Genre: Women's Fiction

#BookReview
The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley
@lucindariley @AtriaBooks

#BookReview The Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley @lucindariley @AtriaBooksTitle: The Pearl Sister

Author: Lucinda Riley

Series: The Seven Sisters #4

Published by Atria Books on January 23, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 528

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Atria Books, NetGalley

Book Rating: 10/10

 

Synopsis:

From the breathtaking beaches of Thailand to the barely tamed wilds of colonial Australia, The Pearl Sister is the next captivating story in New York Times bestselling author Lucinda Riley’s epic series about two women searching for a place to call home.

CeCe D’Aplièse has always felt like an outcast. But following the death of her father—the reclusive billionaire affectionately called Pa Salt by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe—she finds herself more alone than ever. With nothing left to lose, CeCe delves into the mystery of her familial origins. The only clues she holds are a black and white photograph and the name of a female pioneer who once traversed the globe from Scotland to Australia.

One hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, a clergyman’s daughter, abandoned her conservative upbringing to serve as the companion to a wealthy woman traveling from Edinburgh to Adelaide. Her ticket to a new land brings the adventure she dreamed of…and a love that she had never imagined.

When CeCe reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, and her soul reawakens. As she comes closer to finding the truth of her ancestry, CeCe begins to believe that this untamed, vast continent could offer her what she’s always yearned for: a sense of belonging.


Review:

Poignant, enthralling, and exceptionally moving!

The Pearl Sister, the fourth instalment in the The Seven Sisters series, is predominantly set in the dusty Australian heat during both the early 1900s and twenty-first century as it delves into the life, ancestors, and heritage of CeCe, the struggling, awkward artist who seems adrift and in desperate need of some inspiration, companionship, and contentment.

The prose is expressive, eloquent, and heartfelt. The characters are complex, genuine, and endearing. And the plot is a compelling, heartwarming saga filled with familial drama, introspection, love, loss, grief, determination, passion, and loyalty, as well as an in-depth look at the culture, history, and politics of Australia, including the effects and influence of both the aboriginal people and the pearling industry.

The Pearl Sister is hands down another mesmerizing, superbly written time-slip novel by Riley that continues to highlight her incredible talent and imagination as a masterful researcher and storyteller.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links. 

                                          

 

 

Thank you to Atria Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and sold over ten million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author.

Lucinda’s novels include The Seven Sisters, a seven-book series telling the story of adopted sisters and based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first three books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, and The Shadow Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across Europe, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.

To read about the inspiration behind The Seven Sisters series, please visit thesevensistersseries.com

When not writing, travelling or running around after her children, she loves reading books that she hasn’t written with a glass or two of Provençal rosé!

#BlogTour & #BookReview
That Girl by Kate Kerrigan
@katekerrigan @HoZ_Books

#BlogTour & #BookReview That Girl by Kate Kerrigan @katekerrigan @HoZ_BooksTitle: That Girl

Author: Kate Kerrigan

Published by Head of Zeus on January 1, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Head of Zeus, NetGalley

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.


Review:

Compelling, beguiling, and undeniably moving!

That Girl is an enthralling story about dreams, courage, heartbreak, goals, secrets, adventure, new love, self-discovery, and friendship all set against the backdrop of 1960s London when King’s Road was alive and grooving and had more than its fair share of velvet, miniskirts, pubs, gangsters, and violence.

There are three main Irish lasses in this novel; Hanna, a young woman running from an abusive past; Lara a hardworking, brokenhearted seamstress; and Noreen a fun-loving gal, looking for a good time.

The prose is expressive and effortless. The characterization is spot on with a wonderful cast of characters, including some determined, fearless women who learn through friendship and compassion to let go of the past and embrace the future. And the plot is the perfect blend of heart, humour, hope, surprises, and drama.

Overall, I have to say that Kerrigan has done a smashing job on this novel. That Girl is truly a fantastic read with a little bit of everything, suspense, romance, and even a dab of dark comedy and just in case you couldn’t tell already, I absolutely loved it!

