Category Archives: Rosie Amber’s Review Team

#TuesdayBookBlog The Haunting of Highdown Hall by @Shani_Struthers for #RBRT

I recently read and reviewed The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers for Rosie’s Book Review Team. k 1 The Haunting of Highdown Hall is Psychic Surveys Book 1.

highdown-hall

Here’s my 5-Star review.

An Engaging Paranormal mystery

Thirty-one year old, successful actress, Cynthia Hart, died of a heart attack during a dazzling birthday party at her residence, Highdown Hall, on Christmas Eve, 1958. Fifty-six years later, the present resident, Mr. Kierney, will discover her spirit hasn’t left and is causing havoc in the first floor bedrooms. He calls in the Psychic Surveys team, who will have to investigate the events leading up to her death in order to discover what’s keeping her in the land of the living.

Highdown Hall is not the only case they work on, however. They also visit a notorious mental asylum and various houses in the area, in search of lost spirits who need help moving on to the other side.

The four members of the team have varying degrees of psychic abilities. Ruby inherited the gift from her mother and her grandmother. Theo, who is retired, specialises in long distance healing. Quiet Ness, in her fifties sometimes worked with the Sussex police, and Corinna, a 21-year-old who dresses in gothic attire and also works at a pub.

Ruby, the heart and soul of Psychic Surveys, who is trying to set up a webpage for their flourishing business, meets Cash Wilkins, a website designer, and just the man she needs. Ruby thought he wouldn’t be interested in pursuing any kind of friendship with her, once she told him she was ‘a psychic surveyor’, but on the contrary, he was fascinated, genuinely interested, and perhaps a little psychic himself.

The highlight for me was when the spirit of a dead Labrador, Jed, became attached to Ruby after visiting a couple who complained of dog barking at night.

By the end of the novel, Cynthia’s case is finally solved, as a result of Ruby and Cash’s thorough investigations, and the four ‘ghost hunters’ have become six.

It was easy to be carried away by the interesting and varied stories of unhappy and tormented spirits being helped on their journeys towards the light and peace, at last. It’s an enjoyable novel for readers who have at least an open mind to the possibility of paranormal happenings.

Highdown Hall is well written, well plotted, and has engaging characters, so I’m looking forward to more of the Psychic Surveys’ extraordinary investigations.

****

shani

Shani Struthers was born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her own name – Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it’s Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni – although she does indeed know a Shanni – just to confuse matters further! Hobbies include reading and writing – so no surprises there. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. Writing both contemporary fiction and paranormal mystery, she is the author of The Runaway Year and The Runaway Ex, both published by Omnific Publishing.

Her paranormal work is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and includes Jessamine and the bestselling Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall and Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, and Book Three: 44 Gilmore Street .

psychic-surveys

Shani is currently writing Book 4 of the Psychic Surveys, Old Cross Cottage (due out in April 2017)

Find out more about Shani on her blog. 

****

wp-1488284919449.jpg

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#TuesdayBookBlog #amreviewing Eclipse Lake by @MaeClair1 for #RBRT

I recently read and reviewed Eclipse Lake by Mae Clair for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

eclipse-lake

Here’s my review (5 Stars)

A dramatic and heart warming tale of forgiveness, love and redemption.

Dane is the successful and millionaire CEO of a security company in San Diego. He’s been a widower for three years, and lives with Jesse, the teenage child he adopted when he was six years old and married his mother.

He’s never told Jesse about his past, until the day he takes him for a visit to Onyx, the small town in Pennsylvania he left fifteen years ago, when he was seventeen.

‘You told me your parents were dead.’ (says his son)

‘Sometimes people say things because it’s easier than explaining the truth.’

Dane has been telling plenty of lies to his son, especially by omitting details about his past, but the time has come for Jesse to own up and make peace with his dark teenage years.

His parents are dead, but his only sibling, Jonah, a Park warden at the beautiful Eclipse Lake resort, the local tourist attraction, is very much alive and not pleased to see his rebellious and criminal brother at all.

Once there, the reader will meet all the other locals, the teenagers such as Page and Zach, who will befriend Jesse, the unfriendly sheriff, April, the deputy, and Ellie, a photojournalist who will become a significant person in Dane and Jesse’s lives.

Coinciding with their arrival, a skeleton is found at Eclipse Lake, initiating a murder investigation, which directly affects Jesse and his family.

This beautiful novel is a family drama, a crime story, a romance, and a young adult novel, all rolled into one.

It deals with themes such as redemption, honesty, friendship, mature love and relationships, adolescent relationships, and complex family dynamics.

At the centre of the story is the relationship between Jesse, Jonah, and Dane. It’s about the relationships between brothers, between father and son, and uncle and nephew.

It’s a dramatic, but also heart warming story about second chances, forgiveness, redemption and the power of romantic, filial and brotherly love.

Eclipse Lake is so well written that by the time I finished reading, I felt I knew the characters and had even visited Onyx and Eclipse Lake, myself.

It was a pleasure to read and review for Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT).

Buy links: Amazon US  and Amazon UK

mae-clair

 

Other books by Mae Clair

Author bio

Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back. Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with conflict, mystery and a dash of romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about folklore, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog,

****

See all Luccia Gray’s reviews on Amazon

wp-1487683692942.jpg

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

#Author Spotlight Jennifer Theriot & #BookReview ‘Out of the Box Awakening’ for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today the Spotlight is on Jennifer Theriot, whose novel Out of the Box Awakening I recently reviewed as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

17901330

BLURB OUT OF THE BOX AWAKENING

Olivia is a good woman, a good mother, a good wife. She’s got it made. She doesn’t want anything to change.

Of course, it does…

Swept from her perfect paper-doll life in Houston, Olivia finds herself in Chicago, alone, betrayed, and far from home. Soon everything she thought she knew about herself and her life will be challenged. She has only courage, love, and her passion for music to carry her through the maelstrom—or draw her further in.

Ash is the man who has everything—everything except healing from the losses of a lifetime. His only peace lies in the sweet flow of music pouring from his guitar.

What happens when the married woman and the sexy handsome widower are thrown together by fate?

