Friday, 27 November 2020

Review: When a Rogue Meets His Match (Greycourt #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favourite writers. I love her escapist Georgian romances. I was so excited to receive an early copy of her latest book and I wasn't disappointed. When a Rogue Meets His Match is one of her best.

Gideon Hawthorne is the Duke of Windermere's personal fixer. After clawing his way up from the gutter, there is nothing Gideon wouldn't do to achieve his dream of joining the ranks of the aristocracy. He has the house, he has the money, all he needs now is an aristocratic wife to introduce him to Society so he can start wheeling and dealing. When the Duke offers Gideon his niece, Messalina Greycourt, as a wife (along with her enormous fortune), Gideon can hardly say no - especially since he's been obsessed with Messalina for years. There is, however, one tiny snag. The Duke has one last task for him to carry out. A task that he won't reveal until Gideon and Messalina are wed. So, just how far will Gideon go to receive Messalina's hand in marriage?

The story is one of my favourite tropes, enemies to lovers. Although as the story is told from both Messalina's and Gideon's point of view, we know he's not really a villain! Despite his harsh childhood, Gideon is rather sweet (think: the Beast from Beauty and the Beast) and I fell in love with him immediately. Messalina makes a splendid heroine - she doesn't stand for any of his nonsense. The tension comes from knowing exactly what task the Duke wants Gideon to perform and wondering if Gideon will really go through with it - or how he'll get out of it!

When a Rogue Meets His Match is the second in the Greycourt series (you don't need to have read the first one to enjoy it). About halfway through, future 'own-story' characters begin appearing. I particularly loved the relationship between the laid-back Elspeth and the way she teased Messalina's cake-loving sister, Lucretia. I can't wait for their stories!

I loved When a Rogue Meets His Match and can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading historical romance. I know Elizabeth's fans will adore the story, particularly if they've previously enjoyed Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane #3). It should also appeal to fans of those authors who write slightly grittier historical romances, such as Courtney Milan.

Thank you to Elizabeth Hoyt and Piatkus for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Review: Paris by Starlight by Robert Dinsdale

We're people, and people look after each other...

I loved Robert Dinsdale's The Toymakers (it's one of my all-time favourite books) so I couldn't wait to get my hands on Paris by Starlight - and that cover is gorgeous!

Every night on their long journey to Paris from their troubled homeland, Levon’s grandmother has read to them from a very special book. Called The Nocturne, it is a book full of fairy stories and the heroic adventures of their people who generations before chose to live by starlight. With every story that Levon’s grandmother tells them in their new home, the desire to live as their ancestors did grows. And that is when the magic begins…

While Paris by Starlight is a fabulous fairy tale of refugees inadvertently recreating the magical flora and fauna of their home country (I imagined it looking like something out of Avatar), there is a grittier story hidden beneath it, of dispossessed people suffering cruelty and harassment as they try to find sanctuary. Some want to recreate their old world, others just want to blend in. They meet those who want to learn more about their ways and customs, and experience the magic they've brought with them - and those, less friendly, who want them to leave and will do anything to achieve that. 

Sound familiar?

Paris by Starlight is a very clever mix of magic realism and social commentary - which means it might not be for everyone. (It's quite dark in places.) Robert Dinsdale writes beautifully and has an incredible imagination. I loved his 'starlight' world and the sweet romance between Levon and Isabelle as they struggled against all odds. Engaging and very moving, Paris by Starlight is one of my favourite reads this year. Recommended, particularly  for fans of magic realism and authors such as Alice Hoffman. 

Thank you to Robert Dinsdale and Del Rey for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Review: The Ship of Death (The Anglian Detective Agency Series #4) by Vera Morris

I won this book in a competition run by the publisher. I was thrilled because I love reading murder mysteries and the author is new to me, so I might not otherwise have discovered it!

The Ship of Death is the fourth in the series about the Anglian Detective Agency and is set on the Suffolk Coast in the early 1970s. The team are currently investigating a spate of vandalism at a bird sanctuary. Running alongside this is the story of the Breen brothers of Rooks Wood Farm. Their mother has recently died and their father died several years earlier in mysterious circumstances. The older brother is wondering how he can cope with the dual responsibility of trying to keep the farm going while looking after his younger twin, who has a genetic condition causing learning difficulties. When one of the farm workers is found murdered, the Anglian Detective Agency is enlisted to help.

The Ship of Death is a twisty murder mystery with a very authentic setting. I loved the story about the twins, Daniel and Caleb - Daniel's struggles to keep the farm going at the expense of his personal life, and the misery he feels when his estranged uncle turns up and begins to come between him and his brother. It's unusual to read a book set in the 70s (which I am just about old enough to remember!); the sexist attitudes of a couple of characters made me wince, along with the way poor Caleb was treated. Laura was my favourite character, along with Bumper the dog, but I think I suffered from not reading the earlier books - I did get a little confused as to who-was-who in the earlier chapters.

Recommended for anyone who loves traditional detective stories, particularly fans of authors such as Lesley Cookman.

Thank you to Headline Accent for my copy of this book, which I won via a competition and reviewed voluntarily.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Review: One by One by Ruth Ware

I'm a huge fan of Ruth Ware and was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of her latest, One by One. I was particularly pleased because the wintery setting makes it an absolutely perfect read for this time of year.

One by One is set in one of those exclusive skiing resorts in the Alps. The shareholders and directors of a hip new social media app called Snoop have gathered at a luxury chalet to discuss a prospective buyout. With the group already split, tensions are running high when a massive avalanche hits, isolating them from the outside world. No Internet, no phone signal, the power cuts out and the pipes begin to freeze, but it takes two deaths before they begin to realise that someone might be deliberately picking them off, one by one...

The story is told from two points of view: Liz, who is a minority shareholder in Snoop but feels hopelessly out of her depth, and Erin the housekeeper - who has a few secrets of her own. The story has a slow burn start to allow for a proper introduction to all the characters, but once the avalanche hits the tension really tightens. The last quarter of the book, involving a cat-and-mouse chase through the snow, is extremely exciting. I'm amazed I still have any fingernails left!

One by One (as you might have guessed) is a 'locked room' murder mystery with an affectionate nod to a couple of Agatha Christie's bestsellers. Fans of Ruth Ware's earlier books, particularly In a Dark, Dark Wood, will love it. Recommended, especially on a snowy winter's night...

Thank you to Ruth Ware and Vintage Books (Random House) for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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