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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Secrets of a Scottish Isle by

The year 1927 and Jane’s assignment is to an isolated island off the coast of Scotland. She was set to investigate discreetly and ferret the secrets of a cult led by the arrogant Livingstone. Getting there was not the issue, but questioning the followers when her own knowledge of the cult was scant, was going to be tough.

Jane did not do her homework and holes appeared at every stage of her stay. When Netta’s body was discovered naked and with scratch marks all over, the mystery deepened. The fact that a group that had split from the main group was on an adjoining island, added to the suspect list. Another body being discovered hastened the enquirer with suspects galore. With Redvers her fiancée on the island, Jane was sure to track the murderer down.

The setting of the story was fabulous. Lonely, wind swept, few inhabitants, tightly knit community. Jane came across as rather careless but that was part of the story.

Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

On another note I don’t seem to be able to post any images.

Friday, April 19, 2024

An Inconvenient Letter by Julie Wright


Marietta aka Etta has felt second best in her mother’s eyes. Scorned, criticized and looked over she has learnt to lie low and seeks the love she misses from her father. Her sister Anne has returned from her debutante season with a disastrous scenario surrounding her. It is now Etta’s turn but her mother decides that only Anne will go once again to London without Etta.

Etta has been in love with Frederick Finch for ages and has written passionate love letters to him (all unposted) albeit she thinks safely in her bureau drawer until the unthinkable happens and one gets posted.

Gerard lives in close proximity to Frederick and when the letters fall into his hands, he persuades Etta to help him woo her sister Anne, because the only way out for him is to find himself a very rich wife.
Etta agrees to this scheme only to get thwarted when she finds herself attracted to Gerard and realizes that Frederick is a cad!

Scandal, blackmail, genteel poverty, London and a debutant season all feature in the story.

Light hearted romance.

Sent by Shadow Mountain Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Death in Venice by Verity Bright


The stories involving Lady Eleanor Swift and the mystery murders she somehow gets dragged in are not just good stories. Not just of murder but always include beautiful settings, handsome men, damsels in distress, her own personal butler Clifford and her coterie this time of domestics who have accompanied her to Venice on what was to be a holiday.

Dragged into one murder as a witness, the other deliberately targeted as the suspect, we have a family vendetta reminiscent of the Capulets and the Montagues, with dominant heads of families and a pair of star crossed lovers. 

The settings were picturesque and so descriptive that one was swept along without almost realizing that this is actually a murder mystery that has got to be solved.

Entertaining reading.

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

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Missing Maid by Holly Hepburn


London 1932 very stringent rules govern women’s behaviour and Harriet working raises eyebrows. Grand daughter of a baron, she is very comfortably off but wants to get out of the claustrophobic world of her family. Working in a bank was a job she liked, till the rejected advances of her boss got her relegated to the post room, the back of beyond.

Given the job of replying letters to the fictitious Sherlock Holmes who was depicted as living in Baker Street, Harry does the job efficiently till one letter catches her eye, and she knows she has to do some detective work on her own. Pursuing and finding a missing maid accused of stealing is one matter but Mildred the maid is a victim of a bigger ring of thieves in London. Uncovering this ring also reveals the other seamier side of London life. 

Harry engages the help of Oliver a friend, and despite his warnings of the dangers ahead Harry proceeds regardless. Somewhat similar to the escapades of Lady Eleanor Swift, this was a good read. The cover leaves much to be desired though.

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

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Love Unscripted by Denise Hunter


Chloe has written a best seller. She cannot believe it herself, and when the powers that be decide to turn it into a film, Chloe is overwhelmed. A small town resident running a restaurant with her brother and mother she was not ready for the intricacies of the film world.

Her hero on celluloid is Liam Hamilton, a typical bad boy whom Chloe is horrified being cast as her hero. He has his own personal life issues to sort out, his social media accounts are all critical, he needs a revamp, a steady relationship with a nice young lady and Chloe fits the bill.

It all had to go wrong though, before it righted itself. Family secrets came out, new romances were established, hearts broken, then mended and it ended happily ever after. 

We all need this in our lives!

