My #BookReview Of #HistFic Heart Of Stone by @jjackson42 @BrookCottageBks #TuesdayBookBlog

Heart of StoneHeart of Stone by John Jackson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Heart Of Stone by John Jackson is a historical romance based on the author’s ancestors. It’s set in Ireland between the years 1735-1752.

Robert Rochfort is the eldest of three brothers; a cold hearted and jealous man by nature, he is also a peer and member of Parliament. He is recruited by Stafford, a King’s man, to keep the peace in County Westmeath whilst mustering troops for the British army.

When Robert’s father dies, he feels the pressure to remarry (his first wife died) so that he may produce a legitimate heir. Spurred on by the fact his brother George already has a son, Robert pursues Mary Molesworth. Mary’s generous dowry would also help Robert to build a residence to rival George’s new household.

To Robert, Mary is a means to an end and an item he owns. He shows her no affection and leaves her alone for long periods, using his work for the army as an excuse. He keeps a series of mistresses, returning to the marriage bed only to produce the longed-for heir.

Robert’s younger brother Arthur is also an army man. He meets Mary at her wedding and instantly feels affection for her. For years his love smoulders until he can hold back no longer. Mary’s loveless marriage has her eager for attention, but when Robert discovers the lovers, his anger and jealousy have no bounds.

I was very interested to read about the years that covered the famine in Ireland and its repercussions; the plight of the people and the devastation was terrible. I also thought the sections featuring the court case between Robert and Arthur showed so well the few rights that many individuals had at the time. Arthur’s time in prison was also very enlightening.

The author’s style of writing did feel rather clinical and passionless, tending towards ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’; perhaps it was intentional, reflecting the book title? The information was all there, it just did little to excite my reading experience.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Genre: Historic Fiction

Release Date: 24th October 2017

Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Dublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochford, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland.

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart.

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches?

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland.

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ABOUT JOHN JACKSON

Following a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York and has now turned his hand to writing fiction.

An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors. They included Irish peers, country parsons, and army and navy officers. They opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Society and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both.
He describes himself as being “Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe and the like.”

His modern favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Lindsey Davis, Liz Fenwick and Kate Mosse.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597036631

Twitter: @jjackson42

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17103004.John_Jackson?from_search=true

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/john5642/

Blog: https://johnjacksonauthor.com/

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My #Bookreview of Watch For Me By Moonlight by @kirsty_ferry @ChocLitUK @BrookCottageBks

Watch For Me By Moonlight (Choc Lit)Watch For Me By Moonlight by Kirsty Ferry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Watch For Me By Moonlight is a Choclit mystery romance.

The book opens with a torrential rain storm and a lightning strike on the church of English stately home Hartsford Hall. The strike is a direct hit on the tomb of Georgiana Kerridge.

Elodie Bright currently works at the Hall; she grew up with Alex, the current Earl, her first love and the man who broke her heart. Elodie always loved the effigy on Georgiana’s tomb, fantasising a friendship between herself and the 18th century girl who died so young.

When Alex and Elodie discover the damaged tomb they find it empty except for a key, bible, pistol and locket. Where could the body be? Elodie has always seen ghosts and the mystery begins to unravel in a series of visions especially when she touches items they’ve found.

A handsome highwayman, a forbidden love, jealously, denial and a cover -up all make up the story of Hartsford Hall’s ancestors. Alex and Elodie find themselves tied to the past as it draws them closer in the modern world.

I liked the idea of the storyline; a mystery highwayman sounded very romantic and I’ve long been a fan of the Robin Hood tale. I was also intrigued, at first, with the ghostly sightings and visions. But the plot was weakened by wordy sentences and information dumping, particularly via dialogue. I found the narrative clichéd in parts, rather than unique to the author. Overall an okay read and one which might suit fans of ghostly happenings in English country houses.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

“It was the first full moon since that night. She waited and watched by moonlight, as she had promised …”
When her life in London falls apart, Elodie Bright returns to Suffolk and to Hartsford Hall, the home of her childhood friend Alexander Aldrich, now the Earl of Hartsford. There, she throws herself into helping Alex bring a new lease of life to the old house and its grounds.

After a freak storm damages the Hall chapel and destroys the tomb of Georgiana Kerridge, one of Alex’s eighteenth-century relatives, Elodie and Alex find a reconnection in the shocking discovery brought to light by the damaged tomb.

