Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Read an Extract from: Girl with Secrets by Carol Rivers

Girl with Secrets by Carol Rivers

A coming of age war story and family saga full of romance, mystery and danger in London’s East End. From the Sunday Times and ebook bestselling author of the Lizzie Flowers series and A Wartime Christmas comes a gripping NEW coming-of-age saga about love, loyalties and secrets.


'Surely one of the best saga writers of her time' – Rosie Clarke

1938, East London. Nine year old Daisy Purbright is a country girl at heart and together with beloved brother Bobby, they’ve enjoyed the endless freedoms of rural England.

But when her father gambles the family’s fortunes on a speculative investment in London’s docklands, Daisy and her family are swept up into the 
intrigue, danger and excitement.Desperately the Purbrights attempt to settle to a new life in the East End, but the whisperings of war grow louder.

Then, one late afternoon in September 1940, Adolf Hitler conducts a 
paralysing bombardment on London and war tightens its grip. Life changes dramatically and closely guarded secrets threaten the Purbrights’ happiness.

Can Daisy and her family survive one of the most fateful events of the 20th century?

Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Pam Howes, Rosie Clarke and Dilly Court.

Nonsense,argued Mother, but blushing all the same.

Daisy’s father had winked behind the newspaper only to be interrupted by Matt who contributed a particularly dull comment of his own.

After Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia, Chamberlains chaps have unveiled plans for a National Register,’ Daisy’s brother spouted. Telling everyone what they should do when war starts.

Just rumours, Matt,Mother dismissed. Europe has had its fair share of conflict. Our leaders have more sense now than to rise to Hitler’s baiting.’

Not rumours, Mother,Matt objected heartily. Havent you heard, they are riveting the ships in the dockyards already? Why, some lads I know are joining up.

Well, you are not,Mother returned.

Pops was seventeen when he enlisted!’ Matt protested.

The matter is settled,Mother decided. ‘As soon as you leave school, youll follow your father into the family business.’

Daisy’s complaint however, was not with this supposed war” in Europe with which her brother was so enamoured, but something much closer to home. Why must it be Matt who was to follow Pops into business? Why not her or Bobby? Matt might be the oldest Purbright offspring but he hadnt the least bit interest in electrical engineering. Whereas Bobby actually knew who Isambard Kingdom Brunel was - the most famous engineer in the land. As for Matt, likely he wouldnt have a clue!

Daisy emerged from her thoughts and returned to the bright, crisp morning. Bobby’s proper bed was next door in Matts room, or it had been until the appearance of Amelia Collins. After which, Matt had begun to insist on privacy and Bobby transferred to the put-u-up in Daisy’s room, with a promise of the box room next week.

Not that Daisy minded sharing, for there were definite advantages. Tidiness, cleanliness and Godliness - Mothers mantra - had all gone to pot the minute Bobby had decamped, bringing all his clutter with him.

So Daisy had escaped housework, which suited her fine. And besides, she quite enjoyed their nightly discussions concerning the days observations. Bobby was one year up at school, but for a boy he was quite a card.

She was closer to Bobby in looks and nature than anyone else in the family. Bobby was her ally. She could always count on him for support. Whereas Matt teased her unmercifully, unaware how silly he himself sounded when he drooled over Amelia!

Quietly, Daisy left the figure of her slumbering brother and went to the window. Here, a shaft of light spilled in through the curtain just as it had in their old house in Wattcombe village, south of London. Until two years ago, the Purbrights had existed serenely, though in Daisys mind, rather boringly, amongst the fields and fauna of the countryside.

Sweet smells had meandered off the fields. Bats skittered against the lattice windows. Every floorboard creaked. Mice enjoyed a carefree existence in the barn. The thick walls of their home had kept out winters bite. But when Pops accepted a partnership with his brother in the docklands electrical engineering factory, everything had changed.

Yes, everything! Even now Daisy was disappointed to realise that she was forgetting the look of those fields and the delicate little mice and the fragile black wings that stroked the lattice at night.

