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

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Murder in Chianti

Banner for blog tour of Murder in Chianti

Murder in Chianti

Murder in broad daylight…

When millionaire magnate, Rex Hunter is found with his head bashed in on the eighth hole of his prestigious golf and country club in beautiful Chianti, it’s a clear case of murder. Hunter was rich and successful and the envy of many, so retired DCI Dan Armstrong thinks the case will be a hole in one to solve….

A despised victim…

But as Dan and his trusty sidekick Oscar begin to dig deeper into Hunter’s lifestyle, they discover a man despised by many. A renown womaniser, ruthless boss and heartless family man, it seems no one is particularly sorry to see Hunter dead. And the list of possible suspects is endless…

A murderer covering their tracks.

Dan is determined to catch this clever killer, but it seems every new lead brings another dead end. Will this be one case Dan and his canine companion won’t solve?

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

Author Bio

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled Murder in Tuscany, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

My Review

I’ve read a few books by this author before and love how easy he makes it to get engrossed in the story. Obviously, the Italian setting helps with the escapism, but it’s more than a travel guide – though who wouldn’t want to escape to Tuscany after reading this, I do not know – the story is packed with truly great characters. From the wily locals who see and hear everything (and love to share over good food and grappa-fuelled coffee) to those who have made their life in the area and come with baggage (usually ex-wives and numerous affairs that would test any Casanova worthy of the title).
Former (but for how long?) DCI Dan Armstrong doesn’t seem able to give up on his old life at the Yard, despite being in a new country, and despite having second thoughts over the breakdown of his marriage and subsequent divorce. Together with his dog, Oscar, Dan has become part of the community, and so when Australian millionaire and owner of the country club, Rex Hunter is murdered, it’s no wonder his good friend and local police inspector calls on him to help with “translations”. And if he wants to ask a few questions of his own, or follow up on some leads when “walking” Oscar, then why not?
The victim is not well-liked and the suspects mount up, but when further murders occur it’s clear this will be no easy case to solve. I loved how the author gives insight as to how Dan is thinking, who he suspects, and what he thinks has happened. However, even Dan has to admit feeling blind-sided by this mystery, and there are red herrings galore that misdirect the reader with great skill until the truth becomes apparent.
Peppered with glimpses of life in Tuscany, amusing antics with Oscar, and an array of fascinating encounters with locals, it’s easy to see why Dan is enamoured of the area. However, in this book, he starts to wonder how he might fill his time in the years to come. Dan can’t live by tennis matches and Chianti alone, so where does his future lie: as an author (his first book has been accepted by a London publisher) or as an investigator? Will he ever be able to put that part of his life behind him? I can’t wait to find out.
PS – I was gutted to find this is the second book in the series, but will be making up for it by grabbing a copy of book one – Murder in Tuscany – before the next in the series is ready.

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

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Not Mushroom for Death

Not Mushroom For Death

TV Chef Luca Mazza Dies After Collapse at Food Show on the King’s Private Estate

Luca Mazza (38), who was taken ill during a food demonstration at the Fenn House Food and Wine Festival two days ago, is now known to have ingested poison. Lady Beatrice (36), the king’s niece, who is working on a refurbishment project at Fenn House with her business partner Perry Juke (34), is believed to be comforting Luca’s boss and close friend Sebastiano Marchetti (38), who she began dating last month.

Is he crazy? Why else would Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam suggest that Sebastiano poisoned Luca without any evidence? So now, with the help of her little dog Daisy and her best friends Perry and Simon, Lady Beatrice will have to prove to Mr Know-it-all Fitzwilliam that Seb is innocent. But with so many people having access to the food preparation area at the show how will she find out who did murder Luca before Fitzwilliam lets his personal dislike get the better of him and arrests Seb?

Purchase Links

Amazon –https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BFBMT9BP (UK)

and https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BFBMT9BP (US)

Author Bio

Hello. I’m Helen Golden. I write British contemporary cozy whodunnits with a hint of humour. I live in small village in Lincolnshire in the UK with my husband, my step-daughter, her two cats, our two dogs, sometimes my step-son, and our tortoise.

I used to work in senior management, but after my recent job came to a natural end I had the opportunity to follow my dreams and start writing. It’s very early in my life as an author, but so far I’m loving it.

