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12 May 2021

Book Review: Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland *AD gifted

I was provided with access to a free copy of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland ahead of the blog tour.

I have read the previous books in the series because I am a massive lover of hedgehogs, and I was very excited to see where it went next. And honestly? It was unexpected in the best of ways. Although I was provided with a free review copy, I already had the kindle edition pre-ordered.

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland book cover

Every family has its secrets, and at Hedgehog Hollow there is no exception...

It was always Samantha's dream to run her beautiful rescue centre, Hedgehog Hollow, full-time. But just as her wish comes true, she becomes a victim of her own kindness when she finds herself with a house full of guests - all with their own problems and secrets - looking to her for support.

When her self-absorbed cousin, Chloe, unexpectedly turns up at the farm - swiftly handing over her baby to Samantha to care for – trouble is definitely brewing. Especially as Chloe won’t tell anyone why she’s left her husband, James...

As Samantha juggles new hedgehog arrivals, family dramas and her own health challenges, it soon becomes clear that she needs to start putting herself first for once. Little does she know that life-changing secrets from the past are about to unravel and turn their lives upside down...

Return to glorious Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a heartwarming, emotional but uplifting story of family, friendship and moving on from the past.

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Source: Review Copy | Blog Tour | Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, regrets, love, hedgehogs.

Oh Hedgehog Hollow, how I've grown to love you. The first book in the series was a five star read for me, and it's only got better. So err... Read it. Get it and read it. Get the whole series and prepare to lose your heart to a hedgehog sanctuary, Hedgehog Hollow is a place you will want to visit again and again.

The first book focuses on Samantha, the second book adds Josh, and in the third book we have Chloe joining the narrating characters. I thought that the addition of a narrator with each book was very clever and it rounded out the characters so well. Each has their own distinct voice and it adds another slant to every event. The emotions are heightened, the reader knows secrets before the characters, and it leads to the most delicious building on tension and anticipation.

Samantha has had it rough - so much has happened to her in such a short time, and she is really feeling it. I thought the exploration of the mental impact of her trauma was excellently done and it was very sympathetic in how it was dealt with.

I liked seeing Josh grow and mature. His family issues he has to deal with are pretty extreme, there is so much going on, and he has such a right to be angry. It was amazing to see him be willing to listen and set that anger aside.

Chloe was a big surprise. I wasn't expecting any of the story to be told from her perspective, but so much makes sense now about her. I understand her motivations. I couldn't put this book down as I wanted to know exactly what secrets Chloe had lurking in her past. And I wasn't prepared. Chloe changes so much between the first and last pages of the book and I loved to see it.

This book did at times have a bit of a domestic-thriller feel, especially for Chloe's narration as more of her story was revealed. My heart broke for her, and although I had resented her somewhat in previous books I really empathised with what she's been through. She has her reasons for being the way she is.

The settings of Hedgehog Hollow, the Yorkshire Wolds, and the seaside village of Whitsborough Bay and not only stunning and vividly detailed, but they are almost characters in themselves. The places have personality, they come alive, and I feel like I've been on a bit of an adventure. I feel like I've been there. But oh, what I'd give to sit on the bench and stare out at the meadow.

Hedgehog Hollow really has it all - drama, secrets, messy families and hidden pasts. It breaks your heart and then puts it together piece by piece, sticking everything together with hope and kindness. I have cried and laughed and cried again.

The ending was... Well, not quite what I wanted but in a really good way. But can book four hurry up please?

This book can be read as a standalone - there is an excellent recap at the beginning that gives you the gist of what's happened and the story stands well on its own. But by doing that you will miss out on the most incredible story arc: Hedgehog Hollow is a very special series, and one I hope I can read more of in future. It's one I'll definitely revisit too as the characters have worked their way into my heart.

I wanted to share the burden but where could I start? It was too big, too complicated, too scary.

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10 May 2021

Excerpt: The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

I am very excited today to be sharing an extract from The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec as part of the blog tour! I love it when stories play with Norse mythology, and once I get a copy this book will definitely be featuring in my Norse Gods guide on Instagram.

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec book cover

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this fierce, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda's story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him—and any of his kind—grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love. 

Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin's all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger. 

Angrboda must choose whether she'll accept the fate that she's foreseen for her beloved family—or rise to remake it.

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This is a scene between Angrboda and Loki, I think it perfectly captures Loki's mischievous side and as shocking as it is, it did give me a giggle.

One rainy night a short time later, Angrboda was sitting in her chair by the fire when Loki appeared at the mouth of her cave, drenched and stumbling. He closed the door behind him, facing away from her, his shoulders hunched and shaking. His hood was up. She could not see his face.

“Loki?” she asked hesitantly, standing. “What brings you here so late?”

He shuffled over and sat on the bench, put his head down on the table. His breath came in ragged, wet gasps, and his fists were clenched so hard that his knuckles were white.

Alarmed, Angrboda went over and sat on the bench beside him, carefully placing a hand on his shoulder. He twitched away and lifted his head a bit to reveal a small puddle of blood on the table. Angrboda paled and made to rip his hood back, but he put his head down on his arms and would not move.

“What did you do?” she asked him.

“Nothing,” he said, his voice muffled and odd. “Why do you assume that I did something?”

