2015 Reading Book 14 – 8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

I have something to confide in you. I think my husband, Dave, might be having an affair. I found an earring in his pocket, and it’s not mine. I’m also worried because some jewelry was recently stolen from an old woman—and Dave used to visit her a lot.

You see, he’s a pastor. And a good man. I can’t believe he’s guilty of anything, but why won’t he tell me where he’s been when he comes home so late?

Reader, I’d love to hear what you think. I also want to tell you what’s going on with your other friends in Cedar Cove.

Like Sheriff Troy Davis, to mention one. His long-ago love, Faith Beckwith, just moved here!

So come on in and join me for a cup of tea.

Emily Flemming

Quick Thoughts
If you have been around this blog long, you will know I really enjoy Debbie Macomber novels. I had been focussing on reading her new series, Rose Harbour, when I realised I hadn’t finished Cedar Cove. I’m really fortunate that my local library now has an e-book service, and the Cedar Cove series is part of it, so I have been using that to read this series.

As ever, I enjoyed this novel. Each story focuses on a different member of the community, with some stories crossing over to the next novel. This time, we followed the story of Pastor Flemming – a man keeping a shameful secret; plus there is a mystery to solve – who stole the jewellery? This book didn’t take me long to read. I am always drawn into the novels and can read them for hours at a time. This for me is easy reading; guilt-free chick lit!

Rating: 3 out of 5

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I HAVE FINISHED MY READING CHALLENGE!!!! But more on that another time!

Number 40 was Debbie Macomber’s 74 Seaside Avenue, a Cedar Cove novel. I haven’t read a Cedar Cove novel in a long time. I read a load of them together and got a bit fed up with them, however, I have been enjoying the series on TV and thought I would have another go. I am pleased to say I did enjoy this read. It was nice to spend time with old friends! I found some storylines a bit predictable, others a but unbelievable, but I still enjoyed the book. It didn’t take long to read it and I am considering reserving the next one at the library.

Addition: Paperback, library book
Genre: Chick-lit
Published: 2005
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Are you like me…do you have more than one book on the go? For me, the breakdown is simple: What I am reading and What I have started but not picked up in a while:

What I Am Reading

Radical Growth
Havilah Cunnington

The pathway to the radical growth you’re wanting is not complex. It’s not some unattainable, envy-provoking vision or dream meant to torment you with its impossibility. However – let’s be honest, no one has a vibrant life by accident. No one has a flourishing garden unintentionally. Simply put, vibrant living looks like a life grown on purpose. With clear understanding of God’s heart toward you, a commitment to 100 % obedient, and and unrelenting determination to follow truth, radical growth is possible. It’s a life that’s within your reach! This practical guidebook will give you daily access to being your own journey of living a radical and vibrant life!

This is a devotional series too, and you can join in by watching the videos here. This is the promo video for it:

74 Seaside Avenue
Debbie Macomber
Library book

Dear Reader, I’m living a life I couldn’t even have “dreamed” of a few years ago. I’m married to Bobby Polgar now (you know, the famous chess champion who just happens to be the man I love ). And we’ve got this beautiful house with a view of Puget Sound.

But lately something’s been worrying Bobby. When I asked, he said he was “protecting his queen”–and I got the oddest feeling he wasn’t talking about chess but about “me.” He wouldn’t say anything else.

Do you remember Get Nailed, the beauty salon in Cedar Cove? I still work there. I’ll tell you about my friend Rachel, who’s got two men interested in her (count ’em, “two”). And I’ll let you in on what I’ve heard about Linnette McAfee, who left town when her love life fell apart. (“That” kind of trouble I know all about.) Come in soon for a manicure and a chat, okay?

Teri (Miller) Polgar

Notes From A Small Island
Bill Bryson
Paperback – off my Mount TBR pile

“Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain-which is to say, all of it.”

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson-bestsellingauthor of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to returnto the United States. (“I had recently read,” Bryson writes, “that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another,so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But before departing, he set out ona grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

A Week in Paris
Rachel Hore
Netgalley review e-book

1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?

1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations.