Sent by HarperCollins Christian Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

After the scorching heat of the last few weeks, rain and mist are very welcome. At Rozella, Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Mystery Writer by Sulari Gentill

I’m always trying to grab a Sulari Gentill read. She puts disparate characters together in the most cohesive way possible. 

We have Theo running away from her university studies in Australia. She has decided law is not for her and gone back to the refuge of her brothers home. Gus her brother is a hot shot lawyer and understanding and protective, even if he is skeptical of her choices. Then there is Dan an older man who befriends Theo. The mentor relationship develops and her one days sexual encounter with him, ends with his brutal murder and the story starts from there.

Seemingly disconnected, no obvious clues as to who, why or where, Gus’s friend Mac a private eye and more gets involved to find out why the death of Dan who was a popular river, has turned people’s venom against Theo, indirectly Gus and Mac.

Doomsday prophecies, cults, a behind the scenes controlling book agents add to the drama, murders, mayhem and attacks and then the complete disappearance of Theo for three years, till she surfaces again.
The power of a supportive family is amply demonstrated in this story.

Very much edge of the seat reading, this was a page turner which I finished in a day.

Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

One of the many beautiful gopurams at Kumbakonam I saw on my last trip to India.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Vineyard Remains by Addison McKnight

Kiki and Angela are cousins living on Martha’s Vineyard. Both have had tough childhoods filled with abuse from parents. Kiki was abandoned by her mother who is now presumed dead, Angela’s mother is in jail for killing her husband, a crime she did not commit but it was either killed or be killed.

It left both girls insecure, and when they both fell pregnant at the same time by one man it meant a cycle of mistrust, secrets and cover ups going well into their adult life.
The story complicated by a change of babies at birth, bitter jealousy over them both in love with one man, Kiki wanting security above everything else for herself and her children, and Angela determined to get Mila the baby who was changed back to herself alone.

The story was drama personified, the characters unlikeable but it was a strongly provocative read.

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

Pamban Bridge at the southern part of India - an engineering marvel.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Murder at the Island Hotel by Helena Dixon


Kitty and Alice have been asked to certify the newly renovated hotel on the island and they are delighted to do so. The hotel is luxurious and posh. Sir Norman and his fiancée have also invited a group of fellow actors as a trial run.

The weather is not very welcoming but everyone settles in. When Sir Norman is found murdered Kitty gets into Police mode because there is no way for the police to cross the seas to get there.
The murderer has to be one of the guests and Kitty by a sense of deduction eliminates her suspects one by one. 

A typical cost mystery reminiscent of Agatha Christie, especially with the very British weather and surroundings adding charm to the read.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.


A palace I saw during my recent trip to South India. Magnificient

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Mystery of Haverfordwest House by Rachel Burton


Another story with two timelines.  1933 England Annie, like her mother enters service at Haverford House. Unlike her mother Annie dreams big, and seeks a future without being subservient to the owners and their ilk, who treat domestics as part of the furniture. One day Annie Bishop disappears and a legend starts.

2003 Haverford Houseis under threat of going under and the myth of Annie Bishop is waning. Viola who has worked five years in keeping the house going, now realizes that she has to accept the reality however unpleasant that the house will go up for sale, probably a modern hotel.

The stories from both decades are actually about social change, in the former period radical with WWI And the rise of feminism. In the latter period the bald fact that the privileged life of the “big houses” has come to an end and that the National Trust can only do so much to preserve such buildings.

Descriptive and still very much personal stories of Annie and Viola made for interesting reading.

Sent by Aria & Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

View from my window

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Berlin Letters by Katherine Reay


Luisa has a complicated background, most of which has been hidden from her. Her origins are East German, her grandparents fled after her parents were killed in a car accident. That’s the story told to her and she never questioned it as it was a plausible one. She works as a CIA operative now and a chance symbol on an envelope led her to a stash of letters hidden under a floorboard. Written by her father, who is alive, but languishing in prison, she discovers a trail of espionage, coded and secret in innocuous terms of accounts of daily life.

That accounted for half the story. The rest was the planned rescue of her father, the obstacles, the betrayals on the way, the many ways used by the general population to circumvent the suppression by the Stasi and the Soviets to create fear, dissension in families and keep people subservient and living under a dominant government.