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Head of Zeus for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Kate Kerrigan

Kate Kerrigan lives in County Mayo, Eire, with her husband and children. Her novels include Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, shortlisted for the 2006 Romantic Novel of the Year Award and Ellis Island, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read.

 

#BookReview #BlogTour
What She Left by Rosie Fiore
@rosiefiore @AllenAndUnwinUK @rararesources

#BookReview #BlogTour What She Left by Rosie Fiore @rosiefiore @AllenAndUnwinUK @rararesources

#BookReview #BlogTour What She Left by Rosie Fiore @rosiefiore @AllenAndUnwinUK @rararesourcesTitle: What She Left

Author: Rosie Fiore

Published by Allen & Unwin on August 17, 2017

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 383

Format: Paperback

Source: Allen & Unwin, Rachel's Random Resources

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Helen Cooper has a charmed life. She’s beautiful, accomplished, organised – the star parent at the school. Until she disappears.

But Helen wasn’t abducted or murdered. She’s chosen to walk away, abandoning her family, husband Sam, and her home.

Where has Helen gone, and why? What has driven her from her seemingly perfect life? What is she looking for? Sam is tormented by these questions, and gradually begins to lose his grip on work and his family life.

He sees Helen everywhere in the faces of strangers. He’s losing control.

But then one day, it really is Helen’s face he sees…


Review:

Absorbing, intense, and immensely sobering!

What She Left is an emotional, character-driven novel that delves into the complex relationship between a husband and wife and highlights the detrimental physical and psychological effects the breakdown of a marriage can have on the whole family unit.

The prose is fluid and well turned. The characters are multifaceted, desperate, determined, and raw. And the plot, using multiple perspectives, is an engaging story about life, loss, love, family, secrets, lies, collusion, selfishness, friendship, and the importance of self-identity.

What She Left is a poignant, clever novel that reminds us that true happiness comes from honesty, trust, and never losing sight of your own desires, needs, wants, and dreams.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

              

 

 

Thank you to Rosie Fiore, Allen & Unwin and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Rosie Fiore

Rosie Fiore was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. She studied drama at the University of the Witwatersrand and has worked as a writer for theatre, television, magazines, advertising, comedy and the corporate market.

Her first two novels, This Year’s Black and Lame Angel were published by Struik in South Africa. This Year’s Black was longlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Award and has subsequently been re-released as an e-book. Babies in Waiting, Wonder Women and Holly at Christmas were published by Quercus. She is the author of After Isabella, also published by Allen & Unwin.

Rosie’s next book, The After Wife (written as Cass Hunter), will be published by Trapeze in 2018, and in translation is seven countries around the world.

Rosie lives in London with her husband and two sons.

 

#BookReview
Crazy Over You by Carol Thomas
@carol_thomas2 @rararesources

#BookReview Crazy Over You by Carol Thomas @carol_thomas2 @rararesourcesTitle: Crazy Over You

Author: Carol Thomas

Published by Matador on October 28, 2015

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 250

Format: eBook

Source: Rachel's Random Resources

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Love can drive you crazy… in more ways than one!

When Abby met Simon, it was the start of something special, a love Abby believed would last a lifetime.

A wedding, two daughters and fifteen years later Abby’s world is falling apart. Having discovered Simon has had an affair her normally ordered mind is spiralling out of control. Crushed by the betrayal and shocked by her own reaction, she knows she needs to get herself together; she’s just not sure where to start.

With Simon on a mission to win her back and a close friend hiding a secret that could push her further over the edge, Abby finds strength and support where she least expects it. But as she attempts to gain control of her life and make decisions about her future, it may be more than the limits of Abby’s mind that are put to the test!


Review:

Affecting, absorbing, and delightfully entertaining!

Crazy Over You is an immersive story that delves into the intricate relationship between a husband and wife and highlights just how quickly life can get turned upside down.

The writing is effortless and smooth. The characters are genuine, strong, compassionate, and lovable. And the plot is an engaging, emotional tale that uses a past/present style to give good depth and understanding to the personalities, relationships, and motivations within it.

