The Duke’s Embrace by Erica Ridley

Unpaid and under-appreciated journalist Miss Eve Shelling never goes anywhere without a trusty notebook and her overprotective Duenna—who happens to be a bullmastiff. Eve learned the hard way that men are not to be trusted. She’s definitely not falling head-over-heels for the deceptively charming subject of her front-page column.

Local blacksmith Monsieur Sébastien le Duc is the pillar of his community—when he’s not pillaging elsewhere. He’s a rakish dandy with a heart of stolen gold and two teeny tiny secrets. One happens to be a wee international smuggling operation. The other involves losing his heart to an ambitious journalist determined to expose the truth at any cost…

Another Christmassy book which I read just after Christmas, so it felt a little strange reading this, but never mind!

I loved the chemistry between the two main characters Eve and Sebastien. I felt it was perhaps a little predictable but sometimes it’s nice to have that! There was a it of mystery behind the characters which I really enjoyed.

As this was only a novella, I felt there may have been parts of the story which could have been expanded a little, but the majority of it was explored and described appropriately.

This is part of a 12 part series of stories 12 Dukes of Christmas, which I have made a note to explore at a later date.

This is another story which I’ve added to my “read this next Christmas” list, because I really believe this would be a lot better at the appropriate time of year!

 

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie

Holly Banks could not have made a worse first impression on the seemingly perfect mums in her new affluent community, the Village of Primm. Turns out wearing pink piggy pyjama bottoms while dropping off her kindergartener late to the first day of school wasn’t her best look.

Not to mention Holly’s worried her husband may be having an affair, she can’t get her daughter to stop sucking her thumb, her hard-won film degree is collecting dust, and to top it all off, the power-hungry PTA president clearly has it in for her…

To make matters even worse, Holly’s natural eye for drama lands her smack-dab in the middle of a neighbourhood mystery—right as her own crazy mother shows up in Primm “to help.” Through it all, Holly begins to realise her neighbours may be just as flawed as—and even wackier than—she is, leaving her to wonder: Is there such a thing as a perfect mum?

I don’t often read American based novels, not for any reason other than I don’t really think to read them, so I was intrigued to read this one.

I found it a little difficult to relate to this sometimes due to the location and also as I’m not yet a mother, I can’t really relate to the mother side of the story. I also found it a little difficult to connect to the characters as I didn’t really like any of them that much. Having said that, I enjoyed it and managed to finish the book. I’ve never seen Desperate Housewives, but the story was exactly how I imagine the show is. Please correct me if I’m wrong if anyone has both read this and watched Desperate Housewives!

This was well paced and held my attention. It wasn’t exactly a minute by minute thriller, but that’s not really what you want with this genre.

Generally I found this uplifting and amusing, and even when I felt a little frustrated with the characters, I still wanted to see what happened to them all in the end. Overall, I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in the genre, but don’t read this if you don’t like feeling angry with characters. I mean, the word angst is even in the title of this book!

 

Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

Last winter she had a plan.

Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.

But a year can change everything . . .

Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B, but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .

Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?

Curl up with a cosy winter read that fans of Trisha Ashley and Carole Matthews will love.

I would say Christmas 2019 is now well and truly over, but that hasn’t stopped me from reading a lovely festive read over the last few days.

This story focuses on the side of Christmas people often forget – the love and affection of families, friends and lovers. The characters are likeable and relatable and I found it easy to envisage them as real people.

I do wish I had read this on the build up to Christmas as I imagine this to be very cosy in front of the Christmas tree. However I still enjoyed this after the season was over. I would definitely recommend reading this in December but I also think it was good any time of the year – okay maybe a little strange in August, but you know what I mean.

I have never read anything  from this author before, but after reading this I would like to see more. I have also already reserved this for next year in my Christmas reading list to ensure I read this at the right time of year! It was delightfully heart warming and I am already looking forward to Christmas 2020 to read it again!

The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler

The perfect couple…or the perfect lie?

A year and a half ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been like something out of a dream. But one Friday evening, Gemma returns home to find Danny is nowhere to be seen.

After two days with no word from her husband, Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified by what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees the photos of the victims she is even more stunned…they all look just like Danny.

But, the police aren’t convinced by Gemma’s story. Why has no one apart from Gemma seen or heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?

Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Shari Lapena and Lisa Jewell

I haven’t read anything from this author before, but I feel after reading this I need to investigate more!

The characters were very well thought out and realistic, and they all had their own flaws and story-lines which is always something I’ve enjoyed in the books I’ve read previously.