Combining the story of espionage along with the travails of an ordinary family’s immense courage this was brilliantly accounted in detail.

Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Highgate Cemetery Murder by Irina Shapiro


Victor was a journalist. A quiet man but with attention to detail. When he was found dead, pushed under a cart and had died, his sister Nurse Gemma knew her cautious brother could not have been so careless. His notebook had a cryptic sentence. “Milky Way and red streaks” Gemma knew her intuition would be met with skepticism until she met Inspector Sebastian who did not brush her feelings aside.

The setting of the 1850s, the number of aristocrats and rich involved in this murder and then you get the middle class like Gemma, Victor and Sebastian trying to find justice and being coerced and ridiculed by society and worse by their peers who side with the rich covering up all their sins of both omission and commission.

This has been a recurring feature in books set in this era. How even questioning an earl or a son of a viscount was considered out of bounds and they got away with murder, rape, abuse of women. 
The setting was gothic almost and very descriptive.

Detective work was not easy and bringing the culprits to book was going to be either the saving of the Detective or his end.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Monday, March 25, 2024

A Deadly Endeavour by Jenny Adams


1921 Philadelphia Edie returns home after a stint in California to find that nothing has changed in her absence. A fun loving, very rich, very entitled being the same scenario exists. Except that the love of her life Theo has changed alliances and is now engaged to her twin sister.

The dynamics amongst their inner circle has changed and Edie has begun to develop a social conscience due to one or two of her friends changed perspectives. She now realises that the people who serve their families are individuals in their own right with dreams and aspirations of their own. Sadly they are in a tiny minority and things are not going to change much.

When one friend is murdered in the most vicious way possible, followed by a maid, another close friend and another maid all interlinked to Edie, the signs point to someone mentally unbalanced and someone within their household. When Edie’s maid goes missing, her brother Dr Gilbert gets involved trying to unravel the mystery of his sisters disappearance and to connect the dots of the murders.

Macabre in the extreme as to the murders, descriptive as to the lifestyle of all in the 1920s and keen detective skills overall.

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

I have been very lucky to get hold of a series of books to read, from different genres and all really good reading.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Eliza Mace by Sarah Burton & Jem Poster

 The 1870s a village on the border of Wales. A family who had money, lands but a wastrel father who has run through every bit of money available. The family is in debt to every tradesman around and even to their employees. 

On one of his finding his fortune sprees, Eliza’s father goes missing and since he is a man who is disliked by many for his temperament which was vile, on top of the debts no one is particularly interested in his going missing. Eliza his daughter, is the only one, who pushes the local detective Daffyd to pursue many leads, which she discovers on her own.

Eliza is a force, and goes against all conventional norms of the time, meeting up with people on the estate, visiting the police station on her own and unraveling clues which lead to many being taken into custody. Both the Detective and Eliza realise that they may hang the wrong man if they don’t uncover the actual truth.

The suspect was more sinned against than being the sinner but he did pay the price. He killed Eliza’s father and the jury only looked at that, not the circumstances. Justice was different in those times.

The difficulties a woman faced by being different, unconventional are portrayed very well in this story.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Other Gwyn Girl by Nicola Cornick

A bleak crumbling castle being used by a celebrated influencer in present times being used as a project. Jess is trying to get over being scammed by her boyfriend, who wiped not just her out of everything she had but wiped out many others as well. Tavy her very selfish sister whilst offering her a bolt hole, wants an unpaid housekeeper to occupy the house when she is away, in order to comply with insurance policies.

We then go back to 1671 when the castle came into the hands of Nell Gwyn the courtesan of the King. Rose was the “wild” sister, living on her wits, a thief, married to a highwayman and in prison. When her husband is found dead and Rose herself is pregnant, she appeals to Nell who organises her release.

But Nell like Tavy centuries later has ulterior motives. She knows that Rose’s husband and another notorious criminal Thomas Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels and that since they were not found, Rose may be the key to finding the jewels. Additionally Nell is being blackmailed because the locket given by the King to her is with Blood and he holds this as a bargaining tool. Nell’s position with the king has turned precarious. There is a wife and a French mistress to contend with.

