The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale by Rebecca Stonehill book review

the secret life of alfred nightingale

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale written and published by Rebecca Stonehill is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2zFC5xi

Product Details (as per amazon page)

A compelling page turner of a buried past resurfacing, set against a backdrop of the 1960’s youth culture and war torn Crete.

1967. Handsome but troubled, Jim is almost 18 and he lives and breathes girls, trad jazz, Eel Pie Island and his best friend, Charles. One night, he hears rumours of a community of young people living in caves in Matala, Crete. Determined to escape his odious, bully of a father and repressed mother, Jim hitchhikes through Europe down to Matala. At first, it’s the paradise he dreamt it would be. But as things start to go wrong and his very notion of self unravels, the last thing Jim expects is for this journey of hundreds of miles to set in motion a passage of healing which will lead him back to the person he hates most in the world: his father.

Taking in the counter-culture of the 1960’s, the clash of relationships between the WW2 generation and their children, the baby boomers, this is a novel about secrets from the past finally surfacing, the healing of trauma and the power of forgiveness.

A captivating story that will mesmerise fans of Lucinda Riley, Dinah Jefferies and Tracy Rees.

caves of Matala

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

This was such a profoundly moving novel that evoked many emotions in me.  A story cleverly told in two different time frames from two generations of one family going through a pivotal time in their own lives which would leave a lasting impression forever.

The author, Rebecca Stonehill, swept me away to a time in 1967, to a place of free spirit, young love and a time of self-discovery.  This particular part of the story was quite fascinating.  An adventure for the youngsters who quite bravely took this journey.  The caves of Matala with their steeped history intrigued me and with the backdrop of the beach and sea I can understand the draw especially with the Mediterranean temperatures.  For young Jim though, who was hellbent on escaping the stifling relationships at home, it wasn’t the idyllic retreat he expected.  As the days drew on he felt like something was missing, he was hurting inside with unresolved angst from home and the young love he craved wasn’t like he’d dreamed.

I was then transported back to a beautiful coastal area of Crete to 1940 when British forces were posted to defend Suda Bay and the British ships.  This beautiful area was soon to become tarnished and the locals and military personnel were fearing for their lives due to the onset of WWII.  Rebecca Stonehill took me to this terrifying time when the man you eat, sleep, work with becomes your closest friend in the world.  He’s your brother in arms that you will trust with your life and share your innermost thoughts with.  We see a different side to a character that our first impressions of are so far from the truth.

The Secret Life of Alfred Nightingale is a historical timeslip novel about friendship, about self-discovery, about grief, about young love and much, much more.  Beautifully poignant, emotive and informative.

To learn more about Rebecca Stonehill and her work please do visit the following pages:

Website:  http://rebeccastonehill.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/bexstonehill

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaStonehillBooks/

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Courting Chaos by Lynne Barron book review

courting chaos

Courting Chaos written and self-published by Lynne Barron is available NOW in ebook format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2g3CTmR

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Opposites attract, orbits align and chaos ensues…

Born of scandal and raised in squalor, Miss Harry O’Connell has turned her back on her feckless, frivolous father and carved out a happy, if rather hectic, life for herself in the working-class neighborhood of Wellclose Square. Until an unwelcome visit from the Earl of Dunaway puts her on a collision course with a handsome fortune-hunter.

With three men standing between Phineas Griffith and the nearest title, he was perfectly content to live up to his reputation as a careless scoundrel. Two unfortunate accidents and an apoplectic fit later, the new Viscount Knighton finds himself saddled with a decimated estate, a mountain of debt and two sisters in need of launching into Society. There’s really nothing for it but to woo and wed an heiress post haste.

Phineas cannot afford the luxury of falling in love with a prickly, penniless woman. Harry hasn’t the time or inclination to dally with a charming rake when all her considerable talents are aimed at laying waste to all the Earl of Dunaway holds dear.

But some forces are greater than gravity, and some chances worth taking. Can these two star crossed-lovers find the wherewithal to risk it all for a happily-ever-after that defies all odds?

