blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Chicago May – Harry Duffin

Fleeing an abusive father in Ireland, peasant-girl, May Sharpe chases her dream of a new glamorous life.

    Arriving penniless in 1919’s America, beautiful May is charmed by successful con-man, Eddie. With her new lover’s guidance, teenage May becomes the city’s ‘Queen of Crooks’.

    Joe, a tenacious local cop, has fallen for the beautiful, feisty May and is determined to save her from herself. In the midst of her glitzy life, he urges May to make a decision; a decision which would threaten, not only her new-found fame and fortune, but, her young life…

    Inspired by a true story.

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I am an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s EASTENDERS, and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for CORONATION STREET. I was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. I was co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘THE TRIBE’, which ran for five series.

I have written two novels, CHICAGO MAY and BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS [an intro to the TV series THE TRIBE].

CHICAGO MAY is the first book of a two-part series.

Follow him at:
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My thoughts: this was interesting, a slice of historical fiction inspired by a true story, set during the early 20th century. May is an Irish girl, running away from her abusive father and she heads to New York, full of hope.

Unfortunately she falls in with ‘Society’ Eddie, a small time crook and his gang. He soon has her robbing men and shoplifting. But there’s an honest soul, Joe Perski, looking out for her. He’s a cop, but he doesn’t really want May to go to prison, he’s after bigger fish – Eddie. If May helps him perhaps they can both be free.

May, like so many other impressionable young women falls for Eddie’s flash, but he has a very dark side and once she sees it, things have to change. She’s very brave in how she goes about getting things sorted, she puts her life on the line and she’s lucky she’s so clever, it could all go wrong at any moment, but she’s planned for that.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.


Cover Reveal: Miss Aldridge Regrets – Louise Hare

I really enjoyed Louise Hare’s debut, This Lovely City, reviewed here, and I’m delighted to share the cover for her upcoming second book – Miss Aldridge Regrets, publishing in April 2022. It sounds really good.

A nightclub singer with more than one secret hastily leaves London on The Queen Mary after her best friend’s husband is murdered…only to discover that death has followed her onboard, in this thrilling locked-room mystery.

London, 1936. Lena Aldridge is wondering if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho, and her married lover has just dumped her.
But Lena has always had a complicated life, one shrouded in mystery as a mixed-race girl passing for white in a city unforgiving of her true racial heritage. She has nothing to look forward to—until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. 
After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better, and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. But when a fellow passenger is killed in a strikingly familiar way, Lena realizes that her greatest performance won’t be for an audience, but for her life.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Return of Hester Lynton – Tony Evans

Victorian England’s most celebrated lady detective returns in ten new brain-teasing mysteries.

With scheming fraudsters, corrupt doctors, devious forgers and terrible murderers afoot, Hester Lynton, and her trustworthy assistant Ivy Jessop, have their work cut out for them. But amidst the dirt and deprivation of 1800s London, our investigative duo will stop at nothing to catch their criminals.

The Return of Hester Lynton is a collection of ten absorbing cosy detective stories, perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Mrs Gladden and the Lady Hardcastle mysteries.

Tony Evans is a full-time writer. His print publications include eighteen adaptations of classic novels published by Real Reads Ltd. His eBooks include the Hester Lynton mystery series and the Jonathan Harker mystery series. Tony has also written student guides for Hamlet, Dracula and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: all published by ZigZag Education. He lives with his wife in the Yorkshire Dales.

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My thoughts: this was lots of fun as lady detective Hester Lynton and her assistant Ivy Jessop solve a series of crimes, from kidnap to bribery, theft to blackmail. Some of their clients are familiar names, Bram Stoker, who they meet in Whitby (of course) and one Mr Oscar Wilde, celebrated writer and wit, who might have been a little indiscreet.

However Hester and Ivy are always discreet, whether helping a Lady, a celebrity or a housemaid. In the manner of Sherlock Holmes, Hester uses deductive reasoning, disguise and observation to solve these mysteries and her Dr Watson, Ivy, keeps close records and even solves a mystery or two herself.