Fast forward and Jess discovers a pile of old books which her sister wants to dispose of as quickly as possible. Jess discovers the link to both Gwyn girls and researches the history of the time giving an account of the lives of these two women.

Nell was the smart one but I was rooting for Rose the overlooked one. In a similar vein Tavy was beautiful, fabulously rich and self serving. Jess was the reserved one. It seemed like though so apart the women had similar characteristics, brought together at this Becote Castle.

The contrasts in characters, in lifestyles, plus the history all added interest to the story.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Don’t Foget Me by Rea Frey


Ruby and Tom and daughter lily moved to a newly built community by a lake. Ruby just went along with Tom on location, design and everything else. Her only focus was to protect and nurture Lily, who besides being a clever student had frailties of her own, which Tom refused to acknowledge.

Fast forward and Lily goes missing. Followed by Tom going missing. When Tom’s body is found floating on the lake, suspicion focuses on Ruby. She doesn’t identify the body as Tom, but all her neighbours do.

Is Ruby in a fugue state not able to acknowledge what is in front of her. When one and then another neighbour is found murdered, the focus switches solely on Ruby. Even at that moment three quarter into the story, one would go with the theory that Ruby kills these people while in some state, which blocks her remembering what she has done.

The final denouement is shocking and frightening and a surprise. The dual timelines, the uncertainty of Ruby, the changing face of the immediate characters all created a puzzle.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Murder by Lamplight by Patrice Mcdonough


I enjoy a story with a female lead. Especially one who has to work the odds to get the recognition she deserves. Very often in the past centuries such women have been relegated to the dimmer parts of history and not acknowledged for the trail blazers they were.

Dr Julia Lewis a qualified doctor is one such woman. Grand daughter of a doctor she qualified in America because women were not allowed to study medicine in 1866 England. Now called upon to assist in a gory crime scene, she has to face derision not just from the coppers, but also from Detective Tennant who thinks she is incapable of handling the case.

When murder after murder occurs and clues point to numerous people first those connected to the theatre and especially the drag clubs of the day, the Doctor starts her own investigation of trying to follow sequence and logic. When the suspicions fall on the workhouse, it finds many people linked to the murder, all who are perfectly good suspects.

How it all pans out is ingenious.  Not just solving the crime, but the social commentary on the times was very, very good. It gives a setting to the story which enhances the read.

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

The Nallur temple in the very North of Sri Lanka, revered by many.

Monday, March 11, 2024

The Hidden Storyteller by Mandy Robotgam

This is all about WWII but still so very different.

The year 1946 Hamburg, Germany broken, in pieces. The people so overwhelmed by their own history, desperate, dying now of TB and malnutrition instead of at the hands of the Nazis.

We have Georgie Young, intrepid war reporter who has a tough reputation of laying the facts as she sees them. Coming from London at a time of personal crisis, she herself is at an uncertain stage but is determined to do the assignment. See Germany at its worst, give in her report. She didn’t expect to get mugged twice on her first day. She also did not expect to get involved on a personal basis with the people she came into contact with. From Meta the waif with a core of steel, to Zophie on a personal quest and Inspector Harri battling crime with no resources, no help. Getting involved in a serial murder investigation was not part of Georgie’s instructions, but she was not very good at following instructions.

The story covers post war Germany, the over riding British presence, the ignorance and condescension shown by many British officers which exacerbated a bad situation, corruption at every level on both sides, and the almost apocalyptic situation Germans faced every day just trying to survive one more day.

The story is very violent, very emotional and factual. It is unputdownable!

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

Saturday, March 9, 2024


Much has been written about the Titanic, especially about survivors. This one is similar but it a spectacularly good read. We follow the Fortune family from Winnipeg- the father a self made millionaire, having the grand tour with his family. Two daughters affianced, so this could be their last trip together. Another younger daughter and a teenage son. Very united, close knit family.

We follow their journey minutely, even the foretelling of a disaster, a watery one, by an Egyptian soothsayer. The girls who are engaged have now doubts about their future, particularly the eldest who is fighting her feelings for the dashing Mr Kinsey. The second is in the throes of a flirtation only but is restless at the cloistered future that awaits on her return, and the youngest is facing a losing battle against her wishes and dreams of a university education and fighting the suffragist cause.

