The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl Blog Tour Review

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Mystery, danger, intrigue and heart-pounding drama are deliciously interwoven in Kathleen McGurl‘s gripping new novel, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall.

When Gemma left university with a history degree, she had ended up lurching from one dead-end job to the next – until she got a job working at a museum in her home town of Bridhampton. For the first time in her professional life, Gemma feels fulfilled and content. Her boss, Roger, is a thoroughly decent guy, and although she would rather spend her days cataloging something more fascinating than boring old fossils, Gemma wouldn’t change her job for the world. But just when she had given up all hope of ever unearthing something thrilling and exciting, Gemma is stunned when she stumbles upon a pair of ancient duelling pistols encrusted with rubies and a mysterious note claiming that these pistols were used during the infamous shooting at Red Hill Hall in the 19th century…

Gemma is immediately intrigued by this unexpected find and vows to uncover the secrets behind that fateful night when two girls, Sarah and Rebecca, had been shot in cold blood at Red Hill Hall. As she begins to delve deeper into the scandalous events of that night, Gemma is floored by the shocking revelations she uncovers and the dark secrets that had claimed the life of two young girls all those years ago.

As the past and present begin to intertwine, Gemma’s own life begins to unravel. Gemma had been best friends with Nat since their school days, and despite the fact that they were chalk and cheese, their friendship had endured and deepened over the years. However, Nat has started acting strangely recently. Why is Nat behaving this way? What is she not telling her best friend? And what secrets is Nat keeping from Gemma?

As Gemma begins to get closer to the truth behind the Red Hill Hall shooting, the past begins to mirror the present and Gemma begins to question whether the people she’s been closest to her entire life really do have her best interest at heart. Will Gemma ever find the happiness she has been searching for all her life? Or will she forever be haunted by old ghosts and their malevolent influence?

Kathleen McGurl is a wonderful storyteller who captures her readers’ attention from the very first page and keeps them enthralled and entertained with her beguiling blend of nail-biting tension, hair raising twists and turns and captivating pathos. A first class dual narrative tale that will go down a treat with fans of Barbara Erskine and Susanna Kearsley, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall is guaranteed to keep you turning the pages late into the night and up way past your bedtime!

Wonderfully gripping, highly evocative and absolutely impossible to put down, The Daughters of Red Hill Hall is a chilling Gothic thriller that is too good to miss!

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The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove Blog Tour interview

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I am delighted to welcome to Bookish Jottings debut author Rachel Dove for a chat about her first novel, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, writing competitions and romantic fiction!

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Thank you so much for joining me here at Bookish Jottings, Rachel! It’s lovely to have you here! Could you please start by telling me something about yourself and the books you write?

Hi! Thanks for having me! I am a wife and mother living in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. I am a qualified adult education teacher specialising in teaching adults working with Special Education Needs, Early Years and Working in Schools, but I am currently writing full time since January 2016. I write romance books, books about people, their lives, dreams, and loves. In the past I have written horror too, so I like to mix it up a little!

You won the 2015 Flirty Fiction Competition with Prima Magazine and Mills and Boon. What made you decide to enter this competition?

I always entered competitions when I had the time (still do) and I get Prima magazine every month, so when I saw the competition, it just spoke to me and I didn’t hesitate to get scribbling.

What was your reaction when you heard the news that you’d won the competition?

I actually asked the person on the line to double check they had the right person! I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t really. It’s an indescribably fantastic feeling, a dream come true.

What inspired The Chic Boutique on Baker Street?

I was helping out my husband at work, and next door to our building was a dog groomers. I suddenly got the idea of two shop keepers, and what would happen when they met, and it grew from there. I liked the idea of village life, rather than the bustle of a city, and then Westfield was born.

How would you sum the book up in a single sentence?

A fun, romantic read that gives you the giggles, the feels and the heart pangs.

Who is your favourite character in The Chic Boutique on Baker Street?

That’s like asking a mother to name her favourite child! I don’t have one, I love them all. Except Marcus. Him, not so much.

What is the book about?

The book is about Amanda Perry, who has her life mapped out, but suddenly finds the rug pulled out from under her. She changes her life on a bit of a whim really, an educated leap, and lands in Westfield, slap bang into Ben – quite literally! Ben Evans is the village vet, but the path to happiness and love doesn’t run smoothly at all! It’s about living the one life you get, and making it count.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Write whenever and whatever you can. Try to just sit down and write. Always carry a notebook for any ideas, have one by your bed, the shower, in the loo! Inspiration can strike anywhere. Also, read as much as you can. Read magazines, books, newspapers, anything you can get your hands on. It all fires the imagination up. Books feed the soul.

