Published this week – my fiction picks to 10th Jan 2021

As I sat down to put this post together I was pondering whether this weekly post was the best way of doing things. Perhaps readers might want a monthly post so they could plan their purchases/reading in one fell swoop. However, when I saw how many books were being published this week I realised that might not work after all. It would either mean one verrrry long post, or a reduced number of titles which in some way defeated the object of trying to feature forthcoming titles. As it is, the titles I feature are already only a snapshot of what is being published, focusing as they do on my own personal tastes. If anyone has any thoughts or opinions they’d like to offer on the subject please leave a comment below.

Another minor change going forward is noting which formats the titles are available in, so no need to click through the purchase links each time. Use the index to jump to the desired section.

So grab a cuppa and settle down for this week’s slice of temptation.

(NB As an Amazon Associate, Bookshop and Hive Affiliate I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases)

Hardback only

The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

‘I am Rani Jindan, Mother of the Khalsa. That is my identity. That is my fate.’ Daughter of the royal kennel keeper, the beautiful Jindan Kaur went on to become Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen; his favourite. She became regent when her son Dalip, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne. Sharp-eyed, stubborn, passionate, and dedicated to protecting her son’s heritage, Jindan distrusted the British and fought hard to keep them from annexing Punjab. Defying tradition, she stepped out of the zenana, cast aside the veil and conducted state business in public. Addressing her Khalsa troops herself, she inspired her men in two wars against the ‘firangs’. Her power and influence were so formidable that the British, fearing an uprising, robbed the rebel queen of everything she had, including her son. She was imprisoned and exiled. But that did not crush her indomitable will. An exquisite love story of a king and a commoner, a cautionary tale about loyalty and betrayal, and a powerful parable of the indestructible bond between mother and child, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s unforgettable novel brings alive one of the most fearless women of the nineteenth century, an inspiration for our times.


Hardback and eBook

Over the Rainbow by Katie Flynn

Over the Rainbow (The Liverpool Sisters Book 3) by [Katie Flynn]

Liverpool 1939: Olivia Campbell appears to have the perfect life. However, behind closed doors she lives in constant fear of her abusive father, and has no support from her mother.

Longing for love and affection she begins a relationship with Ted, a young lad who works in her father’s factory. But her family disapprove of the relationship and forbid them from seeing each other.

When war comes to Liverpool, Olivia seizes the opportunity to leave behind her unhappy life and join the WAAF. There she meets a fellow trainee, Maude and the two embrace their newly found independence. Soon Olivia meets the handsome Ralph, and all thoughts of Ted are brushed aside. Until he returns to her life with some shocking news that turns her world upside down . . .


The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

The Smallest Man by [Frances Quinn]

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.
 
The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.
 
They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.
 
Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.


Alchemy and Rose by Sarah Maine

Alchemy and Rose: A sweeping new novel from the author of The House Between Tides, the Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year by [Sarah Maine]

A beautiful and sweeping historical novel that takes the reader from the west coast of New Zealand, to Scotland and Melbourne in the 1870s

1866. Will Stewart is one of many who have left their old lives behind to seek their fortunes in New Zealand’s last great gold rush. The conditions are hostile and the outlook bleak, but he must push on in his uncertain search for the elusive buried treasure.

Rose is about to arrive on the shores of South Island when a storm hits and her ship is wrecked. Just when all seems lost she is snatched from the jaws of death by Will, who risks his life to save her. Drawn together by circumstance, they stay together by choice and for a while it seems that their stars have finally aligned.

But after a terrible misunderstanding they are cruelly separated, and their new-found happiness is shattered. As Will chases Rose across oceans and continents, he must come to terms with the possibility that he might never see her again. And if he does, he will have to face the man who took her . . .


The Candlelit Menagerie by Caraline Brown

For fans of The Greatest Showman and Water for ElephantsThe Candlelit Menagerie grabs hold and pulls readers into the dim halls of the exotic animal emporiums of London, over two centuries ago.  

Set in late eighteenth-century London, this haunting debut novel features Lillian, a freakishly tall woman who struggles to fit into society because of her size and desire to wear trousers. Each morning, she wakes in her tiny maid’s room in a too-small bed to the sound of a lion roaring nearby, on the Strand. One day, she investigates the sound and discovers a candlelit exotic animal emporium. When she meets the lion, there is an instant bond. At first, Lillian is repulsed by the stench and squalor, but there, in the menagerie, Lillian finds her natural home taking care of and befriending wild animals brought from around the world, stolen from their habitats, misfits like her. The British empire had become the dominate colonial power, plundering resources across the ocean, including humans and animals, and bringing them to England’s shores for the first time to the amusement of the public. The menagerie, under Lillian’s management, becomes a successful attraction. It is her life’s mission. She even marries the veterinarian’s single-minded apprentice. But when her unborn baby dies in an accident, she is given a chimpanzee to raise as her own child, upending the order of even Lillian’s unusual existence.


The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push: Mother. Daughter. Angel. Monster? 2021’s Most Astonishing Novel by [Ashley Audrain]

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right.

I had always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.

Is it her? Or is it me? Is she the monster? Or am I?


The Long Way Home by Fanny Blake

The Long Way Home by [Fanny Blake]

A family secret, a mysterious legacy, and a journey that will change everything…
 
When Isla, a 65-year-old grandmother, is left nothing but an old painting in her mother’s will, while her sisters and aunt inherit the estate, she is devastated. Close to retirement, getting ready to live on her own terms, the last thing she expects at this time of her life is such turmoil. So, to find an explanation for her mother’s rejection, she embarks on a road-trip.
 
But, right at the last moment, she’s forced to take her sullen – and, in her view, impossible – 14-year-old granddaughter Charlie with her. Cramped together in Isla’s car with her smelly old dog, these ill-assorted travelling companions set off to uncover some shattering and life-changing family truths at the same time as learning to love each other…
 
The Long Way Home is set in the UK and 1950s Paris where the story really begins, spanning four generations of women and the secrets that get passed down through them.


Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves

Victoria Park by [Gemma Reeves]

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.


The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

The Marlow Murder Club: The first novel in a gripping new crime and mystery series from the creator of the hit TV series Death in Paradise by [Robert Thorogood]

To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…

Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper. 

One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.

Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.

When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape…


Memorial by Bryan Washington

Memorial by [Bryan Washington]

Benson and Mike are two young guys who have been together for a few years – good years – but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. There’s the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other. But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past, while back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted…

Funny and profound, Memorial is about family in all its strange forms, becoming who you’re supposed to be and the outer limits of love.


Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Your Neighbour’s Wife by [Tony Parsons]

Tara Carver seems to have the perfect life. A loving mother and wife, and a business woman who runs her own company, she’s the sort of person you’d want to live next door to, who might even become your best friend.

But what sort of person is she really?

Because in one night of madness, on a work trip far from home, she puts all this at risk. And suddenly her dream life becomes a living nightmare when the married man she spent one night with tells her he wants a serious relationship with her. And that he won’t leave her or her precious family alone until she agrees.

There seems to be only one way out.
And it involves murder …


The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

The Last Thing to Burn: Gripping and unforgettable, one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2021 by [Will Dean]

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .


The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

The Wife Upstairs: From the New York Times bestselling author comes an addictive new 2021 psychological crime thriller with a twist! by [Rachel Hawkins]

A girl looking for love…
When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.

A man who seems perfect…
Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life.

A wife who just won’t stay buried…
But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined…


Neighbours by Danielle Steele

Neighbours by [Danielle Steel]

Sometimes a crisis can bring people together . . .

Meredith White was one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces. But a personal tragedy cut her career short and alienated her from her family. For the last fifteen years, Meredith has shut herself away from the world, living in her San Francisco mansion.

Then, on a late summer day, a devastating earthquake strikes, plunging the city into chaos. Without hesitation, Meredith invites her now homeless neighbours into her largely undamaged house as the recovery begins. From the respected doctor, to the beautiful young woman whose boyfriend views her as a rich man’s toy, to the brilliant concert pianist in his eighties, each has a story and a closely guarded secret that will slowly be revealed.

Strangers become friends and relationships are forged as they support each other through not just the aftermath of the earthquake, but their own personal crises.