The Titanic’s epic death is detailed and descriptive. From the accounts of the girls the effort that everyone put in to survive, the salvation of so many souls who may have otherwise been lost, the crassness of some rich women even whilst being rescued, and mainly the utter futility of the many lives lost for so many reasons. Over confidence, the braggadocio displayed by builders and owners, the insufficient number of lifeboats all contributed to its demise.

This was a feet curling, edge of the seat read.

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

Nuwara Eliya’s finest garden. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Murder Club by Alexandra Ivy


An online murder club. It seems very simple - investigating cold cases trying to unravel clues detectives may have missed.  Bailey works a humdrum job, but she likes the residents of her nursing home and finds the murder club gives her the thrill of doing something different

When the messages become slightly threatening and when a resident dies leaving a sizeable inheritance to Bailey, things get very ugly. Nellie’s grandson becomes violent and accuses Bailey of improper behaviour. Bailey is suspended from work. When more people connected to Bailey start getting murdered and the messages become more threatening, Bailey and Dom (who is the new entrant in Baileys life) realise they have to step up their detection to catch this very cold blooded killer.

Set in a small town of Pike which has a notorious reputation for murder was interesting. The characters were both complicated with lots of secrets to hide.

Fast paced. The romance was an added genre.

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

Friday, March 1, 2024

The Last Day in Paris by Suzanne Kerman (Book 1)


I enjoyed the book very much, so I do hope I get the sequel.

1940 Paris was not a good time for anyone and for Jews it was ominous. Isabella heeded the signs and when her husband was brutally gunned down, she decided there was no option but to send her daughter away. Doing the work she loved in an art gallery, she realized the plunder that was going on with the huge amount of robbed art going to Germany, apart from the horrendous destruction of modern art which Goering disliked.

Working with the Resistance, Isabella had an ulterior reason for working in the gallery. She wanted to track and save her husbands masterpiece and this she did in the most devious and wonderful way. Fast forward several decades later to a dreary London suburb, and an even more frustrating life, we have Esther Isabella’s great grand daughter, the inheritor of the painting, and the events following which will change her life.

Involving hate against humanity, murder, scheming but also survival, romance and love the story is a remarkable one.

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

A waterfall called Devon Falls very close to my home in Rozella. The English names are all the remnants of our colonial history.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Hurtwood Village Murders by Benedict Brown


Second book I’m reading by this author. Set in I presume a quintessentially English village, complete with the characters including the eccentric. Here we have unusually the Heaton family detested universally, and although the main culprits are dead and gone, the animosity remains hidden but very much below the surface.

Marius our prize winning author and his sort of girlfriend the lovely Lady Isabella gets dragged into an investigation of threatening poison pen letters to three of the Heaton remaining clan. Death promised in no uncertain terms assured. Police are called in but the first murder of James happens anyway and then the second of Tilly. Scotland Yard gets roped in and no proper suspect is in place because there are a lot of red herrings. 

The detection is slow, but charming. Characterisation was varied, also charming. 

A sequel has to follow because I want to know where the romance is going. It’s not quite fair to leave the reader dangling!

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

Where I’ve spent the last week. It’s a cooler part of this tropical island called Rozella. Turnips and beans growing in this greenhouse.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh

The word Unsinkable immediately conjures the Titanic but I realised to my surprise that there were many ships, huge ocean vessels which suffered the same fate.

Violet Jessop’s life was hard, but never humdrum. From being a ship survivor not once, not twice but thrice, you’d wonder why she went back to the same job. Stewarding on ships brought in plenty of money and she was the breadwinner for a family of five siblings and her mother when her father died. Family first was her motto from the beginning to the end and she sacrificed her dreams of a medical career and a love, till everyone was taken care of.

Parallel to this story is the one of Daphne Katherine. A girl who did not know her place in society, who never knew a family warmth, and who joined the French Resistance first as a way to get recognition from her father and then later on toget revenge from the Nazis and their treatment of Jews.

The stories of both linked by birth unknown to each other, told in alternating chapters was an emotional one. WWI Nazis and Hitler are stories that will not get old or stale, as each one is different. Violets story of endurance, hardship and getting on with life against immense odds is also one worth reading about

Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Artist’s Apprentice by Clare Flynn Book 1

I read the two books almost one after the other because they were good.

