Book Review: The Secrets of Rochester Place by Iris Costello #RochesterPlace @CostelloStories @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks



Spring 1937: Teresa is evacuated to London in the wake of the Guernica bombing. She thinks she’s found safety in the soothing arms of Mary Davidson and the lofty halls of Rochester Place, but trouble pursues her wherever she goes.

Autumn 2020: Corrine, an emergency dispatcher, receives a call from a distressed woman named Mary. But when the ambulance arrives at the address, Mary is nowhere to be found. Intrigued, Corinne investigates and, in doing so, disturbs secrets that have long-dwelt in Rochester Place’s crumbling walls. Secrets that, once revealed, will change her life for ever . . .

Who is Mary Davidson? And what happened at Rochester Place all those years ago?

My Review

The story begins in 1937 when we meet 10 year old Theresa who is in the process of being evacuated to London due to the Guernica bombing leaving behind her only family her older sister. Theresa meets Mary Davidson during her journey and moves with Mary to Rochester Place, Mary’s home. Fast forward to 2020 and emergency services operator Corrine is just finishing her shift when she receives a call from a woman called Mary requesting help at Rochester Place. Although Corrine dispatches an ambulance to the address she is informed that Rochester Place does not exist. However, the phone call haunts Corrine. Who is the woman that called Corrine and what happened at Rochester Place all those years ago. Corrine takes it upon herself to uncover the truth and unearths a number of secrets along the way.

I found this to be a very interesting read. I know very little about the Guernica bombing during the Spanish Civil war so after reading the first few chapters from Theresa’s perspective I did a little online research to learn a bit more and what Theresa may have been faced with at the time. From my perspective Theresa is a very brave young girl. She leaves her country for another where she is unfamiliar with the language and customs. Whilst reading I would sometimes forget that Theresa was only 10 years old because at times she seemed very grown up for her age.

The story is told from multiple narratives but also features a dual timeline. In the present Corrine is trying to come to terms with the mysterious phone call and trying to find out what happened to Rochester Place and its occupants. In the past Theresa is coming to terms with being separated from her sister, living in a new place and hoping that one day she can return home. Although Theresa is very young she is probably one of the characters with the most life experience. Essentially she is a young child who in a short period of time experiences not one war but two wars. She is evacuated from Spain during the Spanish Civil War, finds a home in Rochester Place and then the next event is the Second World War. From Mary’s narrative we learn more about her background, marriage to Ronald, how she came into contact with Theresa and became her guardian.

What I liked about the story was that it was like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. With each chapter a new perspective was given like a little piece of the puzzle and by the end of the book I had all of the pieces forming the bigger picture. Looking back at the story now I still don’t think I would have been able to piece the story together or predict how it would end or even how the characters were connected.

It’s clear from the way the book is written and the detail contained in the story that the author has done a lot of research into the events that took place in 1937 to the Second World War. The author has bought to the attention of readers the experiences faced by the Basque children when they were evacuated.

A story of intrigue and mystery set in a wartime setting.

Author Bio

Iris Costello is the pseudonym of Nuala Ellwood, who was born in 1979. She has a BA Hons degree in Sociology from Durham University and a Master’s in Creative Writing from York St John University where she is a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing. The author of six highly acclaimed novels, Nuala has a teenage son, Luke, and is based in York and South London.


Book Review: Over My Dead Body by Sweeney Boo #OverMyDeadBody @Sweeney_Boo @ComicsTitan


In the days leading up to Samhain, the veil between the world of the dead and the living is at its thinnest.

One day, everything was exactly as it was supposed to be. And the next, the closest thing Abby ever had to a sister, Noreen, was just… gone.

Distracted by the annual preparations for the Samhain festival, Abby’s classmates are quick to put Noreen’s disappearance aside. The Coven will find her, Abby’s friends say. They have it under control.

But Abby can’t let it go. Soon a search for answers leads her down a rabbit hole that uncovers more secrets than Abby can handle. As mounting evidence steers her toward the off-limits woods that surround the academy, she begins to see that Noreen’s disappearance mysteriously has a lot in common with another girl who went missing all those years ago…

My Review

Another academic year at the Younwity Hidden Institute of Witchcraft has started and Abigail hasn’t gotten off to the best start. Abigail is late for assembly and then she learns that her mentee Noreen is missing. In order to try and find Noreen Abigail, Goldie and Enver conduct a spell which appears to suggest that Noreen may be in the Untamed Woods which are dangerous and also forbidden. Legend has it that many years ago another student went into the woods and was never seen again. Abigail takes it upon herself to find out what happened to Noreen and rescue her if she is there. During her search for Noreen Abigail will uncover secrets that have been buried for many years.

