Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon / Blog Tour

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon

 

Publisher: Black Swan 42448041

Publishing Date: 5th December 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 09.01.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

From the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author of Where the Light Gets in and All I Ever Wanted

What happens when ‘I do’ turns into ‘I don’t know’?

Jeannie always wanted to fall in love, and now she’s finally got the whirlwind romance she dreamed of. Dan’s gorgeous, he’s a successful young vet, and he flew her to New York and proposed on Brooklyn Bridge. Jeannie has to remind herself this is actually her life. It seems too perfect, too magical, to be real. Yet it is.

But now she’s on her way to the wedding she can’t shake off the tight sensation crushing her chest. Is it just nerves . . . or is this all happening a bit too fast?

Jeannie has one last chance to shout, ‘Stop!’ But just as she grabs it, a twist of fate throws everything she knows into the air like confetti. What Jeannie learns about Dan, about her own heart, and about the power of love itself, will change her world for ever . . .

Rating: four-stars

 

Jeannie and Dan are about to get married, after a whirlwind romance, romantic proposal on Brooklyn Bridge in New York and lovely time spent together. But now, shortly before the ceremony, Jeannie starts to have second thoughts – do they really know each other well enough? Does she truly loves Dan, enough to spent her whole life with him? Jeannie makes a decision that is going to change their lives but before it happens, fate decides to interfere and everything suddenly changes and makes Jeannie feel incredibly guilty.

The story is very character – driven. Jeannie was the main character in this book and I liked her immediately. She was so real and human and relatable and I found myself falling for her even more and more, seeing how she struggled to come to terms with her feelings and with this what she thought was proper and what was not. She has experienced such a wonderful personal growth throughout the story and it was great to accompany her on this way. I loved how realistic she was, with all her worries, uncertainty, watching her grow into a self – confident young woman. The secondary characters, especially Owen, Rachel and the dogs, played also significant roles in the story and were as well rounded as the main ones and I was equally engrossed in their own stories.

I was also thrilled, as a dog lover, to see that the book included a very important canine subplot, focusing on re – homing dogs and showing the very harsh reality of puppy farming. The descriptions of the dogs rescued were heart – breakingly realistic and hats off to the author for including this in her novel. There was also a whole subplot built around the re – homing centre, with some brilliant ideas how to raise money and awareness for it.

Lucy Dillon is a great story – teller. Yes, there were moments that the book could have been a bit quicker, but the writing style was absolutely brilliant and beautiful, easy and engaging. The author has easily brought all the characters to life, even if they were lying in coma they felt present. She writes in such a way that you have a feeling as if you’ve known the characters personally, and you care about them, and I love it when I have this feeling, as it doesn’t happen often these days, and Jeannie’s struggles felt so realistic, I could feel them for myself.

However, I was really conflicted about the end, with what happened and with Dan’s confession. I don’t know what I was expecting, and yes, I was incredibly intrigued how the author is going to solve this particular storyline, but I wasn’t happy with the way she has chosen. It, I don’t know, seemed simply like the easy way out, and after all that Jeannie experienced I personally thought it was unfair for her, even though it was a way out for her. But nevertheless, it didn’t sit well with me, it somehow didn’t go with the picture of Dan that we were presented with and I had a feeling that I was mistaken about him through the whole book. Not a nice feeling.

Altogether, “Unexpected Lessons in Love” was a story full of heart and filled with moving and poignant storylines, touching upon many emotions. A story about love and guilt but also showing that to love another person properly, you must first love yourself and be honest with yourself. It was a book that will make you giggle and also cry, an easy, despite some of the topics being on the heavier side, a pleasant read with a real depth to it, thought – provoking, brilliantly balancing lightness with the heavier issues, taking the reader on a real rollercoaster journey full of emotions and feelings. Highly recommended!

 

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The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes

The Matchmaker by Catriona Innes

 

Publisher: Trapeze 44563587._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

For Caitlin Carter, love means business.

She’s taken matchmaking back to basics. There is no swiping left. No creepy location tracker. Definitely no unsolicited pics of areas of the anatomy literally no one wants to see. She’s made dating great again: personal, patient… and profitable. Her startup is going from strength to strength, the brand her very own happy marriage (her wedding went viral), and now she even has celebrities wanting to use her services.

Caitlin is living the perfect life.

Except it’s all a perfect lie. And Caitlin doesn’t know how long she can keep it up.

In an era of social media and dating apps, when we have never been more connected yet more isolated, the matchmaker is a story about love, loss and loneliness, and learning to accept your reality.

This is an emotionally charged, funny and warm novel, perfect for fans of THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL by Rosie Walsh, SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL by Giovanna Fletcher and IT STARTED WITH A TWEET by Anna Bell.

Rating:  three-stars

 

Caitlin Carter is a matchmaker, and she’s perfect for this job, usually depending on her gut feeling when matching people together and usually having right! She simply wants to share love, happiness and joy that she herself shares with her husband Harry. But while everything is well on the job – front and it even attracts celebrities, Caitlin is, in fact, hiding the truth about her marriage, worrying about the reputation of her business.  

The characters were well written, however I couldn’t connect with them. Also, I couldn’t understand, for example, what was the point of adding the Instagram influencer subplot, she was so unsympathetic and in the end, well, it didn’t add much to the story, right?

Altogether, right from the beginning, there was something missing from the story for me. I think my main problem is that I was expecting something totally different – a light – hearted, lovely story with the promised humour. However, it turned out that the book is rather sad, sometimes even depressing and I didn’t get any of the positive vibes that I was hoping for. Also, I think that keeping the “secret” a secret for so long was not the best idea. Yes, I was wondering what has happened with Harry, has he left, betrayed, run away, went on a journey around the world on his bicycle, no idea, but eventually it started to feel too flat, you know? There was no tension, no interest more and Caitlyn’s actions and reactions stopped making some sense. Sure, I’ve guessed what has happened, and this time it turned out I was right but to be honest this revelation didn’t have any impact on me. On the other hand, after the secret becoming an open case, the book focused only on this part and it felt as if I was reading two different stories.

 “The Matchmaker” touches upon reality and the unfairness of life, not too light but also not too deep. I am really sad that it didn’t wow me, that it didn’t work for me as much as I hoped but it doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t work for you – I’ve seen also raving reviews of this book. Actually, I’ve notice people are in two minds about this story, while some says it was full of emotions and feelings the others state that it lacked in those features, and unfortunately I belong to the latter ones – but I mean it’s because of my own expectations and however clichéd it sounds, book – it’s not you, it’s me.

25 Days in December by Poppy Alexander / Blog Tour

25 Days in December by Poppy Alexander

 

Publisher: Orion 41hngkpvdel._sx321_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 28th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You can’t plan for the unexpected…

Kate Potter used to know what happiness felt like.

A few years ago, she was full of energy, excited by every possibility. But that was back when everything was different, before Kate’s husband went away with the army and didn’t come home. She can’t even remember what it felt like to be in love.

Then Kate meets Daniel. Recognising her loneliness reflected in his eyes, Kate vows to try and help bring him out of his shell. But as Kate plans to bring life back to Daniel, she might have stumbled on the secret to happiness…

Can one chance meeting change two lives?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Kate Thompson hates Christmas, since her husband was killed four years ago during his service abroad as a soldier. However, her son Jack is desperate to have a lovely Christmas, with a tree and presents. Kate, struggling financially and emotionally, doesn’t know what to do and how to do this. She’s stuck at a low paid job, now she must also sell Christmas trees dressed as an elf and freezing and is not sure what the future is going to bring. Her friend comes up with an idea of doing a special advent calendar with a festive activity to do together for every day in the countdown to Christmas.
Daniel is not looking towards Christmas after the death of his sister. He used to buy Christmas trees from Kate and he knows only as Christmas tree girl. They start to bump into each other more and more and soon realises there is much more to Kate than meets the eye. But Kate’s life is really complicated – can she cope? Will she cope? Can somebody help her?