Out of the Box Awakening is a story about second chances, shared passion and shared joy. Jennifer Theriot has written a compelling book about what happens when two people find new life and new love for themselves and for those around them.

My Review

Out of the Box Awakening by Jennifer Theriot is a contemporary family drama with a hopeful ending.

Olivia, who is in her late 50s, is faced with making major life changes. Her children have grown up and left home, and she has to move from Huston to Chicago due to her husband’s new job. Her husband, Alan, is staying with his friend, Ash, who becomes Olivia’s supportive friend as her life unexpectedly falls apart.

We will follow Olivia through the discovery of betrayal and her traumatic divorce, as she gradually falls in love with Ash. She realizes she hadn’t really been in love with her husband for a long time before their marriage ended. For example, she loved music and dancing, while Adam didn’t, so she had abandoned her hobby until Ash and his son, who is a musician, open up a new world of music and dancing. The realization that she has been drifting through life with Alan, who had never really appreciated her, comes as a shock. For instance, there’s a scene when she’s in hospital and Ash phones Alan to ask about her medical history to fill in a form, but he doesn’t know the answers.

‘Alan, tell me you actually know something about your wife? I’ve got to get these forms filled out and I goddamn need your help.’

Alan replies: ‘I honestly don’t know.’

It’s devastating, but at least Olivia is fortunate enough to have found Ash, who is supportive emotionally and helpful from a practical point of view too. He teaches her to value herself, her body, her hobbies and her freedom. He encourages her to find a part-time job, to keep herself busy, motivated and independent.

Most romantic novels have young main characters, so it was refreshing to read a novel about a more mature love story including characters who were my age. There are also plenty of young people in the novel, such as Olivia and Ash’s young adult children, who liven up the story.

Although it can be read as a standalone because there is no cliffhanger ending, and the ending is happy, there’s still a story to be continued. I was thrilled to discover that there are two more books in the series. How will their new life together work out? They both have families and personal baggage, will they be able to start again? Life with Ash will be better than life with Alan, because at least Ash respects and supports Olivia, but Ash also has his secrets. His job in government security, which we know little about and keeps him away for periods of time, is intriguing. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment, Out of the Box Regifted which is already on my kindle!

Out of the Box book 2

Interview with Jennifer Theriot

1- Most romantic novels are about young couples, what were the challenges you faced writing a romance involving a mature couple?

There really were no challenges, per se. At first I wasn’t sure how well the readers would take to it though. Here you have a middle-aged couple, young at heart, still sexually active,falling in love and doing silly things.

2- I’ve read and reviewed book 1, Awakening, but there are two more, Regifted and Everlasting, what inspired you to write the ‘Out of the Box’ Trilogy?

When I finished Out of the Box Awakening, my characters wanted to go on – there was more of the story to tell, so I went with Out of the Box Regifted (where Olivia was ‘regifted’ to Ash by Alan). This one has a lot more ‘steamy romance’ in it, as Ash and Olivia’s relationship flourishes and he encourages her to be more spontaneous and uninhibited. The characters wanted to go one more, so I left a little ‘cliffy’ at the end of Regifted. In Out of the Box Everlasting, the story comes full circle. I have a little political conspiracy theory in Everlasting – with this being an election year and all. I figured why not throw in a little Trump-esque scenario 😉

The trilogy is complete and the order of it spells ARE (Awakening, Regifted, Everlasting)

My thoughts: I know what you mean when you say, my characters wanted to go on, because I had the same feeling as I wrote and even now that I’ve finished my trilogy! Some characters seem to have a mind of their own!

3- What’s your writing process like? 

By all means, non traditional! I live outside the box, so don’t follow the rules. I don’t use an outline, I’m pretty unorganized  and I wait for my characters to guide me. I write at night and on weekends, because I have a full-time day job crunching numbers.

Unwrapping Noel

4- What are you working on now?

Last Christmas, I wrote a little novella called Unwrapping Noel. It’s about a full-figured thirty something year old woman who was in a tumultuous and toxic marriage. She owns a PR firm and goes to the Silicon Valley on business during the Christmas holidays, where she meets a sexy silver fox named Leon Hallas who falls head over heels for her. (Did you catch the palindrome?)

I’m now working on the sequel to that, called Finding Joy. I love writing this couple!

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love connecting with new readers and I love to hear from them. I’m a people person by nature.

Here’s my author biography:

USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Theriot (pronounced Terrio) hails from the Great State of Texas. She is a career woman, working as CFO of a Texas-based real estate investment firm by day and does her writing at nights and on weekends. In her limited spare time, Jennifer enjoys being outdoors; preferably somewhere on a beach curled up with a good book. Spending time with family and friends, listening to music, watching a baseball game and enjoying a good bottle of wine are usually on her to-do lists. She’s mom to three grown children and ‘MiMi’ to four grandkids – all of whom she adores!

Jennifer took a chance that there could be an interest in romance with middle-aged couples who are finding themselves at a crossroads and wrote her debut novel Out of the Box Awakening, which centers on the hope of finding happiness and passion through unexpected heartache. It emphasizes the need for family and friends as Jennifer has learned in her own life. Grownup romance from the other side of 30 is how she characterizes her books. The books have also been described as “Mature Sexy” by one reviewer…

Jennifer

6- How can readers contact you or find out more about you?

As you can see below, Jennifer is very active on social media, so take your pick!

GOOGLE PLUS: https://plus.google.com/102404514817870981129/posts

WEBSITE: http://www.jennifertheriot.com

BLOG: http://jennifertheriot.com/blog/

AUTHOR FACEBOOK:   Jennifer Theriot, Author https://www.facebook.com/JenniferTheriotAuthor

TWITTER:  @ JenTheRiot https://twitter.com/JenTheRiot

BOOK BUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-theriot

GOODREADS AUTHOR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082754.Jennifer_Theriot

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Theriot/e/B00D8SW61C

AUTHORGRAPH: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JenTheRiot

Book Trailers

http://youtu.be/fJp9fUMiedI

http://youtu.be/PaOdiY-J2YY

http://youtu.be/cg4WXXGvqqg

7- Where can readers buy your books? buy links.

