Extract: Tempted By Her Outcast Viking By Lucy Morris @LMorris_Author @rararesources @MillsandBoon

Synopsis

Tempted by the Warrior

But she’ll never wed

Brynhild had once been close to Erik – until he’d betrayed her, and she’d hoped never to see him again. Now the fiercely independent shieldmaiden needs Erik’s skills to rescue her sister. Striking a truce with the tough, isolated loner they reach a mutually beneficial deal: in return, she’ll help him in his quest to find a wife – by teaching him how to please a woman in bed…!

Purchase Links

https://books2read.com/u/4jgVLX

https://harpercollins.co.uk/products/tempted-by-her-outcast-viking-shieldmaiden-sisters-book-2-lucy-morris?variant=39754673717326

Extract

Brynhild was once close to Erik — until he betrayed her. Now reunited they are thrown together in a most unexpected way…

‘I wanted…to apologise…to you, Brynhild.’ His words were quiet and uncharacteristically hesitant.

‘What?’

She stumbled a little in the muddy earth and his hand snapped around her forearm to steady her. The hairs on her arm rose as if in expectation of a storm and she shrugged it off quickly.

Well, she’d not expected that!

If he’d admonished her for making assumptions earlier, or worse, offered his aid, she could have believed it.

But to say he was sorry?

He frowned at the way she’d shrugged off his touch. As if she’d insulted him.

When she had every right to do so!

‘I’ve been meaning to say it since we met again yesterday, but I never seemed to find the opportunity.’

She turned and strode forward, flustered and unsure of how to respond. Then she stopped for a moment and stared at the ground. He’d seemed sincere—hadn’t she already thought their previous feud childish? His shadow fell across hers, their shapes on the floor merging into one.

‘There is nothing to apologise for,’ she said and to her surprise she meant it. She hated him for what he’d done, that much was true, but she’d also been unkind and had humiliated him…in her own way.

She moved forward, hoping he would leave it at that. But, of course, he didn’t.

‘I think there is.’ His long stride matched her own and she felt an odd excitement rush through her veins. They were forced closer together as the twisting path between the buildings became suddenly narrower. ‘I was young and still trying to prove myself to my father. A waste of time, as I later learned… But, regardless, I shouldn’t have treated you as I did. I was wrong.’

How many times had she dreamt of him saying such words?

She’d always imagined them meeting again…but on the battlefield with weapons in hand, not on the muddy paths of Jorvik.

In her fantasy he’d fallen beneath her axe, after a long and epic fight. It would have been a hard-won but satisfying victory and with his dying breath he would have wheezed out those three wonderful words… I was wrong.

Somehow this did not feel as satisfying. It felt awkward and humiliating instead. As if she were his victim and not his equal.

Anger raced through her like lightning, burning away all reason.

She grabbed him by his broad shoulders and thrust him against the nearest wall. His hands in response locked around her biceps to steady himself, his grip firm, but not painful, and the heat that radiated from his fingers only angered her further, because of the effect it had on her. It caused her body to warm and her breath to catch in her throat, shivers of longing twisted in her gut and she thrust him back a second time, the plaster on the little house cracking and crumbling with the force.

‘I don’t like you!’ she snarled, ‘I’ve never liked you! So, let’s make this very clear. I do not care if you are sorry or not! Just do as you’ve promised and get my mother a damn farm!’

They stared at one another, their breathing heavy and the tension between them thick in the silence. Their big bodies filled the space of the alley, making the wattle and daub buildings seem even more fragile and small, neither of them willing to back down, their bodies held in a tight balance of frustration and stubborn pride.

The dark pools of his eyes locked with hers and then dropped ever so slowly to her mouth. ‘There was a time when you liked me…’

Her face burned and she almost shoved him for a third time against the wall, not that it seemed to affect the big ox….which only irritated her further.

But then he frowned and looked away from her as if a sudden thought had distracted him. ‘Where is your sister?’

