Category Archives: Book reviews

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

I have received a free e-copy of the book “The Second Son” by Andy Blackman to review.

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

Here is the book blurb.

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Jonathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the first time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.

I couldn’t wait to start reading this, as I really enjoyed Andy Blackman’s first novel “For the Love of Grace” and could immediately tell from the blurb, that it was a sequel.

I was most impressed how well this story linked in with the original but equally would work very well as a stand-alone book too. In fact, I can say it is the best book I have read in a long while.

The book starts when Grenville has just finished his first year at Cambridge University, but then to set the scene, goes back to his school days at Rayleigh School, where he met his 2 best friends Hugo and Jonathan. We also see his poor relationship with his older brother Stephan and Stephen’s friend Dexter Simon-Smyth.

Grenville and Jonathan head to Belize for the summer backpacking and this is where the story starts interacting with the previous novel. Tom rescues them when Grenville is stabbed in a bar for winning a darts match against the locals. Jonathan flies home but Grenville decides to remain in Belize with Tom where he learns Tom’s unorthodox way of life.

Meanwhile 5 years later back in England, Grenville’s brother Stephen dies in a car crash, whilst fiancée Sara escapes with scrapes and bruises. Jonathan writes to Grenville care of Tom’s PO Box, to pass on his parents request that he return home, with a reminder of the family motto “Duty before honour”.

Grenville returns but continues assisting Tom from afar in their secret dealings, registering Tom’s import business in the UK. He also finds the family estate in dire straits. I can’t say too much more for fear of spoilers, but he reunites with both Jonathan and Hugo, plus forms new relationships. Loads of twists and turns before Tom arrives in London for plenty more interaction with the first story.

The Second Son is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. I loved this story and highly recommend it. A real page turner.


Here is an extract from the book to whet your appetite.

This is where Grenville first meets the two boys who are going to be his closest friends, and later in life help him to achieve his secret with Tom.

Grenville moved towards the waving boy, and as he approached another boy asked him his name, Grenville replied, and the boy told him to stand with the other five boys already there. As Grenville approached, one of the boys smiled and said, “Hi I am Jonathan Spencer,” holding out his hand.

Grenville took the offered hand, and said, “Grenville Hampton, pleased to meet you,” and smiled for the first time since his arrival. Another boy introduced himself as Hugo Thorpe, and the three started to chat while they waited. Eventually there were eight boys standing in the huddle.

The boy with the blue hanky said, “follow me to the Walpole House, where we will meet Mr Raymond, the Walpole House Master.”

Turning, the boy smartly took off followed by the eight boys. Eventually they arrived at Walpole House, and were told to take a seat in the common room and wait for Mr Raymond. Mr Raymond eventually stepped into the middle of the common room and looked about at the eight boys and said, “Welcome to Walpole House, this will be your house and home whilst you are at Raleigh School, until you leave for future endeavours. I am Mr Raymond, the House Master of Walpole House. I am your first point of contact, if you have any problems or concerns whilst you are at Raleigh School or Walpole House, do not hesitate to contact me or if you require my assistance anytime night or day, my house is next door, please do not hesitate to knock. If I am not about, my wife Margret will know where I am at all times.” Smiling, Mr Raymond asked if there were any questions, all eight heads nodded in unison. Mr Raymond went on, “I know for most of you this is the first time you have ever been away from home and all this seems very daunting to you, but I know in a few days this place will seem like home as well.

“In your white envelopes that you are all clutching are the School and House Rules, plus your timetables for your days, evenings and weekends. We at Raleigh School and especially Walpole House expect great things from you freshman boys and I no doubt have the greatest faith in all your abilities to make Rayleigh School and Walpole House proud. That is all for now, I will get Graves here to take you to your new dormitory where your luggage has been delivered, so you can unpack and settle in for the night. I shall meet you all back in here tomorrow morning after breakfast. Graves will be with you in the morning to escort you to the Walpole Dining Hall for breakfast and give you a quick tour of Walpole House, so I will see you all tomorrow morning. Any questions?” And before anyone had a chance to answer, Mr Raymond strolled out of the common room.

