HIDDEN CHAPTERS by Mary Grand contemporary fiction set in #Gower #Wales @authormaryg

Hidden Chapters: A powerful novel exploring motherhood, adoption, and family secretsHidden Chapters: A powerful novel exploring motherhood, adoption, and family secrets by Mary Grand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hidden Chapters is a contemporary story set on the Gower peninsula in Wales. The characters all plan to meet near Rhossili Bay to hold a memorial service for a young man who died on the Worm’s Head eighteen years ago.

They will celebrate the talented young man, who died so young. However, the gathering brings up old wounds for more than one character and secrets from the past are revealed.

Bethan is a skilled musician and her grandfather would like to help her make a rich life in America. Catrin hasn’t been back to the Gower for eighteen years, and she’s never understood her father’s hostility towards her. Elizabeth needs to lay her own ghosts to rest, and the memorial service offers her this opportunity.

I jumped at the chance to read this book because I’ve been to the Gower on several occasions visiting friends and attending weddings, so I was looking forward to a reminder of the area. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the location and its history. I thought that Catrin’s personal story moved well through a strong arc, ending in a most satisfactory way. However, the writing style was a challenge for me. I enjoy a book where dialogue is used to enhance the narrative and give the characters their own unique voices, but much of the plot in Hidden Chapters is related in large chunks of dialogue, which to me felt unnatural. There is much exposition: the characters explain points in order to get them across to the audience when, often, the characters would already have known the points she/he was making. I advise the author to make the most of the strengths of this nicely thought out story by finding a different way of putting information across, so that the reader is being told a story, rather than facts via conversation.

I liked many of the characters, particularly Bethan and how she overcame her challenges. Glamorous Elizabeth was well suited to her lifestyle too and I enjoyed how she evolved. I learnt much about deafness and sign language; however, in places it became repetitive, and at times more like a lecture than a story.

The whole storyline is about discovery of hidden truths and it makes for high emotions amongst the players. For me, the potential to take the reader on a rollercoaster wave was missed. I would have liked to see a wider range of emotions, perhaps going deeper with shock, fear, pain etc rather than using shouting and anger in most of the key moments.

The book has its good points and the Welsh setting will be a plus for some, but I’m afraid it missed the mark for me.

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Book Description

Whoever said time heals all wounds is a liar 
Haunted by the death of Aled at Worm’s Head, his sister Catrin returns to prepare the family home for sale, accompanied by her adopted Deaf daughter, Bethan. A web of lies and secrets spun by Catrin’s father slowly starts to unravel. Catrin, facing a crisis in her marriage, discovers that she must face this past if she is to heal and take control of her future. 
Nobody expects to meet Bethan’s birth mother, Elizabeth, who they think is dead. Her arrival at a memorial for Aled sends shock waves through the family. 
This is the beautifully told story of a family struggling with ghosts from the past. 
Hidden Chapters is an optimistic novel about the hope and the courage each of us can find within ourselves to own our past and take control of the next chapter of our lives. 

About the author

Mary Grand

I grew up in Wales. Later I taught in London and then worked with Deaf Children in Hastings. I now live on the beautiful Isle of Wight with family and my cocker spaniel Pepper.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

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NEW VOICES IN THE VALLEY by Karenne Griffin #Contemporary #BookReview #SundayBlogShare

New Voices in the Valley (Book 1 of The Valleys series)New Voices in the Valley by Karenne Griffin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

New Voices In The Valley is a contemporary novel set in the small village of Allt-yr- coch, Wales in 2002. This is a big read coming in at around 447 pages. It follows the lives of a large cast of characters as they go about their day to day lives. Villagers range from a young Polish girl running away from her abusive husband, a new widow who turns her hand to x-rated phone calls, bringing in the cash, a bored husband who changes his ways to help the community and start up his band and a kebab shop owner whose strong religious beliefs bring danger and terror.