Crazy Over You is, ultimately, a story about secrets, heartbreak, infidelity, betrayal, friendship, family, love, forgiveness, and self-discovery. It is a well written, pensive novel by Thomas that ended a little differently than I expected but was nevertheless surprisingly satisfying.

 

This book is available now. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                        

 

 

Thank you to Carol Thomas and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

 

About Carol Thomas

Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively young Labrador. She has been a playgroup supervisor and taught in primary schools for over fifteen years, before dedicating more of her time to writing. Carol is a regular volunteer at her local Cancer Research UK shop. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local cafes working on her next book.

#BookReview #BlogTour
Ours is the Winter by Laurie Ellingham
@LaurieEllingham @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBT

#BookReview #BlogTour Ours is the Winter by Laurie Ellingham @LaurieEllingham @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBT

#BookReview #BlogTour Ours is the Winter by Laurie Ellingham @LaurieEllingham @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBTTitle: Ours Is the Winter

Author: Laurie Ellingham

Published by HQ Digital on November 17, 2017

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: HQ Digital, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Journeying across the Arctic, their pasts are about to catch up with them.

Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show.

Erica has it all. A loving husband, a successful career and the most adorable baby daughter. But Erica has been living a double life, and as she nears her fortieth birthday her lies threaten to come crashing down.

Molly was on her way to stardom. But when her brother died, so did her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion. Consumed by rage and grief, she has shut out everyone around her, but now she’s about to learn that comfort can come from the most unexpected places.

Noah has a darkness inside him and is hounded by nightmares from his past. Tortured, trapped and struggling to save his fractured relationship, he knows this journey is not going to help, but try telling his girlfriend that.

As their lives and lies become ever more entwined, it becomes clear that in the frozen wilds there is nowhere to hide.


Review:

Riveting, affecting, and atmospheric!

Ours is the Winter is an emotive, absorbing novel that takes us on a journey into the icy, cold, Arctic where friendships will be formed, love will be lost, past tragedies will haunt, and secrets will surface and bind people forever.

There are three main memorable characters in this novel. Erica, a career woman, struggling with the pressures of being a good mother, wife, and sister. Molly, a young woman, crippled with grief over the loss of her brother. And Noah, a man grappling with extreme guilt and a relationship in tatters.

The writing is eloquent and vivid. The plot is well crafted and uses a past/present style to create a little suspense and a lot of emotion as it unravels all the histories, personalities, and relationships within it. And the characterization is well done with a cast of characters that are troubled, scarred, and raw; a group of Huskies that are intelligent, athletic and lovable; and a setting, the arctic wilderness, that is a character itself with its harsh weather, isolation, and physical challenges.

Ours is the Winter is a clever, poignant novel that reminds us that survival of any form takes strength and courage and the greatest gift we can give ourselves and others is forgiveness.

 

This book is available now. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following link.

 

 

Giveaway:

 

Prize: 1 signed paperback of Laurie’s previous book, “One Endless Summer”.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thank you to Laurie Ellingham, HQ Digital, and Neverland Blog Tours for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

 

About Laurie Ellingham

When I’m not running around after my two children, my husband, our Cockerpoo Rodney, or just plain running, I love nothing more than disappearing into the fictional world of my characters preferably with a large coffee and a Twix (or two) to hand.

When I am in the thick of a character crisis, I can often be seen walking around the village with my jumper on inside out and back to front, chatting (and occasionally laughing) away to myself.

I have a first class honours degree in psychology and a background in Public Relations, both of which help in everything I do.

#BookReview #BlogTour
The Girl I Used To Know by Faith Hogan
@GerHogan @Aria_Fiction

#BookReview #BlogTour The Girl I Used To Know by Faith Hogan @GerHogan @Aria_FictionTitle: The Girl I Used to Know

Author: Faith Hogan

Published by Aria on December 1, 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 298

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Aria, NetGalley

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A beautiful, emotive and spell-binding story of two women who find friendship and second chances when they least expect it. Perfect for the fans of Patricia Scanlan.

