Complimentary/Gifted Book

#Review | Her Mother’s Secret by Jan Baynham #HerMothersSecret @JanBaynham @RubyFiction

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Hello Sunshines, I hope you are all safe and well?! Today I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this charming book; Her Mother’s Secret by Jan Baynham. As always sit back, grab that cuppa and enjoy.

It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …

Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69

What a wonderful debut!! I can guarantee from reading this emotional, heart-wrenching and feel-good book, that Jan Baynham will have a long career in writing and I cannot wait to see what other beauties Jan is going to gift to us all.

The story is split in two different era’s and two different but connected women; the story opens in 1991 with Alexandra who after losing her beloved mother; Elin she is trying to come to terms with her life without the woman who meant so much to her, she feels like a cuckoo in the nest at home. She is trying to keep peace and to grieve for her mother, there is nothing but arguments between her and her father so she moves to her grandmothers, which is when she found old diary of her mothers.

She soon learns some surprising and shocking truths as she starts to get to know the mother she thought she knew, who turned out have many secrets; such as Alexandra, being an artist herself never knew her mother had gone to art college and spent time in Greece, it is while discovering who her mother was – and as in the process who she is too – Alexandra decides to go to Greece to learn more. Elin’s story is told via the diary, we are transported to 1969 Greece as her story is told and this is where her secrets and all the emotion that will be wrapped up in what is about to be revealed really hits the reader.

I love the descriptions of Greece, it’s clear and vivid, the writing instantly transport s the reader from their armchair to that beautiful island. The small details really make each scene stand out, the way landscapes look an in certain light, the clearness of the sea, the food, the people, the houses. Everything is there to whisk you away, and I thoroughly loved experience 1969 Greece from the comfort of my home.

This story really captured me, I can’t put my finger on why I was so drawn to it, maybe because it was so far away from what I usually read? Who knows, but from reading the back blurb I was hooked. I wanted to learn Elin’s secret and I wanted to know how whatever happened to her effects her daughter; Alexandra twenty-two years later. You just know that whatever occurred in Greece and to Elin isn’t going to be happy and there is going to further sadness, but I loved the way the real connection between mother and daughter, they both have a real passion for art and for life, it is as clear as a bell that they had a strong relationship.

I really liked how this is written, I do love a split timeline, and this is done really well it keeps the reader engaged with each of the characters in the two time zones and there is no confusion over who is who and where they fit into each of these two moment’s lives as all is revealed slowly throughout the book.

I have to mention the opening; my oh my that is a real doozy! It was a real surprise to start a book with such a tasty morsel of intrigue, as a reader, I was like a fish on a line eager to know what is going on and how that prologue relates to the story – well I am not going to tell you but all is revealed and it is so wonderfully done!

Overall, a perfect escapist book, it’s warm, charming, poignant and engaging, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

This was an Arc from the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you, Liz, at Choc Lit. xx

#Review | Casting Samson by Melinda Hammond #CastingSamson @SarahMRomance

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Hello Sunshines, I am very excited to be sharing my review for the wonderful Casting Samson by Melinda Hammond, with you all, today. So grab your cuppa and your cake, and enjoy!

“A haunting blend of fascinating history and timeless romance” – Nicola Cornick

Her life in London shattered by finding her boyfriend in the shower with another woman, Deborah Kemerton retreats to sleepy Moreton-by-Fleetwater. To keep her mind off her broken heart she joins the committee organising a pageant to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the village church. They need to cast the perfect Samson, and Deborah thinks Josh Lancaster perfect for the part…

Anne Lindsay, a fellow committee member, comes into conflict with historian Professor Toby Duggan when she uses a local legend of Sir Hugo, a 12th century crusader and founder of the church, to publicize the event. By the day of the pageant Anne is no nearer to finding the truth and as things begin to go disastrously awry, she and Deborah fear that all their hard work will be wasted, without some sort of miracle…

I love that this is likened to one of my all-time favourite comedies; The Vicar of Dibley, which in my humble opinion is by one of the best comedies. So when I read that Casting Samson had a hint of Vicar of Dibley to it I was very excited, I knew it was going to be good especially with the great Melinda Hammond at the helm. But even I was surprised by how wonderful this little story is, which is full of laugh’s, fun and romance with a touch of mystery and history thrown in for good measure. Melinda is an amazing author, she can so easily grasp the reader’s attention and never fails to match the most perfect characters together…I will talk about a certain character later…I may need to delve into the gif folder for this one, sigh!!

When Deborah finds her sleaze of a boyfriend in the shower with another woman, the life she had found for herself in London has crashed around her ears. She decides that the best thing for her and the best way to heel herself is to retreat back home, back to her sleepy little village of Moreton-by-Fleetwater. Once there her dad, who owns the local café persuades Deborah to join the local committee which is currently organising a pageant which will be to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the local village church. Which is where she meets the eclectic group of senior citizens that make up the village committee.

I love this little band of people they are a real hoot getting to know, they really add that ye old very English village eccentric charm to the book which I love ….definitely Vicar of Dibley… and some of the things they come out with did at times have me laughing out loud, just the thought of a not so young village parish committee discussing employing male strippers just tickles me; which is really one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this book, is that it made me laugh.

In a topsy-turvy world, we need more laughter and this book is just the ticket to make anyone smile.

As always I strayed off-topic, so the committee is wanting to cast the part of Samson in their pageant and apart from some wanting to involve any undressed man they lay their hands on, it falls to Deborah who may just know the perfect person; Josh Lancaster, part-time stripper full-time chef who just happens to drop into her family’s café as the troupe are moving through. He is perfect for the part, as handsome as sin with his roguish slightly feral gipsy like dark looks and a body that any woman with a pulse would become enthralled with, plus….there is a always a plus with me…he is a thoroughly decent chap who…and this is really the cherry on top of the cake…he can cook!!

Yep, I am in heaven…just leave me on the floor where I have fallen into a swoon!

While on the other side of the village fellow committee member; Anne is on a bit of a history hunt as she is adamant that the 12th century Knight; Sir Hugo founder of their little church is buried beneath the said church and she wants to use his legend to promote the village and the pageant. Only like our Deborah, she finds herself entangled with a good looking man where romance may blossom, that’s if they stop bickering and butting heads long enough to see what is in front of them.

I adore this little village where everyone seems to know each others business this is such a feel-good story with a host of eclectic characters and not one but two sweet little romances, then; boom in drops the Knights Templar and the story went from sweet whimsical good fun to something else….oh, how much do I love a Knight?? – Really all you have to do is mention the word ‘Knight’ and I am on it like a pack of hyena’s on juicy carcass….hmm, maybe a bit of morbid a comparison!

I absolutely adore the duel timeline, something that when done right is such a joy to read and this is just that; a real enlightening joy and so different to what I’ve read by Melinda Hammond before. It’s brilliantly structured neither of the two timelines merges together which could cause confusion they travel alongside by side in perfect harmony, Melinda has done a great job keeping both sides of the story entertaining and I do hope that there will be more stories from Melinda along the same lines of this.

As you may have guessed, I thoroughly enjoyed this, it’s different and at the same time has that much loved Melinda Hammond fabulously cosy and comforting stamp all over it. This is feel-good, enjoyable and gently paced romance with a difference.

This was a complimentary copy via the author which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Melinda and massive apologies for how ridiculously late this review is. xx

#Review | Reach For The Star by Kathryn Freeman #ReachForTheStar @KathrynFreeman1 @ChocLituk

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Hello my lovelies, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this wonderfully starry new book; Reach For The Star by Kathryn Freeman, as always take a seat, grab a cuppa and a snack of your choice and enjoy.

What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?

How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

A least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The Premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?

Have you ever had a serious crush on a celebrity than you literally dream and fantasise about them on a daily basis? Come admit it, we have all done it, lets all stand up and admit it. I will be the first to hold up my hand, I think everyone on the planet knows about my love of a certain Tom Hardy…sigh! So you have a wee inkling of how Jessie feels about charismatic crooner Michael Tennant, but just imagine actually meeting and then working along side your hearts crush on tv, I know it blows the mind, doesn’t it, but this is what happens to Jessie and what follows is a heart-warming, funny and delightfully romantic story about an everyday woman next door who does reach for the stars.

I adored the premise of this as soon as I read the blurb, having read Kathryn’s previous book; Crikey, A Bodyguard! I knew that this was going to be a real treat and I wasn’t wrong, this is the perfect escapism read, I love that it’s leading couple aren’t young twenty-somethings, but it has mature character’s who have real life issues and whom the reader can easily relate to, and personally I was willing Jessie on and so wanted her to find what she had been looking for.

Jessie Simmons is your run of the mill single, working mum of two. She goes to work cares for her children and goes around life doing exactly what she is supposed to do, putting everyone else first. Jessie deep down wants more, she wants excitement and love in her life, from the first few pages in I had a sense that Jessie is lonely, she wants someone in her life, someone other then two cheeky, boisterous boys, so she does what so many of us do she allows her mind to wander into her own secret fantasy world which is all about her not-so-secret crush, the fabulous and ridiculously attractive singer; Michael Tennant. Jessie is more then happy to daydream and fantasise about that gorgeous man, only her two children soon take matters into their own hands and with one letter to a TV show her life turns around and changes.