 UNIVERSAL BOOK LINKS:

http://mybook.to/OutoftheBoxAwakening

http://mybook.to/OutoftheBoxRegifted

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Box-Everlasting-Jennifer-Theriot-ebook/dp/B01D0S3JSI

http://mybook.to/ToccataObbligatoSerenadingKyra

http://mybook.to/FortuneBrawling

 http://myBook.to/CrazyLadyAuthorsCookbook

****

Thank you so much for your visit, Jennifer. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing more of your novels, which I’ll be sharing on this blog with my readers at a future date!

 

Guest Post @JanRuthAuthor & #BookReview ‘Palomino Sky’ for #RBRT

Today I’m reviewing Palomino Sky by Jan Ruth for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Palomino Sky is book 2 in the Midnight Sky Series. I reviewed book 1, Midnight Sky  earlier this month. I’d like to thank both Rosie and Jan for the opportunity of reading and reviewing.

Jan Ruth Banner Midnight and Palomino Sky

This post includes, the blurb, my review and a guest post by Jan Ruth about her love of horses which figure predominantly in her life and her novels.

Blurb PALOMINO SKY

A golden promise for the future in a lonely palomino mare, but life deals a cruel hand for James and Laura.

James is still running from the past after the loss of his wife, and a devastating accident forces him to face his final demons, but at what cost? Laura is forced deeper into his rural world – a life she once despised – but discovers empathy and hope in the palomino mare she calls Song.

Repercussions abound for Maggie too, when the full extent of her daughter’s dangerous liaison comes to light, leaving the entire family in turmoil. Will James and Laura ever find a golden future, or has life dealt too vicious a blow?

Palomino Sky is the sequel to Midnight Sky, both novels are named after horses on the farm where James lives and carries out his equestrian business.

Palomino Sky Cover MEDIUM WEB

My Review 5-Stars

Palomino Sky is named after another new horse. Liz (James’ bossy and independent sister) calls a ‘showy palomino’. I know very little about horses, and one of the joys of reading these two novels is learning more about them, like discovering that palomino is a coat color in horses, consisting of a gold coat and white mane and tail. Rhian, one of the staff says ‘Jamie reckons she’s a natural at hooking up, a joiner.’ James, the horse whisperer, needs horses like that to help recover the horses he heals from trauma and injury. Palomino is also a metaphor for Laura’s role in the novel. She will have to heal, or ‘join’ James in the second part of the novel.

Palomino Sky moves the story started in Midnight Sky in a much darker way, because there are various dramatic and violent events, which will seriously change the course of all their lives, especially in the case of Laura and James.

In book one, James helped Laura during a traumatic moment in her life, including her break up with Simon, but in book two, it’s Laura who will have to heal James from real physical injury and trauma. I can say no more without including a spoiler.

Maggie and Pete have set up a bed and breakfast to supplement their meagre income at Hafod House, the running of which brings some humorous relief to the dramatic action. I liked the way Maggie’s role as older and wiser sister is heightened, and she actually takes some very important and risky steps to help Laura with her personal issues with the men in her life.

On the other hand, Jess’s role as troublesome teenager, develops into a dangerous troublemaker. A violent boyfriend, and a new crush on James’s twenty-year-old American son, will lead to many unfortunate incidents throughout the novel, including an almost tragic event, which will rock their lives.

There are some beautiful descriptive passages, such as: ‘The sun was dying across Snowdonia, bleeding slowly through a palomino sky,’ which add to the beauty of the novel and enhance the reading experience.

Although the ending is satisfactory, at least for James and Laura, there is still a long road to happiness, and there are plenty of loose ends to tie up in book three, which I’m impatiently looking forward to reading.

****

I’ve asked Jan to tell us more about her passion for horses.

Horse Jan 2

SWEET NOTHINGS

My passion for horses, whispering, and the inspiration behind my equine series

Just when you think you know everything about a subject, along comes someone to blow apart a lifetime of assumptions. Monty Roberts’ father was virtually destroyed by his son’s belief in ‘horse-whispering’, as a far more humane and less exhausting method of breaking and training horses. It’s no secret that Monty took a severe beating for it.

A remarkable man, Roberts went on to foster disadvantaged children, using much the same wisdom and insight he’d learnt through studying horses and their social groups in the wild. It’s too easy – and often misguided – to bestow animals with human emotion, but maybe trust is rooted in the same place in humans as in horses, and observation and interpretation is all that’s required to make a valuable connection, regardless of language. And isn’t whispering usually far more effective than shouting? Much the same as writing good fiction; and if we’re talking analogies there’s nothing worse than clunky dialogue. Is Natural Horsemanship simply natural dialogue?

Guido Louis Leidelmeyer: “In the words of the horse: ‘Listen’ by observing me, and communication between us will come naturally and silently. In my words: Can I help you do that?”

Horse Jan

As with most things that work well, it’s based on a simple concept of alignment with nature. Horses like to hang in a crowd (herd), follow the leaders – usually the older mares – and be out in the open simply because if there’s a predator, they’re more likely to bolt, than stand and fight. That’s about it. If a horse is singled out he is more likely to turn to us without fear or aggression once he comes to realise that we are not predatory, and as a surrogate leader can offer the ultimate protection. And that’s where the ‘following’ or ‘joining-up’ comes in.

This principle works with wild/un-handled horses as well as re-training by reiterating the relationship of horse and leader for equines who have formed bad habits, or those with anxiety issues.

Actually, most bad habits stem from anxiety and a lack of leadership. It’s a little like your pet dog – and dare I say children, too? – needing to know they’re safe and secure place in the family pack, although the body language between dogs and horses is rather different. Flattened ears in a dog is more likely to mean subservient greetings whereas a horse … well, watch out!

Not everyone agrees that these principles are quite so cut and dried, and as is often the case with a lot of unquantified skills, there is perhaps some sixth-sense at work gleaned from years of experience. There are many equine behavourists who claim the ‘following’ principle is flawed. But the proof is in the pudding.

I’ve watched Guido use these techniques on a couple of riding-school horses – both of whom he’d never ‘met’ – with amazingly fast results: 20 minutes to resolve a problem with electric clippers on a mare which had for some 12 years, aggressively avoided the issue. The owner was quite rightly, open-mouthed. But the problem isn’t solved in its entirety, as Guido explained: Tilly’s owner needed to learn and understand the process for herself, and as is the case with most success stories, a certain measure of self-belief is required. It’s this psychological leadership which is perhaps where the sixth-sense bridges that gap between human and equine.

