blog tour · book review · Christmas · family · France · New start · starting over

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Christmas at the Riviera

Christmas on the Riviera

As a toddler Elodie Jacques was abandoned by her mother and left in the care of her French grandmother, Gabriella in Dartmouth, Devon.

Now 24 years old, Elodie struggles to reconcile the deep anger for the mother she has never since seen.

When Gabriella unexpectedly announces she wants the two of them to spend Christmas and her 70th birthday in her home town of Juan-les-Pins in the South of France Elodie is thrilled.

Gabriella meanwhile has her own ulterior motives for wanting to return after 40 years, a daunting homecoming potentially filled with memories, secrets and recriminations.

With Juan-les-Pins pulsing with lights, decorations and the festive spirit, Christmas promises to be filled with fun. But when Elodie learns there is the possibility that her long absent mother may join them she hides her feelings behind a show of indifference and animosity.

Will there be the reconciliation that Gabriella longs for – or will the spirit of Christmas fail to work its magic?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3xx6PyV

Author Bio

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat.

She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063527178184

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/jenniewriter

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

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-bohnet

My Review

It’s back to France I go, this time to Antibes (Juan-les-Pins) with grandmother Gabriella (Gabby) and granddaughter, Elodie Jacques.
Gabby has received a letter and now wants to spend Christmas and her 70th birthday in her hometown of Juan-les-Pins, a place she left (under a cloud) over 40 years ago.
Elodie has been raised by Gabby ever since he mother Harriet left the family some 20 years to remarry and settle in Australia. Elodie has long since given up on a relationship with her mother and sees Gabby as more than fulfilling that role. She is also stuck in a rut professionally, not achieving the goals she expected of herself, and as for romance… well, that’s a non-starter too.
Consequently, spending the holidays in sunny France seems like the perfect solution; besides, she has always been curious about her grandmother’s history, why she left France and never returned.

For Gabby, her hometown has changed a lot but there are glimpses of her former life that evoke plenty of memories for her, not all of them good. She also needs to reveal some news to Elodie, news that might drastically change her life and her future imminently and forever.

The setting, as expected, is glorious; the characters are real and their reactions relatable, but it is the secrets that Gabby has to share with Elodie that delight, allowing the reader to wonder how such news might affect them. The author takes us on a fantastic journey delving into Gabby’s past and her reason for leaving France while also offering us a taste of how their lives might change in the weeks that follow. New friendships and loves leave us hoping for a happy ending, although we know there are obstacles yet to be overcome as a family reunion becomes part of the equation.

This is a relatively quick read but one that transports us to another life, Christmas in the sun, with new friends and hopes to inspire and encourage both Gabby and Elodie to take the next steps.
I’d like to think there will be a sequel featuring more about these characters and not forgetting the mystery of Collette’s bicycle and the antiquities shop 😉

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Contemporary Romance · France · relationships

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Twenty-One Nights in Paris

Twenty-One Nights in Paris

An heiress to a fortune, Ren’s home-from-home is the Ritz, while the handsome and brooding Sacha has grown up in Paris’s less salubrious suburbs. So when an accident brings them together, romance seems an unlikely outcome.

When Ren’s society engagement reaches a very public end, Irena’s over-protective grandmother wants her home in London. Ren needs an excuse to stay in Paris, and so after some persuasion, Sacha agrees to pose as her new boyfriend. But only for the twenty-one days Ren’s grandmother has allowed her to nurse her broken heart before heading home to face the music.

Over the course of three weeks, Ren realises the world outside her exclusive bubble is more beautiful than she could have imagined. While Sacha reluctantly begins to see the goodness of the woman behind the wealth. When their time is up, will Ren want to return to her gilded cage, and will Sacha be able to let go of the woman he’s been ‘pretending’ to fall in love with…

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

Author Bio

Leonie Mack is the bestselling author of romantic novels including My Christmas Number One and Italy Ever After.

Having lived in London for many years her home is now in Germany with her husband and three children.

Leonie loves train travel, medieval towns, hiking and happy endings!

Social Media Links

Facebook: Leonie Mack – Home | Facebook

Twitter: Leonie Mack WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE VENICE (@LeonieMAuthor) / Twitter

Instagram: Leonie Mack (@leoniejmack) • Instagram photos and videos

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

Bookbub profile: Leonie Mack Books – BookBub

My Review

Imagine the impossible, that you’ve never heard of Paris. Well, then, you’re in the right place for the author’s depiction of The City of Light is delightful, captivating and also balanced. As with most cities, Paris has its lesser known arrondissements, the places tourists don’t see and probably don’t even believe exist. So, taking a young man from the very poorest (financially speaking) part of the city and matching him up with an heiress whose knowledge of Paris revolves around The Ritz is quite the paradox.
Ren (Irena), raised by her grandmother, is until recently engaged to marry the son of another wealthy family. That their forthcoming marriage will also seal a lucrative business deal is neither here nor there 😉
Until that relationship falls apart and Ren can’t face the public glare nor the wrath of her grandmother.
She decides to extend her visit to Paris and promises to stay under the radar, which for a social media star will not be easy. Quite literally running into Sacha and spending time in his world is the perfect solution. Who would ever expect to find her so far away from The Ritz?
Sacha is refreshingly unassuming, he cares not for material wealth or the trappings of fame that accompany Ren. It’s very easy to like Sacha, but it’s harder to warm to Ren who is a victim of her privileged upbringing …and it shows!
Ren quickly learns that hanging out with Sacha and his family and friends is very different to her own relationships, and the fact that her grandmother does not approve only seems to spur her on.
But a fake relationship? Eek – at this point I start to worry. Meddling with people’s feelings is a dangerous path, even when they both insist they know what they’re doing. Because, of course, the laws of romance state otherwise.
While this is not really a Christmas story, it does take place during the run-up to the festive season, so it’s pretty normal to expect there to be some magic in the air. Isn’t it?
There are many scenes in which Ren and Sacha convince themselves that nothing can come of their relationship, maybe too many scenes of that kind (the lady doth protest too much, comes to mind) but the inevitable cannot be ignored forever. Fate has spoken, and the more time they spend together, the better we understand them, and well, when you know, you know … ❤

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blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · France · romantic comedy · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Year at the French Farmhouse

A Year at the French Farmhouse

Escape to France with this warm, witty romantic read.

After ten years of loyal service Daisy Butterworth has been made redundant. Like any clever woman, she knows the cure to redundancy is a little too much wine and her best friend.

Only the next morning, Daisy has more than a hangover . . . she has a whole new house – in France!

Seeing this as an opportunity instead of a disaster, she’s excited about finally moving to France, just as she and her husband always dreamed of. However, Daisy is in for another surprise. Despite planning to move there for over 20 years, her husband never actually intended to go.

So begins a year in France, alone, renovating the gorgeous old farmhouse that is held together by wallpaper and wishes.

Will a year at the French farmhouse be just what Daisy needs? Or could it be the previous owner, Frederique, that is the answer to Daisy’s dreams?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3NZA7fA

Author Bio

Gillian Harvey is a freelance journalist and the author of two well-reviewed women’s fiction novels published by Orion.

She has lived in Limousin, France for the past twelve years, from where she derives the inspiration and settings for her books.

Her first title for Boldwood, A Year at the French Farmhouse, will be published in September 2022.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GillPlusFive

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/gillian-harvey

My Review

I think I’ve spent more time in France with books this year than anywhere else… and I’ve loved it 🙂

Stunned to find herself redundant, Lily concludes that maybe those plans she and husband, Ben, have been making for years might now just come true. Their son is off to university, so what is stopping them from following their dream and moving to France?
One thing: Ben.
He doesn’t want to go, thinks the time is not right – but that’s what he’s been saying for years now. Lily realises that maybe he never intended to follow through on what is essentially her dream since she was a young girl. She’s forced to acknowledge that he always had a reason to prevaricate, and he’s not even willing to talk about it now.
Cue the red wine and a drunken foray onto the internet, browsing all those wonderful places that will never now be hers, be theirs.
Or so she thinks, until the next morning, replete with hangover, an email informs her of a purchase she made the previous evening. Lily has bought a farmhouse in France. Surely, Ben will see now that it’s meant to be, that fate has stepped in to guide them across the channel to a new life.
Or maybe not?

Lily is stumped – there’s a house literally with her name on it (or potentially on the deeds in a few weeks) and still Ben won’t budge. She can’t possibly let this chance escape her, can she?
Mais, non!
And so, off to France she goes, alone, nervous yet excited, probably still reeling from the shock that has numbed her emotions temporarily.

What awaits her is daunting, amusing, sweet, scary and hugely entertaining. From a squirrel infestation to an overly-romantic mayor, some nightmare “expats” (I can say that as one myself – and I can vouch for the flat-earthers too!)
Lily does find great friends, warm-hearted people who welcome her with gusto, but there’s something missing. While she convinces herself that she can do this alone – or even with a new partner – she cannot quite shrug off her marital status. Unfortunately, Ben doesn’t seem to want to be with her as much as she wants to be with him – or so she believes.

I love how this played out in the end, and I particularly enjoyed seeing Lily grow into herself as a stronger, more self-assured woman. It became clear that whatever happened, she would survive… but I admit to having my fingers crossed for a happy ending.

Thank you Netgalley & Boldwood books for my copy.

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Merci d’avoir lu 😉

book review · cosy · France · historical · mystery

Book Review – The French for Murder

http://ow.ly/bA5b50I0WEs

Synopsis

A grand villa, croissants for breakfast and a dead body in the wine cellar… Lady Swift can’t seem to take a vacation from murder!

Summer 1923. Lady Eleanor Swift is finally persuaded by her butler, Clifford, to take a villa in the south of France for the season. She plans to do what a glamorous lady abroad should: long lunches on the balcony followed by lazy afternoons lounging by the pool. Even Gladstone the bulldog is looking forward to a daily paddle in the ocean.

But when Clifford examines the wine cellar, he discovers there are no decent reds but there is a very dead body. The victim is famous American movie star Rex Armstrong. Poor Rex seems to have been stabbed with a sword from the film set. So how did he end up in Eleanor’s villa?

Before Eleanor even has time to change out of her travelling suit, her beloved butler is arrested for the crime. At sea without her right-hand man, Eleanor must gather her wits if she’s to outsmart a murderer and save Clifford.

Attending a glitzy party at the luxurious Hotel Azure with the film’s cast and crew so she can question her main suspects, Eleanor overhears the director having a most unsettling telephone call that throws all her theories out of the water. Can Eleanor unmask the true killer before her time abroad is cut murderously short?

A gripping historical murder mystery full of charm and intrigue, set in the beautiful French Riviera. Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss will adore The French for Murder.

My review

Well, guess who came late to this party? Starting a series at book 10 is not my best move, but – you know what? – it didn’t matter. There was not a single point at which I was lost or in need of backstory; it felt as though I’d been there from the beginning with Ellie (Lady Eleanor Swift) and Clifford (so much more than the Starchy Archie nickname given to him in this story). Let’s not forget, the wonderful Gladstone, Mrs Butters, Trotters and all the gang – what a delightful ensemble.

I loved the rapport between Ellie and Clifford, I adored the 1920s theme – the naming of the refrigerator as Rigobert and the blender, Blendine 😉 – and the French Police Inspector and his laissez-faire attitude (never to act on an empty stomach) was wonderfully vague and helpful in equal measures.

An excellent mystery with plenty of suspects and a clever twist when it comes to revealing the killer. Thoroughly enjoyable and so vividly written as if I were there on the Cote D’Azur all along.

I’ve already checked out the back catalogue, and trust me, those books will be in on my shelf in no time at all. It’s always lovely to find a whole series of books to catch up and I look forward to getting to know Ellie (and I understand she has a Chief Inspector boyfriend back in England, too), Clifford and Gladstone much, much better.

About the author

Verity Bright

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.

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blog tour · book review · crime · Female sleuths · France · mystery · Spain

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Five Dead Men

Five Dead Men

When the bodies of five men are discovered in a secret vault at the villa Belle Époque, suspicion falls upon the villa’s former owner, enigmatic Pascal Deveraux.

Actor, gambler, general good-for-nothing – Pascal has lived a life of privilege and excess. But with no evidence to implicate him in murder, the case goes unsolved.

Called in to investigate the cold case, it’s not long before Margot’s enquiries re-open old wounds. Aided by policière municipale, Alia Leon, the investigation moves swiftly from the smugglers’ trails of the Pyrenees to the cannabis clubs of Barcelona. And it’s there, in the dark medieval streets of the city’s Gothic Quarter, that someone finds a reason to silence her.

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NK367Q7

Author Bio

Rachel Green is the pen name of a writer from the UK. Rachel has twice been longlisted for both the Bath Novel Award and the BPA First Novel Award, as well as being on the shortlist for the Capital Crime New Voices Award. Rachel lives in a tiny village in England, but travels frequently to the south of France where the stories from the Madame Renard Investigates series are set

Social Media Links

www.rachelgreenauthor.com

https://twitter.com/AuthorRachelG

https://www.instagram.com/authorrachelg/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelG

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-green?follow=true

My Review

I must admit in advance to not having read the first book in the series but, for the most part, that wasn’t a major issue.

Margot has been asked by Judge Deveraux to look into a matter relating to a family property – Belle Epoque – and the disturbing case of five dead men being found in an underground tunnel beneath the grounds. (At this point, I didn’t yet know of Margot’s background, only that her husband had been a police detective, so I did wonder why Margot was chosen to investigate matters)
Anyway, that aside, Margot stays in the area and is eventually invited to stay at the home of policière municipale, Alia, and her father, Didier (also a former police officer), and together they look into the mystery. No-one was ever caught, and the discovery of the bodies has left an indelible stain on the property which is now left vacant by its former owners (whose plans to redesign the grounds led to the finding of the bodies in the first place).

Several years have since passed, and the case has gone cold, the bodies still unidentified. That doesn’t deter Margot, who is intrigued and determined to get to the bottom of things. With Alia and Didier, and one of Alia’s friends, they find themselves with some leads – the main one being Pascal Deveraux who grew up at Belle Epoque with his sister.
Pascal is an odd chap, the kind who’d make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but there is no evidence to conclusively tie him to the murders. Even so, you get this feeling that he had to be involved somehow.
Margot feels much the same, and she won’t rest until she knows for sure what happened. Well, rather her than me, because he really has a creepy, smug vibe about him.
So, just imagine how Margot feels when he turns up unexpectedly when she’s in Barcelona following a lead in a cannabis club.
Too much of a coincidence, right?
Absolutely, and that glimmer of an opportunity to catch Pascual out is what lands Margot in deep, deep trouble.
Has she got it all wrong, or will she finally be the one to catch the killer of those five dead men?

The story is atmospheric in its settings, from the rural French countryside to the seedy backstreets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, the tension mounts incredibly towards the story’s conclusion – it’s a breathless race to the end, dangerous and heart-breaking for those close to the action.

The characterisation is sublime, from the crotchety gardener and housekeeper to the “unsettling” Deveraux siblings. Alia and Didier appear to have a wonderful father/daughter relationship, but a surprising twist changes that dynamic and Margot is pivotal in steering Alia towards leading her own life; their interactions are touching and, hopefully, long-lasting.

Now that I fully understand Margot’s history, I hope there is more to come from her. She’s a fierce femme fatale, definitely someone not to be messed with.

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cover reveal · France · love · romance

Cover Reveal – My Paris Romance

#MyParisRomance

My Paris Romance: Falling in love with a billionaire…

Cassie swore she’d never fall for another rich guy. Her heart has other ideas.

After a whirlwind holiday romance with hot billionaire Frenchman Nico, personal assistant Cassie receives an invitation to visit him in Paris.

Although she’d love a fairy-tale reunion, Cassie cannot fall for Nico. They live in different countries, come from different worlds, plus he’s more loaded than a bank vault. And after her rich ex and his snooty family left her feeling heartbroken and worthless, Cassie swore off dating wealthy guys. If she’d known Nico was France’s most eligible bachelor when they met, she’d never have got involved.

But their connection is undeniable and she’d be crazy not to see him again. If Cassie suppresses her feelings and just goes for the experience, she can avoid getting hurt, right?

Except when Nico sweeps her off her feet with a string of sexy, romantic dates around Paris, her plan not to fall in love unravels. She hopes he feels the same, but then a shocking revelation turns her world upside down…

Can they overcome their obstacles? And will Cassie get the happily-ever-after she’s been dreaming of?

Order this fun, steamy, fish-out-of-water, billionaire romantic comedy now and join Cassie in Paris to find out!

Read as a standalone novel or as book three in the My Ten-Year Crush series.

Pre-order Links 

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/3F6D1Me

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/35uTUn7

Publication Date: 30th August 2022

Author Bio

Olivia Spring is a British, London-based writer of contemporary women’s fiction, sexy chick lit and romantic comedy. Her uplifting debut novel The Middle-Aged Virgin, which was released in 2018, deals with being newly single in your thirties and beyond, dating, relationships, love, sex and living life to the full.

In addition to The Middle-Aged Virgin, Olivia has published The Middle-Aged Virgin in Italy, Love Offline, Losing My Inhibitions, Only When It’s Love and the sequel When’s The Wedding? 

Olivia’s seventh novel, My Ten-Year Crush, was published in September 2021. Book two in the series, My Lucky Night followed in November 2021 and book three, My Paris Romance will be published in summer 2022.

When she’s not writing, Olivia can be found enjoying cupcakes and cocktails and of course, seeking inspiration for her next book!

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/ospringauthor

https://www.facebook.com/ospringauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/ospringauthor/

Home

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/olivia-spring

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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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book review · France · historical fiction

Book Review – Blood Rose Angel (No Woman is an Island)

No Woman is an Island (Pandora’s Boxed Set #1) includes books by Liza PerratLinda GillardLorna FergussonClare Flynn and Helena Halme 

I’ll be reviewing each book in turn, starting with Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat

Blood Rose Angel

Book description:

1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.

Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.

Terrified that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honour the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.

Héloïse, with all her tragedies and triumphs, celebrates the birth of modern medicine, midwifery and thinking in late medieval times.

Amazon UK purchase link

My Review

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and have to admit to being one lucky reader to get my hands on this gem of a boxed set, and I’m basing that on simply having read just one of the five books in the collection. If the others are half as good, then I am in for a treat.

Blood Rose Angel is the third book in Liza Perrat’s series: The Bone Angel. And, yes, it’s very typical of me to come late to the party, but all three books can be read as standalones. So, phew! On the plus side, I now have two more books to add to my TBR list.

Set in Lucie-sur-Vionne, France in the year of our Lord, 1348, it follows the life of midwife Héloïse, whose mother died giving birth to her and so she was raised by her aunt, Isa (her mother’s twin sister). The nature of her difficult birth and the identity of her father unknown led to superstitions running amok labelling her as “unborn” and subjecting her to taunts from child- to adulthood.

Since her mother was also a midwife, Héloïse picked up the mantle determined to be the best healer and midwife she could be. Given her lowly birth, she was not expected to be “worthy” of marriage, but nonetheless fell in love with stonemason Raoul and gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Morgane, before suffering two stillbirths – sons – in the years that followed.

For two years, Raoul worked away in Italy, returning to Lucie as the pestilence took root, spreading like wildfire and killing many, including one of his apprentices, Toubie. His return is welcomed by Héloïse and his family, but the arrival of the pestilence is not.

Over the years, Héloïse has fallen foul of many locals, some who – for reasons known only to them and their faith – blame her for the death of their father, mother, child, dog, rat and fleas – in fact, anything they can blame her for, they will. Fortunately, more see her as the competent, respectful and caring person that she is.

However, when things take a turn for the worse, it is the naysayers who seem to have the power to control her fate, and she must use all her strength and faith in her mother’s talisman to fend them off. But it’s not easy, and her life is endangered by these suspicious and vengeful folk.

Without spilling any of the beans – plotwise – let me just say that I defy you not to be transported back in time by this book, and to feel immersed in the daily life of villagers in Lucie. Héloïse is a woman to root for, as injustices pile upon her, yet on she goes. It’s evident the author has researched the era with precision; her words conjured up images in my mind so vivid in sight, sound and smell (many of the latter are far from pleasant too). While the author admits to fictionalising her characters, what she puts them through is drenched in fact and very believable for that era. I did feel the ending lost some of the earlier momentum, but I imagine that’s often the nature of things as loose ends are tied up.

Having read this whilst we are still living through a pandemic ourselves, it didn’t pass me by that there existed then – as now – the same division between those who believed in masks and distancing. Humans, eh, we’re creatures of habit, aren’t we? Anyhow, pandemic or plague aside, this is a great read and fans of historical fiction will relish in the detail of the scenes portrayed and the lives of the characters within those scenes. As for me, I’m adding Liza’s earlier books to my reading list.

See you next time with my review of Hidden, by Linda Gillard (not sure when that will happen, but it will happen) If you’re interested in the other books in this collection, please take a look for yourself … and, enjoy!



Pandora’s Boxed Set #1

Together for the first time: award-winners and trail-blazers. 5 international women authors showcase 5 unforgettable novels.

Blood Rose Angel, by Liza Perrat
1348, France. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it—heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.
Despite her bastardy, Héloïse has earned respect in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for her midwifery and healing skills. Then the Black Death sweeps into France.

Hidden, by Linda Gillard
A birth. A death. Hidden for a hundred years.
1917.“Lady, fiancé killed, will gladly marry officer totally blinded or otherwise incapacitated by the war.” When Miranda Norton inherits Myddleton Mote and its art collection she is haunted by the dark secrets of a woman imprisoned in a reckless marriage.

The Chase, by Lorna Fergusson
The past will hunt you down.
Gerald Feldwick tells his wife Netty that in France they can put the past behind them. Alone in an old house, deep in the woods of the Dordogne, Netty is not so sure. Netty is right.

The Chalky Sea, by Clare Flynn
July 1940. When bombs fall, the world changes for two troubled people.
Gwen knows her husband might die in the field but thought her sleepy English seaside town was safe. Amid horror and loss, she meets Jim Armstrong, a soldier far from the cosy life of his Ontario farm. Can war also bring salvation?

Coffee and Vodka, by Helena Halme
Eeva doesn’t want to remember, but in Finland she must face her past.
‘In Stockholm, everything is bigger and better.’ Her Pappa’s hopes for a better life in another country adjust to the harsh reality but one night, Eeva’s world falls apart. Thirty years later, Eeva needs to know what happened.


As always,

blog tour · book review · dual timeline · France · historical · NetGalley

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Secret of the Château

The Secret of the Château

Everything is about to change…

1789. Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, have fled the palace of Versailles for their château, deep in the French Alps. But as revolution spreads through the country, even hidden away the Auberts will not be safe forever. Soon they must make a terrible decision in order to protect themselves, and their children, from harm.

Present day. When Lu’s mother dies leaving her heartbroken, the chance to move to a château in the south of France with her husband and best friends seems an opportunity for a new beginning. But Lu can’t resist digging into their new home’s history, and when she stumbles across the unexplained disappearance of Catherine Aubert, the château begins to reveal its secrets – and a mystery unsolved for centuries is uncovered…

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B083PNG675

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083PNG675

Author Bio –

Kathleen McGurl lives in Bournemouth with her husband. She has two sons who have both now left home.

She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway.

