WW2; 1939 – 1945

#Review | Once More Into The Breach by @AMeghanHolloway #OnceMoreIntoTheBreach

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For readers of The Nightingale and Beneath a Scarlet Sky comes a gripping historical thriller set against a fully-realized WWII backdrop about the love a father has for his son and the lengths he is willing to go to find him, from a talented new voice in suspense.

Rhys Gravenor, Great War veteran and Welsh sheep farmer, arrives in Paris in the midst of the city’s liberation with a worn letter in his pocket that may have arrived years too late. As he follows the footsteps of his missing son across an unfamiliar, war-torn country, he struggles to come to terms with the incident that drove a wedge between the two of them.

Joined by Charlotte Dubois, an American ambulance driver with secrets of her own, Rhys discovers that even as liberation sweeps across France, the war is far from over. And his personal war has only begun as he is haunted by memories of previous battles and hampered at every turn by danger and betrayal. In a race against time and the war, Rhys follows his son’s trail from Paris to the perilous streets of Vichy to the starving mobs in Lyon to the treacherous Alps. But Rhys is not the only one searching for his son. In a race of his own, a relentless enemy stalks him across the country and will stop at nothing to find the young man first.

The country is in tatters, no one is trustworthy, and Rhys must unravel the mystery of his son’s wartime actions in the desperate hope of finding him before it’s too late. Too late to mend the frayed bond between them. Too late to beg his forgiveness. Too late to bring him home alive.

What a emotional, edge of your seat thriller. My goodness this book is amazing, I know I say that a lot, but this is something very special. I am a huge fan of WW2 era fiction, and I have read an awful lot of fiction from this genre to know that Once More Into The Breach is a masterpiece of story telling.

Set at the end of WW2, the story is told through the eyes of WW1 veteran and now farmer; Rhys who has set out to war torn France to find his son. Which is far easier said then done, as Rhys is still traumatised from his own experience in the trenches during the Great War, he is still feeling the affects, there are periods of confusion where he is transported back and he is left scared and broken, which is why he was adamant that he would never return to France. That is until his son goes missing, he puts his own personal thoughts and anguish to one side and takes a step into the big unknown.

Once there is meets mysterious and enigmatic Charlotte, who is not all that she appears to be, I love that as soon as we meet Charlotte, there is just this feeling you get that something isn’t quite right about her, she has secrets and even though I do like her I was always thinking that she is out for herself, she has motives in everything she does and she knows far more then she claims.

Rhys and Charlotte set of on their journey of discovery through war torn France, at every turn there is something that stands in their way to find the answers to the questions that keep filtering through Rhys’ mind, he is desperate to find his son or find out what happened to him and then the other questions start emerging as what exactly did Owain do in France during the war? And What is Charlotte’s motives in helping him? Their journey is full of action and intrigue, of secrets, lies and suspense.

Meghan Holloway is an incredible narrator, she hooks you from that first dramatic and emotional page right to the last, her play with words is mesmerizing it was literally like being inside of Rhys’ head, you feel each and every emotion, his pain, his terror, his confusion, especially in the snap shots into his life during WW1, the way being in the trenches impacted on his life is heart-breaking. This fine woman has got a real gift, her passion and love of the story and her need to tell Rhys’ story is evident.

This is a real page turner, it has a constant undercurrent of fear and anguish throughout th book, mostly from Rhys, he broke my heart. He is a genuinely lovely man, he feels a lot of emotions that build up from fear and pain, to love for his son, the need to do what is right, his is scared by his own emotions especially when we have flashbacks into his past. But, what is the most refreshing about this is that the hero is just a regular man who has left his farm in Wales to go out and find his son.

This book is a must read for anyone who loves WW2 historical fiction, if you love the likes of Pam Jenoff, Alison Richman and Kate Mosse’s; Citadel then this is the book you need to read, I cannot wait to see what comes next from Meghan Holloway.

Gorgeous and highly recommended!


#BookBlast | Of Knights and Dogfights: A WW2 Novel by Ellie Midwood #OfKnightsAndDogfights #WW2 #HistoricalFiction @HFVBT

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Hello my lovelies, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing book blast for; Of Knights and Dogfights; A WW1 Novel by Ellie Midwood. I have to say that this book looks absolutely amazing, the cover is so striking and it sounds thrilling, it will definitely be going on my need to read pile. Go and have a look and if your from the US do have a look at the giveaway at the end of the post.

