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  • Title: The Return of Her Lost Knight
  • Author: Melissa Oliver
  • Publisher: Mills and Boon
  • Publication Date: 24 June 2021

Copy received from Rachel’s Random Resources for review purposes.

Description:

Her second chance

With her lost love…

To avoid a forced marriage, Lady Gwenllian plans to escape to a convent. She couldn’t possibly honor another when her heart still belongs to Ralph de Kinnerton, the man she had to betray to save his life—only to hear of his death shortly after. So how is it possible he’s here at this knight’s tournament? Now the pull of their unfinished past forces Gwen to question the choice she’d made for her future…

My Thoughts:

As part of the Notorious Knights series, this book is another example of Melissa Oliver’s fantastic writing. Although the books can be read and enjoyed without following the series, I would recommend reading the previous two books as these give a more rounded feel to the books. Especially as characters from previous books can appear, and it’s quite lovely to see what has been going on in their lives.

Historical romance books are an enjoyable read, they invite the reader to step back in time and experience a world so rich in detail and full of wonderful characters. And I think that Melissa Oliver is a name readers want to keep an eye out for, her books give the reader more than just an historical romance, there is drama, danger, and tension.
The characters are intriguing from the moment you meet them, you want to know more about their stories and feel a connection to them, or certainly become invested in their tale … wishing for success and happiness. I felt that Ralph and Gwen’s tales had me drawn in, they were so well crafted and I loved finding out more about them, watching as they tried to overcome their pasts.

I would definitely recommend checking out the books written by Melissa Oliver, they are a real treat for readers and have you falling in love with the period, the characters and the stories.

  • Title: The Highlander’s Secret Son
  • Author: Jeanine Englert
  • Publisher: Mills and Boon
  • Publication Date: 27 May 2021

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

His first love

Now his sworn enemy…

What is Fiona MacDonald doing on the run across his lands? With a wee baby as well! Brandon once loved this woman with all his heart―until her family killed many of his clan. Now, as the new Campbell Laird, he must make sure she pays the price for her betrayal. But how can he claim his vengeance if what she says is true…? That her child is his son and heir!

My Thoughts:

I have been absolutely loving the human side to the tales of books from Mills and Boon recently, and so when I read the description of Jeanine Englert’s latest book I just knew it was going to hit the mark perfectly.

In both Fiona MacDonald and Brandon Campbell readers are given two characters that come alive from the pages. The way they have been crafted, Jeanine Englert draws the reader in, slowly giving glimpses that all is not as it might first appear. There are hints of heartbreak, betrayal and longing surrounding MacDonald and Campbell, and as readers get to know more about their personalities, their stories and shared histories, it soon becomes apparent that this is more than a simple romance tale.
When I first encountered Fiona MacDonald it was hard not to feel a need to understand her more, try to work out what happened between her and Brandon Campbell, and most importantly lead to the hatred she faces from the Campbell clan.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the exploration of Brandon’s mindset, his turmoil and struggle with being Laird and holding the remains of his family and clan together. Watching him work through his feelings, face the things that haunt his thoughts … it all adds up to a powerful story of seeking forgiveness, trust and love.

As if readers weren’t already spoiled enough with such wonderful characters, there is also the fantastically detailed writing that vividly paints a picture of each scene as it happens in the book. I felt like I could actually see the locations mentioned, even the small details were written in such a way to craft a full, colourful picture.

I’d highly recommend this, and if you’re a fan of the Outlander series, then I think you’d probably enjoy this!

Purchase a copy:

Amazon US/Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Highlanders-Secret-Son-Jeanine-Englert/dp/1335506284

Amazon/US Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08NPTH2J3

Amazon/UK Paperback: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highlanders-Secret-Son-Jeanine-Englert/dp/0263284034

Amazon/UK Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Highlanders-Secret-Mills-Boon-Historical-ebook/dp/B08ND9NYW6

Author Bio –

Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a Golden Heart ® Finalist, Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery. Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at www.jeaninewrites.com.

