#FridayReads ‘Ryan’s Christmas’ by @LJRoss_author #BookReview

Still waiting for your perfect wintry read? Try this cosy, crime mystery set in England’s most haunted castle in Northumbria and written by international bestselling author, L J Ross.

Ryan's Christmas: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 15) by [Ross, LJ]

From the Blurb

DCI Ryan and his team of murder detectives are enjoying a festive season of goodwill, mulled wine, until a freak snowstorm forces their car off the main road and into the remote heart of Northumberland.

Their Christmas spirit is soon tested when they’re forced to find shelter inside England’s most haunted castle, where they’re the uninvited guests at a ‘Candlelit Ghost Hunt’.

It’s all spooky, fun and games—until one of the guests is murdered. It seems no mortal hand could have committed the crime, so Ryan and Co. must face the spectres living inside the castle walls to uncover the grisly truth, before another ghost joins their number…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.


Partial View of Chillingham Castle, where the novel takes place.


My Review

Ryan’s Christmas is a real treat! It reads as a traditional whodunit, in the style of Agatha Christie, unlike the other DCI Ryan Mysteries.

It is an atmospheric and compelling crime novel, set in an authentic, 12th century castle in the north of England, which is in my bucket list to visit asap!

It was thriling to see the main characters of the series (DCI Ryan Mysteries), solving a crime at Christmas, while stranded in a spooky castle! It’s book 15 in the series, so plenty of crimes have been solved and the characters have taken on a life of their own!

But don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous 14 books (I haven’t read them all, yet!), the best thing is that Ryan’s Christmas can be read as a standalone by readers who haven’t read any of the previous books, although no doubt if you read this novel you’ll want to read the previous books in the series!

What can I say, I love all the characters, especially Ryan, who is the perfect gentleman and police inspector, admired by all his staff, and Anna, his wife,whom he met in book 1, Holy Island, a scholar of local, ancient history and lecturer at Newcastle University.

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 1) by [Ross, LJ]

Ryan’s Christmas is especially for lovers of well-written, cosy, crime mysteries, set in the UK, in winter.

LJ Ross

LJ Ross is an international bestselling author, best known for creating atmospheric mystery and thriller novels, including the DCI Ryan series of Northumbrian murder mysteries which have sold over four million copies worldwide.

Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon UK and Australian charts. Since then, she has released a further fourteen novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and twelve of which have been UK #1 bestsellers.

#FridayReads Mount Mercy by Helena Newbury #Romance #BookReview

I’ve read, enjoyed and reviewed most of Helena Newbury’s books to date, so I’m pleased to be reviewing her latest novel, Mount Mercy, published this week, and it’s already the amazon bestseller list #1 New Release in Medical Thrillers

Mount Mercy by [Newbury, Helena]

Mount Mercy is difficult to define because there’s romance, action and suspense in a medical setting. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop. The story is told from several alternating points of view, but most of the events are narrated by two doctors at Mount Mercy Hospital, Dominic and Amy.

Doctor Dominic Corrigan is a believable and engaging character. He’s an unorthodox doctor, who wears his tattoos and scars, from working in war zones, as proudly and uninhibitedly as a biker, but he’s also an experienced and professional ER doctor who thrives on the stress of his job and isn’t afraid to take risks to save his patients. He’s also known as a player with the ladies, but he’s covering up a heavy personal burden of guilt. Dominic meets Doctor Amy Beckett, a shy and emotionally withdrawn surgeon, who enjoys working in the quiet sanctuary of her operating theatre, because she  has a hard time coping with noise and stress.

In the midst of the chaos brought on by a severe snowstorm leading to a complete white-out in the area, a group of local criminals, behaving like terrorists, wreak havoc in the hospital and the town. Dominic and Amy will be drawn into the violence and terror, playing a major role in saving lives and the town from a devastating disaster.

I enjoyed the medical setting, the sweet and then steamy romance, the wintry landscape and weather, and the action packed and suspenseful final scenes. The setting and events were vividly portrayed, so I felt I was watching the events happening in the hospital and feeling the freezing blizzard.

Especially for lovers of romantic suspense with plenty of action, and of course, happy ever afters with larger than life main characters. A wintry treat at just over a dollar!


