Friday, 31 January 2020

New Release Spotlight & Review: Lilian and the Irresistible Duke

Lilian and the Irresistible Duke by Virginia Heath

A reunion in Rome…Sparks an affair to remember!
Responsible widow Lilian Fairclough is persuaded to travel to Rome for a hard-earned break and to let down her hair! She’s surprised to be reunited with passionate, cynical Italian duke, Pietro Venturi. He reawakens her sensual side and intrigues her with glimpses of pain beneath his rakish surface. Enticed into a secret and temporary affair – what will happen once she returns home?

I had no idea before reading this delightful novel that it's the fourth book of the multi-author series; Secrets of a Victorian Household. Written by a favourite author of mine, Virginia Health, we follow widow Lilian Fairclough during an unexpected Italian adventure.

Lilian keeps herself busy but has somehow lost her way since the death of her dear husband. Without a defined role and conscious of getting older she reluctant to accept an invitation to go overseas. However, with some persuasion, she travels to Rome to stay with the family of her companion. Only, the head of the household is a man she's met previously during a flirty exchange…! 

Pietro Venturi, Duca della Torizia can't believe the English woman he kissed whilst sharing a carriage with her during his last trip to England is staying as a guest in his house. With a mutual interest in art, he uses his knowledge to seduce Lilian, only he underestimates the attraction between them.

Much of the charm within this narrative is how it relates to my own memories of Rome. Ms Heath brings the city alive, describing the sights us travellers have visited or crave to see. The attention to detail is palpable as we learn about Pietro's work as an art dealer. Additionally, the heroine is a mature woman with a grown-up family. A widow, it's her children who encourage her to travel and it's a refreshing change to read about protagonists closer to my age! It's heart-warming to read about a forty-five-year-old, struggling to find a purpose who ends up falling-in-love with someone to share her life with, in a way she never thought possible.

To sum up, this is standalone with enough back-story to familiarise readers with the other notable characters whose stories have already been told in previous novels. Ultimately, it's a sexy romance full of intrigue and promise set against a stunning backdrop.

4 stars

***arc generously received courtesy of Harlequin Historical***

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Giveaway to Win 2 x e-copies of Lilian and the Irresistible Duke (Open INT)
*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.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Release Day Review. Scot Under The Covers by Suzanne Enoch

Scot Under the Covers (Wild Wicked Highlanders, #2)Scot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A new to me author and a hero in a kilt...yes, please!

Highlander, Aden McTaggart and his two brothers are in London to find a bride each. Their mother has stipulated they must find English wives before their younger sister marries or they will lose their financial backing. A Pragmatic man, he'll do what's necessary but underestimates the choice of young ladies available. Therefore, he's taken aback when a forthright woman, catches his eye. On meeting, she makes her dislike of him obvious only Aden sees this as a challenge. He's game to find out more about her because she's the only woman to have caught his attention in a long time.

Miranda Harris dislikes any man who likes to gamble. Therefore, she instantly dislikes the kilt-wearing, devilishly handsome brother of her friend. So, when her own brother reveals he's lost fifty thousand pounds and shockingly reveals she has to marry the man he owes money to, Miranda confides in Aden McTaggart. After all, he likes a wager and maybe he can help her understand how to pay off her brother's debt?

This is the second book in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series and now I want to read the first one. Don't worry though, this is standalone and you don't need to have read Niall McTaggart's story to enjoy his one, although you'll want too. All the characters are fun and the villain is a scoundrel in this fun and humorous romance.

The only aspect I didn't enjoy was Aden's dialogue. I understand the author wanting to authenticate his Highland background, but although I understood what he said, it hindered ( my opinion) an otherwise smooth-flowing narrative.

Overall, a delightful frenemies to lovers tale wrapped around a captivating story.

***arc received courtesy of the publisher St Martin's Press via NetGalley***

View all my reviews

Release Day Review: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact, #3)Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third and final novel in the Marriage Pact series and it's my favourite. Naomi and Claire's stories are hard acts to follow but somehow Audrey's journey to a happy ending manages to slightly eclipse them.

Audrey Tate and Clarke West's story is as slow-burn as you get. These childhood friends are close but they've at no time overstepped the platonic boundary. When Clarke needs Audrey to pretend (again) to be his fake fiancĂ©e, she happily plays along, as she usually does. Only this time, his matchmaker mother calls his bluff. The result? A situation neither of them expected to get into...together… ever!

When it comes to romantic comedy, Ms Layne is my go-to author. The humour she injects into every narrative is flirty, fun and littered with a great deal of intelligent witty dialogue. As a friends to lovers novel, this romance is as stunning as the glamorous Manhattan backdrop.