Graves stood and said, “Follow me.” Leading the boys up three flights of stairs to the top floor, he opened a door onto eight beds with eight lockers; four on each side of the room. At the bottom was a washroom. “Find a bed and I will see you all at seven in the morning for breakfast,” said Graves before he closed the door on them.

Grenville took the last bed on the right near the washroom; Jonathan took the one next to him and Hugo the one opposite. The room was totally silent as the boys located their luggage from the assembled pile in the middle of the room. Eventually they all started to unpack and placed all their belongings into the lockers and small bedside cabinets. After a time, Grenville lay on his bed and thought of home and his grandfather, but before he had time to wallow, Hugo had come over and said, “Grenville, my dear chap, got any scoff, I am bloody well starving.”

Grenville started to laugh, and that seemed to break the tension in the room and before long, on the table in the middle of the room, a feast had been laid out of all the food the boys had brought with them, and they were all chatting and getting to know each other.


About Andy Blackman

After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren. His previous novel, For the Love of Grace, was published in 2016.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas to review.

The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

Here is the book blurb.

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

I found this book quite confusing as the timeline kept swapping between nightmare flashbacks to when Max was imprisoned at a POW camp in Siberia and current 1949 occupied Germany described mainly from Max’s young daughter Netta’s viewpoint.

It is a full household with Max, his wife Erika, Netta, Max’s parents Martha and Karl, invalid Tante Bertel and servant Karin. Things get even more complicated as Karin is dating Roderick, who the reader has already learnt had an affair with Erika whilst Max was a POW. Martha knows about this and warns Karin she will lose her job if she doesn’t stop seeing Roderick.

The reader discovers that Netta seems to have an eating disorder, although her family seem unaware. And she tells her father that someone has been watching her. She also has a bad cough due to pollution. Her parents are just deciding to send her away to the seaside where the air will be better, when police arrive. There has been a murder. Are some of them suspects?

There are more characters to meet including some from Max’s time at the POW camp, but I’m going to stop now as I don’t wish to reveal who was murdered. This happened quite near the start of the story, but as I said before I found it all quite confusing.

The Watcher is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A challenging read and not one that I hugely enjoyed, although okay.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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In The Land of Broken Time by Maria Evan & Max Evan

I have received a free e-copy of the book “In the Land of Broken Time” by married couple Maria Evan & Max Evan for son1 to review. To find out more about the authors, you may see their Facebook page here.

In The Land of Broken Time by Maria Evan and Max Evan

Here is the book blurb.

Join the time travel adventures of Christopher, Sophia and their retriever, Duke, as they find themselves in a hot air balloon that flies them to The Fairyland. They meet good and evil scientists, as well as a dubious gnome. Through this book you will learn about measuring time, creatures that never get old and about friendship. You will also learn how to make your own clocks!
This is a story about time travel for children from 8 to 12 years old, but their parents might find it interesting as well.

This is what son1 had to say.

I’m reviewing a book called ‘In the land of broken time’. I thought it good and rated it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s about a boy called Christopher who sneaks out of his house and into the circus. When someone discovers he doesn’t have a ticket, a girl called Sophie, who doesn’t have a ticket either, distracts everyone else to stop him getting into trouble. They meet a dog called Duke and they ride a hot air balloon 🎈 and land in the land of broken time…

But if you want to know more you’ll have to read the book 📚

In the Land of Broken Time

And I’ll add a few more comments myself. This is a short book at only 48 pages, but it packs in a lot of detail and really brings the adventure to life. Maria is also the illustrator. It focuses on different types of clocks like sun dials and hourglasses and also includes time travel. It features a pair of scientist brothers – one good and one bad. What will happen and will the children get safely home again?

This is the first children’s book by married couple Maria & Max Evan, originally written in Russian for their own son, but expertly translated. And the paperback version has been beautifully illustrated by Maria too.

In The Land of Broken Time is available on Amazon, currently priced at £4.77 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Highly recommended by both son1 and me.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The Tyler Files #1: Smarty Pants! by Brian Rock plus giveaway

I have received a free e-copy of the book Smarty Pants! by Brian Rock for son2 to review. This is the first title in The Tyler Files series. You may find out more about the author on his website.

The Tyler Files - Smarty Pants

Here is the book blurb.

Wimpy Kid meets Gravity Falls!

Tyler has a big problem. His pants won’t stop talking! How will he make it through the day without becoming the school laughing stock? And how will Tyler survive his pants’ “off the cuff” remarks to the school bully (and to his secret crush?) With a little help from his best friend, Tyler gives a first-hand account of the mysterious, improbable and occasionally funny events that are so strange they can only be found in THE TYLER FILES.
In addition, THE TYLER FILES breaks new ground in the chapter book genre by adding interactive backmatter to the end of the story. Tyler poses questions to stimulate creative thinking in readers. He introduces and give examples of idioms related to the story. He gives 10 fun facts about pants, and even tells some jokes!

This is what son2 had to say about the book.
I love this book because it is funny especially when Rob’s trousers split open.
The Tyler Files - Smarty Pants

To put son2’s comment into context, Rob is the school bully Rhino, so it is extra-funny when his trousers split open, when he bends down to try to punch Tyler, who had just lay down on floor, at his own talking trousers’ suggestion. It is an American book, so trousers are referred to as pants throughout. Of course this made it all the more funny in my son’s opinion. The story centres around the bizarre theme of a talking pair of trousers, but as far-fetched as this sounds, it works very well as a children’s title.

The Tyler Files series are written by Brian Rock and illustrated by Joshua Dawson. Smarty Pants! is the first book in the series and books 2 and 3 will be published later this month. These books are targeted at children age 7-10. After the story, there is some interactive material, so I tried asking son2 what everyday object he would choose to bring to life. He couldn’t think of anything but when I posed the same question to son1, he said a mushroom. He hates mushrooms, so we had some interesting answers to all the follow-up questions. There were also jokes, idioms and fun facts, although most of the facts were aimed at an older age bracket than the story.

Smarty Pants! is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in kindle format. Highly recommended by son2.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a paperback copy of Smarty Pants! to one lucky winner. Open worldwide.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear what everyday object you would choose to bring to life and why?

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The White House Files by Sara Cobb

I have received a free e-copy of the book The White House Files by Sara Cobb to review. To find out more about the author you may see her website here.

The White House Files by Sara Cobb

Here is the book blurb.

She’ll do anything to unearth the secrets.
They’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

Hundreds of years after WWIII, Smithsonian archeologist Roslin Williams has uncovered an old Air Force One plane containing human remains. It is the greatest historical discovery of her lifetime, one that raises more questions than answers. Roslin is determined to dig up any information about the plane that she can and unravel the secrets behind it.

However, the dangerous powers behind this age-old scandal have plans of their own. Keeping facts buried is their number one priority and Roslin is getting in their way. With an assassin closing in to silence her once and for all, Roslin teams up with Special Agent Mark Appleton to unravel this ancient conspiracy. But with time running out, will they unearth the truth before they’re the next buried fatalities?

Even the best kept secrets can’t stay buried forever.

This book is set in the future, hundreds of years after WWIII, although we don’t get to know which century. Roslin is part of the archaeological team who are working on the dig of the century at the site where the White House once stood. On live camera feed, they uncover a door with the presidential seal and Martin, her annoying boss who has a tendancy to ignore protocol, tugs the door handle which breaks off and causes the door to jamb halfway open. He orders Roslin to squeeze through the gap and she falls face first onto skeletal remains. As she orientates herself, she realises she is in Air Force One.

The live feed has been watched by those who don’t want Air Force One found. They know secrets that have been handed down through many generations and it is their responsibility that those secrets remain secret. The discovery of Air Force One jeopardises the secrets. What will they do? Loads of twists and turns follow, as Roslin tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to Air Force One and who was on board. She struggles to read old documents found on the plane, as written English is now a dead language.