There were lady detectives in 1800s London, so Hester is in good company as she tackles crimes that have at times baffled Scotland Yard. Very enjoyable stuff.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books

Blog Tour: The Lost Girls – Heather Young

A decades-old mystery of a missing six-year-old haunts a family for generations

In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family – her father takes his own life, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child. Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability – a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. e house is cold and dilapidated. e dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he’s telling.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives to steal her inheritance, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

HEATHER YOUNG is the author of two novels. Her debut, The Lost Girls, won the Strand Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award. Her second novel, The Distant Dead has also been nominated for the 2021 Edgar Award for Best Novel. A former antitrust and intellectual property litigator, she traded the legal world for the literary one and earned her MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars in 2011. She lives in Mill Valley, California, where she writes, bikes, hikes, and reads books by other people that she wishes she’d written. @HYoungwriter

Q & A with author Heather Young

1. Who do you think is your ideal reader? 

Oh, good question! I’m grateful to everyone who picks up my book and keeps
turning the pages. I think the people most likely to do that are people who like slow-building, tense stories that dive deep into their characters and explore the reasons why they behave the way they do. In other words, people who like the psychological aspect of psychological thrillers.

2. What books and authors inspired you?

Mystery writers who create vivid, well-rounded characters, like Kate Atkinson and Tana French, and literary writers like Marilynne Robinson and Kazuo Ishiguro who render complex emotions with understated language. I will never write as well as any of these folks, of course, but I think reading them does help me write a little better.

3. What is your favorite place to read? 

Twenty years ago, my husband and I bought an old Victorian house that needed a lot of work. At the end of the renovation, I asked my father, a lawyer by day and carpenter by night, to build me a library so I would finally have a place to put all the books I’d been lugging around in boxes since I was twenty. He built me a masterpiece, a true Edgar Allen Poe Victorian book lair. It’s my favorite place to read and write.

Heather’s library, photo from the author. I am so envious, it looks amazing.

4. How has the pandemic affected your reading (and writing) habits?

I found it very difficult to focus on reading — the stress and uncertainty that hung over everything murdered my attention span. I typically read 40-50 books a year, and in 2020 I think I read five. 2021 has been much better, thank goodness. The same went for writing, although there the problem was that my husband and college-student son were suddenly working and studying in the rooms where I liked to write. But my son eventually went back to college and my husband I have worked out our respective workspaces, so that’s been better, too.

5. As a writer what drew you to the genre your book is in? 

I’ve always been a mystery reader, but I have to say I didn’t really see The Lost Girls as a mystery until my publisher started promoting it that way. To me it was a book about family, and how secrets and misguided loyalties can poison the lives of generations. I do think, though, that crafting a story around a murder is a great way to expose who your characters really are behind their polite facades. What makes an otherwise ordinary person commit the most heinous of crimes? What makes someone else keep the truth about that crime a secret? Loyalties, debts, regrets, pride, selfishness – all of these play a part, and they’re all heightened when there’s a murder involved.

6. When planning your next book do you do lots of research in advance or do you do that as needed? 

For the most part I research as I go. That’s what’s great about the internet; I can pause in the middle of a sentence and look up what bathing suits were like in the 1930s. Also, if I’m feeling blocked, I can put my novel on hold while I read a book about the Great Depression or comb through the Bible for verses my Puritanical character can obsess over, and still feel like I’m making progress.

7. And finally, are you currently working on a new book and if so, can you say anything about it? 

Yes! My next novel is set in a small town in Iowa during the second world war. Like The Lost Girls,  it’s something of a coming of age story, as a young girl confronts prejudice and the dark side of patriotism as a member of an “outsider” family. Throw in the murders of several young Mexican orphans and her brother’s secret life and I hope I end up with something that offers a slightly different perspective on World War II than those of the many excellent novels I’ve read that examine this era. 