“Because ‘things’ are generally what you do. It seems to me in the time we’ve known each other that you can’t keep your mouth shut to save your life.” Her scowl deepened as she took note of the blood now seeping onto his forearms. “What happened?”


She put her hand on his shoulder again. “Let me see your face.”

“No.” Loki sat up, his features still hidden by the hood, and at this point Angrboda could see the blood soaking the front of his tunic. “Leave me be.”

“You wouldn’t have come all the way here in the first place if you wanted me to do that.”

“I had nowhere else to go,” he said, very quietly.

Angrboda threw the hood off his head and he turned his face away. She could feel his shoulder shaking feverishly under her hand, and she moved closer to him and said, “I cannot help unless you show me.”

At last, he turned to her so she could see the source of the blood: His mouth was a mangled mess, crudely stitched shut with a thick cord and without much care for evenness. He’d clawed about half the stitches out, and the bloody cord was dangling free on one side.

The breath left her as she stared first at the wounds and then at his green eyes, which were bloodshot and glassy as he looked back at her helplessly. Angrboda didn’t say anything more. She drew her knife—a recent gift from Skadi, a fine blade with an antler handle and a thick leather sheath that hung from her belt—and cut the dangling cord as close to his face as she could, and her nimble fingers began to gently pull the stitches out. Loki winced at her touch, his eyes watering, but he said nothing. When she was done, she had him hold a dry rag to his mouth to stanch the bleeding and told him she would be right back. He stared past her with glazed eyes and nodded.

The rain had let up a bit. She fetched two pails of water from the stream and poured one into her pot above the fire, and when it was hot, she wetted a clean linen scrap and dabbed silently at his mouth. This time, Loki did not so much as flinch.

“Shall I ask what they did to you,” she said at length, “or what you did to them to deserve it?”

“I made some mischief and fixed it, as I’m wont to do. But in the meantime, I simply could not stop myself from shooting my mouth off.” He rolled his eyes. “As you would say.”

She gave him a wan smile as she continued to dab his lips. “Shocking. What sort of mischief was this that you pulled?”

“You know of Thor’s wife, Sif? Well, while he was off drinking with the rest of the gods, I snuck into their chambers while she slept and cut her hair off. She didn’t so much as stir as I did it, but in the morning, you could hear her screaming all over Asgard. And then they heard me screaming as Thor chased me down and threatened to break every bone in my body if I didn’t fix it.”

Angrboda blinked and gestured for him to hold the rag to his mouth. “And why, exactly, would you do such a thing to her?”

“It was more a prank on Thor than a prank on her. He loved her hair.” Loki gave a shrug, but his voice sounded oddly pained as he added, “I thought it would be funny.”

“I question your sense of humor,” Angrboda said dryly. She crossed the room to her potions cabinet, where she got to work making a fresh healing salve. “Among other things. What happened next?”

“I lost a bet. I went to the dwarfs seeking new hair for Sif and got two more items out of the deal. Then I went to another pair of dwarfs and bet them they couldn’t make items as fine as the first set, but the gods liked the second set better. If it weren’t for my own boundless cleverness, I wouldn’t have a head right now.”

“How so?”

“I bet my head. They couldn’t have my neck, you see. So they settled on sewing my mouth shut with an awl.” 

03 May 2021

Book Review: Nurse's One-Night Baby Surprise by Louisa George *AD - gifted

Mills & Boon provided me with a free review copy of Nurse's One-Night Baby Surprise by Louisa George through their Mills & Boon Insiders program.

I challenged myself to read three Mills & Boon romances across the different collections over the long weekend, and I read five. So it was a challenge for me to decide which to review on here! I settled on Nurse's One-Night Baby Surprise by Louisa George because it gave me the warm fuzzies and I loved the deeper themes of family and loyalty.

Nurse's One-Night Baby Surprise by Louisa George Mills & Boon Medical cover
Doctor Off-Limits:

The father of her baby!

Doctor Fraser is the last man nurse Briana should be attracted to – she’s kept her feelings for him under wraps for years. But when he moves to her Lake District village with his troubled teenage daughter, Bri wants desperately to help them. Yet, after her chemistry with Fraser flares out of control, Bri must tell him the most shocking news of all…

Source: Review copy | NetGalley

5 Word Review: Family, grief, trust, love, belonging.

Content warnings: Medical content, grief, bullying, cancer, death of a parent.

I absolutely raced through this book. I loved it.

Fraser's family is messy, and it always has been. His previous relationship was a hot flash of lust and although he was always a father to Lily, he had a very separate life from her mother. The backstory for the characters was deep and heart-breaking, and it lead such a touching finale.

I loved the chemistry between Briana and Fraser. The narrative is split between them so we get to see their intimate thoughts about each other. It was pretty sweet. The two of them have a twinge of guilt, but then there is an undeniable attraction. I loved how they came together, and how they dealt with what happened, even if there was a small amount of avoidance and some very understandable wariness.

The relationship between Lily and Briana was excellent - guilt and resentment changed to a grudging respect and even, I think, love. Briana got to truly become Lily's godmother and really helped her through some difficult times. Lily grows up a lot and by the end feels a little like an old soul. It was lovely to see her mature.

