Book Review: An Italian Scandal by Cecil Cameron #AnItalianScandal #CecilCameron @HarperNorthUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

A captivating story of romance, passion and adventure set in nineteenth century London and Italy.

London 1859. Carina Temple has put away the stifling black crepe demanded by the death of her father – but with it she has also cast aside society’s expectations of what a single young lady should be and do.

When Carina’s uncle summons her to Belgrave Square to inform her that her reputation is ruined, thanks to a certain Lord Danby, he tells her that she must travel to Italy until the gossip recedes and a suitable match can be found for her.

But Italy is a tempestuous place – her grandmother and cousins soon tell her of the fault lines between the states and the dangerous rebels fighting for freedom. Chief among these is Ben Mavrone – and when he and Carina meet, he distrusts her society pedigree, and she considers him a violent extremist.

When trouble comes to Carina’s door, it is Ben who saves her – reluctantly – and as they go on the run, they must learn to understand each other to stay alive.

Meanwhile back in England, Carina’s family has plans for the life Miss Temple should lead – if she ever returns…

An Italian Scandal is based on Cecil Cameron’s own family history and is perfect for fans of the Bridgerton series.

My Review

18 year old Carina is under the care of her uncle Oliver after the recent death of her father. When Carina’s friendship with Lord Danby (a married man) becomes the gossip of London, Carina’s uncle decodes to send Carina to her maternal grandmother in Palermo, Sicily in the hopes that she can return once the scandal is forgotten about. However, Carina’s stay in Italy will not be a play where she can lay low as Italy is in the midst of the Italian Unification. When Carina meets one of the rebels, Ben her life will never be the same again.

I was really looking forward to reading this book as it was pitched as a historical romance and I really enjoyed it. Carina is a very independent, forward thinking and fiery character so it was hard not to like her. She was like a modern day woman trapped in the body of a character in the 1800s. Carina is a budding poet and I enjoyed getting a glimpse into her poems and what inspires her when she writes. When Carina meets Ben there are clearly sparks between the two. Although they are from different backgrounds they have a recognition in that they both have a rebellious streak. Ben realises from the outset that Carina is like no other woman that he has met and clearly has a mind of her own.

I knew very little about the conflict in Italy at this time, but it was written perfectly. There was enough information to set the scene without making the storyline too heavy. It did prompt me to do some more research into the time the book was set which added more context to the story for me.

A must read for those who enjoy the historical romance genre.

Author Bio

Lady Cecil Cameron OBE grew up on the Scottish border near Jedburgh, daughter of the Marquis and Lady Lothian. Her grandmother came from Naples and is the inspiration behind her writing. Cecil read renaissance history at London University and subsequently worked for Save the Children in Vietnam and the UK. Married to the Chief of Clan Cameron, she was made an OBE in 2002 for services to children.

Book Review: Babes in the Wood The Witches of Woodville II by Mark Stay #BabesintheWood @markstay @RandomTTours @simonschuster

Synopsis

In a quiet village in rural Kent, a magical mystery leads to murder . . .

Woodville has returned to ‘normal’ after the departure of the Crow Folk. The villagers put out fires from aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain, and Faye Bright discovers that magic can be just as dangerous as any weapon.

The arrival of a trio of Jewish children fleeing the Nazis brings the fight for Europe to the village. When their guardian is found dead, Faye must play nanny to the terrified children while gathering clues to uncover a dark magic that threatens to change the course of the war. And she must do it quickly – the children have seen too much and someone wants them silenced for good.

My Review

Babes in the Wood picks up a month after the events in The Crow Folk and it starts with a bang when Faye witnesses a plane crash into a garage. When Faye rushes to the garage to see if anyone is hurt she comes across Klaus and his cousins Magda, Max and Rudolph (Rudy) who have arrived in the village after feeling from the Nazis. After saving the group Faye starts to see visions of Klaus being found dead. When this vision comes true and she starts having further visions involving Magda, Max and Rudy Faye decides she must do everything that she can to stop the visions coming true. What do the visions means? Will Faye succeed in her plan? Can Faye work out what is after the children and why?

I read the first book in The Witches of Woodville series, The Crow Folk in February and I absolutely adored that book. I have since been eagerly awaiting the second book in the series and I can honestly say I loved this book as much as the first.

