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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A Regency Scandal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

Viscount Shaldon has had a disturbing childhood. His father has never actually shown any affection always associating his son with his mild mannered mother. Now the Duke wants or rather insists that his son marries Cynthia Lynley, an attractive girl who is their neighbour whose lands run alongside their own. Shaldon is not very keen on marriage but Cynthia is very beautiful and he feels that the match will not be that bad. Intrigue sets in very quickly however when an innocent girl gets unwittingly drawn into a scandalous past and when an employee of one of Shaldon's friends feels that he is put upon, and ignored and decides to take matters into his own hands. Past scandals buried for years are now being uncovered and the Viscount faces disinheritance and being ostracized from the aristocracy for the fault of his father. Uncovering the mystery, and to set things right is not easy because there is viciousness and jealousy behind the actions of a few. A Regency romance but with lots of other stuff coming in to make the story quite an intriguing one. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, December 28, 2020

The Girl Without A Name by Suzanne Goldring

Two time lines for this family story 1940 amidst the war and its aftermath and then 2004. Billie is one of three children all grown up, their mother has just passed away and their father is trying very hard to keep it together and move on. When he has a stroke, Billie takes over his care and finds a crumpled photograph. When shown this Dickie becomes distraught trying to tell her something which is incomprehensible to Billie. Trying to go back sixty years is hard. Most of the people who associated with Dickie are either senile or dead. Billie is adamant that she must put the pieces together for the sake of her father and later for the sake of the dead girl Ruby. This becomes a very circuitous exercise but Billie will not give up. The adage that somethings should be left undisturbed is very valid here but in this context it leads to a very interesting tale. For Ruby it was heart breaking to see that her idol had feet of clay, for Dickie it was decades of guilt which became too much to bear. The whole gamut of emotions are played out here. Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

The Sugar Merchant by James Hutson Wiley

A 11th century story has to be I thought a bit slow, interesting but slow. This proved me wrong. Thomas lost his entire family in a raid. Through sheer doggedness and good luck he ended up with a monk who took him back to his monastery, and became the father he had lost and the monastery became the family he wanted. A bright spark, he took to learning, academic as well as others and the senior monks ear marked him for a future far away from rural Eynsham. Entering into a world of trade, totally unknown to him the adventures of Thomas were myriad and wide. Encountering Jews and Muslims he befriends both communities, establishes a profitable commercial venture/s, marries a Muslim despite a fatwa against it and becomes a person of stature in the Islamic world he embraces. The story was fascinating, fast paced and held my interest throughout. For those who like history it provided enough, it was also a personal story of rags to riches and this enthralled me as well. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

A Regency Christmas by Susan Payne

Three delightful Christmas themed stories. All set in Regency England. Penelope from a very good family has fallen on hard times, trying to protect her brother Christopher who is in debt, always wanting more and being drawn into the wrong circles. How does one protect a grown up boy in Regency England, with the restrictions placed on women. The second story was slightly hilarious. Lord Williamsburg at 40 realises that he must marry and have some heirs - he has left it rather late. But in his search for a bride, it seems that the girl's mother is the one who is attracting his attention the most! The third story set in Gunter's Tea Room amidst all the pastries and fancies made me wanting to eat and taste them all as the cooking is part of the attraction of the story as well as the love story which followed. Ideal to put one in the Christmas spirit. Sent by The Wild Rose Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Murder in the Snow by Verity Bright (Book 4) good standalone

I did not feel particularly Christmassy this time around. It has been a hard time all over, this book however did get a spark going in me. Lady Eleanor is at her ancestral home after many years and celebrating a traditional Christmas with all the trimmings. That includes entertaining the whole village to a lunch, a run in the park, gifts for the children, card games for the ladies and plenty to eat and drink. It is meticulously planned by all the retainers at the Manor and everyone looks very much forward to the events. No one thought that a murder could get in the way and though shushed up for the day so that everyone could have a good time, investigations have to start and suspects galore abound as the victim was an extremely unpopular man. The suspects start out with the timid parlour maid and then go on to Mrs. Trotman a more unlikely suspect who is anyway taken in by the local Police for questioning. It is upto Lady Eleanor and Clifford her faithful butler to take matters into their own hands and try to get to the bottom of this mystery. Very much English, very old school this was a lovely read and I thouroughly enjoyed it. I will be looking out for more books from this author. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Absence of Mercy by S M Goodwin

