Another week of cracking new releases. It’s an eclectic mix so hopefully you’ll find something that suits.
(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)
The Forgotten Orphan by Glynis Peters
A world at war
A secret from her past
A chance to be together…
A moving and compelling historical novel about love, second chances and resilience in the darkest of times.
Abandoned when she was tiny, Maisie Reynolds was separated from her twin brother and forced to grow up in Holly Bush orphanage – a place where she has never known love or kindness.
But with the world at war and Hitler’s devastating bombs coming ever closer, fate has other plans for Maisie and a secret from her past changes everything.
When she meets handsome Canadian paratrooper, Cam, Maisie learns that love might not be lost to her after all – but not before her past life and D Day bring a tragic twist to her happiness.
The Villa of Dreams by Lucy Coleman
Seren Maddison left behind a rainy Britain to follow her dreams and live and work in Lisbon. The vibrancy, the beautiful scenery and the sunshine, made her fall in love and she knew, instantly, that it would be her forever home.
International artist Reid Henderson has homes in Lisbon and London. Following his painful divorce, his dream is to turn his luxurious home into an art school and gallery.
When Seren and Reid first meet there is an instant attraction, but they are both people who have been hurt, and each have dreams that are so far apart, they aren’t even on the same page.
Can they enjoy one summer of happiness together, as life bestows a gift of memories to cherish for the rest of their lives? Or is their destiny to chart a path into the future, in a home where dreams can come true?
Seren and Reid may be about to discover that love is as much about what you are prepared to give up, as what you are prepared to keep hold of.
The Empress by Laura Marinez-Belli
It’s 1863. Napoleon III has installed a foreign monarch in Mexico to squash the current regime. Maximilian von Habsburg of Austria accepts the emperor’s crown. But it is his wife, the brilliant and ambitious Princess Charlotte, who throws herself passionately into the role. Known to the people as Empress Carlota, she rules deftly from behind the scenes while her husband contents himself with philandering and decorating the palace.
But Carlota bears a guilty secret. Trapped in a loveless marriage, she’s thrown herself into a reckless affair. Desire has blinded Carlota to its consequences, for it has left her vulnerable to her sole trusted confidante. Carlota’s devious lady-in-waiting has political beliefs of her own—and they are strong enough to cause her to betray the empress and join a plot to depose her from the throne. As Carlota grows increasingly, maddeningly defenseless, both her own fate and that of the empire are at stake.
A sweeping historical novel of forbidden love, dangerous secrets, courtly intrigue, and treachery, The Empress passionately reimagines the tragic romance and ill-fated reign of the most unforgettable royal couple of nineteenth-century Europe during the last throes of the Second Empire.
The Cousins by Karen M. McManus
The Storys are the envy of their neighbours: owners of the largest property on their East Coast island, they are rich, beautiful, and close. Until it all falls apart. The four children are suddenly dropped by their mother with a single sentence:
You know what you did.
They never hear from her again.
Years later, when 18-year-old cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story receive a mysterious invitation to spend the summer at their grandmother’s resort, they have no choice but to follow their curiosity and meet the woman who’s been such an enigma their entire lives.
This entire family is built on secrets, right? It’s the Story legacy.
This summer, the teenagers are determined to discover the truth at the heart of their family. But some secrets are better left alone.
Christmas Island by Natalie Norman
Cosy up in front of a fire and discover Christmas the Norwegian way…full of romance, cosy traditions and hygge!
In the bleak midwinter…
A really frosty wind is making Holly’s life absolutely miserable
After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined.
Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine.
Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.
She Lied She Died by Carissa Ann Lynch
Best friend. Teenager. Murderer.
A young girl found dead in a neighbor’s field.
A fourteen-year-old who confesses.
Just a child herself, could Chrissy Cornwall really be a cold-blooded killer?
Years later, the murderer is getting out and Natalie Bryers, unable to forget the night of Jenny’s murder, still has questions.
Did Chrissy lie then or is she lying now? Did she really kill Jenny? And if so, will she kill again?
When Darkness Falls by Emma Salisbury
Winter is approaching
A world gone mad
Two murdered girls
The body of a teenage girl is found two days after being reported missing. A discussion with the pathologist reveals that another girl was found in similar circumstances only her murder never made it into the press. When DS Kevin Coupland looks into the earlier case he finds out-dated views and social stereotyping have thwarted the investigation from the beginning.