Of Knights and Dogfights: A WWII Novel by Ellie Midwood

Publication Date: January 4, 2019
eBook & Paperback; 426 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction



“Has it ever occurred to you, Johann; the fact that we’re fighting on the wrong side?”

Austria, 1938

On the verge of the most devastating war of all times, four young men found themselves sharing a room in a flying school dormitory. A bohemian Berliner, a Flieger-Hitlerjugend member, a prodigy pilot, and a butcher’s son, with nothing in common but their love for the Luftwaffe and the freedom the sky has to offer. The bond they develop is put to the test by what might be a stronger adversary – war itself. Over the English Channel, in the dusty skies of Africa, on the brutal Eastern front, they will discover where their loyalty lies, and what true bravery means.

“It’s Großdeutsches Reich, soldier. When one has a family at home, it doesn’t leave him many chances for the revolt.”

As the war progresses, Willi and Johann grow more and more disillusioned with the regime they’re protecting with their lives. An SS unit appearing on their base to claim one of their own; bits of conversation revealing the truth about the extermination program accidentally overheard during the official reception – the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together, but it’s too late to do anything but fight to the bitter end, whatever it may bring.

Set during one of the bloodiest wars in history, “Of Knights and Dogfights” is the story of the shattered illusions of youth, tyranny and freedom, friendship and love guiding one out of the darkest hell of Soviet captivity.


Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Ellie Midwood is a best-selling, award-winning historical fiction writer. She’s a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, a neat freak, an adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew and a doggie mama.

Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.

Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Girl from Berlin: Standartenfuhrer’s Wife”

Readers’ Favorite – winner in the Historical Fiction category (2016) – “The Austrian” (honorable mention)

New Apple – 2016 Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing – “The Austrian” (official selection)

For more information on Ellie and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.


Book Blast Schedule

Do have a look at the other amazing blogs which are participating on this book blast.

Monday, June 10
CelticLady’s Reviews

Tuesday, June 11
Donna’s Book Blog
To Read, Or Not to Read

Wednesday, June 12
Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Thursday, June 13
100 Pages a Day

Friday, June 14
Passages to the Past

Saturday, June 15
Locks, Hooks and Books

Sunday, June 16
A Book Geek

Tuesday, June 18
Melissa Flory

Wednesday, June 19
What Is That Book About

Thursday, June 20
Just One More Chapter

Friday, June 21
Coffee and Ink



We have one paperback copy of Of Knights and Dogfights up for grabs! To enter, please use the Gleam form here : Of Knights and Dogfights

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 21st. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

#Review : When I Was Yours by Lizzie Page @LizziePagewrites #WhenIWasYours @bookouture

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Hello everyone! Today I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of When I Was Yours by the very talented Lizzie Page. So Grab a cuppa and settle down, as you don’t want to miss out on this great book.

We stand at the back of the hall as the children troop in. Big ones, little ones. Straggly hair, cropped hair, curls…the adults surge forward to choose and soon there is just one child left, a little girl sitting on the floor. She is thin as a string bean and her sleeve is ragged and damp – like she’s been chewing it.

1939. War has broken out – hundreds of children are evacuated to the countryside to keep them safe from the bombs raining down on the cities. Wrenched from her family in the East End and sent more than a hundred miles away, seven-year-old Pearl Posner must adapt to a new life away from everything familiar.

Vivienne didn’t ask for an evacuee child. In fact, she’s not sure her heart can take it. So many years, so many disappointments… Vivi’s ability to feel love left her the day she learned the truth about her husband Edmund, and when she made the worst decision of her life and left her cherished sister to her fate. But like it or not, Pearl is here to stay, and what with the rumours about what’s happening to children in mainland Europe, it might be the last safe place for her.

As Pearl and Vivi learn how to live together, they discover that they have a connection that runs more deeply than they could ever have guessed – from before Pearl was born, and deep into Vivienne’s past. And will it be Pearl – the little girl who says so little and sees so much – who forces Vivi to finally confront what happened in her marriage… and to the long-lost sister she loved so dearly and let fall so far, just when she needed Vivi most?

Lizzie Page has gone and done it again with this beautiful, poignant and immensely emotional story that spans across two world wars. I have been a fan Of Ms Pages work for a while now, her grasp of this particular era is amazing, she really draws you into the past with her eloquent and sensitive writing. She is by far one of my favourite authors, and this is a brilliant addition to her rapidly growing CV.

