Books

The Many Colours of Us – Rachel Burton

Julia Simmonds did not know her father.

Her mother the well known model Philadelphia Simmonds has always refused to say who he was. She maintained they didn’t need him.

But when Julia has just turned thirty, she is sent a summons to a lawyer’s officers to be informed that her father has died.

A father it turns out the whole world knew as he was renown artist Bruce Baldwin.

Her father the man is turns out she may well have met at some point in her childhood.

A father who has left her a fortune and a legacy.

Her father also left her letters – that he wrote to Julia on her birthday every year up until she was eighteen – this is the first time she has even seen them.

Julia’s life is turned upside down, who was this man, what did he have to say to her and more importantly what does all this information mean to Julia.

A wonderfully created story which also includes the letters that were written by Julia’s father interspersed as she finds out more about him, the relationship with her mother and how the future could possibly be not as disastrous as she first thought.

The emotions rock from happiness to sadness and you are taken as a reader along the journey of discovery and you feel every emotion as well – I certainly did. Clearly written so well for that to happen.

This was a read which you need to take time with, to appreciate everything about it but also know that you will devour it in a few sittings.

I seek out the books she has published since this debut, which I have been late coming to.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Many Colours of Us is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

The Fire House on Honeysuckle Street – Rachel Dove

Way back in 2016 I found, reviewed and shouted about Rachel Dove’s first novel set in Westfield – The Chic Boutique on Baker Street. I hoped then that she would return and she has many times and here is her latest (I have caught up with all those in between).

Lucy has gathered her son Xander up and is heading back to Westfield to see her Aunt Marlene. Lucy can no longer cope with the family situation in London. Iain her husband just sees her as cook, cleaner and laundry woman and their son is simply an embarrassment.

Lucy and Xander board the train north.

Sam, having been involved with the birth of a new resident in Westfield decides that he wants to return there. He knows little of his past and now finds he needs to some answers before he could possibly move forward. So packing up his life in London he waves goodbye to the intense work of a firefighter in the capital and opts for a more rural fire station.

Sam boards the train north.

As they sit opposite each other on the train, little do they know that they are all going to need each other as the book goes on.

In Westfield, the local ladies who are hilarious have already decided the answer to Lucy’s problems – Sam. It is just how the go about it without them knowing and whether they will be successful.

This is a real slow burn of a romance, whilst Sam sweeps Lucy off her feet on more than one occasion it is the patience and tender care he takes with her son Xander which pulls at the heartstrings. No life is uncomplicated and Lucy whilst she brings the baggage of a failing marriage she is putting her heart into raising her autistic son. This is written with such brutal honesty that you know the author knows exactly what she is talking about.

Whilst there are some real tender moments, there are also some laugh out loud ones and the book is so well balanced your heart will melt just a little bit. As for me well I am in love with Sam and now waiting for him to come and sweep me off my feet.

A great feel good read as all of her previous Westfield novels are.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel. 

The Fire House on Honeysuckle Street is out now. 

The books do refer to characters from previous novels so to immerse yourself in Westfield you need to read

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street

The Flower Shop on Foxley Street

The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street

Books

The Runaway Daughter – Joanna Rees

Anna Darton believes she has committed a heinous crime and therefore she has to escape, she has no choice, no one will understand what happened or believe her.

She heads to London, bit of a cliche perhaps but the only place she knows she can hide.

Whilst determined to survive, her sheltered upbring makes her naive and susceptible to being conned.

Then she meets Nancy, a chance meeting leads her to reinvent herself as Verity ‘Vita’ Casey and she becomes immersed in Nancy’s world of society, dancing, drinking, love and fashion.

Meeting a wide variety of people, Vita starts to become immersed in the fringes of 1920s London society and her past seems just a distant memory. Her past though is about to catch up with her and will she be able to make the right choices.

One of those choices is Archie, enamoured with Vita a love affair begins and she knows that this is the man that will love her forever, but are other forces at work and will a love affair survive all the friendships she has forged in her new life.

This book, the first in a proposed trilogy took you right into the heart of Twenties London, where everything was starting to change, The Great War starting to become a memory and the “Young Bright Things” are pushing boundaries, raising hemlines, cutting hair short and embracing being women who now have more of a say. Experimenting with alcohol, drugs, friendships and differing sexual relationships this book manages to pack it all in. Not in a sensationalist way but with what can be seen as thorough research to enrich the storyline.

