Thursday, 4 March 2021

Blog Tour: Trouble for the Leading Lady by Rachel Brimble


Bath, 1852.

As a girl, Nancy Bloom would go to Bath's Theatre Royal, sit on the hard wooden benches and stare in awe at the actresses playing men as much as the women dressed in finery. She longed to be a part of it all and when a man promised her parents he could find a role for Nancy in the theatre, they believed him.

His lie and betrayal led to her ruin.

Francis Carlyle is a theatre manager, an ambitious man always looking for the next big thing to take the country by storm. A self-made man, Francis has finally shed the skin of his painful past and is now rich, successful and in need of a new female star. Never in a million years did he think he'd find her standing on a table in one of Bath's bawdiest pubs.

Nancy vowed never to trust a man again. Francis will do anything to make her his star. As they engage in a battle of wits and wills, can either survive with their hearts intact?

The second in Rachel Brimble's thrilling new Victorian saga series, Trouble for the Leading Lady will whisk you away to the riotous, thriving underbelly of Victorian Bath.

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trouble-Leading-Lady-gripping-Victorian-ebook/dp/B08GTT5H2K  
US - https://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Leading-Lady-gripping-Victorian-ebook/dp/B08GTT5H2K 

Review

Once a girl with stars in her eyes, Nancy Bloom is now a successful prostitute. The exclusive and expensive brothel where she works and lives is also home to her surrogate family who support each other through thick and thin. Francis Carlyle has divorced himself from his past at the workhouse but it continues to gnaw at him though he is now a successful theatre manager. Francis hopes that Nancy can bring his past to life on the stage, but she's not looking for past dreams to upset her present contentment. Nor are either of them looking for love, but that's waiting in the wings as well.

There's a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that goes into many novels, particularly historicals, and I found my stretched by the economics of Nancy's life, not to mention her being in the bloom of health. However, once that is put aside, the characterisations are spot on. Both Francis and Nancy are haunted and shaped by their pasts in an utterly believable way. Francis is ambitious and pushy, afraid to look back, whereas Nancy puts up a facade that is aggressively cheerful - or sometimes just aggressive. It was great to see them call each other out on these traits and make small steps towards a better version of themselves. I also loved the cast of supporting characters, many of whom deserve awards for patience, if not their own book! Mrs Gaynor was a lovely sweetheart and the friendship between Louisa and Nancy spoke of deep trust and friendship.

There is also a theme of social justice as Francis and Nancy look to make a difference though Francis' play. I can't help but feel that this story is not yet ended - while there is a happy ending for our leads, between the workhouse, Francis' friend Edmund, and the play itself, there are plot threads that are yet to be tied up.

This is a good romance between two very prickly leads, if you don't mind a few loose ends.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own

Author Bio
Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 20 published novels including the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).
In 2019 she signed a new three book contract with Aria Fiction for a Victorian trilogy set in a Bath brothel. The first book, A Widow’s Vow was released in September 2020 followed by book 2 Trouble For The Leading Lady in March 2021 – it is expected that the final instalment will be released in the Autumn 2021.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.
To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here:
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Social Media Links
Website: https://rachelbrimble.com/
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Sunday, 28 February 2021

Blog Tour: Dreaming Under an Island Skye by Lisa Hobman


Is there really such a thing as a second shot at true love?

After three wonderful years of marriage, librarian Juliette Fairhurst’s heart is shattered when her husband, Laurie, is taken from her much too soon. Devasted, Juliette decides to take a sabbatical and reconnect with her mother’s birthplace, the village of Glentorrin on the picturesque Isle of Skye.

Welcomed by most of the villagers, Juliette throws herself into an idyllic community life, taking on the role of temporary summer guardian at The Lifeboat House Museum; a role that offers her the perfect escape from the tragedy of her real life.

During her time on the island, Juliette clashes with brooding single dad and artist, Reid Mackinnon and is befriended by his son Evin and dog Chewie. It’s clear that divorced Reid is struggling and scarred by his own painful experiences.

Can these two lost souls find a lifeline to rescue each other?

Or will their pasts scupper their second chance at real happiness?

Purchase Link - mybook.to/DreamingLH

Review

A word of warning: this book will make you cry. Well, it made me cry. Multiple times.

Widowed young, Juliette starts processing the untimely death of her beloved husband and realises she's got to get away. Choosing to visit the village of her mother's birth, she takes a summer off to visit the beautiful isle of Skye (yes, like the song). There, she makes new friends, finds work looking after the local museum, and runs up against grumpy divorcee Reid.