It’s crazy busy at our house, so when I’m writing I retreat to our caravan (an impulsive lockdown purchase) which is mostly parked on our drive. When I really need total peace and quiet, I take it to a lovely site about 15 minutes away and hide there until my family runs out of food or clean clothes

Social Media Links

Insta: www.instragram.com/helengolden_author

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

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@helengoldenauthor

My Review

Who doesn’t love a punny title? It’s one of the best things about cosy mysteries, and it certainly caught my attention. I hadn’t read any of the others in the series but I am definitely planning to go back and check them out. By the way, the story works perfectly well as a standalone, I just want to know more about the key characters.
I’ll be honest, I did wonder if this would be a historical cosy given the main character is a proper Lady but I loved that it was a contemporary tale with a made-up Royal family of its own.
Lady Beatrice, together with her business partner, the fantastic Perry Juke, is working on a refurbishment project for the King while a cooking event is taking place starring Chef Seb – Lady Bea’s boyfriend – and a host of other chefs. When one of the main participants – Luca – takes ill and later dies, rumours of an unfortunate case of food poisoning run amok. And so begins the mystery. Had Luca been foraging and accidentally picked poisonous mushrooms? Did someone else plant the mushrooms in his dish?

So many questions, so many suspects, and so many secrets.
Let me just say that Lady Bea’s dog, Daisy knows the answer 😉

When it appears that Luca was murdered, Lady Bea’s nemesis in the form of DCI Fitzwilliam is brought in to investigate. Now, these two, I understand, have met before in other cases and he is not keen on her meddling. Which means, that’s the green light for her to “meddle” and solve the case before him. But will she? There’s a frisson of romantic tension bubbling away here which only adds to the fun.
Aided and abetted by the marvellous duo of Perry and Simon, not forgetting the instinctive reaction of her dog, Daisy, what follows is an entertaining mystery, and a tongue-in-cheek view of royal gossip. (Timely, indeed 😉 )

My only issue was the use of so many POVs which seemed to be used to reveal their inner thoughts and in so doing move the story forward. That said, each POV was presented with consistency and clarity. I loved the setting, the royal obligations to behave a certain way, and the inclusion of Lady Bea’s son brought a touch of youthful exuberance to the story (although Perry has his fair share of that too) I loved the characters, their relationship with each other, the behind-the-scenes details of the royal rooms being refurbished… in fact, it was a most amusing and engaging read with the promise of more to come. I’ll be back for more; I just need to catch up on the others in the series first.

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book review · historical fiction · medieval · series

Book Review – Squire’s Hazard

I’m delighted to share my review (below) for Squire’s Hazard, the fifth Meonbridge Chronicle by Carolyn Hughes. This was my third trip to Meonbridge, and it was worth the wait. I mean, how often do you get the chance to return to the 14th century and, once there, not feel like an outsider?

But, first, take a look at the cover and the book description. Trust me, if you enjoy a great family saga, thoroughly researched and intricate details that pin you firmly to the era, then you’ll want to travel back in time, too.

How do you overcome the loathing, lust and bitterness threatening you and your family’s honour?

It’s 1363, and in Steyning Castle, Sussex, Dickon de Bohun is enjoying life as a squire in the household of Earl Raoul de Fougère. Or he would be, if it weren’t for Edwin de Courtenay, who’s making his life a misery with his bullying, threatening to expose the truth about Dickon’s birth.

At home in Meonbridge for Christmas, Dickon notices how grown-up his childhood playmate, Libby Fletcher, has become since he last saw her and feels the stirrings of desire. Libby, seeing how different he is too, falls instantly in love. But as a servant to Dickon’s grandmother, Lady Margaret de Bohun, she could surely never be his wife.

Margery Tyler, Libby’s aunt, meeting her niece by chance, learns of her passion for young Dickon. Their conversation rekindles Margery’s long-held rancour against the de Bohuns, whom she blames for all the ills that befell her family, including her own servitude. For years she’s hidden her hunger for revenge, but she can no longer keep her hostility in check.

As the future Lord of Meonbridge, Dickon knows he must rise above de Courtenay’s loathing and intimidation, and get the better of him. And, surely, he must master his lust for Libby, so his own mother’s shocking history is not repeated? Of Margery’s bitterness, however, he has yet to learn… 

Beset by the hazards triggered by such powerful and dangerous emotions, can Dickon summon up the courage and resolve to overcome them?

Buy the Meonbridge Chronicles at Amazon UK, Amazon US or from other online bookstores, and don’t forget to add it to Goodreads as well.

