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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.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Secrets of Crestwell Hall by Alexandra Walsh


I was entranced with this book. The story was history revealed in the best way possible.

Two timelines. One the 1600 and then the present day. Present times Isabella just after an acrimonious divorce is home with Emily her daughter, hoping for a new start at the Hall with her aunt Thalia. They hope to renovate the Hall, restore it from its neglected state and discover the secrets they know are stored there. It is a gargantuan task as decades of papers, receipts, boxes are there, along with undiscovered attics, cellars and priest holes.

In the 1600s it has been the home of Elizabeth Throckmorton, wife of Walter Raleigh now in the Tower of London. Elizabeth along with her clan women suspect that their menfolk are acting strangely under the guidance of Robin Catesby. They are frightened how it will affect them and their children, because though Elizabeth is Protestant her relations have remained staunchly Catholic, not a good thing at the time. It takes time for the women to piece together overheard conversations and copies of letters giving details of high treason. The men were planning to blow up Parliament, depose the King and take the Princess as hostage. The infamous Gunpowder Plot failed miserably, all the men were captured and were executed.

Isabella pieced the story together, and in the process discovered treasures of gold and paintings which would help in the restoration.  The link for both women was the house which was much loved by both of them.

Elizabeth’s story could be one book in itself as it was a fascinating insight into how women sought to protect their families in whatever way possible when the stakes were high.

Romance in both eras were also a nice point. The terrorist group in the present day scenario of Isabella and Emily was stark, frightening and very realistic.

Altogether a five star read.

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

Thursday, January 18, 2024

A Body at the Seance by Marty Wingate (London Ladies Murder Club) Book 2

 Behind on both reading and reviewing as I had a beautiful vacation in Kerala starting from Cochin with its surprising for me plethora of fabulous churches, to the tea plantations of Munnar, then to quiet backwaters of Alleppey with meandering canals and then to Trivandrum with its intricate and ornate temples. 

This story involving Mabel Canning our amateur sleuth, and Jack of all trades has solved her first crime, and is now embroiled in her second. At a seance, a man who was dead for several months is found murdered during the seance with very little clues left for the Police to follow. Mabel has been part of the group who follows the seance leader, and has more insight into the group of characters than the Police can ever hope to achieve. When Madame herself is found murdered, Mabel knows that time is limited as the murderer is becoming nervous that she is going to confront him. 

Good deduction, painstaking detective work, a touch of romance in a classic vintage style and setting this was a delightful old fashioned read.

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

Monday, January 15, 2024

House of secrets by Darcy Coates


I did not read the first book so was a bit lost. Sophie was a subdued sort till she became bold and completely focussed, no obsessed about her husband.

The story for me was a bit convoluted. Also not a genre I go for, but once in a while I try to step out of my comfort zone and go for a different kind of read. This was a little too way out for me but that is my problem, not the authors.

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

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Virginia’s Sisters by Virginia Woolf and others


The collection of short stories covers a myriad of topics ranging from love, work, discrimination of many kinds, sexism amongst others. The number of topics covered added a range that would excite the interest of many readers.

The mini biographies at the end were excellent reading in itself but as one reviewer said, it would be preferable to have it at the beginning of each story. I hadn’t read works by some of the writers, and this has sparked an interest in me to delve further.

Sent by Aurora Metro for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Lady Thief of Belgravia by Allison Grey


Set in Victorian times, an improbable but delightful story of an agile pickpocket from the streets of London and an aristocrat looking to retrieve lost documents.

Reminiscent of My Fair Lady and Audrey Hepburn at her finest our Lord attempts (and succeeds) in turning Della into an accomplished Lady.

Light, fun reading with a few raunchy scenes interspersed for good measure!

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

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Murder at Merewood Hospital by Michelle Salter

 Merewood Farm was turned into a military hospital during the First World War. Now the war is over but five patients, one doctor and one nurse remain. Time is running out and Sister Helen is determined to find safe havens for her remaining souls. However everyone doesn’t see it quite the way she does.

Dr Bingham wants the farm himself. He wants to convert it into a clinic and sees Helen as an ideal partner. There are others also interested and the owners want to just sell it. Undercurrents galore, relationships real and imagined, but those are trivial against the body count, the cruel pranks and the very twisted, clever mind of a manipulative person.

Very much a page turner, because very obvious suspects have to be discarded when a more suspicious one starts appearing on the scene.

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