Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery DEATH ON THE DANUBE by @JSAauthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Death On The Danube by Jennifer S. Alderson

48497063. sy475

In Death on the Danube, Jennifer S Alderson has turned away from the dangerous adventures of Art Historian Zelda Richardson and turned to cozy mystery with newly divorced Lana Hansen as she takes up a new life as a tour guide with Wanderlust Tours.  I soon adapted to this style of murder mystery as Lana uses her skill with people to take care of a disparate group of wealthy tourists threatened by murder within their midst.  An intelligent former journalist, Lana puts the “Fabulous Five” group of mature women at ease while trying to solve the case.

The book includes vivid descriptions of places of interest in Budapest as settings to the interactions of suspicious characters such as Helen and Tom who own a yacht rental company and Carl, a fellow tour guide, who seems to prefer gambling.  I was kept guessing about the guilt of those guests who seemed most unpleasant or of more likeable old friend, Sally who has been betrayed so badly by the first victim.  I am certainly tempted to visit Budapest myself, now and I am looking forward to following Lana’s investigations next year in A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris.

Book description

Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…

Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.

Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.

When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!

What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.

But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

48497063. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES & A CAPER by @dehaggerty

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Christmas Cupcakes & A Caper by D.E. Haggerty

48105440. sy475

Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper is another humorous adventure in the cozy mystery series starring Callie, Anna and Kristie from Callie’s Cakes. As Kristie went to open the shop she found an elf sat on the floor, leaning against the door. As the door opened the elf fell inside. Assuming he was drunk, Callie tried to wake him up, but to no avail. There was no pulse, so Callie called 911. It turns out the three ladies recognised the man. He’s a student at the university where Callie teaches and they all have a tenuous connection to him. So begins another entertaining edition in the Death by Cupcake series.

Anna is convinced it wasn’t an accidental death and persuades Callie and Kristie that they need to investigate. Callie has her own worries though, about her boyfriend Ben and his secretive behaviour.

‘“You might as well tell her. You know the pink-haired pixie won’t let up until you spill the coffee beans.”

I know Kristie’s right, but I still sigh and take a moment before opening my mouth. “Ben’s acting strange.”’

So now the girls have two mysteries to solve, much to Callie’s dismay. She has her work cut out to restrain Anna in her hunt for the supposed killer, especially when Kristie feels the need to join in. And how did she get roped into shadowing Ben? The murdered student is apparently morally disreputable according an overheard conversation and that is big no-no for Kristie after a date rape case she was involved in previously.

Although Christmas Cupcakes & a Caper is a light, fun read with the three girls and their hunky, (sometimes over) protective other halves, there’s a serious undertone. Each book is told from the differing first person perspectives of each of the likeable and well meaning ladies—it’s Callie’s turn in this one.

I do enjoy a cupcake now and again and, if I was into baking, I’d be trying out all the delicious sounding recipes at the end of the book…but then I’d have to eat them!

Book description

It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.

Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap on the stoop of Callie’s Cakes in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um… student.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?

Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna bakes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

48105440. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Historical #Mystery A SICKNESS IN THE SOUL by @penandpension

Today’s team review is from Georgia, she blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been redaing A Sickness In The Soul by William Savage

47968307. sx318

A Sickness in the Soul is part of The Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mysteries, a series of British historical mysteries set between 1760 and around 1800.

This is the first in this series that I have read and I enjoyed getting straight into the story as well as settling into the setting and circle of friends and acquaintances that make up Ashmole Foxe’s world.

Ashmole Foxe is feeling a little bored with life at the start of the story but within a matter of days he has three possible murders brought to him and I thoroughly enjoyed his investigations in his pursuit of the truth in each case as they, together with the characters themselves, are authentically and wonderfully written.

Running alongside the mystery storyline is Ashmole’s private life and he is a pretty lively fellow with the ladies and, I thought, a touch fortuitous with the way things panned out in a certain aspect of his love life at the end, until that final twist. Ah, now that can only make life considerably more complicated for Mr Foxe in the next book methinks.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction but also for all those who just enjoy a good, well written story with terrific characters.

Book description

“Many people wear masks. Some to hide their feelings; some to conceal their identity; and some to hide that most hideous plague of mankind: a sickness in the soul.”

Ashmole Foxe, Norwich bookseller, man-about-town and solver of mysteries will encounter all of these in this tangled drama of hatred, obsession and redemption.

This is a story set in the England of the 1760s, a time of rigid class distinctions, where the rich idle their days away in magnificent mansions, while hungry children beg, steal and prostitute themselves on the streets. An era on the cusp of revolution in America and France; a land where outward wealth and display hide simmering political and social tensions; a country which had faced intermittent war for the past fifty years and would need to survive a series of world-wide conflicts in the fifty years ahead.