I normally avoid futuristic novels as they tend not to appeal. But I loved this one, as instead of focussing on the technology of future, Roslin is much more interested in the past. So her home was full of things that nobody else has heard of like a television and a combination safe hidden behind a painting. Her security system is a piece of masking tape placed on top of the door, and her roll of tape is running very low, but she doesn’t know where to obtain a new roll, since again it is an obsolete item. Similarly she has a battery operated flashlight keyring for emergencies but of course replacement batteries are obsolete too. And when she finds an artefact which she can’t identify, it turns out to be a USB stick. I just found all these touches that the author had included so appealing.

The White House Files is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.32 in Kindle format. A great read that kept me on the edge of my seat although I was disappointed that it ended so suddenly. The author is already writing the next in the series, so I’ll just have to wait. Highly recommended.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae

I have received a free e-copy of the book Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae to review.

Dating Daisy by Daisy Mae

Here is the book blurb.

Daisy Mae has finally left her horrible husband after decades of unfulfilling marriage. Ready to embark on a new liberated life of adventure and fun, it dawns on Daisy that the last time she was asked out on a date was in the 80s, long before Whatsapp, Tinder, Happn and Bumble arrived; all meaningless words to Daisy’s frankly middle-aged ears.

As a sexual health doctor Daisy Mae, more than most, has reason to be cautious about throwing herself headfirst into 21st century dating. With guidance and encouragement from her seventeen-year-old daughter Imogen, her surrogate parents with a swanky house and swimming pool known fondly as The Amigos, and her friends Pinky and Jeannie, a nonagenarian who sends her insightful relationship tips from her nursing home, Daisy joins an online dating site in the hope that romance will swiftly follow.

But dating in the age of selfies and social media isn’t easy, and what begins as an innocent foray soon unravels in spectacular fashion. Daisy had not expected that she’d have to decode tech-speak (did you know 531 meant sex?), endure mortifying first dates with men who look nothing like their profiles, and be on the receiving end of an unwanted barrage of explicit photographs.

Is the price of finding love online too high? Or can Daisy Mae swipe her way to success?

This book is set in 2014, when 52 year old Daisy signs on to an internet dating site after one divorce and another 18 month relationship, because she wants to find a lifetime mate. Daisy lives with her 17 year old daughter Imogen, but we hear how she refers to her ex-husband as Voldemort.

She puts a lot of effort into how she portrays herself in her profile and photo and is disappointed to find not one wink, smile or email the next day. So instead she does a search on the site for non-smoking men aged 50-60 within 20 miles of Brighton but there are only 3 matches. Even expanding to a 50 mile radius, it only increases to 12 and about a third of them haven’t included a photo.

We then follow Daisy’s online chats, her first dates which often turn out to be a complete disaster, especially when men are nothing like their profile. She signs on to more sites. And the story is interspersed with Daisy recounting comical tales from her career as a sexual health doctor, plus advice from the Amigos, her best friends.

How many dates will Daisy have and can she find true love? And how does Imogen react?

Dating Daisy is available on Amazon, currently priced at £10.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A funny light-hearted read, although I did get a bit fed up with the over-use of the phrase “Here’s the thing” throughout the book.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp to review.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

Here is the book blurb.

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

The book starts when 15 year old Pat’s school is evacuated to Leatherhead in September 1939. Pat, Janet and Becky end up at Givons House, where they are under-fed, but get rehomed after complaints from their parents. Pat misses her new best friend Becky but has to leave her next billet when relatives are due and ends up in a bed far too short for her.

She goes back home to Brixton for Christmas, where her childhood friend Bill now wants her to be his sweetheart. But Pat doesn’t want to be anyone’s girl, she dreams of going to sixth form, then training to become a teacher.