The whole story was very exciting and held my interest very well. I was intrigued to see what would happen next and found it only took me a couple of sittings to complete.

This story has made me very keen to find more psychological thrillers and I definitely think this is a great example of one.

One other thing of note is that the story is based in Bristol, which is a city I know well. It was nice to see a story based there, rather than in London or Cornwall (nothing against stories based there, but I see there are an awful lot based there!)

Publication date : 17th April 2020

Publisher: Harper Impulse and Killer Reads

Book Blast – Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell

When you know how, you can make anything from scratch, including a new life after love…

When Leanne and Richard bought a dilapidated old seaside cottage to renovate together as their forever home, their future was full of hope and promise.

But heartbreak was just around the corner: fast forward a few months and Richard is gone. With his death, Leanne finds herself stony broke, faced with an unhabitable home and lacking even the basic skills to do it up herself.

With the help of the friendly woman who runs the library and the reluctant assistance of the mane who works in the local hardware shop, the cottage is lovingly restored. But broken hearts aren’t easy to fix…are they?

This is a lovely book which made me feel all fuzzy despite the winter weather. Although this was perhaps a tiny bit predictable or unbelievable in places, it was nice to have a little predictability and unbelief in my life.

I love easy to read novels which are based in places that are different to what I’m used to, and this fits that bill. I’ve never lived by the sea but always sort of wanted to, so this was the perfect way for me to fantasise about that. There is a strong sense of community within the characters of the book and I really felt I was one of the team. I know it’s not quite the same, but it did remind me a little of the BBC programme DIY SOS! A large community of people gathering together for each other to make life just that little happier and easier to deal with.

There is a lot of sadness throughout, but generally this is a very uplifting, life affirming story and I would recommend this if you need a pick me up and you’re feeling low.

Publication Date: 9th January

Publisher: Quercus Books

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Little Boy Lost by JP Carter

Innocence is no protection against evil…

One early October afternoon, ten-year-old Jacob Rossi begins the short walk home from school. But he never makes it.
 
Days later, DCI Anna Tate is called to the scene of a burning building, where an awful discovery has been made. A body has been found, and the label in his school blazer reads: J. Rossi.
 
As Anna starts digging, she soon learns that a lot of people had grudges against the boy’s father. But would any of them go so far as to take his son?

And is the boy’s abductor closer than she thinks?

I haven’t read anything from this author before, but after this introduction I’m going to make a note to find more titles by her in the future. I feel that my enjoyment of this book would have been a lot higher if I’d read more from the series, because I feel there would be a bigger dimension to my understanding of the characters. Having said that, I did enjoy this and firmly believe this works well as a standalone book.

I found the characters realistic as they’re flawed in their own ways. It was nice to see the main protagonist as a “human” with real problems and emotions, rather than the somewhat robotic detectives you sometimes find with these sort of books. I thought it was easy to sympathise with her too as her issues were also shown as part of the plot.

I also found this relatively fast paced, occasionally it slowed a little but in a way it’s nice to have that as a sort of break in between the action.

I would recommend this book for crime fans, but I think it would be wise to read the first two books before this to get a better understanding of the characters. I plan to as soon as I’m able to!

Liar Liar by Mel Sherratt

The truth can be a dangerous thing…

When a young boy falls from a balcony in a block of flats, DS Grace Allendale witnesses the shocking aftermath of the tragic event. But strangely, no one will admit to seeing anything – and the parents will only tell the police that it was an accident.
 
Determined to sort the truth from the lies, Grace is thrown into a case that takes her to the darkest corners of the criminal world – and strikes closer to home than she could have ever imagined…

I’ve never read any books by Mel Sherratt before, but this was a great introduction to her work and has definitely piqued my interest in reading more by her! This was full of tension, suspense and surprise and very dark (basically my ideal story).

The plot flips between past and present which sometimes I find a little confusing (usually this is the case if I take a break in between chapters!), but this wasn’t used in a frivolous way and I thought it was used in an appropriate way. In fact in this context it added to the story, as you find out how the past has led to the present.

I found the writing in this very easy to understand and follow. It was interesting enough to keep my attention and wasn’t too descriptive, as to take away from the action.

I have seen this is a series which follows DC Grace Allendale, and after reading this I’m definitely interested in reading more. I can imagine this would be even better if you’ve read the others, as there may be character traits which are revealed in other stories but not this one.

I would recommend this for anyone who has a taste for dark twisty crime novels, as this is a great example of one.

Publication date: 10th February 2020

Publisher: Avon Books UK