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

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Retribution

Retribution

An ex-soldier is mown down in a brutal hit and run. Was it an accident, or an act of murder?

DCI Jane Birchfield isn’t sure. She is struggling to stay focussed after a surprise marriage proposal, and is still waiting for news about a promotion. But she has to push it all to one side as the investigation swiftly escalates into the biggest challenge she has ever faced, bringing her into conflict with her superiors, her partner, and the British Army. She’s tested to the absolute limit, and for the very first time, finds herself asking whether it’s worth the sacrifice. Can she survive the pressure as the harsh reality of military conflict hits the streets of Ashbridge?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Retribution-Heaton-Wilson-ebook/dp/B098B9J9JN/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Retribution-Heaton-Wilson-ebook/dp/B098B9J9JN/

Author Bio

I have been a newspaper journalist, a postman, a public relations officer, a consultant, an actor, a director, a playwright. And I have always kept writing.

I always felt I could write a novel. And I did! The first book in my crime fiction series featuring DCI Jane Birchfield, Every Reason, came out in 2016. Whatever It Takes was published in 2021; and the third book (which follows on where Whatever It Takes ends) is nearing completion.

I’m from Manchester but now live on the Isle of Wight, where the sea is never far away. It’s the perfect place to be creative, and to walk the dogs.

Social Media Links

Twitter @kkevvin

Facebook http://facebook.com/heatonwilson

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’ve already added the previous two in the series to my reading list.

The author wastes no time in kicking the story off with a bang as the first of several fatal hit-and-runs take place. The deceased is a decorated former soldier on his way home from a Friday night out at the pub. Was it an accident? That’s certainly how it’s viewed initially, until a second incident occurs involving another former soldier and one who served with the first victim. Members of DCI Jane Birchfield’s team are no longer convinced these are accidents.

The investigation gets going proper only after Jane can convince her new boss that it’s worth looking into. The two of them have history, and Jane feels she’s been sidelined for promotion when he is appointed in a role in which she had been acting chief for several months. Nonetheless, he’s happy for her to pursue her enquiries (only because he really has no clue how to run the investigation!) Fortunately, Jane can rely on her own small team who set to work.

Running alongside the plot are several personal stories that flesh out the characters and affect their approach to the job. Jane is super ambitious, feeling a little dejected right now, but determined to scale to greater heights. At home, her partner is considering selling his newspaper business so the two of them can spend more time together. An out-of-the-blue proposal muddies the waters further and put increased pressure on their relationship as they seem to diverge further apart with each passing day. Jane’s wine-gum loving DI is considering retirement, and Jane worries about losing him from the team and her life.

The killer is known by the reader early on, and some chapters are told from his POV. It’s interesting to see the detectives put the pieces together as they get closer to catching the murderer before another death occurs.

This was an excellent police procedural from start to finish, a perfect character-driven, exciting crime thriller. I’m looking forward to reading more about DCI Birchfield and her team.

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blog tour · book review · cosy · murder mystery · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Murder at the House on the Hill

Murder At The House On The Hill

Once Upon A Crime…

Nancy Hunter and her grandmother Jane Hunter run the Dedley Endings Bookshop, selling crime, thriller and mystery books, in a small, quiet Cotswold village where nothing ever happens…

That is, until the wealthy and reclusive Roth family open up their mansion for the first time in twenty years, inviting the people of Dedley End to a lavish engagement party.

While everyone is thrilled to finally look around the mansion on the hill, the festivities are quickly cut short when beautiful Lucy, recently married to young Harry Roth, is found dead after being pushed over the first-floor balustrade.

But who among the guests could have been capable of her murder – and why?

Nancy and Jane decide to investigate – after all, not only do they own a crime themed bookshop, they were also both named after famous literary detectives – but soon wonder if they’ve taken on more than they can handle. Especially when it seems the killer has worked out that they’re hot on their heels…

Can they catch the murderer before the murderer catches up with them? Or will there be a deadly ending to this story?

Join the unlikeliest detective duo for the killer opener of The Dedley End Mysteries series, by a major voice in women’s fiction.

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3yJqSKk

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2SzAN4h

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

Author Bio

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE.

She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.
Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters, on Twitter at @Vicky_Walters or by visiting her blog at:https://victoria-writes.com/.