This story is a frolicsome romp with naughty bits sprinkled throughout, though nothing likely to make the average romance reader blush.

fancy hat from 1800's

Courting Chaos is book 2 in the Dunaway’s Daughters series.  I haven’t read Taming Beauty (book 1) so I treated Courting Chaos as a standalone novel and to be honest it read very well as a standalone but to fully appreciate this wonderful era of the early 1820’s and the whole courtship and culture I would recommend reading both books in the series.

Courting Chaos is my first introduction to the work of Lynne Barron.  I do love a good historical romance and Lynne Barron delivered a fabulous, addictive, seductive read that was also quite witty and humorous in places.  Lynne Barron cleverly incorporates words and sayings from the era making the prose very authentic, if you are not sure of a word the beauty of an ereader is that you can highlight that word and the inbuilt dictionary will explain and I made use of this feature a few times and was interested to learn about these new old words and phrases.

I loved Miss Harry O’Connell’s character she was so self-assured, streetwise, intelligent and had a great head for ingenuity and business.  So very unusual for a young lady in the 1800’s.  However, Harry hid a secret heartache and keeping herself busy was one of her coping mechanisms to conceal this.  Due to her upbringing she was also insistent on being self-reliant.  Harry however, didn’t have ‘Falling in Love with a Notorious Rake’ in her agenda.  This particular rake, Phineas Griffith (Viscount Knighton) was virtually penniless and in order to keep his family and property he was on the lookout for a bride, one that came with a wealthy dowry.  His plans were soon thwarted when he made eyes with Harry and all sense was forgotten and for the first time in Phineas life he was consumed by this young woman.  Harry’s beauty was a pleasure to behold but what was more wonderful about her to Phineas was her intelligence, ingenuity and enterprising ways.

I have to be honest Harry’s head of business did get me a little lost at first but I was so beguiled by her strength of character I quickly overlooked these tiny little niggles in the storyline and by the end of the novel I could appreciate the background and descriptions the author took us on at the start as they all fitted into place.

A raunchy regency romance that will take you on a chaotic journey of courtship with two players dancing around each other fighting with their emotions, beliefs and hopes for the future.

I’d like to share one of my favourite quotes from the book:

And his smile ought to be illegal, all smooth self-assurance with just a hint of mischief lurking at the corners.

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this novel.  All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

To learn more about Lynne Barron and her work please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.lynnebarron.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/lynnebarron06

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/LynneBarronRomanceAuthor/

The Red Thread by Dawn Farnham blogtour book review

the red thread

The Red Thread written by Dawn Farnham, publisher Monsoon Books, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is on special promotion on amazon and is FREE until 25th September 2017.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2xA882C

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads and tigers are commonplace, this cultural romance follows the struggle of two lovers: Zhen, once the lowliest of Chinese coolies and triad member, later chosen to marry into a Peranakan family of Baba Chinese merchants; and Charlotte, an 18yearold Scots girl and sister of Singapore’s Chief of Police.

Red Thread Banner1

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour promoting and celebrating The Red Thread, which is volume 1 in The Straits Quartet.

I’m not afraid to say that it took me a little time to get into this story but a novel filled with so much culture, history and diversity cannot be rushed.  From the vivid descriptions of the scenes set on the pages I was transported to a Singapore filled with heady scents and could visualise the changing colourful and sometimes dark landscape.  From the first moment that Zhen laid eyes on Charlotte the intensity of the gaze was bewitching and as a reader you were willing for them to make an acquaintance.  But this wasn’t the time to be foolhardy and life for both the Chinaman and the English woman moved in different directions for a while.  However, the gods of luck were in their court and chances were brought their way to make this acquaintance happen.

Singapore in the 1830’s was becoming multicultural but not all were welcoming the newcomers to their lands.  Political and social unrest was heightened and fear was felt for the lives of many.  The author has woven this love story filled with angst, fear, drama, love and lust at a time were traditions and culture were so evident in many lives.  It was fascinating reading about the varying traditions for life, love and death.  The author was very honest with her writing and we saw life in Singapore in all its glory through the wonderful celebratory events and to times of terrible, horrific acts.  These highs and lows were part of history and come as a package.

