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The Set Up by Lizzy Dent

I am a big fan of this author after having read The Summer Job last year. I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this: her highly anticipated 2022 release! I love the gorgeous starry cover, and you soon find that it fits in really well with the themes and main character in the book.

Blurb:

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.


Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day – but she wasn’t expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for ‘the one’, the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it’s as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate’s hands – or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?

My thoughts:

Oh wow. I loved this book as much as, if not more than, The Summer Job. Mara is a complex, likeable character. She is hard-working, focused and passionate. She is also self-conscious, self-deprecating and sometimes a little too independent. For me, there is something very endearing about these reclusive and shy characters. They repeatedly pop up in books that I seem to connect with on a deeper level.

The opening of the book, and the continued focus on astrology, star signs and the idea of fate definitely give this book another layer of originality. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed reading starsigns and although I don’t follow them to the letter like Mara does, I did enjoy how this element played out in the book and drove the narrative forward.

I also loved the setting. Broadgate, and reading about the lido in particular, was quite nostalgic. I grew up in a town with a disused, failing lido and it was through the determination of the local community that we now have a beautiful, successful and modern lido for all of the local communities to enjoy. So this element of the storyline really struck a chord with me too.

The romance storyline is quite dramatic at times and you are definitely left with a building sense of anticipation, and trepidation almost. I was definitely #TeamAsh and I found myself speeding through the book in order to find out how it would unfold.

In summary, this has been an addictive, endearing and heart-warming read. I have loved seeing Mara’s growth and journey. Lizzy Dent is a talented storyteller & I can’t recommend her books enough!

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The Resort by Sue Watson

I absolutely adore Sue Watson and have loved reading this dark, tense and heated thriller. I was totally intrigued by the title, and how the idyllic setting might become quite jarring with some of the shocking events that may follow.

Blurb:

When a dream trip becomes your worst nightmare…

You’ve been excited about this getaway for months – at last, a chance to reconnect with your husband at a secluded island resort. But when he unexpectedly calls you from the beach, you hear the urgency in his voice. Something is very wrong.

The beautiful waitress from the restaurant last night has been found lying dead in the sand. And the police want to question your husband about it.

Sure, you saw him glance at her over dinner a few times, but you know he didn’t have anything to do with the poor girl’s death. So why is he asking you to lie to the police that he was with you all night? And where did he go in those missing hours?

When he returns to your beautiful sea-view suite, things get heated and he accuses you of being jealous, just like he always does. Yes, the waitress was overly flirtatious with your husband, but you didn’t actually wish her any harm. Not really.

Can you trust the man you married… or are you the one who can’t be trusted?

My thoughts:

This has been a book that has sent my head spinning. I’ve tried to make lots of decisions about who is to blame for the events that unfold, as well as trying to predict what the outcome of the story might be, and I have been proven wrong at every turn.

The three couples are sort of thrown together, and I was left wondering what made them gravitate towards each other as they all presented as very different characters with different lifestyles and values, but once I put that to one side I became completely engrossed in the story.

Some of the characters have sympathetic backstories, but they all have qualities that make them not very likeable, in my opinion. In some cases, that lies in the way they speak to others, the way they deal with situations, or in some cases simply why they put up with the way they are treated by others, giving the impression that they are weak characters.

Let me be clear: There are no truly weak characters. Each and every one of the main characters could be implicated in the shocking events that unfold, and the conclusion in which this is all unravelled is very clever and was ultimately the most satisfying element to the book.

I have been left reeling by the ending, but also felt like it’s satisfied some of my assumptions about the characters who at first appeared to be perfect rich couples.

This is a clever, intricate and addictive thriller, perfect for fans of T M Logan, John Marrs and Shalini Boland.

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The Vacation by John Marrs

This has been an author that has been on my radar for quite some time and it’s surprisingly taken me quite a long time to get to him. I was really looking forward to enjoying this book as one of my darker reads this summer.

