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25 February 2022

Book Review and Giveaway: A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley *AD Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley ahead of the blog tour.

You know when you read a book at exactly the right time, and everything about it just fits perfectly with your mood, and you fall head over heels into the story? That.

A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley book cover Mills & Boon Historical Romance

A penniless governess

And the dour Laird of Ardmore

Lydia Farnham must travel to a remote Scottish island to work for widower Alasdair MacDonald, who doesn’t trust her or her unconventional teaching methods!

Yet as his daughter flourishes, so, too, does the intense connection between Lydia and Alasdair.

Only she should know better than to fall for the handsome laird when it could leave her without a job, or a home…

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

5 Word Review: Family, learning, beauty, love, community.

You know when a book comes to you at just the right time? A Laird for the Governess was exactly what I needed when I picked it up, and I didn't even realise.

Poor Lydia. She tries her hardest, but... Men. Need I say more? I loved her. I loved her compassion and generosity, how much she genuinely cared for her charges and their long-time wellbeing. I loved the support and encouragement she gave to Mairead.

Alasdair has been hurt massively by his past, and although understandable I did think his treatment of Lydia based only on her looks was very harsh. That said, the distance this initially drove between them led to a sweet slow burn, a gentle growing of friendship and affection. I loved the blurred lines, the quiet moments, and the outbursts of passion (even the outbursts weren't all that happy).

This was a very gentle romance, a slow burn. It was much more about the characters working their way into each others hearts than it was about that instant spark - despite there being instant mutual attraction. I loved the share resistance and wariness, the way Lydia and Alasdair held back under the influence of their past experiences.

This book is set on the very cusp of the Regency period, the tail end of the Georgian reign, and I loved how history and politics worked their way into the story so casually. Speaking of the setting, I loved the island community, the sense of belonging and the huge amount of love and loyalty shared by the characters. It made me ache for the Highlands and Islands.

This was a beautiful romance, that filled me heart with all of the best feels. I can't wait to read more of Catherine Tinley's books.

A Laird for the Governess by Catherine Tinley blog tour banner

Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first book, Waltzing with the Earl, won the Rita Award for Best Historical Romance 2018, while Rags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021 as well as the 2021 HOLT Medallion for Best Historical Romance.
She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at catherinetinley.com, on facebook, twitter, and instagram.


Giveaway to Win Two signed copies of A Laird for the Governess
(1 x UK/Ireland Winner, 1 INT Winner)

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.


17 February 2022

Book Review: Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

An internet stranger kindly bought me Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron from my wishlist, and having seen how much my friend Charlotte loved it, I was super excited to pick it up.

And I have regrets about how long it took me to read this book, I loved it so freaking much and wish I had read it sooner.

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron


It's 200 years since Cinderella found her prince, but the fairytale is over.

Sophia knows the story though, off by heart. Because every girl has to recite it daily, from when she's tiny until the night she's sent to the royal ball for choosing. And every girl knows that she has only one chance. For the lives of those not chosen by a man at the ball . are forfeit.

But Sophia doesn't want to be chosen - she's in love with her best friend, Erin, and hates the idea of being traded like cattle. And when Sophia's night at the ball goes horribly wrong, she must run for her life. Alone and terrified, she finds herself hiding in Cinderella's tomb. And there she meets someone who will show her that she has the power to remake her world .

An electrifying twist on the classic fairytale that will inspire girls to break out of limiting stereotypes and follow their dreams!


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Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Expectations, power, love, family, friendship.


This twisted, dark Cinderella inspired fantasy was my absolute jam. I loved how it took the Cinderella tale and ran with it, imagined curses and the cruelty of men and how they would twist it and it for control.

I loved how Sophia fought against her work. She knew that the life she was being moulded to was not for her, and not for her heart. I loved her love for Erin, and my heart broke for the both of them after the ball, when Erin's future was decided for her. Sophia is angry at her world, and justifiably so, and I loved seeing her rebel

I loved the action of the story, the pace was constantly running just as Sophia and later Constance were. When they reach the middle of the woods, the pace changes somewhat, but WOW. Without giving spoilers, I found it even more gripping .

I loved the way the story twisted and how even as I could guess at some things it kept me on my toes. Just when you think that Cinderella is Dead cannot get any more shocking, you turn the page and gasp yet again.