Finally, It's fitting the end of this trilogy comes full circle and finishes where it all starts in Central Park. Only this time, these three women who met under awkward circumstances have vastly contrasting lives to the ones they had when they first met… perfect!

***arc generously received courtesy of Gallery Books via NetGalley***

View all my reviews

What readers are saying about MARRIAGE ON MADISON AVENUE...
“Sparkling dialogue, hilarious wedding planning scenes, and deeply emotional moments see the series end on a high note." - Publishers Weekly
“The word charm is pretty much synonymous with Lauren Layne.” —Hypable

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne, the “queen of witty dialogue” (Rachel Van Dyken, New York Times bestselling author), comes the final installment of the Central Park Pact series, a heartfelt and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy that’s perfect for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren.

Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realize that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

Cover Reveal: The Breaking by Kelly S. Marsden

The Breaking (Northern Witch #3) by Kelly S. Marsden

Mark thought being a witch would be easy, but it has ruined everything.

Now, he has to fight for his friends and the guy that he loves.

Which would be challenging enough, without school being a living nightmare; more demons than he can handle; and witches that have strayed from the light.

Publication Date: 20th March
Winter Trials (Northern Witch #1)is currently available for Free

Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life - books and horses.
Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has several successful series under her belt.

Monday, 27 January 2020

New Release Spotlight: Hunter's Blood by Val Penny

Hunter’s Blood by Val Penny

DI Hunter Wilson never has just one problem to solve.

Three elderly women he knows have died in mysterious circumstances. Hunter appears to be the only link.

A little girl goes missing on a cold winter’s night. When his team discovers cocaine hidden at the farm where she was living, the search becomes even more urgent.

Why did the women die? And what did the child witness?

Hunter must find the answers to these questions to ensure his family and his city are safe.
Amazon UK           Amazon US  

For goodness sake, can we just gather ourselves together and get this bloody show on the road? It’s like herding cats trying to get you four organised!” Tim Myerscough said. The tall, blond detective constable helped his friend, DC Bear Zewedu, fit the back packs for both his friend and his girlfriend, Mel, into the back of his large BMW.
Do you both really need all this stuff? We're only going for the weekend,” Tim asked.
Good job you've got a big beast of a car, Timmy boy,” Bear smiled.
His dark eyes and short, curly, black hair contrasted strongly with Tim's colouring.
It’s cool this afternoon, isn’t it?” Bear said.
Cool enough for both of us to wear Aran sweaters,” Tim smiled. “Great minds think alike.”
The men had been close friends since their days at Merchiston Castle School, one of the most prestigious schools in Edinburgh. Tim closed the rear door of the car and drew down his Oakley sunglasses to protect his bright blue eyes from the low autumn sun.
Really, Tim? Shades?” Bear joked. “That sky looks like a sheet of grey steel to me. Okay, smeared here and there by those few dirty rags of cloud fluttering over the city, but hardly weather for sunglasses. It's November, man!”
Even on a November day, I take care of my eyes, big man.” Tim smiled. He always protected his eyes. “And how much luggage does anybody need for a weekend break? We're only going across to Simon Land's farm in North Lanarkshire.”
You won't need those shades for long, Tim, it gets dark so early now that the clocks have changed,” Bear said.
Never mind about my bloody shades. Get in the car and let's get going,” Tim shook his head and grinned at his friend. “You girls okay in the back?”
We're fine!” Mel said, slamming the door much harder than was necessary and, ignoring Tim's pained expression, began chatting with Ailsa and Gillian.
Trust you to change the subject,” Bear said to Tim as he clambered into the front passenger seat.
Well, you know, we’re only going to be a few miles from home. Even Gillian felt the need to bring the most enormous full suitcase and her guitar with its cover. Why does she need all that stuff? Did she think we were on Britain's Got Talent?”
She may have a lot of stuff but she’s not deaf, Tim,” Gillian said. “Ailsa mentioned that Simon played the fiddle and we might have a sing-a-long – so of course I brought my guitar.”
Tim shook his head and looked across at Bear. When had he become so big? He must be lifting weights at the gym again because his shoulders were broader than Tim remembered. Bear didn't used to take up this much space, surely?
You been eating more cake, big man?” Tim asked.
That's rich coming from you! Your chest must easily be fifty inches,” Bear said.
Forty-eight,” said Gillian from the back seat.
And with you two still keeping up the rugby training, I think your thighs are almost the size of my waist,” Mel laughed from beside Gillian. “How did the two of you ever fold yourselves into Sophie's Fiat 500 to get to rugby practice?”
Carefully,” said Bear.
And that was the nub of the problem – not that Tim would admit it – but the lovely Lady Sophie Dalmore would be at the bonfire party this weekend, too. The lying, cheating, murdering beauty that was Sophie Dalmore. Tim knew his ex would be attending the party with her new boyfriend, Lord Lachlan 'Lucky' Buchanan.
Good Lord! Did you see that van?” Bear shouted suddenly from the front passenger seat.
Of course. But not for long. It was going at some bloody lick. When I’m driving it means I’m watching the road, big man,” Tim Myerscough, replied sourly.
No need to be like that.”
What the hell? If it hits anything, it’ll take them right out,” Mel exclaimed.
I'd like to drive that car up their bloody backside. So damn dangerous,” Gillian said.
God, look! It's swerved violently. Shit! Oh fuck! It's rolled over and over. There! On the other side of the road. See, Tim?” Bear pointed.
Thank God it's the other side of the road! They could've wiped us out.”
Stop sniping, you two. I hope everybody in the van was wearing seatbelts,” Ailsa, said. “The people inside will be lucky to get out alive. They'll be all cuts and bruises, even if they were. Look what a mess they've made of the bushes and trees too.”
That van was going at a fair lick,” Mel commented. “But I don't think the trees are the biggest problem: we’d better phone emergency services.”
Should we stop? After all, we have a doctor on board,” Bear smiled back towards Ailsa.
And cause another crash by making a crazy move or an emergency stop? I don’t think so, Bear,” Tim said.
I don’t have any equipment. An ambulance will be better able to give any help that’s needed,” Ailsa said.
I've got my phone here. I'll call the emergency services. They'll be quick, I’m sure, and, as Ailsa says, better equipped to help than we are,” Gillian said.
Good idea, pet,” Tim said. “I think they’ll need police as well as an ambulance.”
Gillian nodded, taking out her mobile phone.
Tim smiled back at her through the rear-view mirror and watched as she dialed 999.
And as this is meant to be one of my few weekends off, could you and Bear just stop bickering for a few hours?” Ailsa said, trying to change the subject.
We’re not bickering,” Tim grumbled.
You could have fooled me, bro. I’m really looking forward to Simon’s bonfire party weekend. Just don’t spoil it, Tim.”
Okay, but I’m sure he only invited us because you're back in town,” Tim commented from the driver’s seat of his comfortable car. “I always thought he had the hots for you.”
Ha ha, very funny,” Ailsa said.
And I could do without Lady Sophie bloody Dalmore being there,” Tim grumbled.
Oh, that's why you're in such a bad mood!” Bear said.
I am not in a bad mood. I just prefer to avoid that woman.”
Really? You could have fooled me, Timmy boy,” Bear grinned. “Don't worry, you have Gillian to protect you from the nasty lady, You will, won't you Gillian?”
Gillian pointed to her phone as she informed the call handler of her details and the place they had seen the van leave the road. When she finished the call, she replied. “Always! I'll take care of you and keep Sophie at bay. You'll be safe with me, Tim,” she said.

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, 'Hunter's Chase' Hunter's Revenge, Hunter's Force and Hunter’s Blood are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth book in the series, Hunter's Secret, follows shortly.

Giveaway to Win a .mobi or PDF of Hunter’s Blood by Val Penny (Open INT)
*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.

Friday, 24 January 2020

New Release Spotlight: The Profit Motive by David Beckler

The Profit Motive by David Beckler

Mason & Sterling are back in a hard-boiled international thriller! Perfect for fans of Mark Dawson, J. B. Turner, Lee Child and David Baldacci…
How do you deal with an implacable foe in an alien land…?
Manchester, England, and Wenzhou, China, 2001
When firefighter Adam Sterling arrives at the scene of a horrific car crash, little does he imagine it will lead him back to his mother’s homeland.
Kate, the woman he pulls from the wreckage, needs his help. Her father has been left for dead after a hit-and-run, in Wenzhou, China.
She suspects it wasn’t an accident and so does Jie Gang, the senior policeman investigating the case, and whose efforts are obstructed from on high.
When events escalate, Kate employs Adam and Byron Mason, Adam’s best friend and fellow former Royal Marine, to go with her to China.
Catapulted into an alien environment, and unable to trust anyone, Mason and Sterling face escalating challenges.
The struggle becomes personal, and Adam has to confront a ruthless enemy determined to destroy him and Kate.
THE PROFIT MOTIVE is the second crime novel in the Mason & Sterling thriller series: gritty, hard-boiled page-turners with an urban setting.

I write fast-paced action thrillers populated with well-rounded characters.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1960, I spent my first eight years living on an agricultural college in rural Ethiopia where my love of reading developed. After dropping out of university I became a firefighter and served 19 years before leaving to start my own business.
I began writing in 2010 and use my work experiences to add realism to my fiction.
The Mason and Sterling series centre on two ex-Royal Marines, Byron who now runs a security company and Adam who is a firefighter. A strong cast of characters support my protagonists. Long Stop Books published Brotherhood, the first novel in the series, in September 2019 and will be publishing the second, The Profit Motive, on December 16th 2019. Brotherhood is set in Manchester and The Profit Motive in Manchester and Wenzhou, China.
I live in Manchester, my adopted home since 1984. In my spare time I try to keep fit—an increasingly difficult undertaking—listen to music, socialise and feed my voracious book habit.






Thursday, 23 January 2020

Book Blog Blitz Stop with Guest Post: The Cure by Patricia Bowen

The Cure by Patricia Bowen

 Is There Safety in Sequels… for Readers and Writers?
Many authors write sequels and series. Readers who enjoy a certain character or recurring plot theme gravitate to them in confidence their tastes will be satisfied. They’re a mixed blessing for writers. Each book in a series typically has to have its own tale and stand on its own without having to read the preceding one. Yet threads must hold them together, such as common characters, or a story line that spans shared time or place. And, from a market perspective, readers might balk if buying book four in a series requires purchasing the preceding three.
I’ve encountered this challenge while embarking on writing my first trilogy. Its main plot theme revolves around the discovery of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in 2058. A doctor on a medical research team needs extensive, long-term test results for their new drug, and instead of putting it through years of clinical trials, he time-travels back to 2018 to start his longitudinal study there. Thus, by the time the drug is ready for market, it will have forty years of history on its efficacy. No spoilers here, so without giving away the plot details, book one, The Cure, takes place in 2018, with some flashbacks and flash forwards for character backstory. Book two, Legacy of The Cure, to be published in Spring 2020, is active in 2035-38. And book three, Fulfillment of The Cure, to be published by early 2021, will take place in 2060.
I’ve drafted a matrix for myself to show how the characters will move through the story over time. I’ve also shown the draft to fellow writers to get a sense of the plot line’s credibility, and am tweaking it as the story evolves during the writing and revision processes.
My challenges in writing three books tied together with one major thread are many. How much of the story has to be ‘rehashed’, how much backstory told from one book to the next, so the reader is grounded with pertinent details? Which of the details are the most pertinent, and which have no bearing on the current (second or third) book?
While one or more characters may stay in the trilogy for the entire forty-plus year span, they may or may not always be the protagonists. New characters must be brought in to keep the story fresh and interesting and they may overshadow the others with their status and actions. Will readers stay with the book-to-book plot if characters they’ve been rooting for are diminished or totally gone?
Finally, how to not be predictable with where the story is going and how it will end. With the timeline and significant backstory already known in book one, The Cure, I believe it’s important to give readers unexpected events, and relationships, and plot twists that make them want to keep turning the pages through the entire trilogy. Heck, I need those unexpected things too, to make me want to keep writing.
If you have certain preferences of things you like to see, or not see, in sequels, whether related to plot or character, drop me a line at You might make my job easier, and your reading more enjoyable.

A stranger from the future comes to Paige’s cabin in rural Georgia with a treatment for her early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He bargains with the skeptical patient to give her The Cure if she’ll conduct a longitudinal study for him, proving his drug’s efficacy to a future world full of clients that need it. Faced with her dire diagnosis, he might be her only hope. She grapples with the side effects of his offer and learns to suppress her own dangerous truth: trust no one.
Seldom lucky in love, Paige finds herself competing with her best friend for his attention, knowing there can be no good end for their stolen moments of passion. Can she stay under the radar of the medical and legal communities to carry out his requests? And how will their complicated pasts bring them together physically, emotionally and professionally in a successful, if unethical, partnership?
Many lives will be changed, but at what cost… and to whom?

Amazon UK           Amazon US 

Patricia Bowen writes novels, novellas and short stories, mostly about women with complicated lives. She’s been a copywriter, business owner, coach, marketing manager, and held corporate jobs in international business. She pens gardening articles for her local newspaper, and grants to support her local library. Her recent writing has appeared in the Table for Two anthology, The Sun magazine, and earned honourable mention in several contests. The Cure is her first full published work of fiction.

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