Blurb:

How far would you run to escape your past?

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth.

Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood.

But for eight strangers at a beach front hostel, there is far more on their mind than an extended vacation.

All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep . . .

Originally published as Welcome to Wherever You Are, this is a re-edited release perfect for fans of T. M. Logan.

My thoughts:

This is a book that feels a little overwhelming at first, but it is definitely one that is worth sticking with. You can’t help immediately judging the ten characters and trying to figure out how they will all collide, but it definitely unfolds in a way you won’t expect. The setting also definitely pulled me into this one and it quickly be amended quite atmospheric.

There are two really well developed sides to this story: the characters and their back story, followed by more fast paced action in the second half. John Marrs balances both beautifully to create a really exciting, original book which showcases his individual style.

The timeline and structure is complex and sophisticated, so this isn’t really an easy read but it’s definitely worth it! There are the classic psychological fiction themes of identity, manipulation and deception, but the book definitely has a fresh, different feel to it.

Overall, a great introduction to John’s books and I’d definitely like to read more! This is a great choice for fans of T J Emerson, Shalini Boland and T M Logan.

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The Forgotten House On The Moor by Jane Lovering

I am officially a huge fan of Jane Lovering and she has pride of place of “must read everything, including back catalogue” list. Once again, this is a book with a gorgeously illustrated cover and an intriguing title, which of course gave me Wuthering Heights vibes!

Blurb:

When police knock on Alice Donaldson’s door at 4am, she knows the news won’t be good. There’s been an accident involving her ex-husband Grant, and as his existing next of kin, they need her help.

Grant is missing up on the North York moors, but the Grant Alice knew could barely be persuaded out on a walk around the block. What on earth possessed him to go on a hike in the middle of the night?

Alice soon finds herself working with Grant’s girlfriend Jenna and Jenna’s gorgeous ‘Lord of the family Manor’ brother Max, to find out what has happened, and what caused Grant’s accident at The Fortune House – the spooky house out on the moors.

The locals tell all manner of ghoulish stories about The Fortune House, which Alice is not minded to listen to. But before long, things take a turn for the strange and Max and Alice have a new mystery to solve. While all the while Alice can’t help hoping she might meet the requirements to be Max’s ‘Lady of the Manor’ at his country pile, Hatherleigh Hall.

Mystery, mayhem, a manor house and a generous serving of romance too, in the page-turning new novel from Jane Lovering. Perfect for fans of Julie Houston, Beth O’Leary and Kate Forster.

My thoughts:

A huge contender for book of the month for June, this has been an absolutely superb read. I was hooked from the dramatic opening and found it difficult to put this book down.

I found the character of Alice completely likeable and very relatable. I could identify with some elements of her background too which Jane brings through in her well developed back story. I loved seeing both sides to Alice: the self-depricating, vulnerable side as well as the cheeky, determined and independent side. She becomes a truly 3 dimensional character for me and not many authors manage to achieve that.

As I continued reading the book, there are some absolutely brilliant twists that I didn’t see coming. The romance between Alice and Max is a slow burn for reasons which become completely obvious and seem entirely reasonable, which only added to the authenticity of it.

There is also a mystery element to the story which has some connections to a supernatural theme. I am the last person you’d likely expect to enjoy this sort of strand in a book, but I actually found it very entertaining. It added another layer to the story and provided lots of the opportunities for the romance storyline to develop, as well as bringing the fore a discussion about why people have beliefs about ghosts etc, which to be honest is not something I’ve ever really thought about.

Overall, a heart-warming, entertaining and uplifting book about the importance of human connection, self-acceptance and making the most of any opportunities that come your way! I absolutely loved it and could not fault it.

