Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Gothic #Romance The Matrimonial Advertisement by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading The Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans Of Devon 1#) by Mimi Matthews


Helena Reynolds needs sanctuary and even more than that, a protector.  She has travelled to Greyfriar’s Abbey, a remote estate in Devon to enter into a marriage contract with a stranger.  Captain Justin Thornhill is a brave, attractive man, so why is he advertising for a bride?  Tortured in India during the mutiny at Cawnpore, he bears scars, and a scarred personality.  He needs a business arrangement which will provide contentment and household management, but why has this beautiful, refined lady offered to marry him?  They both conceal secrets which may drive them apart.  Helena has a vulnerability which makes Justin protective and soon the couple become close, despite fate dictating that they have no future together.

This is an irresistible romance with the added frisson of gothic fear.  At a time in Victorian Britain when a woman belonged entirely to her father, guardian or husband, can Helena ever be free to love and live as she wishes?  Mimi’s writing style is engaging, and we are plunged immediately into Helena’s predicament.  Secrets are gradually revealed, adding depth to our understanding of the main characters.  This is Miss Matthews’ best book so far and it is only the first in a new series!

Book description

She Wanted Sanctuary… 

Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero.

He Needed Redemption… 

Justin has spent the last two decades making his fortune, settling scores, and suffering a prolonged period of torture in an Indian prison. Now, he needs someone to smooth the way for him with the villagers. Someone to manage his household–and warm his bed on occasion. What he needs, in short, is a wife and a matrimonial advertisement seems the perfect way to acquire one.

Their marriage was meant to be a business arrangement and nothing more. A dispassionate union free from the entanglements of love and affection. But when Helena’s past threatens, will Justin’s burgeoning feelings for his new bride compel him to come to her rescue? Or will dark secrets of his own force him to let her go?

About the author

Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and BeautyThe Lost Letter) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.

Mimi Matthews

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#Contemporary #Romance Rosie’s #Bookreview of Trying New Hats by Sofia Ellis

Trying New HatsTrying New Hats by Sofia Ellis

3.5 stars

Trying New Hats is a contemporary romance set mainly in Paris. Thirty-five-year-old Poppy Parker is just about to get promoted to Senior Marketing Manager at Boston’s Belle Cosmetics, but Gus Weasel snatches the position from under her nose. An angry Poppy wants to quit, but her boss insists she takes six-weeks paid leave to think about it instead.

This isn’t helped by her fiancé, Daniel, when he announces his own work promotion, adding that he must take off for Hong Kong immediately for six months. She then discovers that Daniel’s been keeping secrets from her, and she suspects he’s having an affair; her world is shattered in twenty-four-hours.  But all is not lost; Poppy discovers an aunt she didn’t know she had.  Selma lives in Paris, and Poppy makes an impulsive decision to visit her.

Selma collects lost souls, and Poppy fits right in.  Currently sharing the apartment is a grumpy artist and a reclusive author and Poppy begins to find some balance as she falls in love with more than just the City Of Love.

This is a sweet romance in a lovely setting. I enjoyed reading about Selma and the way she collected people in need and gave them space and time to heal. The romance is straight forward and a clean read but it does contain rather too many genre clichés in both narrative and dialogue. For this book to stand out amongst the millions of competitors it needs to have more of its own unique voice.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Boston born and bred Poppy Parker gets thrown for a loop when the promotion she has been promised for two years is given to someone else. Meanwhile, her fiancé accepts a job offer in Hong Kong without consulting her and postpones their wedding. So when she finds a postcard from Paris with a message written by an aunt she didn’t know existed, she can’t think of a reason to not book a seat on the next flight to France.

Poppy has worn the dutiful daughter and supportive sister hat for as long as she can remember, the loyal employee hat for her entire professional career, and the patient fiancée hat since she started dating the man she is supposed to marry, a man who is already married to his job. It’s time for her to try some new hats on for size. In the process, she uncovers long-buried family secrets and a chance at true love if she is brave enough to take it.

About the author

Sofia Ellis loves sunny summer days, books and movies that end with the promise of happily ever after, and, above all, spending time with her family. She also enjoys drinking coffee while writing. Without the invigorating powers of caffeine, she wouldn’t get much done.