Grey Horse

Horses have been a lifetime’s passion for me. No surprise that they feature in most of my novels, more so in MIDNIGHT SKY and the sequel: PALOMINO SKY. Both books draw on the principles of horse-whispering and the power of self-belief – but I take on this theme in a fictional sense rather than a technical sense. It’s so easy to swamp the narrative with too much unwanted detail. And yet, it’s the minutiae of life which underpins the storyline in PALOMINO SKY. As with horse-whispering, it’s the observation of perhaps something seemingly inconsequential which can change an entire situation. If you’re not horse savvy or enjoy only a passing interest, I’ve tried to portray the equine aspect as secondary to the storyline in these books. On the other hand, horse enthusiasts will hopefully embrace the setting!

****

Thank you, Jan, for a fascinating insight into ‘horse-whispering’. I can see how this idea of life and social interaction seeps into your novels. The balance between love, leadership, and a sixth sense helps repair some relationships in your novel, and a lack of balance certainly leads to family drama and conflict; I’m thinking especially of Jess here 🙂

If you’d like to read the Midnight Sky series here are the links:

MIDNIGHT SKY is currently 99c US

PALOMINO SKY: US

MIDNIGHT SKY is currently 99p UK

PALOMINO SKY: UK

Jan Facebook Banner

You can also find out more about Jan Ruth on Facebook or follow her on Twitter

#Author Spotlight @Lizzie_Lamb and #BookReview Scotch on the Rocks for #RBRT

In the spotlight this week is Lizzie Lamb, author of Scotch on the Rocks which has just been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize, this year.

Good luck Lizzie, because you’ve written a wonderful novel, which deserves all the praise and attention it’s getting from readers and reviewers!

1-PhotoFunia-1453642738

Blurb Scotch on the Rocks    5-Stars!

ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.

Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast – where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.

In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?

As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .

1-Latest Gary poster

My Review

Scotch On The Rocks is the first book I’ve read by Lizzie Lamb, and it won’t be the last! I already have her two other books on my kindle, Tall, Dark and Kilted, and Boot Camp Bride.

Scotch on the Rocks is a contemporary romantic comedy set in a small, picturesque village in Scotland.

The author brings to life an unconventional cast of characters in the small local community, including a histrionic and egotistical opera singer, her best friend, fanciful Lindy, who calls herself Lola, a cheating ex-fiancé, as well as a foul-mouthed and cheeky parrot!

The plot thrusts the heroine, Issy, straight into the action. She’s upset because she’s just broken up with her fiancé, whom she was about to marry, and drives back home across a flooding causeway, to her eccentric aunt Esme’s home, transporting her father’s ashes. On her arrival at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast, she meets the attractive and secretive, American, Brodie.

As the plot unfolds, Issy will gradually find out why Brodie is there and who her family really are. No-one is who they seem, and the secrets of the past, going back to the WWII, will be disclosed. Their lives will never be the same again.

I loved the sharp dialogue, which makes the characters come alive, the vivid descriptions, which made me feel part of the scenery, and the passion, which made me fall in love with all the lovers (young and older), and the island.

The setting was a real plus. The last time I visited Scotland was many years ago, and I can’t wait to go back and visit places like Cormorant Island and picturesque coastal locations. I enjoyed the local customs, dialect, food and drink. I’m so glad I read it over the Christmas holidays, because although it takes place in summer, it has a Christmassy feel to it. It’s definitely a novel to curl up with on a comfortable armchair by the fireplace!

Scotch on the Rocks is humorous yet tragic. It’s also surprising, exciting, heartwarming and romantic, too.

Finally, there’s a satisfactory ending and hopeful message: It’s never too late to follow your dreams, and by never, I mean even that some characters are well over the age of retirement when they made their dreams come true!

I’d like to thank Lizzie for gifting me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review, and Rosie for organizing Rosie’s Book Review Team, and making it possible for readers, writers and reviewers to connect.

BCB

Lizzie is an amazing author, so I asked her to answer some questions which will be of great help and inspiration to all writers, especially those new to this fascinating profession. 
1- What made you decide to leave your teaching job and become a full-time writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a ‘writer’. The bug really bit after my grandfather bought me a Petite typewriter when I was about ten – and I never looked back. Fast forward a few years . . . I became a teacher and married, however, with a mortgage and bills to meet I knew that I couldn’t afford the luxury of giving up the day job in the hope of making a living out of writing. Then, after thirty-four years at the chalk face, the day dawned when I thought, this is it; now or never. I left the profession and set on the road to becoming a published writer.

2- What advice would you give an author who wants to self publish his/her novel?

Write the best novel you can, the one you hope readers will want to read. THEN, if funds allow it, have it professionally edited; I used Hilary Johnson Agency for my first novel, and also had it critiqued, twice, by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Don’t be afraid to ‘kill off your darlings,’ when you edit, be professional and always keep your readers in mind. Pay to have it proof read and I also suggest that you have it formatted by a professional – at least the first time. Readers are very unforgiving if a book is sloppily presented and full of spelling mistakes. I would also advise wannabe writers to ‘get their ducks in a row’, well before they self-publish. By which I mean: build up your social media presence: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and create a website which has a built-in blog. Use all of the above to build up your on-line persona and find potential readers before you actually publish your novel. Make friends, generously promote other writers and once your book is published, find new readers via a newsletter etc. Sounds daunting? It is, but hard work reaps rewards. Finally, write another book, and another; prove that you have what it takes to go the distance.

3- Which writers have influenced you as an author?

When I first set out as a writer I was heavily into historical novels. However, as I moved up the career ladder, I had less time for reading. That’s when I got into Mills and Boone (in the 80’s heyday when there were some fantastic writers: Charlotte Lamb, Sara Craven etc, then the shorter Jilly Cooper novels, Jill Mansell, Catherine Alliot, Fiona Walker and finally, Sophie Kinsella. They made me realise that I loved romantic comedy and that’s what I decided to write, although I do find dropping snippets of historical factoids into my novels irresistible. Later, I was much taken by the Little Black Dress (Headline) imprint and I aimed my first novel at them. Unfortunately, by the time I’d finished writing it, the line was closed and I had to start looking for a different publisher.

2014-12-24 20.38.34

4- Could you tell us about the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s and the New Writers’ Scheme?

Here’s a link to the New Writers’ Scheme which tells you everything you need to know. It’s a fabulous place to start out and you learn so much from meeting and mixing with published authors and agents. As part of the annual subscription, you are entitled to a critique of your novel (full or partial) by an author already published in your genre. Once you gain a publishing contract you can ‘graduate’ to full membership. In 2015 the rules were changed to allow self-published authors to leave the NWS and become Independent Members, provided they meet the criteria for that membership. I love being part of the RNA and have learned since joining, it’s well worth an aspiring writer to consider joining.

5- What is your writing routine?

I try very hard to stay off social media until after I’ve done my words for the day, but I never manage it. There’s always mail to answer, tweets to schedule and blog posts to write. But, once I get started I don’t want to be interrupted. Luckily I have a room at the end of the house which is all my own and I can leave the pc in sleep mode, return to it later in the day and pick up where I left off. I don’t allow anyone on my computer as several years ago one of my great niece’s accidently deleted swathes of work. Now everything’s backed up on Dropbox. I’m disciplined and write every day (where possible). We have a touring caravan and when we go on holiday, the pc and the parrot come, too. I find that if I leave too long between writing my novel, I lose the flow . . .

6- Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I start off as a plotter and get the bare bones of the story down on a time line with post it notes, then I start writing. That’s when plotter becomes panster – the novel unwinds in front of me as I type, like a movie and I simply have to write it down and knock it into shape. Sounds easy? I spend all day dreaming about my novel and my characters act out scenes in my head, scenes I hadn’t even thought of. Then, when I sit down to write it’s all there, demanding to be made into a novel. Sometimes I wonder who’s in charge – them or me!

7- What are you working on now?

I hope to publish my next novel, This Highland Magic, within the next year.

Dr Henriette Bruar travels to north to catalogue the library in an ancient castle set in the middle of a remote Highland loch. The laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie, of that Ilk, is pressed for cash and is selling off the estate’s assets, including the library. This doesn’t please his son, Keir, who fears there will be nothing of the estate left to inherit. To all outward appearances, Henriette seems like just any run of the mill academic, unremarkable even. However, in her heart of hearts, she sees herself as a cross between Indiana Jones and the Relic Hunter and dreams of someday finding a precious manuscript, a hidden treasure or unlocking family secrets. At Sir Malcom’s castle, she sets out to do just that.

2015-12-29 14.39.14

8- What would you like readers to know about you?

After teaching my 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, I decided pursue my first love: writing. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride. Although much of my time is taken up publicising Tall, Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bride, I published a third novel SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS in July 2015. It achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon. I am a founding member of an indie publishing group – New Romantics Press. In November 2014 we held an Author Event at Waterstones High Street, Kensington, London the icing on the cake as far we are concerned, and a fitting way to celebrate our achievements. I live in Leicestershire with my husband David (aka Bongo Man) and a naughty parrot called Jasper.

9- How can readers find out more or contact you?
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb
Lizzie’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter
Lizzie’s email: lizzielambwriter@gmail.com
Lizzie’s Website: website: http://www.lizzielamb.co.uk
Lizzie’s Newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/ELNL-2016
Linked in: uk.linkedin.com/pub/lizzie-lamb/18/194/202/
Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/cbla48d
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzielamb/
Twitter: @lizzie_lamb

10- Where can readers buy your books?

https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb

Thank you for visiting my blog and taking art in this Author Spotlight, Lizzie. It was a pleasure to have you here and learn more about your writing process and future projects. Good luck with the Exeter Novel Prize and I’m looking forward to reading your next novel, later this year 🙂

I hope you all follow Lizzie’s advice and have a wonderful weekend!

Follow your heart

#Author Spotlight @NicciMayne and #BookReview Full Circle for #RBRT

I recently reviewed Full Circle – A Duke Lost as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team (#RBRT)

NM Cover

My Review

This is a historical romance, set in Regency England. It has three main characters and four distinct parts.

The first part is a poetic and unhurried. It takes us through an intense and beautiful love story between a Duke and a young deaf girl. Bram is the honourable Duke of Bramford, who has fought for his country and is very loyal to the crown. The wedding had been arranged by his mother since the bride was two years old! Anna is an orphan who has been living practically on her own all this time, in an isolated castle in Scotland, waiting for her betrothed. When they meet, in her 18th year, they are both surprised to fall in love. I thought I was going to read a sweet, traditional romance, because their love story was drawn out in great detail. I didn’t mind, because I love historical romances, but I did wonder where the story would be going.

The second part of the plot moves on with the only obstacle to their happy marriage, namely Bram’s best friend, Michael, Earl of Milford, who thinks Bram should marry a richer and more worldly society lady. Surprisingly, Michael also falls in love with Anna, and although their friendship is threatened, Michael finally remains both their friends.

The plot then takes a third surprising twist (I can’t go into any detail without including a spoiler), and Anna will learn that her husband is not the man she thought he was, and that he has other priorities and duties in life, which exclude Anna and their children. Anne must turn to Michael for support, with Bram’s approval.

Finally, the title refers to the end of the story in which harmony is restored, at great emotional cost to all involved. It’s not a sad ending, although it’s not a perfect HEA either. I think it’s the best possible ending, although I can’t help feeling sorry for the way in which one of the characters is excluded from ‘the circle’.

The three main characters were engaging, and the plot, which was slow at first, moved on well in the second part. Especially for lovers of historical romance.

****

I asked Nicci if she would like to take part in an interview so we could know more about her and her, her novel, and writing process.

Quote-Nicci-Mayne_1000

This is your first published novel, and it’s set in Regency England. What is it about the Regency era that most interests you?

