Review of Lionheart by Ben Kane @BenKane @orionbooks @gigicroft #HistoricalFiction #LionHeart #MedievelFiction #SundayTimesBestSeller #Review

Lionheart
By Ben Kane
Rated: 5 Stars *****

Lionheart by Ben Kane is the first in a new series of books. Now writing in medievel times, this is very accomplished writing of fiction that has been expertly woven together with an amazing amount of research. It is unputtdownable and highly addictive reading. It is a must for fans of Ben Kane, the 1100’s or even if this isn’t your usual genre, it is absolutely one I would recommend you gave a go.

With thanks to Virginia Woolstencroft at Orion Publishing for slotting me into her blog tour and for sending me an advance review copy (ARC) of the book.

About the Author

Kenya born, Irish by blood and UK resident, Ben Kane’s passion for history has seen him change career from veterinary medicine to writing, and taken him to more than 60 countries, and all 7 continents. During his travels and subsequent research, including walking hundreds of miles in complete Roman military gear, he has learned much about the Romans and the way they lived. Ten of his thirteen novels have been Sunday Times top ten bestsellers, and his books are published in twelve languages; a million copies have sold worldwide. In 2016, his research was recognised by Bristol University with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Kane lives in Somerset with his wife and children, where he writes full time.

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Blurb

REBEL. LEADER. BROTHER. KING.

1179. Henry II is King of England, Wales, Ireland, Normandy, Brittany and Aquitaine. The House of Plantagenet reigns supreme.

But there is unrest in Henry’s house. Not for the first time, his family talks of rebellion.

Ferdia – an Irish nobleman taken captive during the conquest of his homeland – saves the life of Richard, the king’s son. In reward for his bravery, he is made squire to Richard, who is already a renowned warrior.

Crossing the English Channel, the two are plunged into a campaign to crush rebels in Aquitaine. The bloody battles and gruelling sieges which followed would earn Richard the legendary name of Lionheart.

But Richard’s older brother, Henry, is infuriated by his sibling’s newfound fame. Soon it becomes clear that the biggest threat to Richard’s life may not be rebel or French armies, but his own family…

Review

Don the armour and join the knights to be ready for Richard Lionheart. A rebel, leader, king in this exquisitely written novel, where Boots and Fists and Countess Aoife is also encountered and Henry 11’s army that has swept through England, Wales and now Ireland. This is a the first in a new series from Ben Kane, that takes readers into the 1100s. It is as every bit as a accomplished at writing about the Middle-ages/Medievel times as he is at writing about the Romans.

The book begins in 1179 and the Medievel scene is written with such artistry. The main character is Ferdia, which comes from a legendary taine/toyne/story told in Ireland. He is incarcerated in a cell, wondering if he would ever return to Cairlinn and see his family, although given some freedoms. The word choice is evocative and moving.

The writing is simply a treat to read, as every paragraph and word engages. Every smell, nuance is remarkably captured and written in this book, placing you right there in the scene as you look onwards to see what’s going to happen next. It is almost cinematic in feel and panoramic in scene setting.
The scenes of trying to even get a glimpse of Duke Richard’s arrival are lively and one of the most splendid and grandest meals are served for him.

The years roll on by to 1182-1183 and there are fine sets of armour and word of battles.
The mind too can be dark as dreams can become murderous as night falls. There are battles with many consequences in Southampton and the Duke is perhaps courageous and won’t retreat. Later it is fascinating meeting the Duke’s family with their rebellious nature.

Travel  to the third part of this tale and enter the period – 1187-1189, to fortresses and camps on the border of Aquitaine and the kindom of France, which becomes quite hostile, after what seems like a more relaxed start of these years. There is also meetings of Phillipe and depictions of the holy land and Saracens and Christians to encounter.

There is also some very moving moments that are written with a light touch and delicacy, as the story moves on, that changes the mood from the battles and the harsher clunking of swords of before. It’s quite a contrast that is written with aplomb! 