Written entirely from Jules' point of view, the book also delves into flashbacks explaining her loss - hence the tears. I think there were perhaps a few too many of them - they didn't all feel necessary to the plot or knowing Jules, and they slowed the start of the book down. It took a little while and a few tissues to get to the feel-good part.

Once we got there, however, I found myself charmed by the (mostly) welcoming villagers as Jules settled in. I was especially fond of the kind banter and teasing from Morag and Kenneth, and it is impossible to dislike young Evin and his giant dog Chewie. The book deals with the rather heavy subjects of depression and loss, but in a respectful and honest way as it draws Jules and Reid together in a way that felt natural and ultimately uplifting. The beautiful prose flowed and relationships grew naturally over the summer, even as jealous Leanna and Evin's mother Kate made trouble in the background.

For a hopeful story about love and life after loss, pick this book up - but bring tissues!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own.

Author Bio 
Lisa Hobman has written many brilliantly reviewed women’s fiction titles - the first of which was shortlisted by the RNA for their debut novel award. In 2012 Lisa relocated her family from Yorkshire to a village in Scotland and this beautiful  backdrop now inspires her uplifting and romantic stories.

Social Media Links 
Facebook http://facebook.com/LisaJHobmanAuthor
Twitter https://twitter.com/LisaJHobmanAuth
Instagram http://instagram.com/lisahobmanauthor
Mailing list sign up https://bit.ly/LisaHobmanNewsletter

Friday, 26 February 2021

Blog Tour: Death at Rainbow Cottage by Jo Allen


At the end of the rainbow, a man lies dead.

The apparently motiveless murder of a man outside the home of controversial equalities activist Claud Blackwell and his neurotic wife, Natalie, is shocking enough for a peaceful local community. When it’s followed by another apparently random killing immediately outside Claud’s office, DCI Jude Satterthwaite has his work cut out. Is Claud the killer, or the intended victim?

To add to Jude’s problems, the arrival of a hostile new boss causes complications at work, and when a threatening note arrives at the police headquarters, he has real cause to fear for the safety of his friends and colleagues…

A traditional British detective novel set in Cumbria.

Purchase Link - https://amzn.to/3fl0tJj 

Review

Death at Rainbow Cottage is your typical police procedural as we follow DCI Jude Sattherwaite and his team through a murder investigation. Having jumped in at book four, I still found myself able to sort through most of the main cast of characters. The jumps to bystander perspectives were a little harder to follow, but at least there's a search function for when I was wondering where I'd seen a character before.

What seems like an overabundance of focus on the personal lives of the police suddenly becomes relevant as the lines between friend, colleague, and potential suspect begin to blur. There is a new Superintendent after the old one left under a cloud of scandal, and she is completing her mandate of equality and inclusion with a series of workshops facilitated by the residents of the titular Rainbow Cottage. The main character is dating one of his detectives but both of them have complications from past relationships coming up to haunt them. It all fits quite nicely into a theme of acceptance - not simply of differences, but also of oneself.

On the mystery side, I found the book well plotted though would have appreciated some maps. While I did see the murderer coming, I wasn't certain until the end, but looking back it made perfect sense. Overall, a solidly enjoyable murder mystery with an interesting cast of characters.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own

Author Bio

Jo Allen is the author of the successful DCI Satterthwaite series of detective novels set in and around the English Lake District, where she lives. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she's a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

Social Media Links

Twitter @JoAllenAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoAllenAuthor   
Instagram @JoAllenAuthor

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Blog Tour: The Scarlet Dress by Louise Douglas

Alice Lang was wearing her favourite scarlet dress when she disappeared twenty-five years ago, and her memory still casts a long shadow.

'The past was like water. Once the tide turned, you couldn't hold it back.'

In the long, hot summer of 1995, twenty-two-year-old Alice Lang rents a caravan on a holiday park on the outskirts of the lively holiday resort of Severn Sands. She befriends Marnie, a shy, damaged little girl whose father is the park's caretaker and whose mother died a few months earlier. Will, whose mother runs the bar, falls in love with Alice, and is unbearably jealous of anyone else she sees. Tensions rise until one evening Alice disappears from her caravan. She's never seen again, and only her scarlet dress is found washed up on the shore.

A quarter of a century later, the town is run down and nobody comes there anymore. Mr and Mrs deVillars, former owners of the holiday park, have passed the failing business onto their son Guy, who promptly sells the land for development. Builders clearing the land to create an expanse of executive homes uncover human bones. It has to be Alice.