Social Media Links –

FB: http://www.facebook.com/JeanineWrites

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JeanineWrites

Website: https://www.jeaninewrites.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55922667-the-highlander-s-secret-son

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jeanine-englert?list=about

Instagram: jeaninewrites

Giveaway to Win  A bundle of Highland Treats (Open INT)

Prize contains:

1) One signed paperback copy of The Highlander’s Secret Son.

2) Bookmark and magnet book swag.

3) Scottish Blessing Bracelet.

4) Sterling Silver “Spread Your Wings and Fly” Necklace.

5) Red Journal.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

  • Title: The Chessmen Thief
  • Author: Barbara Henderson
  • Publisher: Cranachan Publishing
  • Publication Date: 29 April 2021

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Win. Lose. Survive.

I was the boy with a plan. Now I am the boy with nothing.

From the moment 12-year-old Kylan hatches a plan to escape from his Norse captors, and return to Scotland to find his mother, his life becomes a dangerous game.


The precious Lewis Chessmen―which he helped carve―hold the key to his freedom, but he will need all his courage and wit to triumph against Sven Asleifsson, the cruellest Viking in the realm.


One false move could cost him his life.

Barbara Henderson has woven a thrilling origin story around the enduring mystery of the Lewis Chessmen, their creation in Norway, and how they ended up buried in the Hebrides before being discovered on Lewis in 1831

My Thoughts:

I have been a huge fan of Barbara Henderson’s writing from the moment I discovered the wonderful and magical worlds she creates in her books. There is something truly special about the way that Barbara writes and brings her characters to life, inviting the reader to see the story through the eyes her young protagonists and experience the often convoluted, confusing world they are surrounded by. Combine this with intricately detailed settings and expert plotting and you’ve got a book that appeals to readers of all ages.

12-year-old Kylan is a character that readers cannot help but like, he’s brave and strong, he finds courage and takes chances. But he’s also a young lad who’s been taken from his home, his family and held captive by raiding Norsemen. Life has changed drastically for Kylan, he no longer enjoys the life of freedom, instead his place in the world is as thrall in a Norse workshop with craftsmen. It isn’t an easy life, he works hard and has earned a level of respect, albeit grudgingly from some of the craftsmen. The narrative has readers experiencing life in the workshop with Kylan, seeing the big, powerful men around him and contrasting this with the intricate carvings and crafts produced by the hands of these masters. It’s hard not to become lost in this world, watching ideas taking shape and becoming carved items, being awed at the skill poured into chessmen that are created and falling down a rabbit hole on the internet looking up images of the carved chessmen.

Locations are a key part of any Barbara Henderson book, and The Chessmen Thief brings locations to life as if they were almost characters in their own right. I felt that I travelled with the characters, I could see Trondheim through Kylan’s eyes and experience life in the trading post, marvel at the cathedral and imagine the workshop high on the hill. I could feel my stomach rolling and lurching as the longship ploughed through the seas on the way to the Hebridies … to say I was glad when they reached land was an understatement! But what a journey it was, fraught with danger, drama, and a wonderful glimpse into character that had been cloaked in mystery. I don’t want to say too much about the locations as I have a magnificent guest post from Barbara to share about the setting of The Chessmen Thief and her travels around them.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of all ages, it’s a superb story that carries the reader off into a world of adventure and danger, it allows you to explore new worlds and makes you want to learn more about the places and the chess sets that were carved and travelled so far.

Landscape: The setting of the Chessmen Thief

As if the mystery of the Lewis Chessmen were not enough, the landscapes of the Western Isles and Orkney have a magnetic draw all of their own. I will never forget the first time I arrived on Lewis with my family. We traced our way south to the Isle of Harris, and I maintain that the landscape there, barren though it may be, is the native territory for stories.

It is in these wild, remote stretches that touching the past is tantalisingly possible. I am willing to bet that much of the shoreline has changed very little since the Lewis Chessmen came to rest on the island. I have returned several times since.

In the writing of The Chessmen Thief, I was also lucky enough to be able to hark back to a summer trip to Norway, long ago when our oldest was a baby. Unfortunately, we never got as far north as Trondheim, but I had a feel for how the land lay, how the light has such a clarity, how the mist lingered on the fjords.