It was great to catch up with Faye and the other characters in the book including Terence, Faye’s father, Bertie, Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach. As a character Faye has developed significantly since The Crow Folk. She is under the tutelage of Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach and her powers are growing and developing. It is clear that she is becoming a very powerful witch and may in the future surpass her teachers.

The storyline in this book like the first had me hooked from the first page especially when it starts with a plane crashing into a garage. There’s something truly magical about the way the series is written and it captures your imagination from the outset. Every time I picked up the book I was transported back to the 1940s. The scenes towards the end involving the whole village were both action packed and terrifying. The story is the perfect mix of mystery and magic based in a war time setting. I wouldn’t change anything about the writing style, the series or the characters. The author has done an absolutely fantastic job in bringing magic to the 1940s which is one of my favourite things.

The Witches of Woodville has quickly become one of my new favourite series and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes books about magic and history.

Author Bio

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.

Book Review: The Spirit Engineer by A.J. West #TheSpiritEngineer @AJWestAuthor @Duckbooks @instabooktours

Synopsis

Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of séances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea. William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen’s parlour tricks gone too far?

This early 20th century gothic set in Northern Ireland contains all the mystery and intrigue one might expect from a Sarah Waters novel. Deftly plotted with echoes of The Woman in Black, readers will be thrilled to discover West’s chilling prose.

Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that include Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end.

My Review

It is 1914, two years are the sinking of the Titanic and spiritualism has become a big part of society as the living look to find ways to contact their lost loved ones. William Jackson Crawford has a personal connection to the tragedy as his wife’s brother was on the ship and did not survive. William is an accomplished scientist who doesn’t believe in spiritualism, but when William attends his first séance and meets medium Kathleen Goligher he starts to question whether spirits are trying to communicate with the living or if Kathleen is trying to trick him. The more time William spends with Kathleen and the spiritual community the more he starts to question what he knows and becomes enveloped into a world that he cannot leave.

As soon as I saw this book on social media I knew it was a book that I had to read. I have always been interested in spiritualism especially when it came to prominence after the sinking of the Titanic and this book didn’t disappoint at all. The storyline was well structured, spooky and scary. The more I read and followed William’s journey the more I questioned what I was reading and whether what he was experiencing was real or fake. Was William being tricked or were spirits drawn to him? From the beginning to the end I had goosebumps. There were a few heart stopping moments that completely spooked me to the point that I had to put the book in a cupboard (the event at the Gala). That is the sign of a good writing because when a book gets under your skin it’s a book you’ll never forget.

The author has done a fantastic job with this book. The attention to detail is perfect. It is clear from the writing and information contained in the book that the author has done a significant amount of research into William, Kathleen and the world of spiritualism; bringing them to life with the turn of every page. Whilst reading I used the author’s website https://ajwestauthor.com/ as a companion to the book as it has a wealth of background information on William, his family, Kathleen and other people who feature in the book. Definitely worth visiting the website and getting lost in the amount of information available.

The perfect read for the spooky season or any season in fact! Buy the book and read it, you won’t be disappointed!

Author Bio

A.J. West was born in Buckinghamshire and not very comprehensively educated at a comprehensive school in Newport Pagnell. Growing up, his teacher parents read him stories by Blyton, Milne, Dahl, Lewis, Lawrence and Graham and he found a passion for old-fashioned tales that mixed fear and fun. He went on to study English Literature at university in Preston, Lancashire before graduating to become a radio and television producer, news presenter and journalist at the BBC in London and Northern Ireland, where his fascination with William Jackson Crawford’s story began. After a characteristically strange twist in events he became a television personality, appearing on the Big Brother TV show before embarking on a new career as a PR and communications director. During this time, he has written for national newspapers and appeared on network current affairs programmes on radio and television.

Excerpt: How Not To Chaperon A Lady by Virginia Heath @VirginiaHeath_ @rararesources

Synopsis

His childhood nemesis…is the woman he can’t resist!

Chaperoning Charity Brookes while she’s on a singing tour should be easy for Griffith Philpot—he’s spent his whole life sparring with her over her flighty ways! But as he discovers that she’s much more than the impetuous girl he thought he knew, a passion ignites between them… Sharing a
steamy kiss leaves him torn – he’s supposed to be responsible for guarding her virtue!