She was forgetting - and somehow it felt wrong. For hadnt she lived such a happy - if undisturbed life - in Wattcombe? Where there had been no talk of war or of fighting or of terrible things that happened in other countries and might soon happen in Britain.

Drawing the curtains wide, Daisy undid the catch softly and sniffed the sweet air of the new day. Craning her neck, she could glimpse the city where there was not one thatched roof in sight. Instead, there were energetic hordes of people, unlike Wattcombe with its drab, mumbling farmers and stuffy village shopkeepers.

London was energetic and vibrant. Foreign visitors of every shape and size wandered the streets. Bowler hatted gents walked briskly to their offices. Ladies in furs hailed taxis. Theatres abounded, huge glass-fronted shops like Hamleys displayed their delights. Then of course there was the river, Daisys most breathtaking discovery. For here in the house in which they now lived, a home tucked neatly away from the busy thoroughfares of the East End, she could view the unbroken line of the snaking grey waters.

Should she peer westward, over the roof tops of Poplar Park Row, the river sparkled in the dawns light, bright as a diamond. A rowboats ride directly across the swirling pools, lay Greenwich Observatory. This view was breathtaking to Daisy. Sir Christopher Wren - like Isambard Brunel - was another of her heroes. His magnificent old Royal Naval College was a stones throw from the famous Queens House. She had learned at school that this historic building had been designed by Inigo Jones, a famous architect of the 1600s. But never would she have imagined when living in Wattcombe that one day she might view this spectacle from her window.

Dawn broke as Daisy made her way downstairs; above the front door a milky hue stole through the skylight. Here she paused; at this hour of the morning talk of the warwas thankfully absent. So too were the whispers of bombing and deadly weapons dropped from the sky to destroy London below. Daisy thought this event quite impossible and sided with Mother on the topic. Yet even as she and Bobby walked home from school, there were groups of raucous men rallied on street corners cursing this enemy called Hitler. Worse still were the awful, ugly gas masks and drills for emergency action should a warning siren sound. Some children at school had helped their parents to dig holes for the proposed air raid shelters that were arriving in the New Year.

Mother had once asked Pops if he would have to go away again to fight this war.

Ye gods,hed replied in a startled manner. No chance of that! Service in seventeen was my lifetimes contribution.

War is easier to make than peace, Nicky,Mother returned on a sigh. People still clamour for it. To our own son war appears heroic and dashing. But we know the truth of it, dont we?

Daisy, observing carefully, had watched Mother smile. Yet underneath the wing of her light brown hair swept back from her pensive face, the frown had deepened.

As it often seemed to these days.

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

Mum and Dad were both East Enders who were born on the famous or should I say the then infamous Isle of Dogs. Their family were immigrants who travelled to the UK from Ireland and France, while others emigrated to America.

As a child I would listen to the adults spinning their colourful stories, as my cousins and I drank pop under the table.

I know the seeds of all my stories come from those far off times that feel like only yesterday. So I would like to say a big heartfelt thank you to all my family and ancestors wherever you are now ... UK, Ireland, France or America, as you've handed down to me the magic and love of story telling.

Web site:

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

New Publication Spotlight and Author Guest Post: Old Cases, New Colours by Madalyn Morgan

Thank you for inviting me to write a guest post on a topic of my choice for your fabulous Blog Ellesea Loves Reading.

My choice of topic is genre. Should a writer change genre? Is it right to change genre?

Changing genre was something I was told not to do during a creative writing course. I was told readers didn’t like their authors to change the genre. I don’t agree. Most of the readers I know are better read than I am. The rules on genre are more relaxed now, I hope.

The first four novels I wrote, The Dudley Sisters Saga, are set in WW2. The four Dudley sisters have the war in common, but their lives and jobs are very different. In the first book, Foxden Acres, the oldest sister Bess is a teacher in London who, when the children are evacuated, returns to the country to oversee a group of land girls turn the Foxden Estate into arable land. Although all four of the Dudley sisters are introduced in Foxden Acres, it is Bess’s story. A story of love and loss, and how love crosses the class divide.