My Review

In Squire’s Hazard, we catch up with Dickon De Bohun, the future Lord of Meonbridge, as he completes his training at Steyning Castle. Despite not having a traditional upbringing for life as a squire – and subsequent Lord – Dickon has mastered many elements of the training regime with aplomb, talented both on and off a horse. He’s a likeable young man and considered to be doing well until the truth of his birth becomes known by a fellow student who considers Dickon to be unworthy of such a noble position at the castle. Edwin de Courtenay’s jealous revenge begins with minor pranks to make Dickon look foolish and irresponsible, but soon his actions escalate into more dangerous territory.

Back at Meonbridge, his former playmate, Libby, is counting down the days until Dickon’s return for the Christmas holiday. She’s hopeful of more than friendship, but as she is effectively Dickon’s grandmother’s maidservant, anything more is simply wishful thinking. Yet, it’s obvious, upon his return, that Dickon has feelings for Libby too. Someone has to be the ‘grown-up’ here, and Dickon steps up to put some distance between them, although such a move seems a threat to their friendship.

Poor Dickon, troubled at the castle by Edwin the bully, and troubled at home in not wanting to upset Libby but knowing and accepting his duty as the future Lord. It’s fascinating to see these themes of bullying and young love in historical fiction, and only brings home the concept that little has changed over the centuries; the emotional rites of passage continue. Back then, Dickon didn’t want to tell on Edwin and accepted the consequences of his appalling pranks with the strength of someone older than his years, but would the truth come out? Would Dickon be absolved of blame? As for Libby, would she forgive him for spurning her? It’s an emotional time for the young squire, and yet the pressure upon him to succeed is only going to intensify.

Dickon’s life changes dramatically towards the end of this book, bestowing upon him greater responsibility. Be thankful, readers, that as much is not expected of fifteen-year-olds today as was expected and demanded of Dickon. That said, he is proving to be up to the challenge. He may have been considered to be of low birth since only his father was of nobility, but Dickon has qualities that neither breeding nor privilege can guarantee in a person. He’s honest, reliable, has a sense of duty and care, and he can see how hard those around him have to work to keep the estate going. Dickon can empathise, he can understand, and he can communicate. In having someone like Dickon as the main protagonist, Squire’s Hazard tells us of life in those times from a variety of viewpoints. He, by virtue of his birth and upbringing, crosses the boundaries to reveal how people, whether rich or poor, lived in those times. A fascinating subplot involving Libby’s family becomes integral to Dickon’s story, and highlights the other divide, that of how very different were the expectations of sons and daughters, men and women. The author excels at adding details to draw the reader into the era, without feeling bogged down by description or fact.

My visit to Meonbridge ends with a hankering for more, and yes, I keep asking myself why I haven’t read books one and two yet, too! I’ve convinced myself that I’ll read them before the next one is out as that’ll give me an excuse to re-read books three to five as well.

Thanks to Carolyn Hughes for the complimentary copy, I am posting this honest review voluntarily.

About the author

CAROLYN HUGHES has lived most of her life in Hampshire. With a first degree in Classics and English, she started working life as a computer programmer, then a very new profession. But it was technical authoring that later proved her vocation, as she wrote and edited material, some fascinating, some dull, for an array of different clients, including banks, an international hotel group and medical instruments manufacturers.

Having written creatively for most of her adult life, it was not until her children flew the nest several years ago that writing historical fiction took centre stage, alongside gaining a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Facebook: CarolynHughesAuthor

Twitter: @writingcalliope

Websitewww.carolynhughesauthor.com

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blog tour · book review · British · police procedural · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review of Death on the Crags

Death on the Crags

Everybody loves Thomas Davies. Don’t they?

When policeman Thomas Davies falls from a crag on a visit to the Lake District in full view of his partner, Mia, it looks for all the world like a terrible but unfortunate accident — until a second witness comes forward with a different story.

Alerted to the incident, DCI Jude Satterthwaite is inclined to take it seriously — not least because of Mia’s reluctance to speak to the police about the incident. As Jude and his colleagues, including his on-off partner DS Ashleigh O’Halloran, tackle the case, they’re astonished by how many people seem to have a reason to want all-round good guy Thomas out of the way.

With the arrival of one of Thomas’s colleagues to assist the local force, the investigation intensifies. As the team unpick the complicated lives of those who claim to care for Thomas but have good reasons to want him dead, they find themselves digging deeper and deeper into a web of blackmail and cruelty … and investigating a second death.

A traditional British police procedural mystery set in Cumbria.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BB33T34Y

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BB33T34Y

Author Bio

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University, with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in geography and Earth science. She’s been writing for pleasure and publication for as long as she can remember. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young, in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. She wrote online articles on travel and on her favourite academic subject, Earth science. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read — crime.