Kalynn Bayron is an author to watch, and I've already added This Poison Heart to my TBR. If their other books are even half as good as their debut, they'll be amazing.



16 February 2022

First Impressions: The Rebel Daughter by Miranda Malins - AD *Gifted

It has been over a year since I read The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins, but it was a story that stuck with me. So I'm excited today to finally have The Rebel Daughter in my hands, and I'm sharing a sneak peak.

I have to admit, I have expectations when it comes to this book. After how much I loved the author's first book, I was excited to delve back into the past with their extraordinary historical stories, and the English Civil War era. I was not a massive reader of this era before 
I am always the first in my house to wake. Before Mother or Father, before my brothers and sisters. Before Grandmother, who cannot sleep more than three hours together and never after five in the morning. 
I even beat the cockerel in the barn.

Just look at this first line. Straight away we have a glimpse of Bridget's life, of her character. I can tell straight away that I am going to love reading her story. I have no doubt that just like Frances in The Puritan Princess, she is going to be a fierce force of nature as she grows into herself.

I am looking forward to the complicated dynamics and political intrigue, the drama of the time. I can't wait to get properly stuck in.

Again, this book has an utterly gorgeous cover. I love the small details and the vibrant colours.

I loved the depth of information you get at the beginning of the book. There is a full breakdown of the cast of characters, their allegiances, the Cromwell family tree in 1643. It really helps to keep the innumerable Thomas and Mary's in line in your head.

The Rebel Daughter by Miranda Malins

A country torn apart by war. A woman fighting for her future...

Ely, 1643. England is convulsed by Civil War, setting King against Parliament and neighbour against neighbour. As the turmoil reaches her family home in Ely, 19-year-old Bridget Cromwell finds herself at the heart of the conflict.

With her father's star on the rise as a cavalry commander for the rebellious Parliament, Bridget has her own ambitions for a life beyond marriage and motherhood. And as fractures appear in her own family with the wilful, beautiful younger sister Betty, Bridget faces a choice: to follow her heart, or to marry for power and influence, and fight for a revolution that will change history...

A gripping evocation of the Civil War, and the hidden stories of women at the heart of power...

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14 February 2022

A to Z of Romance with Mills & Boon

Last year, Mills & Boon partnered up with Collins A-Z to find out where the most romantic places are in Great Britain, and then published five short stories set in some of those places.

I read them last year and loved them, and in the spirit of Saint Valentine I decided to re-read all five with my morning cup of tea, and start the day with a big goofy grin. And let me tell you, I have no regrets. It was a lovely morning.

I'll keep my reviews short and sweet, just like the stories, but I'll drop some hints about themes and tropes to expect. How could you possibly resist these free reads?

A to Z of Romance with Mills & Boon Alone on Love Lane by Virginia Heath, Bound For Bliss Avenue by Rachael Stewart, Forever on Hug Bridge by Maya Blake, Reunited at Valentine's Lane by Nina Milne, Welcome to Cupid's Alley by Annie O'Neil


Historical, World War 2, Second Chance

How dare my heart come so close to breaking on Valentine's day. This super short historical story really packs a punch. I loved the hopeful themes, although content warning for grief (partner). Charlie and Rita's love was so pure and heart-warming.


True Love, Contemporary, Meet Cute

I want to go to this store please! I loved the concept of some lore behind the powers of the store when it comes to love, I thought it was fascinating. I really want more of Edward and Fortune's story, and Millie's too. I loved what I read.


Modern, Contemporary

Such a lovely concept, somehow managed to be a relatively slow burn despite being only a few pages. Perfect for a pick me up, although content warning for grief (partner). Holly is such a generous person, and I loved how much of her personality shone through in so few pages. I'm definitely rooting for Holly and Gabriel.


True Love, Contemporary, Second Chance

Is that a second chance at romance I see before me? This was such a lovely little story that made me want to be by the sea, although content warning for grief (maternal figure). Rosie and David really do deserve their second chance and all of the happiness that comes with it.


Medical, Contemporary, Meet Cute

I loved the instant spark of attraction, and the mutual respect between the characters. Some of it was definitely driven by their professions, and I would love to read more about Maggie and Dylan, and especially the match-making Kay. The street is almost a character in itself.


A to Z of Romance with Mills & Boon Alone on Love Lane by Virginia Heath, Bound For Bliss Avenue by Rachael Stewart, Forever on Hug Bridge by Maya Blake, Reunited at Valentine's Lane by Nina Milne, Welcome to Cupid's Alley by Annie O'Neil


Who can resist a free romance?

Especially when they're the perfect length for enjoying with a cuppa. Mills & Boon select a new title from one of their authors so that you can discover new stories, locations, or genres for free. It's how I fell in love with the Medical and Heroes ranges. All you need to do is create an account and you're good to go.

What are you reading this Valentine's day?


10 February 2022

Book Review: Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall - AD *Gifted

I received a free copy of Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall ahead of release. And boy was I excited to read it!

To be honest, I was sold the moment I read the tagline. A northern steampunk adventure? Sign me right up. Clockwork Magpies was everything I anticipated and more. And you can bet that I bought my very own copy on release day too.

Clockwork Magpies by Emma Whitehall A Northern Steampunk Adventure


By day, Ida is a quiet, standoffish maid in the employ of spoiled Lucinda Belmote. By night, she is the infamous sneak thief known as the Rat Prince, terrorising the wealthy inhabitants of Loxport; especially Lucinda’s lecherous suitor, Lord Devon Casterbury.

Soon the boundaries between her dual lives begin to blur, as her mask begins to drop around a delightful waitress and a charming jeweller who both insist on befriending Ida. All the while she is thrust into a conflict surrounding new and dangerous materials that could upend the order of the city, land her behind bars or worse: in Lord Casterbury’s employ.

A thrilling romp through the Steampunk city of Loxport, Clockwork Magpies is a story of found family, crimes plotted over tea and scones, and the sinister power of glowing gemstones.

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Source: Review Copy | Purchase

5 Word Review: Northern, science, friendship, steampunk, crime.


Make yourself a pot of tea, cut yourself a slice of cake, and cosy up for one heck of an adventure.

Straight from the off, I loved Ida. I loved her drive and her secrets, the way she balanced both of her lives. I loved how she cared for her employer Lucinda, and the mutual respect between them.

You know that trope of oblivious-queer-girl? Ida is one oblivious girl, and I loved the flirting efforts of those around her. The slow build of friendship between Ida and Edith was so lovely, if taught with tension at times. Then there's Clem, seemingly always there and guessing her secrets.

I loved the "generally northern" setting. And I'm not gonna lie, I totally imagined a lot of it as Newcastle. I imagined Albertian Plaza a lot like Newcastle's Exhibition Park, the exhibition space was the Hancock Museum of my memories before it was modernised. I loved the northern turns of phrase and how it meant I was even more enveloped by the world.

The only bad thing about this book was that it left me wanting more. Clockwork Magpies was SUCH A ROMP in the best of ways, a page-turner that I couldn't put down. I loved the action, the fast pace, the way it tugged at my heart-strings.

This book would be absolutely perfect for fans of Six of Crows and Gail Carriger's Finishing School series. I want more Rat Prince adventures, especially now that Ida doesn't have to hide quite so much.


 

04 February 2022

Book Review: Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss by Liz Fielding - AD *Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss by Liz Fielding ahead of the blog tour.

I wish it was summer already, and when it is I will absolutely be picking this gorgeous romance up for a reread. It begs to be read outside on a hot summer's day with an ice cold drink, and it is sure to fill you with heart-warming hope.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss by Liz Fielding

An escape to the country 

A kiss to reawaken them both…

Honeysuckle Rose finds much-needed solace in her great aunt’s garden.

But her peace is threatened by her distracting and brooding neighbour, Lucien Grey.

Once a high-flying news reporter, Lucien returned from the front line a changed man. Honey can see that beneath his frosty exterior is a heart waiting to be thawed.

Can their unexpected but impossible-to-ignore midsummer kiss be the beginning of a fresh start…together?

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy

Content warnings: PTSD, Medical Treatment

5 Word Review: Nature, family, community, garden, love.


This book was like cottagecore but make it contemporary romance. And I am freaking here for it. I loved it so much, I just about sighed with contentment with every page, and I know I will read it time and again.

Honeysuckle Rose is introduced as she shouts "Murderer!" at our hero. And I do have to say, it was deserved if a little over the top. But Honey is passionate and fierce, and when we meet her she is angry. I loved her passion for what she does, and how she gives everything she does her all.