Sofia Ellis

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#Fantasy Series, Rosie’s #Bookreview of Azimuth by Rennie St. James @WriterRSJ #RahkiWorld

Azimuth - The Rahki Chronicles, #1 ebook by Rennie St. JamesAzimuth by Rennie St. James

4 stars

Azimuth is a fantasy adventure. Although this book is called Book One of the Rahki Chronicles, I discovered that the story follows on from an earlier book entitled Nadya’s World, which I haven’t read, but I was able to pick up the storyline fairly easily. The setting is modern day America.

A prophecy surrounds two people, a gifted child who is a seer and her female protector. Together, it is said, they will bring changes to the gypsy style Rahki peoples. The Rahki consist of twelve tribes who each follow different animal spirit guides.

We meet Mia; once orphaned, she knew nothing of her heritage until recently. Now, she has been asked to protect eight-year-old Nadya. They must travel on a quest from Virginia to California, where they will attend a Sovmar or meeting of the clans. But there is unrest and danger from those who seek changes between the clans, wanting power for themselves. This unknown danger is intended to spread the belief that Mia and Nadya are not those mentioned in the ancient prophecy.

An escort travels with Mia and Nadya. It consists of two warriors, a doctor and a Romani witch, who must prepare and protect Mia and Nadya for the future they face. Whilst on their journey the group’s route initially has them meeting representatives of other clans. It is hoped that when they meet Mia and Nadya face-to-face, the duo’s spirit powers will shine through enough for the clans to want to trust and support them at the Sovmar. But danger is always lurking, and the group find they are being followed. This book covers the beginning of their journey; it will continue in the next one of the series.

It took a little while to grasp the concept of the story and there were quite a lot of characters who were introduced at the beginning. But once I had both the story and the main characters sorted in my head I enjoyed the tale. The spiritual elements of the book appealed to me, as did the blend of modern day technology and familiar settings. This made a difference from other fantasies that are set entirely in an imaginary world.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Trapped in an office job, Mia Rayner dreamed of adventure.

And then it came true.
When she finds the body of her Gypsy teacher, Mia’s life will shift into a blur of martial arts, mythology, and murder. Taught by the enigmatic Cayden Jodhani, she’ll learn the warrior’s path in a Rahki world where magic hangs heavy between Mia and her destiny. With a young orphan by her side, Mia will have to fight to earn her place as Nadya’s guardian protector. Ancient prophecies claim she and the gifted child are destined to save mankind; Mia is more worried about saving them from the next attempt on their lives.
However, some epic journeys do start with a stumble.

About the author

I share several similarities with my fictional characters (heroes and villains alike) including a love of chocolate, horror movies, martial arts, yoga, and travel. I don’t have a pet mountain lion but am proudly owned by three rescue kitties. We live in relative harmony in beautiful southwestern Virginia.

Rennie St. James


The World of #Espionage Rosie’s #Bookreview of Transcription by Kate Atkinson @TransworldBooks

TranscriptionTranscription by Kate Atkinson

4.5 stars

Transcription is historical fiction with three distinct settings. It is about a young women recruited by the secret service into the world of espionage. Juliet is primarily employed to type up voice recordings from meetings held by British Fascists during the second world war. But later, she is assigned to infiltrate The Right Club, a small group of anti-Semitic fascist sympathisers. All the action is seen through Juliet’s eyes, which are at times cynical but at others, quite innocent. Yet all through the book I was absorbed by the depth to the characters and the setting.

After the war, Juliet finds employment with the BBC and the second part of the story is set in 1950 where she is a producer of radio programmes for schools. She encounters one or two people from the war years, and her life appears to be recovering from her war-time experiences, but unexpectedly she receives a threating letter. Now, too many faces from her past return, leaving Juliet questioning which of them is a spy. Is it all just a coincidence? And, will Juliet ever be able to leave it all behind?

This story is about Juliet and how she negotiates the complexities of spies whilst returning to the mundane work of typing. It’s comical, mystical, dark at times, whilst also exposing the raw side of a country at war and the human nature of its people.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I was immediately absorbed by the writing style and equally hooked by the artistry of that writing. I particularly liked the author’s notes at the back, as they explain the basis for the storyline and were fascinating to read. You can tell the depth of research and understanding which went into this book. It all feels so real and I must remind myself that it is fiction. Recommended for those who enjoy the twists of espionage, but who are looking for something different from the genre.

