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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman

Fern and Aiden had what it takes to make a marriage last - or so it seemed. Both had married young, put aside ideas of higher studies, dug deep into jobs and settling down. An unexpected windfall resurrects Aiden's dreams of travelling, of adventure into the beyond. For Fern unexpected though this was, shocked really, she is willing to let Aiden go, both take a gap year from their marriage and both pursue their respective dreams.

For Fern it was painting. Something she loved to do and had no opportunities, no training and no money for all this time. Now with a years sabbatical ahead of her, she volunteers for a villa in Provence which runs various courses for people.

Very descriptive on the one hand of Provence which sounds fabulous and on the other hand a disintegrating relationship, when you add the stresses of long distance, lack of communication and the niggling feeling that things are getting away from you and with no idea of how you can get it back on the former keel it was, takes us into this story.

Very well written.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Boldwood Books.

On another note, we are not just in lockdown in Sri Lanka but in an unending curfew for the last month. No lifting of curfew for anything. If you need medicines or urgent needs you've got to apply to the police for a temporary pass which is very strictly enforced. No crossing of districts and no frivolous reasons. I marvel at the leniency in other countries and who then wonder why their infection rates and death rates are so high.  It is tiresome and difficult and one gets on anothers nerves  for no apparent reason but this is it, right now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Forbidden Promise by Lorna Cook

Delightful setting, two very interesting time frames and some strong women. Perfect for a good read.

1940 Scotland Invermoray Constance is a young woman, very protected and her parents do not even consider her "working" or doing anything other than to make a good marriage. Slightly antiquated considering that Britain was in the midst of a war and there were lots of women doing extremely good work for the war effort. Not the Mclay's. Mr and Mrs Mclay wanted life to go on as before with as little disturbance to their own.

Fast forward to 2020 and Kate arrives at Invermoray to turn the falling down house into a presentable B&B so that at least it can remain in the family and be a haven for James who now lives there with his mum. James has mixed reactions to Kate's arrival which he views with slight disbelief in her capabilities, much to Kate's dismay. She was hoping that the six months away from London will give her balance in her life. She soons becomes intrigued in the inconsistencies found in the McLay family and digging into past history unravels so many mysteries which were not known before.

The story told in the two time frames was fascinating. Scotland during the war and the attitudes of the rich as against the suffering of most Londoners and then present day Scotland as well.
Romance, history, lots of intrigue all threaded through this story.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Avon Books UK.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

An Exhibition of Murder by Vivian Conroy

Retired Scotland Yard investigator Jasper wants to have a holiday in the beautiful city of Vienna. He does not envisage being dragged into a murder with leading figures of the art world all involved in one way or another.

An exhibition of a gold mask from an archaeological site is the highlight and the curse that follows this mask seems to be true as one by one people connected to the excavation are murdered.
Jasper has to work hard to unravel the pieces of the puzzle. Being an outsider to the Viennese police does not really help as they feel this is their job to solve. But there are too many high ranking people involved and there seems to be many conflicting interests.

I liked the various strands that played into the story - neurotic, highly strung women, a beautiful city though not as descriptive as other cities in other books, lots of psychology, a lot of star crossed lovers, then intrigue where all are jockeying for wealth position and power. Lots of things to interest one and keep a story going and go it did.

I only wish Vienna was brought a bit more into the story.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Canelo.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Hide Away by Jason Pinter

In this small town, Rachel Marin does not cause any extra interest. Keeping a low profile is what she seeks and being a single mother of two kids is all she hopes for. Just to lie low after the horrific events that tore her family apart and left her children bereft and tormented.

When a former mayor turns up dead, and especially since the detectives want to deem it suicide, Rachel steps in with theories that support her view that it was murder. Both detectives find Rachel intrusive but they are helpless because she seems to be always one step ahead of them with definite supporting evidence for all her theories.

The story was very good, the characters were strong and appealing - from the detectives going in blind into an investigation which was overcast with political intrigue and corruption and then we have Rachel herself - her inner core of steel where all she wanted to do was protect her children.

Very entertaining read. Beautifully written.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone

You either think this book is totally about a sociopath, psychopath woman and then you doubt yourself. The beginning and the end were good, kept me on my toes, I did not know what to expect next.

We are looking at a woman who cannot "feel" emotion of any kind. The closest she comes is with her present partner but she is quite clinical about him too. Her dealings in her office are so brutal but the cleverness of no one realizing how brutal she is, is part of the fascination of this character.

On a search for a niece, who is a copy cat of herself and when she tries to "rescue" her from her present predicament, does she think that she is on a slippery slope and that the whole episode could ricochet on her in the future.

This was a strangely tense, strangely riveting read.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

PS I thought I had done this review and it had disappeared somewhere!