Thank you so much to Heather for answering my questions and giving us all a glimpse into her life and work.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Kingscastle – Sophie Holloway

An enchanting romance that fans of Bridgerton will take to their hearts Captain William Hawksmoor of the Royal Navy never expected to inherit Kingscastle and is none too pleased when he does so. Especially when he learns that he must marry within a year or be forever dealing with trustees. As the new Marquis of Athelney, the captain takes command of Kingscastle and discovers much to be done to set it in order. He must also contend with his aunt, Lady Willoughby Hawksmoor, who is determined that her daughter will be his wife. When she discovers he is far more interested in Eleanor Burgess, her underpaid and much put-upon companion, Lady Willoughby shows she will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

Author Biography. Sophia Holloway read Modern History at Oxford, also writes the Bradecote and Catchpoll medieval mysteries as Sarah Hawkswood. Website

My thoughts: this was a lot of fun, with Captain William Hawksmoor having to deal with terrible relatives, his aunt was a complete bitch, ancient buildings, bad weather – I loved him buying boats to rescue people in the flood, so very naval. His friends were also excellent people and when he finally goes after the love of his life, nothing can stand in his way. Especially Lady Willoughby, who I would definitely have pushed out of a window.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Gift Book One; Eleanor – R.A. Williams Plus: A Giveaway!

A lush historical adventure that’s equal parts Gothic horror as it is tale of lost love, The Gift: Eleanor is the first in an exhilarating new trilogy that takes you from the Titanic to the trenches of WWI, and Honduran shipwrecks to ancient crypts in the heart of London.

The North Atlantic, 14 April 1912. Amid the chaos of the sinking Titanic, a young Eleanor Annenberg meets the eyes of a stranger and is immediately captivated. As the ship buckles around them, she follows him down into the hold and finds him leaning over an open sarcophagus, surrounded by mutilated bodies. She catches but a glimpse of what lies within before she’s sucked into a maelstrom of freezing brine and half-devoured corpses.

Elle is pulled out of the water, but the stranger – and the secrets she stumbled upon – are lost. Unintentionally, however, he leaves her a gift; one so compelling that Elle embarks on a journey that pulls her into a world of ancient evils, vicious hunters and human prey to find the man who saved her that fateful night. From trench warfare at Cape Helles in 1915 to a shipwreck in the tropical shallows off the Honduran coast, from a lost mine beneath the towering Externsteine in a Germany on the verge of war to the gothic crypts of Highgate Cemetery in London, Elle gets closer to a truth she has sought for most of her life. But at what cost? Gifts, after all, are seldom free.

An immersive gothic story spanning decades, The Gift is a compelling read that weaves the supernatural of Dracula with the adventure of Indiana Jones.

My thoughts: this was a fun, adventurous romp through early twentieth century history, a lot of it terrible, following in the footsteps of a monster who kills his own kind and recruits others to his cause. Elle spends her life in pursuit of the mysterious Balthazar, hunting him across the globe, from Michigan to Folkestone, the Caribbean to German forests, she won’t stop looking.

Hidden in the relics and artifacts of ancient civilizations are clues to the creatures known as Crimen – the Guilty. Vampiric monsters who want only to feed on the flesh of the living, they wiped whole societies out, and few references to them remain. As a ethnologist, Elle has studied these traces, putting forward a theory about them that she slowly discovers might just be right.

She risks her life to find out more, especially as Germany edges towards the Second World War, her being American doesn’t stop her being Jewish making the increasingly violent state suspicious of her. But in being sent to Britain, a place she left in 1912, she might just finally get her answers.

Elle is a sort of scientific proto-Buffy. In love with a monster, and in need of her own Scooby gang (yes I spent my teens obsessively watching the show, yes I can still quote bits of it.) She’s incredibly smart and doesn’t care much about her personal safety. Balthazar has left clues all over the world as he wades through the trenches at Gallipoli, or hunts in the Belgian Congo, for the banshee Siobhan, carving a legend along the way. Setting everything up for an incredible series of exciting and hair raising adventures.

Who wants to win a book?

Fancy winning a copy of this fantastic tale? Then simply follow me on Twitter and tweet me this password: #TheGiftisGiving you have between right now and publication day on December the 9th.

UK/Ireland only, book will be provided by the publisher. ramblingmads is not responsible for safe delivery of your prize.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Kidnapper’s Word – E.J. Wood


When nine year old Emily disappears, Detective Chief Inspector Clarence Landon knows time isn’t on his side.