Surprisingly, there is actually some mild humour and a little romance to be found within this book, that also has betrayal and trechery within it, for this is however, a serious book that grips tight and doesn’t let go until the end. It is very addictive reading as the pages glide across the hands with the lightest of touches and the time ticks on by with barely a noticable sound and before you know it, you’ve been at the book for a good long while.

The end made me smile as there is such a fitting conclusion to the book. Even if this is not your usual genre or time period to read, it is absolutely worth reading. It is pleasantly surprising and an incredibly well-written and researched book. As I eluded to, I could barely put it down until I reached the end and only then, because, well, the end forces you to.

The author’s note is incredibly interesting, for a bit more insight into the medievel times, depicted within the story, why Ben Kane moved away from writing about Romans for his latest book and a bit of endearing insight into himself as he shares a bit about his charitable work.

There will be a second book within this new Lionheart series, which is set to hit the shelves in 2021. I may just need to take a read at that one as well.

A Ration Book Wedding By Jean Fullerton reviewers agree #arationbookwedding is #5stars all the way. #ARationBookWedding #review @AtlanticBooks @CorvusBooks #HistoricalRomance #WW2 #EastEnd #London #nostalgia #saga #NewRelease #blitzspirit #familyseries #HistFic #RationBookSeries amzn.to/2RFkaRw

A Ration Book Wedding
By Jean Fullerton

Today I am on a blog tour for Jean Fullerton, thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources book tours. Today I present some info about A Ration Book Wedding. A book that early reviewers have been rating highly and simply have a lot of love for.

About the Author

Rationbook wedding Portrait_Jean-1022 RNA resizedJean Fullerton is the author of thirteen novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer.  She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is halfway through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

Social Media Links –

Website: http://jeanfullerton.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jean-Fullerton-202631736433230/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_

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Blurb

A Ration Book Wedding

Because in the darkest days of the Blitz, love is more important than ever.

It’s February 1942 and the Americans have finally joined Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino, like thousands of other women, is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by her unrequited love for Charlie Brogan, who has recently married a woman of questionable reputation, before being shipped out to North Africa with the Eighth Army.

When Francesca starts a new job as an Italian translator for the BBC Overseas Department, she meets handsome Count Leonardo D’Angelo. Just as Francesca has begun to put her hopeless love for Charlie to one side and embrace the affections of this charming and impressive man, Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last. Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an illicit affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose a different, less dangerous path?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ration-Book-Wedding-Perfect-Gibson-ebook/dp/B081DDLWQD

US – https://www.amazon.com/Ration-Book-Wedding-Perfect-Gibson-ebook/dp/B081DDLWQD

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#Review of The Fall of the House of Byron by Emily Brand @EJBrand @HachetteUK #HouseofByron #LordByron #Historical #NewsteadAbbey

The Fall of the House of Byron
By Katy Brand
Rated:****

Newstead Abbey is a place I know well. I have played in its ground as a child in the school summer holidays, when visiting relatives. I have explored both the grounds and the abbey with more of a keen adult eye too, so this book was of interest to me. I am very grateful to publisher – Hachette UK for allowing me to review the book.

The book is quite unique in the perspective it takes as it talks about lives, loves, deaths and no matter where else the book takes you, it does have a focus on Newstead Abbey itself too, as a building, a home, an estate and how it is all part of the society. It is such a unique perspective on all of the Byron family. It is informative as well as emotional and yet matter of fact in Georgian England. There are a few good photos and a few poem excerpts as well, to tell their family story. So, take a look at the blurb and my review. I have inserted a photo of Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, that I took on one of the visits there.

The Fall of The House of Byron cover

Blurb

In the early eighteenth century, Newstead Abbey was among the most admired aristocratic homes in England. It was the abode of William, 4th Baron Byron – a popular amateur composer and artist – and his teenage wife Frances. But by the end of the century, the building had become a crumbling and ill-cared-for ruin. Surrounded by wreckage of his inheritance, the 4th Baron’s dissipated son and heir William, 5th Baron Byron – known to history as the ‘Wicked Lord’ – lay on his deathbed alongside a handful of remaining servants and amidst a thriving population of crickets.