What I have started but not picked up in a while

All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque
Paperback

Jesus, Meet Him Again…For the First Time
Paul Smith
Paperback

The Approval Fix
Joyce Meyer
Netgalley review e-book

What are you currently reading?

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Book number 38 in 2014 was Sally Clarkson’s You Are Loved. This book was written to accompany the online Christian devotion, You Are Loved, by the Love God Greatly team.

I found this devotional online and this book I could borrow from Amazon, and I enjoyed both of them. They are so helpful, full of truth and easy to engage with. I loved how honest and encouraging this book was; and I loved how it was so Scripture-based. This was such a good read – a must-read, as it is so important to know how much God loves you. Here is a link one of my favourite quotes from the book.

Addition: E-book
Genre: Christian
Published: 2014
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Delirium

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2011
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this novel. I’d had it on my Kindle for a while and then a friend mentioned how good it was and I thought, “OK, I must read that book.” To be honest, it wasn’t what I thought it would be like. I guess I imagined it would be like the Divergent series, or the Hunger Games trilogy – a novel with action and war. In some ways, it was similar to those trilogies as it is a dystopia novel, but that seemed to be where the similarity ended. It was more a love story than anything else. I found the beginning slow and the romance a bit dull – although the ending was good. It took a while to get going. I expected more danger in the book and didn’t get it until the last few pages. Although this wasn’t a bad book, it didn’t live up to my expectation of it.

The characters didn’t stick out in my mind much either. I could take them or leave them – except perhaps Grace, Lena’s mute cousin, who was so sweet. Her role at the end of the novel was amazing! I liked Lena, and her best friend Hana, but there didn’t seem to be anything particularly special about them.

Having been quite critical about this book, I did enjoy it enough to get the second book out the library.

Pandemonium

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

I enjoyed Pandemonium a lot more than Delirium. Lena has escaped from Portland and the dystopia society that she was living in. Here, there are no rules, no set homes and out here, you are the enemy. This novel contained a lot more of what I expected in the first book. There is action, fear and danger. Lena is fighting for a cause, healing a broken heart, and of course, falling in love again. I thought Pandemonium had a lot more interesting content than Delirium. It was more exciting and much more gripping. Lena finds herself trapped and fighting to survive, there were new characters and a completely new way of life that Lena has to learn to adjust too.

Oddly, I disliked Lena more in this book than I did in the first one! Taken out of her safe home, she is fearful and grumpy. She acts like a sulky teenager a lot in this novel. I did like Raven though, a fearless leader, and Tack, her side-kick. I also liked Blue – who was a lot like Grace – and like with Grace, I found myself feeling so sad for Blue.

There is a predictable cliff hanger at the end of Pandemonium, yet it was brilliant! This book left me wanting more, so it was good news that there is a third book in this series!

Requiem

Addition: E-book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

Requiem is written differently to the first two books in this trilogy. This time, the novel follows both Lena in the Wilds, and Hana in Portland, about to get married. Hana has been cured, Lena has not. They are no longer friends or connected in any way, in fact, they barely think of each other. Yet their lives will become entwined again.

This book had a lot of promise and started so well, yet I found that by halfway I was ready for the story to move on. It started to drag, and felt like it was repeating itself. Again, like Delirium, this book was also a big love story – who would Lena chose? There were revelations in this book and I did enjoy jumping between Lena and Hana, but I did think it took too long for the final climax to happen. I also felt that the ending was rushed. I was left asking questions, and I hate that in a book!

The Delirium Series
I did enjoy this series, I just didn’t like it as much as the Divergent series or the Hunger Games series. I was hoping for more from this book than I got. Reflecting on the series, there isn’t anyone that stands out and I still find it annoying that the ending was so abrupt. I would rate this series 3 out of 5 because it was good, it just wasn’t what I expected, and at times I felt the books were similar and I wanted the stories to move on.

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Book number 29 was the final book in the Delirium trilogy, Requiem, by Lauren Oliver.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this book. I wasn’t too excited by Delirium, the first book, but did really enjoy Pandemonium, book two. I was eager to start reading Pandemonium, and the for a while was really enjoying it. However, I did find that around halfway through the book I was ready for the story to move on. Like Delirium, I found the end of the book the most exciting. I did enjoy this novel, but not as much as I enjoyed Pandemonium.

Addition: Library book
Genre: Young adult
Published: 2013
Rating: 3 out of 5

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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Addition: Paperback from the library

Genre: Historal Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Photographer Lucy Cardwell has recently lost her troubled father, Tom. While sifting through his papers, she finds he’d been researching an uncle she never knew he’d had. Intrigued, she visits her father’s childhood home, the once beautiful Carlyon Manor. She meets an old woman named Beatrice who has an extraordinary story to tell …Growing up in the 1930s, Beatrice plays with the children of Carlyon Manor – especially pretty, blonde Angelina Wincanton, Lucy’s grandmother. Then, one summer at the age of fifteen, she falls in love with a young visitor to the town: Rafe Ashton, whom she rescues from a storm-tossed sea. But the dark clouds of war are gathering, and Beatrice, Rafe, and the Wincantons will all be swept up in the cataclysm of events that follow. Beatrice’s story is a powerful tale of courage and betrayal, spanning from Cornwall to London, and Occupied France, in which friendship and love are tested, and the ramifications reach down the generations. And, as Lucy listens to the tales of the past, she learns a secret that will change everything she has ever known…

Rachel Hore is one of my favourite authors and I was very excited to read this – and although I enjoyed it a lot, I don’t think this is her best work. The story is told from two viewpoints: Beatrice, an elderly lady with a surprising history, and Lucy, a twenty-something searching for answers. After Lucy’s grandmother died her Dad found some things about his past out and decided, without giving a reason, to divorce her Mum. After he dies, Lucy finds out he has discovered something about a man called Rafe. On a trip to Cornwall, she finds a lady who knows all about Rafe, and Lucy’s Dad Tom. Most of the book is told by Beatrice, who tells tales of her childhood spent with Lucy’s Grandmother, her adventures in the war, her history with Rafe, and ultimately about Tom.

I liked Beatrice. She is written as a warm girl, who suffers a far amount in her life. I wasn’t completely convinced by all of her story – mainly by her experiences in the war – how she happened to join the same spy group as Rafe and how she managed to escape. Lucy doesn’t feature too highly in this story, although again there were things she did I wasn’t convinced someone would do – such as going out on a boat with someone she has just met. But these things aside, this is a good read. I was gripped. I wanted to know who Rafe was, I wanted to know about Beatrice and what happened to her and I wanted to know about Angelina Wincanton – Lucy’s grandmother. By the end I had worked out who Rafe was, and who Tom was, but that didn’t spoil the story.

This is a well written book. It looks at life in the war, from two sides: the rich – Angelina going out dancing, messing with boys hearts, having coming-out parties and being spoilt; and the poor – Beatrice working hard for the war effort, falling in love and falling pregnant and the death of a fiancee. We spend time in occupied France, war-battered London and Cornwall. There were parts of the story that broke my heart and the whole thing kept me gripped.

I enjoy Rachel Hore’s books. I enjoyed this book. This is well worth reading! This is good quality historical fiction.

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Addition: Library book, paperback

Genre: Chick-lit

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

On the anniversary of his beloved wife’s death, Dr. Michael Everett receives a letter Hannah had written him.
In it she reminds him of her love and makes one final request. An impossible request — I want you to marry again. She tells him he shouldn’t spend the years he has left grieving her. And to that end she’s chosen three women she asks him to consider.
First on Hannah’s list is her cousin, Winter Adams, a trained chef who owns a café on Seattle’s Blossom Street. The second is Leanne Lancaster, Hannah’s oncology nurse. Michael knows them both. But the third name is one he’s not familiar with — Macy Roth.
Each of these three women has her own heartache, her own private grief. More than a year earlier, Winter broke off her relationship with another chef. Leanne is divorced from a man who defrauded the hospital for which she works. And Macy lacks family of her own, the family she craves, but she’s a rescuer of strays, human and animal. Macy is energetic, artistic, eccentric — and couldn’t be more different from Michael.
During the months that follow, he spends time with Winter, Leanne and Macy, learning more about each of them…and about himself. Learning what Hannah already knew. He’s a man who needs the completeness only love can offer. And Hannah’s list leads him to the woman who can help him find it.

This is number 7 in Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street Series. I love this series – it is about friendship, love and knitting. These are fun, easy-to-read, heartwarming books that will appeal to most women.

This book follows Michael, a man who a year ago lost his wife to cancer. Hannah was the love of his life and her death devasted him. On the anniversary of Hannah’s death he goes out for dinner with her brother, who gives him a letter Hannah has written. In it she writes that she wants him to re-marry and has suggested three ladies who might be suitable. Michael hates the idea of this but to honour Hannah he meets all these woman – and one of them will change his life.

I was reading what Debbie Macomber had to say at the beginning of this book and I was touched to find out that this is based on a true story – she had a friend who did this and I thought that was lovely.

I love the Blossom Street books. I find I can’t put them down once I’ve started. Macomber has a way of drawing me into the story and adding in the characters from other books in the series to keep it all tied together. I felt for Michael – how hard must it be to lose your spouse and then to receive a letter they have written asking you to remarry? I felt his character was well written – sometimes he was sad, other times angry – at everything, including Hannah – and yet we watched him heal so often by the end he was happy – and of course he fell in love, which was so nice to read.

Honestly, the storyline is not a surprise. The ending isn’t hard to guess but I don’t mind that in Macomber’s books because I get very engaged in the story. I liked the characters – all had their own story and I loved reading about their lives and seeing the effect one person could have on them all. Hannah seemed so special and friends and family really were rooting were Michael to love again.

These books are enjoyable, lovely, engaging reads. I can easily read one straight after the other. Macomber is one of my favourite authors and I highly recommend her. I love the storyline, her books don’t contain bad language or graphic love scenes, her writing is easy to read and easy to follow and I love these books! It isn’t hard for me to give this book four out of five – maybe next time the ending will surprise me!

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REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Library hard back

Genre: Chick-lit

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Cleo Quinn doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to men, but now Will’s come along she’s optimistic. Handsome, attentive and an absolute gentleman when it comes to her questionable cooking skills, he could be her Mr Right. Things are definitely looking up for Cleo… apart from one small problem with a rather large ego. Johnny LaVenture, sculptor extraordinaire and her childhood adversary, is back in Channing’s Hill and tormenting Cleo as if he’d never been away.

But life never goes to plan, does it? Johnny isn’t the only one stirring up trouble and, for Cleo’s family and friends, all kinds of sparks are starting to fly. If you think you can put the past behind you, think again…

I read this book back at the beginning of the year, and really enjoyed it. It is a book that had me glued to it all day. I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in a day. I have read a couple of other novels by Jill Mansell, and really enjoyed those too.

Mansell writes really good chick-lit. Her books are fun and hard to put down. They always perk me up and I always enjoy them. In this novel, Cleo is the protagonist. She used to work hard at school but a bout of bullying put an end to that. As an adult she makes a living driving limos. She is happy and content with her job and her boyfriend Will. Then the man who made her life miserable at school comes back to town for his father’s funeral her world is shaken. Her sister’s world is also being shaken. She has just discovered that her husband has an eighteen year old daughter. Did he cheat? Why didn’t he tell her?

Mansell weaves a web that revolves around two sisters, Cleo and Abby. Cleo is settled, enjoying life, her man and her friends. Then Johnny returns. His attention is on her, and her head is being turned toward him. She tries to cling on to her current relationship – to discover Will is actually married with children. She feels awful and won’t forgive him. What she doesn’t expect is to become friends with his wife. And what about Abby? Whilst putting away her husband’s socks she discovers a photo of his daughter. How and when did this happen? She discovers that the mother is the surrogate they wanted to use when they discovered Abby wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to full term. The woman had claimed she didn’t get pregnant, but she had in fact lied and kept the baby – a little girl called Georgia. There are twists and turns throughout the book and it is so enjoyable.