Through a series of strange flashbacks and uncanny incidents, they begin to piece together Georgiana’s secret past involving a highwayman, a sister’s betrayal and a forbidden love so strong that it echoes through the ages …

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0758K49D4/

Amazon US: www.amazon.com/Watch-Me-Moonlight-Choc-Lit-ebook/dp/B0758K49D4/

Kobo: www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/watch-for-me-by-moonlight-2

iBooks: www.itunes.apple.com/gb/book/watch-for-me-by-moonlight-choc-lit/id1271346379

Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale ‘Enchantment’.

Her timeslip novel, ‘Some Veil Did Fall’, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, ‘The Girl in the Painting’ in February 2016 and ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ in March 2017. The experience of signing ‘Some Veil Did Fall’ in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!

Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kirsty.ferry.author/

Twitter: @kirsty_ferry

Blog: www.rosethornramblings.wordpress.com

Website: www.rosethornpress.co.uk

Brook Cottage Books

Murder At The Mystery Bay Hotel by Marcia Spillers @mysterywriter2 @BrookCottageBks

33952647My Review.

Murder At The Mystery Bay Hotel is a light hearted, fast paced, amateur sleuth story and Book One in the Mystery Bay series. Set on a small Florida island, Delphie Beauchamp has been asked to help Mystery Bay police chief Em Lander solve a double murder.

Delphie and her red Dachshund, Huckleberry, return to the bay from their home in Texas. Em reveals that she has recently been named as the murderer by an anonymous caller; unfortunately, her alibi is weak, especially when the murder weapon shows up with Em’s fingerprints all over it.

There is damage to several graves in the local cemetery and Delphie’s skills in historical research are called to solve the case. But she’s made to feel unwelcome by several long standing locals, and is attacked whilst out on a late night walk. Salvage diver Josh Porter comes to her rescue, and ends up helping Delphie with her case, especially after the police chief is kidnapped.

Delphie is a reluctant psychic, and finds herself listening to several ghosts who provide clues and help to solve the mystery.

Recommended for those who really like their cosy mysteries to be lightweight and fun.

 

 

Genre:  Cozy/Amateur Sleuth Mystery

Series: Mystery Bay Series #1

Release Date:  January 18, 2017

Can Delphie Beauchamp, a Texas born research librarian fresh from a break-up with her two-timing boyfriend, help best friend and newly elected Chief of Police Em Landry, solve a double homicide in the old Mystery Bay Cemetery? Chief Landry needs Delphie’s help in solving the murders, along with determining why specific graves from the early eighteen-hundreds have been vandalized. Her canine best friend in tow, a twenty-two-pound dachshund named Huckleberry, Delphie heads for the tropical island of Mystery Bay, Florida where she begins a journey that includes a pinch of gold, a touch or romance, and a wallop of ghosts, in a race to solve the mystery, of the Mystery Bay Hotel.

EXCERPT

The smell of the ocean, crisp and briny like a jar of pickles, held just a hint of murder in the air. I picked up my luggage from the small carousel inside the terminal and opened the glass door of the Mystery Bay International Airport. The sultry, mid-October sunshine hit me all at once, along with the sweet fragrance of the red, frangipani trees that bordered the edges of the sidewalk. Amazing how paradise was just a plane ride away.

“God, what a beautiful day.” I dropped my suitcase on the pink-hued coral sidewalk and pulled out my sunglasses. Before I could slip them on, Huckleberry, my twenty-two pound, red Dachshund whined for me to take off his winter sweater. Poor little guy. The outfit worked great for the chilly October weather in central Texas but not the south Florida humidity.

“Sorry, Huck.” I unhooked his leash and pulled off the sweater. Stretching out his long body, Huckleberry trotted over to the nearest hibiscus bush and hunched over.  Seconds later he sighed in relief.

I coughed and fanned the air. Guess he wasn’t that hot in his sweater after all.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

ABOUT MARCIA SPILLERS

Marcia Spillers has been a Librarian/Archivist for more than twenty years.  Currently a school librarian, she lives in Austin, Texas with her two chows, Bella and Susie Bear.  Marcia spent seventeen years in south Florida perfecting her writing skills, along with completing the Writer’s Program at UCLA.

Blog:  http://www.marciaspillers.com/blog/

Website:  www.Marcia Spillers.com

@mysterywriter2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcia.spillers.7

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#HotNews We’ve been nominated for a Best Book Blogger in the 2017 BloggersBash awards and we need your votes. Please vote here (Best Book Blogger)

Thank you.

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The Cold Room by @KarenLongWriter Book #3 #Toronto @BrookCottageBks #TuesdayBookBlog

My Review.

The Cold Room is a murder mystery set in Toronto, book #3 of the D.I. Eleanor Raven police series.

It opens with Eleanor reliving a past case and her subsequent psychiatric treatment. Dr Seb Blackmore concludes that Eleanor is now ready to be signed off from his care.

The action moves quickly to a domestic violence call, which turns nasty as two police officers are gunned down, and serving Canadian Lieutenant Myles kills himself.  Both the crime scene and the autopsy reveal some gruesome finds. Eleanor and her partner are hampered in their investigation by the army, but not before they discover signs of cannibalism at his old married quarters. But what did tip Myles over the edge?

In a separate case, reports of decomposing bodies have the police searching for someone who strung up bodies of dogs in a boiler room. Caught up with a body search in the local park, a suicide at a prison and the earlier investigation, the dog case gets neglected until the body of a missing women is also found.

It’s down to Eleanor to solve the cases before heads roll and reports are filed that she’s not fit for the job.

This is a fast paced mystery with a lot of characters and several cases crossing over to complicate the story. Recommended for those who enjoy police dramas.

Publication Date: 8th May 2017

Series: Eleanor Raven – Book 3

Genre: Crime / Thriller

The brand new thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the author of The Safe Word and The Vault.

Winter is settling on Toronto and a series of seemingly unconnected murders are weighing heavily on DI Eleanor Raven. When an army veteran holds his family hostage, leaving chaos and an unidentifiable skeletal human hand in his wake, Raven is left tangled in a web of leads, lies and secrets, with each thread leading her closer to the all too terrifying truth.

But with time running out, Raven needs to re-connect with her past life – the one she thought she’d finally escaped from – if she’s to find out who the killer is before they strike again . . .

Buy Links

AMAZON UK

AMAZON.COM

ABOUT KAREN LONG

 

Karen Long was born and raised in the English midlands, educated at Bangor University and taught English and Drama for fifteen years. During her teaching years she studied biology and neurology with the Open University and this interest in medicine, forensics and forensic psychology is reflected in her writing. She is an enthusiastic traveller and has spent time in Toronto, which became the backdrop and inspiration for The Safe Word.

She is a keen amateur naturalist with a deep and abiding love for the crow family. She has dedicated time, love and several fingers in an effort to rehabilitate crows, magpies, rooks and ravens.

Karen is happy to correspond with readers and can be contacted through her website KarenLongWriter.com, where she posts regular blogs.

The Safe Word is Karen’s first novel and was an Amazon bestseller, later joined by the second in the Eleanor Raven series, The Vault.

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All author or review enquires please contact Karen Long’s Personal Assistant J.B. Johnston – brookbooks@hotmail.co.uk

Did you know that Eleanor Raven is also online?

http://twitter.com/RavenEleanor

https://www.facebook.com/TheEleanorRaven/

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Brook Cottage Books

The Other Side by @KaylorWard #Contemporary #WomensFiction @BrookCottageBks

My Review:

The Other Side is contemporary women’s fiction set in the UK.

Lauren and Rick are together after their first marriages fell apart. Now they are married and living with Lauren’s two daughters. A family friend left them a space in a local allotment which they decide to embrace, although it becomes Rick’s project, with Lauren slower to become enthusiastic about the cold, mud and weeds.

The children who play in the garden behind the wall at the end of the allotment remind Rick of his own children, from whom he is now estranged, and the young voices make him think more and more about the family he hasn’t seen for seven years.

Lauren is busy; she runs a boutique with her sister, is helping a friend whose marriage is in trouble, and she’s concerned that Rick is keeping secrets. Stress, strain and mistrust begin to drive Lauren and Rick apart. Rick stalks the family behind the wall for glimpse of a family he thought he’d lost, while Lauren follows a women she thinks is having an affair with Rick.

An easy read in a popular genre, there’s plenty to keep readers of women’s fiction entertained with an added dash of suspense as the book draws to a close, giving an interesting ending.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

(Jodi Picoult meets Clare Makintosh)

Release Date:  14th May 2017

Publisher: Parker Press Publishing

Lauren is locked in a cell. She knows she shouldn’t be there.

When Lauren and Rick are left an allotment they embark on a lifestyle change that is supposed to bring their step-family closer together. They embrace the chance for a slice of the good life, fresh air and family times together. Lauren and Rick are in love and happy but sometimes their past issues surface. For Lauren it’s the affair that her first husband had before he left her. For Rick it’s the children he was alienated from and forced to leave behind seven years ago.

One day a new family move into a cottage behind the allotment. That day changes everything. That day they start falling apart.

Praise for The Other Side

‘A  wonderful new voice in cross-genre women’s fiction that will keep you spellbound’ Best-selling author, Catrin Collier

‘A thoroughly enjoyable, bittersweet read’ Helen Carey

EXTRACT

Prologue

The door shut with a cold, hard slam sending harsh metallic echoes around her. Her eyes shot warily from left to right as she raked her fingers through her hair and tried to make sense of her situation. She was in a cell. She had asked them not to lock her in, but they hadn’t paid her any attention. Where there had been a face a few seconds ago, there was now a slammed metal door with peeling grey paint showing the cracking blue paint beneath. She hated confined spaces. They told her there was a buzzer if she needed anything. Needed anything?

Panic welled in her chest, her throat and her brain as the grey walls and the naked single white light closed around her. Breathe…breathe…slow…down… This was not the place for a panic attack. Not here, not today. She was alone. She had to get through this. Focus…focus… Think yourself somewhere else.

She thought of her daughters, their smiles and their joy. She lay on the hard thin plastic mattress on the concrete bed, and pulled a thin blue blanket over her head to block out the light, to block out the room, and to block out now.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

ABOUT KAYLOR WARD

Kaylor Ward, originally from London, now lives in South Wales. She worked for many years as a management consultant and trainer, writing part-time until her first book was published under the name, Michaela Weaver (Manic Mondays). She has studied creative writing at Masters level, and in addition to her writing she is a qualified Writing Coach. Michaela is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and a reader for their New Writers’ Scheme. Michaela writes cross genre contemporary fiction with psychological twists often about the darker side of family and domestic life.

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Website: www.kaylorward.com

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JUST FOLLOW THE LINK TO ENTER THE COMP!

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AND, AS IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH………….There’s a free 6 week novel writing course for everyone run by Kaylor Ward herself! Here’s the link to access it!

   http://kaylorward.com/index.php/free-course-lp/

 

The Blood Detective by @danwaddell a Nigel Barnes police murder #Mystery @BrookCottageBks

The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blood Detective is a British police murder mystery with a genealogy theme, set in London.

Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster is called to the crime scene of a gruesome murder. The victim had been stabbed through the heart and had his hands severed. During the autopsy a mark on the victim’s chest appeared to be a genealogy search reference number. The police call in Nigel Barnes, genealogist, to help trawl through ancestry data in search of clues.

Barnes uncovers historical evidence in old newspapers of a triple murder trail which mirrors today’s victims, as body number three is found. With the media demanding answers, a suspect is arrested, but Foster believes they have the wrong man, as Barnes digs deeper into the case and the clock counts down for the next victim.

This was a well written and thought out plot. I enjoyed reading about the places you can search for ancestry information, such as the National Archives, the Family Records Centre and the London Metropolitan Archives. The story had plenty of twists and turns to keep it flowing well and I didn’t guess the ending, which was an added bonus. The only downside was that my copy of the book had several glaring typos, particularly towards the end; I would suggest the author gets these corrected for the benefit of future readers.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Genre: Crime

Release Date: 28/02/2017

Nominated for the CWA New Blood Dagger in the UK and Macavity First Book award in the USA, and winner of the Prix Cezam Littéraire.

As dawn breaks over London, the body of a young man is discovered in a Notting Hill churchyard. The killer has left DCI Grant Foster and his team a grisly, cryptic clue. It’s not until the clue is handed to Nigel Barnes, a specialist in compiling family trees, that the full message becomes spine-chillingly clear. It leads Barnes back more than one hundred years – to the victim of a demented Victorian serial killer. When a second body is discovered Foster needs Barnes’s skills more than ever. The murderer’s clues appear to run along the tangled bloodlines that lie between 1879 and now. And if Barnes is right, the killing spree has only just begun

The Blood Detective is a haunting crime novel of blood-stained family histories and gruesome secrets.

‘Expertly plotted and with great attention to detail, this is the start of a series that has already put down substantial roots of its own’ – Mark Billingham.

‘A fascinating and original investigation into the dark roots of our family trees’ – Val McDermid

‘There’s panache aplenty in this intriguing tale. Sharp plotting, elegant writing, engaging characters, a cracking climax. A series is promised. Bring it on!’ Reginald Hill 

 

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

ABOUT DAN WADDELL

Dan Waddell is the award-winning author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, among them the bestselling book which accompanied the BBC TV series Who Do You Think You Are? His first crime novel, the critically-acclaimed The Blood Detective, won the prestigious Prix Cezam Littéraire in France and was nominated for debut awards in the UK and USA. He lives in London with his family.

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FORTUNE’S WHEEL by Carolyn Hughes #HistFic @writingcalliope @BrookCottageBks #TuesdayBookBlog

Fortune's Wheel (The Meonbridge Chronicles #1)Fortune’s Wheel by Carolyn Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fortune’s Wheel is a historical novel set in Hampshire in 1349. I chose to read this because Hampshire is my county, so I was delighted that many of the place names were familiar. The story revolves around a year in the life of the villagers of Meonbridge.

So what was life like in 1349? Bubonic plague had just swept through Britain, and Meonbridge lost at least half of its residents. The village was overseen by Lord and Lady de Bohun of the manor, who owned lands rented to tenants. I was very interested to learn that the village consisted of a mix of villeins (peasant farmers legally tied to the manor), cottars (lowest form of peasant) and freemen and women. There was also the miller and blacksmith. The author showed us how the villagers were expected to pay the manor rents for land, businesses and death duties. They were also expected to work for the manor; boon work, giving time freely to bring in the harvest. During the week they would do ploughing, hedging etc. The manor in turn provided housing, a court to oversee disputes, and elected men to carry out duties within the village: a reeve, a bailiff and constables.

There was a large cast of characters which at times were hard to keep track of. However, the main story weaving its way back and forth is about the mysterious disappearance of Agnes atte Wode. Agnes is the daughter of Alice, a villein friend of Lady Margaret de Bohun and well respected village woman. Her son, John, is held back from searching for Agnes by his new appointment of village reeve. Both John and Alice are sure the Lord’s children knew more about the disappearance of Agnes that was first thought.

A second strong theme runs through the story, that of the potential for a peasants’ revolt. There were now fewer people to work the land, the workers were needed for longer hours to fulfil the jobs. There were calls for higher wages and or land offered to the cottars to farm. Both the bailiff and the Lord were against this, quoting laws from the King to cap wages, but with few “free” farmers in the country to invite to the manor lands, a stalemate occurred. Unlike today, when most of us can change our jobs as and when we please, in medieval times peasants were “tied” to the manor of the village they were born into, the law forbidding them to leave.

I liked this story, as it covered a time period where less is known about the everyday life of ordinary people; it created a picture in a way a modern reader could understand. There was a fair bit of medieval terminology, most of which I could make a reasonable guess at and, because I was interested, I didn’t mind confirming the definitions later. There is also a list of characters at the beginning of the book to help with the large cast. The storyline does have drama and a satisfactory ending, but for me the interest was more in the everyday life of the characters and the way they lived in this period of history.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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fortunes-wheel-tour-banner1

Genre: Historical fiction

Release Date: 7th November 2016

Publisher: SilverWood Books Ltd

Plague-widow Alice atte Wode is desperate to find her missing daughter, but her neighbours are rebelling against their masters and their mutiny is hindering the search.

June 1349. In a Hampshire village, the worst plague in England’s history has wiped out half its population, including Alice atte Wode’s husband and eldest son. The plague arrived only days after Alice’s daughter Agnes mysteriously disappeared and it prevented the search for her.

Now the plague is over, the village is trying to return to normal life, but it’s hard, with so much to do and so few left to do it. Conflict is growing between the manor and its tenants, as the workers realise their very scarceness means they’re more valuable than before: they can demand higher wages, take on spare land, have a better life. This is the chance they’ve all been waiting for!

Although she understands their demands, Alice is disheartened that the search for Agnes is once more put on hold. But when one of the rebels is killed, and then the lord’s son is found murdered, it seems the two deaths may be connected, both to each other and to Agnes’s disappearance.

EXTRACT

Alice atte Wode, the Millers’ closest neighbour, was feeding her hens when she heard Joan’s first terrible anguished cries. Dropping her basket of seed, she ran to the Millers’ cottage. She wanted to cry out too at what she found there: Thomas and Joan both on their knees, clasped together, with Peter’s twisted body between them, sobbing as if the dam of their long pent-up emotions had burst. Alice breathed deeply to steady her nerves, for she didn’t know how to offer any solace for the Millers’ loss.

Not this time.

It was common enough for parents to lose children. It didn’t mean you ever got used to their loss, or that you loved them any less than if they’d lived. Few lost five children in as many months. But the Millers had. The prosperous family Alice knew only six months ago, with its noisy brood of six happy, healthy children, had been swiftly and brutally slaughtered by the great mortality.

Every family in Meonbridge had lost someone to the plague’s vile grip – a father, a mother, a child – but no other family had lost five.

The great mortality, sent by God, it was said, to punish the world for its sins, had torn the village apart. It had struck at random, at the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the innocent and the guilty. Some of its victims died coughing up blood, some with suppurating boils under their arms or next to their privy parts, some covered in dark, blackish pustules. A few recovered, but most did not and, after two or three days of fear and suffering, died in agony and despair, often alone and unshriven for the lack of a priest, when their loved ones abandoned them. After five months of terror, half of Meonbridge’s people were dead.

When the foul sickness at last moved on, leaving the villagers to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, Thomas and Joan Miller went to church daily, to pray for their five dead children’s souls, and give thanks to God for sparing Peter. Then the arrival of baby Maud just a few days ago had brought the Millers a bright ray of hope in the long-drawn-out darkness of their despair.

But Peter hadn’t been spared after all.

ABOUT CAROLYN HUGHES

Carolyn Hughes

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. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Portsmouth University and a PhD from the University of Southampton.

Fortunes Wheel is her first published novel, and a sequel is under way.

Facebook: CarolynHughesAuthor

Twitter: @writingcalliope

Goodreads Author Page: http://bit.ly/2hs2rrX

Blog: https://carolynhughesauthor.com/blog/

Website: https://carolynhughesauthor.com

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Death Rites by @WendyCartmell @BrookCottageBks Police #Crime #Aldershot setting

Death Rites previously known as Rules of the Earth: A dark disturbing detective thriller by Wendy Cartmell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rules of The Earth is an easy read police drama set in the local, to me, town of Aldershot, Hampshire, UK. So I enjoyed reading about all the local settings, recognising many of them.

The book opens with a gruesome Satanic Baptism and the blood letting of a drugged child. Bethany has been kidnapped from Birmingham, brought to a hidden location, kept drugged and fed little in an underground location. However one day her captor is distracted when he leaves her and she finds the door unlocked and escapes, where she is later found wandering on the Ash Ranges. Traumatised and unable to speak, she is a puzzle to DI Anderson and his team at Aldershot police station.

Sgt Major Tom Crane has lost his career and life after an army accident. He’s enjoyed a past working relationship with the civil police and Anderson really needs his help on the case. But Crane is in a lot of pain and a bad mental place right now. He doesn’t want sympathy, nor does he want to end up on the rubbish heap of life. With a bit of persuation he agrees to help out as a civilian consultant and then the case gets moving.

A second child is kidnapped by the Satanic group, but things go wrong and a trail to the offenders begins to appear. However investigations are hampered by some personal issues for DS Bullock whose own actions divert the attention of some of the team.

A quick read for those who enjoy police crime thrillers or those with an interest in the setting location.

View all my reviews Goodreads

RULES OF THE EARTH

BY WENDY CARTMELL

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Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Release Date: 10th June 2016

Publisher: Costa Press

Sgt Major Crane is out of the army, out of a job and definitely out of sorts. So when DCI Anderson throws him a lifeline, Crane grabs it. A young girl has been found, dazed, bruised and mute. As Crane and Anderson try to find out what happened to her, another girl is found. But this time she’s dead…
Extract

Prologue

It was stifling inside the black hood and he was sure the pointed top was wilting in the heat; just as he was. The smell of the blood in the chalice was making him feel sick and, if he was honest, the last thing he wanted to do was to drink it. But the humiliation of not joining in the ceremony was probably worse than taking a drink. Just.

He and his fellow supplicants formed a semi-circle around an altar, upon which lay a young child: she was very much alive but drugged to keep her quiet while the bloodletting took place. Her long blond hair was in dramatic contrast to the plain black shift that she wore. Her face was white, lips flesh coloured and only the faintest rising and falling of her chest indicated that she was breathing. On the back of one hand was a needle that fitted snugly into her vein. Attached to the needle was a small plastic tube that allowed her precious blood to drip out into the chalice. She could have been asleep, instead of unconscious. Around her were placed seven candles, six black and one white, their flames guttering and smoking in the hot fetid air.

Normally children were banned from attending these rituals, the only exception being the Satanic baptism, which was specifically designed to involve infants, and such a baptism was taking place in the basement of a remote house in the dead of night. It was a ceremony deemed to be necessary to override any Christian or other religious ceremonies that the child may have been subjected to before joining the Satanic Church. He wasn’t so sure it was necessary himself, but then all the churches had their rules, didn’t they? He guessed it was no different to a Catholic first communion or a Jewish Bar Mitzvah and so he’d decided he may as well play along. Let’s face it he had nothing better to do that night. And as he was moving soon, he’d thought he’d better make the most of the last meeting he would be attending.

As the chalice was passed to him he muttered the rite: Cursed are the lambs of God for they shall be bled whiter than snow.

Taking the tiniest of sips but still gagging on the foul taste of the blood, he just about managed to swallow it instead of coughing it out and spraying it all over the child. Thankful that he’d managed to get through it, he passed the cup to the next in line. To be fair, the group had tried to adhere as closely to the ritual as they could, using the rules described in the Satanic rituals, or dramatic performances as they were sometimes called. They followed the suggestions of the clothing to be worn, the music to be used and actions to be taken. It was said that the pageantry and theatricality was intended to engage the participant’s senses on all levels. He could relate to that, for apart from the blood, the rest of it was definitely working for him.

