Sunday, 16 May 2021

The Inn at Tansy Falls - Cate Woods

Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone. You’re my best friend in the world, and as
my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl, but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…

If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.

My Review

I have to admit that this book wouldn't have been my first choice to pick up. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this story of rediscovery, coming to terms with loss and the search for a new life.
Our heroine, Nell, has lost her best friend to cancer, her boyfriend to another woman and the baby she was carrying to miscarriage. All in all, her life has been less than perfect recently. Her best friend's dying request is that she takes her ashes back to the town she stayed in and loved as a child, Tansy Falls. She has given Nell a whole itinerary of things that she needs to do during her two-week stay. While there, Nell finds that she not only starts to fall in love with the town and the people in it, but that she also begins to rediscover herself.
I enjoyed the characters and the setting of this book. While it was quite clear where things were heading, that really didn't matter and I enjoyed seeing the story unfold. There is a romance angle here, but it really takes a back seat to Nell's journey to remember her friend and discover what she really wants out of life. Despite the quite melancholy start and the subject of the story, this is really a feel-good life-affirming tale and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. A really good read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Author Bio:

Cate Woods made the most of her university degree in Anglo-Saxon Literature by embarking on a career making tea on programmes including The Big Breakfast, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and French & Saunders. After narrowly missing out on the chance to become a Channel 5 weather girl, she moved into the world of magazine journalism, then ghostwriting and now writes novels under her own name. She has written two best-selling romantic comedies – Just Haven't Met You Yet and More Than a Feeling – and a festive novel, The Christmas Guest, under the name Daisy Bell. Cate lives in London with her husband and two children.

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Monday, 10 May 2021

A body at the tea rooms - Dee MacDonald

 Meet Kate Palmer! A semi-retired nurse with a sweet tooth for cake and a talent for solving crimes.

Kate Palmer is most disappointed when renovations at her sister Angie’s new tea rooms are derailed after a body is discovered in the cellar. She was looking forward to clotted cream teas with a seaside view. Instead, she has another murder mystery to solve…

If the village gossip is to be believed, the unfortunate man was connected to the wealthy Hedgefield family. Kate is reluctant to get caught up in the investigation but a curious card in the victim’s jacket pocket sparks her interest. Not to mention the ridiculous rumour Angie is somehow involved! Keen to clear her sister’s name so she can finally eat cake in the charming tea rooms, Kate teams up with handsome retired Detective ‘Woody’ Forrest to untangle the baffling case.

After quizzing the locals over copious cups of tea, Kate begins to realise the Hedgefields, who live in a grand mansion and own half the village, are not as perfect as they make out. They’re hiding a long-buried family secret and plenty of people have a grudge against them, including a number of their ex-employees.

But who could have murdered a member of Lower Tinworthy’s most enviable family? Was it the old gardener? The seemingly sweet cook? Or the bitter maid?

Just as she inches closer to the truth, Angie goes missing. Does amateur sleuth Kate have what it takes to get to the bottom of this extraordinary puzzle and save her sister at the same time?

If you love murder mysteries with a brilliant cast of characters, twisty plots and plenty of cake, A Body at the Tea Rooms will have you hooked until the very last page! Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Faith Martin and Joy Ellis.

My Review

A Body at the Tea Rooms (A Kate Palmer Novel Book 3)A Body at the Tea Rooms by Dee MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in the Kate Palmer series finds Kate with a skeleton on her hands. Her sister Angela has been busy renovating her coffee shop and in the process manages to unearth a skeleton. It isn't long before Kate is deep into the mystery, trying to find out what had happened. Now that her boyfriend Woody is retired from the police force, he seems a little more willing to help her out. It's still Kate that leads this investigation.
I do enjoy these gentle mysteries. Kate is a likeable character who just seems to have a knack for getting people to open up to her. That said, I had this one figured out long before Kate did and neither she or her ex-policeman boyfriend seem to be that quick on the uptake when it comes to some of the clues.
That doesn't really matter though. The mystery worked and I enjoyed Kates attempts to get to the bottom of everything. I'm not sure what murder she'll manage to stumble across next, but I've no doubt that this will be the last one that she finds herself in the middle of.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

The Berlin Zookeeper - Anna Stuart

 Two women. One shocking wartime secret. And a family mystery just waiting to be discovered...

Berlin Zoo, 1943: Ten-year-old Adelaide and her newborn sister are orphaned after a devastating night of bombing. Heartbroken and frightened, Adelaide runs to her mother’s closest friend, Katharina Heinroth, and the kind zookeeper takes the two little girls under her protection. As the bombing intensifies, Adelaide tries to shut out the horrors of war by caring for her tiny sister and playing with the adorable baby monkeys. But when Katharina organises a dangerous operation to enable children and animals to escape the battle-scarred city, something goes wrong. And Adelaide has to promise her adopted mother to keep a shocking secret. A secret that will change Adelaide’s life forever.

Berlin Zoo, 2019: Bethan Taylor notices the elderly lady sitting on the bench next to her seems confused, her thoughts flitting between past and present. Ada talks of her childhood, played out in an underground bunker beneath the animal enclosures during the war. As Ada’s story unfolds, Bethan is surprised to hear a name she recognises…

Katharina Heinroth is at the top of a list of German names Bethan found in a hidden compartment of her late mother’s jewellery box. Bethan’s father couldn’t tell her anything about the crumpled piece of paper and she’s been searching for the meaning ever since.

As the two women are brought together by the pain of the past can they help each other to heal? And after decades of silence, can Ada help Bethan to uncover a long-buried family mystery?

An unforgettable and heart-wrenching novel of a brave orphan girl and a shocking wartime secret. Inspired by a true WW2 story and perfect for fans of Orphan Train, The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Alice Network.

My Review

The Berlin ZookeeperThe Berlin Zookeeper by Anna Stuart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that my knowledge of what happened to the ordinary citizens of Berlin during the war. At school, we covered plenty about what happened in Britain, but very little outside of that and certainly not what happened in Germany. It's still in many ways a contentious subject. Even so, it's hard not to feel for the people left behind to try and keep the zoo together that we learn about in this book.
The whole story is told both during the second world war and in modern-day Berlin. Although the realities are very different for the characters of the two stories, it is clear that there are links between the two. I enjoyed the way that the story switched back and forth. The modern-day storyline helped to soften some of the horrors of what they faced back at the tail end of the war. I think that had it just focused on this period, it would have been a harder read. Instead, the human interest element of Bethan attempting to find out her mother's history helped bring the rest of the story to life.
I really enjoyed this book, particularly the sections that dealt with Katharina Heinroth. I'd never heard of her, but she sounds like a fascinating character. I have to admit that the book left me wanting to know more about her and wanting to be able to visit the Berlin Zoo when such things are possible once again.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers. You can reach her on Facebook @annastuartauthor or Twitter @annastuartbooks.

Eight Minutes to Sunrise - Tamsen Schultz

 When a conspiracy leads to a second chance, anything can happen.

At the age of twenty-two, Benita Ricci walked away from the man she loved and never looked back. He was destined for great things and having her in his life would only get in his way. Sixteen years later, time has proved her right. She may have gone on to a successful career first as an Army medic then as a member of the elite Tildas Island FBI Task Force, but he’d gone on to be the Vice President of the United States. She’d resigned herself long ago to only being a part of his life from afar. Too bad fate, and the man himself, had other plans.

Calvin Matthews never knew why Nita had left him—one day she was there and the next she was gone. First to the Army and then to the FBI. But now, as a conspiracy unfolds on Tildas Island that has him at the centre, he finally has the opportunity to get some answers from the one and only woman he has ever loved. But answers aren’t the only thing he wants, especially once he has them. He wants her, all of her, back in his life for good.

But navigating old hurts, new chances, and a tentative new future aren’t the only hazards they face. There’s a conspiracy threatening Cal. A conspiracy that’s been quietly brewing for three years. A conspiracy that could destroy not just their chance at happiness, but American Democracy itself.

Grab this thrilling conclusion to the Tildas Island Series and discover just how powerful friendship, love, and second chances can be. 