Jo lives in the English Lakes, where the DCI Satterthwaite series is set. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/JoAllenAuthor

https://twitter.com/JoAllenAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/joallenauthor/

My Review

I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series and did worry that starting at book 9 might be a problem. It wasn’t, in fact it was relatively straightforward to follow the backstory of the main character – DCI Jude Satterthwaite – and, for the most part, I didn’t feel disadvantaged by not having read books 1-8. By the way, can I just add that Satterthwaite is the most delightful surname for a police officer, or anyone really, that I’ve encountered this year. It evokes a sense of tradition, of old school common sense and I felt the case of Thomas’s death was in safe hands.

As the opening line of the book description says – Everyone loves Thomas Davies. Don’t they? – Well, I certainly did. In a story with quite a few unlikeable characters, Thomas stood out as a decent man, a good friend and an honest police officer. So, surely his fall from the crags was an accident?
Apparently not, and as the story develops, there are many twists, turns and revelations, as well as some deliciously suspicious red herrings. All of which lead to a motley crew of suspects… but then the mother of all twists turns things on its head again.

The author’s writing style caused me a few issues and had me flicking back to see if I’d missed something when characters were talking about some of the events that occurred, but generally those issues were cleared up within the next few pages.
Overall, this is an interesting story with plenty of intrigue and all set amid the the backdrop of the lesser-explored parts of Cumbria. The police team worked well together, so I can see why there are so many books in this series, and I hope, many more to come.

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blog tour · book review · cosy · nostalgia · schooldays · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Wicked Whispers at St Brides

Wicked Whispers at St Brides

Gemma Lamb is ready for an uneventful term at St Bride’s, she’s had enough of dastardly deeds and sinister strangers.

However, she’s barely back at school before:

  • Unlucky in love Oriana is sneaking around at odd hours
  • Handsome Joe is keeping secrets
  • Militant Mavis feels a scandal is brewing

It’s all a bit much, but when a stranger appears Gemma thinks she’s had enough. But this stranger isn’t so sinister, instead he looks rather too familiar. If Gemma can’t get him away from the school the whispers and scandal his presence could unleash may just close St Bride’s doors for good.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3Surw7g

Author Bio

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries.

She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing.

She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

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

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

My Review

Gemma has settled into life at the school but finds herself alone when the girls and staff all take advantage of the next exeat. Even Joe (with whom she hoped to spend more time) has plans that do not include her. And he seems rather over-friendly with Oriana too, which leaves Gemma wondering about their relationship.
So, when a stranger arrives at the empty school asking what could be very awkward questions for the headmistress (Hairnet), Gemma seizes the opportunity to steer the stranger away from the school and ends up enjoying a delicious afternoon tea at the infamous Doilies in town. She agrees to help him find out about his father rather than let him meet Hairnet and ask her about it (Gemma knows Hairnet’s secret and doesn’t want to put her in a difficult and embarrassing position of being exposed.)
Back in the staffroom, Gemma grows increasing concerned about Joe and Oriana, and also questions why sections of the local newspaper have been cut out. What is it that is being kept from them all? Does the stranger – Oliver – have anything to do with it? Do Joe and Oriana?
Gemma’s curiosity is distracted when one of the girls disappears and can’t be found on school grounds. Life at St Brides is getting more and more mysterious by the day.

This book is certainly packed with intrigue, but it’s also more focused on Gemma’s relationship with Joe. She spends a lot of time second-guessing events, all of which lead her to incessant introspection as she reflects on their relationship. This aspect of the story stunts the flow for me, and while there are mysteries to solve, Gemma is more of an accidental bit-player in their resolution. The story around Hairnet and her daughter seemed a little far-fetched and I couldn’t imagine a parent keeping that secret from their child, especially given the circumstances of living at St Brides. Not as fast-paced as book two, but still completely engaging and addictive.

I hope there is more to come from St Brides.

Thank you to the author, Boldwood Books and Netgalley for my ecopy which I have reviewed of my own volition.

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Contemporary Romance · cover reveal · series · Spain

Cover Reveal – My Spanish Romance

My Spanish Romance: Falling For My Brother’s Best Friend…

Dating her brother’s best friend is against the rules. 
But some rules are meant to be broken…

After discovering her cheating ex’s plans to move into her building, accountant Lily jets off on a sabbatical to Marbella. 
When she unexpectedly bumps into her brother’s best friend, hot Spanish DJ Carlos—the guy she’s had a crush on since forever—sparks fly. 
But Carlos promised Lily’s brother he’d never mess with his little sister. Breaking the bro code would end their friendship. 
Lily knows that Casanova Carlos doesn’t do relationships, so all he could offer is a steamy holiday fling. And after wanting him for so long, if they spent the night together, Lily’s heart and body might never recover.
She tries to suppress her feelings, but when Carlos takes Lily to his favourite places in Spain, the attraction becomes harder to resist. With her brother hundreds of miles away, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt, right?
Should Lily throw caution to the wind and risk heartbreak by enjoying a sizzling Spanish romance?
And if she does, will it lead to long-term love? 
Order this fun, steamy, brother’s-best-friend, forbidden love romcom now and join Lily in Spain to find out!

Read as a standalone novel or as part of the My Ten-Year Crush series.  

Pre-order Links

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

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3zIFw6O

Publication Date: 19th January 2023

Author Bio – 

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

In addition to The Middle-Aged Virgin, Olivia has published The Middle-Aged Virgin in Italy, Love Offline, Losing My Inhibitions, Only When It’s Love and the sequel When’s The Wedding? My Ten-Year Crush, Olivia’s seventh novel, marked the start of a new series in 2021. My Lucky Night and My Paris Romance followed soon afterwards and book four, My Spanish Romance will be published in January 2023.

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

Social Media Links – 

https://twitter.com/ospringauthor

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

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

https://www.tiktok.com/@oliviaspringauthor

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

#MySpanishRomance

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blog blitz · cosy · mystery · series

One Day Blog Blitz – For Richer, For Deader (incl. extract)

For Richer, For Deader

Is the Wedding Between Sir Hewitt Willoughby-Franklin’s Step-Daughter and Billionaire’s Son Off?

Rumours are that the recent death of Kelley Lindsell (29), the personal chef of tycoon Rudy (68) and Sheri Trotman (65) at Sir Hewitt’s Fawstead Manor country estate in Fenshire, has spooked Sybil Bransgrove (36) so badly she’s considering cancelling her nuptials.

Meanwhile the bride and her mother, Lady Grace (61), are being supported by family friend Lady Beatrice (36), the Countess of Rossex, who, alongside her business partner Perry Juke, is currently managing the project to refurbish the Manor House and Lodge on the estate.

Not again! Now that Lady Grace has asked Lady Beatrice to liaise with the police during the investigation into Kelley’s death, she’ll have to cooperate with boorish Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam whether she likes it or not. Her only relief will be solving the murder with the help of her friends Perry and Simon and her dog Daisy to get rid of him faster. But with so many wedding party guests staying on-site, any one of them could be the killer. Can they find out who it is before Sybil calls off the wedding…

Purchase Links

Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BF5P3C9N (UK) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BF5P3C9N (US)

Author Bio

Hello. I’m Helen Golden. I write British contemporary cozy whodunnits with a hint of humour. I live in small village in Lincolnshire in the UK with my husband, my step-daughter, her two cats, our two dogs, sometimes my step-son, and our tortoise.

I used to work in senior management, but after my recent job came to a natural end I had the opportunity to follow my dreams and start writing. It’s very early in my life as an author, but so far I’m loving it.

It’s crazy busy at our house, so when I’m writing I retreat to our caravan (an impulsive lockdown purchase) which is mostly parked on our drive. When I really need total peace and quiet, I take it to a lovely site about 15 minutes away and hide there until my family runs out of food or clean clothes

Social Media Links

Insta: www.instragram.com/helengolden_author

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

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@helengoldenauthor

Fancy an extract?

Intro

Another dead animal with a threatening note attached to it has been found at Fawstead Manor, the recently purchased country home of TV’s Sir Hewitt Willoughby-Franklin and his wife Lady Grace. Lady Beatrice, the Countess of Rossex, who is seventeenth in line to the British throne, and her business partner Perry Juke, are there working on the refurbishment of Fawstead in preparation for the arrival of the wedding party for the marriage of Lady Grace’s daughter Sybil to Otis Trotman, the son and heir of the American billionaire Rudy Trotman. Lady Beatrice had called Mike from the local CID and he has come along with Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam from Protection and Investigation (Royal) Services (PaIRS for short) to investigate. Lady Beatrice and DCI Fitzwilliam’s relationship is fractious to say the least.

Extract

“Thanks for coming so quickly, Mike. It was Kelley here who found the dead animal.” She gestured towards Kelley, who had risen from the table and was now leaning on it, resting her hands on its top.

Nodding at them, she said nothing.