Helena Newbury is the author of well-written romantic novels with plenty of suspense, some steamy scenes, engaging characters and captivating stories.

I read and reviewed Kissing my Killer three years ago and although I loved Mount Mercy, Kissing my Killer is still my favourite! And it’s included in Audible’s Romance Package.


#FridayReads My Husband the Stranger by Rebecca Done #BookReview #Amreading

What you would do if your husband became another person overnight?

When Molly married Alex Frazer, she knew it was for ever. Theirs would be the perfect future.

In sickness and in health.

However, after a night out with his twin brother, Graeme, a terrible injury leaves Alex with permanent brain damage. In a single moment the man she married is transformed into someone new. Someone who has forgotten how to love her. And someone Molly isn’t sure she can ever love again.

From the blurb of My Husband the Stranger, a contemporary family drama by Rebecca Done.

My Husband the Stranger: An emotional page-turner with a shocking twist you'll never see coming by [Done, Rebecca]

My Review

My Husband the Stranger is an intense family drama and love story narrated by Molly and Alex, in two timeframes, before and three years after, Alex’s accident, which led to serious physical and emotional changes.

The reader receives a great deal of insight into both characters and their relationship, but there is a third dark and troubled character, Alex’s twin brother, Graeme.

It’s a contemporary domestic drama, which contrasts Alex’s dysfunctional family and Molly’s supportive parents. Other important topics brought up are parenting, sibling rivalry, friendship and the hardships of contemporary life.

My Husband the Stranger is also and overall a love story. Molly loves Alex, but she’s having financial and emotional difficulties coping with her husband’s changed and unpredictable personality, after his accident.

Molly literally has to learn to live with a new man and cope with a depressing job in a small town, far away from her family and friends in London.

Molly is the strongest and most admirable person in the novel. Her caring, determined and patient character ensures her struggle, against all odds, to preserve her marriage and help Alex through his long and challenging recovery.

The conclusion was satisfactory and feel-good, which surprised me because there was a lot of suspense and tension throughout, so I kept expecting a dark twist, which never came.

In spite of the lack of surprising plot twists, the novel had a steady pace and the prose flowed smoothly. I listened to the whole novel over two days, because I was invested in the characters and the storyline.

I will definitely be looking out for more novels by Rebecca Done.

The narrators of the audio version were excellent. 

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#FridayReads ‘The Good Girl’ by Mary Kubica @Audible #BookReview


I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.


My Review

I’ve had this novel on Audible, waiting to be read, for a few weeks. I was looking forward to reading it after reading the blurb and reading the first few pages. The 4.2/5 stars on 4,300 reviews on amazon.com and over 14,000 on Audible, also convinced me I couldn’t go wrong! I was not disappointed.

The Good Girl is about a rich and dysfunctional American family whose dissenting daughter, Mia, is kidnapped by a ruthless gunman who is subcontracted for the job.
Everything goes haywire when the kidnapper, Colin, decides to save Mia by kidnapping her from the kidnappers who recruited him, because he believes their ultimate aim is to murder her.

Mia and Colin, two of the narrators, spend months in hiding in a remote and freezing cabin, with barely enough to eat, while her mother, Eve, and Detective Hoffman, the other two narrators, try to find them.

The story is told by four narrators in two time periods, before and after the kidnapping, so we know from the beginning that Mia was recovered. In spite of this, I was intrigued to find out how she was able to escape, who had ordered her kidnapping her and why.

It may seem that the author included a spoiler or that going  backwards and forwards in time would be confusing, but it isn’t, quite the opposite, the narrative is greatly enriched by these alternating perspectives.

The first and final thirds are the most gripping, while in the central chapters, I did wonder where the story might be going, but as I read on, I realised it was all part of the suspense.

The four narrators were believable. My favourite was Colin, because, in spite of his reserved and sometimes evil nature, I felt I knew him better than the rest and because his character developed the most throughout the novel. Colin is the real protagonist. His decisions guide the plot. He’s the catalyst and the most interesting character.

I didn’t care much for Mia or her mother. I thought they were too full of self-pity and too self-righteousness. The father was the archetypal villain and the detective, was the proverbial honest and thorough investigator and good guy.

The climax was unexpected and devastating, and the end, narrated by Mia in the epilogue, was surprising and sad, but plausible and satisfactory. I’d recommend it to lovers of psychological thrillers and I’ll definitely be reading more by this author.

By the way, the audio version with the four different narrators was fabulous.

Link to The Good Girl on Audible


#FridayReads ‘Wildfell’ by London Clarke #authorInterview @londonclarke2 Happy Publication Day!

Today is publication day for London Clarke’s debut, Gothic suspense novel, Wildfell.


Wildfell by [Clarke, London]


Running away isn’t always an escape…

Anne Fleming is running away…

An ill-fated relationship with her grad school professor drives Anne to check out of life. After disposing of all her possessions, Anne assumes a new identity and boards a plane. But a chance meeting on a London-bound flight leads her to Wildfell, a gothic mansion with a cast of strange characters and a long history of disappearances and deaths.

While living at Wildfell, Anne is plagued by voices, ghostly mists, and a mute girl with a sketchbook full of murders. She only remains because of her violent attraction to fellow inhabitant—gorgeous actor Bain Tierney. But when Wildfell tenants begin disappearing one by one, Anne must decide if she trusts Bain. Is anyone in the house who they claim to be? Or are there are other forces at work inside Wildfell? And will they ever let her leave?


Wildfell is on my kindle and I’ll be reviewing soon, but first a short interview with London.

What attracted you to the Gothic genre?

I was attracted to the gothic genre from a young age. When I think back to the first gothic novel I read, it was probably one by Victoria Holt given to me by my grandmother. My grandmother was a voracious reader, and I have to attribute my own love of reading and writing to her. I loved the creepy house set in some rainy, windswept setting. There was always a brooding, mysterious, yet breathtakingly handsome man with a dark past. He either turned out to be a good guy in disguise or a killer who deceives the heroine. The unpredictability of the stories riveted me. I still love the eerie settings, the potential for the supernatural, and the isolation of the settings.

I remember reading Victoria Holt as a teenager, too. In fact I still have ‘On the Night of the Seventh Moon’, first published in 1972! I also love novels with creepy houses!

How important are the supernatural elements in your novel? 

Although I may write some novels in the future that only suggest the supernatural, right now I’m exploring the darker side of supernatural elements and how they can wreak havoc on a house and its inhabitants. I’ve always been interested in houses that experience hauntings and what that actually means for the people within. So, in short, the supernatural elements are pretty important in my novels.

I’m sure plenty of readers love ancient, haunted houses. I do! 

Tell us something about your main character/s.

Anne, my main character, has lived a nontraditional life. She has no idea who her father is, and she’s grown up with a mother who hates men and has done her best to poison Anne against them. But instead of buying into her mother’s philosophies, Anne rebels and romanticizes men. Her impetus to run at the beginning of the novel is because her hopes of proving her mother wrong are crushed when she is betrayed by her graduate school professor—a man she thought she was in love with. By the time she arrives at Wildfell, she’s in crisis mode–confused, ashamed, and searching for a foothold as she emotionally freefalls. When she meets Bain, she’s immediately attracted to him, but he also furthers that confusion. She feels a little intimidated by him, can’t make him out, and doesn’t know if he’s friend or foe.

A mysterious love interest who could be on your side or against you, leads to intense suspense and romance…

What kind of reader would enjoy Wildfell? 

A reader who enjoys a gothic setting with a creepy house (obviously), scary novels, and twisty mysteries. There is a strong thread of mystery to the story. Readers of Wendy Webb, Darcy Coates, or Laura Benedict will, I think, enjoy Wildfell for its elements of the supernatural. But there is probably more of a romantic angle than most horror fiction, so I’d like to think it will appeal to readers of romance and paranormal romance as well.

Sounds intriguing, paranormal, romance, suspense… I am so looking forward to reading!

What are you working on now?

I am working on a second gothic suspense novel with a vampire angle. This one will be the first book of a series set in Asheville, North Carolina. The working title is The Burning Thirst, but it will probably change. Currently, it’s scheduled to be released late this year.

I’m not too keen on vampires, but I could be persuaded if the plot is thick and the characters engaging!

What would you like readers to know about you?

Hmmm… Well, beyond the creepy stuff I’m truly a romantic at heart. I love to cry in a book or a movie, and I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen. I’m also an animal fanatic. I have two greyhounds that I love to distraction and I would have more, but my husband says two are enough (and it’s his house too). I’m also a bit of a wine connoisseur. At least, I like to think so.

I certainly hope you’re having a glass of vintage wine or champagne to celebrate your publication day! 


Obsessed with vampires and haunted houses from a young, London grew up reading gothic tales featuring romantic and tragic heroes like Wuthering Heights and Dracula. She considers herself a recovering runaway and confesses that she once moved to England in search of a man who was the perfect amalgamation of Dracula, Hamlet, Heathcliff, and Mr. Rochester. London graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Music and M.F.A in Creative Writing and has had an eclectic array of jobs including receptionist, legal secretary, literary assistant, high school English teacher, and freelance editor.

London lives in a Washington, DC suburb with her husband and two greyhounds. She’s happiest when she’s writing novels, reading books, or re-watching her favorite programs like The Vampire Diaries or Being Human.

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#FridayReads ‘Fur Coat & No Knickers’ by Adrienne Vaughan @adrienneauthor #amreading #amreviewing #ShortStory

If you’re looking for compelling short stories with unforgettable characters and moving stories, ‘Fur Coat and No Knickers’ is the ideal collection of short stories for you. You’ll love to read these stories over the weekend, or as you’re commuting. or enjoying a short break to read something short and thought-provoking.



These short stories are well.crafted and touching representations of people’s reactions to death and bereavement, hurtful lies, keeping up appearances, and complex relationships, all including unique and engaging characters you’ll easily recognise or identify with. There are also poems to introduce each story.

George and Mildred, which is my second favourite in the collection, is a beautiful story of second chances, mature love, and the need to have wise and helpful pets!

Lemon Bag, introduces us to a woman who has decided to take charge of her life, with the help of her new bag and a long journey.

Heir Apparent is a poignant story of manipulative lies, and unscrupulous people who take advantage of others,

The Adventuress  is another favourite. It’s about a woman, torn between two men, and a supportive father who is supportive and respectful of her decisions.

A Seed of Doubt is a wonderful ghost story about grief, misunderstandings, forgiveness and second chances.

A Married Man is a tragic story of a despicable liar and a naive young girl. It includes the cruelest villain and the most innocent and pitiful heroine.

Fur Coat and No Knickers, the story which gives the title to this collection is about keeping up false appearances, lies, jealousy, unrequited love and the inevitability of death.

The Retiring Type is a hilarious, yet poignant story about old age and betrayal.

A Visit at Christmas is my favourite. You all know by now that I’m an incurable romantic, and this is a beautiful love story set at Christmas. between a younger man and an older woman. It also reminded me of two characters in my own Trilogy.

The Proper Thing is about a man who has just died and left behind two wives who meet for the first time. Heart-breaking, but it has an optimistic ending.

The Messenger is a complex family drama and saga, set in Ireland, which could easily become a complete novel.

There is a lot of grief and bereavement in these stories, as well as devastating lies and destructive pretentiousness, but there is also a great deal of love, forgiveness, and second chances. Not all of the stories have happy or even satisfactory endings, but there is optimism and hope in the future in most of them. The characters who are able to face the reality of their situation and move on are offered new opportunities.

A Wonderful Collection of Moving Stories to be Read and Reread.


Adrienne Vaughan has been making up stories since she could speak; primarily to entertain her sister Reta, who from a very early age never allowed a plot or character to be repeated – tough audience. As soon as she could pick up a pen, she started writing them down. It was no surprise she wanted to be a journalist; ideally the editor of a glossy music and fashion magazine, so she could meet and marry a pop star – some of that came true – and in common with so many, still holds the burning ambition to be a ‘Bond Girl’! She now runs a busy PR practice and writes poems, short stories and ideas for books, in her spare time. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a founder member of the indie publishing group The New Romantics4. Adrienne lives in Leicestershire with her husband, two cocker spaniels and a retired dressage horse called Marco. She has also written The Hollow Heart, A Change of Heart, and Secrets of the Heart, in the Heartfelt Series.