Shortly after returning to Leatherhead, the short bed fails an inspection and Pat is rehomed again, this time in a small flat with Mr & Mrs Grice. When Mr Grice is called up, Mrs Grice moves to a larger bungalow and finally Becky is able to lodge with Pat again. But it is not just Leatherhead where she keeps moving, as her grandmother forces the family to move from Brixton to West Norwood due to a rent dispute, just before she goes back for May half-term.

Whilst home, she heads into London for a visit to the National Gallery and en-route pops into the Beaver Club, where her mother works. But she accidentally collides into one of the Canadian servicemen, Group Captain James Bonar, who was about to do some sightseeing before returning to duties. She ends up acting as an unofficial tour guide and James then asks her to be a pen pal.

A couple of weeks later, Pat turns 16 and with her school friends, goes for a cycle ride picnic where they inadvertently end up amidst a military training exercise on Esher Common. The officer in charge forbids them to speak of it to anyone, so she can’t include it in her pen pal news. Meanwhile James asks if she will show him more of London when he next gets leave, so she uses a visit to Becky as a cover excuse. And a week later they go to a dance and kiss. Several months pass before James next has leave and this time they sleep together and James proposes. Pat turns him down saying she wishes she was 10 years older. James had mistakenly assumed she was 21. But disaster intervenes when a week later, James’ plane is shot down.

We then move into part 2 of the book, where we continue to follow Pat, who is now blaming herself for James’ death and bottling up her biggest secret. Bill alternates between trying to cheer her up and feeling jealous that somebody else had been keen on Pat. She then meets Bill’s friend Jon whom she becomes keen on. Of course Bill starts resenting that Jon likes Pat. There’s lots more to come in the story, but I’m going to stop now.

The Keeping of Secrets is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story which I recommend.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.

Pat has taken James, a Canadian airman, on a whistle stop tour of London’s attractions:

‘No tour guide worth her salt could allow a tour to end without a cup of tea at a Lyons Corner House,’ I declared grandly, and James inclined his head for me to lead on. I took him to the one on the opposite corner to Charing Cross Station and we were placed at a table at one side of the room towards the back. James extracted a cigarette packet as we waited for our tea, a quirk of an eyebrow as I refused the proffered cigarette, but he made no comment, dragging deeply before blowing the smoke out of his flared nostrils. He said, ‘It’s been a very pleasant afternoon. You’ve been kind to a stranger in a foreign land and made me feel at home. Could I ask one more thing of you?’

At that moment the waitress arrived and we were busy for a few minutes with the flurry of activity. Once cups of tea were in front of us, unable to contain my curiosity, I asked, ‘What’s the one more thing you’d like me to do?’

James was in no hurry to reply, sipping his tea and helping himself to a small gingerbread cake, which he ate slowly, his even white teeth flashing as he bit into its soft brown depths, his lips meeting firmly, a slight lift to the side of his mouth as he chewed and watched me watching him. I blushed a little as if I had caught him in some kind of personal ritual and he swallowed and nodded slightly, as if coming to a decision, smiling more broadly now, the crow’s feet crinkling, and I felt a melting inside me, and I thought, I’d like to draw him, and, blushing again, busied myself with cutting up my scone and butter.

James leaned forward and spoke quietly so as to not be overheard.


About the author

Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.

Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/


I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Taming a Savage Gentleman by Tammy Andresen

I have received a free e-copy of the book Taming a Savage Gentleman by Tammy Andresen to review.

Taming a Savage Gentleman by Tammy Andresen

Here is the book blurb.

Tom Maddox would never marry. He’s the second son, the spare, and he prides himself on living his life without the confines of society.

Baroness Segrave needs a husband for society’s sake but she’d prefer he have no opinion at all. Which is why the Earl of Loudoun seems the ideal choice. With no fortune and a drinking habit, he should allow her to keep running her estate while living off the allowance she’d give him. But Loudoun proves to be both drunk and foolish. Suddenly a husband who is strong, capable, and appreciative of her gifts gains merit in her eyes. A man like Tom Maddox.

