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31 May 2021

Book Review: The Highlander's Secret Son by Jeanine Englert *AD gifted

I was provided with a free copy of The Highlander's Secret Son by Jeanine Englert ahead of the blog tour.

Another Monday, another excellent Mills & Boon! I loved The Highlander's Secret Son by Jeanine Englert, the passion and tension and danger and love... It was perfect.

The Highlander's Secret Son by Jeanine Englert book cover Mills & Boon Historical Highland

His first love

Now his sworn enemy…

What is Fiona MacDonald doing on the run across his lands? With a wee baby as well!

Brandon once loved this woman with all his heart―until her family killed many of his clan. Now, as the new Campbell Laird, he must make sure she pays the price for her betrayal.

But how can he claim his vengeance if what she says is true..? That her child is his son and heir!

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

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

When I picked this up, all I knew that I was in the mood for a highland romance. The Highlander's Secret Son ticked all of the boxes, and left me thoroughly satisfied.

I love a secret baby trope - and this one is revealed in such a dramatic way! Right from the start we can what Fiona and Brandon's personalities are, and I loved Fiona's sass.

Fi and Brandon have history - and it's messy. I loved to see them work through it and overcome the misunderstandings of their past. There had been a huge betrayal, and each resented the other, but the spark between them as still there and it was great to see it rekindled. I loved the slow rebuilding of trust and the acknowledgment that the love had never really left.

I enjoyed how the narrative switches between Fiona and Brandon - we get to see both sides of the story and the reasons behind the misunderstandings. We got to see the deeper side of the politicking and clan loyalties.

The setting is wonderful. It is sweeping and epic and grand, and yet it still felt intimate at times. The changeable weather brought the setting further to life.

The Highlander's Secret Son is a fantastic highland historical romance, where the setting came to life and the characters worked their way into my heart. It is definitely one I will read again.

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Giveaway to Win  A bundle of Highland Treats
(Open INT)

Prize Contains:
1) One signed paperback copy of The Highlander's Secret Son.
2) Bookmark and magnet book swag.
3) Scottish Blessing Bracelet.
4) Sterling Silver "Spread Your Wings and Fly" Necklace.
5) Red Journal.

Terms and Conditions – Worldwide 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.

30 May 2021

Book Review: Rose’s Ever After by Chrissie Bradshaw *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Rose’s Ever After by Chrissie Bradshaw ahead of the blog tour.

I read Rose’s Ever After by Chrissie Bradshaw right after Rose's Choice, and let me tell you, it was A Journey. The stories together are so intense and emotional, but can easily be read on their own.

Rose’s Ever After by Chrissie Bradshaw book cover

Rose has a promising future stretching out before her until a cruel twist of fate seizes it. Will she overcome her heartache as she tries to build a new life?

Rose returns to the safe haven of Linwood colliery and her warm-hearted family. As she settles into life in the colliery rows, Rose makes an astounding discovery and a long lost family member appears who makes demands on them all..

Chrissie Bradshaw’s emotionally gripping historical reads have a northern Catherine Cookson vibe with a modern attitude. ‘Rose’s Ever After’ follows on from ‘Rose’s Choice’ yet it can be enjoyed as a stand alone novel

Read ‘Rose’s Ever After’ to follow the twists and turns of Rose’s eventful life. Will the rugged path ahead, full of challenges, lead her to a new ‘happily ever after’?

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Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, love, heartbreak, horses, Northern.

When I picked this up I was in the mood for something Catherine-Cookson-esque and this completely fit the bill. If anything it exceeded my expectations.

Rose has to endure so much, and it broke my heart at times. But the strength to deal with what she is dealt is incredible. She's one of those inspiring saga characters who fill your soul with hope, and as hard as her story was at times I loved the journey.

In terms of romance, I felt that it was barely there which is not something I've come across often in sagas. It certainly made the story stand out, although I do wish there had been a little more attention to it at the end, because I'm a soppy so-and-so.

As bleak as Rose's Ever After was at times, the writing itself was somehow warm. It was a cosy story even as I wanted to cry at what was happening, it filled me with hope even as I despaired for what life had thrown at Rose.

This book is made for reading on a Sunday with a cup of tea. Just make sure you have some tissues. There's something about it that's just perfect for picking up between peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables and roasting a dinner. I found it a book that I could quickly get lost in, it was easy to fall back in to the story if I had to put it down (and I didn't want to put it down).

This is a perfect read for all fans of historical saga stories, and fans of Catherine Cookson. If you had to compare it to any Catherine Cookson books I think it would be The Round Tower, it's got those vibes about it and is set in a similar period.

Rose's Ever After can easily be read as a standalone, although the sheer emotional impact of reading both books back to back is incredible.

Rose’s Ever After by Chrissie Bradshaw blog tour banner

Chrissie, 2016 winner of the Romantic Novelist's Association Elizabeth Goudge writing trophy, is a seasoned tea drinker who writes contemporary and historical family sagas.

Chrissie has always loved match-making a book to a reader. Writing the kind of book she loves to read takes this a step further. When Chrissie is not writing or reading, you will find her walking her dog on the beach, travelling or spending time with her family and friends. She would love to hear from readers.

29 May 2021

Book Review: The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter *AD gifted

I was provided with access to a free copy of The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter ahead of the blog tour.

It has been a while since I read a thriller that gripped me quite so much, but The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter was a book I struggled to put down. And it really surprised me.

The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter book cover Avon Books

Every marriage has its secrets…

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now - what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

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Source: Review Copy | Blog Tour 

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

I didn't know much about The Serial Killer's Wife when I started it - I hadn't read the blurb but I'd been hooked in by the by-lines on the cover. They're saying he's a monster. And they're saying she knew. Like... How intense? And honestly, they're an excellent indicator for the rest of the story.

What I do have to say before I get started is that this book has a whole load of sexual violence and misogyny. It touches on the rough sex defence, there is non-consensual sex, and it can get pretty graphic at times as the narrative switches between the murder and his victims.

The writing in this book is marvellous. Whether it's characters you truly loathe, twists that leave you gasping, or a constant trepidation about what will happen that sets your heart pounding, The Serial Killer's Wife had me on edge and totally gripped at all times. The narrative is fast and switches between characters, you get to see the story from many angles.

The villain of the story, the main antagonist, is phenomenally written. I truly hated him, I hated his casual misogyny, his arrogance, his sheer belief that he was better than everyone else. I half expected to see him lurking on some weird internet red pill forum, if that gives you an idea as to his character. He was honestly vile, and it was shocking how real Tom felt.

The main character had me absolutely wrapped around her finger for most of this book. I felt so sorry for her, my heart ached for Beth and Poppy. Beth is wickedly complex, with so many layers to unravel, and I loved it. She's an unreliable narrator of the best calibre.

The twist? Oh boy, it took me completely by surprise. In hindsight, there were clues, as there always are, but I didn't piece any of them together. It was masterfully done, and I love how many questions it opened up. The Serial Killer's Wife is a book that will keep you on your toes, and you won't be able to stop thinking about it long after you've finished.

The Serial Killer's wife is outstanding, a true page-turner. I can't wait to read more of Alice Hunter's books because if they're even a fraction as good I will be blown away.

I got to marry him. Have his baby. 

I always considered myself the chosen one.

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23 May 2021

Book Review: Nellie's Heartbreak by Rosie Clarke *AD gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Nellie's Heartbreak by Rosie Clarke ahead of the blog tour.

This was what I needed - it's been a while since I last read a wartime saga that ripped out my heart and squished it back in with quite so much ferocity. Nellie's Heartbreak by Rosie Clarke was excellent.

Nellie's Heartbreak by Rosie Clarke book cover

As a small child, Nellie Peace was always dreaming but sensed her mother’s rejection.  