Author Bio

Lucy Morris has always been obsessed with myths and legends. Her books blend sweeping romance with vivid worldbuilding to whisk you away to another time and place filled with adventure. Expect passion, drama, and vibrant characters.

Lucy lives in Essex, UK, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She has a massively sweet tooth and loves Terry’s chocolate oranges and Irn-Bru. In her spare time, she likes to explore castles with her family, or drink bubbly with her friends.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/LucyMorrisAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/lucymorris.author/

Book Review: The Ghost Of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay #GhostOfIvyBarn #WitchesOfWoodville @markstay @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

August, 1940.

As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes to Woodville with a ritual to repel the imminent Nazi invasion. The only catch is it involves full-frontal nudity on the White Cliffs of Dover. The Witches of Woodville are having none of it, but when more witches arrive they realise they might have a spy in their midst, and it’s up to Faye Bright to uncover the traitor. But she’s got enough on her plate already with the ghost of a Polish Hurricane pilot who may hold the key to the truth.

My Review

When we catch up with Faye she is still trying to process and deal with the aftermath of the dramatic battle at the end of the second book, Babes in the Woods. That’s when Larry approaches Miss Charlotte, Mrs Teach and Faye because there’s something in one of his barns which isn’t quite normal. It turns out that a poltergeist has inhabited Ivy Barn. But after ridding the barn of the poltergeist Faye comes across a ghost called Leo who appears to be tethered to the barn. At the same time Faye, Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach are approached by The Council of Witches to see if they can stop the war and defeat the enemy by taking part in The Cone of Power ritual. As if Faye wasn’t busy enough an old enemy resurfaces with an ally who is closer to Faye than she thinks who’s goal is to destroy The Council of Witches. Will The Cone of Power ritual be successful? Will Faye help Leo find out what is keeping him tied to Ivy Barn? Will Faye discover the spy who is trying to destroy them?

The author has created such a brilliant and original series in the Witches of Woodville combining magic, witches and the Second World War which are some of my favourite subjects. As soon as the author reveals the next book in the series I can’t wait to catch up with Miss Charlotte, Mrs Teach and Faye and find out what’s going on in this little Kentish Town and be transported back to the 1940’s. This is the third book in the series and I absolutely loved the storyline. When I think the series can’t get any better the next book always proves me wrong. The story was new and fresh but included the characters I have grown to love and become attached to. The underlying themes of these books are that it is World War Two, the enemy and the war is getting closer each day. Faye, Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach are not only helping stave off the war but also magical threats so for them there’s double trouble in Kent. But even though the underlying theme is that of the wartime era every story so far has included a new element which is a little bit different. This has made reading this series interesting and captivated my imagination from the beginning.

From the first book to this latest instalment we see Faye grow from strength to strength from discovering that her mother was a witch to truly embracing her own heritage and power. As the books progress Faye proves that she’s one of the most powerful witches that this little village or even The Council of Witches has ever seen. She proves countless times that she may be even more powerful than her mentors and her mother even if Faye herself is unsure of her on capabilities. I did love how Faye and Bertie are now courting because it shows how much they’ve both grown up from the first book where Faye simply saw Bertie as a friend but there was an indication that Bertie was a bit sweet on Faye. I really enjoyed the little journal entries from Bertie because they made me laugh. They were very matter of fact like Bertie, including what was happening around him to what he was having for his dinner. Bertie knows that Faye is a witch and embraces this even trying to help her by buying her a book about spells which was so sweet.

I’ve said it many times but The Witches of Woodville is one of my favourite series. I wish this series had been around when I was younger because I know I would have loved it. The books include witches and magic in a small town in Kent during the Second World War. What’s not to love. I can’t wait to see what awaits Faye in the next book.

To quote the last sentence of the book ‘THE WITCHES OF WOODVILLE WILL RETURN …’ so go and read the books because you won’t regret it.

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: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin #aladysguidetofortunehunting @SophieHIrwin @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @instabooktours

Synopsis

The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune.

Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.

With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost.

Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…

My Review

When Charles Linfield ends his two year engagement to Kitty Talbot, Kitty finds herself in a difficult position. Her forthcoming marriage to Charles wasn’t for love but was so she could support herself and her sisters. With the death of her mother and father the responsibility of her sisters falls on her and with the money lenders moving in Kitty must think of a new plan fast to secure a marriage that will leave her and her siblings financially secure. In order to find a new proposal Kitty approaches her mother’s friend Aunt Dorothy to introduce her to London Society where she catches the eye of Archie De Lacey. Archie’s mother is concerned about Kitty’s intentions believing she is a fortune hunter so she pre-emptively writes to her older son Lord Radcliffe, the head of the family. Radcliffe returns home and quickly realises that Kitty doesn’t love his brother. Despite his attempts to separate Kitty and Archie, Radcliffe fails and when challenged Kitty states that she won’t marry Archie if Radcliffe can help her find a suitable match. As Kitty and Radcliffe join forces the games in London’s High Society truly have begun.

I have been looking forward to reading this book since it first appeared on my radar. One of the things I really liked about this book was Kitty’s first impression of London. Like many people in the 1800s she is given this picture of what London should be like as this lovely and magical place but as the coach draws near her first impression changes as she sees that the streets are dirty which would have been a true reflection of what London looked like in those times.

I loved the storyline from the first page to the last. I was instantly transported to the 1800s and Kitty’s world. It was hard not to love both Kitty and Radcliffe. Their interactions and banter were both sweet and hilarious even when they were getting on each other’s nerves. Kitty has never ending questions about High Society and etiquette and isn’t shy about just turning up to see him when she needs those questions answered. I adored the scene where Kitty asks Radcliffe about how to curtsey and surprisingly he teaches her. Although Kitty and Radcliffe irritate each other to no end, the spark and connection between them is undeniable. Radcliffe has somewhat of a wicked sense of humour and although he tries to protect his family he also wants to help Kitty. In some ways Kitty and Radcliffe are very similar in that they are both the eldest sibling, the head of their respective households and will do whatever it takes to protect their family. Their connection grows deeper when Radcliffe opens up about what he saw during the Battle of Waterloo.

An enemies to lovers story with a chatty and determined female lead and a broody male lead. A book I would highly recommend!

Author Bio

Sophie Irwin grew up in Dorset before moving to south London after university. She has spent years immersed in the study of historical fiction, from a dissertation on how Georgette Heyer helped win World War Two, to time spent in dusty stacks and old tomes losing herself in Regency London while researching this book. Her love and passion for historical fiction bring a breath of fresh air and a contemporary energy to the genre and Sophie hopes to transport readers to a time when ballrooms were more like battlegrounds.

Sophie spent several years working as an assistant editor before going freelance. A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is Sophie’s debut novel and it has already sold in nearly thirty countries worldwide.

Excerpt: The Earl She Should Never Desire by Lara Temple #theearlsheshouldneverdesire @laratemple1 @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks

Synopsis

This very handsome earl…Is the one man she cannot fall for…
War widow Lily Walsh has left her aristocratic family behind, but she can’t deny her younger sister’s request to come to London to meet her fiancé. Though not a love match, Lord Sherborne is kind,
amusing and ideal for her sister on paper. But as Lily gets to know him, she’s finding him alarmingly attractive! And the forbidden look in the earl’s eye shows the feeling is mutual…

Purchase Links
https://books2read.com/ThreeKisses
https://bit.ly/MarcusLily

Excerpt

This scene takes place after Lily convinces Marcus, Lord Sherbourne to agree to release her sister from their engagement so she can marry her childhood sweetheart. He agrees, but he has some conditions that Lily is only too happy to fulfill… Three midsummer kisses. This is kiss number one.

Her lips opened under his, soft and pillowy and fitting to his as if they’d practised this a dozen times.

To be fair, he’d fantasized about kissing her often enough recently. Practically every time he’d come within two yards of her or had to hand her up into a carriage or take a cup of tea from her or in that treacherous time in his bed between waking and sleep… That had been the worst. But those dreams had been nothing more than a soldier’s drill and now finally he was going into battle. But war was hell and this…this was pure heaven.