As Meredith finds herself venturing back into the world she suddenly sees her isolation, her estranged family and even her career in a whole new light. And thanks to the suspicions of one of her new acquaintances, a shocking truth in her own life is exposed.


A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by Peter Ho Davies

A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by [Peter Ho Davies]

When does sorrow turn to shame? When does love become labour? When does chance become choice? And when does fact become fiction?

A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself traces the complex consequences of one of the most personal yet public, intimate yet political, experiences a family can have: to have a child, and conversely, the decision not to have a child. A woman’s first pregnancy is interrupted by test results at once catastrophic and uncertain, leaving her and her husband, a writer, reeling. A second pregnancy ends in a fraught birth, a beloved child, the purgatory of further tests – and questions that reverberate down the years.

This spare, supple narrative chronicles the flux of parenthood, marriage, and the day-to-day practice of loving someone. As challenging as it is vulnerable, as furious as it is tender, as touching as it is darkly comic, Peter Ho Davies’s new novel is an unprecedented depiction of fatherhood.


The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride

The Coffinmaker’s Garden: From the No. 1 Sunday Times best selling crime author comes his latest gripping new 2021 suspense thriller (Ash Henderson 3) by [Stuart MacBride]

A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

Paperback and eBook

The Tobacco Girls by Lizzie Lane

The Tobacco Girls: The start of a wonderful new saga series for 2021 by [Lizzie Lane]

Bristol 1939.School leaver Maisie Miles suspects her father, a small-time crook, has an ulterior motive for insisting she gets a job at the W. D. & H. O. Wills tobacco factory but keeps it to herself.

She’s befriended by effervescent Phyllis Mason and kind-hearted Bridget Milligan who take pity on her and take Maisie under their wing.

But beneath their happy go lucky exteriors they all harbour dreams and worries about what the future holds.

Engaged to be married Phyllis dreams of romance and passion but when it comes there are dire consequences.

Bridget seemingly the level headed one harbours a horror of something unspeakable that she cannot easily come to terms with.

There’s great comradeship at the tobacco factory, and with the advent of war everything is about to change and even the closest friendships are likely to be strained.


New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow: The new heartwarming, uplifting page-turner from Jessica Redland by [Jessica Redland]

With new arrivals comes new responsibilities…

The sun is shining, wild flowers are blooming and Hedgehog Hollow is officially open for business.

For Samantha, the proud owner of this beautiful rescue centre, life has never been busier. But with an influx of new hogs and hoglets to take care of, not to mention a full-time job and ongoing family issues, can she accept the possibility that she has taken on more than she can handle?

Fortunately, she has the love of her life, Josh, by her side for support and encouragement. But Josh has his own family troubles to deal with. And soon he must decide if he’s ready to do the one thing he swore he’d never do – forgive his father.

For both Samantha and Josh it’s a season of change and for figuring out whether the past can ever truly be forgotten.


The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line by Ruth Thomas

Hidden within the confines of the Royal Institute of Prehistorical Studies, Sybil is happy enough with her work – and her love life. Then to her dismay, her old adversary, assertive and glamorous Helen Hansen, is appointed Head of Trustees. To add insult, Helen promptly seduces Sybil’s boyfriend. Betrayed and broken-hearted, Sybil becomes obsessed with exposing Helen as a fraud, no matter the cost.


Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Choudary

Their Frozen Graves: A completely addictive crime thriller and mystery novel (Detective Mackenzie Price Book 2) by [Ruhi Choudhary]

Two women are dead. They both look like you.

The giant stretch of frozen river was melting and the light made the lake glitter like crystals. The women lay side by side on the shore, eyes open and glassy. Their long, dark hair was like tangled rope, their faces a reflection of each other…

When two bodies are found dumped in one of the vast lakes in Lakemore, Washington, DetectiveMackenzie Price is first on the scene. She identifies one of the victims as Katy Becker, a local known for her work helping the community. The other victim looks strikingly similar.

Still grappling with a shocking revelation from her past, Mack is only too happy to throw herself into the case. But when she goes to break the news to Katy’s husband, the investigation takes an unexpected turn: Katy is very much alive, and has never met the women who resemble her so closely.