I have been looking forward to reading this graphic novel since it first came on my radar. It was the perfect cross between the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Dark Academia and The Craft. I really enjoyed the storyline. The story starts off with a missing student and then a new layer of secrets is added making the story even more intriguing and a little sinister. Abigail as a character despite her age is strong, courageous and focused. Her friends are her family and so when one goes missing she is determined to find them. Initially Abigail appeared quiet but when she confronted her roommate Violet it was as if she found her inner strength and her voice.

The author has done a fantastic job in writing the story but also creating the illustrations. I have to say I loved the illustrations because they made the school come to life because they were so detailed. The quotes from William Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe at the start of a new chapter were also a really nice touch. This is definitely a graphic novel that I will be reading again or revisiting just to appreciate the illustrations.

If you like witches and witchcraft I would highly recommend this YA graphic novel.

Author & Illustrator Bio

Sweeney Boo is a comic artist and illustrator living in Montreal, Canada.
When she’s not busy drawing witchy girls and hairless cats, she works with various publishers including BOOM! Studios, Archie Comics, IDW, Marvel, Image Comics and DC Comics. She is also the author and illustrator of graphic novel Eat, & Love Yourself, and of her next anticipated one Over My Dead Body out with Harper Collins in August 2022.

Cover Reveal: The Venice Street by Anita Chapman #TheVeniceSecret @neetschapman @rararesources


One hidden painting. Two women born centuries apart. A secret uncovered.

In 2019, Rachel is stuck in a rut when she discovers what appears to be a Canaletto painting in her grandmother’s loft along with a note addressed to Philippa in 1782. With help from Jake at the local art gallery, Rachel endeavours to find out if the painting is an original and uncovers a secret from the past.

In 1780, governess at Chipford Hall, Philippa is offered the role of mistress by Earl Rupert. She escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia who reveals a secret that changes both their lives. They do their best to keep the secret from Lady Cordelia’s social circle, but their nemesis is determined to reveal all and ruin them.

Pre-order Link:

Publication Date: 7th March 2023

Author Bio

Anita Chapman enjoyed writing stories from a young age, and won a local writing competition when she was nine years old. Encouraged by this, she typed up a series of stories about a mouse on her mum’s typewriter and sent them to Ladybird. She received a polite rejection letter, her first.

Many of Anita’s summers growing up were spent with her family driving to Italy, and she went on to study French and Italian at university. As part of her degree, Anita lived in Siena for several months where she studied and au paired, and she spent a lot of time travelling around Italy in her twenties. 

Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. Her first published novel, The Venice Secret is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child. 

Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books. She’s run several courses in London and York, and has worked as a tutor at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College.

Social Media Links – 


Twitter: @neetschapman

Facebook Page: Anita Chapman Author

Instagram: @neetschapman

Tik Tok: @neetschapman

Spotlight: The Cottage in the Highlands by Julie Shackman @G13Julie @rararesources


When Leonie Baxter finds herself out of a job and out of a relationship, she’s at her wits end. Her life has just been turned upside down and she needs a plan, fast.

By chance, on a walk with her rescue puppy, Leonie stumbles across a striking house in the woods; fully furnished but unoccupied. As a journalist, she is determined to find out more, after all, reporting is in her nature.

But her attempts are thwarted by Lily Cruickshank who lives in the cottage next door. Why won’t Lily help Leonie? And who is the mysterious Flynn Talbot, whose letter Leonie finds inside the house?

And in uncovering the secrets of the abandoned house, will Leonie open her own heart and let love back into her life?

The brand new escapist story from the bestselling author of A Secret Scottish Escape and A Scottish Highland Surprise, for fans of Jo Thomas, Trisha Ashley and Cathy Bramley.

Purchase Links:

UK –


Author Bio

Julie Shackman is a former journalist from Scotland, who has always wanted to write feel-good romance. As well as being an author, Julie also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies. Julie admits to having an obsession with stationery and handbags. She is married, has two sons and has a Romanian rescue puppy, Cooper. The Cottage in the Highlands is Julie’s seventh novel.

Social Media Links

Spotlight: One Night With Her Viking Warrior by Sarah Rodi #OneNightWithHerVikingWarrior @sarahrodiedits @MillsandBoon @rararesources


Her forbidden love is back to claim her!

Once Lady Rebekah shared a life changing night with stable hand Raeden but he disappeared the morning after. Now she’s consort to a cruel Saxon Lord, and when Northmen lay siege to Ryestone Keep, Rebekah’s shocked to see Raeden leading the charge! This Viking warrior is not the man she remembers, yet she finds herself drawn to him again. Taken as his hostage, Rebekah must decide: can she trust him with her life…and her dangerous secret?

