Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #ContemporaryFiction GRACE & SERENITY by @AnnalisaCrawf #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Grace & Serenity by Annalisa Crawford

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This was quite a dark, although sensitively addressed story, and one that emphasises how easily someone can get sucked in to situations they feel unable to control.

Grace was just sixteen when she met Neil, and not much older when she became pregnant. Neil had charmed Grace from the beginning but she saw another side of him when she told him she was expecting their child. He didn’t want to know and made his feelings plain. This was the first sign of his true character and a precursor of what was to come.

A moment ago I was fifteen, lying on my bed watching Rihanna and Katy Perry on YouTube, my legs swinging in time with the music.

A moment ago I was meeting Neil for the first time, at some stupid party.

Run, run away.

In an about face, Neil decides to take responsibility and asks Grace to marry him. Grace’s plans for university morph into dreams of a happy home life with a loving husband and beautiful baby, but real life is nothing like she imagined. Instead Grace becomes exhausted with a fussy baby and no help from her husband who acts like he’s still single.

Grace descends into an abusive and manipulating relationship, which sees Neil’s cruelty and deviousness escalate, making it look like Grace is at fault. Although Grace tries to take back control of her life, things get even worse as Grace feels betrayed by her parents and spirals into a desperate situation that includes homelessness, alcohol abuse, prostitution, physical and mental abuse.

Grace and Serenity is hard hitting, shocking and emotional. Events are seen through Grace’s eyes  in all their stark reality. Annalisa Crawford pulls no punches in this all too plausible and heartbreaking story. The writing is full of imagery with a touch of the paranormal and without going into unnecessary, gratuitous details, evoking a myriad of emotions.

It’s a compelling story and, although I couldn’t see how, I really hoped Grace would somehow get her life back on track. 

Book description

Living on the streets is terrifying and exhausting. Grace’s only comforts are a steady stream of vodka, and a strange little boy who’s following her around.

At nineteen, Grace has already had a child and endured an abusive marriage. But she’s also had her baby abducted by her vengeful husband and been framed as a neglectful mother. Even her own parents doubted her version of the story. So she did the only thing that made sense to her—run away.

The streets are unforgiving. Winter is drawing in. And Grace isn’t prepared for the harsh realities of survival. At her very bleakest, a Good Samaritan swoops into her life and rescues her. With a roof over her head and food in her stomach, she longs to see her baby again.

But nothing ever comes for free.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Vintage #Mystery HIGH WIRE IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading High Wire In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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The racecourse in Nuala was busy, but not for the racing. The Russian circus had come to town with its colourful wagons and big top. Excitement had built with the appearance of posters advertising trapeze artists, jugglers and high wire, even a snake charmer—de Silva’s dislike of the reptiles causing him to shudder at the thought—along with several other acts.

It was full house for opening night and all was going well with the dance troupe opening the show, followed by the rest of the acts, until there was what looked like a terrible accident during the high wire walk. Inspector Shanti de Silva was in the audience with his wife, Jane and their friends, Doctor and Mrs Hebden, so de Silva and Dr Hebden were able to be first on the scene.

“So tense that you could almost touch it, a hush had fallen over the audience. The low, pulsing beat of the drums heightened the apprehension that filled the air. Every time Tatiana paused, there were gasps of alarm. A pain throbbed behind de Silva’s eyes. He felt as if he was making the slow walk with her. At last, the end of the wire was not far away. Tatiana turned her head a fraction towards the audience; he glimpsed a smile of mischievous triumph on her face. She took another step closer to the tower, and the audience exhaled a collective sigh of relief. Soon she would be safe. Clapping began to swell.
And then it died.”

De Silva suspects this was no accident and that he was looking at a murder, but wonders if his hands are tied as his superior, Archie Clutterbuck, believes the suspicious death of a foreigner isn’t a matter for the Nuala police. But as de Silva was questioning the circus folk another body was discovered.

High Wire in Nuala is another enjoyable mystery, set in the evocatively described Ceylon of the 1930s, capturing the sense of place and the contrast between cultures. The rich, multicultural way of life is still evident but also with the possibility of changes on the horizon. It was lovely once again to get reacquainted with the engaging characters at the heart of the series.

