Review of ‘Two For Sorrow’ by Nicola Upson

‘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.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Murder Underground’ by Mavis Doriel Hay

‘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. 

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘Humbug’ by Amanda Radley

‘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.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Protecting The Lady’ by Amanda Radley

‘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.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Fiend In The Fog’ by Jess Faraday

‘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 was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens’ by Andrea Penrose

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 was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Big London Dreams’ by Clare Lydon

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.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Marion Lane And The Midnight Murder

‘Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder’ is a wonderful story, with the most fantastic, strange and  imaginative elements. Marion Lane works in a run-down bookshop after a family friend secured her a post there. Or does she? In reality she works for a mysterious investigate organisation, hidden under the streets of London. She must tell no-one and even her own grandmother is oblivious to the reality of Marion’s life. When a co-worker is murdered, Marion must find out the identity of the murderer, to save someone dear and to save the existence of the secret world she has grown to love. 

The premise of a secret world underground is fascinating, and T.A. Willberg uses the most beautiful language and descriptions to pull the reader into the fantasy. I wanted to know what lay in every nook and cranny, and around every corner. It was mysterious and scary. It was exceptionally well-written and left me wanting much, much more of Marion Lane and her life below the streets of London.

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.

A great review just in for ‘The Allure of the Night Train’

Another 5 Star review for ‘The Allure of the Night Train’:

“I’ll preface this review with that I don’t read much erotica, but when a friend of mine said she’d written some under a pseudonym and asked if I wanted to take a look, I of course said yes. And I’m so glad I did! The Allure of the Night Train by Pumpkin Spice is a collection of three sapphic, train-related short stories: The Driver, The Night Train, The Club Car. All are equally delicious but my favourite was the first one, The Driver with its sexy art museum theme. Although all three stories are hot with some sweetness, perfectly given consent, and interesting levels of spice, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. A great little read!”

Emma Sterner-Radley, Goodreads

Buy a copy here:

https://books2read.com/u/bPxxxx