I had to keep reading to see whether the past ever caught up with Vita and whilst the denouement ties lots of loose ends together it left many unresolved, I was slightly disappointed with Vita’s actins and I was surprised I felt this way when I had been her greatest advocate all the way through the book. But now I want to know where and how the author is going to take this story so I am looking forward to book two.

A great historical read, enthralling, captivating and will have you reading long into the night as you immerse yourself in the 1920s. A must for historical fiction fans.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Runaway Daughter is out now. 

Books

Hearts of Oak – Beryl Kingston

This is a reissue of a book which was previously published as Girl on the Orlop Deck.

I had not heard of the book but the author I have read before, many many years ago before I started recording what I read. What caught my eye about this book was the title – a song I am familiar with through work. Interestingly despite experiencing 18 years worth of Trafalgar Nights, I did not realise the words were by David Garrick who coincidentally featured a book I had read a few weeks previous.

I digress, this is the story of Marianne and Jem. Newly married Jem a trained carpenter behave abominably on his wedding night and goes to seek solace in the bottom of a jug of ale. Whilst a a low point he make friends with two gentlemen and finds himself the very next day onboard ship, having taken the king’s shilling and having no recollection of the event.

Marianne furious that her husband has already abandoned her, learns that he has joined the navy and decides to follow him. Being female is not going to stop her and so with her brothers breeches, Marianne becomes Matt Morris.

Will Marianne find Jem?

Or will being in Nelson’s Navy away from home for two years plus having traversed the oceans mean that Marianne and Jem will always be lost to each other?

This book gives you life onboard a Nelson ship even if you had never thought about how they all coexisted together – and of course women went to sea even in them days. Marianne in fact encounters others across her journey, but she also encounters tragedy, heartache, love and war and is at the heart of the battle of Trafalgar and sees the great man, Nelson fall.

The plot moves at a fast pace for an event which took a long time building to the battle we know as the fleets chased each other around the seas.

Whilst I have always known Beryl Kingston for writing sagas this was certainly a step up maybe because I had a lot of prior knowledge, living in Portsmouth where Nelson set sail from and also recognising the names of Collingwood and what actually did happen at the battle. That said even if you do not have this prior knowledge the book goes into great detail without it being dry and scholarly and it is all given a sense of place and time.

I was somewhat disappointed quite near the end when the journey of Victory towards Plymouth went slightly wrong in its geography, you do not reach Torquay before Weymouth unless you have some serious navigating problems. I am hoping as I read this from a ARC that the mistake will have been amended.

For fans of historical fiction and seeing one our greatest Naval battles brought to life through someone else’s eyes.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Hearts of Oak is out now.

Books

The Corpse Played Dead – Georgina Clarke

We last saw Lizzie Hardwicke in the role of prostitute – a role she chose not one she playing but now in this second novel of the series, Lizzie is to take on another role, in fact more than one.

A role that is going to put her right in the middle of the action.

Asked to go undercover by a Bow Street Magistrate – this is the days before a recognisable police force – Lizzie goes to Drury Lane, to a theatre to work as a seamstress.

The theatre owned by David Garrick (yes the very same) has had some strange accidents and events going on.

Lizzie is there to observe not the performance on the stage but that of what is going on behind the scenes – much more intriguing.

As rich men are paid court in a not so dissimilar way to Lizzies occupation, actors and actress, playwrights and stage hands all witness the way money is gained to help the theatre survive.

That is until one of these rich men ends up on stage himself……

Upside down……

With his throat cut……

Enter the magistrate Mr Fielding and one of the inspectors Will Davenport who we met in the first novel and who has developed a fondness for Lizzie despite her chosen path in life.

Lizzie knows that she cannot leave this role until she has found out the truth about the dead man and whilst it seems the perpetrator has been caught and the case solved there are too many loose ends and unwoven threads to the story like the dresses and cuffs that Lizzie has been mending when she has been inconspicuously listening and observing.

Who would pay attention to a grubby, second seamstress in a room full of egos and money?