The book begins in Trondheim. The city is the most populous in Norway now, but it was established in 997 as a trading post. That is still at the heart of how I portray the place in the Chessmen Thief. It served as the capital of Norway, but I don’t explicitly say this in the book as the characters would all know, and therefore have no need to mention it. At the time of the book’s events in the 1150s, a new Archdiocese had been established and this serves as a catalyst for the events in the book. In my story is situated

Trondheim, its trading posts and its iconic cathedral are located by the sea fjord, but the workshop in my story is situated on an elevation above it (I did research this) where the light lingers longest, affording the craftsmen a longer working day. Kylan, the slave and hero of The Chessmen Thief, looks out daily over the sea and is reminded of his home: The Western Isles where he was abducted in a raid. He often runs errands to the trading station, purchases raw materials and watches out for new ships coming into the Fjord.

When he finally contrives a way of travelling back to the Hebrides, he spends time out at sea under the wheel of stars. I did have to use my imagination here – what would it feel like to be tossed by the waves in a longship? How terrifying to lose sight of land? How much more terrifying to be attacked by another ship?

I reached Orkney. I had visited before, again, when our children were young. It was flatter than I had imagined. Luckily, there was an opportunity to visit again with friends, blissfully unaware that lockdown was only a month away. The seas were suitably stormy. We didn’t see a whale (as Kylan does), but we arrived in one piece and I set about exploring. The Earl’s Palace ruins were still standing in Kirkwall, as was the massive St Magnus Cathedral. Should I accommodate my characters here? I decided against it. Ophir and the Earl’s Bu were the more likely place for a bunch of ailing, fevered sailors to recover, out of the view of the rich and powerful who could present a threat to their safety. Apart from that, there were records of a drinking hall at Orphir in Orneyinga Saga. Orphir it was. I visited the ruins, looked out over the Scapa Flow and imagined ambushes.

Onwards to the Isle of Lewis. I defy anyone to find a more beautiful, rugged and dramatic stretch of coastline than the west coast of Lewis. I would have loved to have sailed along it, but I had to make do with the road instead, taking me past an ancient broch, the Standing Stones of Callanish and the towards the Uig peninsula. Inland, the island resembles a barren moonscape with lochans and rocks covered in lichen, but the combination of light and sea against a rocky and grassy backdrop of shelving hillside provided the perfect setting for a chase. Lewis is a threatening, forbidding place in the book, but glorious too. The Isle of Harris to the south represents shelter and finally, safety. Of all the writing in The Chessmen Thief, I am proudest of the concluding epilogue, set on Harris.

The book needs the Chessmen, and their historical context. It needs characters to root for and dangers to threaten what they hold dear. But I think this book would be nothing without the north wind of the Atlantic blowing in your hair, without the rocks and crevices of the Lewis coast, without lochs and fjords, endless beaches, and trickling springs.

Let the book take you there. And then explore the stunning backdrop to this adventure as soon as it can be safely done. You won’t regret it.


by Barbara Henderson
Barbara and the Chessmen

  • Title: The Warrior’s Innocent Captive
  • Author: Ella Matthews
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Publication Date: 18th March 2021

Copy received from publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for review purposes.

Description:

An impossible choice:

His family or love

As steward to the Earl of Borwyn, Erik Ward had only admired sheltered noblewoman Linota Leofric from afar – until he has to escort her on a dangerous journey. When she’s kidnapped, he rescues the courageous beauty, revelling in finally having her in his arms. But Erik has a secret plan to reunite his family – now he’s forced to choose between that and his growing feelings for Linota…

My Thoughts:

There’s something so rewarding about delving into a book that promises adventure, drama, and historical intrigue … it’s safe to say that The Warrior’s Innocent Captive has this, but Ella Matthews has also created some incredibly detailed characters that capture the attention of the readers.

I’m fast becoming a huge fan of historical romance, and Ella Matthews is a name I will be adding to my list of authors to watch out for, and I’m keen to go back and read the other books in the House of Leofric series. I should point out that although this book is part of a series, I was able to read and enjoy it without having read the other books, I believe their stories occur around the same time as the setting in this one but focus on different characters and tell their stories.