All the males wore black robes and hoods but the young women were encouraged to make themselves attractive to the males present. As a result he was surrounded by a surfeit of black leather and rubber, long shiny thigh length boots and even the odd whip or two. Everyone wore the sign of sulphur around their necks. The intent of the women to stimulate sexual feelings amongst the men was exciting and he couldn’t wait for the bloody ceremony to be over, so they could get on with the really interesting part, the part that started once the ceremony ended.

The Church of Satan smashed all concepts of what a ‘church’ was supposed to be. It was a temple of indulgence, where one could openly defy the temples of abstinence that had previously been built. Rather than an unforgiving, unwelcoming place, as so many of the church’s built by religions that worshiped God were, theirs was a place where you could go to have fun. It was a religion based on self-indulgence, of carnality (of the here and now instead of the there and then), and, most importantly to him, of pleasure instead of self-denial

At last the final person drunk from the chalice, the welcome sound of the bell ringing nine times rang around the room, signalling the end of the ceremony. The formal part over, it was time for the only reason he was there. It was time for the fun to start….

ABOUT WENDY CARTMELL

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Wendy Cartmell is the author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller STEPS TO HEAVEN. She lives on the Costa del Sol with three mad dogs and her even madder husband. She inherited her love of reading from her parents and discovered her ability to weave a good story at Reading University, which she attended at the tender age of 40.

After several failed attempts at writing in various genres, Sgt Major Crane, a military policeman, knocked on her proverbial door and the rest, as they say, is history. All 8 Crane crime thrillers are published by Endeavour Press, as well as the Emma Harrison mystery trilogy, set in Reading Young Offenders Institution.

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/wendy.e.cartmell

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Twitter: @wendycartmell

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5276123.Wendy_Cartmell

LinkedIn: https://es.linkedin.com/in/wendy-cartmell-bb52b142

Blog: https://wendycartmell.wordpress.com/

Website: http://wendycartmell.webs.com/

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BUY LINKS

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01GBITOKG/

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SAVED BY THE FIREFIGHTER by @RachelBrimble @BrookCottageBks #Romance #TuesdayBookBlog

Saved by the Firefighter (Templeton Cove, #6)Saved by the Firefighter by Rachel Brimble
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three Point Five Stars

Saved by the Firefighter is book #6 in the Templeton Cove series of Harlequin romances set in the UK and can be read as a stand alone book.

Izzy Cooper is a photographer, she lives in the coastal town of Templeton. Three months ago her brother died in a terrible explosion in the garage where he worked and Izzy is grieving badly. Lashing out needing someone to blame for the pain she feels, Izzy places her anger firmly at the foot on Trent Palmer, town firefighter.

Trent Palmer would do anything to ease Izzy’s pain, he truly knows where her feelings lie, he’s been there before and Izzy’s brother was his best friend too. Robbie had been killed before the fire took over but he understands Izzy’s grieving and offers her a shoulder to cry on, if only she’d accept it.

The pair must work together for a charity calendar for a local girl who needs treatment in America and the sexual tension between the pair sizzles. Their relationship blows hot and cold with both Izzy and Trent showing traits of childish petulance. Can they ever trust each other enough to put the past behind them and make it together in the future?

This is a cosy romance with plenty of anger from both sides which leads to a tempestuous relationship, I think there was room to tweak the writing for a wider range of emotions showing a deeper passion and devotion to each other.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Genre: Contemporary romance

Release Date: Nov 1st

How can she forgive him for what he didn’t do? 

Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he failed to save her brother. But when they’re forced together by a calendar shoot, the sparks between them are undeniable.

Izzy knows it’s not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss again isn’t something she’s prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering bearable.

 

EXTRACT

The security alarm chimed. Someone had stepped inside the studio. Exhaling a heavy breath, Izzy pulled back her shoulders, lifted her head and forced a smile.

“Hi, how can I…” Her heart stopped. Trent Palmer stood just inside the door. “Why are you here?”

His dark green gaze bored relentlessly into hers, his strong jaw set as he reached behind him and shut the door. “I came by to see how you’re doing.”

Traitorous attraction skittered over the surface of her skin before Izzy turned and strode toward the corner she used for staging portrait shots. The fluffy bunnies, huge furry dice and toys she’d used to relax a toddler earlier now felt macabre.

She spun around, clutching a teddy bear. “The same as I was doing yesterday and the day before. I told you I don’t want to see you. I don’t ever want to see you. Why do you keep coming back?”