Now the race is on to find the killer before Katy becomes the next victim. But when Mack unearths a disturbing connection to a sixteen-year-old suicide, she realizes they could be hunting someone whose crimes span decades – and there are more lives than just Katy’s at stake.


The Dark Room by Sam Blake

The Dark Room: A thrilling new novel from the number one Irish Times bestselling author of Keep Your Eyes on Me by [Sam Blake]

Hare’s Landing, West Cork. A house full of mystery…

Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing.

New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner.

As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…


Love Almost by Hayley Doyle

Love, Almost: an uplifting, emotional romance for fans of Jojo Moyes by [Hayley Doyle]

Chloe and Jack are soulmates. But life has other plans…

Chloe is deliriously in love for the very first time. But when Jack, her boyfriend of five months, is killed in a tragic accident, she is left reeling. Their relationship was amazing – but it never really had the chance to get started.

Grieving but determined, Chloe decides to live life for the both of them and makes her way through the list of things they’d planned to do together – this time on her own.

A heartwarming read about falling in love and coping with loss, from the author of Never Saw You Coming.


The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

The Perfect Guests: an enthralling, page-turning thriller full of dark family secrets by [Emma Rous]

You are cordially invited to play a game at Raven Hall . . .

When Beth was fourteen, she was invited into Raven Hall, a rambling, isolated manor house in the English countryside. The family who lived there were warm and welcoming, and Beth soon became firm friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even felt like she was truly part of the family . . . But then they asked her to play a very strange game – and nothing was the same again.

Now, after years of abandonment, Raven Hall has been restored to its former glory and is playing host to an evening of murder mystery . . . But why does the tragic past of this imposing house seem to have such a hold on everyone? Is this really just a game, or a murder mystery for real?

The guests are about to find out – with devastating consequences . . .


Double Identity by Alison Morton

Double Identity by [Alison Morton]

Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover—and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?


The Missing Woman by Georgina Cross

The Missing Woman: Utterly gripping psychological suspense with heart-thumping twists by [Georgina Cross]

They live in the big houses on the pretty street. Those other women, as we call them. And to think I used to want to be like them, to have their money and happiness, to live and laugh and play like them. Not any more.

It’s the fourth of July and the whole town is gathered at the local pool. Through the sweltering afternoon, we single mothers don’t mix with the other women––the ones with the perfect lives and happy marriages. Women like Sabine Miller. But when Sabine shoots me a desperate look across the water and suddenly disappears, my blood runs cold…

Running to the back gate, all I find is a silver charm bracelet she dropped on her way out. I convince myself I’m imagining things until Sabine’s husband Mark appears. When he realizes she’s missing, he phones the cops straight away. “Someone has been threatening Sabine,” he says. “Now they’ve kidnapped her.”

Hours later, I wish I’d run faster. The whole town is searching the streets, calling Sabine’s name over and over. On the TV, Mark is begging for someone to bring his wife home.

The truth is, I was the last person to see her alive––and it’s killing me inside. Now the cops are at my door asking questions. I’m terrified they’ll find out what happened years ago between me and Sabine. Something I’ve never told anyone.

But I need to tell someone. Can you keep a secret?


Single Mother by Samantha Hayes

I will do anything to protect my daughter. She’s all I’ve ever wanted and all I really have, but the moment I opened that letter and accepted the inheritance, I walked us right into a dangerous trap.

I know I should have got her to tell me who she’s been talking to on the phone late at night, and where she was the day I went to pick her up from school and couldn’t find her, but she’s not spoken a word since she found that little pile of bones buried in the garden.

And now she’s missing…


Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson

Venice, 1943: Under the Nazi occupation, life is increasingly perilous for Italian Jews. Antonina Mazin has but one hope to survive – to leave her beloved parents and hide in the countryside, posing as the bride of a man she has only just met.

Nico Gerardi was studying for the priesthood until circumstances forced him to return home to run his family’s farm. A moral and just man, he refuses to remain a bystander to Nazi and fascist atrocities. The only way to keep Nina safe – and protect secrets of his own – is to convince prying eyes that their sudden marriage is a love match.