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/talkofbeaumonde3

Extract

Up and coming soprano Charity Brookes is about to step on stage for the debut performance of her first solo tour. Her childhood nemesis, current bane of her life and unwelcome self-appointed chaperone Griff has avoided her all day…

There was a rap on the door. ‘Ten minutes, Miss Brookes.’

‘Thank you.’ It came out as a croak as the light supper Lily had insisted she eat only an hour before threatened to make a second appearance. She stood to fetch the glass of water she had left on the other side of her surprisingly sumptuous dressing room and her head started to spin as the floor tilted, and she realised she was going to faint unless she got some air.

Ten minutes.

Ten minutes!

It was nowhere near enough time.

Choking, she slammed out of her dressing room, her heart racing and her palms sweating, using the walls of the narrow corridor in the bowels of the theatre to support her as she staggered towards the stage door. This close to curtain up, there was no one there to assist her.

They were all already waiting in the wings or doing their last checks to ensure everything ran like clockwork. Charity couldn’t decide if that was a good or a bad thing. Her stubborn pride meant she would rather die than allow anyone to see her like this—all panicked and petrified—not when she was the star of the show. The only performer in fact and this theatre had paid good money for her because their expectations were so high. They had sold every seat. All five hundred of them.

Five hundred people had paid to see her!

Five hundred people who had likely never seen her sing a note before tonight but had spent their hard-earned wages on tickets anyway. And all based on the stupid things which had been said about her voice in the newspapers.

Her reputation and her mother’s preceded her. Mama had performed here every year since this theatre had opened. The people of Lincoln loved her and were expecting great things from her daughter. Roberta Brookes certainly would never let an audience down. Her mother was always prepared. Always focussed. Always magnificent.

But Charity wasn’t her mother.

For months she had fooled herself that she could be, that she might be just as good, but that had been in The Marriage of Figaro. An ensemble piece with other singers to share the huge responsibility of entertaining the masses. But tonight’s show was just her.

All her.

And she bitterly regretted accepting it.

The backstage door loomed like a beacon. An escape. As tears stained her cheeks and spoiled her make-up, she quickened her pace to get to it.

If only she could escape. From all of it. Go home. Lock all the doors. But she was committed.

People were relying on her. Every fibre of her being, all her training and the legacy of her brilliant mother all demanded that the show must go on.

She had to bury the fear. Put on a brave face. Hide the wretched truth at all costs.

Over the hum of the audience came the screech of a violin. A cello. A flute. The orchestra were warming up their instruments ready for the off. Each note like a death knell sealing her fate while feeding the creature in her gut. It flailed against the walls of her stomach, jarring her ribs and robbing her of breath, eating her from the inside until there would be nothing left to escape with.

Or perhaps she could escape? There was still time. Not ten minutes any more, but at least eight. Enough for her to flee down the alley and out into the night. Evan wouldn’t be there waiting but it wasn’t that far away to the inn. Surely?

As her clumsy fingers finally wrestled with the door latch, she knew she was past the point of no return. She couldn’t do this.

She couldn’t! It was all too much.

She hadn’t spent the money yet, so it could all be returned. And Griff would fix it. He was so good at organising everything, she would tell him to make it all right then take her back home where she belonged.

Her reputation and her career in tatters.

A fallen star before it had fully risen.

The lock finally gave and she flung herself out the door, then bent double to retch uncontrollably as she sobbed. Wishing she was more. Wishing she was…

‘Charity?’ His boots thundered on the cobbles as he dashed towards her. ‘Oh, my God, Charity, what’s wrong?’ Strong arms supported her as she lost her supper. A gentle hand held back the ringlets poor Lily had wasted an hour creating. Wiped her face.

‘I can’t do it, Griff! I can’t do it!’ She collapsed against him, grateful that he was there. ‘Take me home. Please.’

‘Shh, love, it’s all right.’ He held her close and it was. ‘It’s just nerves, that’s all.’

