House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick book review

house of shadows

House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick, publisher MIRA, is available in ebook format, and paperback format from TOMORROW Thursday 5th November 2015.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

London, 1662:
There was something the Winter Queen needed to tell him. She fought for the strength to speak.
‘The crystal mirror is a danger. It must be destroyed – ‘
He replied instantly. ‘It will’.

Ashdown, Oxfordshire, present day: Ben Ansell is researching his family tree when he disappears. As his sister Holly begins a desperate search, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to an ornate antique mirror and to the diary of Lavinia, a 19th century courtesan who was living at Ashdown House when it burned to the ground over 200 years ago.

Intrigued, and determined to find out more about the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s only hope is that uncovering the truth about the past will lead her to Ben.

For fans of Barbara Erskine and Kate Morton comes an unforgettable novel about three women and the power one lie can have over history.

Ashdown HouseI’d like to thank the publishers for an arc in return for an honest review.

After just recently finishing this truly beautiful, haunting, mesmerising book I felt heartbroken for some of the characters, for a love that could never blossom, but I also felt blissfully happy for others for giving love a chance.  It ws a remarkable read that I would love to see adapted for the big screen.

The story is set in 3 lifetimes; we travel back to the 1600’s with Elizabeth (the Winter Queen) and Lord Craven, a noble soldier dedicated to serve the King and Queen; then to 1801 with Lavinia Flyte, a young woman who had turned to vice to support herself and to Robert Verity, an army surveyor who had a chance meeting with the lovely, brave Lavinia; and forward to the present day we are faced with the story of Holly Ansell, who has just learned of the sudden disappearance of her brother Ben.

Holly is desperate to find her brother so decides to uproot her business and move to the Old Mill house in Ashdown, Oxfordshire, the last place Ben was seen alive.  It soon becomes apparent that prior to Ben’s disappearance he was in the process of researching the family tree.  The only clue that Holly could find as to what Ben was researching was a very old journal written by a young woman called Lavinia Flyte.  Holly started to read this diary to ascertain whether it gave any further clues as to Ben’s whereabouts.

Bit by bit Holly uncovers more about the past with the hope of finding Ben alive.

It was mesmerising to hear about the lives of loves, lost and found back in the 17th and 19th century.  Times were very different then and politics played a part in life and love.  We start to hear about events and people in the past that have links to the old Ashdown House and Mill.  An ornate antique bejewelled mirror and a pearl have strong links in the story and are believed to hold magical, dark powers.  Whilst reading the story I could feel the atmosphere when we learn about the mirror and pearl.  It was enlightening, mystical and quite frightening the auras and beliefs surrounding these objects; two objects of beauty were definitely deceptive to the eye.

The story had 3 tales of love and not all was a happy one.  This was a beautiful, heartfelt, at times tormenting and haunting story that will stay with me for a long time.

A beautiful, haunting, atmospheric 5/5* read.

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

The Girl from Cobb Street by Merryn Allingham book review

the girl from cobb street

The Girl from Cobb Street by Merryn Allingham, publisher: MIRA (an imprint of Harlequin), is available now in ebook format and paperback.

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Product Details (as per amazon page)

She longed for a family of her own…

Growing up in an orphanage on East London’s Cobb Street, Daisy Driscoll never felt the warm heart of home. Forging her own way in the world, determined Daisy struggles to make ends meet as the country finds itself on the brink of the Second World War.

Her fortunes change when she finds solace in the arms of Gerald Mortimer, a handsome cavalry subaltern in the Indian army. Finally, Daisy has found someone to love of her very own. But soon she discovers she’s pregnant and fate was never going to give her an easy ride.

Gerald is not all he claims to be and, as he leads her along a path of danger and scandal, Daisy must find the strength within herself to get through her darkest hour.

For fans of Nadine Dorries, Katie Flynn and Maureen Lee.


This is the first book by Merryn Allingham that I have had the pleasure to read.  The Girl from Cobb Street is the first story in the Daisy’s War trilogy, The Nurses War is the second story and Daisy’s Long Road Home is the third final instalment.  However, each story can be read as a standalone novel however, to enjoy and appreciate Daisy’s journey I would recommend reading all 3 books.

London 1938 Daisy is working in a department store in London on the perfumery counter when she first sees Gerald Mortimer, a handsome cavalry man in the Indian Army.  She is soon charmed by Gerald and after Gerald returns to India Daisy discovers she is pregnant.  Daisy takes an eventual and difficult journey to India to become Gerald’s wife.  We follow Daisy on her journey as she becomes Gerald’s wife and starts her new life in India.  However, Daisy soon realises Gerald is not all he claims to be and soon Daisy’s life becomes embroiled in danger with political and emotional turmoil.

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical romance.  Romance however, was not the main storyline although it was always simmering in the background.  I found the story fascinating with regards to the English Army based in India pre WWII.  It was also interesting how the wives were treated and how they were mean’t to behave.  A lot of unwritten rules for the women were made and it was confusing for a newcomer to understand.  The storyline was gripping discovering the truth behind Gerald.  The author, Merryn Allingham, kept me enthralled all throughout the book. I am now eager to continue with Daisy’s journey and catch up with her in The Nurses War and the forthcoming final instalment Daisy’s Long Road Home.

A gripping, historical romantic 5/5* read.

To find out more about Merryn Allingham and her books please visit the following links: