Publisher: Pan Macmillan

#BookReview
Little Big Man by Katy Regan
@katyreganwrites @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview Little Big Man by Katy Regan @katyreganwrites @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: Little Big Man

Author: Katy Regan

Published by Pan Macmillan on June 5, 2017

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 464

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes it takes a little boy to see the big things in life.

Ten-year-old Zac has never met his father, who allegedly took off before he was born. But when his mum lets slip that he’s the only man she’s ever loved, Zac turns detective and, roping in his best friend, hatches a plan to find his dad and give his mum the happy-ever-after she deserves. What he doesn’t realize, though, is that sometimes people have good reasons for disappearing.

Little Big Man is a compelling story about family secrets and fierce, familial love. It’s about growing up and being accepted; grief and lies, and the damage they can do. But, most of all, it’s about a determined little boy determined who wants to give the man he’s never met a second chance to be a father—and his mum a second chance at love.


Review:

Beguiling, poignant, and incredibly uplifting!

Little Big Man is an exceptionally absorbing tale set in the small, economically declining, fishing town of Grimsby and told from three different perspectives. Zac, a sweet, innocent young boy contending with ongoing bullying from his peers and a relentless hunt for the father he’s never known. Juliet, a single mother with a big heart struggling to care and support those she loves as well as herself. And Mick, a loving grandfather who’s weighed down by the secrets he keeps and the feelings of loss and grief that constantly surround him.

The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are genuine, sorrowful, sympathetic, and lovable. And the story is a beautifully mesmerizing tale about life, loss, love, grief, long-hidden secrets, forgiveness, familial drama, friendship, courage, community, moving on, and happiness.

Little Big Man is a masterfully crafted, astute tale that immerses you so thoroughly into the lives, feelings, and personalities of the characters you never want it to end, and it is without a doubt one of my favourite novels of the year.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                  

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Katy Regan

Katy Regan was born and raised in the northern seaside town of Morecambe, England. She went on to study English and French at Leeds University where she became the features editor of the student newspaper before moving to London. She wrote for various magazines and newspapers before becoming Commissioning Editor at Marie Claire magazine. Katy's previous novels include One Thing Led to Another, The One Before the One, How We Met, and The Story of You. Little Big Man is her first for Mantle. Katy, who has one son, now lives in Hertfordshire.

 

#BookReview
The Greek Escape by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview The Greek Escape by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: The Greek Escape

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on May 8, 2018

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A scorching and sensational summer novel from the Globe and Mail bestselling author of The Paris Secret and The Rome Affair.

Set between the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, The Greek Escape will leave you breathless as each twist unfolds.

Running from heartbreak, Chloe Marston leaves her old life in London for a fresh start in New York. Working at a luxury concierge company, she makes other people’s lives run perfectly, even if her own has ground to a halt. But a terrible accident forces her to step into a new role, up close and personal with the company’s most esteemed and powerful clients. Charismatic Joe Lincoln is one of them and his every wish is her command, so when he asks her to find him a secluded holiday home in the Greek Islands, she sets about sourcing the perfect retreat.

But when Tom, her ex, unexpectedly shows up in Manhattan and the stability of her new life is thrown off-balance again, Chloe jumps at the chance to help Joe inspect the holiday house. Escaping to Greece will give her the time and space to decide where her future truly lies. Tom is the man she has loved for so long but he has hurt her before – can she give him another chance? And as she draws closer to Joe, does she even want to? As magnetic as he is mysterious, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them that she can’t resist.

But whatever her heart is telling her, she’s in over her head—another client’s wife has mysteriously disappeared and seriously allegations about Joe threaten more than just her happiness. Who can she trust? And will Chloe uncover the truth in time?


Review:

Mysterious, enticing, and wickedly entertaining!

The Greek Escape is a provocative thrill ride that takes you on a journey into the life of the heartbroken, hardworking Chloe as she juggles relocation, a high-pressure career, a two-timing ex, the whims and dalliances of the rich and famous, and a cocky, demanding, handsome new client.

The prose is evocative and polished. The characters are inquisitive, ambitious, and spontaneous. The settings are exotic and picturesque. And the plot is a true guilty pleasure that’s packed with action, humour, suspense, drama, corruption, scandals, sex, and romance.

The Greek Escape is a fresh, sophisticated, addictive novel with irresistible characters that I devoured from start to finish. I’m a huge fan of Karen Swan, and this novel didn’t disappoint. It enthralled, captivated, and amused me, and I highly recommend it.

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

 

This novel is available now in some countries.

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

                                  

 

 

Thank you to PGC Canada and Pan Macmillan for providing me with a copy 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

 

#BookReview
The Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne
@PamHartshorne @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview The Cursed Wife by Pamela Hartshorne @PamHartshorne @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: The Cursed Wife

Author: Pamela Hartshorne

Published by Pan Macmillan on March 8, 2018

Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 480

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

She is living a lie, And lies can be deadly.

Mary is content with her life as wife to Gabriel Thorne, a wealthy merchant in Elizabethan London. She loves her husband and her family, is a kind mistress to the household and is well-respected in the neighbourhood. She does her best to forget that as a small girl she was cursed for causing the death of a vagrant child, a curse that predicts that she will hang. She tells herself that she is safe.

But Mary’s whole life is based on a lie. She is not the woman her husband believes her to be, and when one rainy day she ventures to Cheapside, the past catches up with her and sets her on a path that leads her to the gibbet and the fulfilment of the curse.

The Cursed Wife is a page-turning, psychological thriller set in Elizabethan London.


Review:

Atmospheric, gritty, and haunting!

The Cursed Wife is a well-paced, historical thriller set in England in the late 1600s that’s told from two different perspectives. Mary, a considerate, helpful, young woman with a past steeped in misfortune and deception. And Cat, a selfish, unscrupulous young lady driven by impulsiveness and jealousy.

The writing is immersive and eerie. The characters are tormented, hardened, and resourceful. And the plot, using a back-and-forth style is evocative, taut, and twisty from the very first page until the spine-chilling ending you won’t see coming.

The Cursed Wife is an intriguingly dark and sinister novel that sweeps you back in time and transports you from the opulent manor houses found in the English countryside to the dingy, dangerous London docks in an engrossing tale rife with desperation, survival, manipulation, abuse, deviance, violence, class disparity, and murder.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                        

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Pamela Hartshorne

Pamela Hartshorne is a historian as well as an award-winning romance author. She lives in York, England and continues to draw inspiration from her PhD research to write about the 16th century, in fact or fiction. Time’s Echo, her first novel written under her real name, was shortlisted for awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

  

#BookReview
An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope
@joannatrollope @PGCBooks

#BookReview An Unsuitable Match by Joanna Trollope @joannatrollope @PGCBooksTitle: An Unsuitable Match

Author: Joanna Trollope

Published by Pan Macmillan on March 27, 2018

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 304

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Number one bestselling author, Joanna Trollope, is back with her twenty-first novel.

Dealing with one’s own emotions is one thing, but facing a parent’s rollercoaster of a love life is quite another.

Rose Woodrowe is getting married to Tyler Masson – a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her. The only problem? This isn’t the first time for either of them. And when you marry later in life there are a lot more people to consider…

Like Rose’s daughter, Laura, who remembers her mother’s first marriage and doesn’t want her to get hurt again. Or the twins, Emmy and Nat, who are used to their mum being there for them whenever, and for whatever, they need. And then there’s Tyler’s children: Mallory, a young actress who craves her father’s attention, and Seth, whose San Francisco bakery is just taking off and needs all the money he can get.

Both Rose and Tyler are determined to get it right this time, but in trying to make everyone happy, can they ever be happy themselves?


Review:

Insightful, sincere, and absorbing!

An Unsuitable Match is a heartfelt, domestic story about relationships, new and old, and all the complexities, drama, and emotion that surround them.

The prose is polished and astute. The characters are well-developed, genuine, and troubled. And the plot is a compelling, heartwarming ride of life, love, self-discovery, familial dynamics, second-chance romance, aging, support, honesty, and friendship.

Overall, An Unsuitable Match is a sophisticated, moving, relatable tale that highlights the highs-and-lows of committing later in life and reminds us of all the struggles and challenges of trying to combine and blend families together.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                                            

 

,

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope is the author of twenty highly acclaimed and bestselling novels, including City of Friends, Friday Nights, Second Honeymoon, and The Other Family. She was appointed OBE in 1996, and a trustee of the UK National Literacy Trust in 2012. She has chaired the Whitbread and Orange Awards, as well as being a judge of many other literature prizes; she has been part of two DCMS panels on public libraries and is patron of numerous charities, including Meningitis Now, and Chawton House Library. In 2014, she updated Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility as the opening novel in the Austen Project.

#BookReview #Q&A
The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances
@michellefrancesbooks @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview #Q&A The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances @michellefrancesbooks @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: The Girlfriend

Author: Michelle Frances

Published by Pan Macmillan on March 1, 2018

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 464

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A relentlessly paced domestic noir examining a mother-son-daughter-in-law relationship in a chilling new light.

A girl. A boy. His mother and the lie she’ll wish she never told.

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances is a gripping debut thriller, based on the fall-out following an unforgiveable lie. It follows the charged relationship between girlfriend, boyfriend and his mother, in a triangle of lies and deceit.

Laura has it all. She has a successful career, a long marriage to a rich husband, and a twenty-three year-old son, Daniel, who is kind, handsome, and talented. Then Daniel meets Cherry. Cherry is young, beautiful and smart but she hasn’t had the same opportunities as Daniel. And she wants Laura’s life.

Cherry comes to the family wide-eyed and wants to be welcomed with open arms, but Laura suspects she’s not all that she seems.

When tragedy strikes, an unforgiveable lie is told. It is an act of desperation, but the fall-out will change their lives forever.


Review:

Riveting, complex, and well crafted!

The Girlfriend is a character-driven, domestic thriller that delves into the embattled relationship that can occur between a mother and her son’s significant other when they’re both ruthlessly determined to be the most important woman in his life.

The writing is precise and intense. The characters are self-absorbed, troubled, devious, and at times despicable. And the plot, told from multiple perspectives, starts with a bang and continues to ratchet up the tension as it subtly unravels all the personalities, histories, and motivations within it.

The Girlfriend is a chilling, intriguing, page-turner that at its core is a novel about family, manipulation, jealousy, deception, and obsession. It’s a wonderful debut for Frances, and I can’t wait to read what she comes up with next.

 

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 Michelle Francis:

 

This is a different sort of love triangle, the girlfriend, Cherry, isn’t competing with a lover but the potential mother-in-law, Laura. What made you choose this dynamic to write about?

I’ve always been fascinated by the notion that two women who are complete strangers are suddenly thrust together in a very intimate relationship for the rest of their lives – just because one starts to date the other’s son. It’s a bit weird and great territory for emotional stress and anxiety. Will she like me? Will I like her? What about for the next forty years?!

I really wanted to write a book that gave both the mother’s and the girlfriend’s point-of-view as each woman’s love for the same man is, although very different, of equal weight and importance. Pit these two loves against each other and who would win? I wanted to create a story that would get readers talking, debating which of the two women might be the more ‘wronged’ and the more justified in their behaviour.

 

There are times in the book where it’s easy to dislike Cherry and Laura! Did you feel empathy for them even though they both do some pretty bad things?

I find it hard to dislike either of them – particularly in the beginning. I want to shake Cherry and tell her to relax right at the start of the book and stop worrying so much! It’s sad really, she genuinely cares for Daniel (even though she does also like his money) and if she’d just stopped fretting about what Laura thought of her, things might have worked out very differently. And Laura does the most awful thing but she has been told by the doctors that Daniel has days – possibly hours – to live, and I can’t help but understand her actions as she’s about to lose her second – and only remaining – child. Both women have moments of possession and jealously and they are ugly, dangerous emotions that make them do despicable things. But as people I feel sorry for them both in many ways.

 

Part of the fun of The Girlfriend is trying to decide which of the characters’ behaviour is worse! Did you always intend for the story to be so morally ambiguous?

Yes, absolutely! I really wanted to test the characters, to see how far they would go, and importantly, try and make their actions justified – at least in their eyes. I think that in some cases, particularly with Laura, even though she does some awful things, she genuinely believes it’s for the right reason. Sadly, with the combination of both Laura’s and Cherry’s individual backgrounds and the situation they now find themselves in, mixed in with the paranoia and nerves, things start unraveling quite quickly.

 

How was writing for a novel different from writing for film and TV?

Well in TV, someone else does all the work! My work in television has been nearly all in producing and script editing (although I have attempted a script or two along the way). There are lots of key differences. The most obvious is length (!) – a script has about 12,000 words, a novel 100,000. Writing for television is also a very collaborative affair – certainly in the UK. There will be tiers of editors, producers, executives and commissioners, all with an opinion, that the writer will either embrace, or will need to successfully argue is invalid.

Things – mostly – happen on screen fast. A very respected UK producer once told me to ‘burn story’. Help, I thought, if I tell the writer to use that story beat in the first five minutes of the episode, what the heck are we going to do just before the ad break? But actually, it’s extremely liberating. It’s a bit like a natural disaster. The occurrence of one thing will set in motion other things, for example the earthquake will set off the tsunami. It’s the same with story – and more to the point, characters. Making things happen often triggers other things to happen.

I’m stating the obvious here but television is a visual medium. But so is a reader’s imagination. In TV, you would look to cut scenes against one another that can help to tell the story. For example, a cop might be talking to a colleague wondering who could be the culprit. Cutting to a new scene featuring a particular individual can make the audience think that individual is the guilty party. The use of visuals – and descriptive prose – cut against each other can create all sorts of drama. It can build tension, create cliffhangers, increase mystery, explain secrets. This is true of novels just as much as of television.

 

What inspired you to write a thriller for your first novel?

Personally, I wrote a thriller because that was the story nagging at me in my head wanting to be told! The darker side of our psyche and how far we’ll go when pushed fascinates me. Also, the dynamic between mother / son / girlfriend is a universal story that touches on a lot of people. Plenty of my girlfriends had tales of woe about their mothers-in-law. During the course of writing the novel I also heard a radio program about the difficulties some women were having with their new daughters-in-law and one story particularly affected me. A heart-broken woman had phoned in and was in tears speaking of how she was excluded to the extent she hadn’t even known her son and his new wife had not one, but two children. She had discovered that her grandchildren existed by accident. It reinforced to me that it’s a universal relationship that can affect a lot of women and cause a lot of distress – to either party.

 

What was your writing process like?

I tend to see writing a novel as a bit like completing a jigsaw puzzle. After shaping up the characters, I generally start with the foundations of the story, the big plot beats and twists (which I liken to the straight edges of a puzzle). Then I will fill in some of the more detailed beats in the first few chapters only – and then go ahead and write them. Once they’re complete, the characters will be starting to tell me where to go next, and so I’ll write the next section, and this continues until I’m near the end, where hopefully the jigsaw pieces are slotting in faster than I can write them!

I write everything out by hand first in a series of notebooks and once I’ve completed the day’s word target, I’ll then type them up, doing a mini-edit along the way. I like the sensation of pencil on paper and find it more liberating.

 

The Girlfriend has already been optioned for a film adaptation (congratulations!). Are you excited to see how your story will be adapted for the screen?

Very much so. Having worked in TV for so long, I’m aware of how you can have two different writers take the same source material and end up with two wildly different scripts. I’m excited to see a filmmakers’ take on the novel and watch his or her vision take shape. This also applies to casting – it’s fascinating to try and imagine different actress’s versions of Laura and Cherry!

 

Are you working on another novel and if so can you tell us anything about it?

Yes, it’s another psychological thriller, which is set in the world of the maternity leave replacement. The mum-to-be is a TV producer who tries to like her temporary replacement, but can’t help thinking she’s got a hidden agenda. Is she after her job – or something else entirely?

 

Thank you to Michelle Frances and Publishers Group Canada for participating on my blog today and providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. It has been an honour and a pleasure.

 

About Michelle Frances

Michelle Frances graduated from Bournemouth Film School in 1996 and then from the Masters programme at the American Film Institute, Los Angeles, in 1998. Returning to London, England, she worked for several years in film and TV as a script editor and producer for both the independent sector and the BBC. The Girlfriend is her first novel.

 

#BookReview
On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond
@LDiamondAuthor @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond @LDiamondAuthor @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: On a Beautiful Day

Author: Lucy Diamond

Published by Pan Macmillan on March 9, 2018

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 480

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

An inspiring and uplifting novel from the bestselling author of The Secrets of Happiness and The House of New Beginnings.

In Lucy Diamond’s new novel, On a Beautiful Day, four thirty-something friends are catching up, eating al fresco at a bistro in Manchester. Laura is desperate to get pregnant and is glumly starting to think it’s never going to happen. Recent divorcee Juliet is swept up in a whirlwind romance although finding it hard to win over her new partner’s precocious teenage daughter. Eve, an uptight and a control freak, has found a lump in her breast and is in complete denial that anything might be wrong. India is the most happy-go-lucky of the four, but when you’re trying to juggle a career, marriage, kids, ailing parents, neurotic dog, and a falling-down house, there’s always a catastrophe waiting in the wings.

But when they witness an accident on the street that changes them forever, each woman begins to contemplate just how lucky (or not) they really are.


Review:

Affecting, inspiring, and delightfully mesmerizing!

On a Beautiful Day is a heartwarming tale that reminds us that life should be lived to the fullest every day and it’s not only the high but also the low moments in life that truly shape us.

There are four main characters in this novel; Eve, an accountant and mother of two who struggles to ask for help; Jo, a divorcee and nurse who’s hesitant to fall in love; Laura, a middle-aged woman who craves motherhood; and India, a mother of three who has a secret from the past that continually haunts.

The prose is warm and emotional. The characters are multifaceted, empathetic, resilient, and endearing. And the plot is a sweeping saga about life, loss, family, secrets, adultery, infertility, determination, acceptance, self-discovery, happiness, romance, and love.

Diamond has an uncanny ability to write beautiful, beguiling stories about female friendships that resonate and On a Beautiful Day is no exception. It’s powerful, genuine, heartfelt, and moving and I enjoyed every minute of it.

 

This novel is available now.

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

                              

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Lucy Diamond

Lucy Diamond lives in Bath, England with her husband and their three children. She has penned numerous bestselling novels, including The House of New Beginnings, The Secrets of Happiness, Summer at Shell Cottage, and The Year of Taking Chances.

 

 

#BookReview
Wrong Place by Michelle Davies
@M_Davieswrites @PGCBooks

#BookReview Wrong Place by Michelle Davies @M_Davieswrites @PGCBooksTitle: Wrong Place

Author: Michelle Davies

Series: DC Maggie Neville #2

on November 17 2017

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Police Procedural

Pages: 449

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

Synopsis:

Wrong Place is the second gripping crime novel in the DC Maggie Neville series from Michelle Davies, following her critically acclaimed debut Gone Astray.

Two women lie hospital beds, both subjects of police investigations.

One, a vulnerable old lady, has been assaulted in her own home. Suspected to be the fifth victim of a young couple targeting pensioners, her injuries indicate an escalation in violence from the perpetrators.
The second, a wife, has been attacked by her own husband, who subsequently fails in his own attempt to kill himself.

Whilst there are no obvious parallels between the victims, DC Maggie Neville, the Family Liaison Officer involved in both cases, begins to question what happened.

Is it simply a case of both being in the wrong place at the wrong time or is something far more sinister at play?


Review:

Captivating, intelligent, and well crafted!

Wrong Place is an elaborately plotted police procedural that highlights how manipulative and devious people can truly be and reminds us that even the darkest, most buried secrets often have a way of coming to light.

The writing is seamless and smooth. The characterization is spot on with all the usual gang back including the hardworking, relentless DC Neville whose greatest struggles involve her guilty conscience and her tumultuous relationship with DCI Umpire. And the plot consists of a multitude of twists, turns, familial strife, murder, violence, and surprises that will keep you engaged from the very first page.

Overall, Wrong Place is an intricately woven, highly entertaining mystery with a nice amount of suspense, good character development, and great pace.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my review for Gone Astray, the first novel in the DC Maggie Neville Series, be sure to check it out below and keep your eye out for the third book in the series, False Witness, due out in Spring 2018.

 

This book is available now.

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

                                         

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex in 1972, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in north London.

Her debut crime novel, Gone Astray, was published in 2016 and features Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville as its central police character. Gone Astray was part of a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan and the follow-up, Wrong Place, also featuring Maggie, is out now. Her third in the series, False Witness, is due out in July next year while a fourth will follow in 2019.

When she’s not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women’s magazines including Marie Claire, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her home-town newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.

 

 

#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
The Seagull by Ann Cleeves
@AnnCleeves @PGCBooks

#BookReview The Seagull by Ann Cleeves @AnnCleeves @PGCBooksTitle: The Seagull

Author: Ann Cleeves

Series: Vera Stanhope #8

Published by Pan Macmillan on September 26, 2017

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Police Procedural

Pages: 400

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

Synopsis:

The much-anticipated eighth novel in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Vera Stanhope series.

A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a part in his downfall.

Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body is buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.

This cold case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were ‘the Gang of Four’, and Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. Vera must confront her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth, as the past begins to collide dangerously with the present…

The Seagull is Ann Cleeves’ searing new novel, about corruption deep in the heart of a community, and about fragile, and fracturing, family relationships.


Review:

Atmospheric, meticulous, and sophisticated!

In this latest novel by Cleeves, The Seagull, DI Vera Stanhope finds herself immersed in a cold case involving corruption, trafficking, drugs, blackmail, abuse, adoption, and murder that may just end up hitting a little too close to home.

The writing style is smooth, descriptive and effortless. The characters, including the nosy, complex, lovable heroine, are well-developed, relentless, and creative. And the plot is a well-paced, cleverly plotted police procedural full of suspects, clues, red herrings, solid deduction, and swirling emotions.

The Seagull is the eighth book in the Vera Stanhope series, and whether you’re new to the series or a long-standing fan this novel will be sure to please. It is an entertaining, gripping, mysterious tale that emphasizes the enduring psychological effects parents can have on their children even long after they’re gone.

 

This book is available now.

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

                                          

 

 

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

 

About Ann Cleeves

Ann Cleeves is the author behind PBS’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on screen and in print. Her books have now sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before becoming a crime writer. She is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (CWA Gold Dagger) for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black, the first book in her Shetland series, and in 2012 she was inducted into the CWA Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame. Ann lives in North Tyneside, England.

#BookReview
Gone Astray by Michelle Davies
@M_Davieswrites @PGCBooks

#BookReview Gone Astray by Michelle Davies @M_Davieswrites @PGCBooksTitle: Gone Astray

Author: Michelle Davies

Series: DC Maggie Neville #1

Published by Pan Macmillan on September 5, 2017

Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Police Procedural

Pages: 450

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

Synopsis:

What if someone thinks they deserve their life more than you?

When a Lesley Kinnock buys a lottery ticket on a whim, it changes her life more than she could have imagined. . .

Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a £15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives – and friends – as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams.

But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone.

DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family. And she has a crisis threatening her own life – a secret from the past that could shatter everything she’s worked so hard to build.

As Lesley and Maggie desperately try to find Rosie, their fates hurtle together on a collision course that threatens to end in tragedy . . .

Money can’t buy you happiness.
The truth could hurt more than a lie.
One moment really can change your life forever.


Review:

Suspenseful, absorbing, and skillfully executed!

Gone Astray is a well-paced psychological thriller set in Buckinghamshire, England that is told from multiple perspectives; Lesley, Rosie’s loving, distraught mother who is not entirely comfortable with her new wealth; Maggie, the dedicated, appointed Family Liaison Officer whose own personal life is in tatters; and finally a menacing, aggressive character whose hostility and anger towards the Kinnocks is escalating rapidly.

The writing is crisp and fluid. The characters are flawed, complex, and intriguing. And the plot, using alternating chapters, does an excellent job of intertwining, unraveling and building not only all the tension and increasing family drama but also the suggestions, clues, and procedures of the unfolding police investigation.

Overall, I think Gone Astray is a fantastic debut for Davies that definitely highlights money doesn’t always bring happiness and often we don’t know people as well as we think.

The second novel in the DC Maggie Neville series, Wrong Place, is due out later this fall and you can be confident it’s already on my TBR list.

 

This book is available now.

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

                                         

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies was born in Middlesex in 1972, raised in Buckinghamshire and now lives in north London.

Her debut crime novel, Gone Astray, was published in 2016 and features Family Liaison Officer DC Maggie Neville as its central police character. Gone Astray was part of a two-book deal with Pan Macmillan and the follow-up, Wrong Place, also featuring Maggie, is out now. Her third in the series, False Witness, is due out in July next year while a fourth will follow in 2019.

When she’s not turning her hand to crime, Michelle writes as a freelance journalist for women’s magazines including Marie Claire, YOU and Stylist. Her last staff job before going freelance was as Editor-at-Large at Grazia and she was previously Features Editor at heat. She began her career straight from school at 18, working as a trainee reporter on her home-town newspaper, the Bucks Free Press.

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