But farm life is not easy for a cultured city girl who dreams of becoming a doctor like her father, and Nico’s provincial neighbours are wary of this soft, educated stranger. Even worse, their distrust is shared by a local Nazi official with a vendetta against Nico.

As Nina and Nico come to know each other, their relationship deepens, transforming into much more than a charade. Yet both fear that every passing day brings them closer to being torn apart…


The Heiress by Molly Greeley

As a fussy baby, Anne was prescribed laudanum to quiet her and has been given the opium-heavy syrup ever since, on account of her continuing ill health. While Lady Catherine is outraged when Darcy chooses not to marry her daughter, Anne barely even notices.

But little by little, she comes to see that what she has always been told is an affliction of nature might in fact be one of nurture – and one, therefore, that she can beat. She finally throws away her laudanum and seeks refuge at the London home of her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Suddenly wide awake to the world but utterly unprepared, Anne must forge a new identity among those who have never seen the real her – including herself.

With its wit, sensuality and compassion, The Heiress is a sparklingly rebellious novel that takes a shadowy figure from the background of beloved classic Pride & Prejudice and throws her into the light.


Snakes and Ladders by Adam Croft

Snakes and Ladders (Knight & Culverhouse Book 10) by [Adam Croft]

A body lies amongst the undergrowth in Mildenheath Woods. His hands are bound behind his back, and he’s been killed execution-style.

But the victim isn’t a gangland kingpin: he’s a well-liked young man, never in any trouble, who had his whole life ahead of him.

But as Jack Culverhouse and Wendy Knight begin to dig deeper into what happened, a shocking new truth comes to light. Was the victim quite as innocent as he seemed?


Circle of Doubt by Tracy Buchanan

Circle of Doubt by [Tracy Buchanan]

She thought she was the perfect mother—until the new neighbours moved in.

Emma and Dele’s dreams came true nine years ago when they adopted their daughter, Isla. It felt like fate, like they were meant to find each other, and now they’re living the life they always wanted. But then one day a new family moves into Forest Grove—and Emma can’t shake the chilling feeling that the wife looks just like Isla’s birth mother.

Emma tells herself that this sophisticated stranger can’t possibly be the troubled woman she remembers from the adoption. But as they get to know each other and it becomes clear that Tatjana has a special interest in Isla, her suspicions grow.

When small things start to go wrong and her parenting abilities are brought into question, Emma feels undermined, turning to her sister Harriet for support. But things only spiral further when secrets from her past suddenly resurface.

With rumours swirling, Emma begins to doubt herself. Could Tatjana be Isla’s birth mother? And, with everything that’s happening, is Emma the right person to be raising her daughter at all?


An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

An American in Paris: An absolutely heartbreaking and uplifting World War 2 novel by [Siobhan Curham]

Paris, 1940: Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

As Nazi troops occupy the City of Lights, American journalist Florence is determined to do everything she can to save her adopted home and the man she loves.

Florence had arrived in Paris in 1937 and on a beautiful summer’s day, met and fell in love with Otto, a Jewish artist from Austria, who had fled persecution in his homeland. But as swastikas are draped along the city’s wide boulevards, everything Otto was running from seems to have caught up with him.

Both Florence and Otto begin lending their talents to the Resistance, working to sabotage the Germans right under their noses. Florence’s society columns that, before the war were filled with tales of glamorous Parisian parties, now document life under occupation and hide coded messages for those fighting outside France for freedom. While Otto risks arrest in order to pin up the anti-Nazi posters he designs by candlelight in their tiny apartment.

But with every passing day, things become more dangerous for Otto to remain in Paris. If Florence risks everything by accepting a secret mission, can she ensure his survival so that they can be reunited once the war is over?


I Give it a Year by Helen Whitaker

Her husband’s moved out – and her dad’s moved in…
Curl up with the page-turning story full of emotion about family, marriage and second chances

It’s New Year’s Eve, and Iris has just found out that her husband, Adam, is cheating on her. Furious, she kicks him out, and enlists her Dad to move in and help with the children whilst she tries to mend her broken heart.