Abandoned and sent into service at Beaumont House at an early age, Nellie is lost and alone until she meets the unpredictable and reclusive artist, Lucas Harrington and falls in love with him.

This unlikely association between master and servant is encouraged by Lucas’s gentle natured Aunt Alice as Lucas sees something unusual in Nellie and is compelled to paint her. 

Broken promises lead to inevitable heartbreak and Nellie flees Beaumont House in disgrace for London. 

Alone again, Nellie must learn to live and fend for herself and her new-born child.

Can Nellie win a second chance of happiness and can she solve the mystery of her mother's tortured past?

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Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

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

I love a good historical saga, and Nellie's Heartbreak by Rosie Clarke is a good historical saga.

I loved Nellie, and loved how she changed as the story went on. My heart broke for her at the beginning with the way her mother acted towards her. I loved how Nellie was so strong in spirit - she didn't let anything get her down. I think Nellie could be one of my favourite ever saga heroines. Seeing her tackle every obstacle thrown her way was incredible. She has so much love in her heart and goodness in her soul.

I liked the exploration of class, the contrast between Nellie's home life, and the life of those in the big house was really well done. I loved how everyone had their small prejudices and judgements, and how the relationships of the characters bloomed around them. The flaws of the characters really brought them to life on the page.

There is a small thread of mystery throughout the story and I thought it was an excellent addition. It rounded out the story, provided so many answers, and had me gasping at times.

This is a perfect read for all fans of historical saga stories, and fans of Janet MacLeod Trotter.

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Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire. Rosie’s brand new saga series, Welcome to Harpers Emporium began in December 2019.

21 May 2021

Book Beginnings: The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter *AD gifted

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter book cover

I'm half relieved, half annoyed when I hear the insistent knocking on the front door.

I was sent a free review copy of The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter by the publisher.

The cover has a gorgeous colour scheme, I like the contrast of the bight yellow against the teal wall and highlighted hair.  I like the way the tagline is displayed, the emphasis on different words with the colour.

I love how this first line really shows the main character. I like how the irritation and worry come through in only a single line. It had me hooked immediately and even though I'd started the first chapter just to get a feel of the book I ended up reading for an hour.

They could turn on me just as quickly if the worst happens and he is charged.

This is from page 56 in my finished copy.

When I first picked this book up I read way past this point. The writing is gripping, and it's a different perspective than any other serial killer thriller I've read.

I love how the story is showing Beth's fear. She's terrified and it comes across in every aspect of her narration. Her future is uncertain and I think this quote really shows that.

About the Book

Every marriage has its secrets…

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

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What are you reading this week?

19 May 2021

Book Review: The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe *AD gifted

Hachette sent me a free electronic review copy of The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe via NetGalley.

I went in to this book completely ignorant. I hadn't read the description, I hadn't read reviews, I hadn't seen much buzz. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe book cover

Soon to be a Netflix film starring Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown - this must-read psychological thriller, perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying, will leave you guessing until the final page.

As an ex con artist, Nora has always got herself out of tricky situations. But the ultimate test lies in wait when she's taken hostage in a bank heist. And this time, Nora doesn't have an escape plan...

Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley - the girls she's been.

Nora didn't choose a life of deception - she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape.

For five years Nora's been playing at normal - but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes... awkward). Now it will take all of Nora's con artistry skills to get them out alive.

Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is - that girl has been in hiding for far too long...

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Source: NetGalley, Review Copy

5 Word Review: Danger, family, heist, friendship, love.

I went in knowing nothing, and I was blown away by The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe. It was incredible and had me gripped. For the first time in a long time I read a book in a single sitting, I really could not put it down.

I loved the way the timeline in this book jumped about - it added to the tension and kept the pace fast. I really enjoyed the writing style, I thought it was very clever in how the past was revealed and how that in itself upped the tension further.

I could very easily picture this as a TV drama. Like an ITV crime drama spread over three nights, you know the kind.