Author Bio

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up
stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the
stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one
day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Twenty books and two
Romantic Novel of the Year Award nominations later, and it still takes her forever to fall asleep.
Social Media Links –
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

Book Review: The Rose Garden by Tracy Rees #TheRoseGarden @AuthorTracyRees @panmacmillan @RandomTTours

Synopsis

1895. Hampstead, London.

Olive Westallen lives a privileged, if rather lonely, life in her family’s grand Hampstead home. But she has radical plans for the future of her family – plans that will shock the high-society world she inhabits.

For her new neighbour, twelve-year-old Ottilie Finch, London is an exciting playground to explore. Her family have recently arrived from Durham, under a cloud of scandal that Otty is blissfully unaware of. The only shadow over her days is her mother’s mysterious illness, which keeps her to her room.

When Mabs is offered the chance to become Mrs Finch’s companion, it saves her from a desperate life on the canals. Little does she know that all is not as picture-perfect as it seems. Mabs is about to become tangled in the secrets that chased the Finches from their last home, and trapped in an impossible dilemma . . .

My Review

It’s 1895 in London and 18 year old Mabs is working as a labourer at the canals disguised as a boy to support her father and siblings. Mabs is offered a role in service to the Finch family who have recently moved to London. Mabs’ role it to be a companion to Mrs Finch who is described as delicate and finds life difficult, but no further information is given. As Mabs starts her new role she quickly learns that there is more to the Finch family than meets the eye and when secrets start to be revealed including the reason why she was hired, what will Mabs do with the truth?

Mabs also becomes a companion to Mrs Finch’s youngest daughter Otty and is tasked to show her around London as she loves to explore. Otty is a free spirit who is adventurous and wants to learn more about her surroundings. It’s through Otty that Mabs is introduced to 28 year old Olive. Olive is a spinster from privileged background who adopts a 4 year old orphan, naming her Clover. Olive is from a very forward thinking family and wants to use her position to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The story is told from the point of view of Mabs, Olive and Otty. Part way through the book the narrative of Abigail (Mrs Finch, Otty’s mother) is included which adds further context to the story but also important background information on her life and her relationship with her family. I really enjoyed this book and the storyline. The intrigue behind the Finch family and their secrets kept me guessing from the outset. I loved Mabs, Olive and Otty as characters all of whom are the main characters but also strong female leads. Mabs is hardworking and determined. Olive is always thinking outside of the box and is focused on living a philanthropic life. As for Otty, she is very smart for a 12 year old and sees people for what they are even if they are different to her in both class and colour. This book paints a very real picture of life in Victorian England showing the extremes between the way people lived. Mabs’ life captures the extreme poverty faced by many during that time and Olive and Otty’s lives depict extreme wealth and privilege. It’s a stark contrast and there is no in between. It was fascinating to see the characters all of whom were from different backgrounds and social circles interact and become close.

A book about female friendship and a bond that breaks the social hierarchy of the Victorian age, with a hint of intrigue and scandal.

Author Bio

Tracy Rees was the first winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition.
She has also won the Love Stories Best Historical Read award and been shortlisted for the RNA Epic Romantic Novel of the Year.
A Cambridge graduate, Tracy had a successful career in non-fiction publishing before retraining for a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling.
She has also been a waitress, bartender, shop assistant, estate agent, classroom assistant and workshop leader.
Tracy divides her time between the Gower Peninsula of South Wales and London.

Book Review: The Orchard Girls by Nikola Scott @nikola_scott @rararesources

Synopsis

London, 2004. Frankie didn’t always have it easy. Growing up motherless, she was raised by her grandmother, who loved her – and betrayed her. For years, the rift between them seemed irreparable. But when their paths suddenly cross again, Frankie is shocked to realise that her grandmother is slowly losing control of her memory. There is a darkness in her past that won’t stay
buried – secrets going back to wartime that may have a devastating effect on Frankie’s own life.

Somerset, 1940. When seventeen-year-old Violet’s life is ripped apart by the London Blitz, she runs away to join the Women’s Land Army, wanting nothing more than to leave her grief behind. But as well as the terror of enemy air raids, the land girls at Winterbourne Orchards face a powerful enemy closer to home. One terrible night, their courage will be put to the test – and the truth of what happened must be kept hidden, forever . . .