The way family is explored is beautiful. There is nothing conventional, but there is a great amount of love and respect, and a distinct lack of judgement. There is a running bullying storyline that I thought was dealt with with a great amount of empathy, and resolved in a wonderful way.

There is also an emphasis on consent and boundaries and safe sex, and I am here for that in all romance novels.

I'd happily read this again, and read more about Fraser and Briana's antics as medical practitioners in the rural community. I loved the warm, fuzzy feels I got from Nurse's One-Night Baby Surprise.

30 April 2021

Book Review: The Single Mum's Book Club by Victoria Cooke *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Single Mum's Book Club by Victoria Cooke ahead of the blog tour.

If you're after your next klutzy romantic heroine with a outrageous group of friends and hilarious shenanigans, then you've come to the right place.

The Single Mum's Book Club by Victoria Cooke book cover

Three friends, three single mums, one quest to find love…

It’s 8:30am and I’m already utterly exhausted. My son has lost his football boots, my daughter is ready for school dressed only in her vest and knickers, and of course, my 1-year-old has filled his nappy for what feels like the tenth time this morning.

As for my husband? He’s decided marriage doesn’t suit him, and well… buggered off.

All hope of ‘me time’ has but dwindled to sipping half a glass of wine whilst shouting after the kids. But everything is about to change.

I’m taking control of my life! I’ve joined… a book club.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Wow… live a little.’ But my fellow book clubbers, Amanda and Janey, are my lifelines. They understand the daily struggle because they’re mothers too.

And in between the prosecco, Doritos and googling everything about Mr Darcy on SparkNotes, they’ve convinced me to go on a date with my boss.

A single mum of three looking for romance… what could possibly go wrong?

A gloriously funny and relatable read for anyone who just needs a little more ‘me time’. Fans of Why Mummy Drinks and Has Anyone Seen my Sex Life? will snort with laughter at this utterly hilarious and heart-warming read.

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy | NetGalley

5 Word Review: Friendship, responsibility, toxicity, family, love.

This book is like a balm to the soul. It'll make you want to read even more, although it'll probably have you reaching for prosecco and doritos too. And you'll likely want to scoff some fish and chips by a river.

Steph is an excellent mum, although she does have a lot of mummy-guilt that she definitely hasn't earned. She is trying to hard to keep the family together and happy, and has definitely neglected herself. At the beginning of the book, she is so isolated and alone that it's difficult to see how she could meet anyone, let alone start a book club. Her journey as a character is amazing and uplifting, and a little bit heart-breaking. And seeing her find new friends? I loved it.

Basically this book is me proclaiming JANEY, I LOVE YOU every time Janey pops up. She is an absolutely marvellous person, and her kindness and generosity made me want to cry, especially given how she's treated by her husband. Amanda is a delight as well - at first you think she's really refined and a bit uppity but then all is revealed. We meet a blast from the past in Emily, one of Steph's old friends who joins the fold. Even the side characters have phenomenal growth.

I want these ladies as my friends, please. I want them to feed me wine and ice cream when I need it, to be my shoulder to cry on.

I loved the book club shenanigans, and how they admit to watching the film or TV show rather than reading the books - I have done that a few times too when I just can't get in to a book. And I loved how discussions of the books quickly devolved into general discussions about life or feelings. I think this author book clubs because this is exactly my experiences of every book club ever.

When it comes to Mike, I wanted to call in Whole Man Disposal Services so that they can just take the whole man away. He is trash, personified. I hated him instantly, and the more I saw of him, the more my hackles went up. The entitled man child needs a boot up the arse. Then you get to just after a third of the way through and things take a turn, and eh I'm still not sure how I feel. He definitely grows up but he's still a trash person for how he's treated Stephanie.

Then Edward? Well, it's messy and that's exactly how it should be. He's an incredible guy, if a little bit too nice for his own good. I loved his openness and willingness to try, his kindness and generosity. He's almost too good to be true but it works so well and causes some issues in its own right.

Steph does have some PTSD due to an incident in her past and I thought it was explored excellently and the execution was very sensitive. I liked that we saw Steph's coping mechanisms and avoidance, and could feel her panic through the page. It was great to see the other characters help with this too - there is no "miracle cure" there is just care and understanding.

Something I really liked was the wide range of genres of books that were read and brought up by the characters. I do wish that the books had been more diverse, is that a weird thing to wish of a fictional book club? It was just a tiny thing that niggled for me, but they were very much book club picks like The Handmaid's Tale, Jane Eyre, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

This book has a great epilogue, that left my heart bursting. The main character reminiscing on her past ideals for a family was *chefs kiss*.

This was a laugh out loud read, and empowering to boot. It left me with a smile on my face and had me thinking about my own self-worth and insecurities. I loved that the characters challenged themselves. The Single Mum's Book Club is a pretty emotional read, and I enjoyed every second.

I never thought it possible to resent your own wishes.

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28 April 2021

Book Review: Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales *AD gifted

Hachette sent me a free electronic review copy of Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales via NetGalley.

I had heard a lot of buzz about Perfect on Paper, but when Martha at Read By A Redhead shared their spoiler free look review I was sold.

