book review · cosy · murder mystery · mystery · series

Book Review – Woodson Falls: 9 Donovan’s Way

Welcome to Book 2 in the Gaby Quinn Mystery Series!

Missing in Woodson Falls

Attorney Gaby Quinn’s phone has been ringing off the hook since her involvement with the infamous Jorgenson case. Yet she finds herself craving the peace of her garden, as she heals from the senseless death of her husband.

As Woodson Falls’ most famous lawyer, it’s only natural that Gaby is asked to handle the estate when renowned author Phillip Mitchell suddenly dies of an apparent heart attack. Everything seems straightforward until some things turn up missing—including Mitchell’s girlfriend.

Now it’s up to Gaby to dig up the truth.

Praise for Book 2 in the Gaby Quinn Mystery Series

  • It seems like a pleasant sleepy town, but beneath the everyday lives of the townspeople, surprising secrets and schemes unfold. What appears at first to be a routine death by heart attack has unforeseen twists and turns.
  • New England small town attorney-turned-sleuth Gaby Quinn, who we initially met in O’Connor’s first Woodson Falls novel, “16 Lakeview Terrace,” is a plucky and likable attorney with a nose for detail—details that grippingly add up to a shocking crime.
  • Gaby Quinn, the main character, has a habit of getting into the middle of things without really trying. The characters come to life and the town and events are real, strange, but real.
  • A cozy mystery for readers who think they don’t like cozy mysteries!
  • This story focuses on the mysterious death of an author and the disappearance of his girlfriend, but there are side issues dealt with as well along the way, all of which add to the rounding out of the town, its residents and its problems. The end of the book gives us a tantalizing glimpse into the focus of the next story.

My Review

Having read and enjoyed book 1, I was more than happy to be return to Woodson Falls. This time, Gaby is busier than ever, her business has really taken off since her success with the infamous Jorgensen case put her firmly on the map.

Now she is asked to represent the estate of a famous author – Phillip Mitchell – who appears to have died of a heart attack. What should be a straightforward job soon rouses suspicion when Mitchell’s pregnant girlfriend cannot be located.

Gaby goes about her business, methodically getting jobs done but the missing girlfriend niggles her, and since said girlfriend is also a beneficiary in the deceased’s will, not finding her leaves a lot of loose ends.

The residents of Woodson Falls help Gaby identify when the girlfriend, Danielle, was last seen, as well as filling her in on others whose visits to the area have recently become more frequent. It begs the question why, and what were they doing there?

As Gaby draws her conclusions, it’s interesting to see other aspects of her workload. The details given by the author bring both the town, its inhabitants and Gaby’s job to life. However, it starts to look as though the missing girlfriend might never be found … and it’s only when out walking with her dog that they come upon Danielle’s car. Has something happened to her too? And if so, can they believe that Mitchell’s death was the result of a heart attack and nothing more?

I thoroughly enjoyed how Gaby got to the bottom of this, as well as seeing her contribution to Woodson Falls increase and make her a valued member of the town. Of course, the ending thrilled me as it hinted at what was to come next for Gaby, and this time it would get very personal. Bring on book three!

My thanks to the author and the publishers for my copy of 9 Donovan’s Way.

About the Author

Having received a library card before she began kindergarten (requiring her cursive signature), Andrea began her writing career at age five with a short story describing the seasons. Her next endeavor, at age nine, was a novella featuring Christine O’Leary. So began Andrea’s long love affair with the written word.
Singularly focused on a nursing career, Andrea continued to write for pleasure through high school and college. After completing a master’s degree in order to teach nursing, she was offered a position as a nurse editor with the American Journal of Nursing, where she honed her writing skills through editing others’ works.
Andrea was in the midst of writing a novel styled as a memoir when her husband’s Parkinson’s disease had progressed to the point where John was unable to engage in his usual active life style. He longed to “do something,” so she suggested they write a book together. She had long considered writing a mystery series based on some of her experiences as an attorney, and they settled on one of her early cases as the basis for a book.
It was a great opportunity for both. Andrea had left a long career in a “publish or perish” university setting prior to becoming an attorney. It was hard for her not to view writing fiction as lying on paper. John helped her to push the uneasy feeling that was the seed for Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace into a believable plot line. It was Andrea’s long service as the chief elected official of a small town in Connecticut that provided the story’s sense of place.
Andrea is the author of three award-winning texts in the area of nursing education and staff development as well as numerous articles in peer-reviewed nursing and education journals. Woodson Falls: 16 Lakeview Terrace is her first foray into the world of fiction. She collects teddy bears and birdhouses, loves to garden and bake bread, and writes from Sherman, Connecticut.