Purchase Link – https://bit.ly/OrchardGirls

My Review

When the story begins we meet 17 year old Violet in the 1940s. Not only is the second world at its peak, but Violet has more than air raids on her mid as her mum is trying to get her engaged. After tragedy strikes Violet decides to leave home and enlists as a land girl. Fast forward to 2004 we meet Frankie, a journalist who is also Violet’s granddaughter. Frankie and Violet haven’t spoken in 10 years. However, when Frankie is assigned to write an article about Violet, who is a philanthropist who in recent years has become a recluse, grandmother and granddaughter are reunited to and must deal with their estrangement. Can Frankie and Violet reconnect? Will ghosts from the past threaten Frankie and Violet’s relationship?

As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I was intrigued. I really enjoyed the story and the dual timeline. The fact that the narrative was told from two generations at different points in time made the story engaging and interesting. It wasn’t clear from the outset why Violet and Frankie were estranged but as the story progressed the reason slowly starts to appear. It was interesting to learn more about both characters i.e. Frankie’s upbringing and Violet’s time during the war. The narrative I enjoyed the most was definitely Violet’s as I found this more interesting. Especially Violet’s motivation and transition into becoming a land girl. For Violet being a land girl is a very different life to the she is use to and despite trying to help some of the locals aren’t welcoming or friendly. But with the help and support of her fellow land girls she forms a bond of friendship and sisterhood that can never be broken.

Definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys a storyline that includes a storyline about the land girls.

A story about friendships, relationships and secrets.

Author Bio

Nikola Scott started out in book publishing and worked as a crime fiction editor in America and England for many years. Turning her back on blood-spattered paperback covers and dead bodies found in woods, she sat down at her kitchen table one day to start her first novel — and hasn’t stopped writing since. Obsessed with history and family stories (‘How exactly did you feel when your parents gave the house to your brother?’) she is well-known – and feared – for digging up dark secrets at dinner parties and turning them into novels.

Her first two books, My Mother’s Shadow and Summer of Secrets, have both been international bestsellers and were translated widely around the world. Nikola lives in Frankfurt with her husband and two boys (and a kitchen table). Once a month, Nikola sends out a popular newsletter about writing, reading, book news, freebies
and loads of therapeutic baking. Join in here if you’d love to be a part of it all: bit.ly/NikolaScottNews
For more info on Nikola, visit her website at http://www.nikolascott.com
Social Media Links –
https://www.facebook.com/NikolaScottAuthor/
https://twitter.com/nikola_scott
https://www.instagram.com/nikolascottauthor/
https://www.pinterest.de/nikolascott/pins/

Book Review: Her Honourable Mercenary by Nicole Locke @NicoleLockeNews @rararesources @MillsandBoon

Synopsis

An innocent maiden

And a legendary warrior

When captured and held prisoner in an enemy castle, Margery of Lyon is guarded by brooding mercenary Evrart, who’s been commanded to watch her—day and night. Margery’s determination to escape brings her closer to Evrart and the kind heart hidden beneath his granite-hard body. Now Margery is torn… Fleeing under the portcullis will mean leaving behind the man she’s falling for…

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Honourable-Mercenary-dramatic-Historical-
ebook/dp/B08WK4CJ85
US – https://www.amazon.com/Her-Honourable-Mercenary-dramatic-Historical-
ebook/dp/B08WK4CJ85

My Review

Margery is kidnapped by Ian of Warstone and bought to Warstone Fortress as his captive and his mistress. It’s here she meets Evrart, Ian’s bodyguard. Evrart is tasked to watch and monitor Margery whilst she’s in captivity especially in Ian‘s absence. There is something about Margery’s presence that he doesn’t understand because Ian has never taken a mistress and so he believes that there is another reason for her presence. Evrart is a warrior and use to combat so guarding Margery is new to him. Whilst Evrart guards Margery she familiarises herself with her surroundings so she can escape from Ian. The more Margery and Evrart spend together the closer they become. What will be the consequences when Ian finds out?