If I did not know this was fiction I would believe I was reading an account of the time and that this was a piece of historical nonfiction of the Georgian time in the depths of some of the rather seedier parts of London.

The fact that it is before a police force and our main protagonist is female and a prostitute adds to the depth of the plot and makes is a page turner. I learnt from this book as I did from her debut and the dedicated and detailed research by the author is clearly evident.

It is that which means I wait with anticipation as to where Lizzie Hardwicke is going to turn up next and who she is going to encounter and also perhaps in time she will have enough money saved to stop her current profession and find true happiness with Will Davenport….. then again the author might have another idea. How exciting!

 

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Corpse Played Dead is published on 19th August. 

What to know more about Georgina Clarke and of course Lizzie Hardwicke?

Read an excerpt from her debut novel Death and the Harlot here.  My review of the book can be found here if you are still not sure. If you are a fan of crime and history you will thoroughly enjoy this new series of books. 

 

 

 

 

Books

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus – Cressida McLauglin

Preferring to read these serialised novels as a whole, I have patiently waited for this one to be published.

Charlie Quilter loved spending time with her Uncle Hal on his Cotswold Tour Bus, an Old Routemaster which he used to meander through the Cotswolds with, giving tourists funny and interesting tours.

When he dies and leaves the bus to Charlie, she knows she has to keep his memory alive and use the bus to its full advantage. Drawing on her experience as a baker at the local café, Charlie thinks she can bring the cafe to the bus and then take it on tour.

After a false start in the Cotswolds, her friend Juliette invites her down to Cornwall, to rest, grieve for her Uncle and also heal from her recent breakup.

Charlie packs up the bus and with her little dog Marmite she heads to Cornwall. Not one to rest on her laurels, she throws herself into the start of serving cream teas upon the bus. Being an outside in Cornwall and “emmet” if you will, she has an uphill battle to fight and not just the ones she drives on.

A big red bus, parked up outside a posh spa hotel isn’t what the owner Daniel Harper wants his residents to see.  Clashing with Charlie over the coming days about her ideas for the local seaside village, myths about mermaids, crumbling cliffs and plenty of local gossip makes for an interesting times ahead.

I loved the way that the bus was brought to life and I had my heart in my mouth when Charlie was making her journey around some of the twisting lanes of the countryside as well as the wonderful coastal positions. Full of warmth and romance and a sense of community coming together to give other people a great time. A selfless way of joining in with society.

This book left me wanting a sequel – there has to be more to this story… what is going to happen at Christmas there??? Mince Pies on the Cornish Cream Tea Bus?

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus is out now.

Books

Death comes to Dartmoor – Vivian Conroy

This is the second in the Merriweather and Royston mystery series.

Merriweather is in fact Merula Merriweather, who saved her Uncle from falsely being hanged for murder in the first book. A trip to Dartmoor is prescribed to blow away the cobwebs and soothe the nerves.

Royston is in fact Lord Rayven Royston a zoologist who is using natural history as his last vestige of respectability after some dubious events. Royston helped Merriweather with the exoneration of her uncle. He agrees to accompany her on her trip.

To maintain the air of respectability there is also Lamb, Merriweather’s maid and Bowspirit, Royston’s valet.

Surely Victorian Devon is going to be less dangerous than Victorian London….

But when they get to the house they are meant to be staying at, after being diverted by the wreckmaster high up on the moor, all is not as it seems. Oaks, their host seems to be in some sort of delirium, his maid has disappeared, the natural history specimens he collects seem to be coming to life and the local villagers are baying for his blood.

Then the maid’s body turns up and it looks like Oaks is responsible.

This is not the quiet respite that Merriweather and Royston were after. And it looks like their unlikely detective partnership is going to have to be used again to solve the mystery.

I think to understand in more depth the relationship between the two main characters you needed to have read the first book, I am sure that would have made the second book, this one, more enjoyable for me. An interesting concept as a series of novels and I thoroughly enjoyed the setting and the landscape descriptions. I think the series can develop but there was something just missing from the storytelling which just didn’t grab me and make me want to read more. I really wish I knew what it was.

An acceptable book to while away a few hours in front of the fire and escape from the present day.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review. 

Death comes to Dartmoor is published on 13 August.