The style of writing tends towards telling us about the events and incidents, making it a dedication and a nod to the local people this book could well have been based on in a loose way. There were opportunities to show the reader, through well written descriptive layering of people and settings, which could have given the book a flamboyance to lift the characters from the pages. I know the author will have wonderful pictures of everyone and where they lived and worked but those pictures didn’t quite reach my own eyes during this reading.

One of my favourite characters was Linda, a widow who turned her life and finances around by answering a job ad to sell sex by phone. She even persuaded her bored friend to sign up and earn quick cash too.

This book might appeal to readers who enjoy a large cast of characters and snooping into their soap opera style, everyday lives.

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Book Description

Polish-born Danuta escapes her violent husband and leaves Cardiff for good. But she only gets as far as Allt-yr-Coch, where she is offered a job in the village pub. It’s the prime venue for local rock bands. She soon forms the opinion that the people of the Welsh Valleys are mostly eccentric, mad about music, and have a language of their own. But Danuta is undaunted. Just as she starts to feel at home strange things begin to happen, and when Allt-yr-Coch hits the headlines everything changes.

About the author

Karenne Griffin

As a child I always had my nose in a book, and it was a foregone conclusion that I’d eventually start to write.
Nowadays I live in Wales, and have published ‘Beyond the Island’, ‘Return to the Island’, ‘New Voices in the Valley’, ‘Scream at the Mountains’, and ‘Bus Pass Holiday – A Short Circuit’.
Currently I’m working on a ‘Bus Pass Holiday’ sequel and another novel entitled ‘Headshot’ .
I’ve also contributed short stories to a couple of anthologies and occasionally dabble in poetry.

ALONE TRILOGY by @BobSummer5 #Psychological #Thrillers set in #Wales #TuesdayBookBlog

ALONE (The complete trilogy)ALONE by Bob Summer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alone Trilogy are a set of psychological thrillers set in Wales around a small town of Nanteang. Book #1 Alone But Not Lost introduces us to a lonely a very insecure character called Sin. She lives in a house with top security, CCTV cameras, locks and bolts and a safe room, and hovers on the edge of sanity. Her only human contact is with Hawk, an odd-job man she leaves notes for who gets her shopping and tries to become her friend.

News of the release from prison of Glyn Morgan has Sin panicking, and making preparations to run away. This triggers memories from her childhood and fills us in on the story so far. Born to a mother made rich from a song her band once made, Sin is her mother’s mistake and she’s subjected to verbal and physical abuse from a mentally unstable parent. Forced to live in a pit beneath the garage. Later they send Sin to a private school, where she meets Jenna, but it’s a front for a Paedophile ring and the girls run away, successfully at first, but later they’re caught. With no proper schooling or upbringing, Sin is far from streetwise and experiences then and later, when they return to her mother’s house make her insanity no surprise.

Book #2 The Edge. Grown up Sin is on the run. Jenna’s gone, Hawk’s dead and she can’t trust anyone. This book is also more about police officer Sara Jones, who came as a community support policewoman to offer support when Glyn was freed. Sara and Sin had met about twenty years before when Sin and Jenna were on the run. They both have mental health issues, and are alone. Sara is ostracized at work over supporting a rape allegation against a fellow police officer. She’d like to be a part of the current murder investigation, but she has family connections and they keep her out. But she can’t let it rest and follows her own line of inquiries which lead them to Sin.

Book #3 Detective Alan Meadows is also a loner, sent in undercover to sniff out the corruption in the police-force. There’s been a big fall-out because of Sara’s investigations and she’s left the force for a peaceful life, but two cases of arson at Hawk’s properties and kidnapping of her son and his pregnant girlfriend have her back on the case. With few avenues open to her, she asks Alan for help, the kidnappers want Sin because they believe she holds vital information, but Sin is in a top mental hospital. Sarah will stop at nothing to save her family and Alan puts his job on the line to help her.