The storyline captured my attention from the first page and I was quickly swept along with Margery to her new surroundings and Warstone Fortress. I couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to see what would happen next. I adored the characters in this book. Margery is strong but also a very caring woman and this is seen when she interacts with Evrart. Evrart initially seems a cold person but the more time he spends with Margery his tough exterior starts to fall away. This is because Margery treats him differently to the way other people do who fear him because of his stature and his status as Ian’s bodyguard. But Margery sees the real Evrart and rather than menacing she discovers a gentle giant. Margery and Evrart also have a lot in common in that they are both at Warstone Fortress against their will. When we are introduced to Margery’s sister Bied who comes to rescue her, it’s clear to see where her determination and strength comes from. Bied like Margery is feisty, stubborn and will do anything to save her baby sister.

This is the second book that I have read by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is part of the Lovers and Legend series and I’m looking forward to reading the other books

If you like historical romance with a hint of intrigue and deception with strong characters this is the book for you.

Author Bio

Nicole is the author of Harlequin/Mills and Boon Lovers and Legends Historical series. If she isn’t working on the next book, she can be reached at NicoleLocke.com, Facebook, and Twitter!

Social Media Links –
https://www.nicolelocke.com/
https://www.instagram.com/nicolelockeauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/NicoleLockeAuthor/
https://twitter.com/NicoleLockeNews

Book Review: Captivating The Cynical Earl by Catherine Tinley @CatherineTinley @rararesources

Synopsis

The cool, aloof earl

And the enchanting lady

For Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden, emotional entanglements are the path to pain. But when his brother brings his new wife and her best friend to his country home, everything changes. Lady Cecily
Thornhill is both vibrant and beautiful, and Jack finds himself increasingly captivated by her sunny nature. Yet he must resist her charms, for in a month she’ll be gone—unless his frozen heart thaws
before then…

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/captivatingearl

My Review

When we first meet Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden he is in utter disbelief after finding out that his brother Tom has got married after falling very quickly in love. Despite listening to his brother, Jack does not believe that Tom has made this decision freely rather that he has been bewitched by Nell (his now wife) or been cornered and had no choice but to marry her. To Jack marriage is nothing but a business transaction minus the love. So starts Jack’s mission to free Tom from the clutches of Nell and bring the marriage to an end because in his opinion this marriage is clearly a bad idea. This is when Jack’s path crosses with Lady Cecily Thornhill who Jack mistakenly believes is Nell. He makes it very clear in their first interaction that he doesn’t approve of Tom’s marriage or the person Tom is married to. Cecily thinking that Jack is unhappy about her friendship with Tom and her close friend Nell is outraged and can’t understand why Jack disapproves of their friendship. That first meeting leaves Cecily angry and she doesn’t hold back. It also reaffirms her name for Jack the ‘Empty Earl’ after a previous encounter where they spoke and he looked right through her and doesn’t appear to have recognised her when they met again. When Tom and Nell move to one of Tom’s family homes, Nell asks Cecily to stay to keep her company. What no one realises is that Jack will be staying too placing Jack and Cecily in very close proximity to each other. When Jack learns the truth about his mistaken belief as to whom Tom’s wife is how will he feel towards Cecily. Can Cecily thaw Jack’s heart and break the wall he has built around him.

I loved the storyline, especially the misunderstanding as to who is actually who. The characters were just written perfectly. Jack is stern, cold and broody and Cecily is fearless and head strong making them the perfect combination. Jack has definitely met his match in Cecily. The dynamic between Cecily and Nell was lovely and they were more like sisters and friends. Hence when Jack shows his disapproval of Tom’s marriage Cecily is very protective of Nell. I couldn’t not mention the comical Lady Fanny Thornhill, Cecily’s mother who is living her best life despite the fact their finances have been limited since the death of Cecily’s father. Towards the end of the book there is an explanation as to why Jack feels the way he does about love and it explains a lot about him. He doesn’t want to get to close to anyone because those you love always leave i.e. mother, nanny. Jack’s father had a lot to do in shaping the man Jack is making him into the cold person we meet at the beginning of the story, but as soon as Cecily arrives on the scene that façade starts to shift.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a slow burn but I loved the interaction between Jack and Cecily. Their first meeting definitely made me laugh and is one of my favourite parts of the book especially as Cecily’s initial thoughts of Jack are less than ladylike. Cecily slowly builds Jack’s trust and towards the end there is a heart-warming moment where her small act of kindness fills Jack’s heart with love and trust again.