I’m going to tell you a little story about a dream I had many times before even having set foot in England:
Surrounded by village shops and treading a cobblestone street, I smile to myself. A feeling of absolute pleasure comes over me. I love everything about the quintessential English style. The higgledy-piggeldy street starts to incline and I look up towards an emerald green hill. A winding path leads up to a church of magnificent proportions. A proud steeple signals a hearty welcome. I approach with eagerness. But with every desperate step I take, the church seems further and further out of my reach…
I came to England having stored this in a remote part of my subconscious. When I visited Chesterfield, the dream came rushing back to me. If you have not been there before, the town has an ordinary church with the most extraordinary twisted spire, both of human and natural creation. At that very moment, I realised I had truly found my home. England.
And if you know anything about English people or culture, you know that that spire is more than just a bizarre piece of architecture. It is wholly unique and yet considered. Inconsequential and yet determined. Beautiful. Like it’s people.
It has a history that can be felt in the rhythm of it’s pulse.

Is your plot based on any real historical event or people?

I have worked for twenty years in social care and, for much of that time, I have had the privilege of knowing people who have overcome adversity and have challenged the cruel hand that life has dealt them. I admire these people for their fight and optimism. But it wasn’t until I watched a movie made by deaf children to help people who can hear understand what life is like for them that I realised deaf people are inspirational and truly lovely and positive people.
I then reached out to deaf people using social media and read some of their stories. I was especially touched by a piece written by Christina Hartmann. She describes a world of deafness that has shaped her life into something quite beautiful and personal. Her world is clearly hers and hers alone to cherish and enjoy. She wrote:

“Make no mistake: my deafness was no curse. It shaped my perspective of the world, and I’m glad for it. For me, deafness opened up new worlds, rather than the other way around”.
I encourage you to find Christina’s personal account called ‘What it is like to be deaf from birth’.

What are the challenges facing authors of historical novels?

First and foremost, Anachronisms. If you have never heard of this very wicked word, the best way to explain it is by giving you an example of my own close call- in Full Circle- A Duke Lost, the Duke’s best friend, Michael, is having a full-on rant about the major mistake the Duke will be making if he marries Anna. Michael goes on to say:
“Don’t do it man. Every eligible beauty between here and London is ready to be set before you to be savoured and selected, each and every one resplendent in this season’s finery and primed to please. The one you are hell bent on has baggage, a heaping pile of baggage the size of the Matterhorn.”
Originally, this read “a heaping pile of baggage the size of the Kilimanjaro.”
Fortunately, my editor, Jacqui, is not only a linguist extraordinaire, but an English history enthusiast and she knew that Mount Kilimanjaro would not have been well-known during the period Full Circle is set in. She also uses Census information to research the names I use for characters to ensure they are ‘period appropriate’. Perhaps the moral of the story is that behind every good author is a ‘Jacqui’.
This leads onto the next set of challenges:
Historical accuracy vs. the use of creative license (where would a romance novel be without creative license… snooze fest!).
Too many descriptive paragraphs vs. too few (how much is too much, how little is too few?) and then, my arch-nemesis,
To use the Queen’s English or something a little more universal (I vote for “ma’am” as in “farm”, and not “ma’am” as in “jam”, but this is apparently not everyone’s cup of tea!)

Which writers have inspired you as an author?

I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teen. Now, you may not be surprised by this, after all, Jane Austen is probably many, many people’s first waltz with period romance. But South African teen’s are no ordinary teens, not those born in the ‘70’s anyway. I had a very sheltered life. My idea of a good man was one who worked hard, mowed the lawn on a weekend, knew how to ‘braai’ (barbecue) and at some point in his life had played rugby. Needless to say Mr. Darcy, made my pulse race.
After that I couldn’t get enough of period books. Although Pride and Prejudice will always have a special place in my heart, Forest Lovers by Maurice Hewlett is my absolute favourite. Set in the medieval times in a dream world, Maurice Hewlett describes an awe-inspiring love.

What are you working on now?

Hedgerows & the Imperious Duke’ is a period novel that tells the story of two unique people: Shael Nathan Averay, 11th Duke of Stanthorpe, born to wealth and expectation. However, he is no ordinary member of the aristocracy and is prone to extreme peculiarities which are not tolerated amongst the ton. He doesn’t blame anyone for detesting his company; he feels the same way about himself. Although alone and absolute, self-pity is just not part of his vocabulary. In fact, he feels little for anyone. He knows he is a monster.

The Duke resigns himself to the life of a recluse. But he does not take into account the fifth and youngest of the girls he has earmarked to be the future wives of his brothers- Nelle- an untamed, playful and nature-loving sprite who makes it her personal mission to show the Duke a life previously unknown to him. Unexpectedly, Nelle’s life is not what it appears to be on the surface and the Duke’s poor social skills, joined with his insular nature, means that he fails to recognise a kindred, suffering soul. Will he be in time to save her?

Well, you will have to read the book! But, I can tell you this, these star-crossed lovers make my tummy turn and their cruel circumstance made my editor extraordinaire cry…

Nicci Picture
What would you like readers to know about you?

I suppose I could tell you that which you could read on any of my networking site (trained social worker, studied psychology, love my family, love my dogs, love England), but instead, I will tell you a few select things that will help you understand why I can write about adversity:
~ I am convinced I can feel my eyebrows growing, like aliens on my face. I have Googled this phenomenon and can’t find anyone like me. It doesn’t feel good to be different.
~ I am obsessive about clean and clear surfaces. Order and control are biggies for me. I understand that feeling vulnerable can make you feel a little doolally.
~ I had very bad early childhood experiences. I know what it is like to feel ‘little’ in a very big world.
~ I believe Lattes are a key source of essential nutrients.

Where can readers find out more or contact you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicciMayne.givelifeago/?ref=hl
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NicciMayne
BingBing: http://www.thebingbing.com/niccimayne
Email: niccimayne.givelifeago@gmail.com

Where can readers buy your book?

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Full-Circle-Duke-Nicci-Mayne-x/dp/1515271269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452808804&sr=8-1&keywords=nicci+mayne
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011Z3UZF0?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593044

****

Thank you for stopping by, Nicci. It was a pleasure getting to know you better.