Applause, Margot Dudley’s story is completely different and her personality is the opposite of her sister Bess. Margot works her way up from usherette to the leading lady of a West End show. Driven by blind ambition she becomes immersed in the heady world of nightclubs, drink, drugs and fascist thugs. In Applause, the genre changed.

China Blue, the third book in The Dudley Sisters Saga, is different again. Claire Dudley joins the WAAF, excels in languages and is recruited by the SOE to work in German-occupied France. Claire’s is a secret love story. it’s also a story about sabotage, cruelty, and the heroism of the French Resistance. A different genre, I’m sure.

The 9:45 To Bletchley, the fourth book in the saga, is Ena Dudley’s story. It’s a spy thriller - and so a different genre. When Ena’s work is stolen en route to Bletchley Park, she is accused of sabotage. Ena investigates and exposes a spy ring.

From three of the four novels in The Dudley Sisters Saga, I have written four stand-alone sequels - all different genres. From Foxden Acres, Foxden Hotel - a murder mystery set in 1948. It’s a story of intrigue and secrets, threats and blackmail that brings the Dudley sisters together to fight an abusive fascist from Ena and Margot’s past. From China Blue, Chasing Ghosts - a psychological thriller set in 1949. When Claire’s husband is accused of wartime treachery, Claire goes to Canada and France in search of the truth. And, from The 9:45 To Bletchley, I’ve written three stand-alone sequels. The first, There Is No Going Home, is a Home Office cold case and cold war spy thriller, set in 1958 London and goes back in time to Berlin 1936. In the second sequel, She Casts a Long Shadow, Ena is preparing to expose the mole at MI5 when her husband is abducted by Special Branch and she is thrown into a murder case.

The stand-alone sequel to She Casts A Long Shadow is about to be published. Old Cases New Colours is a detective story. Ena, sick of lies and bureaucracy, resigns from the Home Office and starts her own private investigation agency. While investigating an art theft and a suspicious death, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.

The only Dudley sister who doesn’t have a sequel is Margot (Applause), but that is about to change. My work in progress is called Christmas Applause. Set in the Prince Albert theatre, it will be a celebration of Margot’s life as the leading lady in WW2. The story brings together the Dudley sisters, their daughters - now young women - and Margot’s friends from the war. Christmas Applause begins in 1961 and goes back in time to the 1940s, to the Blitz, ENSA, and to Margot’s rise to leading lady and the Talk of London.

I have never before written a feel-good Christmas story. It is a new genre and a first for me.

Old Cases, New Colours (A Dudley Green Investigation)

Sick of working in a world of spies and bureaucracy, Ena Green, nee Dudley, leaves the Home Office and starts her own investigating agency.

Working for herself she can choose which investigations to take and, more importantly, which to turn down.

While working on two investigations, Ena is called as a prosecution witness in the Old Bailey trial of a cold-blooded killer who she exposed as a spy the year before.

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

I was bought up in a pub in a small market town called Lutterworth. For as long as I can remember, my dream was to be an actress and a writer. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live with so many characters to study and accents to learn. I was offered Crossroads the first time around. However, my mother wanted me to have a ‘proper’ job that I could fall back on if I needed to, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship. Eight years later, aged twenty-four, I gave up a successful salon and wig-hire business in the theatre for a place at East 15 Drama College and a career as an actress, working in Repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.

In 1995, with fewer parts for older actresses, I gave up acting. I taught myself to touch-type, completed a two-year correspondence course with The Writer’s Bureau and began writing articles and presenting radio.

In 2010, after living in London for thirty-six years, I moved back to Lutterworth. I swapped two window boxes and a mortgage for a garden and the freedom to write. Since then, I have written nine novels. The first four, The Dudley Sisters’ Saga, tell the stories of four sisters in World War 2. My current novel, Old Cases, New Colours, is a thriller/detective story set in 1960. I am writing Christmas book - Christmas Applause - and a Memoir; a collection of short stories, articles, poems, photographs and character breakdowns from my days as an actress.

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Friday, 26 March 2021

New Publication Spotlight with an Extract: A Chance Encounter by Rae Shaw

A Chance Encounter

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Julianna’s first encounter with new employee Mark is in his office, where he’s recently taken up residence, adding a few personal touches, like two paintings hung on the wall. Julianna’s gaze can’t help noticing the signature on one of the paintings entitled The Bower. Mark has a prized possession – a painting by Hettie Haynes, the boss’s wife.

‘A bower is also a lady’s apartment. A stark contrast to the other picture. She wouldn’t like that one.’ She gestured at the gory rose picture.

Mark stood next to her, scratching his chin. ‘Why not?’

‘Oh. Blood, you know. She has a phobia about blood.’ Julianna turned in time to see his eyes widen. ‘Shit, you didn’t know. I thought, having a gift, you knew her well. Don’t mention I said that, will you?’ The lie worked well; his mouth twitched nervously, weighing her up, no doubt.

‘No, of course not. I’m more of a friend of Mr Haynes,’ he said, slowly, a marked emphasis on “mister”.

Another one of Jackson Haynes’s friends. She hated the old boys’ network. There must be some secret cadre with a connection to Oxford; Alex had been at Christchurch.

Mark had only recently arrived in London, initially working at a different, smaller office, then suddenly he had been transferred to headquarters. The gift of the painting must have happened prior to his move. Where had Hettie met him? She was a talented artist who’d studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Before her marriage to Jackson, she fulfilled commissions for famous clients. She didn’t just give her artwork away to anyone and Mark probably couldn’t afford to buy one of her pictures.

As for Mrs Haynes, Julianna listened into the quiet conversations held in the back of the car and, as expected, offered no counsel. Hettie wasn’t always comfortable with the lack of privacy; she would attempt to codify her remarks and her eyes would flutter back and forth, occasionally glancing at the rear-view mirror to check whether Julianna was paying any attention to her phone calls. Julianna maintained her professionalism under duress – if only she could speak up and ask Hettie outright about Mark.

She tapped her finger on the folder Mark had handed her. ‘Well, I best follow this up.’ The meeting ended with another brisk handshake. ‘Good to meet you, Mark.’

She hesitated at the door for one last inspection of the painting and her new colleague – his fawn cheeks tinged with a hint of shame. Far from advertising his connection to Hettie Haynes, he had played it down, claiming Jackson was his friend, not Hettie. The lady’s bower, the secret apartment, was the clue to why a new employee had that painting hanging in his office. Chris had given her Mark’s personnel record a week ago. That bugged her too. Maybe it was so Jackson could use Julianna to keep an eye on his wife’s admirer. Cheeky of him, but probably in character.

From now on, she would pay more attention to Mark Clewer. She bristled with delight – somehow, she had created a mission of her own. What the remit was, she would devise during the project.

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

Rae Shaw is a pen name for the author Rachel Walkley.

Rachel is based in the North West of England. She read her first grown-up detective novel at the age of eleven, which proved to be a catalyst for filling many shelves with crime books, which still occupy her home and grow in number whenever she visits a book shop.

As well as crime, Rachel likes to unplug from the real world and writes mysteries that have a touch of magic woven into family secrets.

Rae Shaw Facebook page

Rachel Walkley

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Cover Reveal: Summer Sin by K.S. Marsden

Summer Sin (Northern Witch #4) by K.S. Marsden

As an eventful school year draws to a close, Mark has to face his greatest challenge yet.

Witches, demons and spells have quickly become the norm for Mark, but he will find that magic can't solve all of his problems.

With everyone relying on him, will Mark be able to save the day?

Or will the price of being a hero be too high?

Available at special pre-order deal 99p (normal price £3.50/$3.99)

Purchase links:

Publication Date: 1st May

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, 22 March 2021

New Publication Spotlight with an Author Interview: The Warrior's Innocent Captive by Ella Matthews

Q. We're currently in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. What five things are helping to improve your quality of life at this difficult time?

My family have been essential in getting through the dark times of this pandemic. The joy my young children are still experiencing, despite the restricted life they are living, is inspirational.