She tasted of peaches and blackberries plucked from hedges by the stream. And he was ravenous.

He broke free for a moment, his mouth against her cheek as he struggled to find his balance, his control. Slow, don’t hurry, don’t scare her. Slow…

She made a sound, between a mewl and a moan, and an answering groan rose up in him like the cries of souls trapped in purgatory. To hell with slow.

He raised her on to the table, his fingers pressing into the soft skin at her waist. Her eyes were half-closed, slumberous and distant, the grey misty and blurred. He couldn’t seem to look away.

His hands weren’t frozen though—they slipped from her waist to her hips, his fingers pressing into the lush curves as he moved closer, his thighs pressing against her knees and suddenly…oh, miracle…they parted, slipping him between them until her skirts held him at bay. Her hands moved up his chest, leaving shimmering trails of jealous need in their paths until her fingers left linen behind and found flesh.

She stopped, catching her lower lip between her teeth.

He stopped as well. The sensation of her fingers resting so lightly on the taut muscles of his neck, just brushing the hair at his nape… She was branding him, his skin absorbing her mark for ever. She licked her lip and continued, her fingers slowly threading into his hair, retreating, then deeper. His scalp tingled and vicious streaks of heat coursed down his back. With each stroke she pulled him deeper into a warm ocean and it was frightening and wonderful.

Her lashes rose and she smiled up at him, pulling him under completely. He groaned and leaned down to press his mouth against her neck, the peach-soft lobe of her ear, his teeth scraping the skin below it.

‘Yes.’ She breathed the word, a shudder rising through her, her hands pulling him closer. When her mouth returned to his, he gave up whatever resolution he’d formed that morning of a slow, clever seduction, spaced out and rationed. He sank into her, gathered her hard against him, her skirts running up to bunch between them, and kissed her again.

Her mouth was silky warmth, those little moans demolishing him. Her tongue played with his, her lips brushing up against his when he pulled away, parting when he sank back in. She opened with a totality that was exhilarating and horrible because he knew it might be up to him to stop and he wanted everything.

When he finally brought himself to a halt he was one big, pulsing mass. He was hard against her skirts, his heart thudding like a great gong.

Being right had never scared him so much in his life.

‘Lily.’ He breathed her name against the warm perfume of her neck. ‘Lily…’He closed his teeth hard on the need to say her name again and again and again.

It could not have been more than five minutes, perhaps ten, but he was a damned wreck.

He moved away, looking back from a safe distance. He’d tumbled her hair. It lay in a soft mass of waves over her shoulder. Her mouth was parted and reddened and her eyes…

Another step back put more distance between them and the need to do something very, very foolish. Thirty-five was far too old to be impulsive.

He held up a finger, reminding them both.

‘One.’

Author Bio

Lara Temple writes strong and sensual Regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. She lives with her husband, two children, and one very fluffy dog and they are all very understanding about her taking over the kitchen table so she can look out over the garden as she writes and dreams up her Happy Ever Afters.

Author Links:
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/LaraTempleAuthor
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LaraTemple1
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/laratemple1
Amazon author page US: http://bit.ly/LaraTemple
Amazon author page UK: http://bit.ly/LaraTempleUK
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LaraTemple
Website: http://www.laratemple.com

Book Review: Moonlight And The Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook #MoonlightandthePearlersDaughter @LizziePook @MantleBooks @RandomTTours

Synopsis

Fortune favours the brave . . .

It is 1886 and the Brightwell family has sailed from England to make their new home in Western Australia. Ten-year-old Eliza knows little of what awaits them in Bannin Bay beyond stories of shimmering pearls and shells the size of soup plates – the very things her father has promised will make their fortune.