#Author Spotlight @Patricia_Sands & #BookReview of her Novel ‘The Promise of Provence’ for #RBRT

I recently read and reviewed The Promise of Provence as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Promise of provence cover

My Review

The Promise of Provence is an innovative and unusual type of novel because the heroine is not an innocent or feisty young woman in search of a career or a companion. The main character is a middle-aged woman, in her late fifties, who finds that the life she was living, and had planned to continue leading, disintegrates unexpectedly before her eyes. As a result, she is forced reinvent herself and redesign her future.

The first part of The Promise of Provence carries us through the traumatic events, which will shatter Katherine’s life. As all life-changing experiences, the difficult moment must first be overcome in order to move on to the following stage. The rest of the novel deals with how she recovers from the loss and renews her faith in herself.

I enjoyed the interior monologue of a mature woman, facing life choices, normally associated with younger women, such as coping with men’s sexual advances, finding a place to live, and meeting new friends. Katherine has the intelligence and experience to realize what she wants, and the courage to leave her comfort zone and attempt to get over the sadness she feels and recover her self-esteem.

She does something she has always dreamed of doing; she visits Europe. When she takes part in a home exchange holiday in the South of France, it will change her life forever, because she finds new incentives in life. Katherine’s journey is spiritual and emotional as well as geographical.

‘I thought I was coming on this exchange to run away from something, but now I feel I was really running toward something – a new me.’

I enjoyed her travels in Europe. She carried me away with her curiosity and sense of adventure, showing me the scenery, the delicious food, and museums, chateaux, and historic sights of France, Monaco, Budapest, and Italy.

Throughout her travels, she meets some wonderful people, but she also has some unfortunate experiences. There is romance, and there are some nasty characters, too. The romance, which eventually evolves, is not a whirlwind, and it is not the central issue in the novel, but it is solid, because it has potential to develop. Presumably it will be one of the main storylines in book two, Promises to Keep (Love in Provence Book 2).

It is a well-written and moving story, which transmits hope and optimism. A person’s happiness is in his/her own hands. As Francois tells Katherine:
‘Life is full of choices. Don’t be afraid to make them when you know they are right for you. You are much younger than I and have so much to live. Live it well.’

****

I enjoyed the book so much that I asked the author, Patricia Sands, some questions for an Author Spotlight.

Patricia sands

1- The Promise of Provence and its sequel, Promises to Keep, are doing very well with 400 reviews between them. Why do you think the series is so popular?

When I first published The Promise of Provence, I thought it was a stand-alone novel. However, I received so many emails from readers asking for more of Katherine’s story that I decided to add two more books, shorter than the first. The majority of my readers love stories set in France and many are devoted Francophiles. After Amazon Publishing contacted me and purchased the rights to the series, my readership is increasing even more through their great marketing. I feel tremendously grateful to have been offered this opportunity to work with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing, their women’s fiction imprint.

2- The main character in your novel embarks upon a new life when she’s well over fifty. Were you surprised that so many readers were interested in reading about this type of heroine?

It’s been a lovely surprise, thanks!
My first novel, The Bridge Club, is about eight women and follows their lives until they are in their ’60’s. I heard from a large number of readers then who said they enjoyed reading about older female characters and that’s what encouraged me to continue writing to my demographic. Now I know that the majority of my readers are over 40 and many over 60. They tell me it is rare to find novels with older characters and they like that about my stories.

3- What inspired you to set it in Provence?

I’ve had a love affair with France since I first spent a year in Europe after university, when I was twenty-one. Fortunately, I’ve visited different parts of that beautiful country many times throughout my life. For the past twenty years my husband and I have spent extended time every summer in the south of France, usually in Nice or Antibes. In 2011, we rented an apartment in Antibes for five months where I wrote the first draft of The Promise of Provence.
On many of our visits, we have arranged some of our accommodation through home exchanges and that’s one of the reasons I wrote that experience into The Promise of Provence. It’s a fabulous way to travel!

4- What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished final edits with Amazon’s Lake Union Pubishing for “I Promise You This“, Book 3 in the Love In Provence series. It will be published in spring, 2016. The plan is to write another three-book series with the same characters in the south of France as they open a small inn. I’m excited about getting on with those books and thrilled that I can keep writing about the part of the world that my readers love as much as I do.

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love writing and all the work that goes with it! It’s been a great surprise to me to begin a completely new career as an author after I turned sixty. I’m often asked to speak to women’s groups and love to encourage women of all ages to follow a dream, no matter how old we are. It’s never too late!

I also love hearing from readers and believe that’s an author’s greatest reward. I send out a newsletter once a month and feel that’s my chance to speak to each one of the subscribers. There’s always at least one book giveaway per letter (from many of my author friends) and often there are sneak peeks at my writing, along with photography and information about France.

6– How can readers contact you or find our more about your books?

I can be reached directly by email at patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. All my book information and a sign-up link for my newsletter can be found on my website: http://patriciasandsauthor.com/

I’d like to thank Patricia Sands for writing such a lovely book and for visiting my blog. It was wonderful to read her novel and find out more about her books and her writing process!

#Author Spotlight Helen Pollard & #BookReview of her Novel ‘Holding Back’ for #RBRT

I reviewed Holding Back as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’d like to thank Rosie for organizing the Review Team and Helen for allowing me to read and review her novel.

HoldingBack - cover

 

My Review: An Enjoyable Holiday Romance

If you fancy a pleasant journey and holiday romance in sunny Portugal in summer, this is a novel for you.

Laura is a dedicated teacher who helps her best friend from college at her husband’s family’s delightful hotel, in exchange for a room and the run of the place for a few weeks of her summer holidays. Although she’s contented with her life, she has some unsolved personal issues which are obstructing her chances of happiness.

Daniel is an assertive and hard-working hospitality company manager who is tiring of travelling and avoiding his ex-girlfriend.

Daniel and Laura meet at the airport, and later at the hotel where he’s a guest.

They’re both afraid of emotional commitment, yet missing a more meaningful relationship, and although they meet at the right place and the right time, for a romantic interlude, they’re both reluctant to take their unexpected attraction any further than friendship. However the intervention of their family back home, months after the holiday will give them a second chance.