The Red Thread was a dangerous, passionate love story that was so touchingly tragic.  In another world and another time there would be no barriers and love would win.

I’d like to share a quote I particularly enjoyed from the novel:

It was dangerous, but for some things it was right to dare danger.

About the Author

Dawn Farnham is the author of The Straits Quartetdawnfarnham
(The Red Thread, The Shallow Seas, The Hills of
Singapore and The English Concubine), as well as
numerous short stories, plays and children’s books. A
former long-term resident of Singapore, Dawn now
calls Perth, Australia, home. Her new book, Finding
Maria is published in October 2017.
Learn more about Dawn Farnham at:

The Traveller’s Daughter by Michelle Vernal book review

the travellers daughter

The Traveller’s Daughter written by Michelle Vernal, publisher HarperImpulse, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:  http://amzn.to/2el7paJ

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Her mother’s secret…

For fifty years Rosa kept the secrets of her past hidden from her beloved daughter, Kitty. The hurt and pain, the guilt over what she’d done, was something she could never face. But now the time has come to share the truth of Kitty’s heritage…

Her daughter’s discovery…

Kitty never knew anything about her mother’s early life. But after her death, the discovery of Rosa’s journal opens Kitty’s eyes to a whole new world-a family she’s never known and a love she’s never dreamed of…

The fate of a family…

Now Kitty must travel to her mother’s homeland, but after fifty years, can the sins of the past be forgiven? Or will history repeat itself? With a decades-old family feud threatening her future, can Kitty put right what once went so wrong?

Join Kitty as she follows in her mother’s footsteps from the South of France to Ireland, discovering who she is along the way in this beautiful tale of forbidden love and fancy cupcakes!

french macarons

This was a stunning emotive journey of discovering your heritage, a heritage that has been kept hidden from you since you were born 31 years ago.  A journey that opens up old wounds from a past that has never been forgotten, a journey that evokes so many emotions from newly felt wounds.  A journey of self-discovery.  A journey that starts healing the hurt and feuds from a past that almost felt lifetimes ago.  A beautiful love story in two parts spanning generations.  Michelle Vernal has written an intoxicating story filled with wonderful Irish dialect, charm and traditions surrounding the folklore and heritage of the travellers of Ireland.  I do love it when an author expresses her characters using a regional accent it brings the personas to life and you can feel their emotions more.

This story of a time slip romance and family saga is set in the current day with Kitty grieving for her recently deceased mother.  She is contacted by a stranger, a man that knew her mother who wishes for Kitty to travel to the south of France to retrace her mother’s steps in a pivotal moment in the man’s career and also one that was momentous for her mother.  A jpeg of a photo of her mother is attached with this message and Kitty is literally spellbound by the image of her mother as a young woman and the look of utter adoration at the young man aside of her.  As Kitty knew nothing of her mother’s past from before she married Kitty’s father she is intrigued to learn more.  She sets off on an unknown adventure to the south of France hoping to learn more of her mother’s upbringing and young adult life.

I adored this story from the present day of Kitty being flown to France and to the story of Rosa her mother growing up as a traveller in Ireland and falling in love with a young man from a family that held a longstanding feud with her own.  Hearing about the lifestyle of the travellers was fascinating and felt a little idealistic with their simple attitudes to life and moving along when the time felt right.  Life was ultimately very hard for the travellers but was faced with a strength and love to survive.

An evocative, emotive romance that I didn’t want to end.  This was my first introduction to the work of Michelle Vernal and I can’t wait to read more of her stories.