But how can she convince Tom that he should consider marriage and give up his carefree bachelorhood? Because no matter what anyone else believes, she’d rather the love of a gentleman than a lord.

This is book 5 of 6 in the Taming the Heart series set in 1860.

Tom Maddox, 2nd son of Lord Maddox enjoys working as chief officer aboard The White Lady, although his father wishes him to settle into the family shipyard business. However Tom likes his single carefree life. On this trip sailing from London to Scotland, in addition to the usual cargo, there are 3 passengers – Dowager Baroness Segrave, her daughter Lady Flora Baroness Segrave and the Earl of Loudoun, who is courting Lady Flora.

Tom is attracted to Lady Flora and is annoyed by the drunken Earl’s rudeness to her. As they walked the deck, Loudoun angrily tries to grab Flora’s arm, causing her to unbalance and fall overboard. Tom jumps in and saves her. But Flora is too cold and Tom knows she needs skin to skin contact to warm up to survive. He convinces her mother that this is essential and that she can chaperone without Flora being compromised.

A storm is brewing and the ship heads to find harbour on an island. As the ship lurches, Flora’s mother is sent flying across the cabin and Flora goes to tell Tom that her mother is injured. At the same time the ship hits a rock. They take the row boats to shore, but mutiny is about to break out as the crew blame Flora for distracting Tom although he couldn’t have seen the rock.

Flora realises that she doesn’t want to marry the drunken Earl after all. She wants Tom but on what terms?

Taming a Savage Gentleman is available on Amazon, currently priced at £2.40 in Kindle format. This is a nice light romance story.


About the author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Tammy Andresen lives with her husband and three children just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. She grew up on the Seacoast of Maine, where she spent countless days dreaming up stories in blueberry fields and among the scrub pines that line the coast. Her mother loved to spin a yarn and Tammy filled many hours listening to her mother retell the classics. It was inevitable that at the age of 18, she headed off to Simmons College, where she studied English literature and education. She never left Massachusetts but some of her heart still resides in Maine and her family visits often.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Revolution by Piet Hein Wokke

I have received a free e-copy of the book Revolution by Piet Hein Wokke to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

Revolution by Piet Hein Wokke

Here is the book blurb.

Escape to the Middle East in this thrilling tale about Khalid, Abdullah and Jalal – young men who try to shape the kingdom of Beledar.

While the nearest battlefields of WWII are hundreds of miles of away, on the streets of Mayasin, the capital of Beledar, Abdullah struggles to survive. In a remote village, Khalid sets out in search of his father, and must face the brutal laws of the desert.

Jalal, the young king, wants to break through nepotism and corruption, but in a conservative, Islamic country, change doesn’t come easy. That the western world preys on his country’s oil fields, doesn’t make his life any easier either.

In this exciting book, Wokke expertly and poignantly shows the roots of modern conflicts in the Middle East, through the people and ideas that inhabit it.

The book swaps between the storylines of Abdullah and Khalid, interspersed with that of Prince / Emir / King  Jalal. It is set in the fictional Middle East kingdom of Beledar.

After a prologue 10 years earlier, it starts in 1942 with Abdullah, a boy trying to earn a living on the streets shining shoes and selling cigarettes or arak. However policeman Rizq is always on his case. When times get harder, he tries taking customers to a pimp. But when Rizq corners him, he grabs his dagger and stabs him in self-defence. He then goes to hide from the ghosts in the Green Mosque.

Prince Jalal becomes Emir in 1942 when his father dies. However he discovers that his uncles were plotting to have him killed, so he orders them to be hung. And in 1946 he becomes king.

Meanwhile in 1943, 9 year old Khalid and his brother Aadhil skip school when they hear that a caravan has been attacked in the desert, fearing that it is the caravan of their father and elder brothers. They join the force setting out from the village to avenge the attack. On the way back they talk to one of the prisoners, a boy Omar of a similar age to themselves and step in to avoid him being taken as a slave. But worse is to befall Omar. He is to die by scaphing, a horrible form of torture where bugs crawl over him for many days. Omar begs Khalid to end it now by killing him, so Khalid reluctantly smothers Omar.