The well thought through plot unfolds at a steady pace as de Silva’s investigation leads him to uncover much more than he initially expected.

Book description

Much to the delight of the locals, a colourful Russian circus rolls into Nuala, but the fun ends abruptly when, on the opening night, a tragic accident takes place.
Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are among the crowd to witness the accident. Or was it an accident? Inspector de Silva senses murder, and soon, he’s juggling with the evidence. Will the trail lead to the circus’s dashing stunt rider and master of horse, Alexei Goncharov, or to Alexei’s brother Boris, its boisterous ringmaster? Throw a string of jewel thefts and some deadly snakes into the mix and the list of suspects grows.
De Silva will need to keep his wits about him to unravel yet another absorbing puzzle in this charming and addictive mystery series set in the 1930s in exotic Ceylon.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Histfic #Romance GENTLEMAN JIM by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews

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Maggie Honeywell, the only child of Squire Honeywell and raised more as his son and eventual heir than an indulged daughter, had a happy childhood spending most of her time with Nicholas Seaton, the illegitimate son of scullery maid, Jenny Seaton. Now a groom in Squire Honeywell’s stables, Nicholas had incurred the wrath of Frederick Burton-Smythe, whose estate borders the Honeywell’s and the man her father wants Maggie to marry. Their fathers had agreed years ago the two would marry, thereby joining the two estates. Maggie had other ideas. Nicholas was the only man for her and the feeling was mutual.

Determined to get rid of Nicholas, cowardly bully Frederick accuses him of stealing pieces of Maggie’s jewellery, beats him and locks him in a loose box to await his fate when Frederick returns with the magistrate.

‘Beaten and bloody, Nicholas Seaton sat on the straw-covered floor of the loose box, his legs drawn up against his chest and his forehead resting on his knees. There was no possibility of escape. The doors of the loose box had been bolted shut and the wooden walls were made strong and thick, built to hold the most powerful of Squire Honeywell’s blooded stallions.’

Thanks to Maggie, Nicholas is able to escape, vowing to try and find the man he believes to be his father and return for Maggie. Ten years on and Maggie has all but given up hope and suffers lingering symptoms from a bout of influenza. Her father had passed away and the terms of his will stipulate she has to marry someone Frederick approves of in order to keep her beloved Beasley Park, or after two years the entire estate passes to Frederick. As he also controls the purse strings and wants to control Maggie, she has to ask his permission for anything she needs. A visit to an old friend in London opens up new opportunities for Maggie and she soon recovers her spirit and the will to fight for her right to be happy, although her physical recovery takes longer.

I’m a recent convert to Mimi Matthews’ books, having only read two previously. Gentleman Jim is actually my favourite so far. It’s a tale of romance, drama, revenge, overcoming obstacles and much more. Lots of wonderfully described detail, in keeping with the culture and etiquette of the period. Maggie and St Clare are charismatic protagonists who develop and adjust as the story unfolds, with the secondary characters adding much to the story. Highly recommended for those who like a good Victorian romance, with elements of danger, secrecy and daring.

Book description

She couldn’t forget…

Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nicholas is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nicholas escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nicholas never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He wouldn’t forgive…

After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful—and entirely convinced he’s someone else.

As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain the other? Or with a little luck—and a lot of daring—will he find a way to have them both?

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Child Adoption Drama THE LOST BLACKBIRD by @LizaPerrat

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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The story begins in January 1962 when Lucy and Charly Rivers’ father comes home drunk, as he often does, and a fall leaves him dead at the bottom of the stairs. Their mother, who was out at the time, was charged with his murder and the sisters were sent to Easthaven Home for Girls. The home was run by authoritative and heartless Mrs Mersey, who spared no kindness or pity for the unfortunate girls in her supposed care.

“Because once Mrs Mersey rang the meal bell, you had to stop talking, sniffing and coughing. And there was definitely no crying. You had to go to the toilet and wash your hands. And on the next bell you had to go to the dining room, and if you even sneezed Mrs Mersey would dart you the crow-eyed look that knocked your knees together. You were only allowed to speak to say Grace or answer if Mrs Mersey — Mrs Merseyless the Seniors called her, behind her back — spoke to you, which she only ever did to tell you off or punish you.”