Monday, April 20, 2020

My Sardinian Summer by Michael Uras

I started this thinking it was going to be a light summer kind of read but it was just the opposite. Not exactly heavy but more introspective than what I would have liked at this time.

Giacomo was born in Sardinia but now lives in Marseille. His parents still live on the island and are very insular, like almost everyone else who lives there. Giacomo has returned as his grandmother is dying and he was very fond of her. He is a translator by profession and has brought his latest work with him to finish whilst on the island.

Giacomo is unsettled - he hasn't really got over his divorce, he feels claustrophobic in his home with his mother hovering over him and the constant squabbles between his mother and father which have fallen into a pattern but are continuous drives him batty. He is not at peace with himself at home, amidst the noise and seeks quiet outside much to the annoyance of his mother.

It finally transpires that his grandmother has no intention of dying and was pretending so as to keep the family on their toes. With that discovery the story of Giacomo gains pace (was quite slow till then) and then ends.

The book did not quite hold my interest though very descriptive of the countryside of Sardinia and very colourful personalities.

Sent by Hodder and Stoughton and through Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Felicity Carrol & the Murderous Menace by Patricia Marcantonio

I like detective fiction set in this time frame and when this particular detective story was set in two countries - worlds apart in many ways it added interest to the story.

Felicity is an aristocrat. She does not conform to the manner in which young women of her era are supposed to behave, though she is every inch a lady. She is very well educated, very well versed in the martial arts and how to defend herself and does not faint away at the sight of blood. She now sets herself the task of finding justice for all the prostitutes killed in London by Jack the Ripper. When the killings stop in London and then start off again in far off Montana, she sets off to the unknown to come to grips with this killer and uncover him.

The story from the manor in England to the hurly burly town of Placer in Montana are poles apart in character and style and the people who inhabit them. However, both towns are not used to a woman of Felicity's stature and style and she faces the same animosity in both towns by men who feel that their noses are put out of joint by a smart woman.

Detection aside, her getting the better of the men for me was a great enjoyment in the story.
Well written and very descriptive of Montana the story comes to a very unexpected conclusion.

Thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for sending this to me for an unbiased review.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Cros Her Heart by Melinda Leigh

Bree is a detective working with the Philadelphia police. She is focused but reserved and does not suffer fools easily. Her past history was full of anguish - a murder/suicide of her parents which tore the family apart and the three siblings were brought up with separate families. Erin the baby of the family has always needed emotional support but her choices were never right, and Adam lived in a world of his own where he could not be touched by the day to day vagaries of what went on with people's lives.

When Erin is found dead - murdered and her partner is missing it seems like history repeating itself especially when he seems to have disappeared without trace. It points out to him being the chief suspect but when Erin's ex husband turns up on the scene Bree knows she has her work cut out to evade his scheme of getting his hands on his children whom he has never acknowledged nor seen, but for whom he now professes to want and love.

The mystery has several unlikely suspects and when they mount up, Bree does not known who is the most likely one as there seems to be several. The pace was quite swift but you knew it was coming to a point of reveal soon. The final was a surprise.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an honest review, thanks to Montlake Romance.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

What it Seems by Emily Bleeker

This was full of suspense and was a thriller but not quite what I felt like reading in the present context. That was unfortunate.

Tara is mild and her personality has been crushed by her foster mother who controls her and rules her with a rod of iron.  Her only life is watching a vlog of a family and when she is invited to join the family she is hugely relieved as she feels that she will have some kind of normalcy in her life.
She did not envisage cracks appearing and everything not being quite so rosy as it looks like. Is her Mother still controlling her life from afar? Is this some twisted plan put together between the two families to control Tara and not to let her get away?

The writing in the story was good and though I did know how it was going to end, it did not detract from the novel.

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance copy, sent courtesy of Lake Union Publishing. All opinions stated here are my own.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Chocolate House Treason by David Fairer

1708 England was an interesting time. Queen Anne's reign was anything but routine and scandal was rife. There were spies everywhere. The celebrations for the Queen's birthday are all being planned and with a big fireworks display as well.

In Covent Garden we have a coffee house newly opened and Mary Trotter at the helm hoping that this house will lead the way for intellectuals to gather to have discourse and conversations on a higher level. She did not expect to face the problems she did.

Full of historical detail of a period not very often found, it was an interesting account of the times. The characterization was very good with three people trying to help out a publisher falsely accused. Not easy in these times.

I am only sorry that it took me so long to get to this book. Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Matador

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Earl Not Taken by A S Fenichel

Though I do like a tense thriller or mystery murder, I think this kind of read was just what my mind needed in the midst of all the drama going on in all our lives.