But her Dad soon starts to display signs of Alzheimer’s, and Iris realises that if she loses her partner, she’ll be managing an awful lot on her own. Soon, she realises that Adam wasn’t the only one taking their marriage for granted, and for the sake of the children she decides to give him one more chance.

But is it braver to stay than to run? And can anyone fall in love with the same person twice?

Paperback only

Not my Boy by Kelly Simmons

Who will you cross to protect your own?

When Hannah packs up her past and moves to the cottage next-door to her sister, she hopes the luxe neighborhood and close family ties will be the perfect escape for her son and the shadows that trail them. But when a young girl goes missing days after they unload their final boxes and her son is quickly thrown under suspicion, Hannah must do whatever it takes to protect her child.

Even if that means pointing the blame her sister’s way instead.

With investigators swarming and neighborhood scrutiny closing in, the divide between two sisters grows. As one fiercely defends her husband, the other shields her boy from the crime, keeping quiet the secrets that might unravel it all.

And all the while, one young girl has vanished, and someone is to blame.


Nora by Nuala O’Connor

Acclaimed Irish novelist Nuala O’Connor’s bold reimagining of the life of James Joyce’s wife, muse, and the model for Molly Bloom in Ulysses is a “lively and loving paean to the indomitable Nora Barnacle” (Edna O’Brien).

Dublin, 1904. Nora Joseph Barnacle is a twenty-year-old from Galway working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel. She enjoys the liveliness of her adopted city and on June 16–Bloomsday–her life is changed when she meets Dubliner James Joyce, a fateful encounter that turns into a lifelong love. Despite his hesitation to marry, Nora follows Joyce in pursuit of a life beyond Ireland, and they surround themselves with a buoyant group of friends that grows to include Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and Sylvia Beach.But as their life unfolds, Nora finds herself in conflict between their intense desire for each other and the constant anxiety of living in poverty throughout Europe. She desperately wants literary success for Jim, believing in his singular gift and knowing that he thrives on being the toast of the town, and it eventually provides her with a security long lacking in her life and his work. So even when Jim writes, drinks, and gambles his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, but at a cost to her own happiness and that of their children.

With gorgeous and emotionally resonant prose, Nora is a heartfelt portrayal of love, ambition, and the quiet power of an ordinary woman who was, in fact, extraordinary.

eBook only

The Lifeline by Deborah Swift

The Lifeline: A wartime saga set in Nazi-occupied Norway by [Deborah Swift]

From the heart of Norway to Shetland in Scotland, one couple fight to overthrow the Nazis…

1942, Nazi-occupied Norway

Schoolteacher Astrid Dahl has always kept out of trouble. But when she is told to teach the fascist Nazi curriculum, she refuses and starts a teacher’s rebellion, persuading eight thousand teachers to go on strike.

The Germans arrest her, and terrified of what punishment her trial might bring, she is forced to go into hiding.

Astrid’s boyfriend, Jørgen Nystrøm, has joined the Norwegian Resistance. When his cover is blown he escapes to Shetland where he is taken on as crew for the Shetland Bus; a dangerous clandestine operation of small fishing boats that supply arms and intelligence to war-torn Norway.

In Shetland, hearing Astrid is in trouble, Jørgen sets off through enemy waters to meet her.

But the Nazis have a spy on Shetland and have been tipped off about the Shetland Bus.

With the enemy in pursuit from both directions, will Astrid and Jørgen be able to find each other?

Or will they be separated forever by the brutal Nazi regime?


Kiss Me Kill Me by Louise Mullins

Kiss Me, Kill Me (DI Emma Locke Book 2) by [Louise Mullins]

I practise my shock-horror face in the mirror for the seventh time. ‘My husband, he’s . . . dead.’

Bethan Phillips has only one thing on her mind: killing her rich and elderly husband for his fortune. But after several thwarted attempts, it is a horrific accident while holidaying together in Snowdonia that takes Humphrey down.

Now she must pretend he’s alive, continuing social gatherings alone under the guise he is undertaking business abroad. Because someone witnessed her leaving Humphrey to die, and should the police investigate his death they’ll discover the series of ‘accidents’ he’s survived in the previous few days… and it won’t take them long to connect the dots.