Enter competitions. You can get feedback from your entries on some competitions, which is brilliant, and every entry gets you used to submitting, giving them what they are looking for, hitting word counts etc. Good fun too!

Who are your favourite authors?

James Patterson, Jojo Moyes, the classics: Austen, Bronte. Amanda Egan’s Misfit Diaries are hilarious. Roald Dahl, Charlaine Harris, I could go on. I love to read.

What’s next for Rachel Dove?

More competition entries, and a lot more writing! I am writing away on a new book, and have a desk full of ideas, so watch this space….

Thank you for stopping by, Rachel! The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is on sale now from Amazon and other online retailers and bookshops. If you want to find out more about Rachel and her books, visit her website, Twitter and Facebook pages and make sure you visit her on her other blog tour stops!

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The Chic Boutique on Baker Street by Rachel Dove Blog Tour review

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Fun, feel-good and fabulous, contemporary women’s fiction has got a brand new  star and her name is Rachel Dove!

To the outside world, Amanda Perry looks like a woman who has got the world at her feet: she’s got a high-powered job as a lawyer, is in the running to make partner at her law firm, has got a gorgeous fiance and an enviable wardrobe and all the designer heels a woman could wish for. But in one fell swoop Amanda loses everything: she catches her fiance cheating on her with his secretary, loses the firm a multi-million pound deal and ends up getting the sack! With no job, no fiance and no prospects, Amanda decides that the time has come for her to leave London behind, pack her bags, put her flat on the market and head to the small Yorkshire town of Westfield to lick her wounds and start afresh.

Taking over the lease of an antiques shop to fulfill her dream of opening up a boutique selling handmade crafts will enable Amanda to strike out on her own and be the mistress of her own destiny for a change – as opposed to doing someone else’s bidding. But no sooner does she set foot in Westfield that she finds herself incurring the wrath of local vet – and the village’s most eligible bachelor – Ben Evans who immediately informs her that her business is doomed to fail!

Amanda is absolutely incensed. When she moved to Westfield she had been adamant that she was not going to let anyone – least of all a man – call the shots and push her around! Determined to prove Ben wrong and to make a go of her business, Amanda rolls up her sleeves and gets to work to turn her boutique into a roaring success. Amanda wants to show Ben that he has seriously underestimated her. Not that she cares one single jot what Ben – with his good looks, charismatic smile and killer physique – thinks of her, of course!

Ben is Westfield’s golden boy, but he has had his fair share of problems. Having had his heart broken before, Ben had vowed to give romance a very wide berth and to keep his emotions under lock and key. But Ben hadn’t counted on Westfield’s coterie of single-minded old ladies who are determined to set him up with Amanda. Ben is initially appalled, but the more time he spends in Amanda’s company, the more he begins to warm to the idea of having her in his life.

Are Amanda and Ben ready to put their hearts on the line again? Or will they continue to be haunted by past mistakes and old fears?

The first page was all it took for me to fall helplessly in love with this book! Sparkling with warmth, humour, magic, charm and heart, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is a gorgeous contemporary romance that I just couldn’t bear to put down! Heartwarming, hilarious and wonderfully written, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is a first class tale about second chances, learning to trust yourself  and finding the courage to love again that has got keeper written all over it!

I adored Amanda. She was a wonderful heroine who was funny, intelligent and smart and Ben is an absolutely gorgeous hero who’d make any romance reader swoon. Add a fabulous cast of supporting characters who will make you roar with laughter and an idyllic rural village you’d love to live in and you have an outstanding story that you will not be able to resist.

A bucolic charmer from a wonderful new voice in women’s fiction, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is pure gold!

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Karen Aldous One Moment at Sunrise blog tour

Karen Aldous

I am delighted to be hosting Karen Aldous today on her blog tour for a chat about her latest book, One Moment at Sunrise!

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Thank you so much for joining me here at Bookish Jottings, Karen. It’s lovely to have you here! Could you please start by telling me something about yourself and the books you write?

It’s a pleasure to be joining you today, thank you.

The itch to write has been with me a very long time. It wasn’t until my mother was going through her chemo that I realised how little time we were on this earth and it forced me to make time to sit down and begin writing the novel that had been in my head for years. So the goal was set in January 2012. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme as well as a local novel writing class where I was encouraged to send a synopsis and the first three chapters to a competition. Although I didn’t win the competition, I was invited along to meet an editor of a publisher who accepted the completed novel in 2013. The Vineyard was published by CarinaUK/HarperCollins in 2014. The Riviera and The Chateau followed, and now is the release of my fourth, One Moment at Sunrise. My books are essentially contemporary romance, based in some of my favourite exotic locations such as the French Riviera, Provence, Cannes, Montreux; the Swiss Riviera and the latest, on the quieter, yet stunning Canal-du-Mid.