Ten years later, as the pearling ships return after months at sea, Eliza waits impatiently for her father to return with them. When his lugger finally arrives however, Charles Brightwell, master pearler, is declared missing. Whispers from the townsfolk point to mutiny or murder, but Eliza knows her father and, convinced there is more to the story, sets out to uncover the truth. She soon learns that in a town teeming with corruption, prejudice and blackmail, answers can cost more than pearls, and must decide just how much she is willing to pay, and how far she is willing to go, to find them.

A gloriously rich and wonderfully assured debut, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is set in a mesmerising yet unforgiving land, where both profit and peril lie deep beneath the ocean’s surface; rendered with astonishing clarity, it is a novel that marks Lizzie Pook as a name to watch.

My Review

‘If I was lost out on the ocean, would you come to find me?’ she had asked her father.
‘I’d stop at nothing.’ He leaned on an elbow and looked her square in the eye.

In 1886, the Brightwell Family including 10 year old Eliza arrive on Bannin Bay, Australia to start a new life and seek their fortune. Fast forward 10 years and Eliza’s father Charles is a master pearler and well known on the Bay. During one voyage on The White Starling to source pearls Charles does not return with the ship and no one knows what happened to him. It is assumed that he is dead and lost at sea; others say that a sea ghost or demon took him. Eliza is determined to find out what happened to her father as she is adamant that he is not dead. Armed with her father’s diary so starts Eliza’s journey into discovering what happened to her father and uncovering buried secrets along the way. Will Eliza find the truth despite the many setbacks that she faces.

The storyline was immersive, engaging and captured my attention and imagination from the first page. The description of Bannin Bay made it come to life from the outset. The story had a mix of historical fiction, family drama and elements of a detective story all weaved together to make an unforgettable story. The story moves between the past and the present. In the present Eliza searches for her father and in the past we are introduced to the Brightwell Family and the family’s history. In between we are given entries from Charles’ diary which adds more context to the story and adds another narrative to the story alongside Elizas.

I definitely bonded with Eliza as a character. She is determined and on a mission to find out what happened to her father. She will not be dissuaded by anyone until she uncovers the truth. As soon as I read the quote above I knew that Eliza would never give up. Whilst reading I did see a little of myself in Eliza as I would do exactly the same if I was in her position and leave no stone unturned to find my dad.

Definitely a must read for any fan of the historical fiction genre.

Author Bio

Lizzie Pook is an award-winning journalist and travel writer contributing to The Sunday
Times, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Condé Nast Traveller and more. Her assignments have taken her to some of the most remote parts of the planet, from the uninhabited east coast of Greenland in search of roaming polar bears, to the foothills of the Himalayas to track endangered snow leopards.

She was inspired to write Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, her debut novel, after spending time in north-western Australia researching the dangerous and fascinating pearl-diving industry. She lives in London.

You can find Lizzie on Twitter and Instagram: @LizziePook.

Book Review: Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter by Sofi Laporte @Sofi_Laporte @rararesources

Synopsis

A resolute spinster. An irresistible rake. One accidental letter… Can love triumph over this hopeless muddle in the middle of the London season?

Lady Ludmilla is mortified. Though the spinster extraordinaire knows it is foolish, she has fallen head-over-heels for the amiable man with whom she’s been secretly corresponding, and that cannot be. When she sets out to uncover his identity, her world shatters. For her best friend Addy turns out to be none other but London’s worst rogue—the man who has ruined her engagement to someone else ten years earlier.

Lord St.Addington is perturbed. The wicked Viscount is developing a marked tendre for a spinster, and that cannot be. She might be mistaking him for someone he is not, or, what is worse, know precisely who he is. As London’s worst hellrake, he has a role to maintain, a charade to play. A depraved heart like his surely can’t be falling in love…least of all with a plain, outspoken spinster.

Determined to discover the truth behind the man she loves, Lu does what she does best: she sits down and writes a letter…

If you crave a humorous romp with witty banter and surprising twists, you will love Sofi Laporte’s charming masquerade.