This was a short romance with a twist. Four young ladies sent off to finishing school in Switzerland because they are rebels at home and their parents hope to drum some "sense and most importantly decorum" into them. Plainly to accept marriage as their main goal in life and preferably to someone in the aristocracy, the higher the better. When one of them accepts and marries someone who turns out to be a bounder and a abuser which of course remains hidden until his thank god death in a hunting accident, the others are determined to vet thoroughly any future suitors for any of their hands.

This is the story of the intricacies of vetting someone whose past is determinedly hidden. He does not want it to be found for very valid reasons which the girls cannot fathom. At the same time love and attraction finds its way to the heart of one of the girls who is determined not to marry at all. How all these balance out is told in this delightful period romance.

Not soppy, yet very good reading.

Sent for an honest review by Netgalley, courtesy of Kensington Books.

Country Doctor by Michael Sparrow

This memoir is a collection of stories of a country GP and though most of them seem slightly unbelievable they are true!

From the ridiculous stories which one finds hard to believe true, to the self derision where the doctor wonders what he is doing in this profession, the book is a bit disjointed and rambling and though at most times funny it was not a book which actually held my interest.

I was disappointed that for the most part it seemed as if medical students missed classes or were too hungover to follow these classes. Dented my appreciation of doctors found in this story though right now my appreciation of all medical professionals are at its very height.

Sent by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Duckworth Books

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Where the Sun will Rise Tomorrow by Rashi Rohatgi

1905 and Indians are chafing under the British yoke of colonialism. Even in Chandrapur in Bengal, (always a hotbed of revolutionaries) change is coming. There is a strong awakening not just in politics but in empowerment of women and Leela and Maya who are fortunate in having a rather benevolent father are in the forefront of education for women.

The story plays out for both these women wanting and yearning for love and marriage - one within the boundaries of caste and religion and one distinctly outside. It is not an easy time and the story shows the differences even within one country - where religion and caste can cause so much differences even whilst they try to unite for a common goal.

For readers who like history and a story woven into actual history, this is a wonderful read.

The biography of this writer alone deserves another story as it is fascinating.

Sent by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Galaxy Galloper Press.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Mrs Hudson and the Samarkand Conspiracy (series) Martin Davies

Mrs Hudson and her sidekick Flotsam aka Flottie are unique women. Mrs. Hudson a woman of few words, vast range of friends and acquaintances, an even vaster knowledge of the vagaries of London society and the ins and outs of the aristocracy she is a legend.

Enter Holmes and Watson the famous duo - who solve all crimes big and small. Even tiny ones like a vicar constantly having his spectacles nicked.

The story is long and convoluted and covers spies, foreign and bumbling British diplomats, a treaty that will endanger the whole of Europe if not signed etc but it is the workings of Mrs. Hudson and Flotsam that take the cake.

Loved the writing.

Sent by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Canelo.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Dovetail by Karen McQuestion

Told in two story lines the one is of Pearl both as a young woman and now someone who lives in a retirement home, sick with cancer and just months to live. That story formed the bulwark of the book - as it was the reason why her grandson appeared in the next story line in the novel.

Pearl was estranged from her only son - the grandson whom she befriended and brought to her home. She meant to make amends of some kind and reparation for what she had done as a youngster but was muddled about it. She had directly and indirectly caused the death of a sister years ago, and then in the same manner caused her husband to commit suicide. The two deaths I think weighed on her conscience. Estranged from her only son is one thing, but she was one of several siblings and I could not understand why she did not reach out to any of the others who were still living.

Women's fiction and romance on the one hand is part of the genre but there is an element of the supernatural as the other and this was a fine line which the writer had to deal with - not making it totally unbelievable and at the same time making it something that could probably be believed however hard it was for this particular reader. It was done well here.

Sent by Netgalley for an honest review, and thanks to Lake Union Publishing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

One Way To Venice by Jane Aiken Hodge

Five years ago Julia was in love and expecting a child. Living in an overpoweringly gothic kind of house with a full family of her husband's relations was not what she had expected. However, he refused to budge saying that it was his responsibility to take care of it all. When she was almost hounded and killed Julia decides to run away and make a life for herself.

Julia was now in a state of almost being at peace. In very turbulent circumstances, a bad decision of giving away her infant son for adoption has derailed her life since. She has come to terms almost with this bad decision until she starts receiving mail and a photograph of her son along with instructions to come to Venice.

The story becomes quite complicated with her arrival in Venice. Despite being instructed to be cautious with strangers Julia seemed overly naïve and open especially in a cloak and dagger situation. It became farcical with the number of coincidences that happened to Julia one after another but she kept doggedly on in her search.

The fact that it ended well despite the danger and histrionics of a mad family hell bent on money added to this mystery.

Sent by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Agora Books.