I loved the bi rep, the messy relationships - there were so many messy relationships. Even Nora's relationship with herself is complicated, and I enjoyed seeing her layers peeled away and her past revealed. She is one tough cookie and has been through a lot. And she's a bit messed up because of it, understandably. Iris and Nora's relationship in this fraught situation was incredible - the passion and care really came through.

Speaking of Nora - I love her. I loved how fierce she was, I love her style, and how she has to Get Shit Done even when she's almost immobilised with her period. I loved her flippant references towards her menstrual cup (woo for cups in books) and how she even used it against the villains. And when her secret was revealed I wanted to cry for her.

The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe is excellent. It's thrilling 

17 May 2021

Book Review: Deadly Justice by Nico Rosso

Deadly Justice by Nico Rosso is my first ever Mills & Boon Heroes story. I spotted it as a free read on the Mills & Boon website and I thought why not? It's only eight chapters, so perfect for when you need a romance hit but don't have much time.

Deadly Justice by Nico Rosso book cover Mills & Boon Heroes

Dani Oliver owes her life to Ryan Kimura after the EMT rescues her from the hired guns hot on her trail.

As she and her former lover are hunted across the familiar territory of their rugged California hometown, Dani feels that same tug of powerful desire.

But once in the sights of a deadly smuggling ring that leaves no survivors, can they find a way out and seize their second chance?

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Source: Free

5 Word Review: Danger, history, integrity, justice, love.

I've never read a Mills & Boon Heroes before. Which is pretty wild because I love thrillers, and I especially love thrillers with a dash of romance. The two are a heady combination and the tensions are always heightened. This book is no different.

Now I have regrets, because I absolutely loved Deadly Justice, and it is only the first of the many Heroes books I'll be reading.

I loved Dani and Ryan's shared past - the way they still cared for each other, really. I loved their familiarity and the fierce loyalty between them. What I especially loved was the care they held for each other. The have a deep connection and it shows, even if they've been apart and leading separate lives for so long.

The ending is truly thrilling. The pace builds and builds to a breath-taking climax, and the last few words left me with a massive grin.

This is a very subtle romance - it's more about the feelings than the physical and I really enjoyed it. For only eight chapters, it was astonishingly deep and heart-warming, even as danger haunted Dani and Ryan. We got to see a snippet of a side character, Captain Sarah Gold, and I would love to read more about he - she intrigued me.

Deadly Justice is short and intense, and it had my heart racing. I'd recommend it to everyone.

He had to say it that way, like he knew every part of her, in the same way she understood him, and how well they’d fit together.

14 May 2021

Book Beginnings: Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey *AD gifted

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey.

Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey book cover

There's a bird in the store. A bird.
I was sent a free review copy of Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey by the publisher.

Not going to lie, I requested this book because of the cover.

Just look at that cover. I have such a thing for US YA romance covers - they're always so cute. I love the colour scheme and I love the designs on the book spines, so many lovely little details. I love how it immediately gives a hint that this isn't a straight up romance. I am very excited for an enemies to lovers bookish book.

The first line gives away nothing, except perhaps an edge of panic from Madeline.

These books have the most charm, but the least chance of being sold.
This is from page 56 in my review copy.

The excerpts don't really give much away at all for this book!

So far though, it's a mix of plot and character driven, and I love getting to know the characters. Madeline is bit messy and I love her for it.

About the Book

You’ve Got Mail meets Morgan Matson in this smart, banter-filled romcom with a bookish twist.

Nothing will stop Madeline Moore from taking over her family’s independent bookstore after college. Nothing, that is - until a chain bookstore called Prologue opens across the street and threatens to shut them down.

Madeline sets out to demolish the competition, but the guy who works over at Prologue seems intent on ruining her life. Not only is he taking her customers, he has the unbelievable audacity to be… extremely cute.

But that doesn’t matter. Jasper is the enemy and he will be destroyed. After all—all’s fair in love and (book) war.

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What are you reading this week?

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.