It was good to read these books one after another, there was just enough detail of the story so far, for readers who will read them singularly, but not too much for those reading them in sequence. I think they work best read one after the other and I enjoyed the level of suspense in each book. As the books evolve they move more into police crime thrillers. There were some good twists at the end of book three which I didn’t see coming. I would recommend these to anyone who enjoys good thrillers.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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BREAKING EAST by @BobSummer5 #YA #Dystopia set in #Wales #Bookreview #fridayreads

Breaking EastBreaking East by Bob Summer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three point Five Stars

Breaking East is a YA dystopia story set in futuristic Wales. The book opens with an introduction to B-One a 25000 acre settlement on the west tip of Wales filled with criminals and their families who are there to work in a toxic power plant.

Known to the inhabitants as Bone, it is a derelict place with people living as best they can in rough conditions, scavenging, hungry and under careful watch each day from guards and The Law. Children of the criminals are allowed limited access out across the bridge to special areas near The Burrows and classes in re-education.

Atty is seventeen years old, she lives alone since her mother was killed in the last riots and her father vanished. Left under the watchful eye of Joe, who heads up the Bone resistance. When kids start going missing, Joe gives Atty the job of watching a brother and sister from The Burrows. She’s soon on the trail of some nasty individuals as she dodges both the law and ruthless people outside of Bone.

The book opened well with the descriptions of the dystopia world, and there are some good ideas in the story line. I would have liked more about the sinister events at The Manor and less about the journey there, plus a bigger play on the resistance. Lots of good ideas with room to push some ideas to the edge of writing in this genre, not sure that the teen romance thread was necessary and the book maybe a tad too long for the YA market.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com also available free from Kindle Unlimited

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COAL HOUSE by W.S Barton #BookReview #GhostStory #SundayBlogShare

Coal HouseCoal House by W.S. Barton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coal House is an easy read ghost story set in Wales in the 1950’s, Clara and Finn Harper live in London and have turned to the property development market.

Whilst taking a break in Wales they rashly buy a property, unseen at a local auction for just £250. However locals are quick to hint at legends and rumours that the house and land are haunted. Whilst Clara returns to London to settle their affairs, Finn moves into the fully furnished property and immediately experiences eerie night noises and ghostly happenings.

The paranormal activity increases with the return of Clara and when a local tragedy occurs Finn believes it is all linked. His hopes of settling in Wales and raising a family look doomed, especially when Clara reveals a secret from her past. Are the ghosts a hoax from the locals to drive them away? Are the legends true? Or do they genuinely exist?

This is a quick read and easy introduction to the ghost story genre and for #HistFic readers who might enjoy the setting.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Silver Rain by @JanRuthAuthor @AccentPress #bookreview

Today’s team review comes from Liz, she blogs at http://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Liz chose to read Silver Rain by Jan Ruth

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Silver Rain by Jan Ruth

 

I knew on opening Silver Rain that I would be engaged by a complex family drama set in the beautiful countryside of North Wales but I hadn’t expected to have so much empathy with the two main characters Al and Kate.

 

Kate is a warm-hearted, mature woman with flame red hair, trying to release herself from guilt, a year after the death of her husband Greg. She is encumbered by a dysfunctional sister, Annemarie, and a frail elderly mother. Her relationship with daughter Tia is in crisis so she is looking forward to a peaceful break, staying with her sister-in-law Fran at Chathill, a ramshackle farmhouse.

 

Unbeknown to Kate, Fran’s brother-in-law, Al, is also coming to stay, with his young girlfriend Jo, even though he has been estranged from his brother George, Fran’s husband, for 15 years. After the break-up of his marriage, the sale of his house has made Al homeless. There will be no peace for Kate while Fran and daughter Becca care for a menagerie of rescue animals and George fumes at the effrontery of Al coming to stay at Chathill after their disagreement many years earlier.

 

But what did happen between the two brothers? The underlying theme is secrets. As Kate is drawn closer to Al by his charisma and humanity she needs to know how his close relationship with his brother was destroyed, but increasingly she also finds herself keeping secrets which could destroy their developing relationship.

