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Friday, 12 May 2017

A Review of "Find Me at Willoughby Close" by Kate Hewitt

I loved this story of a woman's journey of re-discovery when her whole life, as she knows it, comes crashing down around her shoulders!  It made me think about how easily we fall into a rut and take things for granted, losing sense of self and direction. Harriet thought her life had nearly come to an end when when discovered her husband had been keeping more than one secret which meant that her life with him and her three children would change drastically. The consequences of his actions meant that while changing her life, Harriet discovered new things about herself that she wasn't sure that she liked. Along with moving to a new neighbourhood, she found that the friends she thought she had had were not real and she slowly acquired new people in her life who were more down to earth and interesting. Ellie whom she hadn't really given the time of day to in her old life, becomes a great support and she has yet to discover the story of her newest neighbour, Ava who seems a little too glamourous to have moved into Willoughby Close and is not in a hurry to reveal herself.

The book tells of the dilemmas faced by Harriet including the huge decision of whether or not to remain in her marriage. She found that she needed to be true to her real self and the challenge began to discover who the real Harriet was that she needed to be true to.  Along with her two younger children and her typical moody pre-teen, she tests herself and her marriage and realises that what she thought she wants in life may not be what she and her family need. Happiness can be achieved in different ways.

The reader has to wait until the end to find out what she decides as Kate Hewitt manages to keep us on tenterhooks. This book is well worth the read and I am now looking forward to reading the other books in the Willoughby Close series to find out about the other characters in Harriet's life! 

Thanks for the chance to read and review this story, it has made my commute go so quickly this week and I nearly missed my bus stop twice!! 

Kate Hewitt is the author of over 65 novels of women’s fiction and romance. Whichever the genre, she loves telling a compelling and emotional story. An American ex-pat and former New Yorker, she now lives in a small market town in Wales with her husband and five children. You can learn more about her books and life at

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: 14/03/2017
Series – Willoughby Close #3 (can be read as a standalone)

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Harriet Lang had the perfect life, so she's left reeling when everything is taken from her in one fell swoop. Suddenly, Harriet learns her beautiful farmhouse in the Cotswolds is double-mortgaged, her husband Richard’s been unceremoniously fired—and he’s become a little too close to his young, sexy assistant.

Then Willoughby Close begins to weave its healing magic on both her and her children, and Harriet begins to see a way forward. She even starts to date sexy local vet Tom Roberts--but when Richard reappears in her life, wanting to make amends, Harriet must make the painful decision about how much of the past can be forgiven—and what kind of future she is fighting for.

With the help of her neighbor and newfound friend Ellie Matthews, Harriet starts to rebuild her life--but dipping a toe in the dating pool feels strange and meanwhile her children are struggling in different ways. She wonders if starting over is really possible...

“Come on,” Harriet said now, as she climbed resolutely out of the car and gave them all as cheerful a smile as she could. “Let’s check it out.”
     The movers had already come; Harriet had marked what furniture to take from their house to Willoughby Close, and it had been a depressingly small amount. The big, bespoke kitchen table wouldn’t fit, and the huge dresser with all the pottery she’d collected over the years wouldn’t either. In fact, at least two-thirds of their furniture was going into storage, which was expensive, but Harriet couldn’t bear to lose all of it along with the house. They’d need it when Richard got his job, and they bought something bigger.
She’d spent hours and hours, weeks and months, selecting all the furniture for the house, with the help of the expensive interior decorator who had more or less held her hand through the entire process. She’d bought tasteful antiques interspersed with fresh modern pieces, carpets and kilims from various holidays, 
watercolors and oil paintings of places that were meaningful to them. Sophie had once said, with admiration that bordered on envy, that Harriet’s house could be featured in Country Life. 
And so it would again. This was a blip, damn it. Things were going to get better. Richard was going to find a job, he’d said so, and they’d get back their house or buy an even better house, and she’d live there without him, happy and defiant. Or something like that. She couldn’t picture specifics yet, but she couldn’t stand the thought of the rest of her life looking like… this.
The children trooped silently behind her as she fumbled with the keys and then opened the door to number two. The smell of fresh paint and emptiness hit her like a smack in the face. It was the smell of fresh starts, and she didn’t want one.
She stepped inside, reaching for the lights. Although it was only four in the afternoon it was already getting dark, the skies heavy and low with gray clouds. Spring felt a long way off, despite the fact that it was mid-February, and the spattering of snowdrops interspersed with an early crocus or two that she’d seen on the drive in.
“This is it?” Mallory’s voice rang through the empty space, scornful and incredulous. William kicked at the skirting board, scuffing the pristine white paint. Chloe stuck her thumb in her mouth.
“Yes, this is it,” Harriet said, trying to pitch her tone somewhere between firm and bright. “It’s lovely, isn’t it?”