View all my reviews Goodreads

Book description

Transcription is a bravura novel of extraordinary power and substance. Juliet Armstrong is recruited as a young woman by an obscure wartime department of the Secret Service. In the aftermath of war she joins the BBC, where her life begins to unravel, and she finally has to come to terms with the consequences.

About the author

Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

Kate Atkinson

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi / #Horror Survivors’ Club by @MKMartinWriter

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Survivor’s Club by M.K. Martin


Although this is a review for Rosie’s book review team, I purchased a copy.

Survivor’s Club was exhilarating. Reading it felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. After a gradual start with lots of ominous clues portending something nasty, you’re off. I read this book because it was listed as sci-fi, a favorite genre of mine, but I consider this also in the horror genre. I couldn’t sleep the night I first started reading it.

Geneticist Marius Tenartier, a wide-eyed viral geneticist who wants to save the world from its worst diseases, is hired by Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals, ostensibly because of his background. He doesn’t know he possesses something within him that Dr. Viers, the head of virology at Chrysalis wants and has gone to unspeakable lengths to find. The isolated setting of Chrysalis, miles from anywhere in the desert, and the unbelievable levels of security, immediately set off bells, but it was not until Marius is sent to pick up Dr. Viers’ daughter Miranda at her private school that the truly bizarre begins.

Marius is accompanied by John Courage (aptly named), the head of Chrysalis Security, and several more members of the security team, but their helicopter is downed when it hits some large, strange birds. The three survivors of the crash, including Courage and Marius, hike to the school, where they are attacked by some large dog-like creatures. From there, it’s the rushing, a downward part of the ride until the story climbs again. More I will not say.

For the most part, the characters are well-drawn but close to the edge. Amberlee Simms, the company’s CFO, teeters on the edge of caricature as well as on her stilettos, John Courage proves inhumanly hard to kill, and Marius is a genius jack-of-all-trades in his ability to improvise and his insane bravery. His transition from naivete to suspicion, however, did seem to take a long time. Miranda, the third member of the Survivor’s Club along with Marius and John, vacillates between self-absorbed teenage behavior and dreaming about Marius and truly unselfish acts. The creatures are gory and frightening, but when I pictured them I had to smile – they would make for great anime.

The writing is spare but nimble; there are no long, drawn-out discussions about corporate greed, which is a sub-plot, or scientific morality. The aim of the author is action, and we get a lot of that. The science, something I have often criticized in other sci-fi books, is credible although beyond cutting edge – so the premise is believable. The book is written from multiple points of view; thus the reader has to stay alert. After the first transition and this recognition, it was an easier read.

All in all, this is a satisfying sci-fi (and horror) read. I recommend it, if this is your genre, and guarantee you’ll enjoy it. I’d welcome a sequel.

Book description

People have always wanted to be stronger, faster, smarter, better. The scientists at Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals believe they’ve found a virus that will allow them to unlock humanity’s hidden potential. The cost is small. A few lives here and there, but it’s all for the greater good … and the corporate bottom line.

Brilliant and idealistic geneticist, Marius Tenartier, has dedicated his life to battling the world’s worst diseases – from malaria to Ebola, tuberculosis to cancer. When Chrysalis offers Marius the chance to carry on his work with no budget caps, he accepts, no questions asked.

While Marius tackles the most challenging pathogens, Chrysalis secretly uses his work to develop an experimental vaccine intended to artificially evolve the human race. Instead of making people into super humans, it mutates them into terrifying abominations. After Marius is caught in an outbreak, he realizes that Chrysalis has been using him. Worse, they’ve covered up the outbreak.

Bureaucracy, incompetence, and greed threaten civilization and even the human race’s survival. Surrounded by danger and cut off from the outside world, time is running out to contain the virus, and Marius can’t do it alone.

Who can he trust – Chrysalis’ ambitious vice president, the rigid head of security, or the CEO’s fearless daughter?

Can Marius discover the truth about the virus’s origin before it’s too late to prevent a global pandemic?

About the author

M. K. Martin is a motorcycle-riding, linguistics nerd. A former Army interrogator with a degree in psychology, she uses her unique knowledge and skill set to create smart, gritty stories that give readers a glimpse into the darker corners of the human mind.