 

Interwoven with the main storyline are humour, mystery and passionate romance. Yet the characters, of every age, deal with the problems and joys encountered by us all today. As a reader, you long for a happy ending for Al and Kate but there are also so many other sub-plots that could lead to other interesting tales, especially the back story of Al’s mother.

 

To meet Al’s dogs Butter and Marge, Becca’s horses Pumpkin Pie and Candy Floss and see Al in wig, baggy trousers and clown make-up I recommend you begin reading Silver Rain as soon as possible.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Cathy reviews White Horizon by Jan Ruth

Today’s team book review is from Cathy, she blogs at http://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com

rosie3

Cathy chose to read and review White Horizon by Jan Ruth

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Daniel and Tina decide to cement their on-off relationship of twenty-five years with a marriage ceremony in the town they grew up in, near Snowdonia in North Wales. They start their married life living in the hotel Daniel is renovating. Things between the newly weds begin to crumble after just a few months. Tina is keeping an overwhelming secret and doing her best to deal with it in the only way she feels she can. Their old school friends, who haven’t seen each other for years, Victoria and Linda and their respective husbands, Max and Mike, are drawn into the resulting fall out which will affect not only those involved but their families as well.

Linda and Victoria are experiencing their own marital problems and all three couples find themselves in difficult circumstances and with friendships at breaking point. Their lives can never again be the same and each of them will face a future they couldn’t have imagined. The terrible culmination of Victoria and Max’s relationship breakdown is horrifying and dramatic, resulting in destruction and death which devastates everyone in the community.

The dynamics between the couples and their interwoven stories are written so well it’s impossible not to have a vivid picture of them, and be drawn in as they are ever more deeply involved in the developing story. Jan Ruth just seems to be able to get right inside the characters and make them totally real and believable, with well-developed and credible personalities. Their problems and emotions are handled sensitively and with honesty during the major life changes that affect them all. Serious issues, including spousal abuse and debilitating illness, are dealt with tactfully.

A really good mix of characters, Daniel stood out for me and Victoria, who was the most damaged by her awful experiences. Great writing and precise attention to details – such an enjoyable read. The scenic descriptions are beautiful and bring the area to life adding an extra element to the story. Mainly, though, this is about how the strength of love and forgiveness, having friends and family win out in the end.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Mystery Book Tour Day 29 #MysteryNovember A Time For Silence by Thorne Moore

November Mystery Tour

Please welcome today’s guest on the Mystery November book tour, it’s Throne Moore and her book A Time For Silence.

TFScover

 

Where is your home town?

I was born and grew up in Luton, and still think of myself as a Lutonian, but for the past 30 years I’ve lived in North Pembrokeshire, not far from Cardigan and this is very much my home now. No towns, exactly. Not even very serious villages, but a lot of farms, trees, hills, sea and sky.

How long have you been writing?

I remember discussing my writing ambitions at school, so at least 45 years. I wrote fantasy for years, then sci-fi, which I still enjoy writing, but most of what I produce now is strictly reality-based.

What is your favourite sub-genre of mystery?

Psychological. I’m more interested in examining why something happened rather than making a mystery of who or how.

Tell us where and when your book is set.

A Time For Silence is set mostly in North Pembrokeshire, in two periods. The chapters alternate between Sarah’s story, set in the present day, and her grandmother Gwen’s story, set in the 30s and 40s.

Please introduce us to Sarah.

Sarah is a young woman who apparently has everything – good career with prospects, high-flying fiancé – but in reality she’s completely lost her way. She’s looking for an escape and she finds it when she comes across her grandparents’ derelict farmhouse and discovers a family secret that she’d known nothing about.

Can you tell us a bit about Gwen and John?

Gwen belongs to a completely different world that Sarah, decades later, can’t begin to understand. Society, religion and economic necessity have placed her in a cramped and subservient position as the wife of John Owen and she thinks her guiding principle is duty, though in reality it’s pride. Her husband John struggles to survive as the tenant of a tiny farm. His proud determination is seen as a sterling virtue by the local community, but it’s the front of an obsessive controlling personality. As his wife and mother of his children, Gwen knows what lies beneath the surface.

What is the mystery element in this book?

John Owen was murdered. No one was ever charged. No one speaks about it. For Sarah, the mystery is who did it and how did they get away with it. The mystery, for the reader, is how it could have been allowed to happen and how it was all buried.

What inspired some of the ideas for the storyline?

Two local stories. There’s a derelict cottage near me, and I was told (never confirmed) that a crime was committed there and everyone, including the police, knew about it but nothing was done. What intrigued me was the idea of a society so closed and isolated that such blanket secrecy could be possible. I found the other story in a 1950s newspaper: a magistrates’ court report, concerning a young girl who was up before the bench for the ‘wicked crime’ of attempting suicide. Her explanation was brushed aside as a lie. Yet, reading between the lines, it was clear the magistrates did believe her but couldn’t openly acknowledge something that would undermine their understanding of the way society worked. That may sound too cryptic, but I don’t want to give the whole book away.

Tell us what you are working on at the moment.

I’m just waiting for the final edit of my second book, Motherlove, which will be published in February. It’s less focussed on Pembrokeshire, but like A Time For Silence, it’s split between periods – the present day and 1990. There’s a crime that’s just as bad as murder, but is there really a criminal? After that, I’m working on a couple of mysteries, both set in Pembrokeshire.

Where can readers find out more about you?

thornemoore

I have a website: www.thornemoore.co.uk, which has links to several interviews, as well as lots of photos of North Pembrokeshire, just to set the scene. I also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/thornemoorenovelist

My Twitter account is @ThorneMoore

Buying links:

UK.

Honno Press: http://www.honno.co.uk/dangos.php?ISBN=9781906784454

Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Time-Silence-A-Thorne-Moore/dp/1906784450/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1384095395&sr=8-1 (sorry, is the link really that long?)

Waterstones: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/thorne+moore/a+time+for+silence/9226207/

USA

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Time-Silence-Thorne-Moore/dp/1906784450/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413530501&sr=1-3&keywords=a+time+for+silence

Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-time-for-silence-thorne-moore/1113608839?ean=9781906784454

Mystery Book Tour Day 28 #MysteryNovember Eden’s Garden by Juliet Greenwood

 

November Mystery Tour

Welcome to today’s guest on the mystery November book tour, Juliet Greenwood and her book Eden’s Garden.

eden's_garden_cover:Layout 1

Where is your home town?

I live in a traditional quarryman’s cottage on the edges of a village in Snowdonia in North Wales, halfway between Conwy Castle and the romantic island of Anglesey. I lived and worked in London for several years, so I certainly appreciate the peace and quiet! It’s a very traditional village with one or two outrageous characters, and many an intriguing story to tell…

How long have you been writing?  

All my life! I was first inspired by Rosemary Sutcliffe and wrote my first rip-roaring historical (set in Saxon times) at the age of ten, and never looked back. It’s taken me a long time to be actually published and begin to be the writer I want to be. It’s been a long learning curve, and I still feel I’m at the beginning, but I feel that it’s vital to the making of a long-term career as a writer.

What is your favourite sub-genre of mystery?

I love cosies (I’m squeamish) and historical mysteries. I love Miss Marple, who is still my comfort reading, Sara Waters and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody murder mysteries set in Victorian Egypt starting with ‘The Crocodile on the Sandbank’ – may Amelia wield her trusty umbrella against cads and rascalians forever! Some of my favourite classics are Wilkie Collins and Dickens’ ‘Bleak House’ – Inspector Bucket is still my favourite detective.

Tell us where and when Eden’s Garden is set.

The story of Eden’s Garden moves between Cornwall and Wales, with a touch of London in between. It’s a timeshift, with two parallel stories taking place in contemporary and Victorian times.

Can you introduce us to Carys?

Carys is the heroine of the modern story. When we first meet her, she is in her thirties and at a crossroads in her life. She returns to her home village to look after her mother as she recovers from a fall, and finds herself becoming a historical sleuth to solve a mystery from the past. The story she uncovers challenges her own choices, and changes her future forever.