I like my characters to be strong and engaged with the areas whilst mixing drama and intrigue from history or present day.

You’re a writer of contemporary women’s fiction. What originally attracted you to this sub-genre?

I wanted to write what I enjoyed reading. I love being whisked away to beautiful locations when I read, it gives me that feeling of escape and holiday so, I wanted my readers to share that.

Your latest book, One Moment at Sunrise has just been published. What inspired this book?

One Moment at Sunrise was inspired the minute I arrived at a villa close to the Canal-du-Midi. The main character came to me immediately as a little lost soul who imagined she had everything in her life, but when I began to question her, the intrigue began.

How would you sum up this book in a single sentence?

This is a story of one dramatic encounter prompting a tapestry of discoveries from the past and transforms a future.

What is One Moment of Sunrise about?

Evie Grant has everything she could want in life – so she thinks! But she is desperately unhappy and powerless until that is, she meets film director Ben Aiden who unwittingly opens her eyes and her heart.

What kind of research do you do for your books?

Whatever kind it takes, I think. Most of my research starts with the internet and visiting the settings but will often lead to other books such as guide books, biographies, academic research, visiting museums talking to people about their jobs or personal experience, asking experts for their input, speaking to local people in the locations my books are set, visiting specific restaurants in beautiful settings, vineyards, castles and houses.

What are the challenges of writing contemporary women’s fiction?

The main challenges are keeping up the suspense and entertainment. So much fiction for women is now much darker with the popularity of psychological thrillers. I believe readers like an edgy dramatic element which adds tension to a story as well as learning about the human psyche or a moment from history or beautiful location. For me the challenge is to keep a balance so that the reader enjoys a mix.

What do you think accounts for the enduring success of contemporary women’s fiction?

Firstly, I believe many women prefer a good book to TV. I think we enjoy the emotional journey a book takes us on which a film skims over and, I like to think that the publishing world recognises this. I also think contemporary fiction endures success because it allows us to identify with modern characters; someone like ourselves and how they deal with the world and relationships now, as opposed to women’s limitations in the past.

Who are your favourite authors?

Jane Austen for setting such a great precedent in women’s writing. Elena Ferrante for such beautiful writing. Jill Mansell’s novels just flow so effortlessly and Victoria Hislop for showing me how to combine the setting with its history.

What’s next for Karen Aldous?

I have many ideas for my next novel which I am planning at the moment and will continue to work on one which I hope will someday be an epic.

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One Moment at Sunrise by Karen Aldous blog tour review

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Gloriously escapist, wonderfully entertaining and absolutely impossible to put down, One Moment at Sunrise is the latest captivating tale by Karen Aldous!

To the outside world, Evie Grant’s life looks close to perfect. She lives in a beautiful villa in a picturesque village in the South of France, has an adorable daughter, a peaceful and serene existence and a rock star boyfriend, Seb Wilde. Evie might seem to have it all, however, her existence is laden with loneliness, anguish and despair. Seb had been adamant that he didn’t want his wife and daughter to fall foul of the glare of the paparazzi spotlight, so he had effectively isolated them from all their friends and family and compelled Evie to lead a life trapped in a gilded cage. Having been led to believe that she wouldn’t be able to function in the outside world, Evie spends her days dreaming that Seb will come back and whisk her away to a better life, but little does she realise that there might be other surprises in store for her…

Sick and tired of feeling like Seb’s dirty little secret, Evie is determined to change her life and when a twist of fate pushes her straight into the path of handsome stranger Ben, it looks like things might finally be looking up for her! For the first time in ages, positivity takes hold of Evie and she begins to reassess her life and implement some much needed changes that force her to reevaluate the choices she had made in the last couple of years. Should she have heeded her loved ones’ advice and given Seb as wide a berth as possible? Is Seb ever going to give her the life she deserves? And is her relationship with Ben simply platonic? Or does she want more from him?

Is Evie ready to shake off the shackles that are holding her captive and start a new life? Is she willing to put her heart on the line again? Or will she forever be condemned to a lifetime of misery and regret?

Take the phone off the hook, put your feet up and get ready to lose yourself in a spellbinding tale of fresh starts, second chances and healing from the past that will hold you in thrall from start to finish! Karen Aldous is a fantastic storyteller who has written a stirring, emotional, uplifting and heart-warming tale that will make you laugh, cry and think. Peopled with characters you cannot help but love, dramatic twists and turns, heart-stopping tension and believable situations, One Moment at Sunrise is a first-class read that is sure to appeal to fans of Cathy Kelly and Erica James.