M.K. Martin

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #thriller When I Find You by @emmacurtisbooks #TuesdayBookBlog

When I Find YouWhen I Find You by Emma Curtis

4 stars

When I Find You is a thriller set in London. Laura is an art director who works in the advertising industry. She has a condition called prosopagnosia which is also known as face-blindness. It means she cannot recognise faces and must rely of other aspects of a person’s profile to remember them. For instance, a person’s hair colour and dramatic style, obvious tattoos, or unusual visible piercings all help Laura distinguish a person when she can’t remember their face.

At the work’s Christmas party, Laura gets drunk.  She’s been dancing with someone she labels ‘Mr Pink Shirt’; they’ve been inseparable and she’s enjoyed herself.  In the morning she wakes up beside a man who believes it must be pink-shirt-man, but when she sees a blue shirt crumpled on the floor she reels in shock; who has she slept with? While she’s in the bathroom, he leaves without a word and Laura is left feeling violated.

In a plot full of twists, Laura vows to discover who the mystery man was and bring him to justice for taking advantage of her. As she refuses to confide in anyone, the stress affects her work. She stalks men who were at the party, as she eliminates them from her suspects. However, Laura’s not the only one keeping secrets and her amateur-sleuthing will affect more than one innocent person.

The face-blindness added an interesting theme to this thriller, which ticked a box for me. It makes Laura an unreliable witness which hampers her search for ‘Mr Blue Shirt’. Laura must find a different starting point for her investigations than the more usual one of remembering a face. I don’t read many thrillers and have few amateur-sleuth skills, so I didn’t guess the culprit before the end which was also a bonus. If, like me, you’re someone who prefers a thriller which doesn’t feature multiple murders and gruesome ways to die, then this might be for you.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

What do you do when someone takes advantage of your greatest weakness?

When Laura wakes up after her office Christmas party and sees a man’s shirt on the floor, she is horrified. But this is no ordinary one-night-stand regret. Laura suffers from severe face-blindness, a condition that means she is completely unable to identify and remember faces. So the man she spent all night dancing with and kissing – the man she thought she’d brought home – was ‘Pink Shirt’.

But the shirt on her floor is blue. And now Laura must go to work every day and face the man who took advantage of her condition. The man she has no way of recognising.

She doesn’t know who he is . . . but she’ll make him pay.

Emma Curtis was born in Brighton and now lives in London with her husband. After raising her two children and working various jobs, her fascination with the darker side of domestic life inspired her to write her acclaimed debut novel, One Little Mistake. When I Find You is her second thriller.

Emma Curtis

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Set in #SouthAfrica #Romance with a #paranormal element Where The River Bends by @elsawinckler

Where the River BendsWhere the River Bends by Elsa Winckler

4 stars

Where The River Bends is a romance with a paranormal element. The book is mainly set in South Africa.

Kalinda works for the Anglo Boer War Foundation; she is a native of South Africa who currently lives in Canada. She has returned to Africa to make sure that Canadian soldiers’ stories from the Boer War and their graves are acknowledged for their descendants.

On her route from the airport, Kalinda meets a mysterious woman who asks to be taken to Paardeberg, the farm where Kalinda has booked to stay. But the women suddenly vanishes leaving only a lace handkerchief.

When Kalinda retells the mystery incident to the farm owners, they believe she’s seen the ghost of a Boer War nurse. During her stay the ghost appears several more times and it seems there is a link between Kalinda’s work and the ghost’s story.

The ghost is not the only one to have an interest in Kalinda. Zach Carter is an extreme sports enthusiast. Where women are concerned he lives by his three-dates-only rule, but there’s something about Kalinda that threatens to break that rule.

I don’t know much about the Boer War, so those elements of the book were very interesting. The ghostly events were well written too and, for me, they both made this romance more memorable in a very saturated genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Kalinda Evans works for the Anglo-Boer war foundation in Canada. She’s sent to South Africa to make sure everyone who lost their lives in the war will be remembered. On her drive to the guest farm in Kimberley, South Africa, Kalinda picks up a female hitchhiker and is startled when just moments later, the woman vanishes. Kalinda would be convinced she was dreaming…except there’s still a white lace handkerchief on the passenger seat.

Extreme sports enthusiast and computer game designer Zack Carter is always after the next big challenge. He’s far too busy for romance and adheres to a three-date rule, until he meets his parents’ latest guest. When she relays the story of her mysterious experience, Zack’s family shares the local ghost story. Kalinda and Zack work together to solve the puzzle of the ghost and how it all ties in with the war and the work Kalinda is doing.