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Lisbon Labyrinth by David Ebsworth

Jack Telford, well experienced political journalist, has seven days to solve the mystery surrounding the death of his friend or else be accused of the murder himself.  This tale, based in Portugal, as the title suggests, takes place in 1974 amidst a revolutionary rumble occurring in the country. References to goings on taking place at the time have made me realise I could use to do some research about the happenings at the time although I was familiar with some of the incidents going on in the Portuguese colonies of Africa. 

While trying to dig out the cause of his friend's death, Jack renews some old friendships while finding himself embroiled in a "labyrinth" of intrigue. Who to trust?  What to believe? His life is on the line. It's touch and go.

I found it to be an intriguing mystery with strong characters and an unusual theme well away from the usual style that I review.  It is a look at the politics behind the politics and the battles taking place between different factions, legally and underground.  It even pushed Jack's belief that there is no such thing as a coincidence into question.

I enjoyed the book and will definitely have a look at the author's other titles.

Genre: Political thriller
Release Date: 1 May 2017
Publisher: sBooks

Lisbon, 1974. Journalist Jack Telford must hunt down a killer, solve a deadly riddle, renew his acquaintance with an old flame, and survive Portugal’s revolution in this taut thriller with a life-and-death finale, which Jack may survive, but only at great cost.

There is a dossier, upon which the whole of Portugal’s future may hang, and Jack's quest to find both the killer and the lost documents will drag him into a labyrinth of deception and danger. Will his best-intentioned actions perhaps have the worst of consequences?

Is it too late for Jack’s past to be finally redeemed by love? And, in a world where nobody can be trusted, can Jack even trust himself?

Jack Telford had been tortured in the past. In Spain, more than thirty-five years earlier. In ’38. It had cost him his left eye and much more besides. His interrogator now, as then, was a lieutenant. On this occasion, the fellow had introduced himself as Tenente Estéves. Slim and slight. A neat civilian suit, naturally, but a lieutenant – a lieutenant firmly in the pay of a secret police force deployed by the regime that had ruled Portugal with an iron fist over the past four decades.



David Ebsworth is the pen name of writer Dave McCall, a former negotiator for Britain’s Transport & General Workers’ Union. He was born in Liverpool but has lived in Wrexham, North Wales, with his wife Ann since 1981.

Following his retirement, Dave began to write historical fiction in 2009 and has subsequently published five novels: political thrillers dealing with the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War, the battle of Waterloo, warlord rivalry in sixth-century Britain, and the Spanish Civil War. His sixth book, Until the Curtain Falls – published in May 2017 – returns to that same Spanish conflict, following the story of journalist Jack Telford who, as it happens, is also the main protagonist in The Lisbon Labyrinth.

Each of Dave’s novels have been critically acclaimed by the Historical Novel Society and been awarded the coveted B.R.A.G. Medallion for independent authors. His work-in-progress is a series of a further nine novellas, covering the years from 1911 until 1919 and the lives of a Liverpudlian–Welsh family embroiled in the Suffragette movement. 

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Review of "Dead Hope" by Nicky Wells

An absorbing story, fabulous characters and a dramatic finale! A book you won't want to put down!!!

A man called Kay ... a story in it's own right, but it gets way more interesting when he meets a woman called Annabelle...or is that who she is? 

"Annabelle" takes a thankless, mundane job in an office - her first "real world" employment.  Her new life has been thrust upon her by a judge in  a court of law, the reasons for which seemed a mystery at the time, but the method behind the madness will become apparent. Besides that, it keeps "Annabelle" out of jail and introduces her to a way of life far removed from that she was used to.  It also leads to the meeting of Kay whose life was unknowingly connected to her's despite their backgrounds being worlds apart.

"Annabelle" has a sad past in which she was orphaned at the age of twelve.  The circumstances of her parents deaths were cut and dried, apparently, although "Annabelle" had harbored niggling feelings throughout her young life that what she had been told just didn't ring true.  She kept these thoughts to herself while struggling through life with various issues that resulted in frequent time spent in rehab. Money was no problem and she was protected from the outside world by her guardian who tolerated her indiscrepancies by funding the next therapy sessions with no lectures or punishment. That continued until she found herself arrested and before the judge who would ensure that everything would change....her name, her address, her access to money and her connection to her previous life and contacts who would be barred for two years.

Kay is a reformed bad boy with the trade mark bald head and tattoos and a heart of gold. His younger years were more than rough and he clawed himself away from his past to a reputable job and his own home.  He had got used to the revolving door or scanning staff who only stayed at the job for a short while and then took off due to boredom.  Along came "Annabelle" and they clicked, with him wanting to know a lot more about her.  If only his recurring nightmare would leave him in peace. However, he finds that the nightmare is more real than he knew and  by connecting with "Annabelle" his life changes forever as he untangles scrambled memories.

The dark side to both their lives comes back to haunt them and they battle together in true movie style to discover the truths that have been hidden in a dark and deadly conspiracy. It is touch and go as to whether their efforts will be rewarded as the crooked perpetrators seem to be managing to stay a step ahead of the intrepid couple and the threat becomes a matter of life and death. Will justice ever be served? No more clues from me... just has to be read!!!

I have really enjoyed reading Nicky Wells' first crime novel!!  The hint of Rock is there as you would expect and with such a brilliant twist!!  Stay with it Nicky....this genre really suits you!!  

About Nicky Wells: Love & Thrills

Nicky Wells writes captivating romance and breathtaking thrillers featuring famous (or infamous!) feisty heroes and extraordinary villains. DEAD HOPE is her eighth book and the first published novel in her “Wake Up Dead” themed thriller series, with the next two books scheduled for release through the course of 2017 and 2018. Nicky has previously published seven works of romantic fiction both with US publishing house, Sapphire Star Publishing, and independently.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. She loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s hopelessly addicted to reading crime novels by the truck load.



Thursday, 6 October 2016

My Review of "The White Camelia" by Juliet Greenwood.

This book effortlessly transports us to a time where much of what we as women take for granted was definitely not a given! It is easy to forget what it was like for women back a hundred and fifty years and more ago when simply being on the street alone could get you mistaken for a prostitute! 

The story of two women, Sybil and Bea, world's apart - but not - and revenge on wrongs previously committed is intriguing, fascinating and enthralling.  What are the mysteries surrounding the past of the two ladies whose futures were moulded by very different beginnings? Will they be able to face their demons and each other? 

The writer captures scenes brilliantly and the reader can easily get the feeling of where they are whether it is the the deserted and dusty manor house or the crowded tea room with it's comforting slices of tea loaf! Cornwall is a fabulous setting and the author could not resist a hint of Welsh being put into the mix and a description of pre-emancipation London. Those were exciting and risky times.

This is one of those books that you don't want to put hell with the washing up and the laundry! It will wait until the last lines are read!  I cannot wait to read more from this author and I am not sure why I have not read her before!

The White Camellia
 by Juliet Greenwood
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 15th September 2016
Publisher: Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press
1909. Cornwall.  Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made business woman Sybil moves in.  Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart?

Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope
is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse?

When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tresillion’s long buried secrets.