So without rehashing the plot, what can I say about The Warrior’s Innocent Captive? The story follows Erik Ward, a strong and likeable character, who develops well through the book, he is conflicted and struggles with doing what is right while remaining loyal and honourable to those around him. His past means his loyalties are tested, but he appears to have a good heart, and readers cannot help but like him.
Linota Leofric was a character I instantly liked, I felt invested in her tale and found that I wanted things to work out well for her. As you watch her personality unfold through the pages, you witness growth and see her becoming stronger and not a woman to take lightly. She knows her own mind, and in a time when women had little say in their own fates, she really makes the reader want to cheer and say ‘good on you!’ when you see her feisty side emerge.
The relationship between Linota and Erik is turbulent, each guarding their own thoughts and feelings, but there is an intensity there that Matthews weaves through the narrative perfectly and keeps readers turning the pages in anticipation of what lies ahead.

If you’re looking for a historical romance that offers more that a love story then this is the one for you! The writing is fantastic, there is an amazing level of detail in the settings and scenes, so much so that you can almost see each scene play out as you read, you can imagine the cloth of Linota’s cloak, the carved wooden furniture … it’s all so vivid and clear. Not only are the main characters interesting and exciting, the secondary characters are intriguing and really make you want to know more about them and their lives, and with a storyline that’s plotted so well, this really is a book to enjoy with a cuppa and a cheeky biscuit or two.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Warriors-Innocent-Captive-Historical-Leofric-ebook/dp/B08HPGSM19

US – https://www.amazon.com/Warriors-Innocent-Captive-Historical-Leofric-ebook/dp/B08HPGSM19

Check out the other stops on the blog tour for more reviews, extracts from the book and maybe even an author interview!

  • Title: The Crown Agent
  • Authors: Stephen O’Rourke
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press
  • Publication Date: 4th March 2021 (paperback edition)

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

A ship adrift, all hands dead. A lighthouse keeper murdered in the night. The Crown needs a man to find the truth. Doctor Mungo Lyon, his reputation tarnished by the Burke & Hare scandal, and forbidden to practise as a surgeon, is the wrong man.

That’s exactly why the Crown chose him.

My Thoughts:

Originally reviewed in November 2019, but edited and amended slightly.

I can see why Stephen O’Rourke won a a short story competition in 2012 when he used the basis for this story as his submission, and I am mightily glad that he went on to write The Crown Agent in all it’s glory. This is a very enjoyable book, the plotting is superb, characterisation is brilliant and I loved the style of writing.

Every so often, there’s a book that blows you away and I admit, I have been pretty lucky recently as there have been a few books that have stopped me in my tracks and pulled me in to discover the worlds inside their covers. The Crown Agent is one of those books, while I read it I was very aware of how invested I was in the story, feeling a great intrigue about the characters and their schemes, wondering what was going to happen to our disillusioned protagonist and how would he get out of this seemingly impossible situation!

Dr Mungo Lyon becomes involved with an investigation of murder and shipwreck on behalf of the Crown after those in the medical profession find their reputations blackened after the fallout of the body snatching escapades of Burke and Hare. But he has no idea of the danger that lies ahead on his journey, nothing is as it seems and help comes in the most unlikely forms. Weaving through the Scottish countryside, readers are treated to some wonderfully atmospheric scenes, and the vivid descriptions allow crisp mental images to form of the barges used, the rugged terrain and the ports of call along the way. I found myself carried off with the descriptions, I could imagine it all so clearly and it had me keen to go off and look up images online to find out more, eventually leading me to research the era etc in more detail.

Historical tales are always fascinating when they cover aspects I’m not always overly familiar with and I have to say that I felt I’d learned something from reading this book. Although this book is a work of fiction, a lot of research has gone in to making it fit the period of the setting, and making the characters feel authentic and realistic. The plotting is clever, the writing is crisp and O’Rourke sets a pace that keeps readers turning pages as they devour the information to find out the fate of Dr Mungo Lyon. I really hope there will be more from O’Rourke soon!

I would highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction.

Check out the other blogs taking part in the blog tour this week!
  • Title: The Duke’s Runaway Bride
  • Author: Jenni Fletcher
  • Publisher: Harlequin/Mills & Boon
  • Publication Date: 18th February 2021

Copy received from publisher and blog tour organiser for review purposes.

Description:

From shopkeeper…

To Duke’s wife

When Beatrix, Duchess of Howden, writes to her estranged husband offering a divorce, she’s stunned when he arrives on her doorstep with a different proposition: a six-week marriage trial! Quinton Roxbury seems cold and inscrutable, but Beatrix gradually realises his rough exterior hides a heavy burden. As their connection deepens, dare she trust him with her own scandalous past and risk the marriage she never knew she wanted?

My Thoughts:

I was so intrigued from the outset with this book … the notion that the Duchess of Howden was writing to her estranged husband to offer divorce, and wanting to live a quiet life doing what she loves most … That had me curious and I really wanted to know more about this character and her life. As it turns out, Beatrix is a lovely character, one who has been hurt and has learned that she must shield herself, build walls to protect herself from events from the past in the hopes that she will not be exploited, hurt or cheated. All well and good until you realise she’s married to a Duke who wants to save his family and his home. Quinton Roxbury is under pressure from those around him, he is the head of the family and in the public eye, he wants to do what’s right for everyone.

A surprising proposition leads to Beatrix and Quinton giving their marriage a chance and it leads to suprising consequences for the entire Roxbury clan. Secrets are unearthed, truths learned and bonds strenghthen as Beatrix touches the lives of everyone around her.
The development of the relationship between Beatrix and Quinton is wonderful to watch unfold, seeing how they interact with each other and other characters because of the influence of the other really changes the characters. Learning about Beatrix and her life before her marriage is fascinating, her reasons for wanting to keep her past hidden make her such an endearing character, her need for self-preservation is admirable. And I loved getting to know each of the Roxbury clan, even the ever so frightening dowager …

The details woven into the narrative really bring the settings alive and make this such an enjoyable read, it felt like Jenni Fletcher had really taken a great deal of time and care to ensure that readers felt transported to the settings of her book and would experience them through the eyes of her characters.

I will definitely be looking out for more books from this author!


Purchase Links

Amazon UK  https://amzn.to/2HP64em

Amazon. com https://amzn.to/35A0gPb

Kobo https://bit.ly/36CPLKp

WHSmith https://bit.ly/36BUpsc

Author Bio

Jenni Fletcher was born in Scotland and now lives in Yorkshire where she writes historical romance novels ranging from the Roman to late Victorian eras. She studied English at Cambridge and Hull and has been nominated for 4 RoNA awards, winning for Short Romantic Fiction in 2020. She teaches Creative Writing at a university in the north of England and her favourite hobbies are baking and, of course, reading.

Social media links:
https://www.facebook.com/JenniFletcherAuthor
https://twitter.com/JenniAuthor

  • Title: Her Banished Knight’s Redemption
  • Author: Melissa Oliver
  • Publisher: Harlequin/Mills & Boon
  • Publication Date: 21st January 2021

Copy received from publisher and blog tour organiser for review purposes.

Description:

A lady’s need for protection 
A knight’s chance for redemption

Exiled Knight William Geraint answers only to himself. Yet, a mission to find and reunite lost heiress Lady Isabel de Clancey with her family is Will’s chance to finally atone for the torment of his past. With every rushed mile, their intense attraction becomes dangerously thrilling. He swore to protect Isabel not seduce her, but their desire for each other could threaten the redemption he’s worked so hard to achieve…

My Thoughts:

There is so much intrigue around William Geraint and his troubled past that has kept him in exile for years. So when he is tasked with a seemingly straightforward mission of tracking down a lost heiress and returning her safely to her family, I was even more intrigued to see what lay ahead. Especially after such a fascinating first few chapters …

Whilst this is a historical romance tale, there is a fantastic dash of mystery thrown in which makes this such a thrilling read. As readers get to know Isabel de Clancey and watch as she tries to piece together memories from her childhood, they share in her frustrations at not being able to fully see the bigger picture that looms just out of reach. Why was she sent away? Why did no one look for her? What danger lies ahead of William Geraint and Isabel de Clancey on their journey, and will they make it back? The details that are woven into the narrative make this such an exciting read and I loved following William and Isabel as they darted down streets and alleys, or hid in plain sight. The developing attraction between these two characters allowed for great character development, and it was nice to see the way that William opened up, shared what troubled him, not just in recent years, but from his childhood too. This allowed readers a chance to try and understand why this character acted in the way he did.