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales book cover

Her advice, spot on. Her love life, way off.

Darcy Phillips:
Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes - for a fee.
Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
Really cannot stand the new Australian jock at school, Alexander Brougham.
Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke...who is in love with someone else.
Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

But when Brougham catches Darcy in the act of collecting letters from locker 89 - out of which she's been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service - that's exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she's behind the locker, some things she's not proud of will come to light, and there's a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who's already fallen for him once? What could possibly go wrong?

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Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Romance, friendship, relationships, family, love.

I utterly adored the rep in this book - it was done excellently and it wasn't afraid to confront problematic behaviour. It's such a fun read as well, it could have been really heavy with all that it was dealing with but it kept it light with some funny scenes and some great family interactions with Darcy and her sister.

I loved the exploration of love as a concept, and how messy relationships can be at any level, especially when attraction is added in to the mix. Darcy's secret keeping skills are something else, I don't think I could do it, and it does get her into some pretty messy situations. I loved seeing her trying to figure out what to do as an agony-aunt and what to do as a friend, as those writing assume they're anonymous. And I loved it when Darcy got it wrong.

Darcy and Brougham have a bit of a miscommunication-trope moment, and it kickstarts everything. I love this trope, and although it can be frustrating at times the miscommunication did not last long - Darcy is pretty good at saying what needs to be said some of the time.

I am here for this mess. I love it.

I liked that Darcy wasn't always right and that she sometimes acted emotionally. She had some pretty bad ideas and made some massive mistakes, but that's life and it's realistic. She can give excellent advice, but can struggle with it herself. I loved her stance on boundaries and consent and how this made her own actions a little problematic at times.

There were small moments where class discrepancies were explored and I really appreciated that. It was a whole deeper layer to the story and it hit me right in the feels.

This was excellent. It was beautiful. I want to read it again.

26 April 2021

Book Review: Spring on Rendezvous Lane by Angela Britnell *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Spring on Rendezvous Lane ahead of the blog tour.

I simultaneously had wanderlust and the most intense wish to be part of a tight knit community, all while wanting to eat delicious food. It made for a lot of snacking, not gonna lie.

Spring on Rendezvous Lane by Angela Britnell book cover

Can even the most seasoned traveller find a home on Rendezvous Lane?

‘Community spirit’ is not a phrase in travel junkie Taran Rossi’s vocabulary. As a former ‘third culture kid’ and now spicy street food connoisseur and social media influencer, he’s never really stayed in one place long enough to feel part of a community. And that’s just the way he likes it.

But a springtime stint house sitting for his grandmother on Rendezvous Lane in East Nashville could lead to a long overdue wake-up call. With the help of single mum Sandy Warner and her young son Chip, can Taran come to understand that sometimes it’s not about the place – it’s about the people?

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Obligation, travel, family, community food.

I am so hungry right now.

The descriptions of food in this book? Oh my god, I was in hungry person hell. It all sounded amazing, it had my taste buds tingling as I read and I'm sure I even drooled at one point.

Sandy is an incredible character, and she was so believable. I loved her caution and wariness, especially when it came to disrupting Chip's life and introducing new people. She's an excellent mother and loves her son so much. I loved the dynamics when Chip and Sandy met Taran - that instant connection.

And I loved how that first spark took time to develop and grow. Every time they come together, they become a little closer and more trusting. It was really sweet to watch.

I loved the way Taran changed throughout the story, and how his wanderlust changed into a need to be part of a community. Don't get me wrong, I was itching to jump on a plane myself as I was reading, but even so I wanted to be there too, surrounded by everyone. It felt really special to read about something that felt like something special. I almost forgot sometimes that this was a small town in America - it felt a bit like an English village! The setting, the community, was almost a character in itself.

This is a slow burn, with an emphasis on communication. It was refreshing to read, and to see the relationships strengthen and grow. They felt all the more real for it.

I will definitely be reading more b Angela Britnell, Spring on Rendezvous Lane was absolutely excellent, and truly heart-warming on a grand scale.

You know I wouldn't change it for the world don't you? Whoever said you can't have it all was an idiot.
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21 April 2021

Book Review: The Knight's Runaway Maiden by Nicole Locke *AD gifted

I was provided with a free copy of The Knight's Runaway Maiden by Nicole Locke ahead of the blog tour.

After reading The Maiden and the Mercenary by Nicole Locke last year, I knew I wanted more. So I pounced on the chance to join the blog tour for The Knight's Runaway Maiden, and I was not disappointed by what I read. If anything, it was even better!

The Knight's Runaway Maiden by Nicole Locke book cover Mills & Boon Harlequin historical

She hates all Warstones...

Can this one win her love?

Balthus of Warstone secretly loved Séverine, even though she was unhappily married to his brute of a brother, then she fled six years ago.

Now her husband is dead, Balthus must find Séverine and reclaim her sons as his father’s heirs.

Balthus’ desire is to claim her too, and despite his battle-maimed arm and her distrust of his family, he’ll prove he’s a suitor worthy of such a courageous woman...

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, danger, loyalty, passion, love. 

Having read one of the previous books (although they can all be read as standalones) I thought I knew what I was getting myself in for. But The Knight's Runaway Maiden absolutely blew me away.