Purchase Links

Or pre-order from Amazon, out 22nd December –

Author Bio

Sarah Rodi has always been a hopeless romantic. She grew up watching old, romantic movies recommended by her grandad, or devouring love stories from the local library. Sarah lives in the village of Cookham in Berkshire, where she enjoys walking along the River Thames with her
husband, her two daughters and their dog. She has been a magazine journalist for over 20 years, but it has been her lifelong dream to write romance for Mills & Boon. Sarah believes everyone deserves to find their happy ever after.

You can contact her via @sarahrodiedits or Or visit her website at
Social Media Links – @sarahrodiedits
Follow Sara Rodi on Twitter –

Book Review: The Gentleman Of Holly Street by Lotte R. James #TheGentlemanOfHollyStreet @lottejamesbooks @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks @rararesources


Will this Christmas…

Change their lives again?

When self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a
life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?

Purchase Link –

My Review

When Freddie first stepped foot into the property on Holly Street that he had recently acquired his plans were to set up a shop. But what he got was so much more when he encountered Philomena (Mena). Mena was clearly in trouble and instead of turning her away he took her in, gave her shelter, food and a home. What was a temporary situation then changed into something more permanent. Eight years later Freddie and Mena have continued to stay together becoming a central part of each other’s lives. But are Freddie and Mena more than friends? As secrets from their past start to come to light is there a future for Freddie and Mena.

I knew from the first page that there was something special about this book. In the opening chapter there was the most perfect description of a Victorian snow filled street and flecks of falling snow highlighted by gas lamps. I felt like I was with Freddie and seeing everything that he was seeing. I’ve not read a historical romance that featured a will they won’t they trope and it made me realise how much I missed reading this trope. I really enjoyed the storyline. Although the storyline is largely based around a budding romance between Freddie and Mena it also included a sense of mystery around the pasts of the characters.

I really liked Freddie and Mena. Freddie I would describe as an honourable noble dashing hero and to me that is what he is after he saves Mena. He sees something in Mena that he recognises in himself that they both have come from a troubled and difficult backgrounds. Instead of giving Mena a home for one night he gives her the opportunity to better herself. I really liked Mena as a character. There was just something about her that felt like she was a fighter and she would never give up. It was interesting to see Mena’s character evolve and the driving force behind her evolving is Freddie. Freddie changed her life so she decides to help others and pass on the opportunities that were given to her.

In each other Freddie and Mena find a place of belonging. To the outside world they have a very unconventional relationship with no name but to them it works and it’s their normal. They’re comfortable with each other but there is a simmering tension between them that bubbles to the surface which is more than friendship or affection; its love but neither of them have the courage to say it aloud. Freddie feels that if he speaks his true feelings this will hold Mena back from what she could have achieved as in his eyes he believes that Mena only stayed because she feels indebted to him. For Mena this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mena doesn’t want to leave because she is comfortable where she is and because she has strong feelings for him. She believes that because they are from two different worlds and stations in life that she and Freddie could never be together. As for the ending it was everything I hoped it would be and I was so pleased that Freddie and Mena got their happily ever after.

A heart-warming Christmas story about love and new beginnings.

Author Bio

Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a book.

Social Media Links –

Spotlight: The Vanishing of Margaret Small by Neil Alexander #TheVanishingOfMargaretSmall @neilalexander_ @emblabooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n


Meet Margaret Small: 75, plain spoken and a Cilla Black super fan. Shortly after the death of her idol, Margaret begins receiving sums of money in the post, signed simply ‘C’.

She is convinced it must be Cilla, but how can it be? To solve the mystery of her benefactor Margaret must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.

An absorbing and page-turning mystery with a dual timeline, The Vanishing of Margaret Small takes readers into a fascinating past, and introduces an unforgettable literary heroine.

Author Bio

Neil is a graduate of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, taught by Esther Freud and Tim Lott.

His first book, The Vanishing Of Margaret Small (Embla Books, publishing Oct 2022) tells the story of 75 year-old Margaret. After the death of her idol Cilla Black, she begins receiving sums of money in the post from an unknown sender who simply signs-off as ‘C’. Margaret is convinced they are somehow being sent from Cilla! To solve the mystery, she must go back in her memories almost 70 years, to the time when she was ‘vanished’ to a long-stay institution for children with learning disabilities.