My Review

Eight Minutes to Sunrise is the fifth and final book in the Tildas Island series. Like the others, it is a careful balance of thriller and romance. It brings together the storylines from the previous books, although I think that it would probably still work if you hadn't read the other books.
Benni and Cal were once a couple but when in their early twenties. Benni decided that although they were in love, they would never reach their potential or do what they needed to do if they stayed together. Now, years later, they meet again and it's clear that the spark between them has never gone out.
Cal is the vice president of the US and as such has been the ultimate target of much that the team has been dealing with. They need to bring down those working against him and clear his name. Much of this opposition is because he and the president are from different parties. I have to admit, I thought that was a bit odd, but then I am from a country where parliamentary opposition is a big part of government and we elect the party rather than the leader. I've tried to understand the US system before, but I still don't really have my head around it.
Much of the book is about bringing these people to account and explaining how the stories that we read in the previous books all weave together into one conspiracy theory. We do have Cal and Benni's second chance romance too, which is nice, but it really is the overall story that makes this book.
This is a great conclusion to an exciting and interesting series. As is often the case, I was sad to see it come to an end. I do hear that we will see some of these characters making cameo appearances in future books by Tamsen Schultz. I for one, am looking forward to meeting them again. 

Friday, 30 April 2021

Luciano Castelli - Anna Ray


Luciano Castelli

Luciano Castelli: An Enemies-to Lovers Romance, an all-new mafia romance is coming April 29th 2021. It's
the first book in the Dangerous Mafia Royals. 
My entire life I've fought against the constraints my family held me in. I was the precious bird in the gilded cage. So far from all my dreams.  Until I met Luc. I was practically forced to be around him all the time. I never imagined that he'd be this pretentious or rude. But he's proving to be something more than the arrogant mafia prince.

I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, but I always pay my dues. When MJ walked into my life, I knew that nothing good can come from this spoiled little princess. She has no idea what she got herself into. Every moment with her is sweet torture, and it comes with the price.  She will be the end of me. 
Do they have what it takes to end up together, or if everything will come crashing down?

My Review

What a read this was. I had expected your usual Mafia romance, which of course this is and I do really like, but this was far more than I expected. It probably helps that this is an enemies to lovers story, which I do really enjoy. MJ and Luc really don't like each other when they first meet, but of course, the line between love and hate is a thin one. They are certainly far from indifferent about one another. Even when they begin to thaw towards each other, this isn't an instant reconciliation. They have much to overcome before they become lovers. 
Compared to similar books, this romance is a drawn-out one and is all the more delicious for it. It burns slow, but hot. Luc is lovely. Dark and brooding, but with a soft centre that he tries, and fails to conceal. He and MJ make a fantastic couple, they work so well together, even when you're left frustrated that they just can't seem to see where they should be going.
That isn't all this story is. There is also an underlying suspense element. While much of this is dealt with in this book, don't expect it to be all wrapped up by the last page. There's more to come, I assume in the next book. I think it will deal with MJ and Luc's friends Knox and Silvia. Either way, I'm looking forward to reading it.
This was a wonderful read and one that left me quite sad that it had finished when I reached the last page. I hope that it won't be long until I get to return to Luc and MJ's world.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Moonlit Murders - Fliss Chester

 When a journey to New York is interrupted by missing diamonds and a body in the lifeboat, there is

only one woman who can help: Fen Churche!

1945Fen Churche follows her dreams and sails for New York. She books passage on a steamship from France to America, excited to dance the night away in the glamorous ballroom and play games on deck. Nothing will stand in the way of her trip, not even when an eccentric heiress’s diamond tiara goes missing

Looking forward to relaxing with her favourite crossword puzzles, Fen’s quiet passage is horribly disrupted by another crime – this time a murder. Fen finds Genie, a young actress bound for Broadway, strangled in her own cabin. With no police onboard and a frantic captain, Fen decides to do a little snooping of her own.

When another body turns up, hidden in a lifeboat, whilst the ship is in the middle of the Atlantic, Fen feels sure these dreadful crimes are linked. Through her sleuthing, she meets light-hearted lieutenants returning from the war, charming cabin boys and snooty first-class passengers who look down their nose at her. But it isn’t until Fen realises that one person is missing from the passenger list that she is finally on the murderer’s trail.

With only rolling waves and sea mists for company, can Fen solve the case before they dock in New York and the killer escapes for good?

You’ll be utterly hooked from page one of this warm and witty cozy! An absolute treat for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Jacqueline Winspear.

Author Bio:

Fliss Chester lives in Surrey with her husband and writes historical cozy crime. When she is not killing people off in her 1940s whodunnits, she helps her husband, who is a wine merchant, run their business. Never far from a decent glass of something, Fliss also loves cooking (and writing up her favourite recipes on her blog), enjoying the beautiful Surrey and West Sussex countryside and having a good natter.

Buy Links:

My Review

The Moonlit Murders (A Fen Churche Mystery #3)The Moonlit Murders by Fliss Chester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some of my favourite series are historical murder mysteries and The Fen Churche Mysteries are quickly joining these titles. Set in the period immediately following the second world war, the first two books followed Fen in France as she looked for evidence of what happened to her fiance and then made her way back to England. Now, leaving France, she makes a detour and travels to New York.
As seems to happen around Fen, it isn't long before something mysterious happens. First with the theft of some near priceless jewels and then with a murder. Fen, with the help of the lovely James, soon starts sniffing around and trying to get to the bottom of what has happened.
Although it's not just Fen who does the sleuthing in these books, James does take more of a supportive role and it's definitely Fen who leads the investigations. James is there to help her out when she needs an extra pair of hands, or just to look after her when things get a bit much.
I really enjoy these stories and can't wait to find out what happens to Fen next. Will she make it back to England before finding herself caught up in something else. It's clear that there's more to James' story than he's shared as yet and he's far from keen to face up to his family responsibilities.
This was a fantastic read and Fen is fast becoming a bit of a favourite with me.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Rogue Wave - Isabel Jolie

Rogue Wave
Isabel Jolie
(Haven Island, #1)
Publication date: April 13th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Sometimes opposites don’t just attract — they collide with all the violent passion of a rogue wave.

I sailed every ocean, saw the worst that humanity had to offer, and accomplished… nothing.

The world is just as screwed up now as it was when I set out to save it. The futility of it all left me disillusioned. Numb.

Then an idealistic beauty burst into my world, shining a light into all the dark corners of my soul.

The last thing she needs is a summer romance with a burned-out wreck like me.

I shouldn’t want her.

But I do…

When I look at Tate, I see a legend. He’s done it all, seen it all — lived my dream.

Too bad he doesn’t see what I see.

He thinks he’s all wrong for me. Too old.

But age is just a number. In our souls, where we’re both one with the sea, we’re the same.

He says I shouldn’t want him.

But I do…

They clash in every sexy, dangerous way imaginable. But is attraction — and maybe even love — enough to overcome all that stands between them? Or will their happily ever after remain elusive?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Author Bio:

Isabel Jolie, or Izzy to her friends, is an Amazon bestselling indie author with an unquenchable thirst for a good, sexy love story. Izzy’s heart pumps faster for stories with strong heroines, down-to-earth realism, and an unexpected twist.

When she’s not writing or reading, she can often be found with a glass of wine in hand relaxing with her husband, daughters, and good friends lakeside.

Izzy fills her Instagram feed with funnies, inspirational “brain candy”, and anything that meshes with her mood of the day. #mood.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

My Review

You might be excused for thinking that you are in for a light romance when you pick up Rogue Wave. While it's true that there is a romance woven through these pages, there's also a bit more to it than that. Tate has seen a lot of the world and it's left him weary and scarred. He is lost and doesn't really know what he wants out of life any longer, only that his youthful optimism is long gone. Luna is all that he was in his early twenties and so much to young for him, both in a literal and figurative sense. What he doesn't realise is that she is possibly all that he really needs to find himself again.
While it's obvious to us that Luna and Tate belong together, Tate isn't sure that they should be. He worries about the age difference (13 years) and the difference in what they want out of life. As often happens, Luna, the younger member of this partnership, is much more mature in her approach to everything.
I really enjoyed this story. The romance was strong and worked well. The passion that they both had for sea life, fishing and human trafficking and slavery also went to make a gripping read and one that I couldn't put down. This is the first book in a series set on Haven Island and I can't wait to read more. 

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