Abdullah’s chance visit to the Green Mosque changed his life, as he was taken under the wing of scholar Mr al-Rubaie and 5 years later he gets a job as a clerk in the palace. Then a year before he is due to complete his degree, Aadhil persuades Khalid to run away with him against his parents wishes to join the army.

I won’t say any more but we continue to follow their lives until their paths cross in the revolution.

Revolution is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.99 in Kindle format and is also available in hardback. I enjoyed this story, but not enough to add the Queen of Beledar follow-up novella to my wishlist.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Summer Blogival – Soho Honey by AW Rock

I have received a free e-copy of the book Soho Honey by AW Rock to review, as part of Clink Street Publishing’s Summer Blogival.

Soho Honey by AW Rock

Here is the book blurb.

This contemporary crime story takes place over three weeks in November and unfolds against the multi-cultural backdrop of Soho, London. Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho’s underworld. He is forced to flee Soho again after a tragic meeting with his ex-wife. His past has caught up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted. Now forty years old Branen wants to stop running and to remove forever the continuing threat to his life. In an effort to get rid of his pursuers he is faced with the prospect that his only chance of survival could lead to his death.

The story starts when 17 year old Branen got a job in Soho as a doorman at Ronnie Scott’s. A couple of years later he met Jane and they had a daughter Carrie. However a few years later he is also seeing Rita, when he narrowly avoids being set-up for Rita’s murder. But by now, he is hooked on adrenalin rushes, so he agreed to be driver for a gang who are planning to steal a consignment of heroin. However they get grassed up and he ends up in prison. It is the final straw for his relationship with Jane and when he gets released on parole, he only manages to keep one parole appointment before he breaches his parole by going back to Soho where is supposed to be excluded from. So he runs away to France and joins the Foreign Legion for 5 years.

As soon as he arrives back at Heathrow, the Secret Service approach him with an offer and he trains as a photo-journalist. This is his cover for when they request his involvement in a mission in Paris in 1997 to eliminate Princess Diana. After this, he wants out of the world of violence and he buys a small-holding in Italy.

The story then moves to the present day. Branen’s daughter Carrie is aged 20 when she is approached by the Secret Service. They dangle a carrot saying they can put her in touch with her father, train her up and she moves into a flat in Soho. But things go wrong and she is murdered. The Secret Service call Branen via satellite phone and request his help to solve the crime. He heads to the UK via a false trail. He arranges a meeting with Jane in Soho, so that he can tell her the awful news about their daughter’s death, but Jane is mistakenly shot in front of him. The bullet was meant for him.

Meanwhile we meet characters from Soho’s seedy underworld and many of the chapters are from their point of view, as well as following what Branen is up to. Can he escape?

Soho Honey is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.95 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. This is a very dark gripping story with plenty of twists and turns which I highly recommend.

This book is recommended for adult readers only, due to its graphic content.


Here are three extracts from the book for you to read.