A fantastic read you will not be able to put down, One Moment at Sunrise is not to be missed!

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Donna Douglas The Nurses of Steeple Street blog tour

Donna Douglas

Meet Agnes Sheridan, the wonderful new heroine from Donna Douglas‘ dazzling new saga, The Nurses of Steeple Street

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Isn’t it strange how one mistake can change the course of your life? Such it is for Agnes Sheridan, the heroine of my new novel, The Nurses of Steeple Street.

It’s 1925, and Agnes is a bright, ambitious young nurse with her whole future ahead of her, until a single tragic mistake turns her world upside down. In an effort to redeem herself, Londoner Agnes travels up to Leeds to retrain as a district nurse.

Not that she believes she will need much training. As far as Agnes is concerned, district nursing is little more than giving baths and changing bandages. Her high-handed attitude doesn’t make her many friends among the other nurses at the house in Steeple Street. And it certainly doesn’t endear her to the down-to-earth Assistant Superintendent, Bess Bradshaw. The dislike between them is instant, and Bess decides to teach Agnes a lesson by introducing her to the harsh realities of life in Quarry Hill, a warren of rundown slums in the centre of the city.

Sure enough, fastidious Agnes is horrified by Quarry Hill, and the chaotic lives of the people who call it their home. She knows Bess is trying to drive her away, but she has nowhere else to run. Her only choice is to stay and try to prove herself.

Gradually, as she gets to know the area and the families, she realises there is more to Quarry Hill and its residents than she imagined. She discovers there can be dignity and pride even in poverty, and that salvation can be found in the most unlikely and unexpected places. Most of all, she finds fun, friendship and forgiveness among the nurses of Steeple Street.

Sounds absolutely marvellous, Donna! The Nurses of Steeple Street is on sale now from all good bookshops and online retailers! Check out all the other stops on The Nurses of Steeple Street blog tour below!

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The Nurses of Steeple Street – Donna Douglas

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Poignant, stirring and absolutely impossible to resist, The Nurses of Steeple Street is an uplifting, powerful and highly compelling saga set in 1920s Leeds by Sunday Times best-selling author Donna Douglas.

Smart, ambitious and with the world at her feet, young nurse Agnes Sheridan had a bright future ahead of her. She was determined to get to the top of her profession and to become the best medical professional she could possibly be – and she was not about to let anything or anyone stand in her way! Londoner Agnes had her sights set on making something of herself, but little did she realise that fate had other plans in store for her…

When a tragic mistake shattered all her hopes and dreams for her career, Agnes had been cast adrift. Not only had all her professional plans for the future come crashing down around her ears, but she had also lost the love and respect of all the people she cared about. Determined to make a fresh start for herself and to prove to all those who doubted her that she does have what it takes to become a nurse, she decides to leave London and everything that is familiar to her behind and head to Leeds to retrain as a district nurse.

Having trained in London, Agnes is initially dismissive of district nursing. After her time nursing in the big city, Agnes is more than ready to change dressings and give pensioners bed baths. However, if she is to make a go of things in Leeds, she must first roll up her sleeves, put a smile on her face and get rid of the sneer that is making her seriously unpopular with her colleagues – especially down to earth Assistant Superintendent Bess Bradshaw.

Bess has got neither the time nor patience for Agnes’ high-handed attitude. District nursing is challenging, back-breaking and highly important work and Agnes’ histrionics could seriously jeopardise the well-being of the patients who depend on their care. Could assigning Agnes to Quarry Hill, one of the city’s most notorious slums, bring home to her how important the work of district nurses is to the community?

Although initially appalled at the conditions which the inhabitants at Quarry Hill have to contend with, Agnes is adamant that she will not let her disdain and revulsion get in the way of her job. Well aware that Bess is trying to get her to quit, Agnes is adamant that she won’t give up without a fight. But does she have what it takes to rise to the challenges that are constantly being thrown her way? Or will she forever be held hostage by the mistakes she made in the past?

The Nurses of Steeple Street is a wonderful tale about second chances, learning to trust and finding the courage to believe in yourself that will grab your attention from the very first sentence and keep you engrossed, entertained and on the edge of your seat until the very last page. Donna Douglas is a wonderful storyteller who not only makes the past come to vivid and colourful life, but she creates richly drawn and compelling characters you simply cannot help but love.

Written with compassion, flair and plenty of heart, The Nurses of Steeple Street is another triumph from a writer whose books are constantly outstanding: Donna Douglas!

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