This was the home that a small, pudgy boy of ten from Aberdeen – who the world would later come to know as Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, soldier, and adventurer – would inherit in 1798. His family, he would come to learn, had in recent decades become known for almost unfathomable levels of scandal and impropriety, from elopement, murder, and kidnapping to adultery, coercion, and thrilling near-death experiences at sea. Just as it had shocked the society of Georgian London, the outlandish and scandalous story of the Byrons – and the myths that began to rise around it – would his influence his life and poetry for posterity.

The Fall of the House of Byron follows the fates of Lord Byron’s ancestors over three generations in a drama that begins in rural Nottinghamshire and plays out in the gentlemen’s clubs of Georgian London, amid tempests on far-flung seas, and in the glamour of pre-revolutionary France. A compelling story of a prominent and controversial characters, it is a sumptuous family portrait and an electrifying work of social history.

Review

The book starts in late summer, 1798 and takes readers on a grand tour. The writing is exquisite and the content is rich. I very much like that we meet Joe, a long time steward and readers will then be treated to a tour of Newstead Abbey and into its past and of its priory and monks. The grand tour is written so well, that even if you haven’t been there before, you get a real sense of the Abbey and its grounds and the history each room holds. It’s almost as though you are there on the tour itself. The Abbey is steeped in history, in George’s ancestry, love and scandal.
It’s interesting to learn a bit more about the tragic Frances. In 1726 There was another baby born into the Byron family and such congratulations from Thorsebury Hall and Welbeck Abbey (which can still be visited too) and many more high-standing people such as the Duke of Newcastle at Clumber Park (it is a fine and lovely Nottinghamshire park. I played there as child and walked round with the tread of adult feet).

This book is about Newstead Abbey and the Byrons. It isn’t so much about the life and death of the poet Lord Byron, who we all know, but more how they came to have Newstead Abbey and about the generations of Byrons, perhaps the stories that are less familiar and less told. It is however no less interesting, scandalous and emotional. The author has also told of some of the politics of the time (thankfully not too much). As much as I may have liked to read a bit more about the Lord Byron we know more about and about Newstead Abbey, this is still a very good book. It’s perhaps more unique than that of what has been done before, because there is certainly no reason why all the Byrons shouldn’t be written about. Everything is also put into context very neatly as it also looks at a wide scope of social and political history too. It all adds interest to them and to Newstead Abbey, which is steeped in history, even from the angle Emily Brand has taken. I recommend it.

The book tells of the successes in battle out at sea and of love, as well as the tragedies and ultimately their downfall. The book takes readers, of course to Newstead Abbey itself, but also to other places around Nottinghamshire in England and up to Scotland and abroad, in what is a book so well-written that it feels so remarkably easy to read. The facts are all there, but in such a form that flows even easier than the water mentioned throughout the book. The chapters are named after parts of Newstead Abbey itself, which not only ties in the abbey, although the book also talks about other places, it also feels like this writer is respectful in doing this.

The book then moves onto time spent in London, a far cry from leafy Sherwood Forest, and its new developments and re-builds after the Great Fire of London and the coronation of a new king. There is a well-written contrast between London and the beauty and the nature within Newstead Abbey.

The education of the children is also mentioned and you can feel some of the anguish around it. You learn a great deal about the Byrons and their early life and as their lives develop, sometimes also colliding with tragic times.

The Byron’s certainly were busy as they got involved in shipping on trade and business voyages. There’s also a tragic disappearance of a ship.

Slight political elements are mentioned and this, apart from being interesting as they formed the Byron’s lives, it also firmly, but informally, places useful timelines on what was happening in the wider world too as it goes into events on the fields of Flanders and Scottish clans, as well as skirmishes and worse, that was happening in Edinburgh, Scotland and further up to Culloden, Inverness and up to Aberdeen as this was Jacobean times, before turning attentions back onto Newstead Abbey and the renovations and additions, William introduced to the exterior and interior. I like that someone said the Byron’s were good landlords. There is however, much scandal, including murder. This book really does seem to cover it all, as well as certain ways Lord Byron voted. However, it seems to be Newstead Abbey that is a love and he seems drawn back to Nottinghamshire and his visions for it. 