Purchase Links
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09MFQ1FKQ
US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09MFQ1FKQ

My Review

The story begins with Lady Ludmilla Windmere telling the reader one of her biggest secrets. She wrote a letter to her long-time friend but it transpired that her friend no longer lived at the address and so she received a response from the new owner who signed off his name as Addy. Since that response Ludmilla (Lu) living in Bath and Addy living in London quickly became pen pals and best friends to the point where they have both developed feelings for one another despite never actually meeting. When Lu is given the chance to stay in London she decides it is time to finally meet Addy but she is in for a shock when she realises that the person she has been writing to and may have developed feelings for is London’s most well-known rake Adrian St Addington who Lu has already had a less than desirable encounter with. Will love still be on the cards when the truth is revealed?

This was a fairly short book that I read within 24 hours. The storyline was well constructed, punchy and full of humour. As characters it was difficult not to like Ludmilla and Adrian. Ludmilla is fierce, funny, outspoken and doesn’t hide how she feels. I loved how she called out Adrian for his previous behaviour and how he treats people, including the painful memories of how he was involved in a previous painful experience which she has never got over. Adrian is what Ludmilla would describe as a rake that lives up to his reputation, but the reality is very different as it is a façade he uses to hide who he truly is. We get a slight glimpse of the real Adrian when he realises that his actions led to Ludmilla being hurt in the past. Ludmilla and Adrian are very different in that Ludmilla doesn’t like to socialise but socialising is a big part of Adrian’s life but at the same time they would happily stay away from society. One of my favourite parts was the interaction between the two in the library especially when Ludmilla pours a drink over a sleeping Adrian and has no regrets.

There was definitely a love/hate vibe between Ludmilla and Adrian which added more tension and a spark to their interactions.

A book I thoroughly enjoyed!

Author Bio

Sofi was born in Vienna, grew up in Seoul, studied Comparative Literature in Maryland,
U.S.A., and lived in Quito with her Ecuadorian husband. When not writing, she likes to scramble about the countryside exploring medieval castle ruins. She currently lives with her husband, 3 trilingual children, a sassy cat and a cheeky dog in Austria.

Sofi writes sweetly simmering Regency Romance with mischievous, witty banter and heart-throbbing happily-ever-after.

Social Media Links –
Visit Sofi’s website at http://www.sofilaporte.com,
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sofilaporteauthor
Instagram @https://www.instagram.com/sofilaporteauthor/
Bookbub: @sofilaportebooks
https://twitter.com/Sofi_Laporte

Book Review: The Physician’s Daughter by Martha Conway @marthamconway @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Synopsis

It is 1865, the American Civil War has just ended, and 18-year old Vita Tenney is determined to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a country doctor like her father. But when her father tells her she must get married instead, Vita explores every means of escape – and finds one in the person of war veteran Jacob Culhane. Damaged by what he’s seen in battle and with all his family gone, Jacob is seeking investors for a fledgling business. Then he meets Vita – and together they hatch a plan that should satisfy both their desires.

Months later, Vita seemingly has everything she ever wanted. But alone in a big city and haunted by the mistakes of her past, she wonders if the life she always thought she wanted was too good to be true. When love starts to compete with ambition, what will come out on top?

From the author of The Floating Theatre, The Physician’s Daughter is the story of two people trying to make their way in a world that is struggling to escape its past.

My Review

When we meet Vita it is 1865 and the American Civil war has just ended. All Vita wants to do is practice medicine and become a Dr like her father. The only aspect of Vita’s life preventing her from fulfilling her ambition is the fact that she is female. Vita shares her ambition with her father who refuses to act as her mentor and dismisses her completely. In his view Vita’s role in life is to marry and have children. To this end he starts to find a suitor for her. One of which just happens to be Jacob, a war veteran. Vita realises that Jacob could help her fulfil her destiny to practice medicine so she proposes that they should marry and split her dowry so that she can pursue her medical career and Jacob can pursue a patent he is working on. Will Vita and Jacob find common ground and love?

This was a fascinating story and once I found myself drawn into from the first page. It is clear from the outset that Vita is accomplished and smart. However, Vita is at a disadvantage as she is living and trying to succeed in man’s world. This is despite Vita being better and smarter than some of her male counterparts in the medical profession. Vita is portrayed as a strong female character who doesn’t give up on her ambition and dreams despite setbacks along the way. Jacob like Vita is trying to find his way after the war whilst suffering from PTSD. When Vita and Jacob first meet there’s definitely something that draws him to Vita because not only is she is intelligent but she is different from other women. Their flirting and banter when they were first getting to know each other was awkward but very sweet.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Author Bio

Martha Conway has been nominated for an Edgar Award and won the North American Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. She teaches creative writing for Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, she is one of seven sisters. She now lives in San Francisco with her family.

Book Review: The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola #TheClockworkGirl @Anna_Mazz @orionbooks

Synopsis

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

My Review

Madeline is tasked to spy on the household of Dr Reinhart, a famous clockmaker and his 17 year old daughter, Veronique. She is to find out what the Dr is working on and what is going on in his household. Is the Dr working on something dark? Madeline has a month to uncover the truth on what truly happens in the Reinhart household and uncover what he is working on. Is it simply another mechanical creation or something more sinister. In exchange Madeleine will receive a sum of money which she can use to start a new life with her nephew, away from her mother and the streets of Paris. At the same time children are disappearing but no one knows what forces are behind this. Will Madeline discover the truth and is it the truth that she is expecting.

I adored the storyline of this book and found myself flying through it. It was a bit slow to begin with but I think that added more atmosphere to what was going on and Madeleine’s background. It’s definitely a story that couldn’t be rushed. As the story progressed and the pace quickened I found myself racing ahead to see what would happen next. The brilliant thing about this story was that whilst reading there was this sense of unease and suspense as soon as Madeline started working in the household. There was a very creepy feeling that there was something going on that wasn’t obvious to outsiders or anyone that wasn’t part of the Dr’s inner circle. This definitely bought Paris in the 1700s to life. It was a different way of life for many people depending on their status at birth. I won’t say too much to avoid spoilers but the ending was one that I wasn’t expecting and that completely shocked me. There were a few clues as to where the story was going however the ending I could never have predicted.

As far as characters go it is hard not to feel sorry for Madeline. She comes from a very impoverished and difficult background, has a strained relationship with her mother and in some ways is downtrodden by her mother. One of my favourite parts in the book was when Madeline spoke up against her mother and told her how she truly felt, taking her power back. In contrast there is Veronique who is born into a privileged background but is lonely and has a difficult relationship with her father. She has no mother so looks to Madeline as not only a mother figure but also a friend.

A creepy and gothic read which will keep you guessing from the first page.

Author Bio

Anna is a writer of historical thrillers and Gothic fiction. Her novels explore the impact of crime and injustice.

Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in Paris in 1750 and based partly on the story of the vanishing children of Paris, is out now.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. It won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.

Her second novel, The Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper  was nominated for the Highland Book Prize.

Her fourth novel is a ghost story set in Fascist Italy.

As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She is an accomplished public speaker and regularly speaks at and chairs literary events.

Anna is also a human rights and criminal justice solicitor, working with victims of crime. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with her family, a snake, a lizard and a cat.

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield #theembroideredbook @kateheartfield @fictionpubteam @HarperVoyagerUK @RandomTTours

Synopsis

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

1768, Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

My Review

When the book starts we are introduced to Maria Theresa the Empress of Habsburg and her children. The Empress is only concerned with building alliances through her children’s marriages than their happiness. Out of all her children she considers her daughter Charlotte a bad influence on her sister Antoine and tries to keep them apart but despite this the sisters are very close and have a very strong bond. It transpires that the lives of both Charlotte and Antoine are entwined with the life of their older sister Josepha. Josepha is due to be wed to the King of Naples and Charlotte to Louis the heir to the throne of France. However, when Josepha dies, the paths and destinies of Charlotte and Antoine change in a blink of an eye when the Empress decrees that Charlotte will take Josepha’s place in Naples and Antoine will take Charlotte’s place in France. From the outset it is made clear that there is something magical about Charlotte and Antoine and that magic runs through their veins. Their prized possession is a book of spells which they discovered as children and they use the spells contained within it and when older create spells of their own.