Jasper is not the run of the mill detective found in the British forces. He is a decorated war hero, much admired for his skills, also a Lord of the peerage and detested and disliked by his father. Being a second son was not easy growing up with the Duke as a father who made every meeting a taunting one, especially since Jasper had a stammer. His mother was indifferent and subsequently Jasper realised that the Duke was actually not his father and this could account for his attitude (at least in part) Being a detective was abhorent to the Duke but he had no control over this but he maneuvred things in such a way that Jasper had no option but to take up a post in the New York Police force, apparently to teach them a few detecting skills. On arrival when he was thrust into a murder investigation which involved the aristocracy of New York society and with the twin spectres of finding out who the murderer/s were and also not allowing the media to splash it over the papers was a herculean task. Dealing with gangs, corruption both within the police force and the municipality, thuggery, intimidation from the Police force itself and to top it all a divided police force made Jasper realise his job was no sinecure and his father had deliberately sent him there, hoping he would fail. Using all his skills Jasper encounters adversity after adversity and overcomes them with politeness and clarity - things unknown to the New York detectives! With a fabulous Paisley (valet) in the background this was a totally gripping read. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

19th century Bombay is the setting for the story. We have Captain Agnihotri a half caste as it is crudely said, just retired from the Army. We have a Parsi family the Framjis wealthy urbane and social. Friends of the British Raj and benefitting immensely from that friendship. I have always been interested in minority communities and the Parsi's have fascinated me. This story drew me in. Even in the 19th century, they were different to the mass of Indians - very different, very far thinking, educated and elite. This gave them an edge always, (as it still does). The Framjis have faced a double bereavement. The daughter and sister of the family in deaths deemed suicide. Adi the young husband of one and brother of the other and the family deem that there is more to the deaths and the Captain is brought in to use his skills as an ex military man to get to the bottom of things. Crossing to Lahore and to the princely states (under the British Raj some of them) some of them independent was a precarious journey and Jim Agnihotri's enquiries obviously set the cat amongst the pigeons. Set upon, beaten up badly Jim knows that he is on the correct path but is frustrated because every person who could be a possible witness or who could give information is terrified to do so. Who is the person who is behind the terror, and what information did he have over the young ladies that he could use them to blackmail them so much. So much history, so much drama, political machinations plus a touch of romance all set beautifully together in this story. I will be hoping that this author will publish more and will be looking out for the books. Sent by Minotaur Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb

Brynn escapes to Wharton, a quiet holiday town to have a respite from a very turbulent recent past. Putting up at an inn run by the very lovely Luann she meets up with friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere - at the beginning. When a dark turn happens and things of a paranormal nature begin to happen, and happen frequently Brynn knows that the inn holds secrets from decades past and that someone from the past is trying to reveal them to her. Why she is being chosen for this task is beyond her comprehension, but when she finds a soulmate in another visitor at the inn, Brynn feels that the whole story is now being linked. The sense of the past is very strong throughout the story, but it is only at the very tail end of the book that I began to get the gist of it. It takes some figuring out and may not be to all tastes but who can account for life after death or what happens in the hereafter. A story that got me thinking, held me interested till the end. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Manhattan Secret by Marie Bernadette Dupuy

1886 France - Elizabeth is a happy child with parents who dote on her. The family history however is troubled and her parents decide to immigrate. Expecting her second baby, the voyage is harsh and her mother dies in childbirth on the voyage itself. Her father is distraught but determined to set course for New York and to set up in the carpentry field which is his speciality. Fate however has other plans and he loses his life within a few weeks of arriving in America. Getting lost and being found by a wealthy New Yorker who loved her very much and who provided everything he possibly could for her should have been a boon but Elizabeth even at such a young age, and throughout her growingup years had flashbacks of life with her parents and her grand parents and a young boy who befriended her years ago. The story of how Elizabeth and the changes that happen so drastically very negative and then very positive makes for an interesting change, especially told over a few decades. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters by Emily Carpenter

Set in two time frames 1934 and now the story is a rough and hard one. Dove Jarrod was an evangelist and well loved and revered. Her grand daughter Eve also knows that she was a fraud. History of Dove was a turbulent one, filled with secrets and stories that went back decades. She also collected a lot of enemies over the time, and one of them waited a long time for his revenge, and he did get it when he murdered her. The fact that she was in her 90s covered up for him entirely, and it was passed as a death from natural causes. Eve her grand daughter today has to go through blackmail to protect her memory, and more than that protect her mother who is mentally far too fragile to face any kind of inquisition about her mother. Set in Tuscaloosa the story of a family with a dark past was heavy. The characters seemed vengeful (most of them) but this added to the gothic kind of story. It depicts a part of America which is somewhat different to what one reads of the rest of America (this from an outsiders point of view though). Rather insular, restrictive and protective of its own. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Once We Were Here by Christopher Cosmos