What is Plas Eden, who did she know there?

Plas Eden is a rambling old house on the outskirts of a village in southern Snowdonia. It is the ancestral home of the Meredith family and holds many memories, not least a collection of mysterious statues in its overgrown grounds that set Carys off on her journey of discovery into the past. As a child, Carys had been drawn into Plas Eden and the lives of the Merediths after a family tragedy. As she returns, she meets up again with her teenage sweetheart, David Meredith, who is trying to save the estate. But Plas Eden is haunted by past secrets, ones that threaten to destroy everything Carys and David hold dear….

Now tell us about Ann, please

Ann is the heroine of the Victorian strand of the mystery. We first meet her on Westminster Bridge, a young woman wracked with grief and guilt, who is has lost everything and feels she has nothing to live for. At the last minute, instead of throwing herself in the river, she makes her way to the nearby Meredith Charity Hospital, where her story becomes intertwined with that of Plas Eden and the Meredith family.

What is Carys looking for as she follows Ann’s trail?

Carys and David travel to Cornwall to try and uncover the story behind the mysterious statues, hoping to find a way of saving Plas Eden. As they begin to uncover the past, they are drawn into an increasingly terrifying story of love and betrayal, of redemption and the enduring power of female friendship.

Tell us what you are working on at the moment.

I’m writing my next historical mystery, this time set in Devon and London in the years between ‘Eden’s Garden’ and ‘We That are Left’, just before the First World War. It has a rambling old house, greed, betrayal and love – and maybe even a brick-wielding suffragette or two….

Where can readers find out more about you?

Juliet in Brondanw

 

‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012

Finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, May 2014

Amazon Kindle #5 June 2014

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Edens-Garden-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/1906784353

US: http://www.amazon.com/Edens-Garden-Juliet-Greenwood-ebook/dp/B007W4E68Y/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0BYS2TAADCR6KXW9Z34N

‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014

The Welsh Books Council’s Book of the Month, March 2014

The National Museum of Wales Book of the Month, March 2014

Waterstones Wales Book of the Month March, 2014

Amazon Kindle #4 May 2014

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/That-Are-Left-Juliet-Greenwood/dp/190678499X

US: http://www.amazon.com/That-are-Left-Juliet-Greenwood-ebook/dp/B00FVECG5W/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413531668&sr=8-1&keywords=We+that+are+left

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

Blog:               http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/

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

Twitter:           https://twitter.com/julietgreenwood

 

Midnight Sky by Jan Ruth

Midnight SkyMidnight Sky by Jan Ruth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Midnight Sky has a lovely rural setting in North Wales near Snowdonia, with a smaller minor setting in Chester. Laura Brown lives with her partner Simon and together they run Dragon Designs. They are property developers.

Laura’s sister Maggie lives at Hafod House in North Wales and invites Laura to her birthday party where she meets locals Liz and James Morgan-Jones who run a stable yard. They have some cottages that need modernising and making profitable, Maggie hopes Laura can land the job for them but James is a difficult person to get on with and they start off on a bad foot.

There are some wonderful engaging characters in this book to get behind, Maggie’s daughter Ellie is mildly autistic and learning to ride is an ideal therapy for her. Whilst her older sister Jess is wild, out-spoken and has a major crush on James. Maggie herself is wonderfully protective of all her brood and will go to great lengths for them all.

Then there is Simon, Laura’s partner, struggling through a divorce with a demanding ex-wife and children who take up much of his time and energy. Yet nothing prepares you for the harrowing heart-ache that James is suffering and only Laura can penetrate the walls of mental protection he has built when she becomes equally as vulnerable in her own life.

This book mixes rough, rugged Welsh countryside with a busy horse-yard, property developing and interior design, plus the all important possibility of romance to make your heart melt.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com Just 77p or $1.24 for a limited period

View all my reviews on Goodreads