When the girls were offered the chance of what seemed like a wonderful new life in Australia, with its sunshine, long, sandy beaches, fruit that can be eaten straight from the tree, parks and play areas, not to mention the kangaroos and koala bears, Lucy was concerned it sounded too good to be true and their mother would never be able to find them. But they had no choice in the matter. They were shipped out, along with Lucy’s best friend, Vinnie, and several others. Lucy hoped the life described to them would benefit Charly, who wanted her mum and was having a hard time coping at Easthaven.

The children bloomed on the six week trip across the ocean, with fresh air, good food, new clothes and lots of time for activities. Their idyll came to an abrupt end when they reached Australia. Despite being promised siblings would be kept together, Lucy and Charly were separated and were taken to different areas of the country.

The Lost Blackbird is a fictionalised account based on real events and exposes a dark and terrible time in a not too distant past. Vulnerable children, who were not necessarily orphans, were shipped off to Australia, in most cases without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and very often with a life of drudgery and servitude ahead. No better off, in fact, than life in Easthaven, and in some cases worse. Carly, at five years old, was adopted. Lucy, twice her age, wasn’t so lucky. The story is told from both Lucy’s and Charly’s perspectives, Lucy’s harsh life on a farm in the outback and the contrast of Charly’s life with her adoptive parents. But even then things weren’t as they seemed and had adverse effects.

Liza Perrat has obviously researched the historical facts extensively and consequently the story reflects the abuse, both physical and mental, in England and Australia, that children were forced to endure. Characters are extremely well defined, their personalities evident and believable in the way their experiences shaped them and were easy to visualise, in some cases hard to forget.

The writing is wonderful, the setting perfectly realised. Liza Perrat has the knack of pulling the reader in and giving a sense of involvement. A compelling, moving and powerful read, all the more so because we know it actually happened. I’m very glad Lucy and Charly’s story ended they way it did, although I’m sure this wasn’t the case for many of those deported.

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery FAME & FORTUNE by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Fame & Fortune by Carol J Hedges.

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Fame & Fortune is the eighth outing for DS Jack Cully, DI Lachlan Greig and DI Leo Stride, otherwise known as the Victorian Detectives. Carol Hedges immerses us once again in a London peopled with the sad and the bad, the rich and the poor, and the evocatively described back alleys, slums and more fashionable thoroughfares they inhabit.

When a body is found hanging from the scaffolding on a bridge, Detective Inspector Greig doesn’t agree with the presumption of suicide by the attending constable. It didn’t add up in Greig’s eyes but the ineptitude of the constable regarding the scene of the crime, as Greig believed that’s what it was, didn’t help.

Then we have Gerald Daubney, a collector of antiquities who has been robbed of his priceless netsuke collection and, it seems, his manservant has also disappeared.

In a shabby, cobbled passageway in Bloomsbury we find ten year old Izzy Harding, scraping a living of sorts and existing off very little, painting furniture for dolls’ houses, one of the many children working at the long tables. Her second job washing dishes in a diner at least comes with food, such as it is.

The indomitable Miss Lucy Landseer makes another appearance when she comes to the aid, not only of novelist, Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, but also a lady in an intolerable position, in a situation that would perhaps make a good plot for one of her books.

The villainous Black brothers, Herbert and Munro, encompass all that is bad and whose shady dealings have serious and continuing repercussions throughout the city.

I enjoy these books immensely and Carol Hedges’ writing and plotting never fails to draw me in, with witty and engaging prose. Characters are extremely well drawn, giving an immediate visual image and the existing cast continue to develop. And as always, London features as a character in its own right with atmospheric descriptions and the distinct social divide between all levels of society.

Book description

When the body of a man is discovered hanging from some scaffolding under one of London’s bridges, Scotland Yard’s detective division is called in to solve the mystery of his identity & how he died. What they discover is a web of crime and extortion, and at the heart of it, two evil brothers, Munro and Herbert Black. Their inquiries will bring them into contact with the strange world of Gerald Daubney, collector of Japanese curios, whose priceless collection of netsuke has disappeared.