“Mrs Noon,” Lady Beatrice continued, indicating the older woman, who took one step towards them and smiled, “was here too, and she suggested they inform me as Lady Grace wasn’t around. I called you straight away, of course.” She turned to the two ladies. “Kelley, Mrs Noon, this is Detective Inspector Ainsley from Fenshire police and his colleague Detective Chief Inspector Fitzwilliam. They will want to ask you a few questions.”

“Yes, thank you, Lady Rossex.” Mike turned to the cook. “So Lady Grace doesn’t know about this?”

“No, sir. She hasn’t come down yet.” As if prompted by her statement, the bell labelled ‘Study’ hanging from a wooden board attached to the wall rang, making them all start. “In fact, that will be her ladyship now,” she told them as she hastened to the large stove along the side of the wall behind them and pulled a white enamel kettle from a warming plate. She placed it on top of a gas ring and switched on the gas. Wiping her hands on her apron, she moved over to the long wide wooden work surface and prepared a tray. “She’ll be wanting tea.”

“We need to ask you some questions first, please, if you don’t mind Mrs Noon.” Fitzwilliam moved towards her.

“I’m sorry, chief inspector.” She carried a tray over to the stove and filled a teapot with steaming hot water. “But it’s more than my job’s worth to be late with her ladyship’s tea. I won’t be long.” And with that, she picked up the tray, bustled past him, and disappeared down the corridor.

Lady Beatrice caught Perry’s eye, and they both smirked. That told him!

“I think I’ll go up to the study, too, Mike, and talk to Lady Grace about us coming back on-site. I hardly think she can refuse us now. Can I leave you and Hines to interview Miss—” He looked at Kelley and raised an eyebrow.

“Lindsell,” she told him.

He nodded. “Miss Lindsell, and then have a look around the place? I’ll call Forensics on my way up.”

“Sure.” Mike nodded.

“Lady Beatrice, Mr Juke, as no one requires you here anymore, would you be kind enough to show me where the study is, please?”

Lady Beatrice turned towards Kelley. “Are you all right if we leave you now, Kelley? Mrs Noon will be back any minute.”

“Please stay,” Kelley said in a hushed voice. Walking around the table, she stopped in front of Lady Beatrice. “I don’t know how your police work over here, and I’d feel happier if I had someone with me when I’m being questioned.”

“There is really no need for you to be worried, Miss Lindsell. We just want to ask you a few questions,” Fitzwilliam piped up. “And no doubt Lady Rossex and Mr Juke are busy and need to get on.”

How dare he answer for me! If Kelley wanted her here, then she’d stay. He couldn’t stop her.

“I know.” Kelley looked at him, then looked down at the floor. “But I’d like to have someone else here with me. Please.” She reached a shaky hand to her forehand and rubbed it.

“Of course I’ll stay with you, Kelley, if that’s what you’d like.” She shot a look of disdain at Fitzwilliam. He glared at her but didn’t protest again. “Perry, would you be kind enough to show the chief inspector where to go?” Perry smirked back at her, and she suppressed a grin. “I’ll join you in the sitting room as soon as I’m done here.”

Perry cleared his expression and turned to Fitzwilliam. “This way, chief inspector.” He held his arm out and guided Fitzwilliam towards the kitchen exit. As he followed Fitzwilliam out, he turned to Lady Beatrice and winked.

I love this cover, and wish, wish, wish I’d had time to read this before it launched. Nonetheless, it’s on my TBR list. I hope you’ve been tempted too.

As always,

Amazon Reviewer Name
blog tour · book review · cosy · nostalgia · schooldays · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Sinister Stranger at St Brides

Sinister Stranger at St Brides

When an American stranger turns up claiming to be the rightful owner of the school’s magnificent country estate it could spell trouble for everyone at St Bride’s . . .

No one can believe it when the headmistress, Hairnet, instantly accepts the stranger’s claim, not:

  • the put-upon Bursar, ousted from his cosy estate cottage by the stranger
  • the enigmatic Max Security, raring to engage in a spot of espionage
  • the sensible Judith Gosling, who knows more about Lord Bunting than she’s letting on
  • the irrepressible Gemma Lamb, determined to keep the school open

Only fickle maths teacher Oriana Bliss isn’t suspicious of the stranger, after all she can just marry him and secure St Bride’s future forever. That’s if inventive pranks by the girls – and the school cat – don’t drive him away first.

Who will nab the stranger first? Oriana with the parson’s noose? Gemma with sinister secrets? Or could this be the end of St Bride’s?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dBLZZ1

Author Bio

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries.

She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing.