There are many reasons Bethan would rather the police didn’t look too closely at her. Or the life she lived before becoming Bethan Philips. Unfortunately for her, DI Emma Locke is on the case.


Beneath Cornish Skies by Kate Ryder

Beneath Cornish Skies: A heartwarming love story about taking a chance on a new beginning by [Kate Ryder]

To an outsider, Cassandra Shaw‘s life looks perfect. She lives in a beautiful, luxurious house in the English countryside, with a handsome, wealthy boyfriend who insists she needn’t do a day’s work in her life. But Cassie knows that something is not right. Her boyfriend has grown colder, treating her more like a housekeeper than a future wife. And her time feels empty and purposeless.

Cassandra has always been riddled with insecurities and self-doubt, but, just for once, she decides to take a chance on a new beginning. She answers an advert for a live-in nanny, dogwalker, cook and all-round ‘Superhuman’ for a family living in a rambling manor house on the rugged North Cornish coast. The work is hard and tiring, but Cassie has never felt so fulfilled.

As Cassie learns to connect with the natural beauty unfolding around her, Cornwall starts to offer up its secrets. Soon, Cassie starts wondering if she was drawn to this isolated part of the coast for a reason. Why was she guided to Foxcombe Manor? What are the flashes of light she sees in the valley? Is it her imagination or does someone brush past her? And who is the mysterious man living deep in the woods?

A beautiful romance with a hint of ghostliness, Beneath Cornish Skies is for anyone who has ever longed to start their lives again.


The Therapist by B A Paris

The Therapist: From the Sunday Times bestselling author of books like THE DILEMMA comes the most gripping psychological thriller of 2021! by [B A Paris]

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…

As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating, grisly secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.

Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbours are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…


The Spring of Second Chances by Tilly Tennant

The Spring of Second Chances : An absolutely perfect and uplifting romantic comedy by [Tilly Tennant]

Twenty-seven-year-old Phoebe has spent the last year living under dark clouds. This spring she is determined to embrace blue skies and new beginnings. But will she have the strength to open her heart to love for a second time?

Heartbroken after losing the man she was about to spend the rest of her life with in a tragic accident, Phoebe is finally ready to let herself heal and embrace a second chance at happiness.

She’s landed her dream job in the toy shop she’s loved since she was a girl and when single dad Jack brings his five-year-old daughter along to story time, it seems the stars have aligned to bring them together. He’s funny, handsome and his devotion to his daughter shows Phoebe he has a heart of gold.

But just when it seems she has everything she’s ever wanted, Phoebe discovers the shop is in deep financial trouble. She’ll need every bit of creativity and passion she has to save it.

As spring blossoms to summer sunshine, Phoebe works to turn things around, while her feelings for Jack deepen. But after taking the big step of meeting his parents, Phoebe is left questioning everything. They make it clear Phoebe doesn’t measure up to Jack’s late wife and she can’t help but worry that he feels the same. Maybe this wasn’t meant to be her second chance after all.

Can Phoebe save the place she loves and the future she’s been dreaming of?

NB Previously published as four novellas and in the collection Mishaps in Millrise.


This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by Jessica Dettmann

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely by [Jessica Dettmann]

Family is forever, and there’s nothing you can do about it.The charming, hilarious and all-too-relatable new novel from the author of How to be Second Best

‘Dettmann nails the funny, sad and bizarre nuances of family life in this gripping novel that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and Marian Keyes’ Sally Hepworth

Molly’s a millennial home organiser about to have her first baby. Obviously her mum, Annie, will help with the childcare. Everyone else’s parents are doing it.

But Annie’s dreams of music stardom have been on hold for thirty-five years, paused by childbirth then buried under her responsibilities as a mother, wage earner, wife, and only child of ailing parents. Finally, she can taste freedom.

As Molly and her siblings gather in the close quarters of the family home over one fraught summer, shocking revelations come to light. Everyone is forced to confront the question of what it means to be a family.

This Has Been Absolutely Lovely is a story about growing up and giving in, of parents and children, of hope and failure, of bravery and defied expectation, and whether it is ever too late to try again.