This is a story about loyalty and love. Séverine is such a fantastic character, and I loved the contrast of the loyalty-of-friendship she had from previous servants against the loyalty-of-fear that those servants once had for Ian and the Wartone family. It made their fierce protection of Séverine all the more powerful.

I loved Séverine. For all that she was a naïve young lady, she is resourceful and generous and knows now what she wants. I loved the care that she showed for everyone around her, and how loyal she was to those that had helped her.

Balthus is a bit of a Hot Cross Bun. He's nice to look at but a bit of a mule, and sometimes it was frustrating that he didn't just use his words - this story wouldn't have existed if he'd just opened his mouth. His argumentative and withholding ways did mean that the stakes were raised though - I wouldn't have it any other way.

The attraction between Séverine and Balthus grows from a tiny spark years before. It's a slow burn that feels almost like a flaming romance. The plot drives the intensity of their passion, and the edge of danger that lurks around every corner makes for a pretty thrilling lead.

The setting is marvellous - we see a lot of Séverine's world and the hard work she has put in over the years to evade the Warstones.

The Knight's Runaway Maiden is a fantastic medieval historical romance, the world truly came to life. I'd love to read more about Balthus and Séverine, and see where life takes them next.

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Giveaway to Win 5 x Paperback copies of The Knight’s Runaway Maiden
(Open to US and Canada Only)

* Terms and Conditions – US and Canada 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.

19 April 2021

Book Review: The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy

As soon as I finished the previous book in the 200 Harley Street series I picked up The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy. This is a series that is definitely easy to race through, and to be honest I don't want it to end.

The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy 200 Harley Street Mills & Boon Medical romance book cover

A Royal surprise…

Injured war hero Prince Marco is desperate to be back in the field, fighting alongside his men. However, healing comes first, and he finds he’s in good hands with physical therapist Becca Anderson - the woman he once shared a magical forbidden summer with long ago..!

Becca can’t believe the boy she once fell for is actually a prince! Marco never told her...

But Becca has secrets of her own - and her fear of their discovery makes staying out of the royal limelight essential!

Resisting her heroic soldier prince, however, may be harder than she thinks...

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, love, responsibility, understanding, fame,

Content Warnings: Medical procedures, war, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual abuse.

Take one hot cross bun of a royal and one fiercely driven physio therapist, add a shared and secret past,  then a dash of secret royal, mix in some regret... And sit back and enjoy The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy.

Marco is desperate to prove himself, to be more than the backup heir to a small European kingdom. He's loyal to his men, and proud of his work, and as much as the media tries to play him off as a playboy he's so much deeper than that. I loved his smoulder, and that Ethan nicknamed him Zorro almost straight away.

Poor Becca has been through a lot - with no family of her own she has hidden a past that she feel shamed by and built her own little family at 200 Harley Street and the rehabilitation centre she volunteers at. She is such a kind soul, generous and truly nice. My broke for her and what she's been through and I was so glad that this was a romance so I knew she'd be happy at least for now.

I loved the dual narrative, that we got to see the story from both Becca and Marco's perspective. It added to the frustration, it built the sexual tension, and it gave a proper reason for the miscommunication.

This is the first of the 200 Harley Street romances that didn't feel like a medical romance. I love a secret royal, and I love how cleverly it was presented - the power imbalance was acknowledged and worked though, and I am here for it.

I could happily read far more about this couple, especially after the heart-warming epilogue.

Next up, The Enigmatic Surgeon by Annie Claydon.

14 April 2021

Book Review: Recommended For You by Laura Silverman

When my favourite romance bookshop Words & Kisses had a winter sale, the first book I dropped in my cart was Recommended For You by Laura Silverman. I gotta be honest, I picked it for the cover. Isn't it gorgeous? And I can't resist a book about books either.

And do you know what the best thing is? It was utterly amazing. It lived up to that gorgeous cover, and then some.

Recommended For You by Laura Silverman book cover

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape.

When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan.

Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. Jake may be cute (really cute), and he may be an eligible Jewish single (hard to find south of Atlanta), but he’s also the enemy, and Shoshanna is ready to take him down.

But as the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, books, friendship, belonging, love.

This book made me cry. And sigh with happiness. And it filled me up with the warm fuzzies.

It made me miss bookshops too, and I can't wait until I can get back out there and into one. I want to browse!

This story focuses a lot on the "flaws" of the characters, and as much as there are amazing sub-plots all through it's very much driven by the characters themselves. Shoshanna is very sure of herself and a bit rigidly set in her ways. She's judgmental and bossy and I love it. Her self-assurance, her self-confidence, they blew me away. She wants to fix everything, she wants everything to be OK even as her life crumbles around her, and she tries her hardest. Her assumptions aren't always correct (in fact, they're often astonishingly incorrect) but I loved her all the more for it.

When she meets Jake, the clash is excellent. There are instant sparks, and instant dislike, and I love how their relationship slowly cooled and then grew. Shoshanna's assumptions about Jake lead to a lot of drama and resentment. I loved the way the enemies-to-lovers trope was played here.

This book made me pretty hungry. There is a big focus on food, it is very much the love language of some of the characters and it's how they show affection to their friends and family. This book goes perfectly with a large plate of snacks and a pitcher of cool lemonade.