Will and Marnie’s lives were entirely shaped by what happened that summer, and now Alice has been found, they must struggle to pin down their memories, to escape the secrets of the past, the lies they told and the unbearable guilt they're both carrying.

They need to find out what happened to Alice. Who killed her? And why?

Purchase Link - buff.ly/2JFQDpV

Review 

Like a long, hot, summer's day, this book goes forever until it suddenly doesn't and you're staring at a gorgeous sunset, sad it's over but fulfilled all the same. Despite a slow start, I found myself enthralled by the slow unwinding of what really happened that fateful day Alice disappeared.

The two point of view characters are a fascinating study in contrasts. Will was passionately, jealously in love with Alice and her disappearance has clouded his judgement, fueled his career as a true crime writer, and poisoned his relationships ever since. He's not terribly likeable - he's an alcoholic who treats his girlfriend with a shocking lack of care, and his biases when it comes to Alice make him incapable of seeing the truth until it might be too late. Marnie, on the other hand, was a child when taken under Alice's wing who has grown into a defiantly different woman who prefers to keep most of the world at a distance. She knows more than she thinks but no-one ever thought to ask her. Her devotion to her animals and her daughter is almost jarring against Will's apathy.

The flashbacks are brilliantly written, interweaving the past and present seamlessly as the tragedy unfolds. Each chapter gave another crumb, another hint, until the breathtaking climax. You can't help but be drawn in.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own.

Author Bio
Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of novels including The House By The Sea and Missing You - a RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

Social Media Links
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Louise-Douglas-Author-340228039335215/
Twitter https://twitter.com/louisedouglas3
GoodReads: Louise Douglas
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/louisedouglas3/
Bookbub http://bookbub.com/authors/louise-douglas
Mailing list sign up https://bit.ly/LouiseDouglas

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Publication Day Push: Preserved by Fiona Sherlock


She's stuck in the past, the killer wants to immortalise his future. When a local farmer announces on social media that he has discovered a bog body in Ardee, the world’s historians are keen to explore the secrets of the life and grisly death of the victim. Antique journalist January Quail is fighting to keep her newspaper job and uncovers far more than she bargained for.

The victim is actually a recent murder, and January uses her nose for the truth to investigate the County Louth town. From shopkeeper to the publican, everyone is a suspect, but when the Gardai can’t find the killer, can January?

Once she sets down the liqueur glass, January gains the confidence of the lead garda investigator. Within days, the case unravels into a much more dangerous situation with a killer on the loose. 

Despite the risk, January is electrified that this newest discovery has come at the perfect time to inject some colour into her flailing career. January relinquishes her old ways to fight for survival, abandoning her antiques column and vintage corsets to solve a cryptic crime that has the experts puzzled. This woman who longs to lives in the past must now fight for her life in the present.

Purchase Links
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Preserved-Fiona-Sherlock-ebook/dp/B08R7QNCSN/
US - https://www.amazon.com/Preserved-Fiona-Sherlock-ebook/dp/B08R7QNCSN/

Author Bio


Fiona Sherlock is a crime writer from Bective, in Ireland. Her murder mystery games are played across the world.  She also writes poetry and prose but cannot stay away from a good murder.  After spending a decade in Dublin working in public relations and journalism, she moved to the country for mid-day fires and elderflower champagne.

Social Media Links
http://instagram.com/fionasherlock
https://twitter.com/fionasherlock
https://www.facebook.com/DionysisDiary/
 

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Blog Tour: This Changes Everything by Helen McGinn

Should first love be left in the past, or is first love, forever love...

Sisters Annie and Jess are used to their mother Julia being spontaneous. But when Julia announces she’s flying off to Rome to meet her first love Patrick, whom she hasn’t seen for fifty years, it's an adventure too far. So, her daughters decide the only way to keep Julia safe, is to go too – without actually telling their mother she has chaperones!

Julia and Patrick’s love story was everything – epic, once-in-a-lifetime, with a tragic ending and life-long consequences.  First love is hard to forget, but sometimes, just sometimes, life delivers a chance to rewrite your story. 

As the eternal city of Rome works its magic, old secrets, old friends and old loves become new possibilities and new dreams. And when the four travellers return home, nothing will ever be the same again.