To find out more about Michelle Vernal please visit the following links:

Website:  http://www.michellevernalbooks.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/MichelleVernal

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/michellevernalnovelist

Cinderella and The Duke by Janice Preston book review

 

cinderella and the duke

Cinderella and the Duke written by Janice Preston, publisher Mills & Boon Historical, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

Never welcomed into society circles, Rosalind Allen gave up her marriage prospects long ago―life has taught her she’ll only get hurt. So she’s shocked when an encounter with a mysterious stranger makes her long to reconsider…
Little does Rosalind know that her mystery man is Leo Beauchamp, Duke of Cheriton, travelling in disguise to evade the ladies of the ton! Impoverished Rosalind is the first woman to captivate Leo―but can he persuade this wary Cinderella to trust him with her heart?

regency couple silhouetteWhat more could you want from a Regency Romance? Country settings with grand houses, a damsel forsaking her own happiness looking after her younger siblings, a handsome stranger with chiselled features, society’s scripted choreography of courtship and a scoundrel/villain to despise?!  Cinderella and the Duke had all this and it was a treat to read.

I’m getting quite a taste for this genre, the authors, including Janice Preston, have transported me to a time of hardship for many but also to a time of pomp and ceremony.  A time when young ladies were chaperoned and introduced to society.  A time when wearing your best for a walk in the park was a necessity.  This era is so fascinating to read about and fictional stories do bring it to life.

In Cinderella and the Duke we meet 30 year old Rosalind Allen who with her brother have fled to the country in Buckinghamshire to get away from Sir Peter Tadlow, who had been recently appointed guardian to their stepsister Nell.  Sir Peter was a rogue and was helping himself to Nell’s inheritance and had set his sights on marrying Nell off to a very unsuitable suitor.  Nell, thankfully, had fled to London to visit her aunt in readiness of her debut into society with a view to finding a more savoury husband.

During one of Rosalind’s many walks in the country she happens across a group of gentlemen including one very smarmy character whom unsettles Rosalind.  However, one of the other gentlemen unsettles her in a very different way; a beautifully chiselled man with the darkest of hair.

For the last fourteen years Rosalind has taken the roll of mother to her brother Freddie, her stepsister Nell and stepbrother Jack.  Rosalind has forsaken her own chance of finding love to raise her siblings.  Now at 30 years of age she fears her courting times have gone but her heart is betraying her with feelings she has not felt before after this brief encounter with this handsome stranger.

Leo Beauchamp is the sixth Duke of Cheriton, since the death of his wife over 10 years ago he has singlehandedly brought up his three children.  Whilst away from the city he likes to take on a different persona, away from the ladies vying for his attention wishing to become the next Duchess.  Leo too feels a little unsettled following the encounter with Rosalind Allen, he cannot get the woman out of his mind.  Rosalind is very different to the ladies that parade around him.  Further chance encounters bring Rosalind and Leo together and the chemistry is almost magnetic and quite enticing.

This was a gorgeous tale of love, family, ownership and courtship.

To find out more about Janice Preston and her books please do visit the following links:

Website:  https://janicepreston.co.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/JaniceGPreston

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/janice.preston.author/

 

The Duke’s Unexpected Bride by Lara Temple book review

the duke's unexpected bride

The Duke’s Unexpected Bride written by Lara Temple, publisher Mills & Boon Historical is available NOW in ebook and in paperback format from 4th May 2017.

To buy link:

https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/p52715/the-dukes-unexpected-bride.htm

If you buy direct from Mills & Boon you will have access to many benefits, including:

  • Receive new books first
  • Exclusive discounts
  • Book bundle deals
  • Author interviews and book release information

The book is also available from amazon, iBooks, WHSmith and Waterstones.

Product Details (as per Mills & Boon page)

From country miss…to London duchess!

Sophie Trevelyan has been enjoying her visit to London, even if her closest companion is an overweight pug! Then she encounters the dashing Duke of Harcourt, who intrigues her more than is strictly proper…

Max knows he must marry. He’s looking for the opposite of his high-spirited fiancée, who died some years ago, so he tries to keep his distance from bubbly Sophie. But when her life is endangered, Max feels compelled to rescue her…with a very unexpected proposal!

pug

This was my first introduction to the words of Lara Temple and it was such a treat.  A ravishing Regency romp with wonderful charm, characters, gripping dramatic storyline, a history that was tied to 3 men that left each one damaged, a sensual desirable coupling with so much chemistry they can’t help but be drawn to each other and not forgetting a podgy, stubborn little dog called Marmaduke.