It’s the 1960s. Child abductions are rare.

Her mother, Ava blames herself. What mother would leave their child alone?

Behind twitching curtains, an unsettling truth of what happened is revealed. A story of family secrets and a chilling tale of deception is unravelled.

What would you be capable of when pushed to your limits?

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She’s just a storyteller! E.J. Wood is a thriller writer from England. Although British born, she now resides in Spain, speaks English, and Spanish, and is currently learning German.
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My thoughts: I found this book a bit confusing at times, there seems to be a lot more going on that has nothing to do with the missing child. Her mother is very strange, and seems to have managed to pull the wool over DCI Landon’s eyes, he had no idea who he was living with.

The neighbours who seem to be up to something are also rather odd, and it’s only towards the end that things start to fall into place and their role is explained.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Secrets in the Dark – Ceril Campbell

Glamour. Deceit. Sex. Deadly ambition.
They have the world at their feet.
And they want it ALL.

Innocent Phoebe has only known a life of privilege.

Street-smart Paula has had to make her own way in the world.

When the two girls meet as teenagers, they form a deep sisterly bond, recognising in one another a yearning for love and for lives that are different from the ones they were born into. But when they each suffer a personal trauma, they are torn apart and set out on very different paths.

So begins a rollercoaster journey throughout the 1970s of extreme highs and lows for Phoebe and Paula, as they travel from the epicentre of cool on the Kings Road, Chelsea, to the glamour of Paris, LA and the South of France.

It’s a scandalous world of sex, drugs, celebrity and wealth – alluring, addictive…and deceptive.

Ceril Campbell has always been passionate about fashion. For over thirty years she has worked as a celebrity stylist, fashion commentator and expert on TV and radio with her own magazine columns and features. Her debut novel, Secrets in the Dark, is not autobiographical in any way, but is inspired by her insider knowledge of the glamorous world of celebrity.

Ceril is now a broadcaster and motivational speaker, helping clients with lifestyle, image, life change, self-esteem, positive body confidence and mental wellness.Ceril has also written self-help books, including Discover the New You: Celebrity Stylist Secrets to Transform Your Life and Style. She lives in London and has two adult children.

To find out more about Ceril, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @cerilcampbell.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this, it was a pure slice of escapism. Fans of Jackie Collins, Lace and Jilly Cooper would enjoy this, as would anyone else who wants to read a fun, extravagant story. I liked Phoebe and Paula, they were very different girls but their bond keeps them together even when events conspire to force them apart.

I loved the 70s fashion bits as my mum was a bit of a hippy back then and still has an Ossie Clark dress hanging in her wardrobe (which she can probably still fit into). All the places Phoebe, Simon and Jake go felt familiar and made me smile, as my mum’s own youthful stories mention some of them.

My heart broke for the terrible things that both Phoebe and Paula dealt with, neither of them should have had to deal with any of it. When they finally reunite I wanted to cheer. And their group of friends are wonderful too. Because ultimately this is a story about friendship, it’s Phoebe’s friends who are always there for her, as she is for them.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Betsy Roberts – N.G. Neville

This incredible story is based on true events concerning young Betsy Roberts – how she was kidnapped, abused but survived America’s first serial killers – the evil Harpe brothers – how she outlived and ultimately profited using her wits and sheer determination.

Betsy Roberts, a young woman from Kentucky is brutally kidnapped by notorious outlaws Micajah and Wiley Harpe who abuse then exploit her. The novel describes how Betsy uses her wits and courage to survive, and then ultimately prosper despite the most appalling conditions and treatment she suffers, in the wilderness of late eighteenth century America. She gradually becomes tainted by the evil, murderous activities of the Harpe brothers who, amongst other things, use her as bait to lure travelers to their deaths. She does this under duress initially but later becomes indifferent, even to the extent of being a willing accomplice.

Part 2 of the novel describes her long, gruelling journey of escape to New York in the early eighteen hundreds. It covers how she became a key figure there, developing businesses, illicit and legal, and the family dynasty she establishes.