Faced with no less than three murders, occurring from the aristocracy to the seeming senseless professional assassination of a homeless vagrant, Ashmole Foxe must call on all his skill and intelligence to uncover the sickness which is appears to be infecting his city’s very soul.

Can Foxe uncover the truth which lies behind a series of baffling deaths, from an aristocrat attending a ball to a vagrant murdered where he slept in a filthy back-alley?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SciFi #Shortstory BEHIND THE FIRE WALL by @AntonEine

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Behind The Fire Wall by Anton Eine

48354761. sy475


My Review: 5 stars out of 5

“If you’re reading this, I’m either dead or behind bars.”

Author Anton Eine hooked me with that great first line. Then he set that hook and reeled me in. His bait? A tiny little taste, a prequel to his upcoming Programagic Cycle series, that introduces us to a disturbingly familiar magic world.

“You come to some support center and say your crystal ball doesn’t work. The mage at the counter examines your magical masterpiece, only to find all the code written in D-flat, or something even more obscure.”

At least, it’s familiar to any of us who have wandered the aisles of Fry’s or Best Buy, tried to set up our own router, or attempted to understand anything a twelve-year-old child tells us. Or to anyone like me with a basement full of obsolete electronic relics of bygone days, and completely useless knowledge of forgotten programming languages like Basic. (VCR/Walkman/DOS anyone?)

Behind the Fire Wall is a beautifully deceptive little story, one that uses the technology rules we accept but for the most part don’t understand any more than if they were in truth magic. It’s as if the Apple Store had a Genius Bar in Diagon Alley. I love the dry background humor of the created world as much as the locked-room mystery Magister Sajar Randhar is attempting to solve.

Along the way, we meet a handful of surprisingly three-dimensional characters such as Spirit, the experimental and somehow self-aware hologram who owns the final, unexpected twist to the tale.

As with any prequel, this little story has one job—to set in motion the events that will propel the series forward, and most importantly, compel readers to look forward to that tale. Job well done.

Book description

When the Pentagonal Citadel’s Fire Wall is breached as a result of a robbery, giving the perpetrators access to the most dangerous artifacts stored in the Vault, Magister Sajar Randhar finds himself in hot water.

His security clearance is pulled and he’s placed under house arrest for the entire duration of the investigation. But who could have hacked the most impregnable security system in the entire Murican Empire? How did they manage it in the first place? And why remove Sajar from the investigation instead of having him cooperate with the authorities?

The veteran mage is left with no other choice but to take the investigation into his own hands. The case is incredibly complex, but with his great experience and top-notch skills as a magic security specialist, there’s no better man for the job.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

48354761. sy475

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalRomance A CONVENIENT FICTION by @MimiMatthewsEsq

Today’s team review is from Sandra.

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading A Convenient Fiction by Mimi Matthews.

46255541. sy475

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Work of Art, I was eager to read another of Mimi’s books set in the Victorian era. This is the third in the Parish Orphans of Devon series and is the story of Alex Archer – one of four young orphaned boys connected by a mysterious past that is only revealed a little bit at a time. I have not read the other books in the series but did not feel that this was a problem. While it would be better to read them in order (and I will when my TBR pile goes down a bit), A Convenient Fiction works just as well as a standalone. Set in Surrey in 1860, Alex accompanies George Wright on a visit home in the hope of marrying local heiress, Henrietta Talbot. On the way to the vicarage, he rescues Laura Hayes, whose life he believes is in danger; she is simply practising breathing underwater and is not impressed. Laura is a friend of Henrietta’s and is called on to act as chaperone, and so the four of them spend a lot of time together.

I found the story quite slow to start with, and it was hard to imagine how Alex and Laura could ever be together, but it is testament to the author’s storytelling skills how well she is able to pull this off.  My only slight criticism is the occasional use of US English in a book set in the UK. The characters are well-rounded and believable. There are echoes of the world of Charles Dickens in the thread about the dishonest lawyer, and of Jane Austen in the care Alex takes to help Laura’s aunt and brother. By the time his past is fully uncovered, Alex is revealed to be, ironically, a much better man than George. One of the highlights of the book is the trip to Margate with the bathing machines and the people sitting on the beach using telescopes to admire the bathers.

Book description

She Needed a Husband…

It’s been three years since Laura Hayes’s father died, leaving her and her invalid brother to subsist on the income from the family’s failing perfume business. But time is swiftly running out. What she needs is a husband, and fast. A noble gentleman who can rescue them all from penury. When a mysterious stranger arrives in the village, he seems a perfect candidate. But Alex Archer is no hero. In fact, he just might be the opposite.

He Wanted a Fortune…

Alex has no tolerance for sentiment. He’s returned to England for one reason only: to find a wealthy wife. A country-bred heiress in Surrey seems the perfect target. But somewhere between the village railway station and the manor house his mercenary plan begins to unravel. And it’s all the fault of Laura Hayes—a lady as unsuitable as she is enchanting.

From the beaches of Margate to the lavender fields of Provence, a grudging friendship slowly blossoms into something more. But when scandal threatens, can a man who has spent his entire life playing the villain, finally become a hero? Or will the lure of easy riches once again outweigh the demands of his heart?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

46255541. sy475

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES AND A CAPER by D.E. Haggerty

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Christmas Cupcakes and A Caper by D.E. Haggerty

48105440. sy475

Christmas Cupcakes and a Caper is a short murder mystery starring three friends Anna, Callie and Kristie who discover a dead body on the doorstep of the bakery Callie and Anna co-own one evening in the run-up to Christmas. The ladies call the police and all three of the ladies boyfriends, two of whom are involved in law enforcement and one of whom is a firefighter, arrive on the scene to assist their girlfriends in dealing with the situation.

Callie, a lecturer at the local university, as well as being a co-owner of the bakery, knows the victim, Donald Griffin, who was a student there. Kristie, who is involved at the local youth centre which is frequented by troubled teens, quickly discovers that Donald was not popular with her protegees. Anna, the baker of the cupcakes sold at the bakery, is the only one of the three who doesn’t know him other than as a customer of the bakery. The three women become drawn into the murder investigation as a few odd occurrences and co-incidences come to their attention in relation to the young man’s death and relationships with his fellow students.

This story is short and light, with a simple, straight forward plot, a bit of fun romance and lots of conversation and comments about delicious cupcakes of all kinds. The recipes for these lovely sounding cupcakes appear at the end of the book.

Book description

It’s all candy cane cupcakes and peppermint coffee until you find a dead elf on your doorstep.

Only the elf wasn’t a real elf, because elves don’t actually exist – not even at Christmas time. A college student dressed like an elf decided taking a nap on the stoop of Callie’s Cakes in sub-zero winter temps was a good idea. It wasn’t. Anna, the pink-haired baker extraordinaire, is convinced the student’s death was not an accident. She drags Callie and Kristie along with her as she attempts to discover who killed the elf … um… student.

Will the gals of Callie’s Cakes find the killer before Christmas is ruined?

Cupcakes not included, although you’ll find recipes for all the delicious Christmas cupcakes Anna bakes.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

48105440. sy475

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction NOT MY FATHER’S HOUSE by Loretta Miles Tollefson

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Not my Father’s House by Loretta Miles Tollefson

48251970

When I first read about this book, I was intrigued by the setting (one I must confess I’m not very familiar with but I’ve always been interested in) and the period of the story most of all. I’ve become an eager reader of historical fiction, and I’ve learned plenty about times and places I knew nothing about. This is another perfect example of the way novels can inform and entertain at the same time, immersing us on a time and place completely at odds with our everyday experience. This is book two in the series of novels of Old New Mexico, and although it can be read independently, I must admit I would have liked to be better acquainted with the previous lives of the characters.

Suzanna is very young. Newly wed and only sixteen, she is thrown in at the deep end. She is not very domesticated for a woman of the period (the story is set in the early XIX century): she does not know how to cook, and she was brought up by her father to love books rather than other more feminine tasks, although she does sew, cleans, and knows how to keep a house, more or less (but she did have help back at her father’s house, in Taos, and she still has some help here, because Ramón does the cooking, otherwise they’d die of hunger). She loves to be outdoors and grow plants and vegetables most of all and that is another source of irritation for her in her new location, as this is high mountain territory, and neither the weather nor the seasons are as mild as what she was used to at home.

Suzanna finds fault with everything and she is not the most likeable of characters to begin with, although as we keep reading, the sheer drudgery and harshness of her life, and her brave attempts at making the best out of it end up by endearing her to the reader. We also come to understand that there is something more behind the changes in mood and she needs help, although it is difficult to imagine what form it could take at that point and in that place. Gerald, her husband, does his best and tries to understand her, although he has little time and no workable solutions to make things better. Ramón is a quiet presence and a likeable one, as he is always at hand to help. A perfect example of the strong and quiet type, Mexican style. He and the main characters in the novel experience major and very traumatic losses, and they use different coping strategies to deal with very difficult circumstances. There are other very colourful characters that make their appearance in the book, including Native Americans of different tribes, trappers, Mexican Army soldiers, and assorted animals as well. Some of them, as the author explains at the end of the book, where real historical characters, and they seamlessly mix with the fictional characters whose story we are reading.

The story is a slow burner, rather than a quick page turner, and it is narrated in the third person, mostly from Suzanna’s point of view, but also from a pretty nasty character’s viewpoint (I’m trying to avoid spoilers, although the description will give you a fair idea of the plot), that gives us a different perspective and also creates a fairly uncomfortable reading experience, as we get to share in the thoughts of a man who does not seem to have a single redeeming feature. The author does an excellent job of capturing the natural rhythm of the seasons, and we experience the harshness of the natural environment, the difficulty of coping with extreme weather conditions and having to survive on one’s own wits, but she also brings to life the beauty and the joy of the landscape and the location.

Another very strong point of this novel is the way it reflects the mental health difficulties of Suzanna. Her dark moods, the way she is influenced by the seasons and the lack of light and exercise in the winter months, her irritability, her difficulty explaining her feelings, and how she is further hindered by several losses throughout the book and the effect the birth of her children has on her already fragile mental health are explored and made palpable. Because we share in her perspective, although at first we might think she is just too young and immature for the situation she has landed herself in, we later come to see how hard her circumstances would be for anybody. And when her father visits and explains that she’s always had difficulties in certain times of the year, but they’d managed it well, we understand that she had not been aware of these problems until she had to face them by herself, in more extreme and tough conditions. The author explains her research on depression (post-natal depression and also seasonal affective disorder) and provides the historical context as to how the condition would have been dealt with at the time, in her note at the back of the book. From my experience as a psychiatrist, having talked to and looked after many patients suffering from similar conditions, her portrayal is realistic and vivid, and it reflects well the feelings and desperation of the sufferers.

I learned plenty about the New Mexico of the era, its inhabitants, its customs, and its politics. The author’s research shines through, and she makes an excellent use of it without overbearing the reader. The book also includes an index of the sources used, and a list of the historical characters that make an appearance in the series.

I would recommend this book to anybody who loves historical fiction of this era and location, in particular people who enjoy books about the pioneers and the settlers of the Southern United States. It is not a book for people looking for constant action or for a light read. There are humorous moments, and there is light relief (mostly provided by the dogs. I loved all the dogs, although my favourite was Chaser), but there are also sad and scary moments, and although the book is not terribly graphic in its depiction of violence (and there is no erotica at all), there is violence and a sense of menace and threat that permeates a lot of the novel. If you are fans of Little House in the Prairie and prefer narrations that build up slowly but have a realistic feel, you must check this novel out. I am intrigued by the series, and I hope to learn more about the further adventures of Suzanna and her family.

Book description

Suzanna hates everything about her New Mexico mountain home. The isolation. The short growing season. The critters after her corn. The long snow-bound winters in a dimly-lit cabin.

But she loves Gerald, who loves this valley.

So Suzanna does her unhappy best to adjust, even when the babies come, both of them in the middle of winter. Her postpartum depression, the cold, and the lack of sunlight push her to the edge.

But the Sangre de Cristo mountains contain a menace far more dangerous than Suzanna’s internal struggles. The man Gerald killed in the mountains of the Gila two years ago isn’t as dead as everyone thought.

And his lust for Suzanna may be even stronger than his desire for Gerald’s blood.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

48251970

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Poetry PARTY GLASS by Kezia Cole @skyskimming

Today’s team review is from Georgia. She blogs here https://www.georgiarosebooks.com

#RBRT Review Team

Georgia has been reading Party Glass by Kezia Cole

I don’t read poetry much; I keep saying that yet keep getting drawn to it. As with this book, Party Glass, which I chose to read from the submissions made to Rosie Ambers Book Review Team. I received a copy from the author but that doesn’t change my review in any way.

I read this short book in one sitting, hooked from the wonderful line “smothering tongues with nostalgia” in elastic days along with “whisper of ferns kissing ankles”. This author conjures up wonderful images and feelings in their words, along with beautiful settings so real you can feel the sand, the heat, the freedom as in beach burnt.

Along with the two mentioned above my other favourites were London BoyNot Entirely BlondeCaitlyn and still brimming. Highly recommended for all poetry lovers out there, or even those who simply like to dip in and out now and again.

Book description

Twenty poems from summers falling into autumns: long evenings lit by candles in colored glass, bricks still warm from the sunlight, wind-scorched beaches, and rain-washed asphalt painted by city lights.