I would say there is a very minor content warning for ablism, but I thought it was dealt with amazingly on page by the characters. It made me love them all the more.

I thought it was in for a cosy, light-hearted read. And I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is deep, and it hits hard. I wanted to cry for Shoshanna and give her a big hug, and remind her of how much she is loved and valued.

This is an adorable YA romance that will melt even the steeliest of hearts. It will fill you up with kindness and delicious sounding food and then top it off with the cutest of romances. It was perfect.

12 April 2021

Book Review: The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley ahead of the blog tour.

Right from the start, The Mersey Mistress hit me in the feels. This book truly has it all, it's a rollercoaster of emotions, and I could not put it down. I am excited to be sharing my review to help close the blog tour.

The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley book cover

1910 Liverpool Docks.

Ruby Swift is a hard-working, straight-talking woman of substance who does not suffer fools gladly,

But when tragedy strikes on a bitter Christmas Eve, Ruby and her beloved Archie take matters into their own hands when a trusted employee’s house is mysteriously engulfed by flames and lives are lost.

Orphaned by the fire, Ruby welcomes heartbroken sixteen-year-old Anna Cassidy, into her home and family but circumstances conspire against them and she is unable to save Anna’s twelve-year-old brother Sam Cassidy, who is sent by the Church to Canada as a Homeboy. 

Can Ruby help mend a broken heart and can these two children ever be reunited or is there another higher game in play?

Mersey Mistress takes you on a journey to another time, another place. From the banks of the River Mersey to the frozen waters of the Canadian Saint Laurence River.

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, trust, kindness, belonging, love.

This story broke my heart and then filled it to bursting. Then broke it again. And refilled it. It's a bit of a ride.

There are threads of romance from the start of this story, winding together through the years. Ruby and Archie are the cutest couple ever, and their love is so strong.

Ruby has such a large heart. We are first introduced to her in the prologue, and it is pretty heart-breaking. But she pulls herself up and does her best for herself and everyone around her. She is kind and generous and properly a good person, despite what life has dealt her. She has a fiery attitude and a take-no-nonsense outlook, and it was a breath of fresh air.

What happens to Anna is devastating. Christmas Eve is perhaps the worst day of her life, what could go wrong went wrong catastrophically, and yet she is a bright spark. Although things get pretty desolate for her, I loved how she rallied and grew from her trauma.

And Sam? Oh, poor Sam. He's so positive and full of life, and honest and caring young man who doesn't deserve what happens to him. I read a lot of his parts of the  story on the edge of my seat, hoping and praying that things would work out.

The setting is vast, stretching across years and the Atlantic Ocean. I loved the contrast between the Docks at Liverpool and the open space of Canada, and I liked the contrast between Anna's home life and Ruby's business and home.

I have already read some of Sheila Riley's books under the Annie Groves name, and I will definitely be reading those under her own name.

This is a perfect read for all fans of historical saga stories, and fans of Rosie Goodwin.

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Sheila Riley wrote four #1 bestselling novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves and is now writing a new saga trilogy for Boldwood under her own name. She has set it around the River Mersey and its docklands near to where she spent her early years. She still lives in Liverpool. Her new trilogy began with The Mersey Orphan in September 2019.

08 April 2021

Book Review: Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw

Do you know how excited I was for Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw?

I love vampire stories, I grew up reading Point Horror and the Night World books, watching Buffy. This book was a total nostalgia trip and absolutely excellent.

Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw book cover

New Orleans Fang Fest, 1995.

Mina’s having a summer to die for.

Mina arrives in New Orleans to visit her estranged sister, Libby. She loves nothing more than a creepy horror movie and can’t wait to explore the city’s darkest secrets - vampire tours, seedy bars, spooky cemeteries, disturbing local myths...

Mina lands a part-time job at a horror movie mansion and meets Jared, Libby’s gorgeous housemate and fellow horror enthusiast. But the perfect summer bliss is broken when she stumbles upon the body of a girl with puncture marks on her neck, clutching a lock of hair that suspiciously resembles Libby’s.

Someone is replicating New Orleans’ most brutal supernatural killings. Mina must discover the truth and prove her sister’s innocence before she becomes the victim of another myth.

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, vampires, horror, belonging, love.

This book? It's bloody brilliant.

From the very first page, I was in love with everything about Mina's story.

I love the messy family relationships, Mina and Libby have a lot of resentment for each other, they clash, but there is still some love deep down. At times it reminded me a lot of me and my sisters, because put us in a stressful environment and there will be a clash. Maybe some hair pulling. Regardless, I loved the slow build of their relationship back up, the desperation not to lose each other again, the sadness and reluctance to talk about their past.

There is an element of romance, and although there is a small age-gap that made me feel a teensy bit squiffy, I was here for it. If they were all just a couple years older I wouldn't have any issue at all, and I loved the chemistry. It was a pretty slow burn but once it got going *sigh*.

The writing feels kind of timeless - this could be happening at pretty much any time in the past 100 years, the plot is not constrained by technology, and I don't think it would change too much if it were set 30 years later. And I loved it. I loved the small hints and clues and the nostalgia about the setting. Whether it was bath pearls or Opal Fruits, I was misty-eyed for my childhood. I even looked out the Night World books once I finished, does anyone else remember counting down the millennium reading them and then there never being a tenth book?

As I read, I couldn't stop myself from tabbing out quotes or scenes that hit me particularly hard. If I'd annotated this book I wouldn't be able to reread it, and I ended up using an entire packet of page tabs. It was worth it.

I loved Mina's passion for vampires and all things horror. This book will give you an excellent TBR and have your watchlist full. It will probably also have you wanting to dress up as a horror character.

In terms of horror, this book did give me a pretty vivid nightmare when I was working on my review and a quote feature post (next week, guys), but I wouldn't say that it's especially gory. The action is very Buffy-esque, it has that fantasy element to it, and I found it easy to disconnect from the horror as I was reading and focus more on the feelings and psychological side of what was happening. Even if there is A Lot of blood and some pretty grisly murders.

A small thing that I thought was very clever was the whispered contrast of Whitby and New Orleans, how Mina's world in New Orleans was so vastly different from the grey and drizzly North of England, even if we barely saw her home. And that they are both places filled with vampire lore? Loved it.

Mina and the Undead was so, so good. It reminded me of why I love horror, even if I am a total wimp. Mina's passion for all things scary is contagious, and she was the perfect protagonist for the story.

I am desperate for a follow up. I want to know what happens next So Badly, and I'd happily read stories of their exploits at the manner for the fun of it. I want to see where they go from here after that wild ending.

05 April 2021

Book Review: American Surgeon in London by Lynne Marshall

As soon as I finished the previous book in the 200 Harley Street series I picked up American Surgeon in London by Lynne Marshall. This is a series that is definitely easy to race through.

American Surgeon in London by Lynne Marshall Medical romance Mills & Bon

Plastic surgeon Mitchell Cooper used to have it all...

But when his life collapsed, he and his little daughter Molly moved to London to rebuild their lives – and Mitchell sealed off his damaged heart.

Yet after one star-studded night with fellow surgeon Grace, Mitchell finds himself daring to live again! 

Only Grace is hiding painful secrets of her own…

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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, love, belonging, acceptance, .

Content Warnings: Medical procedures.

American Surgeon in London starts with a magical night that had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

Grace is a fantastic, layered character. I loved her insecurities, the parts of herself she wanted to keep hidden, her passion for her job. Also I'm pretty jealous of the apartment she stays in!

Mitchell is pretty bitter and guarded, although he tries to hid his emotions. He feels a bit jaded at times, but it absolutely makes sense once you learn his story. And he is devoted to Molly.

Molly was such a bright spark! As much as the small child was a side character, her scenes were so sweet. She'd a kid that's been raised right, despite her past, and she really came to life on the page. She felt so real.

I feel that this story very quickly brought on the intimacy. After fun and innocent the night they shared it was easy to watch the rapport build between them and the trust start to flow. And when they finally came together? It was excellent.

This was probably my least favourite book so far in this series, but it was still an excellent read. I just didn't like Mitchell's (understandable) qualms and hypocrisy when it comes to plastic surgery. 

Next up, The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy.

01 April 2021

Series Crackdown 11.0 Readathon Prompts and TBR

Series Crackdown is a readathon where you attempt to read those unread series on your bookshelf, between Friday 2nd of April to Sunday 11th April. Sign-ups are open until Monday 5th of April, so there's plenty of time to join in.

I'm going to be using this readathon to try and tackle the books on my shelves that I already own and have not read yet, and as I'll be dipping in and out of series of all lengths (and standalones too) I'll be joining the Beasts team lead by Charlotte.

This time, there is even a reading challenge on The Storygraph to help you keep track! It means I don't have to make my own spreadsheets and charts (although who am I kidding, I will be).

Series Crackdown 11.0 Readathon Prompts

The Prompts

One book can tick off up to three prompts, and I'll be using the Team Read The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon to fulfill three of them. Because fantasy, has gorgeous maps in it, and is first in a series.
  • A book about mental health
  • POC Author
  • Children's Book
  • Featuring a key worker
  • Multiple POVs
  • A book released a year ago
  • Featuring communication technology


Honestly I think I'm gonna wing it mostly! I have set out three books that I'd like to tackle, the last book is anyone's guess. Here are the books and the prompts they fit.
  • Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw
    • A book about mental health
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
    • Author of colour
    • A book released a year ago
  • The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy
    • Featuring a key worker
  • Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales
    • LGBTQIA+
    • Featuring communication technology

As you can see, I'm only hitting four of the prompts, so take a look at my TBR on The Storygraph and recommend something to fit, I beg of you.

Sprint Schedule

One thing I love about this readathon is that there are daily sprints in the evening to help you get your reading done. I also love that there are chances to earn extra Moo Points by taking part, and there are sometimes flash prompts and sprints to join in with too.

Series Crackdown 11.0 Readathon Sprint Schedule

Will you be taking part?

31 March 2021

March Bookish Wrap Up

Some of the titles mentioned in this post have been provided to me for free these will be shown with a *.

It's been a long time since I did a monthly wrap up, but I really enjoy reflecting back on what I've read and I love reading other people's wrap ups. So here I am!