She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

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

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

My Review

Diving straight into book two sees staff and students returning to St Brides after the half-term break. Gemma Lamb feels much more confident in her ability to teach now, and is looking forward to catching up with her Year 7 girls as well as her colleagues – some more than others. So when a stranger with a rather familiar face turns up, no one expects his arrival to cause such a fuss. However, the stranger introduces himself – in an American accent – as Earl Bunting, the only surviving heir of their benefactor Lord Bunting, and he’s come to claim his inheritance.
While his resemblance to Lord Bunting cannot be denied, there’s something about him that neither Gemma nor her co-workers, and particularly the girls do not like. He may seem to be the soul of generosity by insisting the school continue as it is, but bit by bit he usurps the headmistress’s authority until his true intentions can no longer be ignored. The governors seem happy with his credentials yet Earl – which is actually his given name and not a title – may have thrown his weight around a little too much in the village. That he imagines stories of his weird behaviour won’t get back to the teachers is his first mistake: dropping his accent for one thing, taking out books on inheritance law from the bookshop, dying his hair, and building up a large unpaid tab at the pub only give Gemma cause to suspect he’s not all he says he is.

When it looks like the school’s very existence may be at stake, everyone joins forces to invalidate his claim. However, it’s not so straightforward since he possesses a journal that does link him to the Lord. So how can they get dispute his claim on St Brides ?
It’s time to look closer at the man and in particular at his snazzy vehicle. To do this, Gemma relies heavy on Max who looks after the security of the school and its inhabitants. Max has a habit of popping up at the most unexpected times by virtue of the tunnel network created by Lord Bunting, this gives him the perfect opportunity to watch the comings and goings of everyone at St Brides. Put this way, if there’s something dodgy going on, Max will be on the case, and he and Gemma make the perfect double act in uncovering the true identity of the pretender to the estate. But will their evidence be enough?

My only criticism of this story is Earl Bunting’s constant, irritating habit of getting everyone’s name wrong. Calling Miss Lamb everything from Kidd to Lamp (and it wasn’t just her name he got wrong) made me dislike him even more. If he did this to rile people, well… he succeeded!!

Rant over, the mystery in this book is much stronger, the story is fast-paced, and combined with great touches of humour – courtesy of the pranks played on the interloper by the students and the cat! – this is a most enjoyable read.

Thank you to the author, Boldwood Books and Netgalley for my ecopy which I have reviewed of my own volition.

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blog tour · book review · cosy · nostalgia · schooldays · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Dastardly Deeds at St Brides

Dastardly Deeds at St Brides

When Gemma Lamb takes a job at a quirky English girls’ boarding school, she believes she’s found the perfect escape route from her controlling boyfriend – until she discovers the rest of the staff are hiding sinister secrets:

  • Hairnet, the eccentric headmistress who doesn’t hold with academic qualifications
  • Oriana Bliss, Head of Maths and master of disguise
  • Joscelyn Spryke, the suspiciously rugged Head of PE
  • Geography teacher Mavis Brook, surreptitiously selling off the library books
  • creepy night watchman Max Security, with his network of hidden tunnels

Even McPhee, the school cat, is leading a double life.

Tucked away in the school’s beautiful private estate in the Cotswolds, can Gemma stay safe and build a new independent future, or will past secrets catch up with her and the rest of the staff?

With a little help from her new friends, including some wise pupils, she’s going to give it her best shot…

Purchase Linkhttps://amzn.to/3A3l13R

Author Bio

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries.

She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing.

She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

Social Media Links

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

Twitter https://twitter.com/DebbieYoungBN

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

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

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debbie-young

My Review

As someone closer to pensionable age than school age, Dastardly Deeds at St Brides is a veritable blend of fun and nostalgia. Being an avid fan of Malory Towers as a child, the boarding school theme drew me in instantly, and the fact that it’s the first in a series only makes me happier still.

The staff at the girls-only St Brides, apart from the bursar and the head of security, are (supposedly) all female, even the cat is described as such regardless of his very obvious anatomy. It’s all part of the contract that the headmistress, commonly known as Hairnet, struck with the estate of the stately home. Lord Bunting, the last known ancestral owner, stated in his will that in the event of there being no surviving heir, the estate would be run for the education of mother-less girls. Along with his wife, Lady Bunting, they suffered the loss of all their children, the eldest one at the age of nine.
And so it came to be that St Brides boarding school for girls took on only female staff (well, almost).

This, together with the bonus of live-in accommodation, is what attracts Gemma Lamb to the job as Head of English. Escaping a controlling ex, Gemma revels in the opportunity to be as far away from Stephen as she can in this remote part of the Cotswolds while finally following her heart to become a teacher, something Stephen had mocked her for and not permitted.

Book one in this series sees Gemma settle in and acquaint herself with the odd yet equally amusing rules of the school. Her pupils, many richer than royalty and some actually of minor royal descent, are welcoming and engaging, and Gemma’s colleagues are just as obliging. It’s all rather wonderful and addictively cosy. However, the book is listed as a cosy mystery, and while there are some mysterious secrets to be learnt, the expected tropes of a cosy mystery are somewhat lacking, and it’s only very near to the end of the book that there’s a potential tragedy and a crime to be solved. That said, I didn’t mind at all, since just reading about how the school functioned, the dynamics between various staff members and seeing Gemma grow in confidence was more than enough to keep me entertained and wanting more. The mini foray into a cosy mystery at the end worked well enough to quench my thirst for sleuthing, and also set the story up for the next in the series.
I raced through this book – it’s more a long novella than than full novel at around 200 pages – and once I’d finished I couldn’t wait to dive straight into book two. By now, the characters all feel like people with their own personalities, their own quirks and, most definitely, their own secrets. I am looking forward to revisiting them.

Thank you to the author, Boldwood Books and Netgalley for my ecopy which I have reviewed of my own volition.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · Contemporary Romance · Scotland · series

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – A Festive Surprise

A Festive Surprise

She can’t abide Christmas. He’s not sure what it’s all about. Together they’re in for a festive surprise.

Ambitious software developer Holly may have a festive name but the connection ends there. She despises the holiday season and decides to flee to the remote island of Mull in a bid to escape from it.

Syrian refugee Farid has made a new home in Scotland but he’s lonely. Understanding Nessie and Irn Bru is one thing, but when glittery reindeer and tinsel hit the shelves, he’s completely bemused. Determined to understand a new culture, he asks his new neighbour to educate him on all things Christmas.

When Holly reluctantly agrees, he realises there’s more to her hatred of mince pies and mulled wine than meets the eye. Farid makes it his mission to inject some joy into Hollys’ life but falling for her is an unexpected gift that was never on his list.

As their attraction sparkles, can Christmas work its magic on Holly and Farid, or will their spark fizzle out with the end of December?

Purchase Links

UK- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Festive-Surprise-Scottish-Island-Escapes-ebook/dp/B0B6RGFVJQ

US – https://www.amazon.com/Festive-Surprise-Scottish-Island-Escapes-ebook/dp/B0B6RGFVJQ

Author Bio

Margaret is a writer, mummy, wife and chocolate eater (in any order you care to choose). She lives in highland Perthshire in a little house close to the woods where she often sees red squirrels, deer and other such tremendously Scottish wildlife… Though not normally haggises or even men in kilts!

She has published nine books and written many more. Margaret won a short story writing competition in 2012 and her winning entry was performed live to an audience at Pitlochry Festival Theatre as part of their Winter Words Event. This spring boarded Margaret’s journey from writing for fun to novel writing – though she still enjoys every minute of it.

Margaret is also a keen amateur photographer, who enjoys drawing, reading, and talking about books.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/MargaretAmattAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/margaret_amatt_author

https://twitter.com/amattauthor

www.margaretamatt.com

My Review

Christmas means different things to different people, and to some it means absolutely nothing at all. Holly verges on the “let’s get it over and done with” side, while Farid is bemused by the whole thing. So you’d think Christmas would be a non-event when Holly moves into the cabin next door to escape the madness of the festivities. Farid, however, really wants to fit in having made his home in Scotland, and everyone – but everyone else – is preparing to celebrate in style.

His curiosity forces Holly to take part in carol-singing, cake-making, and even present-buying – things she has not expected to do this year. In fact, she plans on working through the holidays …but there is something charismatic and engaging about Farid’s curiosity than even she cannot ignore.

Farid is such a sweet guy, and Holly definitely bears the prickles of the plant after which she’s named at first. Seeing them come together is enchanting, but surely it can only be temporary?

I’ll admit to worrying about Farid falling head over heels in love with Holly, his chats with his family prove exactly how deep he has fallen, all while Holly is working on her next project. The uncertainty of their relationship status kept me reading on, willing a happy ending for Farid and a chance for Holly to reflect and start over with fewer misgivings about love.

A Festive Surprise tells of a heart-warming romance that, at first sight, seems short-lived. Yet the strength of their feelings suggests that this is no “holiday romance”, and the Christmas backdrop provides the necessary magic to enthral and captivate the reader while working its charm on Farid and Holly. The outcome is a surprise that neither expected, and possibly the greatest gift of all.

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