I liked how Lucien pushed Honey to find herself and realise what she truly wants, and I loved how Honey helped Lucien come to terms and cope with his PTSD.

I loved the themes of community in this book. As much as the setting is a small village in the country and rural life is at the front an centre, we also see those micro-communities that spring up around your workplace or shared situations. I loved how trauma was explored, especially Lucien's PTSD. And for all that Honey used to be a nurse, she needs to start taking care of herself.

I'm already imagining how I can re-wild my own garden. We pretty much leave it to its own devices, but now I'm planning plots of wild flowers around the borders. If it were up to me I'd let it go full meadow, but I need access to the washing line and like a wee burn on the solstice and equinox.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss was such a lovely, gorgeous read. It's one I will definitely pick up again. I would love to read more about this gorgeous couple.

Redeemed by Her Midsummer Kiss by Liz Fielding

Best selling author, Liz Fielding worked as a secretary in Africa, the Middle East and the UK before writing full time. Her award winning books are published worldwide in multiple languages and she has more than 15 million books in print.

Katie Fforde wrote, when honouring her with the Romantic Novelists' Association's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019 said - "Liz Fielding's books, with their warmth, humour and emotion, have charmed millions of readers. She is a true star of the romantic fiction genre..."


03 February 2022

Book Review: Love Lessons in Starcross Valley by Lucy Knott - AD *Gifted

I was provided with a free ebook of Love Lessons in Starcross Valley by Lucy Knott ahead of the blog tour.

Messy queers? Yes please.

Love Lessons in Starcross Valley by Lucy Knott book cover

With the recent breakdown of both her ten-year relationship and her parents' marriage, thirty-five-year-old Marnie Barnes no longer believes in love. To give her life the shake-up it so clearly needs, she books a ticket to Canada.

Thousands of miles away from her home and her twin sister, she struggles to have the life-changing experience she dreamt of – until she meets Nova, a dinosaur-loving space nerd with a penchant for living in the moment. After a wonderful day together in Vancouver, they part ways. Though gutted, Marnie thinks it's proof that she's not meant to find love and tries to move on with her life.

But a few months later, back in England, she bumps into someone achingly familiar. As Marnie navigates her new feelings, takes chances and makes the first move for the first time in her life, can she regain her faith in love – and find it for herself?


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Source: Blog Tour | Review Copy


5 Word Review: Love, family, 


Grab coffee and a doughnut, as this story will make you crave both.

I may have found Love Lessons in Starcross Valley difficult to get into for the first five or so chapters, but after that I was hooked. If I'm honest it was that it al kicked off at a hockey match and sport is a massive no for me personally. Luckily the story doesn't stay at the meet cute, and I'm so glad I stayed with this messy queer romance. I couldn't wait to pick this up after work each evening.

This is one heck of a slow burn. After the first introduction to the romantic interest, she doesn't pop up again for a long time.

This story is very much about the emotions of the characters, rather than what happens to them. Marnie's life falls apart around her, her world drops out from beneath her feet, and it's one emotional life.

I loved how the grief of a lost relationship was explored. Breaking up is hard, and especially after you have invested a lot into the relationship. I loved how the break from Marnie's family was explored too, how much you can miss your family, and it hit me right in the feels. I don't think I could ever live so far away from my family.

Watching Marnie build her own family out of her new friends was such a great thing to read as she rebuilt her life and found herself again.

I love this story, and I will absolutely be reading more by Lucy Knott.

Love Lessons in Starcross Valley by Lucy Knott


Lucy Knott lives in Manchester England, just around the corner from her childhood home and less than five minutes from her twin sister Kelly and brother in law Chris. She loves spending time with her family in addition to writing, reading and cooking Italian food. When not buried in a book, scribbling in a notebook or having dance parties for one to Harry Styles, she works as a teaching assistant where the majority of her days are spent talking about dinosaurs and making Godzilla out of just about everything, from Blu Tac to cardboard boxes, and she loves every minute.

If she could up and move to the stunning Amalfi Coast, San Francisco or live in a cabin surrounded by fairy lights, she would, but for now she's quite content writing about those magical places. Lucy loves to write uplifting stories that she hopes will put a smile on your face, fill your heart with joy, encourage you to embrace the awesomeness that you are and believe that any dream is possible.