He came closer, his gaze locked on hers. “You have to talk to me. I was Robbie’s friend. There was nothing—”

“You could do. Fine. I get it, but why do you feel the need to keep coming in here and checking up on me? What do you want me to do? Dance in the street? Kick up my heels at the fairground? God, just leave me alone.”

“There’s a beach party tonight. I want you to come with me.”

She stared. Why him? Why would a man she really liked—a damn firefighter­­—have to pursue her like she was someone worth pursuing? “No.”

He looked at the equipment covering the desk alongside him. He lifted and replaced a camera, the hunch of his wide shoulders indicating his discomfort. Izzy hated that she drew no satisfaction from that…only sadness.

 

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

B & N

ABOUT RACHEL BRIMBLE

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Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had six books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for two more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Facebook:

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Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

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Goodreads Author Page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Blog:

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Website:

Website

GIVEAWAY!

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A tote bag plus a signed copy of the book!
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THE WHITE CAMELLIA by @Julietgreenwood @honno @BrookCottageBks #TuesdaybookBlog #HistFic

The White CamelliaThe White Camellia by Juliet Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The White Camellia is an historical fiction set in 1909 in two locations, Cornwall and London. The story builds in both settings until links form between them as the story unfolds.

The book opens in Cornwall, Sybil is a strong independent woman about to buy the Tressillion House. The house and the surrounding land bring up the past for Sybil and the reader is tantilised by hints of a big past secret.

In London, we meet Beatrice Tressillion, a young lady looking for work as a journalist. Feeling threatened in the street, she seeks refuge in a Ladies tearoom called The White Camellia. She is befriended by a young group and they take her along to a meeting of The Suffrage League of Women Artists & Journalists. Bea’s eyes are opened and she is inspired by the meeting. Facing a marriage of convenience to a cousin she dislikes just to save her family or stepping out and becoming financially independent herself, Bea becomes embroiled in the day to day fight for the rights to vote and the Suffragette movement.

Back in Cornwall Sybil makes plans for the house renovations and investigates an old mine on her property which comes with rumours of a lost gold seam, she employs Madoc Lewis to help her re-open the mine. But it is the White Camellia which draws people to Sybil and her past secrets to unravel.

I enjoyed the ladies tearoom and the ideas behind The White Camellia, but my favourite parts of the book were Cornwall and Sybil’s story, probably because of a personal interest in Cornwall, rather than the harsh dangerous battle which the women of the Suffragettes undertook.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: 15th September 2016

Publisher: Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press

1909.Cornwall. Her family ruined, Bea is forced to leave Tressillion House, and self-made business woman Sybil moves in. Owning Tressillion is Sybil’s triumph — but now what? As the house casts its spell over her, as she starts to make friends in the village despite herself, will Sybil be able to build a new life here, or will hatred always rule her heart? Bea finds herself in London, responsible for her mother and sister’s security. Her only hope is to marry Jonathon, the new heir. Desperate for options, she stumbles into the White Camellia tearoom, a gathering place for the growing suffrage movement. For Bea it’s life-changing, can she pursue her ambition if it will heap further scandal on the family? Will she risk arrest or worse? When those very dangers send Bea and her White Camellia friends back to Cornwall, the two women must finally confront each other and Tresillion’s long buried secrets.

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BUY LINKS

http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781909983502

https://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Camellia-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/1909983500/

https://www.amazon.com/White-Camellia-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/1909983500

https://wordery.com/the-white-camellia-juliet-greenwood-9781909983502

ABOUT JULIET GREENWOOD

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Juliet Greenwood is the author of two previous historical novels for Honno Press, both of which reached #4 and #5 in the UK Amazon Kindle store. ‘Eden’s Garden’ was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’. ‘We That are Left’ was completed with a Literature Wales Writers’ Bursary, and was Welsh Book of the month for Waterstones Wales, The Welsh Books Council and the National Museum of Wales. It was also chosen by the ‘Country Wives’ website as one of their top ten ‘riveting reads’ of 2014, was one of the top ten reads of the year for the ‘Word by Word’ blog, and a Netmums top summer read for 2014.

Juliet’s grandmother worked as a cook in a big country house, leaving Juliet with a passion for history, and in particular for the experiences of women, which are often overlooked or forgotten. Juliet trained as a photographer when working in London, before returning to live in a traditional cottage in Snowdonia. She loves gardening and walking, and trying out old recipes her grandmother might have used, along with exploring the upstairs and downstairs of old country houses.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliet.greenwood

Twitter: https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/844510.Juliet_Greenwood

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/105731636741241490753/posts

Blog: https://suffrageladiestearoom.com/

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

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1st Prize – paperback copies of all 3 of Juliet’s books

2nd Prize – an ecopy of The White Camellia
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