Along with Acting DS Chris Ashcroft he lifts the lid on a world where victims are defined by their postcode, where certain crimes are written off as a ‘lifestyle.’ Yet beneath a layer of public indifference lies a world far darker than Coupland thought possible.
Just when Coupland thinks he’s getting closer to the perpetrators a child goes missing, blowing everything he thought he’d discovered out of the water.
The darkness keeps getting deeper…
The Beloved Children by Tina Jackson
Three young women; Chrysanthemum, Rose & Orage are thrown together on the stage of Fankes’ Theatre during the closing days of the Second World War performing as The Three Graces.
It’s there they come under the spell of wardrobe mistresses Dolores and Janna – a chance encounter that will guide and change all of their fates forever.
Set in the dying days of vaudeville theatre and laced with mysticism, fortune tellers, ghosts, and evocative descriptions of the closing days of the War – The Beloved Children will literally make you laugh out loud and perhaps even shed the odd tear.
Heading Over the Hill by Judy Leigh
Growing old disgracefully and having a grand old time…
Billy and Dawnie may be in their seventies, but that won’t stop them taking chances or starting again. Their grown-up children have families and lives of their own, so now it’s Billy and Dawnie’s turn, and a life near the sea in Devon beckons.
But the residents of Margot Street (or Maggot Street as Dawnie insists on calling it), don’t quite know what to make of their new neighbours. Billy’s loud, shiny and huge Harley Davidson looks out of place next to the safe and sensible Honda Jazz next door, and Dawnie’s never-ending range of outrageous wigs and colourful clothes, means she’s impossible to miss.
As new friendships are formed and new adventures are shared, Billy and Dawnie start winning their neighbours’ affection. And when life teaches them all a terrible lesson, the folks of Margot Street are determined to live every day as if it’s their last.
Ordesa by Manuel Vilas
Ordesa – a small Spanish town in the Pyrenees – is where our narrator was born, a place his father loved dearly, a place suffused with memories. Now, forty-six years later, he returns to the valley with his own children on a summer vacation. His parents are dead, his marriage has ended and he’s struggling to piece together the bits of himself.
Single and living in an apartment he hates, clinging to snatched moments of quality time with his apathetic children, newly sober and with his career on the wane, the ghosts of the narrator’s family besiege him, but also bring him hope. Out of despair, he writes this chronicle, this homage, this memoir of his family: grandparents whose photos were never taken, whose funerals were never attended, parents unable to show their love. Maybe the tragedy of life itself is not death, but truly realising the importance of family only once they’ve passed. Perhaps this trip to Ordesa can help him fall in love with life – his life – once more.
New Year’s Eve by J G Murray
New Year’s resolution: Murder…
When Hayley and Ethan move into Palace Gardens, they feel their luck has finally changed. No more run-down flats in dodgy areas. But behind the exterior of this beautiful Victorian house, things are less than picture-perfect, and the tight-knit community is unwelcoming.
When Hayley befriends the woman next door, no-one is pleased. Least of all the man from upstairs. The one who watches them all from behind his window. Then they receive an invite for a New Year’s Eve party. But what seems like a friendly gesture, proves to be anything but…
Every Last Secret by A R Torre
Welcome to the neighborhood. Watch your husband, watch your friends, and watch your back.
Cat Winthorpe has worked hard to get what she has: a gorgeous home; social standing; and William, her successful, handsome husband. Then a friendly new couple moves into the estate next door. While cautious, a good neighbor like Cat greets them with open arms and warm hospitality.
Neena Ryder isn’t a fellow lady of leisure. A life coach with off-the-rack dresses, personal issues, and a husband who hasn’t delivered, she’s anxious to move up in the world. This beautiful new town is a step in the right direction. It’s also making Neena aware of what she doesn’t have. Namely, William. When Neena’s infatuation escalates into obsession, it’s just a matter of eliminating a few obstacles to get the life she wants. The life next door.
As Neena’s secret fixation grows, so does her friendship with Cat. But beneath their cordial interactions is a wealth of temptations, secrets, and toxic jealousy. For both women, the desire for a perfect life can turn perfectly dangerous.
