‘The Sweetheart Locket’ by Jen Gilroy is the heartwarming story of a family of women, told between two time periods. In 1939, Maggie Wyndham is in wartime London, and has defied the wishes of her family who want her back home in Canada. Instead she signs up to help the war effort. Her love for an RAF officer goes against the class conventions of the time, but Maggie is determined and brave enough to decide for herself. When life throws her a few curveballs, she has to make some difficult decisions. Decisions that will impact her whole future and that of her descendants.
In 2019 her granddaughter Willow has taken a DNA test and, along with her mother, has been given some very interesting and unexpected results. She has long treasured the sweetheart locket left to her by her English grandmother, but is now faced with the reality that her grandparents may not have been all they seemed. What is she to believe? Her quest to find the truth leads her to London and research that may uncover some uncomfortable truths.
I liked that the story was told over two time periods. It alternated between wartime Europe and the present day, when Willow began her research into her grandmother’s past. I loved finding out about Maggie’s time in London, and how she helped the allied effort to beat the Nazis. She made lifelong friends, and it was these relationships that helped shape her future. Her love for two different men was a situation lived by many women at the time. And who knows how any of us would have reacted in the same situation.
Willow’s story was one of discovery – not just about her grandmother, but about herself too. She realised that sometimes we have to take a chance. And her grandmother’s courage gave her the impetus to consider change.
‘The Sweetheart locket’ was about love, friendship, secrets and sometimes lies. It was heartwarming and made me feel some powerful emotions. I laughed and cried with Maggie, Willow, Millie and Vi. I felt invested in their stories and left them feeling happy and satisfied. I loved this book and heartily recommend it.
I was delighted to be asked to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ by Patsy Trench. Having spent over twenty years working in the theatre and television as an actress, Patsy now spends her times writing, fiction, non-fiction and also scripts for The Children’s Musical Theatre of London. ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ is the fourth in her ‘Modern Women:Entertaining Edwardians’ series, and is set in the world she knows and loves best.
‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’ is a funny, light and gentle story set in Edwardian London. Violet Graham finds herself producing a new play by Robbie Robinson, the man who would give anything to be her beau. As the pair try to pull all the strings together, we are given an insight into exactly what it takes to stage a show. First of all they need backers to put the money up. Then there’s the problem of who to cast, and a theatre to hire. The subject matter of the suffragette movement isn’t to everyone’s taste either.
I found this story delightful. It was humorous, had engaging characters and managed to deal with a serious subject in a different way. I loved the historical truths mixed in with the story of how to get a message across in the play without alienating the audience. I enjoyed following Violet as she became more confident in her role. Society wasn’t quite ready for women in positions of power. Neither were they ready for women to get the vote – until they were. This book was just the tonic I needed.
‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ is the second in this series by T.A. Willberg. The year is 1959, and as the Cold War heats up, Scotland Yard is baffled by the discovery of murder victims with roses branded on their bodies. They turn to Miss Brickett’s agency for help. Marion is once again tasked with helping solve to solve the mystery, and working on one of her own. One of the new first year recruits should not be trusted. But which of them is up to no good?
I enjoyed being back with Marion and her fellow Inquirers, working within the tunnels and underground passageways beneath London. This is a well-imagined series, full of intrigue and mystery. There is danger and darkness, but also camaraderie and hope. Marion had more confidence and a sense of purpose. She could see that her talents were appreciated and this made her push on in pursuit of justice.
I enjoyed the group dynamic, as her friends and colleagues played a part in the case. The interactions between them were important and bode well for the future of the series. An enjoyable story.
‘Two For Sorrow’ by Nicola Upson is an immersive and beautifully written Josephine Tey mystery, set in 1930s London. Josephine is back in London researching her next book on the baby farmers of the early part of the century. Amelia Sachs and Annie Walters were executed for their crimes, but Miss Tey is more interested in the aftermath of their crimes. How others were also affected. While staying at her club in town, Josephine is drawn into a case investigated by her friend Detective Inspector Archie Penrose. Danger lurks all around and the pair must find the killer before it is too late.
There’s a depth to the story that you don’t see coming, and I must admit it took my breath away. The author weaves a story of personal tragedy, with a wider stain on society. And the years have not wiped away that stain.
London of that era was so perfectly described, as Josephine meets with her London theatre friends and mixes with high society. There’s plenty of name dropping- which is an absolute delight. We saw the lives of women of different classes and the choices they had to make. And we also saw the consequences of those decisions.
Nicola Upson cleverly ties in the tiny threads of her story and brings it all together with such skill.
I was left profoundly moved by the stories within ‘Two For Sorrow’. It’s a stunningly well written and researched story and would make a wonderful film/tv adaptation.
‘Murder Underground’ was originally published in the 1930s, and it is to that time the reader is transported. The descriptions of London, life in boarding hotels and the various characters were fascinating. It intrigued me.
When one of the boarders at the Frampton Hotel is found dead in Belsize Station, theories abound amongst the residents as to how she met her death. Miss Pongleton was not a popular woman, but none of her fellow residents would have wished a violent death on her. The strength of this story is in the characters and how they fit in to the mystery. I loved the conversations between them, and finding out slowly what part they each had to play. I can’t get enough of the Golden Age of Crime.
‘Humbug’ is the Christmas cuddle we all want and need this festive season. Once again Amanda Radley has given us characters we can love, a gentle romance and a setting we never knew we needed. Ellie Pearce is ‘Christmas Girl’ to everyone in the company she works for. Although an accomplished and brilliant statistician, she has, through circumstance, ended up in the marketing department of a recruitment firm. It’s not her ideal job. The CEO of the company, Rosalind Caldwell, is the archetypal Ice Queen – or is she? She may like to come across that way in business but as Ellie soon discovers, there’s a heart of gold underneath. When Rosalind is left in the lurch a few weeks before the big Christmas party, she needs someone to organise it from scratch – and who better than Christmas Girl? Despite the fact that Ellie has never been a PA or organised anything in her life, she is promoted upstairs, to the very top floor of a Canary Wharf building. Her extreme fear of heights is just the start of her worries. A growing crush on the boss is the last thing she needs, but try telling that to her heart.
This was a lovely story, full of kindness and joy. It was fun to see the thawing of an ice queen as the temperatures plunged in the corporate centre of London. Rosalind was firm, but fair. She needed the right person to let her see that love was possible. Ellie was completely adorable – the kind of friend we’d all like to have. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I couldn’t help but get into the Christmas spirit with her. This sweet story will open your eyes to the wonder of Christmas. I loved it.
‘Protecting The Lady’ is an enthralling story, with attraction, sexual tension and that HEA we all want to see. It had me on the edge of my seat at times, rooting for Eve and Katherine at every twist and turn. Eve is a former Protection Command Officer, now living in Japan after a terrorist incident made her rethink her career path. When her former boss asks a big favour, she has to think twice. It involves protecting a minor member of the Royal Family, and as a staunch anti-royalist, Eve baulks at the idea. But in the end her sense of duty takes over and she agrees to the job. Lady Katherine Lovegrove is in danger due to the fact that her father is a senior judge, and about to pass sentence on a member of a notorious crime family. She doesn’t fully grasp just how precarious her situation is, and makes Eve’s job a whole lot harder than it has to be. As tensions rise between the pair, the danger escalates. Will Eve be able to keep her safe? And will she be able to keep her growing feelings a secret?
It was a cracker of a story. Absolutely brilliantly conceived . I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end. Yes, it’s a love story, but there’s a whole lot more. The peril Katherine is in makes it high stakes and a thrilling mystery too. I loved the other characters around them too – especially Eve’s sister, Paula, and Katherine’s dad, Michael. Paula’s light-hearted and caring approach relieved the tension, and Michael’s love for his daughter shone through. I really enjoyed it.
‘The Fiend in the Fog’ is a wonderfully atmospheric story set in Victorian England. When a noxious fog envelops certain parts of the city there’s talk of demons. Abby and Gideon’s clinic begins to see patients affected by the mysterious goings-on. Meg and her brother Nat live privileged lives, but are drawn into the mystery, thought their own particular interests. What is going on in a nondescript building in the East End? What are they studying there – and will it have implications for the group of individuals, brought together by the fog and what lies beneath it?
The story was compelling from the very start, with a fascinating mystery and interesting characters. I loved the historical setting of 1885 London. The wonderfully descriptive writing pulled me right into the heart of the story, and I could just imagine the dirty buildings and awful stench of the city at that time. I won’t give anything away about what exactly they were looking into, or why they were all involved, but it was brilliantly done. I would love to see more from this group of characters, as their stories could lead off into so many directions.
I really enjoyed ‘Murder At The Royal Botanic Gardens’ by Andrea Penrose. This is the first in the series I’ve read, but I had no problem following the various threads. Charlotte is a very unusual woman for her time. As well as becoming embroiled in murders and proving adept at solving them, she leads a secret life as an acerbic society illustrator. With the help of her fiancé Wrexford, her servants and her wards, she is once again in the middle of a mystery. The death of a renowned botanist is not all it seems. As she delves into the story it turns in a totally unexpected direction.
Lady Charlotte intrigued me. I liked that she was so independent and had a secret life as an illustrator. She could say things and hint at things without outing herself as such. The time period was interesting too. The Regency period isn’t one I immediately think of for murder mysteries. But it works. There were twists and turns I didn’t see coming at all. It was a wonderful way to while away a few hours in a beautifully imagined London of the past.
I have read every book in Clare Lydon’s London Romance series and enjoyed every one. ‘Big London Dreams’ is the best so far. As well as love and romance, we are taken back to the 1950s, and to a time where girls were expected to find a nice young man and settle down. For Eunice Starling and Joan Hart that’s not so easy. Neither have been able to find a man that remotely interested them, and when they fall in love everything seems to click. But this was the late fifties and it took more than love to keep them together. Sixty years later they meet again and tell their story. Will it be happily ever after for them at last? You’ll have to read this wonderful book to find out.
‘Big London Dreams’ was the most heart-wrenching love story. A story of it’s time. But it was also joyful and heartwarming. Clare Lydon told the most amazing tale of true love, where time could not diminish the passion the women felt for each other. It was also beautifully written and the descriptions of London were so evocative. I could imagine it all so well. So much effort was put into making it just right. Although I knew there would be heartbreak, I could not stop reading. I knew that love would conquer all, and Ms Lydon did not disappoint. The fact that it tied in with my favourite romance series and the friends I had come to love, made it all the more special. Highly recommended.