The lives of both Charlotte and Antoine were fascinating. Charlotte marries and quickly realises that her husbands is not a nice man or a man she could love. As such Charlotte decides that the quicker she gives birth to an heir the quicker she will obtain a seat on the council of Naples and have the power to make and influence decisions that affect the country and its residents. Antoine is also married at a very young age and is happier in her marriage to Louis but they are more like friends that husband and wife. It was hard not to feel sad for Antoine when she is getting ready to leave for France and realises she can’t take anything with her. Before she crosses to France she has to part with anything that relates to her previous life including parting with her clothes. She is stripped of her name and is reborn Marie Antoinette to make her truly French.

Once established both Charlotte and Antoinette come into their own becoming the female leaders of their respective countries at times having more influence over decisions than their husbands. Both are very ambitious and as they grow older you can definitely see them showing the same traits showed by their mother despite them thinking they have very little in common with her. At the same time their ambition also brings the sisters into conflict. Essentially this is a book about female leaders and the power they held. As a reader I did wonder what would have become of Charlotte and Antoinette had Josepha not died. History would definitely have been a little different. Reading this book did prompt me to read more about the characters and learn more about them.

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book as soon as I saw it advertised because it looked intriguing and included two of my favourite genres: history and fantasy. When the book arrived I was a little intimidated as it’s quite a chunk of a book. However, when I opened the book I realised that the font was quite big and the chapters were small and in bite sized chunks. So once I started to read I found myself flying through the book. The theme of magic running throughout the book was fascinating and I loved how the sisters used portrait magic to communicate. This is a richly written book that whisked me away to Naples and France in the 1700s.

One aspect of this book that I really liked was the list of character at the start which was categorised by the family that they belonged to, together with who they were. As this story features a lot of characters I found his really helpful to refer to at any point that I was lost and used this as a quick reference guide.

A book about history, politics and magic!

Author Bio

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

Book Review: The Gifts by Liz Hyder #TheGifts @LondonBessie @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Synopsis

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders. 

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . . 

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

My Review

This is the story of Etta who is running through the woods when wings sprout from her back. Natalya, who weaves magic through her stories, is hoping to find a new home in London after being disowned by her family but London isn’t the home she expects it to be. Edward, a surgeon who is constantly living in the shadow of his colleague seeks his own fame and recognition, becomes intrigued with angels which very quickly turns into an obsession and a dangerous one at that. His wife Annie, a once talented painter wants nothing more than a baby but her husband’s obsession and erratic behaviour is driving a wedge between them. Mary, a budding writer is pulled into the story of the angel pulled from the Thames and starts to investigate the story to determine whether it is just a rumour or is it actually real.

I have been looking forward to this book since I took part in the cover reveal and it did not disappoint. The storyline was dark, magical and gothic. It is told from multiple narratives and there are many characters but I found it easy to keep track of each character and their perspectives added more context to the story. The story is set at a time when women are not equal to their male counterparts. It was interesting to see how vocal Mary was about how her birth as a woman defined what society decided she could and couldn’t do especially as a budding writer. Essentially this is a story about women in the 1800s belonging to different social circles with different ambitions who in the end come together with one common goal. This is also a story about obsession and one that becomes all consuming to the point of ruin.

The ending was very poetic and gave the story a dramatic and satisfying conclusion leaving no loose ends.

A book that I will definitely be reading again!

Author Bio

Liz Hyder is a writer, experienced workshop leader and award-winning arts PR consultant. She has a BA in drama from the University of Bristol and, in early 2018, won the Bridge Award/Moniack Mhor’s Emerging Writer Award. Bearmouth her debut young adult novel was awarded a Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Branford Boase Award and was chosen as Children’s Book of the Year inThe Times. THE GIFTS is her debut adult novel.