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Sister Agatha by Domhnall O’ Donoghue

I just couldn’t resist this book when I first saw it. A whirlwind, worldwide tour with a nun-turned-serial killer? Count me in! 🤣

Blurb:

Sister Agatha is a colossal 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. During a routine check-up, however, her doctor claims she has just a week to live, news that proves to be quite inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister has one ambition in life: to be the oldest person in the world.

At last count, she was the fifth. However, never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Dusting off her passport, she decides to leave Irish shores for the first time in her very long life, and using the few days remaining, plans to travel across three continents and meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers. And then, one by one, she intends on killing them.

My thoughts:

This book is so much fun, and I have high hopes that it will be a rip-roaring success. I immediately loved Agatha for her resilience and brutal determination. I was totally rooting for her to succeed in her mission, and she is probably the most likeable serial killer I have come across. Isn’t it great what creative and artistic licence allows us to do?

The story takes us on a true whirlwind tour. The majority of the plot is fast-paced and outrageous. It is mostly comical in its outrageouesness, but there are some softer, more sentimental moments.

This is a great escapist read and one that definitely can’t be taken seriously. O’ Donoghue showcases some of his quick wit and literary talent, with a character being described as “as engaging as a bell pepper” being amongst my favourites.

Though not a mystery except in the sense that we wonder who these vibrant, long-living characters are, and whether Agatha will complete her mission, I definitely think fans of the cosy mystery genre will enjoy this one.

A vibrant, funny and original story, I will definitely recommend this one for readers looking for something a bit different and still entertaining.

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The Spanish Wedding Disaster by Karen King

I love Karen King, and am definitely in awe of the fact that she can write such brilliant books in both the romantic fiction & psychological thriller genres. I’m relatively new to her work though, and I’m really keen to explore more of her back catalogue!

Blurb:

Some people are romantics. Some aren’t. When Sophie and Maddie are summoned to a mysterious, top-secret meeting by their best friend Kate’s partner, and told that he’s planning to whisk Kate away for a surprise wedding in Gibraltar, it’s immediately clear that bubbly florist Sophie is a total romantic. And that freewheeling, purple-haired Maddie is not.

Soon, Maddie finds herself reluctantly organising venues, planners and ceremonies; trying not to think of her own memories of Andalucia, and those she’s lost touch with there. Meanwhile Sophie’s hoping this dreamy gesture might spur on her own boyfriend to similar plans . . . and absolutely not thinking at all about Kate’s gorgeous brother-in-law-to-be.

But Kate’s got no idea what’s going on. And as the stresses pile up and the group jet off to the sunny south, it seems it’s not just Kate who might get a surprise in Spain – one that could change everything . . .

My thoughts:

I immediately liked the trope/focus of a secret wedding. I’m a big fan of wedding TV shows, such as Don’t Tell The Bride, and this definitely had this sort of level of tension to it at times!

There is a lively, likeable and relatable cast of characters in this book which really help to bring the story to life, and the wedding plans to fruition. I liked the fact that you saw the story unfolding from so many different perspectives, although this did slow the pace a little to begin.

I think most women would want to embrace Sophie’s romantic positivity, but generally feel the anxiety that Kate does about getting married! This is of course amplified and exaggerated by some of the stunts & cover-ups they have to do in order to keep the wedding a secret.

This book has a lot going for it. There is drama, tension, secrecy and confusion as well as romance, and this really makes for an engaging and fun read.

This is an easy and light read, with characters that jump off the page, and a storyline that stands out against the huge surge of enemies to lovers/online dating tropes that seem to be really popular in this genre at the moment. A great choice for fans of Hannah Lynn, Camilla Isley and Nicola May.

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You Only Live Once by Maxine Morrey

I am so excited to be on another tour for this fabulous author. My favourite of hers to date was Living Your Best Life, though I have read a handful of her books now. I was so excited to start this one!

Blurb:

When Lily’s husband dies, she moves to the edge of a tiny village, settling into a solitary life, her only real company her brother and his family. A quiet life becomes her safe space, with no risk of getting hurt.