As always,

book review · historical fiction · mystery

Book Review – A Botanist’s Guide to Parties & Potions

The Lost Apothecary meets Dead Dead Girls in this fast-paced, STEMinist adventure.

Debut author Kate Khavari deftly entwines a pulse-pounding mystery with the struggles of a woman in a male-dominated field in 1923 London.


Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to blaze a new trail at the University College London, but with her colleagues’ beliefs about women’s academic inabilities and not so subtle hints that her deceased father’s reputation paved her way into the botany department, she feels stymied at every turn.
 
When she attends a dinner party for the school, she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon. What she doesn’t expect is for Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives, to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin. 

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by fellow researcher–and potential romantic interest–Alexander Ashton, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons to clear Maxwell’s name.
 
Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list, in this entertaining examination of society’s expectations.

Publication Date: 7th June 2022 by Crooked Lane Books

My Review

It’d be wrong of me to say otherwise but it was this stunning cover that drew me in long before I read the blurb, and I really am not usually the kind of reader to be so persuaded. That said, I loved the combination of historical fiction and a solid mystery, and this had all that plus lots more.

Set in London in the early 1920’s, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons has the vibe of a black-and-white movie transformed into glorious technicolour and thoroughly turned on its head. Saffron is not your typical damsel in distress, she has taken up her role as assistant to Dr Maxwell based on merit, though there are some who cast aspersions on that fact and assume it was the result of family connections. She is determined to be seen for the capable academic she is but social conduct of the day often seems to work against her.

She is thrown into the mystery when her mentor is charged with the attempted murder of Mrs Henry, one of the professors’ wives at the university. The fact that Maxwell has recently been rejected by Henry for a place on the expedition is said to give him a motive. But things do not add up.

But who’s going to listen to Saffron? Not the police inspector running the case, that’s for sure. It is only with the “unexpected” help of fellow researcher, Alexander Ashton, that any credence at all is given to Saffron’s evidence. Evidence which she has acquired at great risk to herself.

In getting her evidence, the duo stumble upon yet more misdeeds that seem to point to others being responsible for the poisoning of Mrs Henry … and they – cue the dastardly villains – are not very happy that Saffron is asking questions, questions that could see their plans unravel. They have to silence her and Ashton. Can they? Will they? These last few chapters are fraught with danger for the twosome and they are seriously in need of assistance if they are to see the true culprits caught … and, more importantly, if they are to survive themselves.

I really enjoyed this book, it was such an easy read. Captivating and intriguing, true to the era in which it was set, and thoroughly packed with engaging characters and evil scoundrels.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for my copy of this fabulous story. I’ll be getting a hard copy as soon as it comes out to indulge further in that stunning cover.

About the Author

Kate Khavari is the author of fiction ranging from historical mysteries to high fantasy epics. She has her parents to thank for her fascination for historical mysteries, as she spent the majority of her childhood memorizing Sherlock Holmes’s and Poirot’s greatest quips. A former teacher, Kate has a deep appreciation for research and creativity, not to mention the multitasking ability she now relies on as an author and stay at home mother to her toddler son. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas with her husband, son, and a lovely garden that contains absolutely no poisonous plants. 