I now have all of the super handy stats from The Storygraph to help me put this together, and I admittedly spent a lot of time just looking at the pretty charts.

March 2021 Bookish Wrap Up stats

March Bookish Wrap Up

March was a err... Weird month. I read a lot, especially romance. I am absolutely loving reading romance at the moment, it brings my heart so much joy to read those happy endings. I also tried to read some more non-fiction, but I generally find it hard going and managed 3 non-fiction audiobooks. Recommendations are appreciated!

Books Read: 18
Pages Read: 5880
Average Rating: 4.21
Most Read Genre Romance

Books I Read

Eight Pieces of Silva by Patrice Lawrence
Wedlock by Wendy Moore
The Language of Kindess by Christie Watson
The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore *
The Island by C.L. Taylor *
The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert
The Single Mums' Book Club by Victoria Cooke *
How to Make a Plant Love You by Summer Rayne Oakes

Books I Added To My Shelf

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth
This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria
The Scarlet Harvest by Kate Ashbrook *
Not Our Summer by Casie Bazay *
Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead
The Endless Skies by Shannon Price *
A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow *
Red Tigress by Amelie Wen Zhao
Where the Road Leads Us by Robin Reul *
Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales *
The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley *
Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley *
Bone Crier's Dawn by Kathryn Purdie
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia *
Red Sky Burning by Teri Terry *
The Single Mums’ Book Club by Victoria Cooke *
Nellie's Heartbreak by Rosie Clarke *

Books I'm Currently Reading

Red Sky Burning by Teri Terry *
Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Book Events I Attended

Fantasy Worlds: Ben Aaronovitch, Namina Forna & Patrice Lawrence
Mina and the Undead by Amy McCaw Launch

What did you read in March?
What are you reading now?

27 March 2021

Book Review: High Heels in the Highlands by Liz Hurley *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of High Heels in the Highlands by Liz Hurley ahead of the blog tour.

Not me on another fictional trip to the highlands! Once travel is allowed I have money saved especially for a stay and all of these highland romances are making me even more excited for it.

High Heels in the Highlands by Liz Hurley had me weirdly aching for the Gretna Green services and all of the tourist tat, I am definitely buying myself a tartan blanket.

High Heels in the Highlands by Liz Hurley book cover

Clementine’s swapped a London flat for a Scottish castle – but will she get her fairytale ending?

After discovering they were heirs to an enormous fortune, the lives of the five Hiverton sisters have never been the same. 

While oldest sister Ariana settles in Norfolk, Clementine heads up to the remote Scottish Highlands to move into the castle that forms part of their estate. Not bad for a girl brought up scrabbling for money in a tiny house in East London…

However, Clem quickly finds out that Ruacoddy Castle is falling apart, the neighbours – especially grumpy young farmer, Rory - are suspicious of her and the eccentric housekeeper, Ottoline, is still in residence.

But as Clem finds herself growing closer to the village community, even growing closer to Rory and forming an alliance with Ottoline, she realises that life in the Highlands might just be the change she needed. 

She just needs to find out if Manolo Blahnik make wellies…

Take a trip to the gorgeous Scottish countryside with this utterly feelgood, romantic and hilarious read – fans of Jenny Colgan, Holly Martin and Cressida McLaughlin will love this!

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, secrets, art, love, scenery.

Oh, take me to the highlands. Take me to Ruacoddy Castle.

High Heels in the Highlands is an excellent and truly laugh out loud romantic comedy. Reading it feels a bit like watching a Working Title film, with that picturesque look on the world. Whether it was London, a remote locked-in pub, or an ancient castle, I could picture everything perfectly.

I loved the vast, sprawling family, and I want to read a story about them all! This is the third book in the Hiverton series although they can absolutely be read as standalones and out of order. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Liz Hurly so that I can read about each of the five sisters and the future of their immense estates. I'm particularly excited to hopefully read more about Paddy, who I think is the subject of the second book, as I am intrigued by her.

This book plays a lot with classism and rich versus poor. It's even a major plot point in a very creative way, and I love how the author explored it. There are delves into the duties of landowners, the prospects of people in remote communities, and how a name isn't everything. It was beautifully done.

Clem has a massive change in scenery from the first pages to the last - and not just the scenery around her. I loved the character development, and how as much as she started off brash and confidence, she mellowed quite a bit as she found her place and her people and a pace of life to suit her. I loved her enthusiasm about everything she cares about.

Is it weird that one of my favourite characters was a side character? Otto is A Lot and I loved her for it. She's had a hard life, with hidden thrills and lots of heartbreak, yet is fiercely loyal and supremely talented. I loved every moment of Otto and Clem clashing, and I loved how their relationship developed beyond begrudging respect.

I have to say that I took a fancy to the main romantic interest Rory from the off, even if Clem wasn't so enamoured. He's rough and ready and kind and generous, he's unafraid of hard work and doing what needs to be done, and is genuinely nice. Sweet Rory.

I will absolutely be reading every other book in this series. If they're even a fraction as funny as High Heels in the Highlands I'll be roaring with laugher.

Tomorrow would be a better day. She would follow her parents' example and find the fun in every bad moment.
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