, and even in the hardest and saddest of times their friendship remains solid – which is more than can be said with Betty’s other relationships.

Running in tandem with Betty’s early years at Hummingbird House is the present day story with Betty now as an 82-year-old landlord. This story recaps on events from book one but develops the relationships of the tenants further – with Betty and with each other.

While decades apart, the two stories show that many of the same issues still exist albeit with differing repercussions. As the wise elder of the house, Betty looks on at the fragility of some of her tenants, and can’t resist making things happen 🙂
The whole book is made wonderful by its leading lady, her fabulous tenants and friends, poignant and heart-warming (also heart-breaking) stories, and oodles of emotional baggage that needs a delicate touch to portray so effectively. Overall, it is undeniably believable, honest and engaging. Book three is already on my radar!

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blog tour · book review · books · Christmas · Contemporary Romance

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/39v0coN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3QpSgpj

Apple: https://apple.co/3Oewbs0

Hive: https://bit.ly/3HI1olz

Author Bio

Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).


Social Media Links

‘Kiley Dunbar Author Book Page’ on Facebook
website and newsletter: http://www.kileydunbar.co.uk/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI8wM4Fmkbyg4S_XGSnfUCA

https://twitter.com/kileydunbar

https://www.facebook.com/KileyDunbarAuthor/

My Review

The premise of this series is simply too wonderful for a booklover to ignore, and I have to admit to dreaming about running a bookshop, which makes this a must read. Book one introduced us to the village of Clove Lore in the summer, with its quirky villagers and the perfect ending for the “borrowers” of that story. Now, it’s winter, close to Christmas, and the “borrower” in question is not as excited as you might expect. Magnús once ran a bookshop in Iceland, but is disillusioned by the business that he was forced to close down. He hasn’t yet come to terms with what went wrong with his dream bookshop and figures he’s only going to fail again – so why bother hanging around?

When a river cruiser gets into trouble during a storm, the skipper Alex hunkers down in secrecy, refusing to give away even the barest details of her life. Fleeing a broken relationship, she’s convinced no one will be worrying about her anyway – so what’s the point of letting people in?

Two people struggling, holding in all their insecurities, fearful of failing at life and love. Well, doesn’t that just make Clove Lore the perfect place for them? Of course, it seems inevitable that they will find each other … but it’s not going to be easy. They will be tested, challenged and scrutinised by the villagers and the weather. Will the allure of Clove Lore and the bookshop work is magic at this most festive time of year?

With Magnús’s “baking”, the New Year’s eve tradition of Jolabokafloo, there’s a nod to Iceland that blends perfectly with a wintry bookshop, but it is the characters who power this story. Quirky villagers return to consolidate the village vibe of supporting each other and a “all hands to the deck” attitude during times of trouble. It’s sweet and idyllic, charming and heart-warming, yet also filled with poignant moments of how these secondary characters also develop and move on with their lives. The subplots strengthen the main plot and combine for a magical read that will make me a repeat visitor to Clove Lore for the duration of this series.

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blog tour · book review · psychological suspense · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Lodger

The Lodger

She’s in your home…

Leigh Simons can’t say for sure what made her do it. A moment of madness, perhaps, but when the young, loud and gorgeous waitress at her favourite coffee shop reveals she is homeless, Leigh offers her the empty room in her house.

In your head…

Gina is the perfect lodger; Leigh, lonely and frustrated with her life, becomes infatuated with the woman – her boldness, her zeal. If only Leigh could be more like Gina…

And missing without trace.

So when Leigh returns from a work trip she’s shocked to find Gina missing. Where could the young woman have gone…and why?

Leigh fears that something terrible has happened – why else would Gina leave her?

But as she sets out to find her missing lodger, what Leigh discovers changes everything she knows about Gina….and her own life, too.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3aPOkOg

Author Bio

Valerie Keogh is the internationally bestselling author of several psychological thrillers and crime series, most recently published by Bloodhound.

She originally comes from Dublin but now lives in Wiltshire and worked as a nurse for many years.

Her first thriller for Boldwood will be published in August 2022.

Social Media Links

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/2913036085376315

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ValerieKeogh1

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/valeriekeogh2/

Newsletter Sign Up:https://bit.ly/ValerieKeoghNews

Bookbub profile:https://www.bookbub.com/authors/valerie-keogh

My Review

The Lodger is a story that drags you into the plot, if only to scream and shout at the main character, Leigh, about so many things. She should have stood up to the creep at work and reported him sooner; she should have not let the boyfriend walk all over her …and she should never, never, never have taken in a lodger on a whim, no matter how kind of her it was to do so.