The little tykes have only gone and entered her into a reality show, where an enthusiastic amateur is partnered up with a professional musician, which later sees her partnered with none other then the man of her dreams; Michael Tennant. Oooh, any bets on Jessie being a little bit star struck?

Michael Tennant is a fabulous character, he is so different to how we first imagine him to be he isn’t a super confident and arrogant super star, he is a very down-to-earth man who hates being thrust into the limelight, he got pushed into this reality show and now he feel stuck. He is actually very closed up, he guards and protects himself from others as much as possible, he isn’t the best in social situations – in fact he is downright uncomfortable around people, which only makes you love him all the more. Being governed by an over zealous PA – who did get on my nerves a bit and really did need putting in her place. I got the feeling that he is a bit like a rabbit in head lights he is a lonely man who isn’t a fan of the lifestyle that his career has bought him. Then he meets an equally lonely woman, who not only appears to be on the show against her will but she has a passion for music.

I love them as a couple, both are from completely different worlds and there is a lot of wrangling to be able to be with each other, they are so similar in some ways and very different in others he can be shy and awkward when not on the screen, he is constantly worried about saying the wrong thing – I think we can all relate to that in some way. Whereas jessie she is just a normal woman, she is bored and lonely but she has got guts to go out and give something a go, she doesn’t intimidate she gives as good as she gets, I really think that she stole every scene she was in I was fascinated by her, she has fire beneath that mumsy persona.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, I adore Kathryn Freeman’s writing she has a great skill with drawing the reader into her world with just a few words. The story is heart-warming, original and fun, with fabulous character’s who really make the reader go through the mill, you never know where the story will take you, if Michael and Jessie will ever get together, I was engaged right to the last page.

I thoroughly enjoyable, delightful and heart-warming read and highly reccomended!

This was an Arc copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Liz. x

#Review | Regency Summer Escape: A Regency Romance Summer Anthology (Regency Anthologies #3) by Regina Jeffers, Arietta Richmond & Victoria Hinshaw #RegencySummerEscape #ARegencyRomanceSummerAnthology

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Hello everyone, I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this charming regency anthology; Regency Summer Escape: A Regency Romance Summer Anthology (Regency Anthologies #3) by Regina Jeffers, Arietta Richmond & Victoria Hinshaw, so sit back with a nice cuppa and enjoy.

Three wonderful Regency Summer stories! Will the Lord win his Lady by summer’s end?

Her Summer Duke by Arietta Richmond

A Lady promised since childhood, now questioning her feelings, a Duke also promised, and questioning his desire for love, a noblemen turned to the sea, now desperately in love, a cousin doubting her own betrothal, a confusion of suitors, and unexpected triumph of love.

Lady Margaret Caulfield is somewhat spoiled, and newly come out into society, finds that she suddenly doubts everything – about love, and about her future. Promised since childhood to the man who saved her life when she was ten, she had not questioned it – until she met a man at a Masquerade Ball, and immediately fell in love with him.

Captain Lord Adam Halstone is barely accepted by society, and only then because he is the second son of a Duke – for he has done the inexcusable, and not only invested in trade, but chosen to work as a ship’s Captain. Love is not something that he has considered, yet when he meets a green eyed beauty at a Masquerade Ball, he finds himself utterly in love.

But Lady Margaret must contend with her uncertain feelings for the Duke she is promised to, who himself is coming to doubt the wisdom of the promise he made eight years before. And matters are complicated by others who would also seek Lady Margaret’s hand, should she cry off from that promise.

In the end, will love triumph? Or will duty bind each of the players in this tangle to an unhappy future?

Courting Lord Whitmire by Regina Jeffers

At a bend of the path, an unexpected meeting. She is all May, he is December. But love knows not time.

Miss Verity Coopersmith, at twenty, has not met a man she feels anything for, and expects that she never may. Mostly, she is content with her lot.

Andrew, Viscount Whitmire, at forty two, a widower newly come into his inheritance, with a fifteen year old daughter to contend with whom he had spent little time with since her birth, does not expect love or happiness to ever be part of his life. Duty will have to suffice.

But when they meet on a muddy lane in the rain, life is irreversibly changed for both of them.