My Review

Roll back the years and get ready for a Christie style cosy mystery. Devotees of traditional murder mysteries will want to read this one.

Nancy loves nothing more than running the bookshop with her gran, Jane, in Dedley End, the village she grew up in, and where she knows everyone and everyone knows her. It’s comfortable, cosy but nothing really ever happens, like never, ever, ever. At least not since her own father died in a car crash years ago, which led to her living with Jane. The only mystery in their lives comes from the books they sell.

All is about to change when the wealthy Roth family issue invitations to all the villagers, requesting their presence at an engagement party up at the manor. Excitement is off the scale, and the village is abuzz with chatter especially since the Roth family haven’t opened their doors to the village in decades.

In true Agatha Christie style, the party doesn’t end well when Lucy Roth falls to her death from the stairwell. Cue tension as curiosity and rumour join forces to create havoc in the search for her killer.

Even though the police are “in charge” of the case, nothing is going to stop Nancy and Jane from starting their own investigation. Helped by the Roth family asking Nancy to sort out the family’s extensive library, she’s in the perfect place to snoop around. Everyone is a suspect, and no-one is a suspect – will Nancy find the murderer? Will life in Dedley End ever be “boring” again?

I simply loved this story, it was so characteristic of an old-style cosy but set in modern times. The old-world charm and elegance of the engagement party suited the tone magnificently. The characters – Nancy and Jane’s fellow friends and villagers – are the kind you’d want as neighbours in a community like this. The arrival of Nancy’s old boyfriend – a devilishly handsome cad – added hint of romance to the mix, but a modern twist tested his mettle.

Such an easy story to settle in with, a charming setting, vibrant characters, and a lovely personal touch that made Nancy’s efforts all the sweeter. A proper old-style cosy in style but very modern in substance. Loved it! 

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blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · family · Italy · Publication Day · relationships · sisters

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Little Piece of Paradise

A Little Piece of Paradise

The inheritance of a lifetime… with a catch

When Sophie’s uncle leaves her a castle in the Italian Riviera in his will, she can’t believe her luck. The catch? She and her estranged sister, Rachel, must live there together for three months in order to inherit it.  

Having worked in Rome for four years, Sophie’s excited to revisit to Italy, even if it reignites memories of a cheating ex who soon learns of her return and wants to rekindle their spark. Sophie realises that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder – but for her friend back home, Chris, who she discovers is more to her than just a friend.

With the clock ticking, can Sophie and Rachel stick it out and heal old wounds, or are the sisters destined to go their own way at the end of the three months? And does Chris feel the same way about Sophie as she does for him?

A beautiful story of romance and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Alex Brown and Lucy Coleman.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09F5QJQDZ

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09F5QJQDZ

Author Bio

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English.

My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years.

We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

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

My Review

I only have to see the cover of a T A Williams book and I want to read it. A Little Piece of Paradise is no exception. Once again, the story is set in stunning Italy – in a castle, no less, in the little town of Paradiso. Now, paradise it may seem to be, but for estranged sisters Rachel and Sophie, it forces them back together for three months as part of their uncle’s will. He hated them no longer being close, and saw a way through his plan to reunite them. But would it be too much for them to handle? Personally, I think I’d put up with anyone for that 😉

The plan is well-conceived, there is absolutely no get-out clause as the sisters have to check in together every day for the 92 days – miss a single check in and their inheritance of the castle is no more.

At first, the two sisters avoid certain topics, and seem to walk on eggshells around each other, but over time their barriers come down, thanks mainly to neighbour, Dan, and Sophie’s dog, Jeeves. Anyone would think there was a conspiracy going on! (Yes, Dan, I’m talking to you!)

Time at the castle gives the young women a chance to reflect on their lives, on what they plan to do with their future, and more importantly who they want to spend it with. Together, they help each other see what is, frankly, obvious to everyone but them. Making it happen is another matter, and they are both more confident in their sisterly relationship to intervene in the other’s love life – albeit with the best of intentions.

The castle is wonderful, Paradiso is a gem, and everything seems to be on course for a happy ending. That is, until Sophie’s ex turns up … briefly 😉 only to be well and truly shown the door by Dan and Jeeves! With the end in sight, however, Mother Nature storms on in and puts their check in process at risk. Will they fall at the (almost) last hurdle? And what will happen to the castle – and their relationship – if they fail?