What I particularly loved about this is the cleverly written duel time line, set in both wars. We see the lead character Vivienne make her way through WW1 as a young woman and then into WW2. I love each part of the Vivi’s story but I was particular taken with her years in WW1 – but that’s not because those parts of the story written any differently, every part of the book is just as great as the next, It’s just I have a soft spot for that era and I’m fascinated with the roles women took at the time.

In 1914 and very young Vivienne and her sister Olive want to do something for the war effort, so they start working as ambulance drivers – it is this aspect of the story which really caught my attention, it is both historically detailed so much so that you can see every scene with absolute clarity, and it is also hugely emotional to read. Vivi has fallen in love with her cousin’s best friend; Edmund, and becomes engaged to him. Then she suddenly she meets charismatic pilot Sam, that does capture Vivi’s attention but she is a good, loyal women she has made a promise to him and she won’t go back on it no matter what she feels for Sam.

In 1939, Vivi and Edmund are not quite so happily married, they are living separate lives, there are various factors into why they aren’t living in happily married bliss which I really won’t go into – no spoilers here – and on top of that they never did have children of their own, which you can really sense that is a tough subject for Vivi, but her unhappiness comes from more than that. Personally speaking, I think that Vivi marrying Edmund was the worse decision of her live and that has really ingrained itself on her.

Anyway they have been informed that she will be having an evacuee staying with them. Edmund doesn’t want a child in the house, especially someone else’s and like so many others he believes that this won’t come to anything that there will be no war. Vivi is both fearful and nervous about the prospect of having a child in the house, she doesn’t even know how to look after one. But she must soon learn, and once she meets her evacuee; a little girl named Pearl, she learns far more than to look after children she learns to love again and to open her heart which has been closed off for so long.

The relationship that blossoms between Vivi and Pearl is really something, looking after this sweet, quiet little girl gives Vivi something that has never thought to have; hope, a sense of being wanted and needed, a purpose, friendship and love, all things that she thought was lost to her so long ago and when she realises that there is more to this little girl, that there is a link between them really touches the reader and Vivi.

I absolutely love how this is written, Lizzie you have blown me away with your beautiful words, wonderful imagination and emotional story. I love how it tells us what happened to Vivi and her sister Olive during WW1 and then we move forward to see how Vivi is faring in 1939, the leaps from one era to the other is perfectly written, I found that there was no confusion of where you are in the story and each era seamlessly flows into one.

It is a lovingly written story that has real heart, and one that I cannot recommend enough. The story flows with so much ease, but it is the character’s especially Vivi which really steals the reader’s attention, she is a marvelous woman, her journey through live is one that many can relate to.

This was an Arc copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I was Yours is available now and can be found at Amazon.

#Review : The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

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To give them hope she must tell their story

The war is over. Juliet Ashton is grappling with writers block when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – a total stranger living halfway across the channel. Who has come across her name written in a second-hand book.

Juliet begins writing to Dawsey , and the time to everyone in the extraordinary Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society. The society tell Juliet about life on the island – and the dark years spent under the shadow of German occupation. Drawn into their irresistible world, Juliet sets sail for Guernsey, changing her life – and theirs – forever

My View

I have been reading so many good thing about this book for such a long time, and then when it was made into a film, I knew that I had to read this book, before I saw the film as it had been on my to-read list for way too long. I can honestly say that yeas, I should have read it far, far earlier then I did, but it was well worth the wait. This book really is extraordinary, there is no other words to describe just how powerful a read this book is. With it’s very simple story of one writer and a group of people all starting the process of trying to move on after years of war, they find themselves finding a new beginning just on the horizon, but they need each other to take those tentative steps.

During the war Juliet Ashton had been writing a column under the name Lizzy Bickerstaff which brought people together and gave the country some light-hearted fun to get behind and enjoy. Now the war is over, Juliet has found herself stuck in a bit of a rut she has got terrible writers block. Then she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams; a complete stranger from Guernsey which starts of what will be a beautiful friendship. Dawsey came across her name in a book, he tells her about his book club; the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society from that one letter she begins corresponding not just with Dawsey but the other members of the society, they tell her about life under German occupation and how they suffered ad survived the war.

Juliet soon becomes engrossed in their world, in their stories and soon finds inspiration has struck and suddenly she finds herself on Guernsey, meeting the very people who have brought life back into her boring, dreary life. This trip to Guernsey is a trip that will change her life forever and that of the society members too.

The central storyline regarding Juliet and her love life is pretty is to ascertain where the story is going and who she will end up with. For me it was the bigger picture the story around the Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society and it’s members that captured my attention, I can guarantee that anyone reading this will go through so many emotions. What really stuck with me after reading this book, is the overwhelming warmth that fills you after reading it, it leaves it’s mark on the reader – well it has one me, far more then any book ever has.

This has got to be one of the best books I have read, it is a truly beautiful and heart-warming book. There isn’t a moment, a page or a word that I don’t like about it, the characters are all extremely well researched, lovable and they will make you laugh and cry in equal amounts.

A magical book that everyone should read!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is available at Amazon.

Review : Diary of a War Bride by Lauri Robinson

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The land girl and the US officer

July 1942

Dear diary, despite the war raging around me, I find I can’t stop thinking about the American officer, Sergeant Dale Johnson. I’ve never known anyone as brave, kind and handsome! But I promised myself I wouldn’t care this much about a man again, especially when he could be transferred at any time. Yet that only makes me want to relish our time together. Now fighting my heart feels like the biggest battle…

My View

One word sums this book up for me; Magnificent! This is an incredible book, I have had my eye on this one as soon as I saw the cover – yes, I did base my wanting to read it on the cover first, but only because I have a real soft spot for this era and then when I read the blurb, I was completely hooked. I love war time romances and I was jumping around like a bit of a hyperactive two years old when I got offered the chance to read this one and I can honestly say that this fully lives up to all the hype, it is fabulous!

Kathryn is an evacuee, she was sent away from the city by her a powerful man in the British army/government she is sent to live wit Norman and Charlotte in the country, where she helps on their farm and looks after the other evacuee children. All is fine until the American’s move in, swanning around like they own the place. Kathryn has definitely got a chip on her shoulder when it comes to the GI’s she, her frosty and hostile attitude towards them makes me think of that old saying what used to be said and what is in a lot of war time films “Over paid, over sexed and over here.” And when she meets engineer Dale her animosity blows up at him, poor gorgeous Dale he becomes the one who she lashes her fury and irritation out on, unfairly if you ask me.

I think that Kathryn is a little harsh on Dale to start with, she has an ingrained prejudice towards American’s and she treats very unfairly when all he wants to do is get to know her. He is an American in a stranger country, and yes I will say that Britain in the war was strange, it takes awhile for Dale and his comrades to adjust to out….shall I say slightly eccentric British-ness? But he charm’s her out of her old way of thinking and soon she has fallen head over heels for him. Come on how could she not? Dale is a stud!

What a wonderful character he is, he can relate to the humble farmer’s and how they are fighting and toiling to feed their own. Back in the USA he is one of those very farmer’s he knows hard work and isn’t afraid of it, he does every job with the same gusto and precision as he would while back on his farm. He has a kind and generous heart that makes you cry and laugh, and a charm that can woo any bird from the tree’s.

As I was reading this it made me think of that episode of Foyles War when Hastings is, as the locals say being ‘invaded’ by American’s This has that same charm and wit about it that, it is comforting as well as exciting. I was gripped by it, while reading it you go through so many emotion’s as you are plunged into that dangerous time where life is so uncertain. Ms Robinson has done an astounding job at bringing to life the real emotion of the time, with absolute clarity. I particularly love that each chapter starts off with a page from Kathryn’s diary, her thoughts, feelings, happiness and fears are all there you the reader to bare witness to what is going on. I love that touch, it is like dipping into her life through those secretive word’s and it connects you to her and makes you care about her that much more – if that was possible!

This is the first book I have read by Lauri Robinson and what an introduction into this author’s work, and I will definitely be reading more from this talented author. She has captured the readers attention with her way with words and her knowledge of the era. I got a real sense of how much this story meant to Ms Robinson, every page has feels very personal. I do like historicals that have accurate details in them which brings the story to life, and this is wonderfully detailed.

This is astounding! I am so pleased that more people are reading this era as it is fraught with absolute love and danger and this is right up there with the best war romances I have read. For those that have read and love the likes of Pam Jenoff then this is the book to read, it is fabulous and one of the best of the year. I cannot recommend this enough!

Just Stunning!

This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The War Bride is available now and can be purchased from Amazon.

The Woolgrowers Companion by Joy Rhoades, Exclusive Author Interview and Review

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Today I have the very great pleasure to welcome Historical Fiction author; Joy Rhoades to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals for an exclusive chat and to share my review of her beautiful debut novel; the Woolgrowers Companion.

About Joy

I grew up in a small town in the bush in Queensland, Australia. I spent my time with my head in a book, or outdoors – climbing trees, playing in dry creek beds, or fishing for yabbies in the railway dam under the big sky. Some of my favourite memories were visiting my grandmother’s sheep farm in rural New South Wales where my father had grown up. She was a fifth generation grazier, a lover of history, and a great and gentle teller of stories. My childhood gave me two passions: a love of the Australian landscape and a fascination with words and stories.

I left the bush at 13 when I went to boarding school in Brisbane. I stayed on there to study law and literature at the University of Queensland. After, my work as a lawyer took me first to Sydney and then all over the world, to London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and New York. But I always carried in my head a strong sense of my childhood: the people, the history, the light and the landscape. Those images have never left me and they would eventually become The Woolgrower’s Companion. It’s a story I’ve felt I had to tell.

I currently live in London with my husband and our two young children. But I miss the Australian sky.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Amazon / Goodreads


Frankie Hi Joy, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly what five word’s would you use to describe yourself?

Joy I guess I’m curious and tenacious. And kind, I hope. I try to be.

Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Joy If I could time travel, I’d like to go with aviation pioneer from the ‘30s, Amelia Earhart. To meet her and find out what happened to her. I have always wanted to learn to fly, and she was such a woman of firsts. Inspiring and tragic. I’m fascinated like many, as to what really happened to her in the end.

Frankie That would be amazing, she was such a fascinating and brilliant lady. Can you tell us a little about latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is historical fiction, set in Australia in 1945 on a remote sheep station. It’s the story of a young woman’s fight to save her father’s farm, when he becomes ill. Kate Dowd, the hero, is somewhat newly married but her remote husband is away fighting in the war. When Kate’s father accepts two Italian prisoners of war to work, unguarded, on their sheep property, Kate must fight to protect herself and Daisy, her 14-year-old domestic, a product of the Aboriginal Domestic Training Home. Kate’s is a story of struggle but essentially a story of hope and of love.

Frankie Love it!! Who was your childhood hero?

Joy I really admired Amelia Earhart. I have always wanted to learn to fly so she had it all. A pioneer, an explorer, a woman. Unfortunate end, of course, but it seemed worth it.

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?

Joy It’s funny but a lot of readers have told me how cinematic they find The Woolgrower’s Companion. A mate suggested Margot Robbie for Kate, perhaps? She’s from a small town not far from where I was born, so she’ll understand landscape. Luca? I asked my followers on social media and from the nominations, one name stood one: Aldo Mignone. And he looks just perfect for it.


Frankie Oooh, very nice! 😊 Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Joy I like Kate, the main character in The Woolgrower’s Companion. She grows a lot through the books, makes mistakes, learns sometimes, not always. But she ‘banks’ her learning so se feels stronger over time. I hope she’s inspiring.

Frankie Where doe’s your inspiration for your books come from?

Joy The Woolgrower’s Companion is based very loosely on family stories, especially from my grandmother Gladys Wyndham Mueller-Chateau. She lived almost all of her 102 years on a sheep place in northern New South Wales. She was very like so many bush women: resilient, funny and very proper 😊

Frankie Wow, that is incredible! What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Joy See writing as an end, a craft that you work at all your life, whether to be at the top of the NYT best seller list (I wish 😉) or just for yourself. But keep at it, working to hone your skills and take pride in that work. There’ll be such reward that comes within from just writing well. Anything else that a writer manages? Like getting a short story published or even getting a publishing deal? Clover.

Frankie Those are brilliant, Thank you! If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Joy Wow. Where to start. The Australian poet and activist Oodgeroo Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker). And another Australian poet Judith Wright (she’s a distant relative of mine, which fact I love, hoping a drop, just one drop, of her outsize talent might have Australian-crawled its way through the gene pool to me :/) Tim Winton would have to be there, of course. We’d all talk writing and landscape, words and land.