Facing a similar loss is Mrs Riva Hemmyng-Stratton, writer of ‘silver-fork’ novels, who suddenly finds herself embroiled in a court case when she is sued for defamation and libel by Lord Edwin Lackington. Her priceless reputation as a writer is on the line. How on earth can she prove her innocence when the only person who could vouch for it is incarcerated in a private asylum?

Many old friends make appearances in the novel … and a certain meaningful relationship finally reaches its conclusion.

AmazonUk |

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #NewRelease Victorian #Romance FAIR AS A STAR by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Fair As A Star by Mimi Matthews

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It’s a long time since I read a Victorian romance so this proved to be a nice change. The story opens as Beryl Burnham and her Aunt Hortensia arrive home after spending the past year in Paris. The reason for the trip isn’t revealed until later in the story and creates much empathy for Beryl. The first thing Beryl does on reaching Shepton Worthy is to pay her respects to the curate, Mark Rivenhall, when she notices the church doors are open, signalling Mark was there.
He was soon to become her brother-in-law as Beryl was betrothed to Sir Henry Rivenhall.

Beryl was putting off going home and resuming her life. Somehow her restlessness and inability to fully embrace the happiness she believes she should feel, but can’t quite seem to grasp, overshadows everything else. She doesn’t understand why she feels this way but her friendship with Mark and his sympathetic awareness and sensitivity helps.

“Mark had a knack for lifting her spirits. For making her smile, whether in person, or through the many letters he’d written to her during her absence.”

Mimi Matthews explores the topic of ‘melancholy’ and the shocking way it was dealt with in Victorian times. Unusual as it is to have the heroine of a period romance suffering from what amounts to clinical depression and anxiety, it gives the story a deeper dimension and a different slant and brings into focus what was a taboo subject.

It’s very easy to feel empathy with Beryl as she struggles with low spirits while trying to hide how she feels from others. Henry is too pragmatic, sometimes patronising and aloof, which doesn’t invite confidences of any kind. Not the type of person to waste much time on sympathy. Being able to talk to Mark is a huge relief for Beryl. I can understand how the restrictions placed on the women of the time could have a detrimental effect, not that that would apply to Beryl’s spirited sister, Winnie.

Although it’s clear from the start Mark has strong feelings for Beryl which are reciprocated, neither acknowledge the fact due to the fact Beryl is betrothed. Mark, a man of honour, doesn’t want to betray his brother and treats Beryl with compassion and respect.

The journey to the conclusion makes for a satisfying read. The characters are well defined and one in particular redeems themselves towards the end. Mark’s friend, the forward thinking Dr Simon Black, and Winnie are both interesting and would make good protagonists if, as the title suggests, there are to be more books. A lovely, easy to read story, well written with a serious theme. I’ll have to check out more of this author’s books.

Book description

A Secret Burden…

After a mysterious sojourn in Paris, Beryl Burnham has returned home to the village of Shepton Worthy ready to resume the life she left behind. Betrothed to the wealthy Sir Henry Rivenhall, she has no reason to be unhappy—or so people keep reminding her. But Beryl’s life isn’t as perfect as everyone believes.

A Longstanding Love…

As village curate, Mark Rivenhall is known for his compassionate understanding. When his older brother’s intended needs a shoulder to lean on, Mark’s more than willing to provide one. There’s no danger of losing his heart. He already lost that to Beryl a long time ago.

During an idyllic Victorian summer, friends and family gather in anticipation of Beryl and Sir Henry’s wedding. But in her darkest moment, it’s Mark who comes to Beryl’s aid. Can he help her without revealing his feelings—or betraying his brother?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Celebrating 6 Years Of Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT With Team Member @CathyRy

Recently we celebrated our review team’s six year anniversary by revealing fourteen of the team’s favourite books.

You can find out which books they were in part one and part two.

I invited some of my team members to tell us more about being part of the book reviewing team.

Welcome to Cathy Ryan, who also writes book reviews at Between The Lines Book Blog

I’ve just been reminded that Rosie’s Book Review Team is six years old! That means BetweenTheLines is also six years old. I joined the team a few months after I began my blog and am still enjoying the experience. Rosie does a great job coordinating everything and many books have come my way that I probably would have missed otherwise, and more than a few authors have become firm favourites, such as Terry Tyler, Carol Hedges, Adrienne Vaughan, Liza Perrat…the list goes on.