The historical elements woven into the plot made this a great read, I found that there were bits and pieces I was keeping note of to look up once I’d finished the book (I didn’t want to interrupt my reading to fall down a rabbit hole on Google to research knights and crusades), and have since been scouring for more reads like this.

Vivid descriptions really brought the scenes to life, I loved imagining the landscapes William and Isabel rode through, seeing the tapestries and decorative touches of grandeur … what a perfect escape!

  • Title: His Unlikely Duchess
  • Author: Amanda McCabe
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication Date: January 2021

Copy received from publisher and blog tour organiser for review purposes.

Description:

Money can buy her marriage
But will it lead to love?

Miss Lily Wilkins hopes her American money will compensate for her lack of etiquette, as she needs a prestigious marriage to save her sisters’ prospects. Raised to believe wealth was her greatest attribute, she’s stunned when her unconventional ways catch the eye of the notorious Duke of Lennox. He’s far from the safe, sensible match she’d planned on—but Lily might just discover he’s the one she needs!

My Thoughts:

Isn’t it nice to pick up something that transports you to another place, and indeed another time? Well that’s what Amanda McCabe does here in His Unlikely Duchess, giving her readers a glimpse into the world of balls, dinner parties and the likes. The descriptions were so detailed that I felt I was almost watching the story unfold as opposed to reading it, the fashions and gems mentioned throughout the narrative particularly standing out as they sounded so grand and fascinating.

The Duke of Lennox was an interesting character and he contrasted well with Lily Wilkins, their differing statuses in Society making them both stand out, and in turn being a point of rumour and gossip. I enjoyed the way that the reader was able to follow Lily’s thoughts and see her growing attraction towards the Duke, and how his actions caused her moments to question what was going on around her. And I have to say, the way that McCabe has written this character mean that readers may also pause and question what is happening, what his motives are and puzzle over why he behaves in such a manner – always good when an author can evoke that from a reader!

I enjoyed exploring the the landscapes and buildings through the characters, it was a wonderful way to escape at the moment when travel isn’t an option.

Purchase Links –

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unlikely-Duchess-Historical-Dollar-Duchesses-ebook/dp/B08Q7MS4H4/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Unlikely-Duchess-Dollar-Duchesses-Book-ebook/dp/B089YTPXSW/

Author Bio –

Amanda wrote her first romance at the age of sixteen–a vast historical epic starring all her friends as the characters, written secretly during algebra class (and her parents wondered why math was not her strongest subject…)

 She’s never since used algebra, but her books have been nominated for many awards, including the RITA Award, the Romantic Times BOOKReviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Booksellers Best, the National Readers Choice Award, and the Holt Medallion.  She lives in Santa Fe with a Poodle, a cat, a wonderful husband, and a very and far too many books and royal memorabilia collections. 

 When not writing or reading, she loves taking dance classes, collecting cheesy travel souvenirs, and watching the Food Network–even though she doesn’t cook. 

First Monday Crime for December looks to be a fantastic night with some of the most brilliant names in crime writing and I am thrilled to share a review of a book written by one of these amazing authors.

  • Title: Out For Blood
  • Author: Deborah Masson
  • Publisher: Corgi
  • Publication Date: 10th December 2020

Copy received from publisher via Netgalley for review purposes.

Description:

DI Eve Hunter is back.

A young man, the son of an influential businessman, is discovered dead in his central Aberdeen apartment.

Hours later, a teenaged girl with no identification is found hanged in a suspected suicide.

As DI Eve Hunter and her team investigate the two cases, they find themselves in a tug-of-war between privilege and poverty; between the elite and those on the fringes of society.