Frankie Thank you, Joy for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Joy I love ice-cream. I’m torn between pistachio ice-crema and salted caramel. It’s close, but I think salted caramel wins 😊

Oh, yummy! 😉

Thank you Joy!

About the Book

Kate Dowd’s mother raised her to be a lady but she must put away her white gloves and pearls to help save her family’s sheep farm in New South Wales.

It is 1945, the war drags bitterly on and it feels like the rains will never come again. All the local, able-bodied young men, including the husband Kate barely knows, have enlisted and Kate’s father is struggling with his debts and his wounds from the Great War. He borrows recklessly from the bank and enlists two Italian prisoners of war to live and work on the station.

With their own scars and their defiance, the POWs Luca and Vittorio offer an apparent threat to Kate and Daisy, the family’s young Aboriginal maid. But danger comes from surprising corners and Kate finds herself more drawn to Luca than afraid of him.

Scorned bank managers, snobbish neighbours and distant husbands expect Kate to fail and give up her home but over the course of a dry, desperate year she finds within herself reserves of strength and rebellion that she could never have expected.

The Woolgrower’s Companion is the gripping story of one woman’s fight to save her home and a passionate tribute to Australia’s landscape and its people.

Joy’s debut book The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released on 28th June and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

My Review

Well, what can I say about this book, other than; It is incredibly moving and astoundingly good. Really, this book is really too good for words! The Woolgrowers Companion is Ms Rhoades debut and, my goodness what an introduction, this highly talented author is going to go very far in the world of historical fiction. I love the fact that ‘The Woolgrowers Companion’ is based on the real-life story of one of the author’s ancestors, and at the start of each chapter is a little quote from The Wool Growers Companion which fits in beautifully with the way the story and chapter is going. This is an astonishing, emotionally raw and beautifully written book which handles some very difficult subjects, but Ms Rhoades has covered them with the upmost care.

Set during 1945 in North South Wales, Australia where a young woman, Kate Dowd who has always been brought up to be a proper lady by her later mother has had to cast aside her lady-like gloves and behavior to help on her family farm; Amiens along with her increasing worrisome father; who built up the farm from scratch at the end of WW1. With the war nearing an end, the area is dry with drought and lack of able-bodied men, all gone due to the war which including her husband of six months; Jack. Amiens is the recipient of two Italian POW’s; Luca and Vittorio her father is very grateful for the help and so is Kate that is until she is given one of them to help her in the kitchen garden.

She becomes increasingly drawn to handsome and gentlemanly Luca, he isn’t at all what she expected when they had agreed to take on two POW’s. He is polite, hardworking and kind she knows she shouldn’t take an interest in Luca and he knows that fraternizing with the local girls is punishable with imprisonment and, yet there is a spark between them. To add to Kate’s worries her father has been borrowing money that they can’t possibly pay back, and the horrible bank manager is on the war path to take Amiens from them.

I love the fact that this is predominantly written through Kate’s point of view, she is a very real young woman, that you can relate to instantly. She goes through so many emotions that you share with her as the story goes along; from confusion over her startling feelings for Luca, surprise and anger at what her father has done and sadness that her husband Jack is so far away and that they are on the verge of losing everything her family have worked so hard for.

I will admit that even though I have read a lot of post war novels, this is the first time I have read one set in this setting. In my ignorance, I hadn’t known how the war affected those from Australia or even that Italian POW’s were sent to work on Australian farm’s. The ‘Woolgrowers Companion’ is an eye-opening and thought-provoking story that captures the reader’s imagination and invokes a thirst to learn more.

This book is simply stunning! Ms Rhoades has a rare gift for story-telling, she entices and enthrall’s with her articulate writing and rich, atmospheric detail that transports you from your armchair to 1945 Australia. Her attention to detail is min-blowing, the plot and characters are perfect, the story moves forward in a very natural and at times surprising way, each scene is full of historic details and mood of the times and characters. Rhoades has created a beautiful story that I can guarantee will stay with you long after you close the last page.

There are some very harsh and brutal moments such as racism, bigotry, PTSD and early stages Dementia which, Rhoades deals with it all in a respectful and honest and in a way that leaves a real sense of what these characters are going through. The authors genuine love of the story and her extensive research is evident on every page.

This really is something special, it is a fascinating and moving portrayal of the time from a new author whose career I am looking forward to reading more from.

Magical and beautiful.

This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Woolgrowers Companion is to be released 28th June and can be purchased from Amazon.

Review – The War Widow by Lorna Gray

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While the bells of a Royal Wedding peel out to the fading echoes of war, danger stalks the coastline of Wales…

Wales, 1947

Injured and terrified after an attempted abduction, desperation drives artist Kate Ward to the idyllic scene of her ex-husband’s recent suicide. Labelled a hysterical, grieving divorcée, no one believes she is being pursued by two violent men demanding answers she cannot give. Not the police, not the doctors, and not the guests at the Aberystwyth hotel she has come to in an attempt to find out what happened to her charismatic photographer ex-husband, and why her identity – and her life – are now at risk.

Kate can trust no one, not even the reclusive war-veteran-turned-crime-novelist, Adam Hitchen, a reserved widower and the only source of kindness in a shadowy world of suspicion and fear. And as ghosts old and new rise to haunt her, Kate must rely on all her strength and courage to uncover the shocking truth hidden within a twisted web of lies…

My View

Well, what can I say about this? What a corker!! It really is an incredible read, this is the first book I have read by Lorna Gray and it definitely will not be the last. I will admit that I am a fan of war era romances and I have read a lot of them but there is something very special about this book. This book is right up there with the best I have read right alongside the likes of Pam Jenoff and Kate Mosse.

Set just after the war in 1947, After Kate Ward’s ex-husband committed suicide she found herself being nearly kidnapped, injured and then followed by two unknown thug’s who are wanting answers to questions that she doesn’t know, she doesn’t understand the questions or why these people would be after her. She flees her home in Lancaster to Wales where she stays in the Aberystwyth Hotel, in the very same area where her ex-husband had spent the last of his days. She hopes that she can try to figure out what is going on and why she is being followed, but those answers aren’t coming as she thought as she finds herself under the gaze of the other hotel guest’s who see her as an unhinged, paranoid and grieving woman who by all accounts could be suffering from her own mental break down.

No one believes that she is in as much danger as she states, she is fearful and alone with terrifying events that even start clouded her own judgment. She can’t trust no one and yet she can’t seem to find the answers she needs. She eventually finds an ally in the form of elusive veteran come crime writer Adam Hitchman who is in Aberystwyth doing research.

Along with Adam, Kate takes off a journey to find the truth and discover why her life is in danger and who is behind it, along the way they keep bumping into the mysterious Jim Bristol who keep’s turning up along the way. But is he more than he appears to be? As they become embroiled in a dark and dangerous, life or death game of cat and mouse, Kate and Adam become closer until a romance develops between this unlikely couple.

This is written I first person you see the story unfold though Kate’s eyes, you feel her troubles her fears her few joys and this creates a connection to her that you very rarely get in other books. I know a lot of readers don’t like first person books, but this is a must read it is stunningly beautiful book, it really is too good to be true. Ms Gray has done an astounding job at conveying Kate’s circumstances and her fragile frame of mind, her confusion, unease and fear is palpable from that first page. Kate has a complexity and honest vulnerability about her that is engaging to the reader, even when there is lightness like when she is reading Jane Eyre in the hotel there is raw edginess to her that draws you in.

I am known for my love of historic details in stories and this is spot on, the vividness and description of Aberystwyth is incredible. Gray takes hold of your senses and imagination from that first page and keeps hold of you right to the end. There is a real feeling of the life and time throughout the book the peace from the end of the war, the relief that it is over as well as the unknown. I like how Gray has added those little touches that bring this book to life, such as bringing to attention that the UK were still on ration books until the mid-fifties. I love that!

The War Widow smoothly takes you on a journey that has more twists and turns then being in a maze, it is beautifully written with a plot that will make your mind boggle and you find yourself stumped for words at what is going on. It’s a roller coaster ride through a dangerous and complicated time, where all is not quite what it seems. I absolutely loved it, it is a page turning, compelling and intricately crafted perfect piece of thrilling fiction which has a wonderful and understated romance tucked away between the pages.

It is a timeless and thought-provoking story that gripped you from the onset and doesn’t let you go, with characters are intriguing and strong each one is precise and consistent stories of their own that runs throughout to keep you engaged.

Absolutely incredible!

This was a complimentary copy via the author and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The War Widow is available now and can be purchased at Amazon.