Review of ‘Elizabeth of York – The Last White Rose’ by Alison Weir

‘Elizabeth of York’ by Alison Weir is the story of Elizabeth, the last White Rose, as thereafter the houses of York and Lancaster joined to become the House of Tudor. Elizabeth has lived her entire life in fear of one political upheaval after another. Her young life is interrupted by the need to seek sanctuary as her father fights to hold onto his throne. On his death her future looks uncertain. Will she be forced into marriage with her uncle?  Or will she finally meet and marry the Lancaster rival to the throne, Henry Tudor? The difficult choices she must make will not only affect her own life, but those of her family and the entire country. 

Alison Weir fills in a lot of the backstory using conversations between the young Elizabeth and her mother. And this was certainly needed, as there are many players in this story and their relationships to each other are extremely important. There is a list of those involved and how they relate to each other at the beginning of the book and I found myself having to refer to that several times. 

We are reminded that very young children are but pawns in royal households at this time. They are married off at very young ages and sent away from their families. Power seems to trump close and loving familial relationships, especially in the eyes of Elizabeth’s parents. 

The author managed to make Elizabeth very real to me. I could imagine her fears as well as the joyful moments in her life. Alison Weir gets into the heads of her main characters, giving her readers a way into the past. Elizabeth had a  lifetime of being a part of, and watching the machinations of, those intent on power at all costs. Her fortunes would rise and fall, depending on how the political situation changed.

I found her story fascinating. Weir pulled me into Elizabeth’s world, and transported me to a time and place vital to the future of the monarchy. Her knowledge on the subject is astounding and I learned so much about an amazing woman. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Her Royal Happiness’ by Lola Keeley

What happens when a Princess of the Realm meets a feisty education specialist who has no time for the Royal Family? Sparks – that’s what! Princess Alice has never met anyone quite like Sara, a south London single mum with a mind of her own. When it become clear that Sara can help Alice’s family with a delicate matter, the pair pretend to date in order to keep the secret from the press. But will they be able to keep it strictly business – or will their feelings for each other make that impossible?

First of all I must thank Lola Keeley for writing a beautiful love story with the lowest angst possible. In these stressful times that’s exactly the kind of book I want to be reading. It made me smile and it made me very happy. I loved Princess Alice and Sara. Alice was strong, capable and loyal. Duty was important to her and she had spent her life doing the right thing. But she realises that there is more to life than duty. Spending time with Sara made her see that. Sara was accomplished, clever and principled. She was also a fantastic mum. Would she be willing to change her life for Alice? It would mean rethinking everything, and taking her daughter on a different path too. I enjoyed seeing her work through that decision. 

Lola Keeley made everything seem so real. She made the Royal Family accessible. In this story we see that wealth and status do not shield anyone from problems. I loved every minute of it. The love story was sweet and tender, with humour and poignancy. Ms Keeley was on top of her game.  Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for 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 ‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali

‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali is a romantic fantasy novel set in Atlantis and New Orleans. Vivien could never forget meeting a girl on the beach years ago. She appeared to dip beneath the waves in the company of sharks – but how could that be? Years later she finds out when Kai Merlin, heir to the Atlantean throne, comes back into her life and they fall in love. As they plan their wedding Vivien finds out about the world beneath the sea and is astounded at the scope of it all. But Atlantis is under threat and the women must fight for their lives and the home they will now share. 

This is the second in the series and I feel reading the first one is important to understanding the whole story. It’s a truly amazing world and the concept is so well thought out. I loved finding out about the history and technology of the Atlantean people. The love story between Kai and Vivien is beautiful and tender and extremely hot. The heat level is scorching, with very descriptive love scenes. But underneath all of the happiness at the impending wedding is an undercurrent of fear and tension as they battle an enemy from the stars. I loved to wallow in fantasy and this let me do that. An enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC for 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 ‘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 Lost Temple of Psiere’ by K Aten

‘The Lost Temple of Psiere’ is the second in the Mystery of the Makers series by K Aten, and although I didn’t think it possible, it’s even better than the first. K Aten has imagined a world both familiar and foreign and her world-building is exquisite. Olivienne, Royal Connate and heir to the throne of Psiere, is on a mission to find out more about the Makers. Where did they come from, who were they – and what role did they have to play in the history of Psiere? Now getting closer to her goal, she plans another trip with her Shield team and her lover, Castellan Tosh. But threats to their mission and to the future stability of Psiere bring danger and peril.

I love the innovative use of language in the Psiere stories. It immerses the reader in the world and I’d forgotten just how must I enjoyed being there. The story is full of adventure, tension, wonder and passion. It is stunning. There were some amazing revelations and so much more I wanted to know. I must admit to gasping in surprise a few times. I can’t wait for the next in the series!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Katheryn Howard – The Tainted Queen’ by Alison Weir

‘Katheryn Howard – The Tainted Queen’ is the story of the fifth wife of Henry the Eighth. If you know the rhyme “Divorced, Beheaded, Died…..” you’ll know what ultimately happened to her, but finding out how she got there is fascinating. Alison Weir uses her extensive knowledge and research and weaves the life of Katheryn Howard into a novel that cannot fail to engage. We get to know the real Katheryn and it becomes clear why she ended up living the life she did. It’s a story of love, lust, family and political machinations. I loved the historical details of day-to-day life for the nobility in Tudor times, and the glimpses of life at court. Katheryn was a guileless girl, led by her heart. She was naive to the extreme. Being the wife of Henry the Eighth should have come with a set of warnings. After all, his previous spouses didn’t fare too well.  By the end I just wanted to scream at her to stop being so utterly stupid. Didn’t she realise her husband was a murderous tyrant, not prone to forgiveness? I couldn’t put this book down. It was wonderful.

I was given this book to review.

Review of ‘Children of the Stars’ by K Aten

What a ride! Mix alien soulmates, Area 51, and a government agency set up to deal with hybrid humans and you have one truly amazing book. You can tell that K Aten loves sci-fi. It certainly shows in ‘Children of the Stars’. Her story starts with a bang and never lets up. It is exciting and adventurous and takes the reader on a journey of a lifetime. 

Amari and Zen were saved from certain death by being sent to Earth as babies. When their adjacent worlds were attacked, the only option their respective parents could see was to send them to safety on another planet. They are bonded to each other, but do not know that the other exists. When their adopted world is about to face its greatest peril, they have to take a stand, even though they risk exposure. 

The author uses a really interesting storytelling style. Not at all conventional, but it works so well. The narrator speaking straight to the reader at some points in the novel  is a brilliant touch. It contrasts perfectly with the third-person narrative of the rest of the novel. ’Children of the Stars’ is  a thrilling story with an emotional connection beyond anything either woman could imagine possible. But there’s a fear of being found out and exposing their origins to all. With super-power enhanced Chromodecs all over the world, one is never sure who is on the side of good – and who is one of the baddies. It certainly keeps the reader intrigued throughout. There is a mention of another K Aten book which was a lovely touch and made me hope for more from this particular universe in the future. As you can probably tell, I loved this book. It was about working together as a group and fighting against the bad guys, but there was also a beautifully romantic and passionate element.  It was exciting and tense and exhilarating all at the same time. Wonderful!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Sovereign of Psiere’ by K Aten

K Aten has made me very happy. I loved ‘The Sovereign of Psiere ‘ , the first in a new series, where mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and romance come together in a fascinating story. Olivienne is the heir to the throne, the connate, and also a Historical Adventurist. Her work involves trying to translate the mysterious scrolls left behind by the Makers. But she is a handful and her security detail find it hard to keep up with her. None have managed to stay the course – until the dashing and committed officer, Castellan ends up in her sphere. Their story is immersive , as they work to solve mysteries that have stumped those before them. Their growing attraction was intense and very sexy. I enjoyed seeing them become closer. I also enjoyed the world-building – the word-building too. It was familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I like her writing style. Although she explains a new world and new ideas and people, she makes it easy to grasp. K Aten has managed to create a place I want to revisit again and again. She has laid a perfect foundation for the series in this novel. Highly recommended.