‘party glass’ presents glimpses of soft nights and rain puddles splashed with neon; the tangles of friends, lovers, and changing hearts captured in one strange, small, breathless snapshot that seems to last forever.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by @AilishSinclair #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Mermaid And The Bear by Ailish Sinclair

48065890. sy475

5 out of 5 stars

I chose this book from the review team list because I’ve loved looking at the author’s marvellous photos of Scotland on her website for some years now; I hoped that anyone so artistic and with such a love for the area in which this story is set would be a fine writer too, though this doesn’t necessarily follow, of course—but I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed.


The Mermaid and The Bear is listed as a historical romance, but it’s much more than that. At first, after protagonist Isobell escaped her London betrothal to ‘Wicked Richard’ and headed for a Scottish castle to work as a kitchen maid, I wondered if the book would be too ‘twee’ for me; beautifully written and a good example of its type, but I thought it would follow the well-trodden romance novel path of misunderstandings and awkward situations before the lovers come together, and that would be that. I was so wrong! Although the relationship is an important part of the story arc, it is not the sole focus.


Ailish Sinclair’s portrayal of 16th century, wild rural Scotland is quite magical. On one recent evening I was curled up in bed, head on cushions and lights dimmed, and I found that I was revelling in every description of the countryside, the day-to-day life at the castle (particularly the Christmas revellry; this made me long to be in the book myself!), the suggestion of ancient spirituality, and the hopes and dreams of the characters. Suddenly I realised that I’d gone from thinking ‘yes, this is a pleasant enough, easy-read’ to ‘I’m loving this’.  

From about half-way through, the book becomes very dark indeed, as the witch-hunts of the time rear their gruesome head; there is a strong sense of good versus evil. This is where, for me, it became even more interesting.


Much of the locals’ dialogue is written in the Scottish dialect, but this is not overdone, so it didn’t become irritating to read at all—it just added authenticity. I liked how Isobell’s inner thoughts and conversation took on the Scottish words and phraseology gradually, over time, as would be the case. Her development over the course of the story is so realistic, and the Laird of the castle is the sort of character you can’t help falling a little bit in love with. The notes at the back add interest to the whole novel, too.


If you adore historical fiction, especially set in the 16th century, I’d recommend this book without hesitation. If you’re a bit ‘hmm’ about historical romance, I would still recommend it, without a doubt—and this is coming from someone who usually runs a mile from any variation on the romance genre. Go buy it. Now.

Book description

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

AmazonUK | AmzonUS

48065890. sy475

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Witch Trials And A Scottish #HistoricalRomance THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by @AilishSinclair

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

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Mermaid And The Bear by Ailsish Sinclair

Ailish Sinclair has written a captivating romantic fairy tale for adults, set in 1597 Scotland.

Isobell has been pledged by her father to marry a man she calls Wicked Richard. Together with two boys, Ian and Jasper, she flees her intended husband and a life of privilege in London, sailing in the hold of a ship to a smugglers cave below a remote castle in Scotland. There she will work as an assistant cook.

With no training for her menial job, she is taken under the wing of Bessie Thom, the castle’s cook – a large, jolly woman who is also an herbalist – who reminds me strongly of Mrs. Fitz in Outlander. Isobell meets Agnes, a sour and bitter young woman who is the governess to Wee Thomas and who loves to tell tales of witchcraft; the handsome Duncan McCulloch, Greeve of the castle; Christen Michel, an elderly woman who is the mother of the Laird’s first wife, Mary, who died giving birth to Wee Thomas; and finally the Laird himself, Thomas Monteith. All of these characters are so well drawn, I could easily see and hear them. The authentic use of Scottish words and phrases draws the reader into this medieval world.

I called this a fairy tale – Isobell falls in love with the laird, a bear of a man who is kind and gentle and sad – and the reader is lulled into contentment by both their love and the beauty that surrounds the castle: fairy pools and standing stones and beautiful woods. But this tale turns grim and gritty when it delves into accusations of witchcraft and witchcraft trials, prevalent at the time.

Thus the narrative encompasses hope and despair, good and evil, friends and enemies. The author writes beautiful descriptive prose of the Scottish countryside and delves into the heart of Isobell in an astonishing way, encompassing her views of conflicts between the Protestant and Catholic faiths and the feeling of the ancient religion, carried on by women, when Isobell finds the standing stones.

I really liked this book, despite the fact I expected and got a satisfying conclusion.  Isn’t this usual for fairy tales?

A truly enchanting tale!

Book description

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

AmazonUK | AmzonUS

48065890. sy475