One book in particular, The Cunning Woman’s Cup by Sue Hewitt, which I enjoyed immensely and is one I’ve read more than once, sent me on search to find the stone circle in the story. It was a trek to find the Duddo Stones but it was worth it for the atmosphere and the view.
I enjoy following series and there are several murder/mystery ones I’ve enjoyed including The Victorian Detectives by Carol Hedges, Madame Tulip cosy mysteries by David Ahern and Inspector de Silva Mysteries by Harriet Steel.
Not only that, several of us have become ‘real life’ friends and meet up every so often, which is fantastic. Long may it last!

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #literaryFiction THE LATECOMERS by Rich Marcello @marcellor

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Latecomers by Rich Marcello

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For Charlie and Maggie Latecomer it’s a second marriage for both of them. Their respective adult children don’t live within easy reach but the Latecomers love each other dearly and keep busy in early retirement with their artistic projects. Yet Charlie is restless and feels there should be more to life, regardless of age, and decides he needs to go to their cabin in Nova Scotia alone in search of the meaning of his life. Maggie is left angry at Charlie’s seeming disregard and self absorption, wondering what went wrong, beginning to question her beliefs and their relationship.

‘I wish I could tell you what will happen next, but I can’t. With that said, I am hopeful that I’ll put this behind us once and for all. Even if we move forward as something other than husband and wife, I know I need you in my life.’

During Charlie’s ever increasing time away both he and Maggie form new relationships, until eventually Charlie returns and their previous twosome expands to include new friends who become an important part of their lives.

From our two protagonists struggling to come to terms with ageing, life and love, the story takes on a completely different, mystical aspect as their group, or moai, follow a mysterious trail found in the pages of an ancient book, which leads to symbolism, revelations and character growth. It also brings in to play questionable ethics concerning pharmaceutical companies and the lengths people are willing to go to when greed and power are the goal.

The story is told from the perspectives of Charlie and Maggie, with the vivid, eloquent and evocative prose that characterised The Beauty of the Fall which I enjoyed immensely. The Latecomers didn’t have quite the same impact. I found it hard to connect with Charlie and Maggie. Charlie more so until towards the end when my feelings towards him changed. The fact the realistic and humanly flawed characters gave rise to strong feelings shows they are finely drawn, if not always likeable.

The metaphysical concept of the story was engaging, gave pause for thought and had many unexpected twists and experiences for the characters. It was never obvious which direction the story would take. It unfolds slowly with reflective musings and contemplations. Many relevant issues are raised throughout the narrative including love, loss, dementia, forgiveness, finding a purpose and redemption. I’m glad I read it. There’s no doubt Rich Marcello is a gifted storyteller.

Book description

Maggie and Charlie Latecomer, at the beginning of the last third of their lives, love each other but are conflicted over what it means to age well in a youth-oriented society. Forced into early retirement and with grown children in distant cities, they’ve settled into a curbed routine, leaving Charlie restless and longing for more.
When the Latecomers and their friends discover a mystical book of indecipherable logographs, the corporeal world and preternatural world intertwine. They set off on a restorative journey to uncover the secrets of the book that pits them against a potent corporate foe in a struggle for the hearts and minds of woman and men the world over.
A treatise on aging, health, wisdom, and love couched in an adventure, The Latecomers will make readers question the nature of deep relationships and the fabric of modern society.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Vintage Cosy #Mystery Series Book 8 TAKEN IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Taken In Nuala by Harriet Steel.

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A grand party is taking place at The Residence, hosted by the assistant government agent and Inspector Shanti de Silva’s superior, Archie Clutterbuck and his wife, Florence, raising funds for the orphanage and introducing their American guests, the Tankertons and their daughter, Phoebe. Inspector de Silva and his wife Jane join the list of invitees. Also staying at The Residence is Hank O’Halloran and his daughter Marie.

During the festivities Marie O’Halloran is kidnapped and the party comes to an abrupt halt. The guests are questioned before leaving, while de Silva makes it his business to discover how the perpetrator was able to gain access to the house, evade security measures and take Marie, seemingly so easily. He wondered why the kidnapper chose Marie. Both men were wealthy but Tankerton even more so, and would be able to pay a larger ransom. It was clear to de Silva there was more to this than meets the eye.