Sarah’s Summer Surprise by Victoria Hinshaw

Miss Sarah Kinnard is the youngest of ten children, and when her father’s death and her mother’s grief delayed her London Season, she found herself with no options but to accompany a friend to the countryside, or to play nursemaid to her sisters’ children. The countryside seemed an excellent choice – until she met the man responsible for the renovations of the manor house at which they were staying. The man who, just by his presence, made her feel things that she had never felt before.

Captain Benjamin Lockhart took on the role of renovation manager to give himself something to do, as he healed after the war. It was a new life that he found comfort in, until the arrival of Miss Kinnard, when he found himself desiring more from life than he had ever considered before.

Can the restoration of a long abandoned manor house also restore the joy of life and love for two souls somewhat abandoned by their families?

If you love great stories, and the regency era, you’ll love these!

My, oh, my! What a gorgeous anthology this is, this is a perfect collection of wonderfully charming Regency Romance’s, which I can guarantee if you love your Regency romances then you are going to absolutely adore this enchanting anthology. Each of the three stories are so enchanting, you feel a real sense of love in the air as you read them, I’ve not read two of the author’s in this anthology but I am a huge fan of Regina Jeffer’s work, I love her writing she is an astounding author who can really capture the readers attention, so I knew that with Ms Jeffer’s involved in this that I would love fall in love with this anthology and I was so right, I have now added two more fine writing ladies to me ever expanding TBR pile.

As you may have gathered this is a Regency Anthology, so yes do expect lots of Jane Austin-esque scenario’s but with a few twists, charming and witty dialogue and wonderfully atmospheric settings and detail, all of which will capture your inner Regency lady swoon into the arms of the three heroes in their boots and well fitted breaches. I have chosen to review the anthology as a whole instead of my usual full individual book reviews, only because if I did post a review of each, this this post may go on and on – really no one wants listen to my babbling when you have seriously gorgeous and charismatic heroes and wonderfully clever enchanting heroines to get to know.

If you love your Regency then this is an absolute must read, each story in the collection is charming and enjoyable, I love how each one fits so beautifully along side the other’s, all three really compliment one an other and yet they are so different the individual authors writing styles are strong and engaging, each book is rich in detail and you will be swept away to another time.

A thoroughly romantic, charming and beautifully written anthology!

This was a complimentary copy via the author’s, which I voluntarily reviewed, Thank you Regina.

Regency Summer Escape is available now from amazon, and if you love your Regency then this is a must buy.

#Review | The Summer of Love and Secrets by Helena Fairfax #TheSummerOfLoveAndSecrets @HelenaFairfax

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Hello my lovely friends, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this beautiful book; The Summer of Love and Secrets by Helena Fairfax, as always grab a cuppa and a piece of cake…and your tissues and enjoy.

‘A warm and emotive story, written with incredible insight and grace’

Anne Cater Random Things Through My Letterbox

Originally published as A Way from Heart to Heart

Kate Hemingway is prickly and aloof…or at least, that’s what she likes people to think. Since the death of her photographer husband, Stuart, the only people Kate allows near are her best friend, Orla, and her son, George. She loves them both more than anything in the world. Everyone else she keeps at a distance…including Paul Farrell.

Paul was Stuart’s closest friend. An ex-war journalist, he and Kate have one thing in common. They both seem equally distant. Then Paul publishes an article, revealing an astonishing secret. On a trip to the Yorkshire moors with a group of teenage girls, Kate’s scarred heart begins to open up

But can she risk her son’s happiness, as well as her own?


Praise for The Summer of Love and Secrets

‘A beautiful, heart-wrenching story about love, loss and friendship. Fairfax creates characters that come to life and Kate is one of the best!’ N.N. Light’s Book Heaven

‘A touching and engrossing love story…Several scenes will stay with me for a long time.’ Marie Laval, bestselling author

‘A romance that draws you in and won’t let you go…Once I started this book, I really couldn’t put it down’ Helen Pollard, bestselling author

‘I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end…A positive and life-affirming read from the start.’ Amazon five star review

‘A lovely, emotive and heart-warming contemporary romance story that draws in the audience and takes hold from the very beginning.’ Caroline Barker, A Reader’s Review book blog


Well, what can I say about this? This is a real emotional journey, a beautifully crafted story of second chances and love after loss, it grabs your attention from the first page. I know, I say that a lot, but believe me this one is a tear jerker, I was a teary mess from the off, the first few pages will pull at your heartstrings, with heartbreak and draws you into the story and makes you real feel for Kate. It really such an emotional rollercoaster ride, you cry and smile as Kate finds her feet, I must bow down to Helena Fairfax for bringing this shining star of a story to the world, it really is utter class.

The story open’s to model; Kate Hemmingway, as she goes about her day only to have her whole life turned upside down and broken to pieces when she gets news of her photographer husbands death while on a job in Afghanistan. I am telling, that this will break the hardest of hearts. I real felt for Kate, from the start she has to deal with way too much all at once, she is on unsteady ground, not only tying to grieve for her husband but suddenly becoming a single parent to their very young son George. But she isn’t alone her husbands best fried; Journalist Palk, steps in to help, to be the support she needs but in an entirely platonic way, I love how he makes a promise to little George and even years later when the story picks up again, Paul has still keep his promise – from that one action alone tells me all I need to know about the man, I really liked Paul, he is a man of his word, he is a sympathetic, compassionate and kind man who tries to keep his own feeling under was to allow Kate the chance to move forward from her husbands death.

Two years later and even though she has fallen into a of Kate is worried and fearful of allowing herself to become attached to another, she doesn’t want to go through all the hurt she has experienced but she cannot deny that there is a frisson of something between her and her late husbands best friend; Paul, she doesn’t understand her mixed feeling for his as he does come across as very cool and aloof, it is when they come together to support homeless teenage girls she soon begins to see him in a new light and it is through their endeavour that her complex emotions begin to swirl around her and even more so when Paul confesses all to her.

I love how the story progresses, Kate and Paul are both closed off and hold their feeling tightly to their chests but you can see that there is something there and they do both deserve a second chance of happiness after what they went through. I love the writing I really like stories where we see both the lead characters point of view, it allows the reader to really connect with the characters. Paul is a really understated and complex man and Kate is a wonderfully created character whose struggles can really move you to tears. I love the interactions between Kate and Paul, they are such deserving characters that you really wish for them to have a beautiful happily after.

Overall, this is a beautifully, engrossing and very emotional story, it is a simple second chance story, but what makes this different to other stories in this trope is that there is real feeling, real heart in the writing, it is as clear a s bell that Helena Fairfax has put a lot of her heart and soul into bringing this story to the world, the writing is as ever flawless, it’s full of real emotional depth that will capture your attention and stay with you for a long tome after the closing the last page. I adored following Kate and Paul on their emotional journey, very highly recommended , just make sure you have a box of tissues at hand.

This was a complimentary copy via the author, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Helena. X

The Summer of Love and Secrets is available now.



#Review | All Things Georgian; Tales From The Long Eighteenth Century by Joanne Major & Sarah Murden #AllThingsGeorgian #History @sarahmurden @joannemajor3 @penswordbooks

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Hello my lovely readers! Today I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book; All Things Georgian by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden, if you love a bit of scandalous Georgian’s then look no further, so grab a cuppa – or a iced drink, it is a wee bit hot out today and enjoy.

Take a romp through the long eighteenth-century in this collection of 25 short tales. Marvel at the Queen s Ass, gaze at the celestial heavens through the eyes of the past and be amazed by the equestrian feats of the Norwich Nymph. Journey to the debauched French court at Versailles, travel to Covent Garden and take your seat in a box at the theatre and, afterwards, join the mile-high club in a new-fangled hot air balloon.

Meet actresses, whores and high-born ladies, politicians, inventors, royalty and criminals as we travel through the Georgian era in all its glorious and gruesome glory.

In roughly chronological order, covering the reign of the four Georges, 1714-1830 and set within the framework of the main events of the era, these tales are accompanied by over 100 stunning colour illustrations.

What a brilliant romp through the Georgian world, this is a fun, easy to read book all about an era that in itself could be construed as fun a lot of the time. The writing is clear, entertaining and knowledgeable, there is a real fun, energetic and carefree feel to this which a lot of that is down to the fact that Sarah and Joanne are hugely passionate about this era, so much so that you literally fall into the Georgia era through the pages, add in the beautiful colour pictures that run through the book and you have a real feast for the senses.

I love how this is written, it is made up of a selection of short stories; so it’s not bombarding you with page after page of facts and figures, but gives you a short story and history lesson of each chapters particular subject, which personally I do prefer this way of reading nonfiction it, keeps it light and fun and will keep you reading.

I like how the authors lean heavily towards the women of the era instead of just focusing on men’s accomplishments, there are so many great little stories in this, I can guarantee there is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the more obscure stories such as the smuggler queen chapter; which was hugely fascinating, the story about Alicia Massingham the female jockey; was enlightening and off course the hot air balloon ride was brilliant and eye- opening chapter, one that has made me want to learn more and then there is the story of Jenny Cameron; who dressed as a man and fought along side her husband at the battle of Culloden.

Another thing that I really liked about this is that the book isn’t made up of royals and aristocrat’s, there are stories about real and normal people who achieved something great, these are people who have been cast into the shadows of history, so I did like that. What I got from this is that the Georgian era was far more innovative then I originally thought, this book was definitely full of surprises.

Over all this is a fabulous read, highly recommended, no matter what you read, if you love your history then you will all find something in the book to love.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie.

All Things Georgian is available from Amazon and Pen and Sword.

#Review : Great British Family Names And Their History: Whats In A Name? By John Moss #GreatBritishFamilyNamesAndTheirHistory #FamilyHistory #NonFiction #JohnMoss @penswordbooks

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Hello everyone, today I have the pleasure to be sharing my review of Great British Family Names and Their History by John Moss, so if your a avid family researcher like myself then you want to stick around and check out this fabulous book.

By John Moss
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 314
ISBN: 9781526722805
Published: 3rd April 2019

For better or worse, what we are is often determined by our family; the events that occurred many years before we were born and the choices that were made by our forebears are our inheritance – we are the inexorable product of family history. So it is with nations. The history of Great Britain has been largely defined by powerful and influential families, many of whose names have come down to us from Celtic, Danish, Saxon or Norman ancestors. Their family names fill the pages of our history books; they are indelibly written into the events which we learned about at school. Iconic family names like Wellington, Nelson, Shakespeare, Cromwell, Constable, De Montfort and Montgomery… there are innumerable others.

They reflect the long chequered history of Britain, and demonstrate the assimilation of the many cultures and languages which have migrated to these islands over the centuries, and which have resulted in the emergence of our language.

This book is a snapshot of several hundred such family names and delves into their beginnings and derivations, making extensive use of old sources, including translations of The Domesday Book and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, as well as tracing many through the centuries to the present day.

OK, brief confession I did review this book because – and this is rather, selfish of me – I wanted to see if my own ancestors were named in it, after all my family name goes way back to the 1500’s – can you tell, I am on and have been on the family history trail for years? But, alas, my ancestors aren’t significant enough to be placed amongst these great families which are featured in this book. Oh well, we can’t have it all can we?

Anyhow, you don’t want to hear me rabbit on, your hear for a review. So, as you would have gathered from the title this little book is all about British names and their origins, and it is an illuminating read. Its one of those books that you can have on the sideboard or on the book shelf and pull it out and any time, you don’t have to read it in order but flick through it at your own pleasure. Its not a taxing read, in fact I wiled away many hours with this and before I knew it I had devoured it.

I love the layout out of this, its set out in sections for each corner of Britain, and in each section the names from that area or listed alphabetically, which makes navigating the book that much easier especially if you are looking for a particular location of name. If your like me and on the Genealogy trek then this is a must have for any family historians bookcase, even if it is all about the larger more well known and well developed British named. But you will be surprised that you will come across some very well known names and even – like myself – while reading you will go ‘Ooh, I know that name, my second uncles four times removed knew so and so’.

Each name is thoroughly researched, the author has kept their history light but precise so your not bombarded by constant names and facts. I like the brief account of each family name in the book, it is fascinating to read.

This is a must for anyone interested in family history, or specifically British Names and I would be of invaluable use for writers who are looking for a specific family or name to add to their work.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!

Great British name and Their History is available at Amazon and Pen and Sword.

#BlogTour : #Review An Abiding Fire by M. J. Logue @Hollie_Babbitt #AnAbidingFire @SapereBooks

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I have the great pleasure to be todays stop on this great blog tour and to be sharing my review for An Abiding Fire by M.J. Logue, so sit back grab a cuppa and let me tell you about this book.

About The Book

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects?

1664, London

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another.

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London.

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life.

Whispers about his sister’s violent murder follow him and accusations of treason abound.

When more deaths occur Russell finds himself under suspicion.

He is ready to escape from the capital, but Thomazine is determined to find the truth and clear the name of the man she loves.

But who is the real killer and why are they so keen to frame Russell? More importantly, will they succeed?

And has Thomazine’s quest put them all in mortal danger?

An Abiding Fire can be purchased HERE

When I first got offered to be a part of this blog tour, I was in two minds; should I take on another review even though my TBR is literally towering above my head? Or do I just go for it as I so want to read this book, as it sounds utterly fascinating? I you can see, I did what I usually do and just dived in and I am so pleased that I did. I was thoroughly intrigued by the sound of this book, even though I haven’t read this author before |I was fascinated by the book ad I can say it was very worth being crushed by my TBR pile to take this one on.

What a fascinating man Russel is, a former Roundhead now the war is over, and King Charles is firmly on the throne Russell made the toughest decision either return to the Kings side or be tried as a traitor. Yes, Russell did choose to stay alive and serve the King then be hung, drawn and quartered but don’t think that he is a turn coat or anything – ok, he maybe but there is a reason behind why he does anything. I was instantly intrigued by this man, he is proud, principled and loyal so why would a man like Russell change sides? Well you will have to read the book to find out more about him. Now the war is over he is free to marry the only women who has set his heart beating faster, but he has is reservations as beautiful, innocent Thomazine is at least half his age and far too sweet to be with a rough old soldier like him. Oh, how wrong he is!

Thomazine can think of nothing better than being Mrs Russell and finally being able to proclaim her love for the old weathered soldier she fell in love with as a mere slip of a girl. But, all isn’t sunshine and daisies for our couple not when Russell is looked on with suspicion and when his own sister is brutally murdered eyes start looking in his direction. It is down to Russell and Thomazine to clear his name and prove that he is the good man he proclaims himself to be.

With danger lurking at every corner and our newly married couple stuck in the middle it is a race to find the truth before those that would do them wrong destroy them.

I love how the story opens, it really sets the reader up for the great dark and twisty tale that follows. It has a real dark undercurrent that is really grabs the attention and keeps you fully engaged right to the end. It is set in an era that we see so little of, especially in romance. I found An Abiding Fire to be thrilling, engrossing and very intriguing. If you are like me and love the darker and grittier historical’s that are more historic fiction then romance, then this will be right up your street. The author has a done a brilliant job at entwining in-depth history with a fabulous ‘who-dunnit’ and at the centre is such a fascinating couple who the reader can really get behind from the start.

The writing has a real depth to it, at times it can be dark and a little heavy so for those who prefer the lighter historical’s then this may not be the best book for them, even though I would say just give it a go. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, it’s fresh and original you get a real sense that the writer is very passionate about the era. I like how it was written so that the reader goes on the journey with the two leads, my only fault with it is I felt that the dialogue was at times a little jumpy.

Well worth a try for those who love their historical fiction.

About the Author

M.J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.

Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.

After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.

Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.

She can be found on Twitter @Hollie_Babbitt, lurking on the web at, and posting photos of cake, cats and extreme embroidery on Instagram as asweetdisorder.

#Review A History Of Women In Medicine; Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches? by Sinead Spearing @sineadspearing #AhistoryOfWomenInMedicine #WomensHistory @penswordbooks

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I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of this amazing book; A History of Women in History (Cunning Women, Physicians, Witches) by Sinead Spearing, so sit back grab a cuppa and let me tell you all about this brilliant book.

Witch’ is a powerful word with humble origins. Once used to describe an ancient British tribe known for its unique class of female physicians and priestesses, it grew into something grotesque, diabolical and dangerous. A History of Women in Medicine: From Physicians to Witches? reveals the untold story of forgotten female physicians, their lives, practices and subsequent demonisation as witches. Originally held in high esteem in their communities, these women used herbs and ancient psychological processes to relieve the suffering of their patients. Often travelling long distances, moving from village to village, their medical and spiritual knowledge blended the boundaries between physician and priest. These ancient healers were the antithesis of the witch figure of today; instead they were knowledgeable therapists commanding respect, gratitude and high social status.

In this pioneering work, Sinead Spearing draws on current archeological evidence, literature, folklore, case studies and original religious documentation to bring to life these forgotten healers. By doing so she exposes the elaborate conspiracy conceived by the Church to corrupt them in the eyes of the world. Turning these women from benevolent therapists into the embodiment of evil required a fabricated theology to ensure those who collected medicinal herbs or practiced healing, would be viewed by society as dealing with the devil. From this diabolical association, female healers could then be labeled witches and be justly tortured and tried in the ensuing hysteria known today as the European witch craze.

Well, what a fascinating, illuminating and at times quite harrowing book. I literally finished this in one day, I was completely hooked from the first page. I hate to say it, but before reading this I hadn’t heard of this author before – and I do feel awful for saying that. I’m very sorry, Sinead!

I was intrigued by the book the moment I spotted it and knew I had to read it and I am so pleased that I got the chance to. It is a remarkable read, I found it to be very hard-hitting and yet sensitive to those women it tells the stories of, it is a book that should be read by everyone, not just women who like me are interested in women’s history and celebrating how wonderful these women were but by all. I can guarantee there will be something within these pages that will intrigue everyone.

I really like how this is written, it not only tells the stories of these amazing women but it also highlights just what ignorance and fear can do, how when people fear or don’t understand something such what these fine women were doing or who then Ms Spearing’s voice comes through the history with such clarity that you feel her passion for the subject of which she is writing.