Praise for A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons

“An exciting debut with a determined protagonist whose future is sure to contain romance and mystery.” —Kirkus

[A] delightful new novel . . . Perfect for fans of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
CrimeReads

“Kate Khavari creates the winning combination of an intriguing mystery and a resourceful and engaging heroine.” –Frances Brody, author of the Kate Shackleton mysteries

“Kate Khavari has created a charming mystery, full of twists that are as intriguing and deadly as the plants her characters love. Saffron Everleigh is clever and determined, the sort of sleuth that readers will be eager to make space for on their bookshelves. I’m already looking forward to her next adventure!” –Katharine Schellman, author of the Lily Adler Mysteries

“I love Saffron Everleigh! In A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons Kate Khavari gives us a gutsy ingenious heroine, academic intrigue, a scientifically suspenseful mystery and a Christie-like cast of characters. This is historical mystery–with a 21st century sensibility–at its best.” –M. L. Huie, author of the Livy Nash mysteries

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons combines all the things I love most in a mystery: a smart and charming heroine, a cleverly-plotted puzzle, and a hint of romance. Well-researched and brimming with the dangers of scientific intrigue, it’s sure to keep readers turning pages. I hope to see a lot more of Saffron Everleigh!”
–Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames mysteries

“Delightful and twisty, A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons will immerse you in 1920s academic London and have you turning pages to the end. Saffron Everleigh is a plucky heroine that readers will want to join for the next adventure. An engaging read!” –Lydia Kang, author of Opium and Absinthe

“The 1920s university science department setting, feisty female protagonist, and believable chemistry between the main characters make this a sparkling gem of a debut, and will leave fans of historical mystery excited for the next instalment.”
–Kate Belli, author of the Gilded Gotham Mystery series

As always,

blog tour · book review · cosy · crime · mystery · series

Blog tour ‘n’ Book Review – Murder at the Summer Fete

Murder At The Summer Fete

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club will love.

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3HE7928

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

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

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

It was wonderful to return to Dedley End and the bookshop run by Nancy and her grandmother, Jane. Since last we met, after the murder up at the house on the hill, life in the village has returned to its normal tranquillity. In fact, for both Nancy and Jane, things are a little too quiet which is why they have invested so much time and effort into the upcoming summer fete. Having arranged for a very successful crime writer to launch his latest book at the fete, the level of excitement and anticipation is high. Author Thomas Green grew up in a nearby village before getting an agent and a book deal in London.

What Nancy and Jane, and best friend Jonathan don’t realise is that Thomas Green’s return will not be so widely welcomed, especially among those who knew him in his younger days. Green is reluctant to talk about those days too, which begs the question why.

It takes an act of “vandalism” and threats to spark the sleuths’ interest in Green’s background, but not even they are ready to see another case of murder in Dedley End.

As before, the relationship between the main characters is endearing as are their endeavours to get to the bottom of things. At the outset I thought I knew the motive for the murder but the case almost seemed to be resolved … until Nancy feels the same sense of unease at justice not really having been done and so, encouraged by Jane and Jonathan, she digs further … and finds the real reason behind it. I’m glad to say my initial deductions were correct, and I applaud the author for making me second guess myself. The twisty nature of solving the crime was most enjoyable (and not just because I was proved right 🙂 )

The author picks up the trail of information we learned in book one about the culprit behind Nancy’s father’s death and now the story takes another personal twist in delivery Nancy another mystery, this time to do with her mother who left the family home when Nancy was very young. The author combines well Nancy’s personal family history with mysteries in Dedley End and that combination makes for an interesting, yet fun read, but also leaves me wanting more.

I’ll be looking out for the next book in the series.

For more news and reviews,

As always,

book review · mystery · original plot · recommended

Book Review – The Twyford Code

It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

*** FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE APPEAL ***

‘The queen of tricksy crime. Every page is a joy’ – SUNDAY TIMES
‘Even better than The Appeal‘ – GUARDIAN
f[EXPLICIT] brilliant – a mind-bending, heartwarming mystery that is not to be missed’ – OBSERVER
‘Wonderful. An ingenious and wholly satisfying final reveal’ – BRIAN MCGILLOWAY
‘It totally foxed me. So clever and totally brilliant’ – LISA HALL

My Review

Janice Hallett’s debut, The Appeal, was one of my favourite reads of last year so I had huge expectations for a similar experience with The Twyford Code.

To put it bluntly: was it as good? It abso-bloody-lutely was!

Like its predecessor, the novel is original in its format – The Appeal was a compilation of emails, texts, legal docs and the like – The Twyford Code is told through the “rough” transcription of audio files that the main character, Steven, has recorded on his son’s phone. The outcome is both funny (Steven hasn’t got a clue how his phone works, so there are plenty of “accidental” interludes) and increasingly addictive. Just as Steven becomes obsessed with solving the mystery, so does the reader (Well, this one anyway).