But that’s where we’re at now. Leigh has a lodger in Gina, a selfish boyfriend in Matt, and an anger management course to attend as a result of finally showing Bernard Ledbetter that his leery ways are not acceptable.
At this point, Gina seems to be the least of her problems. That is, until she returns from the anger management course to find Gina gone, clothes all packed up, and the briefest of notes saying, “I’m sorry.” Matt is in Salisbury where his teaching job is based, acting very oddly and cutting her phone calls short. So, Leigh returns to work to face Ledbetter, only to find he has not been in since she called him out, and everyone seems to have taken his side, blaming her for upsetting the ‘poor man’.
Is there any wonder she feels angry? She has so many unanswered questions: Why did Gina leave? Why is Matt being such a jerk? And why would anyone believe Ledbetter over her?

Things go from bad to worse when she hears movement in her house overnight, finds a disembodied hand in her garden, discovers Matt is lying to her about being at school, and questions are being raised about the missing Ledbetter.

So many twists, so many secrets … just when you believe one thing happened, along comes a swift change of direction to send you into another rabbit hole. If you don’t get giddy from all the twists, then are you even human? 😉

The Lodger is a fantastic thriller in the vein of “if it can go wrong, it will”. Leigh’s self-doubts and insecurities lead her to imagine all sorts of scenarios, and she feels that she’s being mocked for simply thinking those things could be possible. I think this phrase sums it up best:

Sometimes, the brain can overload, decide it’s not going to process anything else. And so it was with Leigh. This last week was the end of her capability.

Getting to the truth is complicated as there are so many layers to peel back, yet Leigh is left with a dilemma –to do the right thing or take the easy way out. Her decision might surprise you, but it will leave you believing in the ability to turn your life around … and if it means wearing more purple, then so be it.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and now I’ve learnt she has a vast back catalogue that I’m going to check out.

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blog tour · book review · psychological suspense · tense

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Other Girlfriend

The Other Girlfriend

She loves him…

Lizzie Green once loved Tom Murphy with a passion that bordered on obsession. All she wanted was his love to be returned. Then one night something terrible happened and Tom left Lizzie broken hearted. She swore she would never let him hurt her again….

She loves him not.

Now, ten years later, Tom turns up on Lizzie’s doorstep still as charming as ever. Lizzie knows he still has the power to break her heart and destroy her life again. But Lizzie can’t say no to him….

Can she?

Purchase Linkhttps://amzn.to/3vNxKa9

Author Bio

Alex Stone, originally an accountant from the West Midlands, is now a psychological suspense writer based in Dorset. This beautiful and dramatic coastline is the inspiration and setting for her novels. She was awarded the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2019 and her debut thriller The Perfect Daughter was published by Boldwood in October 2021.

Social Media Links

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

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/AlexStoneAuthor

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

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/AlexStoneNewsletter

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/alex-stone-69a67039-4aed-4e8c-9319-9e93eba46d5b

My Review

It’s been ten years since Lizzie last heard from Tom, her childhood friend and the source of her unrequited love. And now, here he is on her doorstep, claiming he only ever wanted to be with her.

She should be more suspicious, shouldn’t she? Especially since he dropped her friendship like a stone after that incident, leaving her broken-hearted and blaming herself for what happened that night.

Lizzie has to start over, she couldn’t face university any longer and gives up the writing course she had so loved to move to a different college … one where he, nor any of her old friends, will be. Reinventing herself as Beth, she takes a job in IT and lives out her days quietly, primarily as a result of her agoraphobia but also because of doubts about her own self worth.

And now he’s back, making himself at home in her house, insisting he was wrong to leave her all those years ago and that he never should have disappeared like that.

Tom is actually very unsettling, his behaviour suspicious, his intentions unclear – and Beth (Lizzie) is struggling to make sense of it all. Is he for real? Or is there something more sinister afoot?

It takes catching up with one of her old friends – one who was there that night – to make her realise that Tom’s motives are not as genuine as he’d have her believe.

And, what’s that? He wants her to publicly take the blame for what happened? Why now, after ten years? Can she put aside her feelings for him to find the truth?

The Other Girlfriend plays on Beth’s insecurities and Tom’s ability to manipulate her … and the truth, and the overall premise is tense. For me, it’s just too drawn out in getting to the crux of the story, Beth/Lizzie spends too much time in her head and overplays the victim card to the extent she becomes annoying for acting so gullible. Despite short chapters that make it a quick read, it takes a third of the book to discover what happened that night, when it’s pretty obvious from much earlier. That said, the ending is worth waiting for and validates Lizzie, allowing her to get the upper hand for once.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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book review · historical fiction · novella · series · WWII

Book Review – Betrayal: An Ann’s War Mystery (The Ann’s War Mystery Series Book 1)

Book description:

With her husband away on a top secret mission, Ann Morgan prepares for another secretarial day at Trevor Bowman’s detective agency.

However, this day will be unlike any other.

Over twenty-four hours, Ann will find her life turned upside-down as she discovers a murder, meets a handsome widower, Detective Inspector Max Deveraux, and confronts the murderer in a tale of temptation and duplicity

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My thoughts

Recently married, Ann Morgan says farewell to her husband as he undertakes a mission for the war effort. He should only be gone a couple of days, and Ann determines to carry on as normally as she can until his return. In his absence, she has the use of the car and takes to the quiet streets, passing a horse and cart on her way to work for Trevor Bowman, a private detective. No sooner has she arrived than her boss sends her to deliver a report. When she finally gets back to the office, a shadowy figure almost knocks her down and she enters the office to find her boss shot dead.
Had she just passed the killer? The thought runs through her mind when she tells Detective Inspector Max Deveraux what had happened.
Now, she is not only without her husband but also a job. With time on her hands, she wonders who would have wanted to kill Bowman, and can she possibly help to catch the killer?
With a pace and vibe reminiscent of the TV series Foyles War, Betrayal features a polite, softly-spoken detective in Max Deveraux and a young woman, modern in her actions and ambition in Ann. After deciding to question her boss’s last known client, Ann has unwittingly stumbled upon a scene of treachery, and the culprit does not wish her to be free to share her discovery with the police.
A short story, delicious in detail. Clearly well-researched, this first book in the series is engaging and invites me to want to read more … which, of course, I will. 😉

About the Author

Hannah Howe is the author of the Sam Smith Mystery Series, the Ann’s War Mystery Series, The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga, Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE and Saving Grace. Hannah’s books are published by Goylake Publishing and distributed through Gardners Books to over 300 outlets worldwide. Her books are available in print, as eBooks and audiobooks, and are being translated into numerous languages.

Currently, Hannah is writing Stormy Weather, book eighteen in the Sam Smith Mystery Series. She is also researching material for future Sam Smith books along with material for a Victorian novel set in 1888, a novel set in 1948, a novel set in Bulgaria during the Second World War and A Schoolteacher’s War, a story about the French Resistance and the preparations for D-Day. Along with these projects, Hannah is also writing The Olive Tree: A Spanish Civil War Saga and Eve’s War: Heroines of SOE.

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blog tour · book review · drama · humour · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Old Friends Reunited

Old Friends Reunited

Divorced and on a deadline, bestselling novelist Bea Pinkerton has a serious case of writer’s block. With her agent breathing down her neck, Bea will do ANYTHING to avoid writing another word.

So an invite to a reunion with her old school friends at a beautiful chateau in France, is Bea’s perfect chance to escape. Surely here, relaxing with old friends and drinking cold fizz, Bea will find inspiration?

But as soon as Bea arrives, she realises this is not going to be the peaceful getaway she anticipated. Her old school friends Gin and Audrie are in various states of marital distress and to top it off a camera crew has arrived to film the goings on at Chateau De St Cyr.Far from being calm, the trip is total chaos!

Thank goodness for Bea’s new French neighbour Laurent Sinclair – handsome, charming and perhaps exactly the romantic muse she needs to get her mojo back.

But is Bea brave enough to take a second chance at love at her age?

Perhaps with a little help from her friends…

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3KQVpL9


Author Bio

Maddie Please is the #1 bestselling author of novels including The Old Ducks’ Club and Sisters Behaving Badly. Having had a career as a dentist and now lives in rural Devon where she enjoys box sets, red wine and Christmas. She will be taking a new direction in her writing for Boldwood with joyous tales of older women.

Social Media Links

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

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MaddiePlease1

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/maddieplease1/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MaddiePleaseNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maddie-please

My Review

I seem to be travelling around France with this author, having recently read and enjoyed Sisters Behaving Badly, and I’m not complaining for one minute! If anything, I enjoyed Old Friends Reunited even more.
What’s not to love about three women in their sixties getting together again, reminiscing and reflecting … and having a ball doing so. Writer, Bea and newly-divorced (again) Gin visit their old school friend Audrie (the owner of the château). Since school, their lives have taken them on very different journeys. Reuniting allows them to look back fondly on those years whilst also putting their current lives in perspective. The three women are funny, endearing, quirky and definitely have lots more adventures left to live.
Misunderstandings and uninvited guests lead to shocks and surprises, some funny, others heartwarming. For Bea, through whom the story is told, there comes a delightful new romance and a realisation that old friendships are worth nurturing especially when they can so dramatically turn your world upside down (in the best way).
The perfect way to escape everyday life and live out dreams of pastures new if only for a few hours.

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