Kate was a great leading character – there were so many challenges on her way, her life was so demanding and yet she more than often put others above herself. Struggling with money, with being a single mum, she was a realistic, genuine character. It was beautiful and also heart – breaking to see how much she tried to organize the unforgettable Christmas for her son and how far she’s go to guard him. The idea of Kate creating the advent calendar for Jack and making the time so special for her and her little boy was brilliant. The Christmassy things that they were supposed to do in the countdown to Christmas were so nice and so different to everything that we’re used to, and now I really feel like preparing something like this for my family.

The pace in this story was just spot on, and there were many things happening, and the book itself brings together threads of different characters. The chapters are more or less a countdown to Christmas – it is a second book in the last weeks that I’ve read written this way, though they were both absolutely different in style and voice but this way worked great in both of them. I loved how it shows that Christmas is not only about commerce and presents but about what it really is that counts – family, friendship, helping each other, appreciating what we have. It was a real rollercoaster journey, full of ups and downs, filled with feelings and emotions. It tugs at all the right heart – strings, it’s this kind of book that’ll make you smile and cry, that is poignant and uplifting. The author has in such a gentle, subtle way dealt with so many tough and heavy issues and there was the overwhelming festive spirit. She has touched upon different things, some of which I don’t often read about, and it was truly great, thought – provoking and eye – opening. Poppy Alexander is for sure an author to have on your radar, I’m already waiting for her next offering. Highly recommended!

 

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On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe / Blog Tour

On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 48269657._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 11.06.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

By reading Style magazine, I was training myself not to want things. It was going quite well. I had already found that I did not want a pair of Yves Saint Laurent mules, a chandelier made from plastic antlers, or a diamond-encrusted necklace in the shape of a pineapple. I was still working on not wanting a fitted farmhouse kitchen in warm wood.

Sylvia lives in a flat on a council estate with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children. She dreams of buying a house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in. If she closes her eyes, she can see it all so clearly: the stripped floorboards, the wisteria growing around the door…

It’s not ideal that she’s about to be made redundant, or that Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the minimum wage. As sleep deprivation sets in, and the RnB downstairs gets ever louder, Sylvia’s life starts to unravel.

But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, the threat to her community gives Sylvia a renewed sense of purpose. With a bit of help from her activist sister, and her film-maker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.

Warm, witty and brilliantly observed, On the Up is about relationships and community, finding a way through the tough times, and figuring out what’s really worth fighting for.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Sylvia and her nearly husband Obe live in a council estate flat with their two young children – toddler Larkin and a few months old That Baby (also known as Elliot). She dreams of owning her own home, with a garden for the children, but they will never be able to buy it. Or maybe they will? Is this stinky, old, half – demolished house their salvation? Sylvia is really desperate to move, especially as they’re constantly disturbed by their neighbour Dawn, with loud music and partying. Sylvia keeps a journal for the councils Anti Social Behaviour Officer, that slowly turns into her logbook. And then comes the bombshell that Priory Court, where they live, will be sold for development – can things finally get better for the family?

Really, this book was absolutely brilliant in my opinion. It was so uplifting – yes, you’ve seen the characters struggling and even though they might have lost hope once or twice there was still so much optimism in them and in the way they were written that I simply didn’t want to leave their world. I don’t always need a rosy fictional world in my books, I really like when the story feels so realistic like this one, but there is still the chance of a happy ending. Yes, here the end was maybe too cheesy but other than that I adored this book.

The characters were really well observed and drawn and I warmed to them immediately. Sylvia and Obe are your normal characters, people we get to meet and see everyday, full of humour but also filled with sadness, being forced to face all your typical troubles and problems that life tends to bring with itself. Yes, Obe made me feel desperate sometimes, with his poetry and his calm aura and the “everything will be OK” attitude, but there was also a charm in it. I’ve immediately felt a connection with Sylvia and I could truly relate to her dreams, needs and desperation, I’d go crazy with such a neighbour as Dawn with my perfect pitch – I need silence to be able to sleep! Even though, as Obe might have pointed out, Sylvia’s needs are an endless cycle of want, I couldn’t blame her for wanting something more from life, for wanting something better. Their relationship was really well captured, showing their real struggles, as parents and as a couple.
I also really liked the supporting characters, even though we don’t get to know them really well, and it was great to see them coming together after the news broke that Priory Court is going to be sold off for re – development and they’re going to lose their homes.

The author is a brilliant observer of reality – she sees things as they really are and delivers them with wit, humour but also brutally honest. She wrote a book that shows a real life, but not in a desperate, grey, sad way. Even though it might not have been heavy emphasised in writing, it showed that there is usually a way out of troubles, and it did it in an entertaining way. It was simply warm, inviting and full of feel – good factor despite the fact that the characters’ lives were not beds full of roses. After reading the synopsis and the part that the Priority Court may be sold and that it immediately rises the community spirit I was afraid that it may be overdone in the story, that it will feel too cheesy and clichéd but I really like how the author has tackled this topic.

“On the Up” was warm and funny, sometimes touching and poignant read focusing strongly on family, friendships, relationships and community. It felt a little nostalgic but maybe it is the writing style? It was truly brilliant, light and engaging, and it didn’t sound like a debut. It was a witty and deep observation on what is important in life that I enjoyed from beginning to end – highly recommended!

 

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Things Can Only Get Better by David M. Barnett / Blog Tour

Things Can Only Get Better by David M. Barnett

 

Publisher: Trapeze 46019524

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

*FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CALLING MAJOR TOM*

For elderly churchwarden Arthur Calderbank, there’s no place like home. His home just so happens to be a graveyard.

He keeps himself to himself, gets on with his job, and visits his wife everyday for a chat. When one day he finds someone else has been to see his wife – and has left flowers on her grave – he is determined to solve the mystery of who and why. He receives unlikely help from a group of teenage girls as he tries to solve the mystery, and soon learns that there is more to life than his little graveyard.

Set during the 1990s, Things Can Only Get Better is an uplifting story about the power of a little kindness, friendship and community for readers who enjoy Sue Townsend Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon.

Rating: five-stars

 

“Things Can Only Get Better” is a story about a group of truly unlikely friends who found each other rather accidentally. Arthur is a pensioner whose wife, Molly, died seven years ago but he still didn’t let her go and ended up living in the old chapel in the middle of the cemetery, becoming its caretaker and being not too far away from the love of his life. Arthur is very protective of the cemetery and is not happy with the neighbourhood children who dare to use it as a short – cut, or – even worse – a hung – out. In the meantime, someone has been leaving flowers on Molly’s grave on her birthday for the past few years and Arthur is determined to find who it is. But with this happening in the night and his deteriorating health, the teenagers promise him to help to catch the mysterious visitor. A unique bond is formed between Arthur and the kids and soon they find themselves in a few different battles – together.

You can’t help yourself but immediately fell for the characters. My heart went to Arthur and I was desperate to know what has happened to him to be leading such a solitary life, and then to the kids, seeing them growing up, their determination and their blossoming friendship. The author has breathed fresh air and life into them, and into the book, showing us a much bigger picture, showing that each story has different sides. You’ll end up willing the characters to succeed. Each of the four teenagers has their own story that is incredibly captivating and I loved how much focus they brought back into Arthur’s life. Their difficulties in fitting with the “cools” at school was so authentic and brutally honest. The way the kids were portrayed was heart – breaking, especially the way they were perceived by their school – mates, neighbours and other members of society They were all outcasts at their school because they didn’t fit the “description”, they found the courage to be different and have dreams, and hence they were judged by their teachers who didn’t believe they have a chance for a better future (and if you hear already at school that the only thing you can do is work as a secretary or at the factory, well, it’s not too promising and optimistic, right?), judged by their parent’s choices of life and really, it seems that nobody sees/doesn’t want to see their potential – except for Arthur.

When I started reading this book, I immediately fell in love with it. There was this “something” that made it feel so outstanding and special, the characters were like living and breathing people, and the story was heart – breaking and also humorous, and the more you read, the more you fell in love with it. However, I must admit, that somewhere around the middle, it lost its impact a little and started to drag on a bit, but it was still a compelling, addictive read.

Mostly the novel is about social inequality and about stereotyping and determination, about grabbing life by its horns and squeezing it like lemon. It also touches upon bullying, homelessness, mental illness, loneliness and other social issues with a great sensitivity, so I wouldn’t be afraid to give this book to my teenage child should I have one, as it deals with those issues, and with all the plotlines, in a brilliant, wise – but not too wise, you know what I mean? Not too patronising, not too I know everything better – way.

“Things Can Only Get Better” made me cry, laugh, made me angry but also filled me with hope with its warm glow. Ultimately, even though there is a lot of pain, disappointment and problems under the surface and the characters have to deal with many challenges, there is humour and moments of joy and it has the wonderful feel – good factor to it. It’s deeply moving and very close to life, a brilliant read that I highly recommend.

 

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The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall / Blog Tour

The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 46635448._sy475_

Publishing Date: 31st October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Survivors.
1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.

Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolises her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive.

But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.

Eloïse finds her hometown in a state of unrest and conflict. Those who are angry at the construction of the American airbase nearby, with its lethal nuclear armaments, confront those who support it, and anger flares into violence, stirred up by Soviet agents. Throughout all this unrest, Eloïse is still relentlessly hunting down the man who betrayed her brother and his country, and she is learning to look at those she loves and at herself with different eyes. She no longer knows who she can trust. Who is working for Soviet Intelligence and who is not? And what side do her own family lie on?

Rating: five-stars

 

Eloïse was born in rural France and grew up on her father’s bull farm, together with her two brothers. She loves the farm, but as soon as she can, she follows the footsteps of her older brother Andre and flees to Paris. She finds a job in the detective agency, as she’s fascinated by Andre’s – the brother she so idolises – job as a CIA Intelligence Officer. We get to know them both right in the opening scene that feels like a scene from James Bond film, a thrilling car chase in which Andre is injured. As she was driving, Eloïse is filled with guilt and decides to find out who has tried to kill her bother, and why. Summoned home, she doesn’t give up on her chase after the truth, but she also realises that the danger may be much closer home than she thinks.

I have immediately became absorbed in the story and the characters’ lives – but it hasn’t surprised me, as I wasn’t expecting anything different from Kate Furnivall’s book! As usual with her books, the characters felt like living and breathing people, and her leading female characters – in this case Eloïse – are strong – minded and brave. Eloïse was capable and determined, however I didn’t warm to her immediately. As much as I appreciated the fact that she’s so determined, she was also much too naive in my eyes and I had a feeling that she’s like the wind, moving in different directions, depending on what she was said. She also behaved too amateurish for my liking, lacked in skills that you’d need as an actual spy. She was too trusty, especially at the beginning, but then she started to have doubts, and she felt more mature. Nevertheless, she was so real with her emotions and feelings of guilt, fear and uncertainty, she wanted the best for all and to find peace. In her hurry and willingness to help, she often makes mistakes, and also tends to do the very opposite of what is said she should do, and really, more than once I was expecting the things to turn out not so rosy for her, and once I really thought that this is it for Eloïse. But altogether, the more I read, the more she grew on me, and I truly admired her determination and the fact that nobody and nothing could dishearten her to find the truth.
The relationships between the characters in this book are so well written! They were not easy, they were not straightforward, they were often thought – provoking but the loyalty Eloïse felt towards her family was lovely to see, even if sometimes this family didn’t show as much concern for Eloïse as she for them.

I always admire Kate Furnivall’s skills to create a brilliant, engaging and complex plot, no matter what period of times her novels are set in. This time she takes us to the mid century France involved in the Cold War. I admit, it is not a period of time that I know much about, so the more interesting it was for me and I have learnt more about post – war France that I could hope for. The loyalties of the French, that were split between America, and the communist Soviet Union, and the tension and unrest it has provoked, provided an interesting and engaging background and she creates a perfect sense of time and place.

Mostly the author has played real mind – games with me and I was like Eloïse, not knowing who was telling the truth and who was telling lies, who was the good and who was the bad one, who wants to help Eloïse and who wants to see the back of her, and how does her family fit into all of those situations. It made my head spinning but it was enthralling and very entertaining.

“The Guardian of Lies” was meticulously researched, vividly written in a way that awakens all your senses while living the story through along with the characters, and brilliantly crafted novel from one of my favourite authors. She has – again – provided us with engaging and complex plot and multi – faceted characters, bringing them all to life and effortlessly transporting the readers into the setting of her novel. It was a fast – paced, unique, compelling and addictive story about love and betrayal, courage and subterfuge, making you feel as if you had your heart in your mouth. Highly recommended!

 

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The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis / Blog Tour

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 45242737._sy475_

Publishing Date: 7th November 2019

Series: Brontë Sisters Mystery #1

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Mystery, Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 14.05.2020)

 

 

Synopsis:

Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

Rating: four-stars

 

I loved the idea in “The Vanished Bride”, bringing the Brontë sisters and their works back to life. They become a setting of this mystery, in which a young woman, mother and stepmother, simply vanishes from her room in Chester Grange estate, leaving behind so much blood that not many hope for her to be alive.
Emily, Charlotte and Anne are spending summer in their father’s house. And they are bored. So when they hear that a young wife has disappeared, under gruesome circumstances, they decide to solve the mystery, becoming “Lady Detectors”, especially as Matilda French, an old friend, works as a governess in Chester Grange, so they not only wish to comfort her but they are, let’s be honest, curious. And so they set out to visit their friend, also determined to help to find the truth.

The story takes place before the Brontës wrote their classic works and it was such a clever idea – we know that they’re going to be immortal in their works but they didn’t know it yet, and don’t you think that much of this mystery hints at the novels that they have written? The author described them as curious, if not nosy, clever, different and bold personalities. The Brontë sisters work well as Lady Detectors – how charming is it? – pursuing the truth in this case of menace and deception, and they all prove themselves very adept, even though each of them has different fortes. Emily is bold, straightforward and all action. Anne is charming but also thoughtful and methodical and Charlotte is a bit sceptic but in her element when dealing with people. They simply come to life with their actions, their sibling banter but also reality and honesty to each other. They take it in turns to tell the story, which was a great and interesting idea, as it gave a chance to see different points of view and appreciate their own strengths.
Maybe I am not a devoted fan of the Brontës, but even I am intrigued by the lives of the sisters and it was lovely to be in their world for a while. The author has so well captured their personalities – even though I can’t be sure if that was all right, but oh my, it’s historical fiction, right – writing about their conflicts, joys, past and closeness to each other.

I have to admit, it was not too easy for me to get into this book, and I think it was probably because of the writing style. It was lovely – please, don’t get me wrong, it was lyrical, almost poetic, and it was so easy to imagine the bleak isolated house and the moors – but it was also very adequate to the times the book was set in, and so the syntax, the way the words and phrases were arranged was very Brontë – like but not so easy to read.

The mystery was really, really well plotted and executed, it was intriguing and kept me hooked, and well, yes, with my own detective skills I haven’t figured this all out, but I’m OK with it, as it’s always nice to have a surprise ending, right? Sure, now I can see that there were hints and clues leading up to the ending but I was probably too immersed in reading to spot them then.

Bella Ellis has delivered a unique and atmospheric story, effortlessly and quickly transporting the readers to Victorian England, meticulously researched and capturing the essence of the times, place and characters. This book had essentially all that you need to say that it’s a great read. The characters felt real and realistic, the plot was complex and clever, the pace was just right, unfolding well, there was enough humour to brighten the reading, there was mystery, intrigue and atmospheric setting. It was engaging and embedded in truth, brilliantly interweaving the fictional elements and fantastic descriptions of some truly macabre incidents and jaw dropping moments. The story also deals with some important and uncomfortable issues that women of those times were forced to face. Their lives have been controlled by their fathers and husbands which often ended in domestic abuse, but also infant mortality and, altogether, lack of help and lack of status of women in the society back in the days. An engaging, interesting story and I’m already looking forward to reading the next books in this series. Truly recommended!

 

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