1940 Greece was at a crossroads and when faced by occupation the Greek premier replies with a resounding No. It makes people all over Greece rethink how they are going to live with a German occupation. They know it will happen sooner or later, though the Greeks give as good a fight as they possibly could. Probably the best fight in the whole episode of the War. The story is heart warming - three friends trying to safeguard their homes, their families and their loved ones. Bittersweet because one knows in a war there is always loss and heartache and these people lose not just their people but also their homelands. A story that happens every day even today decades later so history repeating itself. A story told in retrospective so that the present generation would know what went before and what their grand parents had to undergo to come to any kind of safety as immigrants. Immensely moving and powerful it was also full of detail regarding the German occupation of Greece, and the Resistance movement in Greece as well. Sent by Skyhorse Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Murder is in the Air by Frances Brody

1920s Yorkshire is still a rather traditional place. With a view of increasing business, an idea to have a competition for a woman of the area to be a representive of the Yorkshire pubs and ale in particular are put in place. The story is set amongst the brewing industry in Yorkshire and the descriptions of both the lifestyle of not just the owners of these breweries but the actual lives of those who work both in the breweries and in the pubs and the women that support them, added a lot of character to the original story. Kate has been invited by the owner as he is unsettled by recent events at the brewery. His nephew gone on a protracted trip to Europe does not show any sign of returning to take up his position at the brewery and then pubs with a long standing relationship with the brewery cancels their orders. Kate and her assistant Sykes comes in to just look into matters and immediately Sykes picks up on several failings within the brewery including the all important matter of security. Going on from there a series of small events tend to indicate that things are not quite right culminating in the murder of a drayman when matters take a much more serious turn, because now it is not just mischief but murder in play. In a manner of an Agatha Christie story, the detection is slow but methodical and you know Sykes and Kate are not going to be side tracked by other events happening. The focus is on finding out the story and find out they do. The history of the era, and history of the breweries including the setting added so much interest to this story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books courtesy of Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Duke for Miss. Townbridge by Sophie Barnes

This is just the sort of read needed in between serious suspense thrillers or long winded stories. Sarah and her siblings and her parents are certainly different from other families around them. They do want the girls to get married, but they are not going to push them into the arms of the first personable, rich man that comes their way. But when Matthew, himself a Duke proposes to Sarah in the strangest possible manner, everyone's interest is piqued especially Sarah. She knows this man is different but she wants to know the workings of his mind, before she decides whether he is the one for her. What follows is both light hearted and heart breaking on Matthew's side. Trying to overcome depression and guilt over a sad history in his own life, he knows that winning Sarah will involve love and giving her his heart. Whether he will be able to be clinical over Sarah is the million dollar question. Enjoyed the read very much. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Friday, December 4, 2020

A Village Vacancy by Julie Houston

The setting of Westenbury in Yorkshire was glorious, the characters were all spot on hilarious, serious, modern women. The families were complicated - there were yours, mine and ours multiplied over and the story could not be called women's fiction because I think men will enjoy the story too. The ramifications of a village life, the handsome widower now being eyed by many women in the village, he is rich and handsome and also a kind soul. Then there is a bunch of attractive professional women around too. I sometimes felt in the story that it was a little too crowded with characters and got a tad confusing. Overall the story was entertaining and just what anyone needs after a dose of heavy reading. Descriptive and engaging. Sent by Aria and Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

One Goes Missing by M G Karpin

1920s New York was still with very strict rules in place for well to do girls. They could go to college but they were expected to conform to their families traditional way of life. Two young women boarded together one studying music, the other architecture happy as room mates both enjoying a bit of freedom away from the strict attitudes of well connected and rich families. Till one goes missing, then winds up dead. Taking the investigaiton over is Nathaniel Walker, a gentleman investigator for whom private detective work is a passion and something which someone of his wealth will not pursue normally. Painstakingly going over the background and the last few days of this young woman's life he uncovers a whole lot of information which will be very unpalatable to her highly conservative family. From accidentally brushing up against the mob and a moll from the mob, to playing in a speakeasy Nathaniel uncovers a whole plot which ended in a tragic death. Very descriptive of the Jazz Era in New York city, this was an entertaining read. Sent by BooksGo Social for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.