I read it in one enjoyable sitting. The main characters are authentic and likeable, the plot is plausible and unassuming. The setting is idyllic, small coastal towns in northern Portugal, and the happy ever after ending brings a tear of relief to the eye. What’s not to like about it?

******

Helen Pollard - author pic

Let’s get to know Helen a little better:

What would you say to convince someone to read Holding Back?

If you like sunshine and an interesting location to go along with your romance, Holding Back is set in beautiful northern Portugal. I’ve had a lot of compliments about how well the setting is described, taking you on a ‘virtual’ trip there! In fact, it was the place itself that inspired the story. I’d visited that area of northern Portugal a couple of times a few years ago and those memories stayed with me until my imagination came up with the characters and story for Holding Back.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished a story set in the Loire region of France. It’s quite different from my previous two books, as it isn’t a straightforward romance. It’s contemporary women’s fiction with down-to-earth humour and just an element of romance. I hope to find a home for it soon!

What would you like readers to know about you?

When I’m writing, I work really hard on the characters and dialogue. You can have the fanciest plot in the world, but if your characters aren’t believable, the story just won’t work – especially in a romance. I don’t do a detailed outline at the start – I’ll have a basic premise in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I allow my characters to take me where they want to go. It’s more fun that way! I’m also a compulsive edit-and-polisher – I tweak and tweak until I feel my story is the best it can be.

****

Thank you for visiting my blog and telling us more about yourself, your novel and your writing process. It was a pleasure to have you in my Spotlight.

Find out more or contact Helen:

Author links:

Website & Blog:  http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com    

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/pages/Helen-Pollard/372986142839624

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/helenpollard147

Goodreads:  http://goodreads.com/author/show/8647878.Helen_Pollard

Amazon:  http://amazon.com/Helen-Pollard/e/B00O2E0BRC

Buy Links:

Amazon UK:  http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B00WRZ1PKA

Amazon US:  http://amazon.com/dp/B00WRZ1PKA

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/holding-back-2

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/539037

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holding-back-helen-pollard/1121818382?ean=2940151469210

 

 

Book Review. Cleaver Square: A Plot-driven Detective Novel

Review of Cleaver Square by Sean and Daniel Campbell for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

rosie3

 

Cleaver Square is a well-plotted detective novel. I enjoyed travelling around London with Detective Morton, I also liked the detailed police procedural and scientific information, including autopsy reports and legal issues. At times it was like watching an entertaining crime film, with all the intricacies of a complex investigation.

The plot was cleverly designed and well-developed by Sean and Daniel Campbell until the final surprising twist is revealed. It’s narrated in third person, although the narrator is sometimes omniscient and sometimes, takes the point of view of one of the characters, such as Morton or Charlie Mathews, a young boy in a foster family, who is an essential component of the plot which will gradually develop throughout the novel (I don’t want to add any spoilers). The prose was mostly easy and pleasant to read.

It’s definitely a plot-driven novel, because the emphasis is clearly on an external conflict, in this case a murder, and its solution through a specific sequence of events, in this case tracking down the criminal. There is a great deal of action involved, and both the dialogue and the action are mainly concerned with unveiling the plot and solving the issue at hand. In this aspect there is no objection, the plot was correctly and smoothly conveyed.

Cleaver Square portada

On the other hand, there is an aspect which made it hard for me to enjoy the novel as much as I would have liked. I felt it lacked character development. I personally prefer character-driven novels where the emphasis is on personal conflict and the relationships between the characters.

Character driven novels do not have a tangible or specific outcome. They are more concerned with how the characters cope with conflict, how they make decisions, and how these decisions affect their relationships with each other and their lives in general. The outcome is often a change of attitude, or a new situation in the characters’ lives. There is often no specific or definite solution or conclusion. I like to meet people when I read a novel, and I enjoy it when the characters to stay with me after I finish reading.

Most novels combine engaging characters and a compelling plot to varying degrees, but in this case, I felt that the lack of character development made it difficult for me, at times, to connect with the story itself, because I wasn’t interested in the characters themselves and what happened to them. As a result, I almost lost interest in the solution of the crime. I would have liked to feel more involved with the people in the novel.

Overall I’d say that if you enjoy a well-plotted detective novel, set in London, with an unexpected final twist, you’ll enjoy Cleaver Square.

Amazon US link.
Amazon UK link.

 

Book Review: ‘An Independent Woman’, by Frances Evesham

When I chose An independent woman to read and review for Rosie’s Review Team, I was thrilled even before I started reading it, because when I read the blurb I realized it’s my favourite type of book. I enjoy reading neo-Victorian novels, so although I’m easy to please with this genre, it’s also not easy to surprise me with something new.

Well, I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised, because I found an entertaining, moving, exciting, and romantic novel, set in Victorian England, which I would highly recommend.

The novel is beautifully written with prose that flows smoothly, enticing the reader to turn the pages. There are just enough descriptive elements to submerge the reader comfortably in Victorian England, moving effortlessly from foggy, filthy London, to the tranquil countryside.

Philomena’s intriguing character keeps the reader connected to the story, feeling for her plight from the first sentence, as she creeps up the twisted stairs and flees from London, to the last line.

I loved the first chapters, when she was disguised as a young boy in order to escape from London, and her ‘chance’ arrival at the country estate on Christmas Eve after a fateful train accident.

We also feel we get to know the other characters such as the mysterious Lord Thatcham, his mother, the demanding Dowager Lady Thatcham, her frivolous yet charming daughter, Selena, and the kind Mrs. Rivers and Mrs. Bramble. There’s naturally a despicable villain, who causes havoc, and whose real motives are not revealed until the end, keeping the plot moving forward with mysterious twists and surprises.

It has many gothic elements which will remind readers of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Oliver Twist, three of my favourite novels. Firstly, the mansion where the action takes place, Thatcham Hall, becomes a character, with its servants’ quarters, main living areas, bedrooms, and the dark, forbidden wings. The reader will also find a gloomy widower, a wife deceased in unclear circumstances, a rich and lonely child, an exploited and abused child, and a well-read governess, among others, all leading to an eventful and enjoyable read.

Frances Evesham shows expert knowledge of Victorian England, which she transmits wrapped up in an enjoyable parcel of mystery, action, and romance.

%d bloggers like this: