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26 June 2022

Book Review: The Lost Laird from Her Past by Jeanine Englert *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Lost Laird from Her Past by Jeanine Englert ahead of the blog tour.

I loved the first book in the Falling for a Stewart series, Eloping with the Laird, and I'd easily recommend both books to everyone. They can easily be read as a standalone romance. The Lost Laird from Her Past by Jeanine Englert was perfect.

The Lost Laird from Her Past by Jeanine Englert

A second chance...

With her first love!

Lady Brenna Stewart is grateful to be saved from her burning carriage—only her rescuer is Laird Garrick MacLean, the man she once loved and lost!

He seems determined to protect her from the unknown enemy pursuing her across the Scottish Highlands.

But, bitterly hurt by his past betrayal, she needs answers. Why did he abandon her? And how can she keep her heart safe now, when the connection between them is as strong as ever…

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, power, betrayal, loyalty, love.

Oh no, another perfect historical romance.

I loved Brenna. She uses her femininity as a shield and everyone underestimates her for it. She's clever and capable, and I loved seeing her confront her fears.

Garrick has messed up in his past, and horrible things have happened. My heart ached to watch him work through his grief for his family and his home. Even he was guilty of underestimating Brenna at times, when he knew her best.

We all know I'm a sucker for a second-chance romance, and I enjoyed this one so freaking much. I loved the distrust from their past and how it brought a hesitancy to every interaction. Brenna's anger at Garrick is so understandable, he did not behave well when he first disappeared and left Brenna to wonder at his fate. The journey of their romance is perfect.

I loved that we got to see peeks of Moira in this story too, and how her life has changed once she married the man she loved and escaped her father's power-grabbing clutches.

This was an excellent romance in and excellent series that filled me with the warm fuzzies and left a huge grin on my face. I can't wait to read more by Jeanie Englert.

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Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a VIVIAN® and Golden Heart® Finalist as well as a Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery. Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at www.jeaninewrites.com


While Away the Hours in Scotland Giveaway!
(Open to UK / US)

Whether it's too cold, too hot, or too rainy where you are, you can while away the hours with the first two books in the Falling for a Stewart Series: Eloping with the Laird and The Lost Laird from Her Past! Your prize also includes two Scottish blessing bracelets, one for you and one for a friend, and some lovely book swag! Happy reading! 

Terms and Conditions – UK & US entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


25 June 2022

Book Review: A Harvest Murder by Frances Evesham *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of A Harvest Murder by Frances Evesham ahead of the blog tour.

This book was the cosiest of cosy mysteries. It's the kind to curl up with under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate with all the trimmings. It's perfect for a rainy day when you need to get lost in a good story.

A Harvest Murder by Frances Evesham cosy mystery book cover

One unexplained disappearance is strange, but two are sinister.

In Lower Hembrow, an idyllic village nestled beneath Ham Hill in Somerset, the villagers are preparing to enjoy the autumn traditions of the rural English countryside until Joe Trevillion, a curmudgeonly local farmer and the father of six children, vanishes.

When Adam Hennessy, the ex-detective proprietor of The Plough, the village's popular Inn, investigates, he finds ominous undercurrents beneath apparently harmless rumour and gossip.

Meanwhile, a vicious campaign of vindictiveness forces Adam and his three amateur sleuth friends to dig deep into the secret lives of their neighbours to expose the source of a cruel vendetta and prevent another death.

As they uncover the disturbing truth, the friends learn they must also lay their own past lives to rest before they can hope to make their dreams for the future come true.

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Community, secrets, family, mystery, belonging.

Grab yourself a nice hot drink and settle down for a cosy mystery that's all about community spirit. I kind of wish I'd read this in autumn, as the setting is perfect for getting you ready for fall. It may be midsummer but I am ready for cold rain and falling leaves.

I'm pretty sure this is apart of a series, but I don't feel that I've lost out by reading A Harvest Murder by as a standalone. The characters were fleshed out with history and their own stories and dramas. I feel like Adam was the main character, but his narrative time is shared with his friends so much that's it's more an ensemble. And I loved it, I loved the variety of perspectives we saw.

I loved all of the small dramas that thread through the story, the messiness of personal relationships, friendships and family life. So much is happening that you can't help but keep reading - you need to know how it's all going to end.

I loved the setting, the way that the village itself was almost a character, and particularly the hotel. I loved how much care the proprietor Imogen put into the place and its grounds, how generous she was with her time. The setting is so idyllic, and I want to go and have a pint in The Plough.

This is perfect for fans of Midsomer Murders who are looking to get their teeth into a new mystery, and it is very very British. And I will definitely be reading more by Frances Evesham.

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Frances Evesham is the bestselling author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea murder mysteries set in her home county of Somerset, and the Ham-Hill cosy crime series set in South Somerset.

23 June 2022

Book Review: The Forgotten House on the Moor by Jane Lovering *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Forgotten House on the Moor by Jane Lovering ahead of the blog tour.

We already know that Jane Lovering is an auto-buy author for me, so I jumped at the chance to join the tour for The Forgotten House on the Moor despite having the book pre-ordered. And yet again, it was an easy five star masterpiece.

The Forgotten House on the Moor by Jane Lovering book cover

Mystery, mayhem, a manor house and a generous serving of romance... 

When police knock on Alice Donaldson’s door at 4am, she knows the news won’t be good. There’s been an accident involving her ex-husband Grant, and as his existing next of kin, they need her help.

Grant is missing up on the North York moors, but the Grant Alice knew could barely be persuaded out on a walk around the block. What on earth possessed him to go on a hike in the middle of the night?

Alice soon finds herself working with Grant’s girlfriend Jenna and Jenna’s gorgeous ‘Lord of the family Manor’ brother Max, to find out what has happened, and what caused Grant’s accident at The Fortune House – the spooky house out on the moors.

The locals tell all manner of ghoulish stories about The Fortune House, which Alice is not minded to listen to. But before long, things take a turn for the strange and Max and Alice have a new mystery to solve. While all the while Alice can’t help hoping she might meet the requirements to be Max’s ‘Lady of the Manor’ at his country pile, Hatherleigh Hall.


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Source: Purchase | Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, ghosts, history, secrets, mystery, love.


BRB planning a holiday on the North York Moors.

Like all of Jane Lovering's previous books, this is a love letter to the North. The setting is beautiful, and beautifully described.

Alice is such a lovely person, even when it comes to the husband who left her seemingly without a thought. Alice is a bit of a disaster though - when she first makes her way to Fortune House she err... Doesn't do so well. I could feel myself cringe when she said she hadn't brought food or water, and I got a headache alongside her. I loved how welcoming and nice she was to Jenna, and honestly I want both of them as my friends.

Grant is er... Grant. And I can't say much more without revealing spoilers.

I loved the hint of the supernatural, Max's investigations and musings. Max himself is very driven, and very different from Alice. Together they were so sweet at times, and went together so well. And then every so often there'd be a conflict, a challenge, that highlighted the differences between them. But they worked through them in the sweetest ways.

I liked how ghosts as a concept were explored - the types that go wooo, the memories of the past that rear up, the imprints of past relationships. I thought it was very cleverly written.

As always, I also bought the audiobook. Rose Robinson narrates the audiobook and yet again does a wonderful job bringing the characters to life.

The ending was perfect, and this book left my soul feeling full. Jane Lovering has done it again, another perfect book.

I think that the blurb sums this book up perfectly: Mystery, mayhem, a manor house and a generous serving of romance... This book was the perfect read for anytime.
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Jane Lovering is the bestselling and award-winning romantic comedy writer who won the RNA Novel of the Year Award in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music. She lives in Yorkshire and has a cat and a bonkers terrier, as well as five children who have now left home.

21 June 2022

The Way Back Almanac - Half Way Check In

I thought now, the summer solstice, was the perfect time to check in with how I'm getting on with The Way Back Almanac 2022, and share my thoughts on The Way Back Almanac 2023 (because I will absolutely be buying next years too).

This morning I stood in the sea up to my knees and watched the sun rise. I took time to breath and take in my surroundings: the smells, sights, sounds, tastes, textures. My soul felt so full. And this book has been teaching me how to embrace nature even from the city centre, and find that connection again.

The Way Back Almanac 2022

I have to admit I have fallen behind on the book club - some I just couldn't get in to, some I just couldn't make time for. Life is hectic right now and as much as I would love to devote more time to the book club reads, I find that romance is calling my name more often than not. And who am I to turn down a happy ending? I did utterly adore The Outrun by Amy Liptrott though, it gave me a lot to think about and it's a book I will definitely read again.

Even if I am neglecting the official book club reads, I am making more space for books I usually wouldn't read. I have a book on identifying trees and a book about stone circles in Cumbria on the go, and I have a book on the pre-history of Britain and trig points in Northumberland lined up. My non-fiction reading is definitely expanding.

I have had a lot of fun getting out at night too. I have gazed at the full moon and the darkness of the new, I have watched an eclipse, and I have gasped at meteor showers. It's been fun, those night-time adventures.

I've had fun with the recipes, although I've had to modify a few to make them nut free. I must have found the biggest celeriac in existence, because I got six bowls of soup out of mine and still had half of it left.

Making space and time for myself has been really needed this year, and I really needed the guidance.

Now is the perfect time to start thinking ahead to next year. I will definitely be following along again, and I can't wait for more growth and self-care and small magics.

The Way Back Almanac 2023

A contemporary seasonal guide back to nature

by Melinda Salisbury


The Way Back Almanac, the first almanac designed for modern city-dwellers, returns in 2023!

Beautifully illustrated throughout, each month includes sections on stargazing, gardening tips, seasonal vegan recipes, home organization or crafting ideas, digital wellbeing practices, rituals, book club reads, folklore or ancient wisdom as told by modern people from different walks of life, and free space for your own writing, notes or recipes.

  • Harvest your own home-grown micro greens, windowsill radishes or rooftop carrots.
  • Celebrate seasonal citrus with Piña Colada Bars or relieve the heat of midsummer with Lithuanian beetroot gazpacho.
  • Sew your own foraging pouch for May-time foraging or make a bee bath for thirsty July bees.
  • Create a phone photo journal of your favourite patch of local green.
  • Make your own Wake-Up Shower Fizzers or May Day Dew Face Wash.
  • Watch the 120-meteor-per-hour Geminid Shower to see out the year in Way Back style.

This interactive and treasured item will gently encourage creativity, fulfillment and ultimately a way back to yourself.

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If you were to compare 2022 and 2023 editions, there isn't a massive amount that's different - and I like that. The structure is the same, but the content is what changes. There is a different line-up of books for the bookclub, and different interviews and writings.

The illustrations in 2023 are different and if I dare say are even more gorgeous than the first one.

This book would make the perfect gift for anyone in your life who misses natures, loves the small wonders of the world, and wants to experience personal growth.

If you want to experience proper growth next year, then pre-order The Way Back Almanac 2023, read it when you get it, and get planning. If there is one thing I've learned following this year's Almanac, it's that life gets in the way. I want to take part more thoroughly next year so I'll be putting the prep in.

I have included Amazon links about but I would recommend going straight to the author's store where you can pick up a signed copy.

20 June 2022

Book Review: The Vet's Unexpected Hero by Traci Douglass *AD Gifted

Mills & Boon sent me a free e-copy of The Vet's Unexpected Hero by Traci Douglass via NetGalley.

When I saw this on NetGalley last year I requested it straight away. And then life got in the way and for ~reasons~ I ended up not picking this up until now.

But now that I've finally got round to reading The Vet's Unexpected Hero by Traci Douglass I am kicking myself, because it was amazing! And it turns out that it sounded so up my street that as well as requesting a review copy, I bought a copy myself. No regrets about having multiple copies, big regrets about not reading it sooner.

The Vet's Unexpected Hero by Traci Douglass Mills & Boon medical romance book cover

Safety in his arms?

In this First Response in Florida story, vet Lucy is happy with her quiet, ordered life.

Until a tropical storm threatens her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, and the arrival of gorgeous, yet guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder – and desire!


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Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: NetGalley | Review Copy 

5 Word Review: Loyalty, care, danger, love.


This was such  fast-paced romance that I am still trying to catch my breath. I couldn't put this book down and read it in a single sitting.

Lucy's love of animals is a massive part of her - she's so caring and so driven to give that care. I thought the portrayal of her OCD was really well done, and loved how the story explored her daily life with it. She's had a tough past and is out of a bad relationship, and is trying to protect herself.

Jackson is admittedly a bit of a douche at first. He's arrogant and distant, especially when it comes to love. But when it comes to caring for others, he can rival Lucy. He's fiercely protective and full f ambition, always looking to work that bit harder.

Both are so quick to forget to care for themselves, that when they're together and trying to care for the other, it's just so freaking cute. Whether it's Jackson giving Lucy a hug because he thinks she needs one, or Lucy chewing Jackson out about caring for his wound.

This story is so fast paced. The imminent danger really drives the tension up, and the close quarters that Lucy and Jackson find themselves in is irresistible. Theirs is a burning passion fuelled by forced proximity, and instant attraction, danger outside, and their generous caring natures. I am here for it.

I will definitely be reading the next First Response in Florida story Her One-Night Secret, there was the barest peek of Stacy at Luis in this book and I liked what I saw.

She posed a puzzling challenge, and he did love a challenge.

 

16 June 2022

Book Review: The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson ahead of the blog tour.

This book? Just... Wow. It took me completely by surprise and I couldn't have put it down if I'd tried. It's a gripping mystery, with so many twists and turns that you're never quite sure what the truth is.

The Missing Girls of Alardyce House by Heather Atkinson book cover

Edinburgh 1880. When Amy Osbourne’s parents are lost at sea, she is forced to leave her London home and is sent to live with her aunt and uncle at the opposite end of the country.

Alardyce House is depressing and dreary, her aunt haughty and cruel. Amy strikes up a friendship with her cousin Edward but his older brother Henry is just as conceited as his mother, and a mutual loathing develops between him and Amy. 

