Review of ‘A Woman To Treasure’ by Ali Vali

‘A Woman to Treasure’ is a cracker of a story. It’s an adventure, a mystery and a love story all rolled into one. Levi Montbard has loved history her whole life, and goes all over the world in search of antiquities. Her fascination with the Templars is particularly important, and when some writings come into her possession, the adventure really begins. Yasmine Hassani is a university professor, with a special interest in women’s studies. She’s an unusual woman in her culture, as she has so far resisted the expected marriage and children route. When she becomes aware of Levi’s quest she has to decide to take a leap, in more ways than one. 

Ali Vali has written a wonderful mystery, with well-researched historical detail and a heart-warming romance at its core. It has beautiful settings  in various parts of the world, with a fantastic group of characters. I particularly loved Louisiana and Morocco, and getting to know Levi and Yasmine’s families there. The story was brilliantly plotted, with stories and revelations that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The romance was sweet and endearing and gave me such feelings of joy when they as much as held hands. It was lovely to see the characters grow and change as they got to know each other, becoming who they were meant to be. An excellent book and one I can highly recommend. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Rose Code’ by Kate Quinn

‘The Rose Code’ is a stunning book. A mixture of historical fiction, suspense, mystery and passion. It’s the story of three young women who find themselves working at Bletchley Park, doing top-secret codebreaking – work they will never be allowed to divulge for decades. Osla, the well-connected deb, Mab, an East End girl determined to make something of her life, and Beth, a downtrodden twenty-something with a sharp and amazing mind. We follow their lives as they become vital cogs in the wheel during WW11, saving the Allies in secret, and trying to find some sort of happiness amongst the chaos of war.

The story jumped back and forward between the war years and post-war Britain. Tying it in with real events and with more than a spattering of real-life figures added to the excitement and intensity. I loved finding out about Bletchley Park when it was the secret hub of those trying to crack the Enigma codes. I’ve visited it and found it utterly fascinating – but this book brought it to life for me, with wonderful characters and a top-notch story. It was tense and full of suspense, with a fantastic mystery at its heart. The best book of the year for me.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Golden Trinity’ by Robyn Nyx

Chase Stinsen is a principled archaeologist who ends up in some yucky, mucky situations, always hoping to discover and save treasures for the benefit of all humanity. Rayne Marcellus tends towards the less lawful path. She keeps beating Chase to finds that she sells to unscrupulous rich men, instead of giving to the museums Chase favours. The women worked together in the past and have a difficult relationship due to Rayne screwing Chase over. When Rayne asks her to help find the fabled Golden Trinity, to prevent it from falling into the hands of a man who would stop at nothing to possess it, can Chase trust her?

The story has an exciting and atmospheric start and the the adventure continues in the same vein. The archaeological and historical details are fascinating and give another layer of interest that hooked me from the beginning. Add to that the interpersonal dynamics between the two main characters and Robyn Nyx has a winner on her hands. But it was about so much more than adventure and mystery, although those were expertly done. The personal discoveries for Chase and Rayne and the realisations they came to – those were definitely stand out elements for me. There were powerful emotions, not just about the growing feelings the women had for each other, but for the peoples of the Amazon. The danger from incursions by treasure hunters and loggers made me want to weep for them. The setting was exquisitely described, so much so that I could almost feel the heat and humidity as I read. The creepy fear that could never leave them as they traversed through thick, lush jungle, with snakes and worse just ready to pounce. The denouement was thrilling, heart-stopping and full of wonder. I wait in eager anticipation for the next great adventure from this pair.

And for lovers of lesfic, there are a few wonderful Easter Eggs in this book. I almost cried out in delight at the mention of some names and places from another favourite author of mine. I’ll leave you to find them for yourself – but suffice to say, the three I found made me a very happy reader.

I loved this story and highly recommend it.

Review of ‘Royal Family’ by Jenny Frame

‘Royal Family’ by Jenny Frame is book four in her Royal Series. I’ve enjoyed them all, and it was lovely to be back with some of my favourite characters. This time we follow the romance of Clay, a royal protection officer, and Katya, the new nanny. Clay has reached her position despite a rocky start in life, and is now dealing with grief after the death of her mother. She’s not ready to trust the new nanny, but can’t quite put her finger on why. Katya left her native home as a child refugee and is determined to pay her adopted country back for the good life she has now. She finds Clay attractive, but is not ready for any kind of relationship. Guarding her privacy and her heart is too important to her. 

Katya and Clay’s story was a slow burner. Their backgrounds made them wary and they needed time to open up. I really warmed to Katya as I got to know more about her. Her backstory was fascinating and I enjoyed finding out about her. Clay’s story was worlds away from that of Katya, but they found in each other something that was missing. Something that made them whole. Jenny Frame ties the threads from previous books in the series beautifully, and the family element really came through. It felt welcoming and inclusive. I love Queen George and Queen Bea and their growing family. The fact that they make their friends and close staff part of that family enhances the series. There’s a warmth and affection woven throughout the story and I hope there will be more tales of this particular Royal Family and their entourage.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The End Of Men’ by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Shivers ran down my spine reading this book. The author, Christina Sweeney-Baird, could never have known just how prophetic she was being when she wrote it, but it is astounding how much she has predicted. The world is in the grip of a viral pandemic that only affects men. Dr Amanda MacLean tried to warn the authorities, but no-one was willing to listen. Men soon realise the folly of ignoring her warnings as they begin to die. What follows are first-person accounts by women from all over the world, documenting the fall of the male-dominated patriarchal society we knew, and the rise of a female-led one. The storytelling is wonderful – perfectly paced, with an immediacy and emotional intensity that made me gasp. She amps up the tension, opening out the story as the virus spreads, and lets us see how society could be if women were in charge. If I had read this last year, before the pandemic, it would still have been a great story, but this year makes it even more so. I could not put it down. ‘The End Of Men’ deserves to be the hit book of the year.

I was given an ARC by LoveReading to review.

Due out 29 April 2021.

Review of ‘Without A Trace’ by Mari Hannah

‘Without A Trace’ is the best Kate Daniels book yet. It’s an emotionally intense, perfectly plotted story, that doesn’t let up for a second. When a plane goes missing over the Atlantic, with Kate’s soulmate on board, she stops at nothing, and is willing to break all the rules to find out what happened. Mari Hannah’s pacing ramps up the tension bit by bit, and takes the reader with Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels as she struggles to cope with the prospect of losing Jo. This is the book in which we see more of Kate than ever before. We see her vulnerabilities and her pain. I could feel that pain with her and like her, I held onto hope. The combination of personal and professional and the pull of her heart over the job was powerful. It’s something Daniels has always struggled with, but not to this extent before. Mari Hannah is an astounding talent in the field of crime writing, and here she is at the top of her game.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star’ by Fletcher DeLancey

I have read the entire Chronicles of Alsea series and I am astounded at the talent of Fletcher DeLancey. Her writing is superb and the imagination that went into the plotting of the series is beyond belief. The final book is a fitting end to the series. ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star’ was a truly satisfying and emotionally overwhelming book. So many threads were brought together and woven into a perfect tapestry. Each and every character played a part and they were given well deserved closure. It was about being with the people and in the place you are meant to be. About fulfilling a destiny.  It was an utter joy to read and I fervently hope that the author is not finished with this universe. I must also make a special mention of the wonderful cover art for this book and the rest of the series. It is stunning and looks amazing on my bookshelves. ‘Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star was a beautiful end to a masterpiece of a series. 

Review of ‘Addie Mae’ by Addison M Conley

‘Addie Mae’ hits the sweet spot when it comes to lesbian romance. Maddy is ending an awful marriage but her husband and his family aren’t going to make it easy. How can she escape with her dignity and finances intact, when her rich in-laws have the means to make her suffer? Will she spill the beans on her unfaithful husband and his philandering ways? All that matters is the love and respect of her son. What will his reaction be? 

As she adjusts to her new life, gorgeous butch Jessie appears on the scene. Can Maddy take a chance on love? Is Jessie all she seems? 

It’s a well-written and engaging story, with a fascinating setting and premise. I really liked  the main characters, and those around them. There was ultimately a feel-good vibe. I loved it.

Review of ‘Uprising’ by Fletcher DeLancey

‘Uprising’ is book 8 in The Chronicles of Alsea series and another masterpiece. This time the overall theme is of different people learning about each other and realising we are all the same. It’s also about hate that could rip everything apart.They were brought together in war and mayhem. Now the repercussions start to play out as different groups live together on Alsea – Alseans, Gaians and Voloth. It’s about taking a stand and demanding change. There’s a sense of empowerment, of coming together. It was inspiring.

Review of ‘Spirited’ by Julie Cohen

If there is one book you must read this year, ‘Spirited’ is it. Viola Worth has a passion for photography, a skill taught by her father. When her photographs begin to show the unexpected and intriguing, she becomes friends with celebrated medium Harriet Blackthorne, and her life changes forever. Viola’s husband Jonah struggles with his own demons and a notoriety he feels he does not deserve. As their lives intertwine, secrets emerge that must, in the end, be faced.

The writing is beautiful and poetic and places the reader in a time and place, where rules were different and society was not ready for the truth. This is a slow-build, with a gentle style, where the casual cruelty of the Victorian era is all the more shocking. It’s about secrets and lies, about love and friendship. But also about believing the impossible and above all the enduring nature of love. My heart was bursting as I turned the final few pages. A masterpiece.

I was given this ARC for review.