The book is all about the very early medicine women, or ‘cunning women’, healers and those that were basically viewed as witches; not quite people to be trusted. I loved the opening as Ms Spearing tells the story of how this book came about, all about when archaeologist found the remains of a women not buried in the grave yard but on the edge and buried with some very interesting and quite odd items. From there the book goes further in detail about who this women could have been, about the women like her from around the country doing good work healing and helping, these women who were basically the first doctors, these women who were respected one minute and the next tried for witch craft.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it is a fresh and original book that looks into a different aspect of history.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.

A History of Women in Medicine is available from  Amazon and Pen & Sword

#Review The Scandal Of George III’s Court by Catherine Curzon @MadameGilflurt #TheScandalOfGeorgeIIIsCourt #Georgian #History #NonFiction @PenSwordBooks

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I have the pleasure to share with you all my review of The Scandal Of George III’s Court by the hugely talented Catherine Curzon, grab a cup of tea and maybe a biscuit and delve into to some scandalous Georgian history.

From Windsor to Weymouth, the shadow of scandal was never too far from the walls of the House of Hanover. Did a fearsome duke really commit murder or a royal mistress sell commissions to the highest bidders, and what was the truth behind George III’s supposed secret marriage to a pretty Quaker? With everything from illegitimate children to illegal marriages, dead valets and equerries sneaking about the palace by candlelight, these eyebrow-raising tales from the reign of George III prove that the highest of births is no guarantee of good behaviour. Prepare to meet some shocking ladies, some shameless gentlemen and some politicians who really should know better. So tighten your stays, hoist up your breeches and prepare for a gallop through some of the most shocking royal scandals from the court of George III’s court. You’ll never look at a king in the same way again…

Well, this is an eye opener for sure! Whatever you originally thought of the Georgian Court will be completely shadowed by the reality of what went on within this scandalous family. And what a family, phew their exploits made me shattered just reading about them. If you think the Borgia’s were scandalous, wait until you meet the Georgians, this lot were in a league of their own.

I have been reading Catherine Curzon’s work for a few years now and I have loved every word she has written, but I am ashamed to say this is the first of her non-fiction books I have. What! How can that be? Definitely a lapse on my part, which will be rectified!

This reveals the scandals that went on though the court of King George III, and believe me this lot were a hoot. With ‘unsuitable’ marriage, a flurry of mistresses and illegitimate children popping up all over the show, secret marriages, heir sand the spares running around causing scandal at every turn plus a whiff of murder. This family was doing it all, you see this is what happens when TV hasn’t been invented yet, people get up to all sorts.

I love the way this is written, the history side is backed up with sources which are easily accessible for everyone (Check out the bibliography for a list of research sites and books which can be accessed) and then there is the notes in the back which are very illuminating and gives further background to each of the chapters. The thing that I particularly love about this, and what kept me glued and turning the pages was Ms Curzon’s incredibly entertaining writing style, there is a real wit which at times had me giggling away into my cuppa – I did get a few odd looks from the family 😉 especially while reading the ‘Carry On Cumberland’ chapter, which is one of my favourite chapters. So good!

Another of my favourite chapters, has got to be ‘Perdita And Pickle’ which is all about two Drury Lane actresses; Mary Darny Robinson and Dora Jordan – anyone who knows me or follows my posts won’t be surprised that I became completely and utterly engaged with a chapter all about two women who in all essence were regular women forging a path for themselves. I loved this chapter and getting to know these two fascinating women, especially Dora, who knew that she wasn’t an absolute beauty until you saw her legs. She chose to wear breeches – yes, I know, scandalous and you will have to read the book to find out why, but I do I like this lass.

Overall, this is a brilliant! The writing – which is of no surprise given this is Ms Curzon we are talking about, is flawless. It’s fun, engaging, ridiculously addictive and thoroughly entertaining. It’s a history lesson, but not at all like yawning though an old school lesson where the teacher drones on and you fall asleep right at the good bit, no! This is something between Horrible Histories, Time Team (Don’t judge, I know what I’m on about) and a Lucy Worsley documentary (I know wrong era, but you get the drift). This one of those books which once you start, you won’t stop until you turn the last page. When that happens you’ll feel rather out of sorts and wondering where your next Georgian Scandal fix is coming from. Do you think we should start of a GA meeting? ‘Georgians Anonymous’ for all of us who are now addicted to this rather scandalous era of British history.

Scandalously brilliant and thoroughly recommended for everyone who just loves a romp through history.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie!

The Scandal Of George III’s Court can be purchased from Amazon and Pen and Sword Books.