Another brilliant story from the author and one to add to your list!

Author Bio

Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first book, Waltzing with the Earl, won the Rita
Award for Best Historical Romance 2018, while Rags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021.

She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity
campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.com, on
facebook, twitter, and instagram.

Book Review: Reputation by Lex Croucher #Reputation @lexcanroar @ZaffreBooks @jennapetts

Synopsis

The hilarious debut novel. A classic romcom with a Regency-era twist, for fans of Mean Girls,Julia Quinn and Jane Austen.

Abandoned by her parents in favour of a sea view, middle class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull dinner party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy socialite and enchanting member of the in-crowd. 

Through Frances and her friends, Georgiana is introduced to a new world of wild parties, drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely alluring hands, and the sparkling upper echelons of Regency society. 

But high society isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the price of entry might be more than Georgiana is willing to pay . . . 

This witty romcom about status, friendship, and first loves explores sex and consent in a time when reputation was absolutely everything, and feminism in a time when women’s rights were a completely different story. It’s full of lavish parties, handsome men on horseback and a sense of humour that would have given Austen herself a chuckle.

My Review

When Georgiana’s parents move to the seaside because of her mum’s ill health, Georgiana is sent to live with her aunt and uncle. Let’s just say it’s a very different world than she used to. Georgiana finds herself completely bored, without any friends finding solace in books that she’s taken with her or the books she has managed to locate in her uncle’s library. It’s at a party that she first meets Frances Campbell, a potential friend. Frances is a breath of fresh air. She’s funny, daring, adventurous and everything that’s been lacking in Georgiana‘s life since she moved to her new home. By befriending Frances, Georgiana’s seemingly very boring life quickly becomes colourful and she’s introduced to Frances’ close-knit friends and initiated into the inner circle. What then follows are parties, drinking and general debauchery. But is hanging around with the popular crowd all that it seems?

As soon as I read synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it, especially because it was described as Bridgerton meets Gossip Girl and that’s the perfect description for this book. The start of the book had me in fits of laughter, especially when Georgiana’s talking about Viking funerals and her first meeting with Frances. I can see why Georgiana finds herself bored before she meets Frances and Frances is definitely an influence on Georgiana. In fact she amplifies Georgiana’s inner rebel. At the same time Frances is herself a little broken and confused which she tries to hide but this is obvious to Georgiana. The more Georgiana is around Frances and her circle the more conflicted she becomes, wanting to be around them but at the same time wanting to be alone. The interactions between Georgiana and Thomas Hawksley were just so sweet especially when they start writing to each other. Despite how Georgiana acts when she is around Frances and her friends, Thomas sees the real Georgiana. Frances’ betrayal of Georgiana was very Mean Girlsesque and was like a dagger to the heart. The relationship between Georgiana and her aunt and uncle was interesting because although they appear very strict and to Georgiana boring, actually they have her best interests at heart and treat her more like her daughter than her parents do and this was shown at the end.

I loved the storyline and the characters, especially because they included people of colour and LGBTQ representations. The reference to Diwali being celebrated during regency times did make me smile. This is the author’s debut novel and I’m really excited for their next book.

A story from the regency period with characters from the 21st century!

Author Bio

Lex Croucher grew up in Surrey reading a lot of books and making friends with strangers on the internet, and now lives in London with an elderly cat, producing videos by day and watching period dramas by night. REPUTATION is Lex’s debut novel

Excerpt: The Book Of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel #TheBookOfLostNames @kristinharmel @welbeckpublish

Synopsis

In 1942, Eva is forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children escaping to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva realises she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember their own identities.

When Rémy disappears and the resistance cell they work for is betrayed, the records they keep in The Book of Lost Names become even more crucial to remembering the truth…

A present day discovery of the book leaves researchers fascinated by its origins and desperate to decipher its codes. Only Eva holds the answer but will she have the strength to face old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

Excerpt

Chapter One 

It’s a Saturday morning, and I’m midway through my shift at the Winter Park Public Library when I see it.

The book I last laid eyes on more than six decades ago.

The book I believed had vanished forever.

The book that meant everything to me.

It’s staring out at me from a photograph in the New York Times, which someone has left open on the returns desk. The

world goes silent as I reach for the newspaper, my hand trembling nearly as much as it did the last time I held the book. “It can’t be,” I whisper.