We’re lucky enough to live close to several beaches. When things are getting a bit bleak, there’s nothing like a blustery walk along the coast to make me feel better.

We’re all in this together, so it’s been really important to keep in touch with my friends and wider family through Zoom and WhatsApp. Having said that, I’m not a huge fan of Zoom. It’s great to see people but I’m not so keen on seeing my own face whenever I speak. It’s made me realise I look like a potato!

Is it wrong to say that a lovely glass of wine at the end of the day has helped enormously? It’s especially delicious after a day of working and homeschooling!

Finally, I think it’s really helped to have my writing. I’ve had a goal and that’s made me focus on something outside of my home life. It also means, that while I can’t actually leave the house to travel anywhere other than work, I can go quite far and wide in my imagination.

Q. Do you have pets, if so, what?

As a family, we have two guinea pigs. They’re girls and are called Lotus and Bliss but they are my children’s rather than mine. I do find watching them graze in our garden relaxing, especially when they start popcorn jumping; it’s very cute.

Q. Who in the writing world is your greatest influence?

I’d say that almost every writer I’ve read has an influence on my writing. I read a lot and I think that everyone can learn something from a well-written novel.

The one author who has made the greatest impact on my writing career is probably Katie Fforde. I saw her give a talk about six years ago and she spoke about how she received rejections for eight years but she’d kept on going. I remembered that when I had my very first rejection (which was pretty soul destroying!) and I was able to pick myself up and keep going. She also suggested joining the Romantic Novelists Association, which I did three years ago. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Association has helped my writing career in too many ways to count and I will always be grateful for the opportunities they have given me.

Q. Describe your perfect day.

It’s spring and I’m on a long walk with my family. Ideally, the walk will include a beach and some castle ruins. There will definitely be a cafe that sells delicious cakes involved. Later, we’ll come home and have a BBQ with lots of food and good wine.

Q. What project are you working on currently?

I’m working on a new four-book medieval historical series for Mills and Boon. The series begins in the year 1331. King Edward III has only recently taken control of the country from his mother, Isabella, and her lover, Mortimer. Intent on shoring up his control across his kingdom, he forms a band of loyal knights. These four, very different men, are elite warriors who swear an oath of loyalty to the king. They are as tight as brothers and dedicated to their common cause. Each story follows a different knight and the women they fall in love with.

The Warrior’s Innocent Captive by Ella Matthews

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…

Amazon UK                Amazon US 

Ella Matthews lives and works in beautiful South Wales. When not thinking about handsome heroes she can be found walking along the coast with her husband and their two children (probably still thinking about heroes but at least pretending to be interested in everyone else).

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

New Book Release Spotlight: The First Man by Alex Kelly

The First Man by Alex Kelly


Do you want to know what it means to live like me?

It means being forced not to look at him, not to touch him, not to be left alone in the same room as him.

Not to seek him out. Not to want him.

Not to love him.

Do you know how it feels to spend your entire life pretending to be someone else? Do you know what its like to love someone who doesnt want to be loved?

I’ll tell you how it feels.

It feels as if youre living in constant torment: you know which path you should follow, but you also know that, if you follow that path, you can never turn back.

And I cant do that to him.

Every day I come back, because I know that hes waiting for me.

Every day I promise him that he will never have to live without me.


Do you know what it means to live like me?

It means being forced not to touch him, not to kiss him, not to be able to leave the room while hes still in it.

Not to breathe him in, not to lust after him.

Not to love him.

Do you know how it feels to spend your entire life pretending to be someone else? Do you know what its like to love the only person youre not allowed to love?

I’ll tell you how it works.

You cant seem to feel anything other than him; when you walk away, you know that youre turning your back on the only thing thats good in your life.

Yet you still walk away.

Every day I leave, knowing that he will be standing there, watching.

Every day I ask him to promise me that I will never have to live without him.




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Alex Kelly writes uplifting, emotional and heartwarming Romantic Fiction and Family Sagas.

She's a bibliophile, a Yogi, a lover of English literature and a baking enthusiast.

She was born in Italy but lives in Ireland with her husband, two children and a cat named Oscar.