Since then she has published several novels with HQ and self-published another. She has also sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines, and written three How To books for writers. After a long career in the IT industry she became a full time writer in 2019. When she’s not writing, she’s often out running, slowly.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://kathleenmcgurl.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathMcGurl

My Review

As a fan of historical fiction and Kathleen McGurl, I had super high hopes, and was not disappointed. I loved the dual timeline, especially The French Revolution aspect. Combining the story of the family Aubert with the adventure of the British retirees made for a fascinating read, connecting the past and the present through the château in the Alpes-Maritime and the village it overlooked.

The story of the Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais begins at the Palace of Versailles, as members of the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoniette. As the Revolution takes a hold, Pierre and Catherine flee to his family castle and live a relatively quiet life, raising children, and supporting their tenants and the villagers alike. When revolutionary forces move out of Paris in search of Louis’s supporters, the family is placed in danger again. Someone has betrayed them, and they must flee to safety once more.

If only it were so simple. Baying crowds descend upon the château before they are ready to leave. Will they make it to safety? What becomes of the castle?

In alternating chapters (between the events of the 1780s), the author tells the tale of five Brits looking to start a new life together as retirement beckons. During a boozy evening together, the idea is raised about clubbing together to buy a place in France. Was it an alcohol-fueled pipedream, or could it become a reality? One member of the group, Lu, is less enthusiastic than the others but does not want to be the one to shatter everyone’s dreams. And so, the château is purchased. With its many rooms, outlying buildings and towers, there’s a lot of work to be done, but they get stuck in and start renovating. It’s not until Lu’s son Tom comes for a visit that the window without a room is spotted. Lu’s intrigue is piqued. While her husband tends to the garden with his new pet goat, she starts to research the castle. As they settle into their new life, the secrets of the château are gradually revealed.

The opulence of the French Court and the exceptionalism of the nobility is set against the poverty and anger of the working classes. In the modern setting, the village is harmonious and beautifully depicted. The story explodes at great pace, keeping the history alive as the modern-day residents delve further into what might have happened to the castle’s original owners.

If you love a touch of history with your mystery, then this is the book for you. The pages fly by as each chapter reveals a new layer to the characters and their stories.

Another winner for me from Kathleen McGurl.
Thanks to NetGalley, Rachel’s Random Resources and HarperCollins for a review copy which I have reviewed willingly and honestly.

 

For more news and reviews:

 

As always,

blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · France · Giveaways · Uncategorized · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Summer in Provence (with giveaway)

Summer in Provence

Is a change as good as a rest?

When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.

Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.

Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.

As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…

Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a heart-warming, sun-drenched and magical French adventure.

Purchase Link

Amazon: https://smarturl.it/SummerInProvence

Author Bio

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels – including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

 

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the SoA and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Social Media Links

 

Website: http://lucycolemanromance.com/

 

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

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanauth

Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of ‘A Springtime to Remember’ and a Boldwood Tote bag (Open INT)

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

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

 


My Review

4.5/5 stars

This book took me totally by surprise. I’ll admit to struggling to get into the story at first, but after the first 20% I was hooked. For me, the preamble to Fern and Aiden took an inordinate amount of time, but soon after I could understand why the author had taken her time at the outset. 

It was such an original storyline which was what initially attracted me, as well as having read previous books by the author. She has always managed to ground me totally to the location of her stories, whether it be Versailles, or now in Provence. I felt like Fern’s shadow, not just witnessing what she saw but understanding her concerns, her pain, and latterly her new found joy of painting. If it were possible, I’d be booking my tickets there right away. 

The pacing turned out to be perfect for this story; the slow start necessary, the settling in scenes vital, and the ending just beautiful but not without some heartache on the way. 

A story of self-discovery that felt so natural, unhurried, atmospheric, and captivating. Not your traditional romance, but definitely one that suited me, and one that will make me pick up more of this author’s books in an instant. Lucy Coleman is an author I trust implicitly to deliver a complete experience.

If you decide to delve in – and you should – be prepared to let the story happen at its own pace. You’ll be glad you waited for it. Fans of upmarket women’s fiction will love this. 

As always,