I gaze at the picture. A man in his seventies looks back at me, his snowy hair sparse and wispy, his eyes froglike behind bulbous glasses.

“Sixty Years After End of World War II, German Librarian Seeks to Reunite Looted Books with Rightful Owners,” declares the headline, and I want to cry out to the man in the image that I am the rightful owner of the book he’s holding, the faded leather-bound volume with the peeling bottom right corner and the gilded spine bearing the title Epitres et Evangiles. It belongs to me—and to Rémy, a man who died long ago, a man

I vowed after the war to think of no more.

But he’s been in my thoughts this week anyhow, despite my best efforts. Tomorrow, the eighth of May, the world will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. It’s impossible, with all the young newscasters speaking solemnly of the war as if they could conceivably understand it, not to think of Rémy, not to think of the time we spent together then, not to think of the people we saved and the way it all ended. Though my son tells me I’m blessed to have such a sharp mind in my old age, like many blessings this one is mixed.

Most days, I just long to forget.

I blink away the uninvited thoughts of R.my and return my attention to the article. The man in the photo is Otto Kühn, a librarian from the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek in Berlin, who has made it his life’s mission to return books looted by the Nazis.

There are apparently more than a million such books in his library’s collection alone, but the one he’s holding in the photo—my book—is the one he says keeps him up at night.

“This religious text,” Kühn has told the reporter, “is my

Favorite among the many mysteries that occupy our shelves. Published in Paris in 1732, it’s a very rare book, but that’s not what makes it extraordinary. It is unique because within it, we find an intriguing puzzle: some sort of code. To whom did it belong?

What does the code mean? How did the Germans come to possess it during the war? These are the questions that haunt me.”

I feel tears in my eyes, tears that have no place there. I wipe them away, angry at myself for still being so emotional after all these years. “How nice it must be,” I say softly to Kühn’spicture, “to be haunted by questions rather than ghosts.”

“Um, Mrs. Abrams? Are you talking to that newspaper?”

I’m jolted out of the fog of my memory by the voice of Jenny Fish, the library’s assistant manager. She’s the type who complains about everything—and who seems to enjoy suggesting at every opportunity that since I’m eighty-six, I might want to think about retiring soon. She is always eyeing me suspiciously, as if she simply cannot believe that at my age, I’d still want to work here.

She doesn’t understand what it means to love books so passionately that you would die without them, that you would simply stop breathing, stop existing. It is quite beyond me, in fact, why she became a librarian in the first place.

“Yes, Jenny, indeed I am,” I reply, without looking up.

“Yes, well, you probably shouldn’t be doing that in front of library guests.” She says it without a trace of irony. “They might think you’re senile.” She does not have a sense of humor.

“Thank you, Jenny. Your advice is always so very helpful.”

She nods solemnly. It is also apparently beyond her comprehension that someone who looks like me—small, white-haired, grandmotherly—is capable of sarcasm.

Today, though, I have no time for her. All I can think about is the book. The book that held so many secrets. The book that

was taken from me before I could learn whether it contained the one answer I so desperately needed.

And now, a mere plane flight away, there’s a man who holds the key to unlocking everything.

“Do I dare?” I murmur to the photo of Otto Kühn. I respond to my own question before doubt can creep in. “I must. I owe it to the children.”

“Mrs. Abrams?” It’s Jenny again, addressing me by my surname, though I’ve told her a thousand times to call me Eva, just as she addresses the younger librarians by their given names.

But alas, I am nothing to her but an old lady. One’s reward for marching through the decades is a gradual process of erasure.

“Yes, Jenny?” I finally look up at her.

“Do you need to go home?” I suspect she says it with the

expectation that I’ll decline. She’s smirking a bit, certain that she has asserted her superiority. “Perhaps gather yourself ?”

So it gives me great pleasure to look her right in the eye, smile, and say, “Yes, Jenny, thank you ever so much. I think I’ll do just that.”

I grab the newspaper and go.

Author Bio

Kristin Harmel is the internationally bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Winemakers Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie and The Sweetness of Forgetting.

After graduating with a degree in journalism from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She is also co-founder and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction.