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.

 

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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, 

blog tour · book review · Contemporary Romance · France · NetGalley

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Springtime to Remember – plus giveaway

A Springtime to Remember

Let Lucy Coleman transport you to glorious, sun-drenched France, for the perfect feel-good read. Paris and the Palace of Versailles have always meant a lot to TV producer Lexie. Her grandma Viv spent a year there, but her adventures and memories were never discussed, and Lexie has long wondered why they were a family secret.

When work presents the perfect excuse to spend Springtime in Versailles, Lexie delves into Viv’s old diaries and scrapbooks, and with the help of handsome interpreter Ronan, she is soon learning more about the characters that tend to the magnificent gardens, now and in the past.

In amongst the beauty and splendour of the French countryside, a story of lost love, rivalry and tragedy unfolds. Can Lexie and Ronan right the wrongs of the past, and will France play its tricks on them both before Lexie has to go home? Will this truly be a Springtime to Remember…?

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://smarturl.it/SpringtimeToRemember

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/a-springtime-to-remember

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/a-springtime-to-remember/id1481640123

 

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 French Adventure’ and a metal leaf bookmark. (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 GIVEAWAY

My Review:

4/5 stars

Ah, the Palace of Versailles …. what a backdrop to a story. As a fan of the recent TV series, how could I miss this one!  The author knows her stuff – this was a veritable tour guide within a story of of secrets, misunderstandings, family history and future endeavours (by which I mean romance, of course!) With beautiful descriptions, charming characters, and ·D detail, Lucy Coleman brings this gorgeous part of France to life, not just the palace but the people who work thee, the locals who live there and the gardeners whose past is intricately linked to the flowerbeds and topiaries. No wonder, Lexie, the MC, is so enamoured of the place. Clearly, her grandmother’s story is a huge reason for bringing her to Versailles, but once there, the location begins to weave its magic on Lexie’s own life.

The story is multilayered, with secrets from the past coming to the fore, and impacting new lives. A slow-burning romance develops between Lexie and her translator, Ronan as they tackle the job of making the documentary and uncovering the secrets of the past, not realising how their two families were connected already. This is the kind of story where it takes a whole village to tell the tale, from Lexie’s neighbour in the row of gorgeous cottages, to the owners of the flat where her grandmother lived, over the flowershop. Not forgetting the interviewees, some more reluctant to talk than others (well, one in particular) whose connections to the Palace help to flesh out Lexie’s dream project.

You can tell this was a labour of love for Lexie, her enthusiasm is unerring, as is her determination to get the documentary finished when events beyond her control throw a curve ball in its direction.

This is a heart-warming story, so easy to get engrossed in, with drama and red herrings, misunderstandings and even a touch of bitterness. Yet the tale comes together with aplomb. You’d expect nothing less than perfection from such a grand and elegant venue, and you won’t be disappointed.

For more reviews and posts, check out these blogs

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blog tour · book review · France · romantic comedy

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book review – For Love or Money

For Love or Money

Lesley has always fancied herself as an amateur sleuth, a sort of modern day Miss Marple without the support stockings.

So when Al wants to hire her to investigate his elderly uncle’s young fiancée, she jumps at the chance. It doesn’t hurt that the job will involve posing as Al’s girlfriend and joining his glitzy, star-studded family on holiday in Nice.

Stella still can’t quite believe she’s engaged to legendary actor Sir Peter Bradshaw. She accepted what she thought was a deathbed proposal. Now she has a living, breathing fiancé and a wedding to plan.

First, though, she has to get through a holiday in the South of France with Peter’s extended family, who all seem convinced she’s a gold-digger with her sights set on the family fortune.

As Lesley bonds with Stella over shopping trips and bottles of rosé, she thinks she has it all figured out. After all, it’s no great mystery why a young woman would marry a fabulously wealthy seventy-two-year-old with a heart condition, is it? It’s an old story.

And Al may be the nicest boyfriend she’s ever had (even if he is fake), but Lesley believes in instant attraction and there’s just no spark … no matter how fit he looks in his swimming trunks. So there’s no chance he’s going to grow on her.

But people have a way of surprising you, as she’s about to discover …


Purchase Links:

Apple 

Barnes & Noble  

Kobo

Amazon: http://mybook.to/ForLoveorMoney

 

Author Bio 

Clodagh Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland and writes funny, sexy romantic comedies. She always dreamed of being a novelist, and after more jobs than she cares to (or can) remember, she now writes full-time. For more information about her books or to sign up to her newsletter, visit her website at http://clodaghmurphy.com/.

Social Media Links 

Website: http://clodaghmurphy.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClodaghMMurphy

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/clodagh-murphy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/clodagh

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

 

My Review

5/5 stars

From the outset, this story had me laughing out loud; the humour is natural and topical, the characters are real people, the kind who might live in your street, and therefore so very relateable.

Lesley, much to her parents’ chagrin, is single again, and to keep the peace she attends a singles night with zero expectations of meeting “the one”. Instead she reinvents herself as a private investigator … just for fun. And, fun it is, given that she doesn’t click with any of the hopefuls at the table and doesn’t expect to meet any of them ever again. Even the one, Al, who asks to take her home.

Only, Al appears to have taken her little game seriously, and turns up at her door some months later with a proposition … a job offer, of course! He asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a while, and to use her “investigative” skills to expose a potential gold-digger who is about to marry his wealthy uncle.

When the job includes a holiday to the family villa in the South of France, Lesley doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Soon, she finds herself meeting the family and off to France, enjoying a lifestyle she has only ever seen in magazines. However, the fiancée in question – Stella – doesn’t strike Lesley as a gold-digger, and the two grow closer. Lesley is convinced Stella is not marrying for money, but rather she has a secret of her own and is hell-bent on staying out of the limelight.

During this time, Lesley  gets to know Al better, and discovers he’s a lovely guy, one who she could really, possibly, even grow to love. Which is totally out of the question, naturally, and she knows the job will end … or does she?

Romance, humour, secrets and lots of warmth make this book unputdownable. The story flows effortlessly; you won’t even realise you’re halfway through it in no time, so be prepared to stay up late to finish it.

I received a copy from the author for this blog tour, and this review is given voluntarily. That said, I shall be keeping a look out for more from this author in the future.

Enjoy! I dare you not to love it 🙂

PS – the fact that Al’s favourite books were the Mallory Towers series by Enid Blyton had absolutely no effect on my review. But, Yay! My childhood in a nutshell. Way to Go Al! 😉

For more news and reviews …

As always,

blog tour · book review · France · murder mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Palm Trees in the Pyrenees

Palm Trees in the Pyrenees

A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.

Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.

Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyrenees is the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant’s thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?

To find out, get your copy of ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ – right now.

Purchase Links

http://mybook.to/palmtrees

Palm Trees in the Pyreness will be FREE on 16th – 20th Sept 2019

https://www.creativia.org/palm-trees-in-the-pyrenees.html

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ITJ51MA/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ITJ51MA/


Author Bio 

Hi, my name is Elly Grant and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great height, others I drown, but I’ve nothing against suffocation, poisoning or simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader’s attention, I’m satisfied.

I’ve written several novels and short stories. My first novel, ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my ‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The others in the series are, ‘Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees’, ‘Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees’ and ‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier crime novels set in Glasgow, ‘The Unravelling of Thomas Malone’ and ‘The Coming of the Lord’ as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’. Also published are my Romance ‘Never Ever Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy ‘But Billy Can’t Fly’ and short stories called ‘Twists and Turns’.


As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come across. I don’t have to search very hard to find things to write about and living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so much more delightful.

When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life, the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’ and, being a friendly place, they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I’ve decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.

Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But don’t concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.

Read books from the ‘Death in the Pyrenees’ series, enter my small French town and meet some of the people who live there —– and die there.

Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for something different try my other books and short stories.

Great pics of scenes mentioned in the book, from the markets to the mountains, the festival and – of course – the palm trees.
Social Media Links  www.facebook.com/elly.grant.92

My Review

This was my first book by Elly Grant, and my first experience of life in the Pyrenees. It goes without saying that I want more! I loved the style of writing, the first person narration by Danielle, who is nothing if not brutally honest about the people in her village.

She has a particularly difficult relationship with some of the English folk who have migrated to France, and some of  their attempts to integrate are sorely lacking – and embarrassing (I can say that as a British migrant in Europe, and sadly I wholly agree with Danielle)

As the only police officer in the small village, she feels undervalued, having been passed over for promotion on several occasions. So it was nice to see her grow in confidence as she tackled the murder cases. She may have been hard on herself in how she thought others saw her – granted, there were a few (her parents included) who saw her as a woman in a man’s job, never believing she was capable. Yet she comes to realise that people think more highly of her, and the murder cases only go to prove her abilities.

I loved how she and her friend Patricia were so determined to do what suited them, regardless of the gossip that seemed inevitable.

As the end came, I did feel a little let down, as though the original murder was just going to be written off as an accident. But then, wow, the twist in the tale jolted me back into the story. I didn’t see that coming, and for that very reason I have to read more of Danielle’s story.

Whilst the story is set in a tranquil, picturesque village, what follows is far from dull. Interesting characters with histories to put many of them in the suspect’s seat while they each seem to implicate another. A proper whodunnit that will leave you intrigued … and with an ending that you will never expect!

For more news and reviews,

As always,

blog tour · France · historical · suspense

Blog Tour – Overture

It’s my stop on the blog tour for Overture, the first novel in Vanessa Couchman’s new trilogy.

The story of Marie-Therese’s journey from rural farming family to opera singer is beautifully written, rich in period detail and perfectly evokes the sights, sounds and smells of early 20th Century France.

What’s not to love about this?

Overture

What if you had a unique talent, but everything conspired against your dreams?

France, 1897. Born to a modest farming family, Marie-Thérèse has a remarkable singing voice and wants to become a professional singer. But too many obstacles, including her parents’ opposition, stand in her way. And, through no fault of her own, she makes a dangerous enemy of the local landlord.

When the family circumstances change suddenly, Marie-Thérèse and her mother must move to Paris to work in her aunt’s restaurant. Her ambitions rekindle, but the road to success is paved with setbacks until a chance meeting gives her a precious opportunity.

She is close to achieving all her dreams, but the ghosts of the past come back to haunt her and threaten Marie-Thérèse’s life as well as her career.

Purchase Link: http://mybook.to/OvertureBook1

Author Bio

Vanessa Couchman is a novelist, short story author and freelance writer and has lived in an 18th-century farmhouse in southwest France since 1997. French and Corsican history and culture provide great inspiration for her fiction. She has written two novels set on the Mediterranean island of Corsica: The House at Zaronza and The Corsican Widow. Her third novel, Overture, is Book 1 of a trilogy set in France between 1897 and 1945. Vanessa’s short stories have won and been placed in creative writing competitions and published in anthologies.

Social Media Links 

Website: https://vanessacouchmanwriter.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vanessacouchman.author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Vanessainfrance

Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/VanessaCouchman

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book review · France · Germany · historical fiction · WWII

Book Review – The Daughter’s Tale

The Daughter’s Tale

by Armando Lucas Correa

The Daughter’s Tale is immersive, both heartbreaking and redemptive, steeped in harrowing historical events and heroic acts of compassion that will have you reflecting on the best and worst the human heart has to offer. Fans of WWII history and book clubs will find depth and skillful storytelling here, but on a deeper level, searing questions about life, love, and the choices we make in the most impossible of circumstances.” —Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

From the internationally bestselling author of The German Girl, an unforgettable family saga exploring a hidden piece of World War II history and the lengths a mother will go to protect her children—perfect for fans of Lilac GirlsWe Were the Lucky Ones, and The Alice Network.

BERLIN, 1939. The dreams that Amanda Sternberg and her husband, Julius, had for their daughters are shattered when the Nazis descend on Berlin, burning down their beloved family bookshop and sending Julius to a concentration camp. Desperate to save her children, Amanda flees toward the south of France, where the widow of an old friend of her husband’s has agreed to take her in. Along the way, a refugee ship headed for Cuba offers another chance at escape and there, at the dock, Amanda is forced to make an impossible choice that will haunt her for the rest of her life. Once in Haute-Vienne, her brief respite is inter­rupted by the arrival of Nazi forces, and Amanda finds herself in a labor camp where she must once again make a heroic sacrifice.

NEW YORK, 2015. Eighty-year-old Elise Duval receives a call from a woman bearing messages from a time and country that she forced herself to forget. A French Catholic who arrived in New York after World War II, Elise is shocked to discover that the letters were from her mother, written in German during the war. Despite Elise’s best efforts to stave off her past, seven decades of secrets begin to unravel.

Based on true events, The Daughter’s Tale chronicles one of the most harrowing atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during the war. Heart­breaking and immersive, it is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival, and redemption.

My Review

I had to take some time out before writing a review for this book just to gather my thoughts. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres to read, and the WWII era in Europe in particular. Having visited Oradour-sur-Glane recently, I can only imagine the horror of what happened there. Seeing the village as it is now, untouched since those days as a ghostly reminder, only makes this story more poignant. However, if truth be told, I felt those macabre events were glossed over. Although, that’s my personal opinion and might not be the same for everyone.

For me, the story was beautifully written – the author conjures up vivid imagery and emotions – it’s not hard to see why this story has been called heartbreaking by so many.
From the 1930s in Berlin, we witnessed the all-too-familiar story of the rise of fascism, and the effect it had on the Steinberg family made for compelling reading. The injustice grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go, as we pray for a positive outcome for Amanda and her daughters, knowing all too well of the atrocities that could befall them.
Sending Viera off to Cuba alone, having her letters returned, and then to have to send Lina to the safety of another woman – Amanda was such a strong character, wanting the best for her girls and living with the guilt of ‘abandoning’ them.
Lina became Elise, and despite still being in hiding she blamed herself for so much – again, so heartbreaking to see a young girl having to deal with so much trauma and guilt. Wow!
However, at this point my heart went out to Danielle -she was such a tough cookie, following her mother’s will to the letter, yet always the one on the outside. Unbearably sad.

To be honest, the modern day story of Elise didn’t appeal to me. I could quite happily have read the story without that aspect of it. That being said, I guess it provided some closure on Elise’s life and for that alone it would be worthwhile to include.

As I’ve said, the writing is beautiful. However, at times the gorgeous prose slowed the story down and I found myself skimming to get ahead. Nonetheless, a tragic story that encompasses so many emotions in a way that we can only be thankful to only read about those days, rather than live through them ourselves.

As always,

British · France · historical fiction · intrigue · NetGalley · romance · women's fiction · WWII

Book Review – Two Silver Crosses

Two Silver Crosses

by Beryl Kingston

‘Nobody is to know where we are. You must forget England. That part of your lives is over.’

Twins Ginny and Emily Holborn have everything they could ever need in their Wolverhampton home: a loving family, a garden to play in and a staff waiting to attend to their every need. Until, one summer day in 1926, they disappear without a trace.

Ten years later, bright-eyed solicitor Charlie Commoner is given his first job: track down the still-missing Holborn twins. Despatched to France, he’s left to unravel a web of infidelity, mystery, and terrifying family secrets.

Let bestselling author Beryl Kingston sweep you away on a journey from London to Paris, through tragedy and triumph in the search for two sisters wearing two silver crosses.

My review

I found this to be a compelling read, the relationship between the two sisters especially so.
Growing up in England, Emily and Virginia (Ginny) have all the privileges of living at the big Holborn house. Their father is set to inherit the estate and the business, but his death puts paid to that. Their mother – half-French – is bullied into leaving by her brother-in-law who threatens to expose her secret. She takes the girls to France for a new life, but financially they soon struggle and have to take on much harder duties to earn enough money to pay the rent. Their mother swears it is necessary, and so long as the girls never marry they will all be fine.
The idea of never marrying, or even falling in love, is not easy for the girls to accept but they agree – for their mother’s sake. Until, that is, love finds them.
When Emily meets her future husband, it is truly proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, because she isn’t concerned with his looks but more with the kindness in his voice. The girls continue their relationships without telling their mother, and circumstances mean they are never quite in the right place when advertisements are posted asking them to get in touch. Their grandfather has died, and has named them in his will. Are their fortunes about to change? If only they can be found in time.

This is a well written story with many a twisting plot. At first, the story is slow to get going. There is a lot of background information to get them to where the real story begins – the search to find them and reveal their inheritance. The author creates some strong imagery, but at times I feel the plot is weighed down by descriptive detail – as beautiful as it may be.
The pace picks up as the search intensifies and missed opportunities thwart them at every turn. The silver crosses are a nice touch, a unifying element to allow for certain twists in the tale.
The progress of the war and its impact on their lives is fascinating – from the Spanish Civil War, the protests against the fascists and then the German invasion across Europe.
Great characters – both sisters are well-defined with unique personalities. Claud Everdale makes a great villain, and watch out for Bertha and Grace: they are both a joy to behold and incredibly annoying.

The ending comes all too quickly, and for me it is left hanging, even though it’s not difficult to see what happens after the book ends – I just would have like more at the end and less at the beginning.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot – the middle section is particularly good and kept me reading late into the night. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy historical women’s fiction, peppered with romance and a good dose of intrigue.

As always,

blog tour · book review · France · intrigue · relationships · suspense · WWII

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Chasing Ghosts

Chasing Ghosts

by Madalyn Morgan

Chasing Ghosts

In 1949 after receiving treatment for shell shock in Canada, Claire’s husband disappears.

Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?

Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.

Get your copy here

My Review

Another of my favourite genres to read – WWII fiction – and this one is an absolute gem. Even though it takes place in 1949, there are subplots that keep the war era very much at the forefront of the story. I haven’t read any others in the series, but that was no obstacle at all. The author cleverly interwove past details to the extent they were neither overwhelming nor underdone. (That said, I did enjoy this book so much that I’m tempted to go and read the previous ones in the series too.)

It’s fascinating to read about PTSD following the war, and the treatment thereof seems just as scary, if I’m honest. But it is the relationships – past, present and future – that hold this story together.

Claire is naturally concerned when her husband, Mitch, is said to have gone AWOL just as she and their daughter are about to board a flight back to England. Torn being looking after Aimee and staying to find him, she knows she has to get on that plane. But, home, especially with Christmas looming, is no home without Mitch. Besides, she can’t get the thought out of her head that something else is wrong, especially when he calls out another woman’s name in his sleep.

On discovering Mitch is in France, and accused of being a traitor, she returns to her former role working for the Résistance, and connects with friends from her past who help her to find her husband and uncover the truth behind those sleep-fuelled ramblings of his. With Aimee secure with her family, Claire promises to bring her daddy home.

The story oozes all the intrigue I love about the era, the undercover heroes, the tales of traitors, and the best and worst of humankind. Danger, conflict and tension fill the pages, but is equally balanced with respect, kindness and love. All in all, a wonderful read. Entertaining, well-written and clearly well-researched, this is a story to curl up with, shut out the world and enjoy.

PS – Note to author – I really hope Thomas Durand gets a story of his own too, or at least that there’s a happy ending for him around the corner.

About the author

Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

Madalyn was brought up in Lutterworth, at the Fox Inn. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live, as there were so many different characters to study and accents to learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.

In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau, and started writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.

Happy to be an Indie Author, Madalyn has successfully published six novels. Foxden Acres, Applause, China Blue and The 9:45 To Bletchley are set before and during WW2 and tell the wartime stories of Bess, Margot, Claire, and Ena Dudley. Foxden Hotel and Chasing Ghosts are both post war.  Chasing Ghosts is a sequel to China Blue.

Madalyn’s books are available on Amazon – in paperback and all formats of eBook.

Madalyn Morgan Author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Madalyn-Morgan/e/B00J7VO9I2

Social Media Links –

Madalyn’s Blog: https://madalynmorgan.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/madalyn.morgan1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ActScribblerDJ

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/madalynmorgan/

Wait, there’s more … there’s a giveaway too.

Giveaway – Win signed copies of China Blue and Chasing Ghosts (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

Good Luck!

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