Much of the inspiration for Neil’s first book came directly from the voices of people with a learning disability, and the incredibly moving first person accounts of living in long stay institutions, which he heard while working for Mencap. As the charity’s Artist Liaison Manager, he was instrumental in bringing BBC Radio 2 presenter, Jo Whiley, on board as a brand ambassador (Jo’s older sister, Frances, is disabled). Together, with a small team, they created Little Noise Sessions, an annual series of acoustic gigs held at the Union Chapel, Islington (and later St John at Hackney church), to raise money for the charity. During the festival’s hugely successful 8-year run, Neil worked very closely with Jo to secure acts such as Coldplay, The Killers, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Noel Gallagher and Florence and the Machine. Neil began his career working in health journalism and occasionally still writes for newspapers and magazines. He has also had poems published in MagmaThe Interpreter’s House and Southbank Poetry, and in 2013 his pamphlet 9 Blows to the Head was shortlisted for the Pighog Poetry Prize. He is a regular performer at LGBT literary salon Polari at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Neil currently teaches English at a Secondary School in South East London and is working on his second novel, publishing in 2023 by Embla Books.

Spotlight: Hearts of Ice And Stone by Martin Dukes #HeartsOfIceAndStone #hyggebooktours @MartinDukes5 @hyggebooktours @WeAreProvoco


A literary gothic fantasy that will chill you to the core, Think Jane Austin meets Stephen King.

Laura never realised that she was different, or that she was touched in some way by the heavens, until she first set foot, contrary to all law and tradition, within the portals of Darkharrow. Here, in the remote Eastings of Britannia, far from the wealth and the power of London, the dead lie sleeping beneath the ancient towers and cloisters of the great abbey. For some, destiny dictates that their long slumber shall endure until the last trump sounds and all the dead shall rise from their graves, but for some the care of the CamalodoliteOrder shall reawaken them long before that day. No one has ever been able to look upon the countenances of the departed and tell whether they may be awakened, whether their hearts are of ice or of stone – until now.

Caught between the competing affections of those who love her, threatened by those who would destroy her, Laura finds herself enmeshed in a web of conspiracy that draws upon her deepest resources and enforces choices upon her that are of the most momentous kind.P

Published 24 November 2022

Buy links: – UK – US

Author Bio

I’ve always been a writer. It’s not a choice. It’s a compulsion,and I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Lots of childish scribbles in notebooks, lots of rejection slips from publishers and agents testify to a craft long in the making. In addition, it has proved necessary to earn a living by other means whilst those vital skills mature. 

For thirty-eight years I taught Art and Graphic Design, thirty-seven of them in a wonderful independent girls’ school in Birmingham, UK. For much of the latter part of this career I was Head of Department, which gave me the opportunity to place my own stamp on Art education there, sharing with the pupils there my own love of Art and the History of Art. Over a decade I was able to lead annual visits to Florence, Venice and Rome (some of my favourite places on the planet) as destinations on my Renaissance Tour. These visits created memories that I shall cherish for the rest of my life.

I love history in general, reading history as much as I read fiction. I have a particular interest in the ancient world, but I am also fascinated with medieval times and with European history in general. This interest informs my own writing to the extent that human relationships and motivations are a constant throughout the millennia, and there is scarcely a story that could be conceived of that has not already played itself out in some historical context. There is much to learn from observing and understanding such things, much that can be usefully applied to my own work.

Teaching tends to be a rather time-consuming activity. Since retiring, I have been able to devote much more of my time to writing and being taken on by the brilliant Jane Murray of Provoco Publishing has meant that I am finally able to bring my work to the reading public’s attention. I like to think that my ideas are original and that they do not readily fall into existing tropes and categories.

I am not a particularly physical being. I was always terrible at sport and have rather poor physical coordination (as though my body were organised by a committee rather than a single guiding intelligence!). I tend to treat my body as a conveyance for my head, which is where I really dwell.

My arrival at this stage could hardly be describes as precocious. However, at the age of sixty-two, I feel that I have arrived at a place where I can create work of value that others may appreciate and enjoy. 


Martin Dukes is married to Linda, and they have two sons. Recently retired, Martin now writes full time for ProvocoPublishing, in between sojourns abroad, reading and daydreaming.

Cover Reveal: My Spanish Romance: Falling For My Brother’s Best Friend… by Olivia Spring #MySpanishRomance @ospringauthor @rararesources


Dating her brother’s best friend is against the rules. 

But some rules are meant to be broken…

After discovering her cheating ex’s plans to move into her building, accountant Lily jets off on a sabbatical to Marbella. 

When she unexpectedly bumps into her brother’s best friend, hot Spanish DJ Carlos—the guy she’s had a crush on since forever—sparks fly. 