He was on his way back to the front of the Residence when he met Archie.

[‘Anything to report, de Silva?’ The assistant government agent looked weary. Darcy, the Labrador, at his master’s heels as usual, wagged his tail, but he too looked as if he longed for his bed.

‘Only that I’m fairly certain the kidnappers made their escape over the balcony, sir, and there were two of them.’]

De Silva has his work cut out with kidnappings and murder, a suspicious fortune teller and several trails to follow, ably assisted by Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar. Insight from Jane is always welcome as well. Some surprise twists keep the plot moving along. As always, the wonderfully described setting of 1930’s Ceylon is detailed, capturing the sense of place and time, and the contrast between the cultures adds an extra layer to the stories. Shanti and Jane de Silva are well portrayed, engaging characters and work well together. I like how Jane fits in with the English side of society and also as the wife of a Sinhalese Police Inspector with perfect ease. De Silva adores his wife, loves his garden, good food and his car. He sometimes takes exception to interference in his work by his British superiors.

I enjoy return visits to Nuala, the de Silva’s calm and well ordered home life and beautiful garden. Not to mention the delicious sounding meals cook prepares. If only…

Book description

When an American millionaire and his glamorous daughter visit Nuala, the splendour they bring to the town’s high society is soon tragically tarnished by a vicious crime.

With many avenues of inquiry to follow, including the involvement of a mysterious fortune teller, Inspector de Silva will need all his resources to unravel the evidence and avert further disaster.

A gripping mystery with lots of twists and turns set in the colourful and fascinating world of 1930s Ceylon.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Taken in Nuala (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries Book 8) by [Harriet Steel]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THREADS by @CWhitneyAuthor

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Threads by Charlotte Whitney

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The Great Depression began after the market crashed in late 1929 and drastically affected the world’s economy. Threads tells the story of a farming family in Michigan and is narrated by the three daughters. Flora, is the eldest at seventeen. Irene, the middle sister, is eleven and Nellie, the youngest, just seven.

Narrated in alternating short chapters, the story is told from the perspective of each sister, giving individual views on their lives and the people around them. In this way the characters and their very different personalities are developed extremely well as they navigate their way through daily life on the farm, at school and with their friends and neighbours.

Nellie loves making up stories and talks to imaginary friends, which include the animals. Irene can be opinionated and thinks she’s the smartest. Flora wants to get married and be a farmer’s wife. Neither of the younger girls understand quite what’s going on and complain about the changes and things they can’t have.

Nellie loves to play down by the creek and escapes there as often as she can. On her way through the woods one day, she notices a mound of disturbed earth. Thinking it might be pirates’ treasure she begins to root around. What she unearths sends her running back home as fast as she can.

“Tonight I couldn’t git that dead hand outa my mind. Ma gave us girls each a piece of bread for supper, but I couldn’t eat. I wanted to pretend it never happened. Even though I wanted to go to sleep and forget about today, the heat register was still calling to me.

Jist ’bout every night I listen in on Ma and Pa from the heat register on our bedroom floor. It’s right above where Ma and Pa sit in the parlor, right down from my side of the bed.”

The descriptive and realistic prose, showing how a farming family coped during the depression through the eyes of the sisters, paints such a vivid picture of the hardships of the time. Working from dawn to dusk, the girls doing their part with chores before and after school, working most of the day during the summer holiday, and still not having enough to eat. But what really shines out of the story is the endurance and kindness, even through the deprivation the farmers face. Neighbours look out for each other, people passing through are given whatever food can be spared, even if it’s just a slice of bread. Amid all this, there is mystery, rumour mongering and danger.

I enjoyed the fact Charlotte Whitney used the mid western dialect, lending an authenticity to the narrative, along with her personal knowledge of growing up on a farm. I had no idea what to expect when I began reading, but soon became immersed in the lives of the family and was pleased the author included an epilogue so we learn if Nellie’s, Irene’s and Flora’s hopes and dreams for the future materialised.

Book description

It’s a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm in the throes of the Great Depression. But, when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny blue-black hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly. Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

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