As her weeks of mourning pass, the realisation begins to dawn on Amy that her aunt has designs on her inheritance and the candidate she favours to be her niece's husband fills Amy with horror. Struggling in this strange, unwelcoming environment, Amy begins to suspect that something isn’t right at Alardyce House. 

There are rumours below stairs of a monster on the loose, local women are being brutally attacked and her cousin Henry is the prime suspect. Alardyce House is full of dark secrets and Amy isn’t sure who she can trust…

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

Content warnings: Misogyny, torture, pregnancy, confinement, death of parents, grief. 

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, loyalty, betrayal, love.

This. Book.

I am struggling to review this book without swearing because it blew my mind.

This book surprised me so much. I thought I knew what I was getting myself in for, and then I picked it up on a Saturday morning and didn't even stop to make a cup of tea. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House was incredible.

Amy goes through so much in this book. She's a pretty messy character, she's complicated and disgraced herself in the past, she's vulnerable and more naïve than she believes. Watching her be manipulated was really something - at every turn no one can be trusted, everyone has their own motivations and secrets. The romances are passionate and steamy, the pace fast from the tension and secrets. I loved the take on the upstairs/downstairs trope, the whole forbidden aspect of one of the relationships really raised the stakes.

I loved that there was the barest thread of the spiritual. It really suited the setting, the time period, and it leant an extra unreliable-ness to the narrative that added to the mystery and how other characters interacted.

This book is dark. It's a dark mystery, and horrible things happen over and over again. Take not of the content warnings. I wasn't expecting it to be as dark when I went in. Honestly, thank goodness for the thread of romance that lightened it up, as unexpected as it was.

And that ending?! I am still shocked.

This was an unforgettable historical mystery and I wouldn't hesitate to read another book by Heather Atkinson. The Missing Girls of Alardyce House was truly outstanding.

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Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre.  Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland.  Her gangland series for Boldwood, set on the fictional Gallowburn estate in Glasgow begins with the title Blood Brothers.

14 June 2022

Audiobook Review: The Change by Kirsten Miller *AD Gifted

HarperCollins Audio sent me a free audio-copy of The Change by Kirsten Miller via NetGalley.

When I finished this book I spent a good ten minutes screaming into a cushion. The Change made me feel things, it made me feel anger and pride, I was inspired. I freaking loved it.

The Change by Kirsten Miller audiobook book cover

The change is coming…

Nessa: The Seeker
Jo: The Protector
Harriett: The Punisher

With newfound powers the time has come to take matters into their own hands…

After Nessa is widowed and her daughters leave for college, she’s left alone in her house near the ocean. In the quiet hours, she hears voices belonging to the dead – who will only speak to her.

On the cusp of fifty Harriett’s marriage and career imploded, and she hasn’t left her house in months. But her life is far from over – in fact, she’s undergone a stunning metamorphosis.

Jo spent thirty years at war with her body. The rage that arrived with menopause felt like the last straw – until she discovers she’s able to channel it.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. The police have written off the victim. But the women have not. Their own investigations lead them to more bodies and a world of wealth where the rules don’t apply – and the realisation that laws are designed to protect villains, not the vulnerable.

So it’s up to these three women to avenge the innocent, and punish the guilty…

The time has come to embrace The Change.

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Source: NetGalley | Review Copy 

Content Warnings: Sex trafficking, misogyny, murder.

5 Word Review: Power, responsibility, justice, revenge, punishment.


This book made me feel things. Mostly anger and sadness, but oh boy is there power in that.

The Change was phenomenal.

January LaVoy does a wonderful job narrating the story - each character had such distinct voices that I was sure it was a full cast audiobook. I am off now to search for more of their work, because they're a new favourite audiobook narrator.

I loved all of the characters, but Harriet was my favourite. She's sick of everyone's shit, she's living for herself, and I am here for it. I am envious of her garden, of her knowledge, and I'm inspired by her drive. She's so driven and subtle (and not so subtle) and I just... When I grow up, I want to be Harriet Osborne. She is the punisher and deserves that title.

Nessa is such a wonderful maternal figure and I really felt for her bearing the brunt of responsibility - she was the one that could talk to the dead and that is such an incredible pressure. She seeks out those who have lost their voice and returns it to them, revealing the ghastly secrets of their deaths. She offers such precious closure.

I love what Jo did for other women. I love that she created a safe space, nurtured it, protected it. She is the protector, and I loved how she channelled her very warranted rage.

This book can get very, very dark at times. It doesn't shade away from violent misogyny, and it explores the dangers of it. I was so glad that there were moments of humour and friendship to lighten the mood, and I smiled and laughed with the characters.

If you were a fan of Big Little Lies or loved The Sanctuary by VV James then you will love this story of power, protection, and punishment.

I can't wait to read more by this author.