A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy

A Deadly Fortune: A Novel by [Stacie Murphy]

A historical mystery in the vein of The Alienist, in which a young woman in Gilded Age New York must use a special talent to unravel a deadly conspiracy.

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.

Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of a devastating loss, he abandons a promising medical career—and his place in Philadelphia society—to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Amelia Matthew is just another patient—until she channels a spirit in front of him and proves her gift is real.

When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter—a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum—he turns to Amelia. Together, they uncover evidence of a deadly conspiracy, and then it’s no longer just Amelia’s sanity and freedom at stake. Amelia must master her gift and use it to catch a killer—or risk becoming the next victim.


Outlawed by Anna North

Outlawed by [Anna North]

In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.

On the day of her wedding-dance, Ada feels lucky. She loves her broad-shouldered, bashful husband and her job as an apprentice midwife.

But her luck will not last. It is every woman’s duty to have a child, to replace those that were lost in the Great Flu. And after a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town where barren women are hanged as witches, Ada’s survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows.

She joins up with the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang. Its leader, a charismatic preacher-turned-robber, known to all as The Kid, wants to create a safe haven for women outcast from society. But to make this dream a reality, the Gang hatches a treacherous plan. And Ada must decide whether she’s willing to risk her life for the possibility of a new kind of future for them all.


Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Better Luck Next Time: A Novel by [Julia Claiborne Johnson]

The eagerly anticipated second novel from the bestselling author of Be Frank with Me, a charming story of endings, new beginnings, and the complexities and complications of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno.

It’s 1938 and women seeking a quick, no-questions split from their husbands head to the “divorce capital of the world,” Reno, Nevada. There’s one catch: they have to wait six-weeks to become “residents.” Many of these wealthy, soon-to-be divorcees flock to the Flying Leap, a dude ranch that caters to their every need. 

Twenty-four-year-old Ward spent one year at Yale before his family lost everything in the Great Depression; now he’s earning an honest living as a ranch hand at the Flying Leap. Admired for his dashing good looks—“Cary Grant in cowboy boots”—Ward thinks he’s got the Flying Leap’s clients all figured out. But two new guests are about to upend everything he thinks he knows: Nina, a St Louis heiress and amateur pilot back for her third divorce, and Emily, whose bravest moment in life was leaving her cheating husband back in San Francisco and driving herself to Reno.

A novel about divorce, marriage, and everything that comes in between (money, class, ambition, and opportunity), Better Luck Next Time is a hilarious yet poignant examination of the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from.


When Stars Grow Dark by Scott Hunter

When Stars Grow Dark: DCI Brendan Moran #7 by [Scott Hunter]

A fatal road traffic collision uncovers a bizarre murder when it transpires that an elderly passenger in one of the vehicles was dead before the accident. All indications point to the work of a serial killer – but with little forensic evidence, how can DCI Brendan Moran and his team run the killer to ground?

To add to Moran’s problems, an unexpected discovery prompts the Irish Detective to undertake a dangerous and unscheduled journey to Rotterdam where he believes his former friend and MI5 agent, Samantha Grant, is being held. Can Moran succeed in his rescue mission whilst juggling the heavy demands of his most perplexing murder investigation to date?  When Stars Grow Dark is number seven in the popular DCI Brendan Moran crime series


The Tea Gardens by Fiona McIntosh

The Tea Gardens by [Fiona McIntosh]

A passionate love affair. An impossible choice.

England, 1932: Dr Isla Fenwick has little interest in marriage, until a reunion with an old friend blossoms into to something more. But Isla is determined to fulfil a long-held promise to practice medicine in India. With her fiancé’s blessing she sails to Calcutta to set up a midwifery clinic – promising to return within the year.

There, Isla does her best to navigate a complex new world, and forms a deep connection with one of her colleagues – against all better instincts.

When a desperate rescue mission to save the one person who needs her the most takes her into the foothills of the Himalayas, Isla will be asked to pay the ultimate price for her passions.

Well that was a mammoth task. I’m hoping that it settles down a bit for next week. I’m assuming that the publishers who didn’t go for the Christmas market, are after those with a bit of Christmas gift money left instead! Hope you found something to suit.

Happy Reading!!

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