book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · spies · women's fiction · WWII

Book Review – Her Patriotic Duty

In a world of secrets, can Esme find the courage to be her true self?

Happily in love, Esme Colborne is about to marry Richard Trevannion, descendant of one of the oldest families in England. But when Esme learns she is adopted – from a working class family – she cannot allow Richard to marry so far beneath his station.

Fleeing the life she knew, a chance encounter leads Esme to work as a ‘decoy woman’, testing British undercover operatives who may otherwise reveal secrets in a moment of weakness. As dangerous as it is thrilling, she is soon captivated by this world of subterfuge – one wrong move, however, and Esme could lose everything.

With her feelings for Richard as strong as ever, should she go back to him and reveal the truth of her birth? Is she brave enough to risk having her heart broken again?

An enthralling Second World War saga for fans of Rosie Archer and Annie Murray.

My Review

4/5 stars

I’m a huge fan of books set in this era, so it was hardly surprising that the theme of Decoy Women would grab my attention. 

When Esme Colborne learns her true identity only days before she’s due to marry Richard Trevannion, she suffers a huge crisis of conscience. Convinced that her real background makes her no longer “suited” to Richard (his family is one of the oldest and wealthiest in England) she packs up her things and leaves home with no plans or destination in mind.

She finds a place to live but has no idea what to do to earn a living since her own savings won’t last forever. When, by chance, she spots a distraught woman with her son speaking in French at the station, Esme asks if she can help, assuming the woman is lost and needs directions. Having been to finishing school herself, Esme is fluent in French but soon realises the woman’s husband is coming to meet them. 

That conversation, no matter how brief, is the catalyst of her story from thereon. Someone overheard her speaking French and suggests she call the number on a business card where the opportunity to serve her country awaits.

And so she is recruited as a decoy woman. Her job is to test men who have recently completed their training as Special OperationS Executives before they are sent to France. Esme is set up at the Hotel Aurelian where she is to meet these men and see if they hold up to scrutiny, albeit done in the most subtle and seductive way. If they fall foul of her methods and blow their cover stories, then her report will deem them as unsuitable. If, however, they pass her test, then they are sent onwards to fight the good fight in France as spies.

Esme excels at her job, but she also gets too close to some of those she is supposed to be testing, in particular to Marcus. As the bombs are dropped more frequently, Esme suffers the loss of her closest friends, and it makes her reevaluate her life. What will become of her once the war ends – she’ll have no job, and has lost the only true friends she  has made since leaving home. Can she pick up the threads with her family, and maybe even with Richard, or should she hope for a new life with Marcus?

This is an interesting and enjoyable read with an original plotline centring around the decoy women. My thanks go to Netgalley and Canelo for the advanced reader copy. 

As always, 

blog tour · book review · must-read · spies · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Kompromat Kill

 

The Kompromat Kill

They were preparing for decades – now it’s time to take them down.

When a British Diplomat is kidnapped in the heart of London, followed by a brutal double-assassination in Chelsea, MI5 braces for the threat of deep sleeper cells coming alive.

Hiding overseas with a price on his head, Sean Richardson is tasked to lead a deniable operation to hunt down and recruit an international model and spy. Moving across Asia Minor and Europe, Sean embarks on a dangerous journey tracking an Iranian spy ring who hold the keys to a set of consequences the British Intelligence Services would rather not entertain.

As Sean investigates deeper, he uncovers dark secrets from his past and a complex web of espionage spun from the hand of a global master spy. As he inches closer to the truth, the rules of the game change – and the nerve-wracking fate of many lives sits in his hands…….……..

Tense, absorbing, and insightful, The Kompromat Kill is a gripping thriller leaving
you breathless at the pace of intrigue, cleverly unravelled in a dramatic finale.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07QFSF44F

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QFSF44F

Author Bio 

I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I was privileged to serve for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.

I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration in 2003 and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007.

The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, with The Kompromat Kill, my second.