Steven has never forgotten about the book he found on a bus and took into his remedial English class, whereupon his teacher told him the book had been banned reading in schools for years. When she holds onto it and then later takes the class on a trip to the author’s home, his memory is clouded but the intrigue about it never wanes especially when the teacher doesn’t return with the class from that trip.

Now, decades later, he wants to catch up with those schoolfriends and get to the bottom of what happened to Miss Iles. The audio files map his thought process and his encounters with his former schoolmates, revealing he is not the only one fascinated by The Twyford Code.

So, who was Edith Twyford and why was she inserting coded messages in her children’s stories? Aided by librarian, Lucy, Steven’s fixation takes him into underground tunnels, encounters with other conspiracy theorists/ treasure hunters (??? you decide !!!) looking for a “golden hair”, and shady characters who seem to be following his every move.

The Twyford Code is the epitome of the “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” and demands your attention. The clues are there for the solving, the dodgy transcription errors quickly become second nature as your brain adapts to the mistakes, and the mystery becomes a challenge to be solved. At times, it’s overwhelmingly complex, and I felt the need to read on stopped me from taking in all of the clues, but that’s hardly a criticism. Occasionally, Steven’s audio recording stray from the mystery to reflect on events of his own life, all of which set him up as the most unreliable of narrators … yet, for the most part, it all somehow works.

Overall, The Twyford Code proved to be another excellent mystery with a balance of humour and humanity sprinkled throughout. If you can bear to have your mind messed up on several levels, then you should dive right in. It’s clever, captivating, confusing, and occasionally charming. I cannot wait to see what this author comes up with next.

Purchase link (Amazon UK)

As always,

cosy · cover reveal · crime · mystery · series

Cover Reveal – Murder at the Summer Fete

Are you ready to return to Dedley End? I know I am. Murder at The House on the Hill was one of my favourite reads in 2021, a cosy mystery in essence but with a modern vibe. Consequently, I am so delighted to reveal the cover for book two in The Dedley End Mysteries by Victoria Walker … and here it is:

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club will love.

Praise for Victoria Walters’ Dedley End Mysteries cozy crime series:

Superb sleuthing! I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Dedley End and can’t wait to go back!’ Heidi Swain, author of Underneath the Christmas Tree

‘Such a fab book – really puts the cosy in cosy crime!’ M. A. Kuzniar, author of Midnight in Everwood

‘This is a brilliant ‘whodunnit’ which gave me some serious Miss Marple feels… it’s absolutely brilliant and a pleasure to read’ Head in a Book18

‘I loved this brilliant cozy read… it felt very Christie-esque. Nancy and Jane were fab, I loved their relationship. And I can’t wait for more.’ ☆☆☆☆☆ Reader Review

‘Even gave me some Murder, she wrote vibes… I truly enjoyed reading this funny, cosy mystery’ Tizi’s Book Review

‘What an absolute delight this was to read… I was still guessing whodunnit until the end.’ Wrong Side of Forty UK

‘A delightful detective duo, a charming and clever cosy mystery.’ Diane Jeffrey, author of The Silent Friend

‘A cosy, satisfying and enjoyable murder mystery full of intrigue… and even better, with a bookshop too!’ Ella Allbright, author of The Last Charm

The book is available to preorder now with a release date of 17th March 2022. I’m in … are you?

As always,

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! 

For more news and reviews,

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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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Contemporary Romance · humour · mystery · self discovery · Spain

Book Review – The Spanish House

The Spanish House

One bizarre to-do list to earn her inheritance. One Spanish summer. One huge family secret.

‘⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ An absolutely delightful and captivating read!’ – Lucy Coleman, bestselling author of Summer in Andalucia

Juliana makes a modest living as an ‘ethnic’ TV/film extra – even though the only connections with her Spanish heritage are her cacti, Spanish classes, and some confused memories of a Spanish mother she hasn’t seen since she was seven.

When her beloved Uncle Arturo offers her the chance to discover her roots while housesitting his coastal home in a quiet corner of Andalusia, Juliana can’t believe her luck. Especially when he reveals that the house will be hers if she fulfils ten life-enhancing ‘Conditions’ within 90 days.

Redecoration of the house and a visit to the old film studio where her mother used to sew costumes seem ridiculously simple tasks for such a wonderful reward. But little does Juliana realise that there are family secrets and inherited rivalries awaiting her in sunny Spain, and the condition that she has to ‘get on with the neighbours’ – who include a ruggedly handsome but moody artist – may be harder than she thinks.

The perfect escapist read for fans of Rosanna Ley, Jo Thomas and Sue Moorcroft.

The Spanish House is gorgeous romantic escapism that you won’t want to miss!’ Holly Martin, bestselling author of Sunlight Over Crystal Sands

WoW! This book was simply a joy to read!‘ Reader review

‘Loved this enjoyable book!’ Reader review

It was funny, cute and intriguing‘ Reader review

‘This is the first novel of Cherry Radford that I read and it was beautiful … One cannot resist wishing to visit Spain after reading this splendid book … The story is heartwarming’ Reader review

‘A wonderful book, that I would recommend to anyone‘ Reader review

‘A light and heart warming read set in a beautiful location’ Reader review

‘I could not put this down, it was my first book by this author and wish I had found her a while ago. Fantastic writing, fantastic plot development and I just loved the main character’ Reader review

‘This was my first Cherry Radford book and it was a beautifully written story. The description of Spain made the reader feel like they were there with Juliana’ Reader review

‘A great summer read!’ Reader review

‘This is a great book! Well written, complex storyline with various moving parts … Would so recommend this amazing read!‘ Reader review

‘Absolutely loved this sweet romance … So glad I came across this’ Reader review

‘It’s just right for a summer read … although it would be delightful to spend time in Spain in the middle of the winter!’ Reader review

‘This was such a gorgeous read!!!! I really enjoyed the plot and the writing style was gorgeous!! The character build up is fantastic and I couldn’t put it down’ Reader review

Purchase link

My Review

Sometimes a book title will call out to you. The Spanish House did that to me, no doubt because of where I live and how I got here. I can’t seem to resist a story set in my adopted country! The fact that I’m familiar with Almería and can visualise the descriptions only added to my enjoyment.

It was comforting and entertaining to take a step back and read about Juliana’s experience of doing up her Uncle Arturo’s house in San Rafael. Her encounters with the local and non-locals alike felt so realistic; I loved her “stream of consciousness” outpourings as she ummed and ahed over how to ask certain questions, wondering whether her vocabulary was as effective in Spanish as she intended. But more than that I loved the relationships she built with her dear uncle, with Josemi next door and even with his “Miserable Bag” of a mother.

Conflict came in the form of a family secret (I’m not giving any spoilers here!) that initially angered her but then helped her understand who she was. Why it seemed inconceivable that a parent would hold back such information, in the end Juliana benefitted in so many ways. Her life changed forever, and for the better. What felt like betrayal of trust eventually became an explanation, an understanding and her future.

Her uncle’s “to do” was super specific and yet vague – she should visit the site where her mother worked on the set of Once Upon a Time in the West, a Western made in Spain years before her birth. She should visit all the beaches, and get along with the neighbours. None of the tasks seemed too onerous, yet they were indeed very random. However, Uncle Arturo was a wise man, mending bridges that Juliana didn’t even know existed, let alone that they’d been broken in the past.

As she went about the task of painting the house, replacing bits and pieces, and making it into a home, it was evident she would have to inherit the place. But, of course, it was not as straightforward as that, especially when he ex threw a huge spanner in the works and put her one true romantic relationship in jeopardy. Would she be able to fix that mess? And how could she live in the house if not?

A lovely story about family, friends, memories and being true to yourself. Set amidst stunning scenery within a village of fun, lively and believable characters. Evocative and dramatic, quirky and hugely entertaining. A great read for a rainy day – although there aren’t many of those here! 😉

As always,

Reviewed on Amazon UK by Meandthemutts

British · cosy · fun · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book review – Blooming Murder

Blooming Murder

MURDER IS BLOSSOMING IN THE WELSH BORDERS.

Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.

This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.

It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.

So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.

Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blooming-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B094DCYK9Q/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Blooming-Murder-Marquess-Mortiforde-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B094DCYK9Q/

Author Bio

Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many if which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.

Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)

Social Media Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/simonwhaley

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

My Review

If you’re looking for a funny, cosy mystery with a cracking pace, you’ve come to the right place. Quintessentially British humour is in abundance here, as are the blooms … and the dead bodies.

Now, the characters’ names might be tongue-twisters, but they perfectly sum up the vibe of this story – think of it as a mash-up of Carry On films, The Darling Buds of May and an Agatha Christie mystery and you’ll be primed for the Borders in Blossom competition where innuendo and double entendres are in full bloom.

So, to the story: When his older brother proves not to be the legitimate heir to the Marquess of Mortiforde title, Aldermaston and his wife are obliged to take up the position, bringing a halt to their previous lives to serve the community as his family always has. Part of his role includes being Chair of the Borderer’s Guild on behalf of the people of Mortiforde. As is the norm, the village has entered the Borders in Bloom competition, reaching the final two along with the winners for the past fourteen years, Portley Ridge. The prize is to host the horticultural TV show in the village, which is guaranteed to boost the village coffers in tourism alone.

Members of the County Council, or rather one member, the Chief Exec, takes advantage of Aldermaston’s absence at a meeting to take a vote on the Marquess’s position as Chair, convincing many (through nefarious means) to call for Aldermaston’s resignation if Mortiforde loses once again to their rivals at Portley Ridge.

Meanwhile, as the competition is launched, a hanging basket falls and knocks out the Mayor, who later dies of her injuries. A second hanging basket, placed above Aldermaston’s head has also been sabotaged. But why would anyone want to kill them? Aldermaston determines to find out.

Aldermaston has a battle on his hands both to find the Mayor’s killer and to win the competition, but unbeknownst to him, the villagers of Mortiforde (the allotment group, in particular) are also fed up of losing and launch a plan of their own to win the competition.

When the Mayor’s belongings are investigated, a file with Aldermaston’s name on it suggests she has discovered some dodgy undertakings going on that may explain how Portley Ridge has won so consistently over the years. Has the competition been fixed? There is very good reason to suspect so, and threats upon Aldermaston’s life plus the “unfortunate” drowning of a second councillor seems to imply that somebody wants to stop Aldermaston from digging further into the case.

Putting all thoughts of the other jobs on his to-do list (building his wife’s new greenhouse, and winning the competition) he and Lisa, the new Democracy Support Officer, pick up the case where the Mayor left off, but it’s not without its complications.

While they investigate, the “guerrilla gardeners” of Mortiforde spring into action and the roundabouts of the village burst into bloom with dazzling displays of floral fancy that surely must earn them the title this year. The villagers are delighted with the overnight transformations, and hopes are high, much to the annoyance of the person(s) behind the death threats for whom Portley Ridge must win and Aldermaston’s involvement has to end.

Naturally, it’s less straightforward with yet more sabotage to come, hidden tunnels, dark dealings (I mean, where HAVE all the gardening guys from the TV show gone?) and some very un-village-like shenanigans going on, and let’s not even mention the cottage cheese incident.

Chock-a-block with over the top characters, oodles of humour and some plain old silliness, Blooming Murder is a breath of fresh air in the cosy mystery genre, combining olde-worlde village charm with modern day crimes. A chuckle-worthy read. Bring on book 2.

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As always

comedy · cover reveal · friendship · mystery · romance · Uncategorized

Cover Reveal – The Promise of Summer

The Promise of Summer

Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn’t counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   
 
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?

Pre-order Links 

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08R6Q4T66/

Universal Amazon link – http://mybook.to/ThePromiseOfSummer

KOBO – https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-promise-of-summer

Publication Date – 22nd July 2021

Author Bio

Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember but decided that 2013 would be the year that she finished a full length novel. Since then she’s written seven best selling romantic comedies and she’s been shortlisted three times for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award. 

Bella’s stories are about friendship, love and coping with what life throws at you. She lives in The Midlands, UK with her husband, daughter and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. When not writing Bella is usually eating custard creams and planning holidays.

For more about Bella, visit her website at http://www.bellaosborne.com or follow her on social media.

Social Media Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/osborne_bella 

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

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bellaosborneauthor/ 

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name