1908 and rich English-girls are still expected to do the right thing. Follow their parents instructions, I wouldn’t call it guidance here, and marry into the correct family. Alice seems pliant but she rebelled. The story continues with Edmund the spurred suitor marrying someone else,  Edmund’s father taking on a protege, and cutting Edmund off. At the same time Alice finds employment in. Stained glass business with the spurned Edmund of all people.

Working and living with a married man is beyond the understanding or acceptance of most people at the time, and Alice seems to be isolated not just from her family but also from friends. Alice and Edmund have also got to face the prospect of a looming war.

History especially the social mores of the time, along with a typical rich family saga where what everyone thinks and says is very important, this was indeed a good illustration of the times.

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

The Artist’s Wife by Clare Flynn


Alice Dalton and Edmund Culter are a partnership both professionally and personally. It has come at grave cost though. The year 1914 brings upheaval in England with the onset of war and Edmunds father Herbert has taken his hatred of his son further by promoting a marriage of Edmunds wife Dora with Alice brother who is now Herbert’s protégée in business and his heir.

The story although mainly of Alice and Edmund their deep love for each other, despite many obstacles is only a part of the story. Herbert Cutler is Machiavellian in his dealings - he wants to cut Edmund from his inheritance, then to get his grand daughter adopted legally by Victor Dalton and then get a seat in Parliament.

He never took into account the vagaries of the heart because he did not have an iota of empathy for people. Herbert got thwarted at every turn. He never dreamt that being the industrialist he was that he will not get nominated to any constituency. He never thought Victor will throw away a massive inheritance and enlist, and he did not realise that his son was not bothered by money or inheritance. He did not take into account personalities and feelings of the heart.

His downfall, leading to stability for Alice and Edmund and the beginning of a new life for all involved after many tragic events is this story. 

The setting, the period in which the story is set and the classes in English society, so rigid at the time very descriptively detailed. There are details of the suffragette struggles, the beginning of the white feather movement adding further dimensions to the story.

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

Monday, February 19, 2024

The Girl on the Boat by Kate Hewitt


The persecution of the Jews in Germany was bad enough but even on the boat taking them away from Germany, Sophie and her friends faced taunts. Hoping to reach the safe haven of Cuba, with visas in hand, their hopes were dashed. It was only Sophie who managed to escape with a group of six and go to Washington and make a life for herself there.

The other three girls got dispersed through Belgium, France and England in their search for a permanent home. The promise they made to each other to meet on a particular day was one they all intended to keep, despite whatever was thrown at them.

In this story (I presume sequels will follow) we see Sophie’s life from the time she landed at the Tyler’s mansion to her unceremoniously being kicked out, to the life she found for herself, her love and then the tragic loss followed by a surprising change in career.

Like all WWII stories, each story is unique, heart breaking and precious. This was no exception.

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

Friday, February 16, 2024

Death at St Jude’s by Mary Grand


Set on the Isle of Wight the setting alone is atmospheric. It wasn’t remote or inaccessible but it had its charm. Susan has just moved there. After a divorce and three years down the line, she is trying very hard to get back to a single life. With her two dogs by her side, good neighbours and interacting with local church activities draws her into a good social circle.

When Lawrence is found dead, fallen from a tower suspicions mount especially as it followed an acrimonious committee meeting in the church. So much does not seem right to Susan, but the local police and the village want to go with the accidental death verdict. Susan follows her own detection, she knows she is ruffling feathers when her house is egged and then had graffiti written on it. Those who were her friends are annoyed that she is investigating, when the Police have stopped.

The entire cast of characters had stuff to hide and not wanting it to be aired in public, and they’d go to extreme measures to keep them secret. One by one from the Deputy Head of the school, to the vicar and his wife, junior teachers and the music director have secrets unveiled. The final outcome was a surprise though.

Good, classic detection skills.

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Where Butterflies Wander by Suzanne Redfearn


This was excellent reading but a difficult book to review.

It had the human elements of sorrow, joy, anger, love and grief all represented throughout the story. There was remorse in plenty, forgiveness too and it ended neatly.