1. The Associates is a secret cadre which the Government will resort to in extremis… 

All governments carry out secret operations and they must be more savvy and brutal than the criminal gangs and terrorists who inhabit their countries. The more democratic a government, the more illicit its operations have to be. Despite sophisticated technology, the government also employs deniable operation officers and their agents for covert assignments, without the knowledge of politicians or the public.
The Associates is a project run by the Senior Civil Servant within the Home Office and total secrecy is essential to its existence. He is known as the SCS, is answerable only to the Home Secretary and is protected by the Public Interest Immunity Certificate.
The Associates’ employees are known only to the SCS and his personal assistant, and are usually ex-Home or Foreign Office. They set up small legitimate businesses and employ agents assigned to them by the SCS; these agents are usually former SIS officers, security screened mercenaries or retired special forces soldiers.
The Operations Officers and their agents are given backup personnel when necessary. These operatives are only given case-specific information on a need to know basis.
In the 1970s and 80s a similar secret cadre called Group 13 was set up by the SIS to infiltrate the IRA and execute Margaret Thatcher’s alleged ‘shoot to kill’ policy. It was hidden within an organisation known as the Increment or ‘Inc’ and employed a dozen ex-Special Service soldiers to carry out assassinations and deniable operations in Ireland. When a controversial mission became compromised, it had to be disbanded before its activities became public knowledge.
Two Group 13 agents were then employed by the SCS as Operations Officers to set up The Associates. In the UK there is a photographic bureau, an Indian travel agency and a Chinese fruit wholesaler, employing in total seven agents.
The SCS can brief the Operations Officer or an agent directly by secure satellite phone. The agent validates the operation with his catch-word, known only to his Operations Officer and the SCS.
Simple but effective.

2. Branen meets Jane for the first time… 

He first saw Jane a couple of years later at the Marquee in Wardour Street when he went to see a punk band called Ferking Nouveau. She was wearing a thin sweater and tight leather trousers. She was sex on legs and dancing with a man who didn’t have a lot of natural rhythm. Ben sat in the shadows and waited nearly an hour for a chance to talk to her. Eventually she went up to the bar and he slid in beside her.
“Hello… can I, er… buy you a drink?” he asked her.
“No thanks… but maybe later,” she said.
“What’s your name?” Ben asked.
“I’ll save that for later too…” she said, smiling.
“Will there be a later?”
“You’ll know later…”
“I can hardly wait…”
“I hope that doesn’t apply to everything you do,” she said, turning back to the dance floor.
Ben was left hanging. He kept making eye contact, which left him with a permanent wooden smile and his mind frozen in the flashing lights. He was infatuated and completely at her mercy.
He went out onto the street. He had been set up by the most desirable woman he’d ever seen and his nerve had given out. But if he went home now he would never forgive himself.
The rubber stamp on the back of his hand, proving that he’d paid to get in, had faded.
The guy on the door, who was only slightly smaller than an elephant, blocked his way.
“C’mon… you remember me…” said Ben, “…I only just left.”
“Let me see the stamp on your hand…”
“C’mon man… don’t be a…”
“I can’t see no stamp… I can’t let you in without the stamp, so you can piss off, mate.”
She appeared from behind the bouncer.
“He’s with me,” she said, smiling.
“What’s her name?” the doorman asked Ben.
“I’ll tell you later,” said Ben.

3. Carrie is Branen’s and Jane’s 20 year old daughter…

Carrie’s earliest memories of her father were vague.
She was fourteen when he had unexpectedly turned up again. She had been excited to see him but her mother told her that he couldn’t stay and he was soon gone again. She remembered him as a quiet man who had swept her up in his arms and held her close. As she grew up she began to understand how sometimes relationships didn’t last, but she missed her father. His visit had made a deep impression on her and she couldn’t forget him.
She didn’t hold any resentment towards him and because her mother never said a bad word about him she realised Jane still held a candle for him. Her mother rarely mentioned him after that, but if she did it was always with affection.
Carrie left school at eighteen and went to a provincial university to study psychology. College life proved to be a difficult time for her. Her self-possession alienated the other girls who were wary of her, while the male students were never comfortable in her presence. Although it was nearly seven years since she had last seen her father, she still held a deep desire to see him again. It affected her attitude towards men and instead of dating her contemporaries she became involved with one of her tutors. Their affair came to the notice of the Principal and in the summer of her second year, at twenty years old, she left university. She convinced herself it was all too boring. She wanted results now, not years in the future.


About the author

Based in London, AW Rock has been a regular on the Soho scene since the 1960’s working in various sectors of the entertainment industry.

Website – http://sohohoney.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SohoHoney
Twitter – https://twitter.com/sohohoney
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sohohoney/
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbobu4S36R9CSMklBZ4AEMA


I’m participating in the Clink Street Summer Blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of reading tastes.

Summer blogival

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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