Mansell writes a whole host of readable, realistic characters. I liked Cleo. She was caring and concerned about her family. She is sensitive and she is not easily wooed. I felt so much for Abby. She was a damaged woman, as she couldn’t have children. Then to discover her husband had a child, and then for Georgia to come and live with them was tough. She was sad and angry and lost. Her character was realistic and heart breaking. I liked Cleo’s best friend Ash. I found it fascinating how he was a radio DJ who really was very shy and not that good looking. However, he cared and was fun with Cleo. I liked Johnny as well. Once he realised how he had made Cleo feel he was apologetic and watching him chase Cleo was great!

There is a lot in this book – affairs, barrenness, family, surrogacy and love. There is so much to get your teeth in. I felt every story line was handled really well. I was sucked into this world and really enjoyed being there. The ending is fairly predictable, but who doesn’t like a happy ending?!

I can easily give this book 4/5 because it was so good. From start to finish, I was hooked. Really worth reading if you like chick-lit.

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REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Library paperback

Genre: Historical mystery, female fiction

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again…

Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her.

A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she’s asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th-century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up.

As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the woods from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk forests. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life and learn to love again?

This is a historical mystery that haunts one family, that is laced with a love story. Jude works for a prestigious auctioneer company in London. Things are looking bad for the company since the recession hit – that is until she receives a call from the Starbrough residence in Norfolk. They have a library which has many first additions and some historic star gazing equipment. Jude doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives in Norfolk – her old home. What she finds is an old folly, a niece having the same nightmares she used to have a family mystery and a lovely man…

I really enjoyed this book. It was not a quick read, but it was well worth reading. This is a book that encompasses the past and the present, love, history, astrology, travellers and family. The main focus of the book is the mystery. Jude is at Starbrough to look through and catalogue Anthony Wickham’s library collection, however, very early on she comes across a diary, not kept by Anthony, but his adopted daughter Esther. There are no records of Esther in the family archives – who was she? Where did she come from and what happened to her? Are the suspicions right – is she a girl from a noble background? If so, how did she end up lost at the side of the road in Norfolk, aged three? There are so many questions for Jude to answer. She roams around the countryside, hunting for clues – is there another diary? I really enjoyed this story line. Hore includes sections from Esther’s diary in the story – taking us back to her life – adding another dimension to the story.

Alongside this, Jude is still trying to recover from the death of her husband, her Gran has given her a necklace that belonged to her traveller friend, and wants Jude to find the friend to return the necklace and Jude is struggling with her sister Claire and the fact Claire’s daughter Summer is having the same nightmares that Jude used to have. What is the connection? Why is Summer having those dreams too? The most exciting part of the book was the climax at the end – Summer goes missing. Her dream leads her to the old folly – the building where Anthony Wickham used to star gaze. It is unsafe, possibly haunted and scares Summer. Yet she sleep walks there. It turns out, she is going to try and save Esther – who was locked up there after her father died – even though Esther lived in the 1800s. What is the connection between Esther and Summer?

All is revealed at the end – loose ends tied up and questions answered. Maybe the connections were too predictable and unrealistic, but I liked it! The ending is very neat – the family line that runs down to Summer and the Lord who happened to be working with the Jude’s auctioneer company. However, all answers were satisfying, and I enjoyed the way Hore wrapped the book up.

This is a complex book with many story lines, all linked fascinating. There is a love story – we get to see Jude’s broken heart healed by Euan – even though there was confusion about which sister he was falling for. Again, this romance is fairly predictable, but it was lovely anyway, and didn’t take over the story. It was a nice story that completed the book.

I thought all the characters were great to read about. I felt for Jude – finding it hard to relate to her sister, struggling with love and working hard to solve the Wickham mystery and get a great sale for her company. I really liked Chantel as well – the mother who lived at Starbrough Hall. She was caring, and loved the library – a great reason for me to like her!

This is a complex, exciting book. It has mystery, suspense and romance. This is the second book by Rachel Hore that I have read and I have really enjoyed both. She is fast becoming a favourite author and I highly recommend this book.

This book is the first novel I have read in the Mystery and Suspense Challenge. It classes as a historical mystery and well worth reading 🙂

 

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