Starting with a child’s tragic death, a family without cleaving together seems to drift apart in their own little worlds of sorrows and what ifs. Coming in summer to a vast property they owned should have been good to rest and recuperate. It turned into a maelstrom of division. A resident Davina living on the edge of the property, a herbalist and a healer was the catalyst for Mum Marie and son Brendon. For the father and the two girls she spelt peace and understanding of their sorrows. Father Leo was actually torn between several worlds - his wife, very importantly his son whom he did not understand or respect and his daughters whom he adored.

The story of this torn family, the way the wife and son witch hunted Davina the herbalist and their remorse at the end, the reconciliation of the whole family and the beginning of their healing after Bee’s death was the crux of the story.

Very down to earth writing, emotional and heart wrenching in turn.

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

The Body on the Beach by Laura Martin


This was a mystery murder which portrayed Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra as the sleuths in this beautiful setting of Lyme Regis. The Austens are on holiday and Jane discovers the body of a young woman on the beach. The girl has been strangled and the signs including bruising are very apparent. What becomes surprising is that the coroner and magistrate almost immediately give a verdict of accidental death and send the body home in a sealed coffin.

Jane is furious at this careless attitude and realises that they are covering up. It especially becomes important because over the last two years two other young girls have been discovered dead under shady circumstances. Further enquiry going back years uncovers another two unaccounted deaths.

Trying as outsiders and as women to uncover the truth is no easy task. They are blocked at every turn especially as the enquiry turns on the local aristocrats. However, the final outcome is very surprising and added to the tension in the story.

Despite it being a murder mystery the entire tone of writing was soothing. Talk about being contradictory.

Sent by Sapere books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Lady at the Lodge by Graham Ley


Set during the time of the French Revolution with the threat of the French invading Britain, the story on the British side set in a regency era shows the struggles of the abolitionist movement on the one side, and the personal danger two young women put themselves into unwittingly.

With all the unrest, the Wentworth family get on with their lives . Like everyone else life goes on. Sempronie part of an aristocratic Breton English family tries to settle past wrongs. She cannot envisage how the family can react. Having to face many challenges all the characters in this story try to move forward, despite outside events forcing them out of their comfort zones. Whilst Amelia is getting involved with the abolitionist movement and is supportive, we have Arabella abducted and being put in a perilous and compromising situation.

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

I found the story a bit complicated to follow, with complicated beginnings and ends.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Castle Abductions by David Field


Set in Tudor times, the story set in an English rural town has far reaching consequences, even reaching the ears of Queen Elizabeth, through a series of adventures and misadventures, omissions and commissions of both justice and injustice.

Bailiff Mountsorrel and his friend also a bailiff are sent on a wild goose chase trying to catch a poacher of deer from the local manor. Furious at being made to look a fool in the eyes of the local gentry, he is determined to get to the bottom of the story, but finds out that political aspiring of the locals is more important than catching criminals. Many things are overlooked and he is cautioned against any action.

When a local girl goes missing, followed by five other girls and his informant Ellie found with a slashed throat, he pursues his elusive scoundrel realising he is accusing the son of one of the most powerful men in the land. An encounter with Lord Essex who has the ear of the Queen, puts our Bailiff in a much stronger position than before.

All ends well, the abducted girls are returned, the Queen actually visits Nottinghamshire and Edward’s wins the heart and hand of his love.

Giving an accurate account of how politics ruled that era this is a good story for historical fiction readers.

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

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Heir to Murder by Tony Bassett


A story that if you like meticulous police procedures, painstaking detection work will keep you enthralled and entertained.

We have an aristocratic family living in a Hall complete with the requisite Lord, but dogged by tragedy. The elder son went missing in Spain years ago and now the youngest son, estranged from the family, living almost incognito as a sound technician, is found brutally murdered. The suspects are obvious to many, except to D S Sunita Roy who doesn’t take the easiest path and likes to dig deeper, not always supported by her colleagues or superiors.

Many suspects later, an overseas enquiry concluded with a surprising outcome the murder enquiry was concluded and the correct people were behind bars. 

Lots to keep the reader locked in, this was a really good read. I’ll be looking out for the other books by this author. I also liked how at the end of some chapters the writer had an interesting tidbit of information, totally unexpected.