Cornwall, 1909
It had not changed.
            Sybil stepped to the very edge of the cliff and gazed down at the rambling old house below her, topped with a maze of chimneys, a crumbling reminder of its Jacobean finery.
            There was no finery left in Tressillion House, she thought grimly. Even from this distance, the place held an air of ruin and abandonment. No smoke rose up through the chill morning from warm fires within. No bustle of servants, no carriage waiting to take the ladies on their rounds of visits and charitable works in the neighbouring village of Porth Levant. Not even Hector, the stallion, steaming in the frosted morning, taking the master of the house on an inspection of the mine, just visible on the next headland.
            This was what she had set in motion, all those years ago. The perfect revenge. 
            Sybil shivered. She unwound the scarf from her head and breathed in deeply the salt blowing in from the sea, her eyes following the North Cornish coast as it vanished into the distance in the crash of spray against rocks.
The wind tugged at her, loosening her curls from the silver clasp at the base of her neck, sending tendrils of brown hair in a wild dance around her face. Sybil turned back to the house below. She had dreamed of this for so long. The moment she would have Tressillion House helpless at her feet. When the Tressillions − who had once had more than they could ever need, but had not thought twice about taking the last hope from people with nothing − would be destroyed, the survivors learning what it was like to be totally dependent on others.
Was this how revenge felt? Sybil hugged herself, pulling the folds of her coat around her, bent almost double by the grief coiling deep in her belly.
'Beautiful, isn’t it?'
Sybil straightened, banishing any emotion from her face. 'Indeed.' She turned to meet the square, squat little man emerging from the smart new Ford automobile, one hand struggling to keep his hat on his head.
'The best view of Tressillion House,' he remarked. 'You can see, Miss Ravensdale, just what an exceptional property this is. There’s none finer this side of Truro.'
'So I see, Mr Roach,' she replied, almost managing to banish any hint of irony. On their first meeting, the solicitor had made obvious his contempt at a spinster, not in the first flush of youth, daring to invade his offices in broad daylight for all the respectable citizens of St Ives to see. He had changed his tune a little too quickly at the sight of her gleaming new Chevrolet, shipped all the way from New York, and speaking more of true wealth than any flash of diamonds.
Tressillion House had proved a more than usually difficult properly to dispose of, and there were impatient creditors snapping at Mr Roach’s heels. She must have seemed like a miracle, a rich hotelier from America dreaming of owning a property in Cornwall. Who else, the gleam in Roach’s eyes declared, would be fool enough to live in an isolated mansion fallen on hard times, with the rollers of the North Cornwall coast clawing at the rocks on wild nights, and ghosts creaking amongst its rafters?
Sybil replaced the scarf around her head. 'Shall we go?'

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A review of "Thicker Than Water" by Bethan Darwin

There was a reason that I decided to review this book. As soon as I knew the story involved Wales and Canada, I was sold! Having come from a coal mining heritage in the Welsh valleys and lived in Canada for nineteen years, this book was right up my street!

One of the first things that struck me in the beginning chapters was the writer's expression of details. I always had a clear picture of the scenes including the nappy changing that many can relate to!

Secondly, there is a professionalism that is evident in the research and the writing.

This book tells the tales of Gareth Maddox, a successful lawyer who leaves London with his wife and family and returns to Wales where his heart lies; and of his great- grandfather, Idris, who emigrates to Canada after the miners strike in the 1920's.

The parallel stories of  Gareth and his family and that of his great grandfather and his twin brother are enthralling and really draw the reader in.  The history of the Welsh vales and the plight of the miners is frequently touched on and really informative.

Wales and Canada become connected by the two story lines.  Gareth acquires a client from Toronto who is looking to bring business into the Rhondda Valley.  Gareth who still fancies his wife suddenly finds himself experiencing feelings for another woman that are totally alien to his personality.  The two countries are also connected when Gareth's great uncle emigrates to Canada after the failure of the the unions to improve conditions for the Welsh miners and Great Uncle Idris's need to get away from the woman he loves after she marries his twin brother. Two relationships follow for Idris during his Canadian experience. For both men there is a lot of soul searching involved.  For Gareth, he wants to find out more about his lost Canadian family.

There are so many characters in this book including Gareth's wonderfully different children who themselves seem to have their own storyline.  It is impossible to try and explain this book in any logical order as it is a bit of a Tardis in book form.  How Bethan Darwin manages to bring so much into relatively few pages without confusing the reader is simply mind boggling.