As their attraction grows, Zack realizes he no longer feels the need to prove anything to himself. He only needs to prove to Kalinda that he’s more than a good time.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT vintage #mystery Fatal Finds In Nuala by @harrietsteel1

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Fatal Finds In Nuala by Harriet Steel


Inspector Shanti de Silva is already regretting the whim that made him arrange a visit to see his colleague Inspector Singh in Hatton during the monsoon season. A fallen tree had blocked the road since he passed through earlier on, which necessitated de Silva taking the old road back to Nuala. Before he’d gone very far his beloved Morris gave up the ghost and coasted to a stop. De Silva had two choices—walk into town or stay with the car in the jungle. He decided on the first option. After a little while he heard something that stopped him in his tracks.

~~’It came again, fading against the howl of the wind. He squared his shoulders. Perhaps he was imagining things and it was just the wind. Briskly he stepped out once more.
Then his heart started to pound. A pinpoint of white light was emerging from the darkness, dipping and swaying, emitting an inhuman wail that froze his blood.’~~

After his escapade in the jungle de Silva awakened the next morning feeling distinctly under the weather. Jane, his wife, tried to persuade him to take the day off but he didn’t want to miss his regular appointment with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent in Nuala and de Silva’s superior. On de Silva’s return to the police station there’s a report of a missing man from one of the villages and Sergeant Prasanna asks permission to search the area with Constable Nadar. Recalling the noises he heard the previous night, de Silva joins the search. They find more than they bargained for.

The investigation gains momentum, despite the monsoon making everything much more difficult. Jane and Clutterbuck, who is home alone while his wife is cruising, join in the search for artefacts in the jungle, bringing about what turns out to be a hazardous train journey to Colombo for De Silva and Jane.

It was lovely to be able to have a return visit to colonial 1930s Ceylon and catch up with the colourful, engaging and well-rounded characters peopling this series. It’s written well, incorporating the complexities of the social structure, the local dishes and vividly descriptive prose together with quite a fast moving and well thought through plot. De Silva and Jane moved from Colombo to Nuala for a slower, less fraught lifestyle but in this episode de Silva finds himself in some desperate situations, not helped by the dreadful weather conditions. I think he, and Jane, deserve the holiday they discussed.

Book description

In this fourth instalment of the Inspector de Silva mysteries, it is monsoon season in the Hill Country. One stormy night, a ghostly encounter on a lonely road leads de Silva into a case of murder, and a mystery that stretches back to Ceylon’s distant past. To uncover the truth, he will have to face death and his inner demons.
Fatal Finds in Nuala is another absorbing and colourful mystery in this series that vividly portrays Sri Lanka’s Colonial past.

About the author

Harriet Steel wrote four historical novels before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva mysteries, inspired by time spent in Sri Lanka (the former Ceylon)). Her work has also appeared in national newspapers and magazines. Visit her blog to sign up to her monthly newsletter for news of new releases and great offers,
She’s married with two daughters and lives in Surrey. When she’s not writing, she likes reading, long walks and visiting art galleries and museums.

Harriet Steel

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of light #RomCom The Middle-Aged Virgin by Olivia Spring

The Middle-Aged Virgin: A Chick Lit, Romantic Comedy Novel: Newly Single And Seeking Spine-Tingles...The Middle-Aged Virgin: A Chick Lit, Romantic Comedy Novel: Newly Single And Seeking Spine-Tingles… by Olivia Spring

3 stars

The Middle-Aged Virgin is a light romantic comedy.

Sophia is nearing her fortieth birthday and, after the death of a dear friend, she decides to make some radical changes to her own life before it’s all too late. She currently owns a successful top London beauty PR agency, and she has enough money to fill her wardrobe with designer clothes, but her love-life is stagnant.

Determined to transform her life, Sophia first ends her fifteen-year relationship with her boyfriend, then she enthusiastically throws herself into online dating. But it is a singles cooking holiday in Italy where she finds a man who has the potential to heat things up, to her satisfaction, in the bedroom.

Lorenzo is the Taste Holiday’s chef, dark and brooding, and he’s happy to offer Sophia extra-curricular lessons after dinner. This has ‘holiday fling’ and ‘broken heart’ written all over it. But Sophia is so determined that Lorenzo is ‘the one’ that all rationale disappears, as it so often does, with affairs of the heart.