Sent by The Book Folks for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Friday, February 2, 2024

Last Night by Luanne Rice


Maddie is an artist who has made a name for herself. Very rich but in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, battling with a husband who is obsessed and consumed by jealousy over her professional success and even by family ties. Meeting her sister Hadley over the Christmas holidays was supposed to be a joyous reunion but it turned out horribly wrong when Maddie’s body was found with point blank gun shot injuries and more crucial Cee Cee her little daughter missing.

What follows is a story of a teenage boy being set up by his father, to prove his family loyalty by murdering a woman, the deep rooted envy that immense wealth brings and how society gets divided when its greed and jealousy combines. How money sometimes brings so much sadness to some. A complicated story with many suspects which clouded the direction of the investigation till it was sorted out.

Good story.

Sent by Thomas and Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The Keeper of the Irish Secret(magnolia Manor Book 1) by Suzanne O’Leary


The setting was idyllic. A crumbling, grand old house, a resident caretaker who inherited the house and three grand daughters.

One grand daughter turns up unexpectedly and does not get the usual, warm welcome. Her grandmother emphasises several times that the visit is temporary, also forbidding her access to some parts of the house and disappearing mysteriously on errands. Her behaviour is unusual and worrying and the girls try and finally discover the reason why she is upset.

The story winds on with a hunt on for clues and evidence that will help all of them to secure their inheritance.

A nice light read.

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Alady of a Lyon by Linda Rae Sande


A light hearted read set in Regency times. Annabelle recently widowed with an adorable four year old boy is now looking for a partner. She has a chequered past having worked in a brothel before being rescued by her Lord. She wants protection and a guide and father for her son and is directed to a match maker. 

At the same time we have an impoverished Lord also looking for a rich wife and very coincidentally, this is the former army colonel now elevated to being a Lord, who was Annabelle's lover years before.
Add to the story Annabelle’s mother missing from Annabelle’s life for years, also a courtesan and mistress of a Lord for decades, many people from the gentry all unusual, and we have a rollicking, fun filled, slightly unrealistic novel.

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

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Murderous Misses of Concord by Elizabeth Dunne


Louisa May Alcott is farming pigs with enthusiasm after her novels success in Concord. Observing people around her and being respected in her community helps her in her detective endeavours.

Miss Collier, not popular dies on her forty second birthday by poisoning. The entire community is ruffled and many of them could be included as suspects. The plot is convoluted, the characters very many. All of them with secrets to hide, practically all of them with back stories connected to the victim.

Not easy to follow but the setting of the story - a small village in a rural area was in itself interesting.

A second victim follows the first and the detective pace hots up. The author kept the suspect well hidden till the end.

Sent by Level Best Books for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, January 26, 2024

The Diamond of London by Andrea Penrose


This was a book which I enjoyed so much. Everything in this was spot on. The setting, background, the main characters and the secondary characters of which there were many, but they did not detract from the story. They all added nuances and depth.

Lady Hester Stanhope was different to the other young ladies. Born into a political and extremely clever family, she was prevented because she was female from doing whatever she craved for. Hindered by an eccentric, brilliant father she escaped from home to become the hostess of the Prime Minister, her uncle. Her understanding and analysis of politics was so astute that she was acknowledged as someone whose understanding of matters of state was understood to be above par. She had her opposition as many would not accept that a woman could achieve such an understanding.

Lady Hester however had her share of heartbreak. Passionate and impulsive she was attracted to two men - one who was dangerous, and one for whom she was a dalliance. The second broke her spirit resulting in a suicide attempt which did not succeed.  She found love again and this was the true love of her life but sadly he died in battle.

The story of Lady Hester is a true one of a woman surviving against many odds, not having the security of marriage which was an essential for a woman to have any life of her own at the time.She midway realised she had no home, no money and it was only through the foresight of her uncle, that she had some independence when he passed away.

Her adventuring spirit did not end. She made a life for herself overseas, becoming a conduit for negotiations between the British and the rulers where she lived.  Djoumi in the Levant became her home she never returned to Britain.

Fascinating bit of history which enthralled to the end. History, politics, love, the book encompassed it all.

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