When her brother offers her spare room to his oldest friend, Jack, Lily’s reluctant – but knowing how much she owes her family, can’t say no. 

A lodger takes some getting used to but to her surprise, Lily begins to enjoy Jack’s company. Slowly but surely, Jack encourages Lily to step outside her comfort zone. 

But taking risks means facing the consequences, and telling people how she really feels, means Lily might have to face losing them. But as the saying goes – you only live once – and being brave could mean Lily gets a second chance at love…

‘Read yourself happy’ with Maxine Morrey’s latest feel-good, unforgettable and utterly uplifting love story, guaranteed to make you smile. Perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane and Sophie Kinsella

My thoughts:

This definitely has potential to be my new favourite Maxine Morrey book. I absolutely adored it and devoured it from cover to cover.

Lily was a brilliant character, and not just because that is also my daughter’s name 🤣 She is a brave character, and there is something about characters with a reclusive nature that really draw me in and intrigue me. In some ways, she reminded me of the main character from my favourite book of 2021, Everything Is Beautiful, which is testament to how likeable and well-developed Lily was as a character.

Jack is also a really endearing character. Funny, charming, helpful and generous: in so many ways he encapsulates the perfect man. But he’s starting over after a messy past, and for someone like Jack to put his feelings in front of his family’s wishes and traditions, is quite a big ask.

Therefore, this is definitely not a clear-cut or plain sailing romance, and the realism of it, as well as the unexpected twists, really kept me hooked.

This is a beautiful, uplifting read, reminding us of the joys of social interaction and human connection, and showing that it’s never too late to start over, and be happy. This is undoubtedly worth all the stars.

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The Missing Girls of Adarlyce House by Heather Atkinson

I was drawn to this book because Heather is one of my all-time favourite authors in the gangland genre. I have read lots of her books and love her gritty and gripping style. I was therefore intrigued to see how she coped with the demands of a completely different genre. Would this live up to my high expectations?

Blurb:

Edinburgh 1880. When Amy Osbourne’s parents are lost at sea, she is forced to leave her London home and is sent to live with her aunt and uncle at the opposite end of the country.

Alardyce House is depressing and dreary, her aunt haughty and cruel. Amy strikes up a friendship with her cousin Edward but his older brother Henry is just as conceited as his mother, and a mutual loathing develops between him and Amy. 

As her weeks of mourning pass, the realisation begins to dawn on Amy that her aunt has designs on her inheritance and the candidate she favours to be her niece’s husband fills Amy with horror. Struggling in this strange, unwelcoming environment, Amy begins to suspect that something isn’t right at Alardyce House. 

There are rumours below stairs of a monster on the loose, local women are being brutally attacked and her cousin Henry is the prime suspect. Alardyce House is full of dark secrets and Amy isn’t sure who she can trust…

My thoughts:

Although in a completely different style to her usual books, so much of Heather’s talent and themes shine through in this book. It is definitely still gritty and gripping, and still covers themes of violence, gender expectations, rivalry and power.

Amy is a fabulous lead character, and definitely has a “fire inside” her, which is how she is described in the book. I think the narrative perspective was really interesting, as we follow Amy into this overbearing and unfamiliar environment, so we feel a sense of discomfort and alienation, just as she does.

As the story gathers pace, there are some hard-hitting sexual and violent scenes, which definitely bring to life some of the harsh realities of this time period. Heather explores this quite cleverly alongside showing the family to be controlling, highlighting power struggles and a lack of independence, especially for women and lower classes.

The storyline is extremely gripping, carrying elements of mystery, romance and suspicion. I was completely hooked! I have loved how Heather has brought her gritty, darker style to this genre, and I can’t wait to read more from her!

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The Murder List by Jackie Kabler

I read Happy Family by this author last year, and it was definitely one of my favourite thriller books of the year. The bright and simple cover really jump out on this one, and if I didn’t already know that this author was utterly brilliant, this is definitely one I’d be tempted by the cover of anyway!

Blurb:

When Mary receives a blank diary as a present, she thinks nothing of it. Until she opens the diary, and sees it’s not blank after all…

1st January MURDER LISA, OXFORD
1st February MURDER JANE, BIRMINGHAM
1st March MURDER DAVID, CARDIFF
1st April MURDER MARY, CHELTENHAM

Is this a sick joke? But…it’s the end of January now. And a woman called Lisa was murdered in Oxford on 1st January.

Could there really be a killer out there, planning to commit a new murder each month? And is the Mary due to be killed on 1st April her?

The clock is ticking for Mary to uncover the truth, before she becomes the next victim on the killer’s list…

My thoughts:

Wow. I just don’t know how my review will do this book justice. The letter from the “diary killer” is a great catalyst and opening to the story. The story was original, and twisty, and gripping.

I definitely had my own suspicions about who the culprit was and why, but I was proved wrong at every turn. There are some unbelievably clever twists that you will not see coming.

I loved the fact that, to a certain extent, we were able to view this story through two lenses: firstly that of suspected victim and journalist Mary Ellis, and secondly that of the police investigators trying to ‘crack the case’.

This definitely adds to the tension and frustration the reader feels about the situation, and having no idea about who could be to blame – so many of the characters seem a little snakey!

The ending was very clever, quenching my thirst for needing to know the solution, but also providing a few extra twists and revelations as the icing on the cake.

This will definitely be one that you won’t want to put down – after a few pages you will be completely hooked. As things stand, this will be my book of the month and a real contender for one of my top books of the year, too!

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Jingle Bells in June (Little Duck Pond Cafe series) by Rosie Green

Although I love a Christmas read, even I would be sceptical about reading a book with this title in what is essentially the height of summer, were it not for the fact that this is a Rosie Green book, and one from the incredible Little Duck Pond cafe series, so I had high hopes it would not disappoint.

Blurb:

Mackenzie Morris, newest recruit at the Little Duck Pond Café, is the perfect addition to the team. But beneath her smiles, Kenzie is hiding a dark secret. It’s the reason she fled to Sunnybrook, desperate for a fresh start that would help to lay the ghosts that haunt her.


The challenge of turning her hobby into a business is a welcome distraction, and to her relief, she finds that her range of quirky pottery mugs and vases appear to be in demand. Alone and scared when she arrived, she’s slowly making friends and starting to feel as if she belongs. Meeting a lovely guy called Aidan seems to confirm this and it looks as if love might be on the horizon.


But then Kenzie makes a devastating discovery that threatens to crush her new-found happiness. Aidan is the one person she yearns to confide in. He’s also the one person who can never know the truth . . .

My thoughts:

This series just gets better and better with each book. Though I confess I haven’t read all of them, I’m pretty certain I’ve read about 13 or 14 of them now, and I have adored each and every one.

Each installment carries its own merit as a stand alone story, and to be honest if you’re coming to this delightful series as a new reader or with fresh eyes, I’m even a little envious as it is utterly brilliant.

In this book, we meet Kenzie, the newest staff recruit at the wonderful Little Duck Pond Cafe. I loved her as a character – loyal, moral and hard-working. In this book, Rosie reeally delves into Kenzie’s past in so much detail that it basically becomes a sub plot. I was completely gripped by both the present day story, which had elements of romance, but was not without its difficulty, and the heart-rendering and quite traumatic story of Kenzie’s past.

I was unsurprised to read that Rosie shed a few tears writing this book, as it is very emotional at times, and maybe this is because it hit close to home, but it felt very raw and real.

Overall, a dramatic and gripping story about freindship, romance, secrecy, and putting the past behind you. Once again an unputdownable read. My heart is breaking a little that we are almost at the end of the series! Highly recommend this book and author to fans of Heidi Swain, Holly Martin and Milly Johnson.

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