How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.
When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check . . . almost.
Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship – except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.
Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.
The Chicken Sisters by K J Dell’Antonia
THREE GENERATIONS. TWO CHICKEN SHACKS. ONE RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
In tiny Merinac, Kansas, Chicken Mimi’s and Chicken Frannie’s have spent a century vying to serve up the best fried chicken in the state – and the legendary feud between their respective owners, the Moores and the Pogociellos, has lasted just as long. No one feels the impact more than thirty-five-year-old widow Amanda Moore, who grew up working for her mom at Mimi’s before scandalously marrying Frank Pogociello and changing sides to work at Frannie’s. Tired of being caught in the middle, Amanda sends an SOS to Food Wars, the reality TV restaurant competition that promises $100,000 to the winner. But in doing so, she launches both families out of the frying pan and directly into the fire.
The last thing Brooklyn-based organisational guru Mae Moore, Amanda’s sister, wants is to go home to Kansas. But when her career implodes, Food Wars becomes her chance to step back into the limelight. Mae is certain she can make the fading Mimi’s look good – even if that pits her against Amanda and Frannie’s. With a greedy producer stoking the flames, their friendly rivalry quickly turns into a game of chicken. Yet when family secrets become public knowledge, the sisters must choose: will they fight with each other, or for their heritage? After all, all’s fair in love, and war, and chicken . . .
My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde
It’s 1965, and life has taken a turn for eighteen-year-old Anton Addison-Rice. Nearly a year after his brother died in a tragic accident, Anton is still wounded—physically and emotionally. Alone for the holidays, he catches a glimpse of his neighbor Edith across the street one evening and realizes that she’s in danger.
Anton is determined to help Edith leave her abusive marriage. Frightened and fifteen years Anton’s senior, Edith is slow to trust. But when she needs a safe place to stay, she lets down her guard, and over the course of ten days an unlikely friendship grows. As Anton falls hopelessly and selflessly in love, Edith fears both her husband finding her and Anton getting hurt. She must disappear without telling anyone where she’s going—even Anton.
If keeping Edith safe means letting her go, Anton will say goodbye forever. Or so he believes. What would happen, though, if one day their paths should cross again?
Afraid of the Christmas Lights – an Anthology of Crime Stories
IT WOULDN’T BE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT A LITTLE CRIME…
A Christmas dinner takes a murderous turn, a friendship group loses the festive spirit, and a young girl goes to extreme measures to keep a beloved dog.
Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is a collection of gripping, sometimes funny, and always festive short stories from a group of bestselling crime writers.
From the hilarious to the macabre, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a Christmas convert or a bit of a Grinch. From a detective tracking down missing Christmas geese, to a cat lady who goes on a date in order to keep Santa Paws well fed, this anthology is the perfect gift to cosy up with this year.
Mark Billingham, Rachael Blok, Heather Critchlow, Elle Croft, James Delargy, Clare Empson,
Jo Furniss, Sophie Hannah, T.E. Kinsey, N.J. Mackay, S.R. Masters, Val McDermid, Phoebe Morgan, Dominic Nolan, Robert Scragg, Victoria Selman, Kate Simants, Adam Southward,
Profits from Afraid Of The Christmas Lights will support two front-line charities:
ESDAS: Educates professionals, communities, victims and even perpetrators on the nature of domestic abuse. They offer practical measures, such as legal advice and transport, to enable survivors to find a safe place to live.
Rights of Women: Helps women understand their legal rights and access a range of support services to which they are entitled.
The Tinder Box by Laura Elliot
In the small hours of a cold winter morning, charcoal grey clouds gather in the sky over Hyland Hall where a young teenage girl is about to make an emergency call to say her life is in danger …
With her marriage in pieces and desperate to find work and a new home for her and daughters, Isobel and Julie, Sophy accepts a job as a live-in nurse for Jack Hyland.
Once a magnificent house, Hyland Hall has fallen into disrepair and its owner, Jack, disfigured in a terrible fire that broke out on the property years ago, is now a recluse.
As Sophy’s daughters struggle to adjust to their new surroundings, exploring every forbidden corner of the house, Sophy does her best to care for Jack and her broken family.