Sophie Trevelyan was staying at her Aunt’s house in London.  Her country ways from her home in Devon wasn’t enough to prepare her for society in London but Sophie held a compassion in her heart and her openness with people soon charmed them.  Sophie’s first hurdle though was to try and gain trust in her Aunt’s favourite pet, a podgy little pug that was stubborn and lazy called Marmaduke.

I loved how the author, Lara Temple, fitted this wonderful furry friend in this story.  Marmaduke’s personality in a way reflected in Max’s (Duke of Harcourt).

When Sophie met Max she was astonished with him and was left almost speechless with his supreme statuesque handsome features.  One of my favourite quotes by Lara was about Max with Sophie stating he was

so unfairly male

A friendship of sorts blossomed between the pair but Sophie was so different to the ladies that were paraded in front of him with the hope of becoming his Duchess.

The storyline held a darkness within it and a stunning seductress had three men at her beck and call but her greed was to be her downfall.  Years later these men were still beholden to this temptress and walls were built around their heart and soul.  It had to be a special woman to break down the wall that Max had built around himself.  However, Sophie’s life became in peril bringing a whole new twist to the darkness that has surrounded these three men.

A very delectable romance that oozed chemistry with class 5/5*

To find out more about Lara Temple and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.laratemple.com/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/laratemple1

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/LaraTempleAuthor/

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick book review and giveaway

the-phantom-tree

The Phantom Tree written by Nicola Cornick, publisher HQ is available NOW in ebook, paperback and audio download format.

To buy link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

the-phantom-tree-blog-tour-final

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Nicola Cornick’s latest novel, The Phantom Tree.  Nicola’s stories take you on a journey through time, she opens your eyes to an era long forgotten but with her words history becomes alive in your head entrancing you in another world.

The Phantom Tree is a captivating historical time slip mystery romance that was utterly spellbinding, mystifying, tragic but equally beautiful.  I didn’t want the story to end, I was feeling quite bereft and emotional once I had finished reading … signs of a good story!

The story starts in the present day with Alison walking through the crowded pre-Christmas streets of Marlborough.  By chance Alison sees a portrait of a young woman in an art gallery, the painting takes her by surprise, she is drawn to the image and can’t quite believe what she sees before her eyes.  The painting is listed as Anne Boleyn but Alison knows otherwise.  The image stirs memories of a past that Alison thought she’d never see again, the image is Mary Seymour, daughter of Katherine Parr, who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557.  Alison knows this fact as she too lived at Wolf Hall in 1557.  Somehow Alison has managed to escape the life she had in the past and has transported over 400 years in the future.  For the last 10 years she has tried desperately to return or to find information about something very dear to her that was cruelly taken from her, her son Arthur.  This portrait has been the breakthrough Alison has been looking for her.

The book continues with the story about two quite different women that were flung together in unusual circumstances.  We follow Mary Seymour’s story back in 1557 with her quest to fit in and escape the visions and words in her head.  We then follow the story of Alison Bannister who had fled time and is desperate to get back as a mother’s love is a bond that is not easily broken.  Clues from the past start catching up with Alison and she starts to question herself whether the risk is too great to go back to the 16th century.

This story was so enthralling I loved the images of the past evoked from the words on the pages.  The rawness of the times with greed and betrayal.  It was so heart breaking for a blossoming love to be cut so cruelly short but time felt like it stood still for this couple till they could be reunited again.

Once again a brilliant historical romance brought to life by Nicola Cornick.  5/5*

The publishers have kindly offered a paperback copy of this brilliant book for one of my readers.  Please click on the rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway.

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To find out more about Nicola Cornick and her books please visit the following pages:

Website:  http://www.nicolacornick.co.uk/

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/NicolaCornick

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/nicola.cornick/