A Little Piece of Paradise is aptly named; it’s a gem combining a stunning setting with a heart-warming, original plot. I thoroughly enjoyed escaping to Paradiso.

Thanks to Canelo and Netgalley for my copy; a review is the least I can offer.

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book review · crime · NetGalley · suspense · tense

Book Review – The Midnight Man

From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.

If you open your door to the Midnight Man,

hide with a candle wherever you can.

Try not to scream as he draws near,

because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?

Add to Goodreads

Amazon UK

My Review

This book was – and still is – all over Twitter, and rave reviews led to my FOMO sending me to Netgalley to request a copy. I even hassled the publishers, praying I hadn’t been declined. Fortunately, my impatience was soon rewarded, and I settled in for what I hoped would be a thrilling read.

Jeez, did I luck out! It was everything I hoped for: tense, twisty and atmospheric. The poem in the blurb sets the scene perfectly for those five girls who prepare to play The Midnight Game. It’s legendary in Slayton, and something of a rite of passage for teens to seek out an abandoned building and dare to knock 22 times and let the Midnight Man in.

Blackhall Manor is something of legend itself, home to a series of deaths 25 years ago when the father of the household killed his family – parents, wife and children – before turning the gun on himself. Ever since, the house has been considered cursed, making it the perfect setting for The Midnight Man.

Unfortunately for the five girls invited to Blackhall Manor that Halloween, this is a game with deadly consequences. It begins as spooky fun, superstitious nonsense … until one girl goes missing. Now, you might expect the four remaining girls to ‘fess up and tell their parents where they’ve been, but no. The power of the message on their invitation – if you tell, you’ll go to hell – is so strong that they’re too scared of what might happen if they admit where they’ve been.

Detective Sarah Noble has just gone back to work after extended leave. Her backstory is complicated and multi-faceted, both elements that inject her personally into the case of the missing girl, and not merely in her role as a police officer. It affects how she is treated by her peers, and also how she feels about Blackhall Manor.

Her friend’s son, 7-year-old Elliot, is a kindred spirit. He’s been having visions of the hooded man in his nightmares. These visions extend to the missing girl, and later to others caught up in the game. He finds Sarah to be a safe haven, someone to whom he can reveal what he’s seen and who, as a police officer, can actually help. Elliot is the sweetest boy but he’s not easily fobbed off. He is per-cep-tive in every sense (as his teacher has told him) and he not only sees the Midnight Man, but he also sees through adults trying to use his abilities for their own end.

As evidence comes in, the police think they’ve found their man … but have they? Sarah has her doubts, but doesn’t feel able to share them at work. If she is going to prove herself capable as a detective, she’s going to have to revisit her past. Dun, dun, duuuuunnn …

I’ve not read anything by this author before, and I was super excited to get my hands on this one (Thank you Embla, Netgalley & Caroline). I’ll admit to being wary, as horror (the gory stuff) is so not my thing, but I’ll categorise this as creepy horror blended with twisty suspense and aspects of a police procedural. I’ll definitely be back for more.

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art · blog tour · book review · cosy · France · magical realism · mystery · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Falling in Louvre

Falling in Louvre

‘A heartfelt, funny and romantic caper – a mashup masterpiece!’ – Sandy Barker, author of ‘That Night in Paris’.

Bertrand is King of the Pigeons…

Unofficially. From his perch atop a gargoyle on Notre Dame cathedral, he surveys his kingdom. He sees Sylvie Cloutier, art lover and ex-antiques dealer, making dinner for her bullying husband Henri, trapped in their loveless marriage like a bird in a gilded cage. He sees security guard, hopeless romantic and bookworm Philippe Moreau cycling through the streets of Paris in his crumpled uniform, late (again) for his night shift at the museum.

When Sylvie begs her husband to let her go to work, he gets her a job as an evening cleaner at the Louvre. He thinks such a menial position will dispel any ideas about independence she might have, but his plan backfires when she falls in love with kind, gentle Philippe. They decide to run away together, but there’s a major problem: neither of them has any money.

One stormy night in the Louvre, the answer to their prayers falls into their lap… But is it really the solution, or just another, even bigger problem?

What follows is a romantic, wistful but madcap adventure through (and under) the city of lights, involving a stolen painting, an art heist in reverse, and Eric Cantona. Will love find a way?

Purchase Link: mybook.to/Louvre

Author Bio

Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters. Her debut novel, ‘Dead in Venice’, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant scheme finalists, and her bestselling cosy mystery series, The Nosey Parker Mysteries, is published by One More Chapter/HarperCollins.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/fionakleitch

https://www.instagram.com/leitchfiona/

https://twitter.com/fkleitch

www.fionaleitch.com

My Review

If you think this is just another romcom set in Paris, then you’d be mistaken. It is so much more than that, it’s the perfect mashup of a romantic comedy with a cosy mystery, while also throwing the spotlight on domestic abuse with a dash on magical realism thrown in for good measure. Ooh, la la! .

2016 is the year of the Euros (European Football Championship) in France, and the country awaits a tidal wave of supporters from across Europe. Phillipe, a security guard at the Louvre is an avid football fan, his childhood bedroom an homage to his hero, Eric Cantona. Unfortunately, Phillipe once again finds himself living with his mother in that self-same bedroom after the break-up of his relationship. Working night shifts, he barely sees a soul, and is not exactly living the life he wanted or expected.

Sylvie, the daughter of an antiques shop owner, finds herself as far away from her dreams of running her father’s shop as she can possibly get, although she is grateful to her husband, Henri, for giving her the life she has now. An accident years before left her dependent on medication, and Henri makes sure she remains stable … and dependent upon him. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Sadly, for many years, Sylvie could not 😦 and she settled for the life he “allowed” her to lead whilst yearning to be back in her parents’ shop amid those wonderful antiques.

Sylvie wants to come off her meds; she knows it’s not going to be easy, but gradually the fog lifts and she starts to want more from life. Henri plays along in getting her a job at the Louvre. But he has only acted out of spite in not telling her the job is as a cleaner … in his words, it’s all she is worth! Nonetheless, Sylvie is glad of the chance to escape home for a few hours each night, even more so when she meets Phillipe. Cue the romance – it’s subtle and sweet, and oh so satisfying to see them both come out of their mutual cocoons and live and love again. But the dark cloud that is Henri looms in the background, and the more you learn about him, the more you’ll want Sylvie to cast of the shackles and be happy with Phillipe.

Then the perfect storm hits Paris and floods the city, including the Louvre. Both Sylvie and Phillipe are called into work to help save the precious items on display. At which point, Phillipe does something rather stupid, yet for all the right reasons. His actions on that cold, wet, dark night set the story up for its mystery and for their future. It’s funny, endearing, tense and a little dangerous in that it could land them both in jail.

As I said at the start, it’s not a regular romcom. Henri’s behaviour will infuriate you, Phillipe’s “attachment” to Eric Cantona will amuse you, and Sylvie and Phillipe’s relationship will warm your heart. A fabulous read with believable and relatable characters amidst a setting brought to life by an author who knows her oignons.

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blog tour · book review · crime · thriller & crime

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Accused

The Accused

When Private Investigator Charlie Cameron agrees to take on a cold case, he is drawn back into Glasgow’s dark underworld…
Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron knew Kim Rafferty was bad news the moment they met. Desperate people always spelled trouble in his experience, and Mrs Rafferty was as desperate as they come. What she was asking for was insane. If he agreed to help the wife of the notorious East-End gangster, the consequences for them both could be fatal.
Twenty-four hours later, another betrayed woman with a hopeless case is pleading for Charlie’s help. The PI is her only chance to keep an innocent man from serving a second prison sentence for murders he didn’t commit.
Dennis Boyd is on the run, and as Charlie fights against the clock to keep him out of jail, he crosses a line that puts him on the wrong side of the law and pits him against his old friend and ally, DS Andrew Geddes.
As the body count grows, and the defence for his client falls apart bit by bit, Charlie refuses to accept the inevitable. But everyone has their limits – even the infamous Charlie Cameron. Will he be forced to admit that this case may be the one to beat him…

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2SxiAVD

Author Bio

Owen Mullen is a highly regarded crime author who splits his time between Scotland and the island of Crete.

In his earlier life he lived in London and worked as a musician and session singer.

Social Media Links

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

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/owenmullen6

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/owenmullen6/

Newsletter Sign Up Link https://bit.ly/OwenMullenNewsletter

Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/owen-mullen

My Review

When Kim Rafferty, the wife of the infamous Sean Rafferty, approaches Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron to help her leave her husband, even Charlie can’t deny having a few concerns about accepting her case. While Sean Rafferty pretends to be the face of respectability, everyone knows he is not a man to be crossed. If Charlie agrees to help Kim, he’ll be risking more than his livelihood if things go wrong. As much as he wants to help, the consequences are too high, and regrettably he has to turn her down. Will it be a decision he comes to regret or has he had a lucky escape?

Charlie turns his attention to another new case: a woman has sought him out to help a man newly released from prison. She’s certain that he was innocent of the crime that put him away for fifteen years, and she’s worried he’ll go after those who framed him … or worse, they’ll set him up a second time. Trouble is Dennis Boyd is in hiding after a rogue message led him to a car park and a dead body. It looks like Dennis is responsible, and even Charlie believes the only option Dennis has is to turn himself in. Until a second murder occurs – and this time Dennis could not have been responsible – now Charlie knows someone is setting Dennis up again, but proving it is another matter, and that’s assuming he can find Dennis in time and earn his trust.

Charlie’s been around the block awhile, and has made connections with the local police force, even if some relationships are strained, their is a mutual respect there (albeit subtly disguised at times). As Charlie gets closer to helping Dennis, he has to trust in those relationships … maybe a little too much.

There is betrayal around every corner as this fast-paced crime thriller gains momentum. As clever and utterly compelling as Boyd’s case is, Kim Rafferty’s situation intrudes into the story with a punch to the gut and runs alongside Boyd’s story. Sean Rafferty is a formidable enemy, and Charlie was wise to give the case a wide berth, but that doesn’t mean “out of sight, out of mind” when Charlie wonders if Kim managed to get away … her silence is deafening!

The Accused is gritty and addictive, hard-hitting and reflective. Hope and betrayal battle in equal measures for an outcome that is challenging and tense. Charlie is the kind of PI you can’t help but root for, but he does seem to walk a tightrope of danger to achieve the result he believes in. I’ll be reading more of Charlie’s exploits for sure.

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blog tour · book review · family · friendship · real life · starting over

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Landlord at Hummingbird House

The Landlord of Hummingbird House

When April moves into Hummingbird House, she is intrigued by her mysterious landlord, Dai.

With a bruised heart and a distinct lack of furniture, she spends the summer getting to know the other occupants. As she smartens up her home and makes peace with her recent past, she befriends Paul, a solitary ex-chef, and Betty, an elderly lady who lives in the basement flat.

But Hummingbird House holds many secrets, and the relationships of the tenants are not as straightforward as they seem. April learns some shocking truths one eventful night, and realises that victims and villains can look the same.

The Landlord of Hummingbird House is a contemporary novel exploring unlikely friendships, unexpected love interests, and family relationships. Here, everyone is in need of a second chance – and appearances can be deceptive.

Purchase Links

UK – https:// #womensfictoiwww.amazon.co.uk/Landlord-Hummingbird-House-Impressions-Chances-ebook/dp/B099J88F84

US – https://www.amazon.com/Landlord-Hummingbird-House-Impressions-Chances-ebook/dp/B099J88F84

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

I approached this book much like April, unsure of what to expect at Hummingbird House. Would the neighbours be friendly? Would the flat (accepted after a virtual visit only) live up to expectations? Was Hummingbird House the place to heal her heartbreak? Okay, so this latter issue was April’s only, but you get my drift 😉

April busies herself bringing the flat up to her standard, lovingly adding her own personal touches as she had done in her previous home – the one now up for sale after her recent break-up. Sorting the flat out is therapeutic for her, but she can’t help wondering about her neighbours. The Landlord, Dai, seems somewhat aloof, Paul next door has OCD, and Betty downstairs is the resident cakemaker. Yet what they all seem to have in common is that they genuinely care about each other. And now they’re happy to welcome April into their happy home … except not everyone is in a happy place right now. While April tries to better understand them, she’s well aware of the protective ring the other residents form around their friend and neighbour.

In essence, this story isn’t simply about April getting over her ex and moving on, it’s more than that. It’s a glimpse behind the closed doors of her neighbours too as the reader is invited inside to get to know them, warts and all. It’s soon clear that April’s first impressions are somewhat flawed as individual stories are revealed that perfectly explain everything. Their backstories are told with a delicate touch yet the pain is palpable. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of lighter moments that will make you laugh and smile, reflect and appreciate, as well as a hint of romance.

The Landlord at Hummingbird House tells the story of random strangers who have become “family” to each other, whose experiences have been shared and supported. It’s very real and relatable as well as poignant and witty … and there’s a sweet twist at the end that adds the proverbial icing to one of Betty’s cakes.

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blog tour · book review · historical · justice · mashup · Societal change · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Little Brown Dog

One nameless stray. Two fearless young women. A heroic fight for justice. It’s 1903, and Britain is desperate for change, but widespread calls for social and gender reform flounder against entrenched misogyny. 

Navigating this world are best friends Lena Hageby and Eliza Blackwood – two thoroughly modern young women determined to live life on their own terms.  

Rumours abound of barbaric experiments taking place within London’s medical schools, and when the women covertly witness a shockingly brutal procedure performed on a semi-conscious dog, they resolve to take down the perpetrator – renowned physiologist Dr William Bayling.  

In their fight for justice, the women are drawn into an increasingly vicious ‘David and Goliath’ battle with an all-powerful male medical establishment who will stop at nothing to protect the status quo. But how much are the women prepared to risk? Their friendship, their loves, their freedom, even their lives? 

Based on extraordinary true events that shook Edwardian society, Little Brown Dog is a tale simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming. Although a century has passed, it remains a strikingly modern parable of female bravery in speaking truth to power 

A lyrical, accessible literary novel, which brings to life  a series of intriguing historical events concerning the  curiously intertwined battle for animal rights and  women’s suffrage. 

To be published 115 years to the day after the  unveiling of the controversial, ill-fated memorial to a  small dog in a London park. 

Buy Little Brown Dog at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Buy at Amazon com.

For readers of Lucy Ribchester, Elizabeth MacNeal  and Lissa Evans. 

Market: literary fiction  – ISBN: 9781912905430  – Price: £8.99 

About the author

Paula is something of an accidental novelist. A scientist, with a PhD in climate chemistry, she has spent her career writing, educating, campaigning and fretting about the state of our planet.

Her late foray into fiction was down to a serendipitous encounter with an amateur historian at Battersea Arts Centre. The incredulous, but true, story he told, and the themes it portrays, stole her heart and became an obsession.

Hence Little Brown Dog was conceived. Paula is Welsh born and bred and now lives in London with her partner and a menagerie of rescue animals. 

My Review

little brown dog is a novel with so many layers. What starts as two women meeting over a debate against animal cruelty soon escalates into a campaign against the mistreatment of animals in the name of science. The medical profession claim their actions are humane and that without such experiments then human lives will continue to suffer from a myriad of disease and illness.

It is only when the two heroines of the story disguise themselves as men to see for themselves what happens “under the knife” that the true brutality is exposed. Shocked to their core at what they have witnessed, Lena and Eliza cannot sit back and allow the status quo to continue. So, it is with the support of a renowned and outspoken barrister, Coleridge, they are able to take on the might of the male-dominated perpetrators. Note this is all set when women have finally been allowed to enter medical school yet do not have the right to vote. As suffragists are still campaigning, the voices of women in general are derided and mocked by society, however, the animal cruelty element brings Lena and Eliza much-needed support.

Coleridge does not hold back, he has no fear of the leading doctor against whom the women are making their complaint. Such is his contempt for Dr Bayling, that he out and out accuses him of negligence. A court case beckons and support for the cause intensifies amongst the locals of Battersea.

Without spoiling the story regarding the court case, the ladies also feel compelled to pay tribute to the little brown dog in the hope that no other animal suffers in such a manner again. A beautiful statue is erected, but it is to be a bone of contention; it faces abuse and destruction for years to come.

This is a time of great societal change and, for some, the statue is simply the tip of the iceberg, a monument to something they cannot ignore. The fighting accelerates, to the point that even mild-mannered Eliza finds her patience tested to the ultimate degree.

Political and societal change is at a peak here, and reactions are extreme to the point of violence. Yet little brown dog is a story of friendship, love and betrayal, trust, and consideration for other species as well as other humans. It has so many layers, each one peeled back with a delicate touch that nonetheless packs a punch. Blending history with emotion, fact with fiction, and injustice with justice, little brown dog shows how easy it is for egos to fracture, for tempers to fray and for pain to be inflicted in the name of self-preservation. It’s a heart-warming and heart-breaking story in equal measures, rendered all the sadder for the fact that time and again – even now – those with power still overreach. Nonetheless, it inspires how that change is possible.

I enjoyed reading this – it was hard at times to read due to the nature of the cruelty it seeks to banish, but it had so many points of high emotion, both positive and negative but all so very memorable.

As always,

book review · NetGalley · romantic comedy

Book Review – Rachel Ryan’s Resolutions

‘A big-hearted treat of a read’ – Catherine Walsh, author of One Night Only

Love may be blind, but to find it she’ll have to open her eyes…

In January, Rachel Ryan’s New Year’s Resolutions are fairly predictable. Exercise more, put money into savings before spaffing it all on clothes, remember ridiculous rule that potatoes don’t count towards your 5-a-day…

Before long, though, the year ahead of her is very much not going to plan. When the creative agency Rachel works for is taken over, one of the new suits in the office is very familiar. And very handsome. Surely it can’t be… Jack Harper. The man she has spent years trying to forget. Not only is Rachel now working with him, she has regular sightings of the gorgeous woman Jack cheated on her with – who happens to be plastered to the side of every London bus.

Thank goodness for Tom, who is always there to listen (and pour wine). But when work stirs up her most painful memories, her best friend makes a major announcement and Jack dials up the charm, Rachel starts to question everything.

As life throws her a world of crazy, will Rachel have to make some very different resolutions?

Perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary and Ruth Jones.

What Readers are saying about Rachel Ryan’s Resolutions:
‘Funny, sweet and heartwarming. It was the perfect romcom’ Mrsandmother

‘This has been my favourite romantic comedy of the year!’ – Karla_Bookishlife

‘A fun adventure, with great characters and some deeper issues’ – Netgalley Reviewer

‘This book is SO good. It’s officially made my favourites list’ – Goodreads Reviewer

Purchase link

My Review

Rachel Ryan’s Resolutions is one of those stories that simply resonates with its readers. How many of us have made similar resolutions, only to abandon them within a few days (or even hours)? Rachel tries – not always very hard, especially when it comes to exercising (and who can blame her?) – to stick to them, and as the story progresses the list expands slightly to take into account the difficulties she has in sticking to some of them.

But it is when Jack Harper comes back into her life that her struggles really begin. He broke her heart at university, and it seems she hasn’t really got over it. Trouble is, he knows it, and goes out of his way to inject himself back into her life, under a thinly veiled disguise of “I’ve changed”. (He hasn’t!)

Rachel, however, has a few weapons up her sleeve (ones that she doesn’t quite appreciate nor even realise are there yet, but she will) in the form of her best friend and flatmate, Anna, and her very good friend of four years, Tom.

At times, I was screaming in my head at Rachel: Listen to Anna! Don’t go there! Only for my warnings to go unheeded. By which time, damage limitation was needed. But, as most of us know, sometimes we have to make our own mistakes to learn from them. But, I’ll be honest, it did look as though Rachel and her blinkers were not ready to be parted!

Rachel Ryan’s Resolutions is a rom-com with a difference; as expected, it’s funny (laugh-out-loud chortling funny) and there’s romance (you just have to wait for it), but it’s also quite poignant in the way Rachel’s barriers are broken down so that she really can see what we, as readers, have known all along. No spoilers, but it’s quite refreshing to see how those layers are stripped away. I’ll admit, it brought a tear to my eye since I can empathise with the reasoning behind those barriers.

Structurally, I was a little distracted when the story switched without warning to another character’s POV, a character who I hadn’t really expected to mean so much, but who eventually became pivotal to the story. That aside, I loved the “realness” of the banter, the humour between friends, the office rivalries and jealousies, and the sheer awfulness of some of Rachel’s clients (Humphrey knows who he is 😉 )

A thoroughly enjoyable read. I’ll be sure to look out for more from this author. This is hilarious fun in word format, but so very visual and all-consuming.