Social Media Links 

https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery

https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafethrillers/

Giveaway to Win 5 copies of The Kompromat Kill (Open INT)

*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

A thrilling read where you can really hear the clock ticking.

Having read The Failsafe Query, the book that introduced the world to Sean Richardson, there was no way I was going to miss out on this second book. As expected, The Kompromat Kill was another thrilling adventure, filled with spies, drama and danger at every turn.

I must admit to finding the story heavy on the technical detail in parts, much of which went over my head, and long episodes of backstory slowed the pace at times. However, that said, it soon became obvious that everything was there for a reason. I loved the link back to the 80s and Sean’s mother; that proved to be very clever plotting. In fact, despite so many twists and turns, the many subplots all came together really well.

Once I found myself in the thick of the story, it was fast-paced and tense, with unexpected twists and turns coming like rapid fire. The author’s own experience in this world, combined with the many timely modern-day references, made this all the more believable, all the more intriguing, and all the more scary.

As for the characters, well, that Jack fella had a finger in every pie going. I didn’t quite follow his tie-straightening obsession, but loved how he seemed to have an answer for everything – even when it didn’t seem possible. The relationship between Sean and Nadège was intense; two wounded souls looking for some justification to explain how they became the people they did. The team surrounding Sean made me think of The A Team, each was an expert in their field, and each had the others’ back. I guess I wanted it to end with: “I love it when a plan comes together”, instead I’ll settle for: “I love it when there’s another book to follow.” No pressure, Michael 😉

As a spy / political thriller, this was suspenseful and detailed, relevant and uncompromising. If you enjoy a nail-biting thrill ride with a cast of believable, clever, flawed and focused characters, then I’d recommend this in an instant.

For more news and reviews, here are the blogs to follow:

As always,

blog tour · book review · British · Cold War · spies · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Failsafe Query with Giveaway

The Failsafe Query

by Michael Jenkins

The Failsafe Query

The Failsafe Query is a gripping thriller set in the contemporary world of modern British espionage.

Sean Richardson, a disgraced former intelligence agent, is tasked to lead a team to search for Alfie Chapman, an Intelligence officer on the cusp of exposing thousands of secrets to the media. This includes a long lost list of Russian moles embedded since the Cold War, one of whom remains a public favourite in the British parliamentary system.

The action moves with absorbing pace and intrigue across Central Asia and Europe as the puzzle begins to unfold through a deep hidden legacy.

Tense, fast paced, and insightful, The Failsafe Query twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic finale. 

 

Get your copy from

Amazon UK 

Amazon US 

My Review

A must-read, fast-paced, energetic thriller spanning the Cold War to modern day. This was such a captivating and enthralling read, I didn’t want to put it down at any point.

It is so cleverly written, you can see the correlations with the events as they happened back then and how they unfurl for Sean Richardson. You will feel the tension and the danger, flinch at the brutality and be in awe of the extent of corruption. Because, these days, our politicians inspire in so many of us such little trust that the lines of fact and fiction is increasingly blurred.

The level of detail is impressive; this author knows his stuff.

Despite only having a layman’s knowledge myself of the Cold War and the WMD fiasco that led to the war in Iraq, I was not deterred. Jenkins’ writing kept me engaged, even when I knew how certain events would pan out. His characters are strong, yet flawed, humorous yet cautious and the sense of danger is never far away.

I was totally invested in Sean’s life; willing him to survive and get back to a more “sensible” career, yet also growing more and more curious at the mystery he was about to unearth. Jenkins drip feeds the mystery through a variety of intoxicating subplots, and ties them together with aplomb. The result is an explosive – literally – read that will have you reading into the night, and then some.

An absolute winner!

Delighted to see there will be another book out in Spring next year.

About the author

Michael Jenkins served for twenty-eight years in the British
Army, rising through the ranks to complete his service as a major. He
served across the globe on numerous military operations as an intelligence
officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance
disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal
Engineers.

His experiences within the services involved extensive travel and
adventure whilst on operations, and also on many major mountaineering
and exploration expeditions that he led or was involved in.
He was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical
Society for mountain exploration and served on the screening committee
of the Mount Everest Foundation charity. 

He was awarded the MBE on leaving the armed forces in 2007 for his services to counterterrorism.

The Failsafe Query is Michael’s first novel. He has started work on his second spy thriller, The Kompromat Kill, and hopes to publish it the spring of 2019.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/FailsafeQuery

https://www.facebook.com/thefailsafequery/

https://www.michaeljenkins.org/

Giveaway – Win 5 x PB copies of The Failsafe Query & a spy linkage map (unframed) (Open Internationally)

*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 I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

RAFFLECOPTER LINK

WHAT AN AWESOME PRIZE THIS IS!

I think it’s the best giveaway I’ve seen all year. Good Luck!

For more reviews and posts, check out these blogs:

As always,

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Reading for Fun · spies · WWII

Reading for Fun: Oslo Spies

Oslo Spies

by SJ Slagle

Summary:

Norway is a destroyed country at the end of World War II. After a relentless German occupation, Norwegians have lost more than imports and exports, everyday goods and services, communications and social events. Norway lost more than 10,000 men and women in the resistance as well as in slave labor and concentration camps scattered throughout Europe. Norway lost hundreds of teachers and religious leaders who died resisting Vidkun Quisling, the head of the Norwegian Nazi Party. Quisling’s demands for Nazi indoctrination to be taught in schools and churches forced teachers and pastors to quit their posts and work underground. Perhaps worst of all, Norwegian children were deprived of their childhoods, a most precious commodity.

It seems a horrendous assignment for Phyllis Bowden, a young woman in military intelligence assigned to the Office of the Military Attache in the American Embassy in Oslo. Her official tasks include intelligence duties and finding families of lost loved ones. These duties, as tough as they may be, pale when she’s faced with something that occurs outside the office. One night Phyllis finds a runaway child in a café bathroom one night, a little girl labeled a quisling because her Norwegian mother married a German officer. A contentious purge has overtaken the country and quislings are not to be tolerated. But the girl has been tortured and abused by the time Phyllis finds her. She’s faced with the conflict of doing the right thing or doing what the government dictates. Either way could have international complications.

Meanwhile, the love of her life, Joe Schneider, an Mi5 agent, has disappeared in Romania while on assignment and it’s a race to find out what’s happened to him. Between nerve-wracking tasks in her job, trying to decide the fate of the little girl and being heartbroken over Joe’s disappearance, Phyllis is in for the struggle of her young life and intelligence career.

My Review: 5/5 stars.

I’m a huge fan of WWII fiction but hadn’t read anything at all set in Norway. To be honest, this was a real eye-opener and I’m so glad I found this book.
Phyllis Bowden works for the American Embassy in Oslo, helping in a variety of ways to make Norway strong again after the horrors suffered by the German invasion. From finding clothes and food for many starving and homeless citizens to helping people find relatives who’d been sent to labour camps, Phyllis finds herself knee-deep in some very scary situations.
Her organisational skills enable her to quickly get projects off the ground, supporting local people who are still numb from the devastation wreaked upon their country. But it is when she finds a five-year-old girl cowering in fear in the bathroom of a nearby café that she unknowingly puts herself at most risk.
Little does she know that both the British and the Russians are hot on her heels, and even her fiancé (yes, there’s a love story here too) is caught up in the little girl’s life.
These missions run seamlessly alongside each other, both informing and entertaining the reader. I learnt so much from this book, and have been able to chat with Norwegian friends about the events – much to their surprise!
An enjoyable read with engaging characters, real relationships and an entralling plot. I shall definitely look up the first book in the series now, and look forward to more from this author.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, and have reviewed it voluntarily.

The book is released in September this year.

Add it to Goodreads now and be sure to grab your copy.

 

Thanks for reading 😉