Amanda King and Tess Cuffe are strangers who share the same Georgian house, but their lives couldn’t be more different.

Amanda seems to have it all, absolute perfection. She projects all the accoutrements of a lady who lunches. Sadly, the reality is a soulless home, an unfaithful husband and a very lonely heart.

By comparison, in the basement flat, unwanted tenant Tess has spent a lifetime hiding and shutting her heart to love.

It takes a bossy doctor, a handsome gardener, a pushy teenager and an abandoned cat to show these two women that sometimes letting go is the first step to moving forward and new friendships can come from the most unlikely situations.


Review:

Uplifting, absorbing, and delightfully inspiring!

The Girl I Used To Know is a heartwarming story that immerses you in a tale about letting go of the past, embracing the future and discovering one’s true self at any age.

The prose is effortless and fluid. The plot is a wonderful blend of heart, humour, and hope. And the characterization is spot on with a memorable cast of characters, including two strong, determined, resilient women who learn through compassion and friendship how to move on, find true happiness and be unconditionally loved.

The Girl I Used To Know is, ultimately, a story about life, love, loss, dreams, heartache, infidelity, family, and romance. It is a beautifully written, beguiling novel by Hogan that highlights just how meaningful and powerful friendships can truly be.

 

This book is available now. 

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                    

 

 

Thank you to Faith Hogan and Aria Fiction for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.

 

About Faith Hogan

Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organiser and in the intellectual disability and mental health sector.

She was a winner in the 2014 Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair – an international competition for emerging writers.

 

#BookReview #GuestPost
Winter at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin
@jaxandwillsmum @HQDigitalUK

#BookReview #GuestPost Winter at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin @jaxandwillsmum @HQDigitalUK

#BookReview #GuestPost Winter at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin @jaxandwillsmum @HQDigitalUKTitle: Winter At Cedarwood Lodge

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Series: At Cedarwood Lodge #4

Published by HQ Digital on December 1, 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 403

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: HQ Digital, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

Synopsis:

This winter it’s time to fall in love at Cedarwood Lodge…

After years of dreaming, Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen and turning it into the perfect destination for celebrations, weddings and extravagant birthday parties. The huge property used to be a bustling holiday camp, now Clio wants to bring it back to its halcyon days – which will be a lot of hard work!

Returning back to the small town of her youth she’s glad to have one of her best friends still around to lean on, Micah who is just as solid as he used to be. But with her own secrets pushing her to run from her glamorous life in New York, she’ll have to tread carefully, especially when the far-too-handsome-for-his-own-good contractor, Kai, shows up on her doorstep…

Sure she’s here in Evergreen to change her life, but there is no way she’s falling in love!

Previously published as three novellas; Celebrations & Confetti, Brides & Bouquets, and Midnight & Mistletoe and now Includes bonus material!


Review:

Absorbing, enchanting, and sugary sweet!

In this latest compilation, Winter at Cedarwood Lodge, Raisin sweeps us away to a wintery paradise where the snow is falling, the accommodations are rustic, the food is scrumptious, and love is in the air.

The prose is light, atmospheric, and well turned. The characters are unique, flawed, and multi-layered. And the story is a compelling tale full of tender moments, humorous hijinks, self-discovery, friendship, family, community, happiness, love, a little mystery, and a whole lot of Christmas cheer!

Overall, Winter at Cedarwood Lodge is a charming holiday treat that’s perfect for a chilly afternoon curled up in front of the fire with a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review of The Little Antique Shop Under the Eiffel Tower by Rebecca Raisin be sure to check it out here:

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                                      

For more information about the Tour Schedule click Here

 

 

And now Rebecca Raisin with:

Twenty things to do this Christmas

When I wrote Winter at Cedarwood Lodge, the whole premise behind the lodge was that it be a place to go where you switch off phones and computers and go back to a simpler way of living where you’re not always contactable 24/7. The idea appeals to me so much, especially around holiday time when you just need to recharge and forgot about work and schedules for a little while.

But what to do if you’re not scrolling through Facebook…?

  1. Write a letter to a stranger. Make them smile!
  2. Invite that neighbor over for dinner, the one who waves but always seems to be alone.
  3. Bake! Lots of cookies, ice them, dust them, eat them!
  4. Get crafty, upcycle something!
  5. Start the New Year fresh!
  6. Plant a herb garden. Big or small, inside or outside!
  7. Cuddle a cat or dog! Visit your local rescue center and ask about spending some time with those adorable fur babies for an hour or two.
  8. Move your furniture around. A change is as good as a holiday or so the saying goes…
  9. Build a snowman, or a sand castle! You are never too old, I don’t care what age you are!
  10. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time and arrange a coffee date.
  11. Make pasta from scratch.
  12. Write a poem or haiku.
  13. Paint your nails.
  14. Make a face mask from natural items in your pantry.
  15. Put fresh sheets on your bed.
  16. Read a book you’ve given up on before and see if anything has changed.
  17. Send a postcard and say wish you were here.
  18. Jump in a puddle.
  19. Compliment someone you don’t know.
  20. Go for a bike ride or a walk.

What else would you add to the list? I hope you have a fabulous festive season and have time to switch off and do something relaxing that you haven’t done for a while.

All the best,

Bec xx

 

Thank you to Rebecca Raisin for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review and for participating on my blog today. It’s an honour!

 

About Rebecca Raisin

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

 

#BookReview
A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding
@DearestAnnabel @HQDigitalUK

#BookReview A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding @DearestAnnabel @HQDigitalUKTitle: A Pearl for My Mistress

Author: Annabel Fielding

Published by HQ Digital on August 9, 2017

Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 384

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: HQ Digital, NetGalley

Book Rating: 8//10

 

 

Synopsis:

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…


Review:

Insightful, exceptionally researched, and richly descriptive!

A Pearl for My Mistress takes us back to the 1930s, the interwar period, and gives an in-depth look into the formation of the British far-right movement and Germany’s influence and infiltration of British politics and high society.

The prose is fervent and captivating. The main characters include the scarred, loyal, enamored Hester and the bold, independent, resourceful Lucy. And the plot unfolds chronologically with a nice mix of historical events, intriguing fiction, social strife, forbidden love, political manipulation, and heartfelt emotion that keeps the story flowing from start to finish.

A Pearl for My Mistress is a well written, fascinating novel that highlights Fielding’s incredible knowledge and enormous passion for a period of time that is often forgotten and overlooked.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

 

Thank you to Annabel Fielding & HQ Digital for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Annabel Fielding

Annabel Fielding, having graduated from the University of Arts London with an MA in Public Relations, is a PR assistant by day and a novelist by night. Being a self-professed history geek, she dedicates her free time to obscure biographies, solo travel and tea.

#BookReview #Q&A
The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks

#BookReview #Q&A The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooksTitle: The Christmas Secret

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on November 4, 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 478

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

They say that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, and behind London’s most powerful leaders, there stands only one — Alex Hyde, Business Coach par excellence. She’s the woman they turn to for advice and strategy when the pressure gets too much.

So when she gets a call from an esteemed whisky company in Scotland asking for her services it’s business as usual. Only, she’s never met anyone like Lochlan Burr before. CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, he’s also the son and heir of the company’s founder. He’s a maverick, an enigma, a renegade, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees. But as she tasks herself with finding a way in, she finds she’s the one being maneuvered; for once, she isn’t in control. And when she stumbles across a chance discovery that changes everything, she’s suddenly not so sure she should be.


Review:

Absorbing, enthralling, and positively addictive!

In this latest novel by Swan she sweeps us away to Isle of Islay where the people are the salt of the earth, the terrain is rugged, the peat is unique, and the whisky is smoky, smooth, and plentiful!

The prose is remarkably well turned and fluid. The characters are unique, flawed, eccentric, and lovable. And the story is an exceptionally compelling tale about life, loss, grief, war, familial dynamics, friendship, forgiveness, courage, community, happiness, love, and good Scotch.  

Alternating between the past and the present, The Christmas Secret has it all. It’s humorous and lighthearted, emotional and heartbreaking, mysterious and sweet. It grabs you from the very first page and with its wonderfully blended storyline of historical facts, snappy fiction, and delightful romance it’s truly the perfect holiday treat! 

If you haven’t had a chance to read my reviews for some of Karen Swan’s previous titles be sure to check them out here:

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

 

And now a little Q&A with Karen Swan:

The Christmas Secret is set mainly in Islay, Scotland. Prior to writing the novel did this locale have any personal significance for you?

Yes, my father is Scottish so I have spent much of my life in the Highlands and I love it: I was married there, my first born was christened there; it’s very much a part of me and I identify strongly as being of Scottish blood; ‘Swan’ is actually a shortening of my maiden name MacSwan MacLeod. Also, my father knows the Robertson family, whose grandfather, Sergeant Malcolm MacNeill, had the grim task of identifying the bodies of the soldiers washed ashore after the American troopship Tuscania sank. It was a devastating incident for such a tiny, rural community to have the war literally wash up on their sands like that, and tragically it was compounded just a few months later when another American troop carrier, the Otranto, sank in a collision with its own convoy just off Islay’s shores. The Tuscania tragedy was the single largest loss of American lives in one day since the Civil War and was met with national dismay back home. The centenary anniversary is coming up for both events so it felt like an opportunity to remember those who perished.

In the Christmas Secret, as well as some of your other novels, you interweave a historical event, in this case the tragic sinking of the SS Tuscania, with contemporary fiction. Do you find this harder or easier to write than your novels that are purely fictional?

I’m increasingly interested in incorporating a historical element in my stories, for it adds weight but also pathos too. It does make it more complicated though, in this case ridiculously so, as I chose to reveal the backstory through a variety of different sources and characters all of which involved different research and tones of voice. Partly I did this because I wanted the impact of what happened to be spelled out in three-hundred and sixty degrees; it also fractured the telling of the event for the reader, giving a haunting, dream-like quality to the story. I asked myself several times over the course of writing it, whether it was strictly necessary to devote some much time and energy to this thread and those characters, but I think the closing sentences of the epilogue rather sum up why it had to be done. They brought me to tears.

The Christmas Secret is a beautiful story about small-island life, love, forgiveness, community, and whisky, but Is there any sub-plot or chapter that you had to edit out because of the flow that you really wish you could have kept in?

Funnily enough, it wasn’t a matter of cutting anything out but rather, having to refrain from putting too much in. I would have liked to go in closer with some of the characters in the back-story but I had to write very lightly, taking care not to make anything too obvious or heavy-handed. The historical story could easily have overshadowed the present day story if I wasn’t careful and I had to constantly remind myself that it was there to underpin and explain the main action, not overwhelm it.

In The Christmas Secret and all your previous novels you have a strong, independent female protagonist that is often fashion savvy. Do you do this consciously or unconsciously based on your own success as a fashion editor?

Yes, I think I do really. Although I’ve moved on from that world, I still believe that fashion and how we present ourselves is an incredibly – and increasingly – important tool in how we navigate our lives. I tend to use a good sense of style as evidence of an ordered, urban, sophisticated life.

In The Christmas Secret and your previous novels you always have incredible, memorable secondary characters, such as Callum and Louise. Would you ever consider writing a novel featuring one of these characters in the lead?

I would love to, not least because sometimes – not always – I even prefer them to the main characters. There’s a little more freedom that comes with the support cast – they don’t need to be as well-behaved, or even as likeable. I think if I were to do that, it would be with Kitty in The Perfect Present. I took her very much to my heart.

In the past you have written one sequel that I know of, Summer at Tiffany’s which was the sequel to Christmas at Tiffany’s. Do you think we might see more sequels in the future or do you prefer to create new characters and fresh storylines?

It was an interesting exercise writing a sequel to Christmas At Tiffanys, not least because those characters really became very beloved to my readers and it was lovely to revisit them again. The tricky thing for my genre, however, is that the core of my stories is not the actual plot mystery but the romantic element between the characters; I really care about whether their love story feels genuine and authentic and that’s the rub: for a reader to want to turn the pages, a story must be compelling, which means creating tension and conflict; no-one wants to spend 300 pages reading about other peoples’ perfect happiness. But in order to create that necessary tension, I would have to dismantle the very relationship I had spent the previous book building up, and to me, that risks falling into ‘soap opera’ territory. If my books could be based around my characters’ jobs, rather than their love lives, it would be an enticing prospect, not least because I find most of their jobs fascinating: Flora Sykes, the fine art agent for example? She could be my equivalent to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon! Why not? I can see it!

 

As many of you already know I am a huge fan of Karen Swan and it’s an enormous honour to have her participate in a Q&A for this blog. I also must thank PGC for their continued support and for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

 

And if you live in the GTA don’t miss your opportunity to attend a “Night with Karen Swan” hosted by Publishers Group Canada.

 

© Alexander James

OAKVILLE, ON
Tuesday, November 14 • 7:00 PM
An Evening with Karen Swan • Oakville Public Library
Central Branch • Tickets on sale now

KITCHENER, ON
Wednesday, November 15 • 7:00 PM
An Evening with Karen Swan • Kitchener Public Library
85 Queen Branch • Registration required

WHITBY, ON
Thursday, November 16 • 7:00 PM
An Evening with Karen Swan • Whitby Public Library
Central Branch • Registration required

 

For more information on a “Night with Karen Swan” check out the events newsletter HERE

 

 

 

#BookReview
House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick
@NicolaCornick @HarlequinBooks

#BookReview House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick @NicolaCornick @HarlequinBooksTitle: House of Shadows

Author: Nicola Cornick

Published by MIRA on November 5, 2015

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 449

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Harlequin Books

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House–a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of romance, deceit and destiny…

1662–A queen

Bound by sex and birth to live for everyone but herself–and to love always in secret–Elizabeth Stuart entrusts a pair of arcane artifacts to her faithful cavalier to keep safe for her rightful heir. But fate will not be generous to the Winter Queen, throwing the question of succession into turmoil, the aftermath of which will resonate through the generations.

1801–A courtesan

Lavinia Flyte wanted so much more from life than to be a courtesan at the mercy of the cruel Lord Evershot. He has brought her to Ashdown, the home of his ancestors, for reasons he guards greedily. But the maids’ whispers of hidden treasures–a pearl with the power to foretell the future–consume her with a curiosity she confides only to her diary, unaware of the misfortune that threatens.

And the mystery that binds them

Alarmed to hear her brother has gone missing at Ashdown Park, Holly Ansell is inexplicably drawn to the clues contained in the journal of a Regency courtesan who was living at the historic home when it burned to the ground two hundred years ago. Lured by the tragedy at Ashdown, Holly’s search leads her not only to the truth about Lavinia, but deeper into her own connection with the Winter Queen.

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


Review:

Romantic, fascinating, and exceptionally absorbing!

In Cornick’s latest novel, House of Shadows, she immerses us in an incredibly intriguing historical time-slip tale of love, life, duty, honour, friendship, family, passion, desire, and mystery.

The writing is fluid and vividly descriptive. The characters, in all time periods, are complex, independent, and strong. And the blended plot is a captivating, sometimes dangerous journey, from the Winter Queen’s exiled court in The Hague to the beautiful, wooded countryside of Sussex, England.

Overall, House of Shadows is a well written, exceptionally researched, entertaining novel that highlights Cornick’s knowledge and passion for history in a tale that interweaves historical facts, compelling fiction, suspense, and romance effortlessly and I can’t wait to read what she publishes next.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Nicola Cornick

International bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes romantic historical mysteries and witty and passionate Regency romance. She studied History at London and Oxford and was awarded a distinction for her dissertation on historical heroes. It was a tough study but someone had to do it. Nicola has a “double life” as a writer and guide at the stunning 17th century hunting lodge, Ashdown House. Nicola lives near Oxford and loves reading, writing, history, music, wildlife, travel and walking her dog. She also loves hearing from her readers and chatting to them on her blog.

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