My thanks to the author, Embla books (publisher) and Netgalley for my copy.

As always,

Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts

blog tour · book review · suspense · tense

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Carrying Clover

Carrying Clover

Newly single Camille Robins’ luck is about to change as she embarks on a new chapter of her life, moving to the city near her best friend, Lizzie.

At a chance meeting at Lou’s B&B, Camille meets George, a handsome man who sweeps her off her feet.

Can Lizzie forgive Camille for stealing her previous boyfriend, or will she seek revenge?

Camille can’t believe her luck! George can’t believe how perfect she is….

Was it a fate romance, or part of an evil plan?

A fresh new twist on a psychological thriller, fast-paced, clever, and thought provoking that will make you question who is the lucky one.

Luck, love, deceit, and heartbreak will keep you turning the page. And a breathtaking twist you won’t see coming, will stay with you long after you have finished reading.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09BZZHNHH

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09BZZHNHH

Author Bio

Lorey Durston is an author of thriller and suspense novels. 

CARRYING CLOVER is her debut novel.

She is currently working on her next suspense novel to be released late 2021.

Social Media Links – Twitter @loreydurston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lorey-Durston-Author-101764481996748

Instagram: loreydurstonauthor 

My Review

This was an enjoyable read for the most part, well-paced and suspenseful. There are three main characters, of which Camille and Lizzie are “related” in that they grew up with the same foster family. And while Camille sees Lizzie as her best friend and sister, the same cannot be said for Lizzie. She bears a hefty dose of resentment towards Camille, initially stemming from jealousy from when they grew up together – Lizzie saw Camille as the favourite child who always got what she wanted. That resentment is further inflamed when we learn that Camille “stole” Lizzie’s boyfriend, although seeing as he turned out to be an abusive partner, you might think she’d have been glad to see the back of him.

Fast forward to present day and Camille has escaped that abusive relationship and is looking to start over. She’s bought a new flat (from inheritance money – and another reason for Lizzie to be jealous) and will be working for Lizzie in her Bristol café. Camille is going into this full of hope and optimism. Her positivity proves to be remarkably naive.

As the flat is not ready to move into, Camille books into a B&B for 2 days. This is where she befriends the owner, Lou, and another resident, George – the third of the main characters. Once again, her positive nature sees no issue with the speed in which George goes from fellow resident at the breakfast table to sending her flowers and gifts when she moves into her own place and starts work.

The story is told mainly from Camille’s point-of-view, interspersed with short chapters that give an insight in what’s really going on in George’s mind – and there is a lot of bitterness and ill-will in his thoughts. He clearly sees Camille as gullible, as the perfect prey for his plan, though we are never sure of his plans until the very end. What we do discover is that there is an accomplished liar behind all that charm.

Lizzie’s viewpoint is also explored in similarly short chapters, long enough to reveal her contempt towards her sister-friend. I did wonder what Lizzie’s motive was in offering Camille a job if she really didn’t like her that much. At least George seemed to have a plan – to control Camille – but the reasoning behind Lizzie’s action was less clear. Nonetheless, both George and Lizzie have personality issues in that they can be so nice, welcoming, and thoughtful to Camille to her face, yet in reality both of them vilified Camille in their thoughts. It was quite disturbing to see how they managed such strong emotions. Such is the strength of the story in that the tension is high, and it keeps you guessing as to how it will end, especially as Camille comes across as so needy. There are times when she does question things, but those are fleeting, and she is too easily manipulated to see what’s going on until it’s too late.

The ending is surprising, but – it might just be me – I didn’t quite get why George needed to use other women in the way that he did given the “other” relationships in his life. I have to assume there were fertility issues elsewhere, though it was never confirmed as such (try writing that without creating a spoiler alert).

Whilst Carrying Clover has an exciting plot with oodles of suspense, the writing itself would have benefitted from another round of editing (unless I unknowingly received an uncorrected proof) Nonetheless, an enjoyable read … and I do love that cover.

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As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
Reviewed on Amazon UK as Meandthemutts