The story is an extraordinary and gripping tale of horrific violence, a kaleidoscope of extraordinary characters, settings and and yet also incredible willpower, survival instincts. Betsy ultimately becomes a strong, determined woman but also uses almost any means to achieve her ends.

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N.G. Neville is the pseudonym or pen name of Geoff Burke and Nick Fisher, co-authors of ‘BETSY ROBERTS’ their first major novel. It was preceded by a shorter novel entitled ‘DEGENERATION The Story of Betsy Roberts’ which forms the first part of the full novel ‘BETSY ROBERTS’.

A sequel or more accurately prequel, a collection of short or not so short in some cases, stories will be published in 2021. It has a working title ‘DEATH and SALVATION’. Many of the amazing characters in ‘BETSY ROBERTS’ are present before they appear in the full novel. How they got to where they were in the novel forms a fascinating collection of truly extraordinary stories.

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My thoughts: inspired by the real life Betsy Roberts, this novelised biography is packed full of details of her nefarious dealings and the trail of corpses left in her wake. From rural Kentucky to the high society of New York City, Betsy proves to be a ruthless and determined woman, whether surviving being kidnapped by two outlaws, to escaping justice, travelling cross country with her young son, and engineering her way to wealth and success, she doesn’t let anyone or anything get in her way. Including husbands.

I felt sorry for Betsy at first, with her murdered parents and having been kidnapped and treated brutally by the Harpe brothers. But instead of escaping them, she breaks them out of jail and goes on the run with them again. She’s so cold hearted and utterly without remorse, even murdering her own husbands to get her own way. While I can’t quite say I admire her, she is after all a murderer and criminal, she sounds like a force to be reckoned with, and her rags to riches tale should be encouraging – as long as you don’t go with the body count too.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: An Italian Scandal – Cecil Cameron

A captivating story of romance, passion and adventure set in nineteenth century London and Italy.

London 1859. Carina Temple has put away the stifling black crepe demanded by the death of her father – but with it she has also cast aside society’s expectations of what a single young lady should be and do.

When Carina’s uncle summons her to Belgrave Square to inform her that her reputation is ruined, thanks to a certain Lord Danby, he tells her that she must travel to Italy until the gossip recedes and a suitable match can be found for her.

But Italy is a tempestuous place – her grandmother and cousins soon tell her of the fault lines between the states and the dangerous rebels fighting for freedom. Chief among these is Ben Mavrone – and when he and Carina meet, he distrusts her society pedigree, and she considers him a violent extremist.

When trouble comes to Carina’s door, it is Ben who saves her – reluctantly – and as they go on the run, they must learn to understand each other to stay alive.

Meanwhile back in England, Carina’s family has plans for the life Miss Temple should lead – if she ever returns…

An Italian Scandal is based on Cecil Cameron’s own family history and is perfect for fans of the Bridgerton series.

Lady Cecil Cameron OBE grew up on the Scottish border near Jedburgh, daughter of the Marquis and Lady Lothian. Her grandmother came from Naples and is the inspiration behind her writing. Cecil read renaissance history at London University and subsequently worked for Save the Children in Vietnam and the UK. Married to the Chief of Clan Cameron, she was made an OBE in 2002 for services to children.

My thoughts: this was an excellent historical romance, with the backdrop of Sicily’s (and then Italy’s) fight for independence from the Bourbons and the eventual unification of the country. Sent to her maternal grandmother as a punishment, Carina is all set to sulk till her uncle allows her to return to London, but she doesn’t expect to fall for the island and the dashing revolutionary Ben Mavrone.

Over a tempestuous year, Carina will find love, friendship and a new purpose, as well as reconnect with her late mother’s Sicilian family and heritage. She’ll suffer but it makes her stronger and more determined to be part of shaping the country’s future and of being with Ben, whatever it takes.

Sweeping and action packed, Carina is a modern heroine, despite the historical setting, she works as a nurse and then as part of General Garibaldi’s inner circle, riding with his bodyguards, dressed in trousers and red shirt, far from the glamorous gowns of her London life. I loved her aunt Alice, rooting for her from Northumbria, and the band of friends she makes, some of whom were real people, their passion is inspiring.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.