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#FridayReads ‘Magnate’ and ‘Baron’ Books 1&2 Knickerbocker Series by @JoannaShupe #amreading #amreviewing #Histfic

If you’re looking for a character driven, historical romance, set in New York at the end of the 19th century, this is a wonderful book to get lost in this weekend.

Emmet  Cavanaugh, who was born in the slums of New York and has worked his way up to being one of the richest men in the city, is the only man in Elizabeth Sloane’s circle of friends and acquaintances who believes in her and supports her professional ambitions. However, Emmet has a heavy chip on his shoulder, and he has great difficulty trusting anyone, including the woman he loves. Meet them both in Magnate, by Joanna Shupe.

Elizabeth is a member of one of New York’s oldest and most respected families, who is more interested in working in the Stock Exchange than marrying another wealthy New Yorker. She turns to Emmet, to support her venture, as her brother and his friends don’t believe in her ability, or support the fact that a rich lady as herself should work like a man.

I couldn’t put this book down, the setting, the characters, the suspense, and the romance, had me hooked. I felt as if I were walking the streets of New York, at the end of the 19th century, in the Gilded Age. The author has vividly recreated the life of the rich and poorer residents of New York of the time.


Baron, book two in the Knickerbocker Club Series, tells the love story between William Sloane, Elizabeth’s snobbish brother, a railroad Baron born into one of New York’s most respected families, and Ava Jones, otherwise known as, Madam Zolikoff, the spiritist.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this second instalment of the Knickerbocker series, a historical romance set in 19th century New York.

A medium, bringing up her orphaned siblings single-handedly, a New York State senator and gubernatorial candidate, politicians, the elite of NY, the crooks, all become involved in political and financial dealings. The atmosphere of New York’s Gilded Age comes across on every page.

Amidst it all, an unlikely and passionate love story between a woman who is forced to lie for a living and New York’s most eligible, proud and privileged bachelor.

For readers who enjoy historical romance with a thrilling plot and captivating characters.

If you love realistic, well-written, steamy, historical romance, you’ll love this series. As you can Imagine, Mogul, book three, is already on my kindle, waiting to be devoured.


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#FridayReads Yonder by @LeeAnne_Hansen_ #amreading #amreviewing

Yonder by LeeAnne Hansen is a beautiful novel. It is set mainly in a small town in Mississippi, in the 1940s. Life and death in the south, at the time, is vividly and poetically portrayed. It was easy to get lost in the narrative and imagine I was right there.

It is a family drama, a mystery, suspense, and a romance with a touch of paranormal happenings, which could blend into the action as coincidence and intuition.

The novel starts with Isabel’s childhood, on her 10th birthday and her first crush, we gradually see some of her subsequent birthdays, leading up to her middle twenties. We witness her childhood hopes and dreams, her painful and sudden departure from her hometown and move to New York, her first adult romance, her first job, as well as heartbreak, devastation and her return home on her father’s death, leading up to the unravelling of the family secret and discovering true love.

Isabel is a loving, generous, yet naive, young girl, who gradually, and on occasions traumatically, finds out who she is and what she wants out of life. She also uncovers a shocking family secret, which came as a complete surprise to me.

All the characters come to life vividly, Isabel’s family, as well as her childhood friends and their families. There are a few unpleasant characters, and others who are simply immature. I have a favourite character, and that’s Ben, you’ll understand why when you read it. He’s solid, dependable and patient, but unfortunately, not everyone in the novel values these qualities.

The novel can be read as a standalone, because it has a clear and satisfactory ending, tying up all the loose ends, but there are other characters, too, with stories to be told, and I’m also interested in seeing some more of Isabel’s life, so I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

I listened to the audio book, narrated by the author, which was an added treat.


LeeAnne Hansen was born in Paris, grew up in Oklahoma and now lives in sunny southern California with her husband and cats. She enjoys writing, acting and playing bass guitar. She can be seen gracing the stage in various theaters or even directing. She is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and has studied art and astronomy. She also thoroughly enjoys long walks on the beach.

To learn more about LeeAnne please visit her website.

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