Back in London as Sophia proceeds to possessively stalk Lorenzo on social media and hang on his every text, she may have readers wanting to shout advice at her. Is she a fool, or will she get her man in the end?

This is a straight-forward light romance which concentrates solely on Sophia. I did find her quite hard to actually like. And, I wasn’t convinced that her high profile job added much to the storyline; I was also unconvinced that a high-flying professional woman who, presumably, is worldly-wise and fairly sophisticated, would assume a holiday fling meant true love.  However, if you’re looking for a quick beach read, this might be ideal.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Sophia Huntingdon seems to have it all: a high-flying job running London’s coolest beauty PR agency, a lovely boyfriend and a dressing room filled with Louboutins.

But when tragedy strikes, Sophia realises that rather than living the dream, she’s actually an unhappy workaholic in a monotonous relationship, with zero personal life. Her lack of activity in the bedroom is so apparent that her best friend declares her a MARGIN, or Middle-Aged Virgin—a term used for adults who have experienced a drought so long that they can’t remember the last time they had sex.

Determined to transform her life whilst she’s still young enough to enjoy it, Sophia hatches a plan to work less, live more and embark on exciting adventures, including rediscovering the electrifying passion she’s been craving.

But after ending her fifteen-year relationship, how will Sophia, a self-confessed control freak handle navigating the unpredictable world of online dating?

If she does meet someone new, will she even remember what to do? And as an independent career woman, how much is Sophia really prepared to sacrifice for love?

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#HistFic Rosie’s #Bookreview of A Woman’s Lot by Carolyn Hughes set in #Hampshire

A Woman's Lot (The Meonbridge Chronicles #2)A Woman’s Lot by Carolyn Hughes

3.5 stars

A Woman’s Lot is an historical fiction set in Hampshire during the 14th century. This is book two of the Meonbridge Chronicles. It features the lives of villagers in a period a few years after one of the plague epidemics. Continuing on with characters from the first book, this novel focuses on four particular women.

Eleanor Titheridge has inherited her father’s sheep flock, and continues to farm the animals, while Emma Ward is a skilled shepherdess who works for her. Agnes Sawyer is the carpenter’s wife, and she works alongside her husband in his workshop. Meanwhile, Susanna Miller’s husband prefers her to stay at home and tend to the children.

The plague caused labour shortages and workers have been demanding higher wages. The four women in this novel all have ideas about liberating themselves from the traditional roles of many women of their time. However many of the men of Meonbridge disapprove of women working and owning businesses. This causes trouble and disagreement in the village.

This is a slow and detailed novel, which is liberally spread with words from the era. I enjoyed the elements relating to the sheep, as they were something I understood well. There is a daunting cast of characters, but the author helpfully lists them at the beginning of the book . At other times the writing felt long-winded and over-explained. This was particularly felt when a second character repeated an incident which I had read about earlier.

It certainly is an interesting window into village life in a period when little was recorded about the everyday events. This is a book with a slower pace and would perhaps suit readers with an interest in how country folk worked and lived in the early middle ages.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

How can mere women resist the misogyny of men?

A resentful peasant rages against a woman’s efforts to build up her flock of sheep… A husband, grown melancholy and ill-tempered, succumbs to idle talk that his wife’s a scold… A priest, fearful of women’s “unnatural” power, determines to keep them in their place.

The devastation wrought two years ago by the Black Death changed the balance of society: more women saw their chance to build a business, learn a trade, to play a greater part. But many men still hold fast to the teachings of the Church and fear the havoc the daughters of Eve might wreak if they’re allowed to usurp men’s roles and gain control over their own lives.

Not all men resist women’s desire for change – indeed, they want it for themselves. Yet it takes only one or two to unleash the hounds of hostility and hatred…

About the author

Carolyn Hughes was born in London, but has lived most of her life in Hampshire. After a first degree in Classics and English, she started her working life as a computer programmer, in those days a very new profession. It was fun for a few years, but she left to become a school careers officer in Dorset.

But it was when she discovered technical authoring that she knew she had found her vocation. She spent the next few decades writing and editing all sorts of material, some fascinating, some dull, for a wide variety of clients, including an international hotel group, medical instrument manufacturers and the Government.

She has written creatively for most of her adult life, but it was not until her children grew up and flew the nest, several years ago, that creative writing and, especially, writing historical fiction, took centre stage in her life.

Carolyn Hughes

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