As anyone who has read my reviews knows, I never give too much information about what happens as for me, that takes away the reason to read it! However, if you want a book that will teach you a bit of history, transport you to a foreign land, make you laugh, shock you a little, provide a little spice and completely enthrall, I really suggest you get this one!

Thanks so much Bethan for writing this and thank you to Brook Cottage Books for giving me the opportunity to read it!


Genre: Fiction
Release Date: 18 August 2016
Publisher: Honno Press


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Review of "The Secret of Hilcrest House" by Melanie Robertson-King

Review of "The Secret of Hillcrest House" by 
Melanie Robertson-King

Jessica didn't really know why she had decided to buy Hillcrest House in Eastern Canada, sight unseen, except for the fact it looked just like a house she had sketched many times over. However, on actually seeing inside her new purchase, the work that needed to be done was somewhat of a shock. The physical and financial shock would actually become less shocking in comparison with the number of ex-residents who still appeared to be still living in the house, years after their own deaths. There were secrets to be uncovered that would bring back some of her own most painful memories that preceded the ending of her last relationship. Even the garden wildlife was specific crow with a white feather really managed to get Jessica's attention.

Jessica's attention was also taken by a good looking, in fact very hot, police officer with his own complicated history. Their attraction was magnetic and together they worked to unravel the secrets that Hillcrest House was hiding. I have to say that Jessica was far braver than I would have been in the same circumstances. With the spine chilling events she faced, I believe I would have had Hillcrest House up for resale in a nanosecond! Jessica though, was able to persist in uncovering - quite literally- clues and evidence to build the real story of what had happened to the home's past inhabitants. Even better, she discovers a link to herself and her new friend she made while staying at the guest house until her own house was habitable. 

I really enjoyed this story with it's seemingly insignificant  details that pan out to make sense in the final twist at the end of the book! 

For those who enjoy a little paranormal mystery with a sprinkling of hot and sexy, this is a must read. It was slightly outside my recent reading experiences and very refreshing with detailed description that easily plants a picture in one's mind. 

Have definitely appreciated the opportunity to read and review and will now go off to have a read of Melanie Robertson-King's other writings!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

A Review of "Between Friends" by Jenny Harper

A Review of "Between Friends" by Jenny Harper

This is an excellent read about three women who have been friends since they were schoolgirls. Although very different in character and lifestyle,  Jane, Carrie and Marta have been close for years but their worlds get turned upside down when Marta inadvertently reunites them all with a man from their past...Tom.  Tom is a morally bereft and frequently unemployed actor who fancies himself as holding the key to Pandora's Box as he uses the women's secrets to divide them while using them for his own financial and malicious gain. 

This story is well told with emotional ups and downs for the three friends and their families.  Tom has woven a complicated  spell on them which leads them to have to open up about their innermost demons.  They may have been "BFF's" (Best Friends Forever) but certainly did not know everything about each other. Can their friendship survive the hidden secrets and will Tom get what he deserves? 

You will have to read it to find out, and, it is well worth the read! An unusual and thought provoking book that I highly recommend.  Am now looking forward to reading more from Jenny Harper.

Jenny Harper lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, though she was born in India and grew up in England. She has been a non-fiction editor, a journalist and a businesswoman and has written a children’s novel and several books about Scotland, as well as four full length novels and a novella in The Heartlands series (set in Hailesbank), and two short stories that have appeared in anthologies. Between Friends is her fifth full length novel.
Jenny writes contemporary women’s fiction with bite – complex characters facing serious issues.
What they say:
‘An engaging and delightful read. Jenny Harper is a most gifted storyteller.’  Alexander McCall Smith

‘Page turning and thoroughly entertaining. I loved it!’ Katie Fforde

‘The most beautiful love story that I have read in a long while. Amazon review of People We Love

‘This was a fun, heart-warming but also emotional story that had me thinking about the characters long after I’d finished it.’ Amazon review of Maximum Exposure

‘Ms. Harper has created a fully populated, very human and recognizable world.’ Amazon review of Face the Wind and Fly