But Jack has secrets of his own and Sophy’s arrival is about to set in motion a chain of events that will uncover the devastating truth of Hyland Hall’s past. A truth that will put her daughters in harm’s way.
Thank You, Next by Sophie Ranald
Zoe really doesn’t want to die alone and surrounded by cats. But it’s not looking good: she’s had sex precisely twice in the last year, and her feline friend isn’t the kind of male company she wants in bed…
Her top dating disasters include:
1) The guy who kissed her hand, took out a violin and serenaded her in public.
2) The guy who force-fed her oysters (she can confirm that they’re not an aphrodisiac).
3) The guy who was so hungover he turned up with his t-shirt on inside out, sweating sambuca.
4) The guy who brought his actual kid on a dinner date.
And don’t even get her started on the dick pics, or how on earth you’re supposed to know whether a total stranger is an axe murderer or not.
Zoe’s ready to give up on the search for love, until her friend has an idea. Robbie lives by his horoscope, and he’s sure she’s got this dating stuff all wrong. He dares her to work her way through the zodiac until she finds The One.
Usually Zoe would laugh at such a suggestion, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Could love be written in the stars? Or is she destined to end up alone, eating take-out in bed and watching endless re-runs of Friends?
Cuthbert’s Way by LJ Ross
A SECRET KEPT FOR A THOUSAND YEARS…
After the dramatic theft of a priceless artefact from Durham Cathedral, the rest of the world believes that DCI Ryan and his team were able to recover and return St. Cuthbert’s cross to its rightful home. But Ryan knows the cross he recovered was a fake—far from being over, their problems are only just beginning…
Just as Ryan and his team begin to unravel the truth behind the spate of mysterious thefts, something even more priceless is stolen—something that can never be replaced.
As the nationwide manhunt continues without success, Ryan is thrust into despair—until he realises the answer lies not in modern policing but in an age-old secret known only to a chosen few. To recover what’s been lost, he must first crack ‘Cuthbert’s Code’, following the trail of a long-dead saint across the wild, unpredictable hills and valleys of the borderlands.
Can Ryan find what he’s looking for, before it’s too late?
He’s going to need a miracle…
Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.
The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark
Harper Dupree has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.
In 1946, Millie Middleton–the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman–boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.
Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston to find the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they’ve both dreamed of. But it’s not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.
Cruel as the Grave by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The murder of a personal fitness trainer draws DCI Bill Slider and his team into a baffling investigation where nothing is as it first appears.
Fitness trainer Erik Lingoss is found dead in his west London flat, his head smashed by one of his own dumbbells. His heartlessly-dumped girlfriend, blood on her clothes and hands, is the prime suspect. She had means, opportunity, and motive.
But is the case as clear-cut as it seems? Handsome Erik Lingoss had clients in high places; and he seemed to engender powerful emotions. If it was a crime of passion, there was plenty of that to go round: love strong as death, jealousy cruel as the grave.
Who did he let in to his flat that evening? Where is his missing mobile phone? Why is seven hundred pounds in cash stuffed under his pillow? The deeper Slider and his team dig, the clearer it becomes there’s far more to this case than meets the eye.
The Running Wolf by Helen Steadman
When a Prussian smuggler is imprisoned in Morpeth Gaol in the winter of 1703, why does Queen Anne’s powerful right-hand man, The Earl of Nottingham, take such a keen interest?
At the end of the turbulent 17th century, the ties that bind men are fraying, turning neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend and brother against brother. Beneath a seething layer of religious intolerance, community suspicion and political intrigue, The Running Wolf takes us deep into the heart of rebel country in the run-up to the 1715 Jacobite uprising.
Hermann Mohll is a master sword maker from Solingen in Germany who risks his life by breaking his guild oaths and settling in England. While trying to save his family and neighbours from poverty, he is caught smuggling swords and finds himself in Morpeth Gaol facing charges of High Treason.
Determined to hold his tongue and his nerve, Mohll finds himself at the mercy of the corrupt keeper, Robert Tipstaff. The keeper fancies he can persuade the truth out of Mohll and make him face the ultimate justice: hanging, drawing and quartering. But in this tangled web of secrets and lies, just who is telling the truth?
That’s it for another week – Happy Reading!!