But Carlos promised Lily’s brother he’d never mess with his little sister. Breaking the bro code would end their friendship. 

Lily knows that Casanova Carlos doesn’t do relationships, so all he could offer is a steamy holiday fling. And after wanting him for so long, if they spent the night together, Lily’s heart and body might never recover.

She tries to suppress her feelings, but when Carlos takes Lily to his favourite places in Spain, the attraction becomes harder to resist. With her brother hundreds of miles away, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt, right?

Should Lily throw caution to the wind and risk heartbreak by enjoying a sizzling Spanish romance? And if she does, will it lead to long-term love? 

Order this fun, steamy, brother’s-best-friend, forbidden love romcom now and join Lily in Spain to find out!

Read as a standalone novel or as part of the My Ten-Year Crush series.

Pre-order Links

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Publication Date: 19th January 2023

Author Bio

Olivia Spring is a British, London-based writer of contemporary women’s fiction, sexy chick lit and romantic comedy. Her uplifting debut novel The Middle-Aged Virgin, which was released in 2018, deals with being newly single in your thirties and beyond, dating, relationships, love, sex and living life to the full.

In addition to The Middle-Aged Virgin, Olivia has published The Middle-Aged Virgin in Italy, Love Offline, Losing My Inhibitions, Only When It’s Love and the sequel When’s The Wedding?

My Ten-Year Crush, Olivia’s seventh novel, marked the start of a new series in 2021. My Lucky Night and My Paris Romance followed soon afterwards and book four, My Spanish Romance will be published in January 2023.

When she’s not writing, Olivia can be found enjoying cupcakes and cocktails and of course, seeking inspiration for her next book!

Social Media Links –

Book Review: A Murder At The Castle by Chris McGeorge #AMurderAtTheCastle @crmcgeorge @orion_crime @Tr4cyF3nt0n


During a violent snowstorm, the Royal Family gather at the Castle for a traditional Christmas together. Amid rumours that he plans to name a new successor, King Eric stands to make his traditional after-dinner speech. He sips from a glass of his favourite whisky- and drops dead.

The king has been poisoned, and only one of the royals could have done the deed. Trapped by the raging blizzard, it is up to Eric’s beloved head chef, Jonathan Alleyne, to play detective and get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

Jon is determined to expose the truth, even if it puts him in grave danger, and threatens to shake the entire monarchy to its core…

My Review

The Royal Family have gathered at Balmoral Castle to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is King Eric’s favourite holiday and he loves spending time with his family away from everyone. He has sent all his staff away apart from Jonathan (Jon) his head chef and his security guard. However, this is a Christmas that the Royal Family will not easily forget because it will be their last Christmas with King Eric. Shortly after King Eric gives his personal speech to his family he takes a sip of his favourite whiskey and dies. But who killed King Eric and why? It’s now Jon’s role to uncover the truth.

I really love Christmas books but I’ve not read a Christmas book like this before. I really enjoyed the storyline. It was a classic whodunit that I can only describe as a cross between Poirot, Jonathan Creek and Cluedo. The written style of the book is very descriptive and whilst reading I did feel like I was in Balmoral with the Royal Family and following Jon during his investigation. Although Jon might not have wanted the investigator role he was the best person for the job because he is impartial and because be works out very quickly that it was definitely a member of the Royal Family that killed King Eric because from the point the whiskey was opened and placed in the dining room each member of the family were alone with the whiskey at some point. I really like the interviewing aspect in the book where Jon would speak to each family member individually to try and find out their movements leading up to the dinner but also try to work out potential motives. I really liked Jon as a character. He was clever, inquisitive and loyal to his King. The initial interaction between Jon and King Eric was really warm and it was clear that they had a friendship in addition to their employer/employee relationship. I think it was this friendship and Jon’s loyalty that spurred him on in his investigation to find the culprit. I can honestly say I had no clue who the killer was and when they were revealed it completely caught me off guard.

There were nods to the current Royal Family which I recognised. The author has created quite a unique concept in this book and an alternative timeline where King Eric is a direct descendent of Edward VIII. In this alternate reality Edward VIII did not give up the throne for love, continued his duty as King and did not leave the Royal Family.

The perfect cosy Christmas crime novel.

Author Bio

Chris McGeorge studied MA Creative Writing (Crime/Thriller) at City University London where he wrote his first novel as his thesis. His interests are broad – spanning film, books, theatre and video games. He is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate, a supergroup of writers from Northern England. He lives in County Durham with his partner and many, many animals.He can be found on Twitter at @crmcgeorge.