Join Helen McGinn for a timeless, joyous, unforgettable journey through love, family, and long-forgotten dreams.  A novel to hold to your heart and treasure, perfect for fans of Elizabeth Noble, Cathy Kelly and JoJo Moyes

Purchase Link - https://amzn.to/3eR441O

Review

Permanently exhaused mother Annie and her career-driven sister Jess know their own mother Julia too well to not worry when she declares that she's going to meet up with her first love in Rome. Determined to stop a fourth marriage - or at least be there to witness it - they follow her to Rome where secrets are revealed and each must examine her own life and what she wants out of it.

Each of Annie, Jess, and Julia were distinct but relatable in different ways, especially in their creeping fear that they've made the wrong choices in life, brought to a head at a delightful seafood restaurant in Rome.

Rome as Helen McGinn writes it is delightful and enchanting. I loved the description of the architecture, the sights, and the out of the way spots. All brought the city to life beautifully. Having never been there, I now find myself wanting to, hampered only by current circumstances and the constraints of my wallet. I will note that the locals of Rome are not called 'Romani' (that's a completely different people group) but that is easy enough to fix.

Especially at the start, the book does suffer from a bit of headjumping, which makes it difficult to follow, but this seems to die out after the first few chapters (or I got used to it). What's a little harder to read is the intertwining of the three stories as it feels like both Annie and Jess are shortchanged on the screentime. I really expected more about Annie coming to terms with giving up an art career she loved to have a family and would've liked to see more of Jess's story on the page rather than referred to. However I'm glad all came to a happy resolution.

For a slow, sweet novel about life, choices, and how it's never to late to make different ones, pick up this book.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Rachel's Random Resources; all opinions are my own

Author Bio

Helen McGinn is a much-loved wine expert on TV and in print and an international wine judge. She spent ten years as a supermarket buyer sourcing wines around the world before setting up her award-winning blog (and best-selling wine book) The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club. She is the drinks writer for the Daily Mail and regularly appears on TV’s Saturday Kitchen and This Morning. Helen lives in the New Forest and Boldwood are publishing her debut women’s fiction title in Spring 2021.

Social Media Links

Website: www.knackeredmotherswineclub.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/knackeredmotherswineclub
Twitter https://twitter.com/knackeredmutha
Instragram http://instagram.com/knackeredmother
 

Monday, 1 February 2021

Publication Day Push: the Viscount's Unconventional Lady by Virginia Heath (with giveaway!)


The notorious Viscount
 

And the most gossiped-about lady… 

After years as a diplomat in the Napoleonic wars, Lord Eastwood is reluctant to return to London society. His scandalous divorce has made him infamous, not to mention cantankerous! To halt the rumour mill, he should marry a quiet noblewoman – instead it’s bold, vibrant artist, Faith Brookes, who’s caught his attention. They are the least suitable match, so why is he like a moth to a flame…?

Purchase Links
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Viscounts-Unconventional-Mills-Historical-Monde-ebook/dp/B08CKHQJPM
US - https://www.amazon.com/Viscounts-Unconventional-Mills-Historical-Monde-ebook/dp/B08CKHQJPM

Review

Faith is predisposed to hate Lord Eastwood, the son of her father's latest patrons, on principle. She knows firsthand that noblemen may seduce but will never deign to marry the daughter of creatives like her parents, no matter how talented they may be. For his part, Piers is reminded of his beautiful, vivacious, selfish ex-wife and he has vowed to never be taken in by such a woman again.

Despite their initial misgivings and the disapproval of most everyone around them, Piers and Faith find themselves drawn together as each learn to open their heart again. I thoroughly enjoyed watching both of them overcome (very understandable) prejudices and meet somewhere in the middle.

Faith's unconventional family - painter father, soprano mother, writing and singing sisters - provide a nice foil to Piers' conventional one - his parents are perfectly respectable and both sisters are happily married. His niece emerges as the true standout here, her precocious matchmaking is charming and effective.

There was so much to enjoy in this book, a lot of little threads that enriched the story without overwhelming the romance, in particular, the Napoleonic War drawing to a close and Faith's dream of painting under her own name and not as her father's assistant. There was a really nice side commentary on the aristocracy - double standards between men and women, but also hypocrisy in celebrating the Brookes' talents while denying them entry to their ranks. The Brookes have learnt to survive being the focus of gossip, knowing that there is always a bigger scandal around the corner.

If you want a strong-willed and talented heroine to fall madly in love as she winds a reserved and rather grumpy lord around her little finger - and I did! - this is the book for you. Come and enjoy the biggest scandal of all - love!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book via Rachel's Random Resources, all opinions are my own.

Author Bio

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Social Media Links
http://viewbook.at/talkofthebeaumonde1
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_ 

Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of The Viscount’s Unconventional Lady (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.