Then an unexpected breakthrough leads them to the shocking conclusion: that those in power have been at the top for too long – and now, someone is going to desperate lengths to bring them down…

Can they stop someone who is dead set on revenge, no matter the cost?

My Thoughts:

Out For Blood is another outstanding and thrilling read from Deborah Masson. She gives readers a chance to catch up with the the fantastic Eve Hunter, and takes her readers on a dark journey through the twisting and menacing scene of human trafficking and prostitution, with a murder investigation, corruption and betrayal thrown in for good measure.

Without saying too much about the plot, I will say that Masson has once again managed to bring to life the scenes of Aberdeen and the surrounding areas, giving her readers a good idea of the locations used. The characters are realistic and wonderfully created. They get under the skin of the reader, you feel yourself getting annoyed with the attitudes of certain ones, you want to shout at others, you begin to feel the frustrations of Hunter and her team as they come up against brick walls and try to piece the information together to solve the case.

I love the way that we get to see more of the team members as well as Eve Hunter, it was nice to “get to know” them a little more from the first book.. Atmosphere is often a key aspect to crime thrillers and I think with the way the tension is pitched in this book is spot on. The menacing dread in certain chapters makes this a gripping read, you don’t want to put the book down, but equally, you feel almost like peeking out from behind your fingers.

The themes written throughout are ones that require a certain sensitivity and I do think that they have been handled well, highlighting the topics that need to be spoken about and brought to the fore.

It was always going to be tricky when it came to the second novel, but I think it’s safe to say that Hold Your Tongue wasn’t a fluke, and Deborah Masson is a very skilled writer, deserving recognition, nominations and prizes. She has earned her place alongside the greats of the genre and could very well give Stuart MacBride and Claire MacLeary a run for their money.

So highly recommended!


									
  • Title: Wrecked
  • Author: Louisa Reid
  • Publisher: Guppy Books
  • Publication Date: September 2020

Copy received from publisher as part of blog tour.

Description:

Joe and Imogen seem like the perfect couple — they’ve been in a relationship for years and are the envy of their friends at school. But after accidentally becoming involved a tragic fatal accident, they become embroiled in a situation out of their control, and Joe and Imogen’s relationship becomes slowly unravelled until the truth is out there for all to see …

Structured around a dramatic and tense court case, the reader becomes both judge and jury in a stunning and page-turning novel of uncovering secrets and lies — who can be believed?


Normally here I would add my thoughts on a book; I would try to tell you what stood out most, or attempt to introduce you to the characters a little more, but first I want to share a wee author interview and introduce you to Louisa Reid.

Louisa Reid has spent most of her life reading. And when she’s not doing that she’s writing stories, or imagining writing them at least. An English teacher, her favourite part of the job is sharing her love of reading and writing with her pupils. Louisa lives with her family in the north-west of England and is proud to call a place near Manchester home. 

GLOVES OFF is her first novel in verse, and she’s fallen in love with the exhilarating and exciting challenges  and opportunities that writing in this form brings.  Reading and loving the work of writers such as Jason Reynolds, David Levithan and Sarah Crossan inspired her to rise to the challenge.

Louisa writes about things that she thinks are important to young people, and all people generally, really.  Drawn to write about themes of female empowerment and personal freedom, GLOVES OFF is about bullying and body image, with some boxing thrown in too. Louisa hopes the novel will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had to fight for self-confidence and self-belief  – things which are, for many, very hard won.

Welcome to Children’s Books North’s Autumn Highlights – celebrating new books from CBN members with a tour of Northern and Scottish book blogs.

Children’s Books North aims to connect children’s book professionals living in the North West, North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. The network seeks to promote our members’ work, new books and events. Additionally, CBN is keen to bring focus on the importance of regional diversity in children’s books and the industry.

Autumn Highlights questions:

Tell us about your new book

Wrecked is my second novel in verse, and fourth novel overall. It’s a dark love story and also a tense courtroom drama. The novel opens with Joe Goodenough –  the protagonist – on trial for causing death by dangerous driving. Over the course of the trial, the story of how he came to be standing in court facing a sentence of up to fourteen years is revealed. And it isn’t pretty. Ultimately I think Wrecked is a story about first love, risk taking, and the ensuing tragedies when lives spin out of control.

Share your favourite spread/passage from the book

This verse is one of my favourites because it encapsulates so much of the devastation and distress that the characters have caused and felt. I love verse –  conveying much with just a little, and playing with layout and language…

What/who/where inspired this book?

I’m always inspired by real life events –  in this case the death of a teenager in a town close to where I live was on my mind;  Yusef Makki was allegedly stabbed to death by his “friend”, Josh Molnar, in a drug deal gone wrong, and the court case was very high profile at the time when I was researching and writing. In the end the accused was found not guilty –  a highly controversial verdict for many. So I wanted to write about truth, and guilt, and the factors at play when it comes to teenagers committing horrible crimes.

I was also inspired by reading Sally Rooney’s Normal People –  I just loved the first half of the novel, with the intense and powerful love story of the main characters when they were teenagers, and I wanted to write my own such love story! Wrecked is also inspired by The Great Gatsby – I only realised when I’d finished the novel that Joe’s initials are the same as Jay Gatsby’s…the subconscious clearly doing its work!  As well as love, I explore class and attitudes to money and power –  the carelessness and arrogance of the wealthy is something that really fires me up –  and that’s something that both Normal People and Gatsby look at too.

Nominate one children’s book by a northern or Scottish creative to read this winter.

I love Anna Mainwaring’s novels – I’ll disclose now that Anna is a friend, but I hope I can still nominate her brilliant work. I think as Lockdown Part 2 continues, lots of teenagers and adults would love Tulip Taylor –  Anna’s second book –  featuring a fabulously feisty heroine who stands up to all kinds of challenges. What Anna does so well is that she writes about serious and important topics but with wit and humour. I love her style. And I also love the fact that Tulip is a logophile, like me…

If you could be a character or meet a character from one of your books, who would it be and why?

I’d like to meet Imogen – Joe’s girlfriend – from Wrecked; I definitely wouldn’t want to be her, but I’d like to try to help her to realise what she has, and what she stands to lose. Difficult, selfish and demanding – but charismatic nevertheless – I think I’d approach her with trepidation and curiosity. In reality, I doubt we’d be friends and I also doubt she’d be interested in a word I had to say. Rather annoying, as I am her creator, after all!

Cover Credits: Guppy Books, designer Ness Wood

Publisher Credit: Guppy Books


My Thoughts:

I have to admit that Wrecked is not a book I would have ordinarily have picked up to read, but thanks to the blog tour being run by the amazing folks at Children’s Books North I have added so many new titles to my reading list! Also a few to my shopping list for Christmas … I can’t resist when the books sound so good. Check out the other reviews and posts via the Children’s Books North twitter page or pop over to their website to find out more.

Back to Wrecked … written in verse, it took a moment or two for my brain to adjust to a new style of writing and reading, but once I had become accustomed the words flowed so naturally and I loved the way it all clicked together. Have you ever read something and it just felt “right”? That’s how I felt about the style of this book, a bit like watching the details come alive from the pages, showing me the story, showing me what Joe faced and endured … not always comfortable reading.

There is a powerful but beautiful grittiness to Louisa Reid’s writing (now there’s an oxymoron!), she draws on language to evoke emotion both from her characters and readers. The scenes throughout Wrecked challenge the reader to think about so many things; to decide what is just and acceptable, guilt and what is wrong. But equally, you could just read it as a tale of Joe Goodenough and his journey to this point in his life, and take from it whatever message you felt the author was conveying.

As I read through the book, I felt compelled … I was invested in Joe and Imogen. I needed to find out about them, I needed to know what had happened to this point, and try to untangle the lies around them.

I’d highly recommend this book to YA readers, and others. There is so much woven into the story, and being written in verse means that each word is placed with precision and purpose, themes are explored with thought and give the reader something to ponder in return. I can’t quite put into words how much Louisa Reid’s writing impressed me, I just know that I might have missed out on one of the most moving reads I’ve ever had the privilege if it had not been for this blog tour, so thank you Guppy Books and Children’s Books North!

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