boxsets · mystery · romance

Promo Blitz: Return to Cornwall Boxset (Books 1-6) with a Guest Post & Giveaway!

Return to Cornwall: Books 1-6

The first six books in the heartfelt UK series are now available in one collection! Look out for the guest post by author, Laura Briggs (check out the giveaway while you’re there too 🙂 )

From a runaway bride to a reality baking show competition, to rumors of a haunted wood and, of course, a Christmas of the cosiest kind, there’s never a dull moment for event planner Julianne in the quirky village she calls home.

This book bundle contains Wedding Vows and Cornish Ribbons, Cornish Sweets and Wedding Treats, Spring Roses Under Topaz Skies, Cornish Gold at Summer’s End, Walnut Mince Pies at the Frost Fete, Secrets and Sunsets at Azure Bay.

Purchase Link – https://smarturl.it/return1-6

Author Bio

Laura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’.

She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.

Social Media Links

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1JjeMoI

Twitter: h@PaperDollWritesttp://bit.ly/1ME9ivJ

Giveaway – Win either an e-copy of Return to Cornwall: Books 1-6 or A Novelty Scarf (Open INT)

Prize Winner #1: An eBook copy of the box set Return to Cornwall: Books 1-6.

Prize Winner #2: A novelty scarf featuring cover art from my Cornish romance books.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link here.  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.

Guest Post

What to Expect from My Cornish Romance Box Set

Thanks so much to Lynne for letting me share about my series RETURN TO CORNWALL with all the lovely readers at Just 4 My Books!

(My pleasure 🙂 it all looks fab!)

It follows the adventures of event planner Julianne in a quaint village where excitement arrives in the form of everything from a reality bake-off show’s competition, to rumours of a haunted autumn wood, and a Christmas filled with surprises. I’ve just released a box set containing the first six books in the series, and thought it might be fun to tell you what readers seem to like best about each one, starting with book one.

Wedding Vows and Cornish Ribbons

Will a runaway bride spoil Julianne’s chances of getting her budding business off the ground? Fans of the series really seemed to enjoy the bride’s will-she-or-won’t-she dilemma in this storyline that finds Julianne trying to advise a client with a reputation for walking out on wedding plans. It definitely comes down to the wire on whether the big day will—or should—take place, and there’s plenty of humor and drama along the way.

Cornish Sweets and Wedding Treats

Fans of The Great British Bake Off won’t have to look too hard to know where inspiration for book two came from, as a reality baking show competition returns to Julianne’s sleepy village. Readers loved the quirkiness of the characters and contest, as well as the first sparks of romance between the manor house chef Michael and Kimmie, the cute comedienne presenting the bake off show.

Spring Roses Under Topaz Skies

This one saw the return of fan favourite guest star character Teagen, the wild hen night planner who first crossed paths with Julianne in the novella An American in Cornwall. This time, her party girl shenanigans and plans to open a business in the community put Julianne in a tough spot with the village council. As usual, Teagen’s zany antics keep Julianne on her toes, but the highlight seems to be the hen night caravan that takes them on a tour to remember.

Cornish Gold at Summer’s End

Rumours of a spooky haunted wood kept readers turning the pages on Julianne’s autumn adventure. Several commented on enjoying the cosy mystery angle, as Julianne investigates the source of the town’s ‘ghost sightings’ with a bit of help from friends, of course, and the local amateur ‘ghost hunters’ club. There’s a hefty dash of humour and heartfelt moments in between the intrigue, and the twist at the end seemed to bring quite a surprise for fans.

Walnut Mince Pies at the Frost Fete

Book five’s theme of family and community struck a chord with readers who enjoyed the cosy atmosphere of Julianne’s latest Christmas adventure. Readers found its lighthearted escapism to be a welcome addition to the series, as well as the focus on Julianne’s home life.

Secrets and Sunsets at Azure Bay

This installment sported another dash of mystery, something readers seem to enjoy whenever it pops up in Julianne’s world. This time, she’s testing her amateur sleuthing skills in an effort to help a young archaeologist uncover a secret from their own past. The story also reunited readers with the characters of Percy and Elaine from the series’ prequel novel, bringing back the popular storyline of an ancient dig site on Cornish soil.

If these stories sound like your cup of tea, I hope you’ll be sure to check them out. The novels are available as individual titles in addition to the box set that contains the first six books in the series.

Mmm, mystery, romance and all in beautiful Cornwall, too. What’s not to love?

Thanks, Laura for sharing this lovely collection & I wish you lots of luck, sales, and new readers.

As always,

cosy · cover reveal · mystery · R&R Book Tour stop · series

Cover Reveal – Wedding Planned to Death

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I am so pleased to share this gorgeous cover of upcoming release, Wedding Planned to Death by Ellie Fields! Pre-order a copy today!

WEDDING PLANNED TO DEATH COVER

Wedding Planned to Death (Wedding Garden Cozy Mystery Series #1)

Expected Publication Date: August 9th, 2022

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Cricket Creek might be off the beaten track, but it’s an idyllic place to live—a quaint town where neighbors gather at the bakery, families go back generations, and where your friends always have your back.

It’s also where introverted gardener Cicely Rue is nervously about to start her new business hosting weddings in her picturesque garden. That is, until she discovers the wedding planner dead and buried in her compost heap! With this new business, she’d expected brides and bouquets, not murder and mayhem!

Small towns mean everybody knows your name and your secrets. Secrets some would die to know . . . and others would kill to keep.

PRE-ORDER HERE

About the Author

ELLIE FIELDS HEADSHOT

Author of The Wedding Garden Cozy Mystery Series, Ellie Fields grew up running around wild and barefoot in the foothills of northern California and hating every minute her mom made her spend in the kitchen and garden. She still runs around barefoot but now she absolutely loves spending time in her garden and has fallen hopelessly in love with baking. And with murdering people. Fictionally, of course.

Ellie weaves small town charm, baking recipes, and gardening tips into her cozy mysteries. Her fictional town of Cricket Creek is based on her hometown: a place where neighbors gather at the mailboxes to chat, families go back generations, and where the grocery store clerks know your name (and what your cousin just bought for the family bbq).

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blog tour · book review · crime · historical fiction · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Twelve Nights

Tour Banner Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham
Twelve Nights

Twelve Nights

The TheatreLondon, 1592

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

Twelve Nights Book Cover.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

Author Bio

I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.

I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.

I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better!

Social Media Links

Facebook: Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook

Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)

Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter

Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link 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

As historical fiction goes, Twelve Nights is rich in detail, both regarding the setting but also the mood that conveys the strong – and menacing – anti-Papist vibe of the era. It’s a dangerous time to be Catholic … and a woman, it seems. Pestilence and poverty are rife, and the injustice of the class system is never more visible.
As mysteries go, the story has a solid and intriguing plot in which you easily root for Magdalen Bisset for whom a death sentence looms large after a friend – a player – dies at the theatre in her arms. She’s innocent, we all know that, but the case builds against her for two reasons. Firstly, because she’s a woman – and poison is the instrument of female killers – and by virtue of her job at the theatre she was there when the first man died. Tenuous? These days, yes, but back then people were hanged for such flimsy claims. Of course, the second reason is yet more disagreeable since the officer charging her with murder is acting mainly from spite, his “charms” spurned years ago by Magdalen’s grandmother.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
With Shakespeare and Marlowe in the mix, competing for recognition and audience, Magdalen is friends with both men. They come across as self-centred men, hell-bent on their own goals, yet there are touching moments of support from both – even if one of them takes that support too far in Magdalen’s eyes.
While she tries to find who killed her friend, she has to live through hostility from her landlady, unwanted advances of her landlord, all while trying to keep a roof over her head and that of her grandmother who is in the throes of dementia and very unpredictable. Notes warning her to stop pursuing her investigations fail to discourage her, though the fear is very real.
As if that was not enough, a possible love interest rocks her world and she sees her grandmother incarcerated for attending a Catholic Mass. Regardless, she battles on to find the killer … but the outcome of her quest only gives way to a much bigger – and more damaging – truth.
The story is resolved in part and leaves the way open for a sequel that I’ll be keen to check out when the times comes.

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blog tour · book review · cosy · mystery · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Harvest Murder

A Harvest Murder

One unexplained disappearance is strange, but two are sinister.

In Lower Hembrow, an idyllic village nestled beneath Ham Hill in Somerset, the villagers are preparing to enjoy the autumn traditions of the rural English countryside until Joe Trevillion, a curmudgeonly local farmer and the father of six children, vanishes.

When Adam Hennessy, the ex-detective proprietor of The Plough, the village’s popular Inn, investigates, he finds ominous undercurrents beneath apparently harmless rumour and gossip.

Meanwhile, a vicious campaign of vindictiveness forces Adam and his three amateur sleuth friends to dig deep into the secret lives of their neighbours to expose the source of a cruel vendetta and prevent another death.

As they uncover the disturbing truth, the friends learn they must also lay their own past lives to rest before they can hope to make their dreams for the future come true.

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

Author Bio

Frances Evesham is the bestselling author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea murder mysteries set in her home county of Somerset, and the Ham-Hill cosy crime series set in South Somerset.

Social Media Links

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frances.evesham.writer/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/francesevesham

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

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/frances-evesham

My Review

A Harvest Murder is a light cosy mystery set in a quintessentially English village. The main characters form a foursome, Rachel and her partner Dan, and
Adam and his partner Steph. With a couple of mysteries solved already, their sleuthing credentials are strengthened by Adam’s history as a retired Detective Inspector. Consequently he carries much of the story when it comes to questioning villagers and using his contacts to find evidence that would otherwise not be available to them. For me, that’s a little off-genre, he’s hardly your regular amateur sleuth, nonetheless he fulfils the role of the “friend in the police force” that cosy mysteries are known for.

The plot is deliciously misdirected at first to throw the reader off, but once all the supporting characters are known then the real culprit is not too hard to find – proof, however, is less easily uncovered.

The pace is gentle, in keeping with the setting, yet it’s not without its dramas both relative to the crime and the personal lives of the main four characters. I did find the reason behind the attacks on Dan to be a little reaching but I was happy to suspend belief to know his donkeys were safe. (Now you have to read it, right? 😉 )

A solid mystery (the disappearance – murder of farmer Joe) with likeable characters with believable lives and issues. The setting is stunning and almost steals the show by itself, and the romance between the two couples provide a little tension whilst also being sweet and heartwarming. For a cosy mystery, what more could you want?

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book review · cosy · France · historical · mystery

Book Review – The French for Murder

http://ow.ly/bA5b50I0WEs

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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

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

My review

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

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

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

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

About the author

Verity Bright

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

As always,

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

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Five Dead Men

Five Dead Men

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

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

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

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

Author Bio

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

Social Media Links

www.rachelgreenauthor.com

https://twitter.com/AuthorRachelG

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

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelG

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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,