Newstead Abbey 1
Pic of Newstead Abbey – taken by Louise – writer of this blog

The Upper Lake takes readers back to sea, documenting the life and trials there and it’s certainly rough and nothing about it is romantic. I feel the author speaks of a truth and authenticity about the realities of being out at sea.

The Great Dining Hall is back on land with George Byron at Halanby Hall, on his honeymoon as he wed Annabelle Millbanke. He seems romantic, but prone to a temper. Readers can also learn how Byron’s sister became the Countess of Carlisle and her pregnancy and of the entertainment. The writing changes tone, from that of the sea. It has a more romantic air, but each draws you in nearer and yet there always seems to be heartbreak and troubled, tortured times, in amongst the better days.

Folly’s Castle takes readers to the time Lord Byron spent there with fellow poet companions, such as Shelley.  The chapter also goes into more revolutionary times and was also happening in America as New York became under British control. Again, however all is not well back at Newstead as it tells of how things were auctioned off at a nearby Mansfield auction house and back at sea was treacherous. The detail put into this, is interesting. It also looks at what was happening in France at the time, with a new Princess being born into Versailles, all the while ensuring attentions are also focussed on Newstead and the Byrons and more scandal over love affairs, this time with Amelia and Jack and their child. I get the feeling times would not have been dull, working within the properties the Byrons used, as a footman was about to find out.
This part also shows Daws in Lancashire and how his property is also somewhat failing .

The Great Gallery is fascinating about the changing fashions in music as Mozart bursts into the music scene and man is starting to conquer the skies, it alludes almost to the Byrons having to try to catch up due to them actually slowing down, which in earlier chapters seemed quite impossible to imagine and yet their reputation seemed to preceed them. There are also by now, new friends readers will meet and of course more highs and lows to encounter. It also takes readers to when Sophia is in Bath, the society and her troubles there. I love that the attention again goes back to the state of Newstead Abbey. It’s interesting to read what locals at the time, thought of the statues being installed there.

The Chapel not only looks at some financial and health issues, but also an incredible storm in 1787. The description, brief as it is, of what happened to part of Newstead Abbey is powerful. There is great sadness however over deaths and a dwindling generation, that is written with great sensitivity, whilst telling the facts.

The Epilogue – Cloisters is interesting and mentions Joe and his wish to be buried by Boatswain. I can tell you, because I have seen it, there is a memorial to Boatswain in the grounds, with the most beautiful poem on it. The Epilogue also provides a very well written conclusions about to those who made up the Byrons and their depth of character.

There is a beautiful, but somewhat emotional poem in the appendix.

As I finish the book, in some ways, I didn’t quite want to end it and in some ways there is an overriding sense of satisfaction and also a mysterious calm, when you do reach the end, that I had not expected. Perhaps because there is so much heartbreak and anguish within the book.
It is so well researched and written that it is in many ways, lavish, yet not unrealisitically so. It feels like Emily Brand has done this justice. It isn’t dramatic or sensational in any way. What there is however, is a sense of satisfaction and of knowing more about the Byrons than you might have done previously to reading this book.

*Photos are taken by Louise, writer and owner of this blog, to illustrate, to those who perhaps don’t know what Newstead Abbey looks like today.

 

#Review of Letters From the Past by Erica James @TheEricaJames @orionbooks #LettersFromThePast #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

Letters From the Past
By Erica James
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thud!!! The book hit my doorstep in quite a fashion, life no other. It is incredibly welcome post, rather than the anonymous letters the characters within this book recieve. It is a book I am so excited at being invited by Anne Cater for the blog tour. Today I present my review of Letters From the Past, which is a glorious read from start to finish and is highly addictive. I also thank the publisher – Orion Books for sending me a delightful advance review copy (ARC) of the book.
Here you will find out a bit about the author, the blurb and my review.

 

About the Author

Erica James Author PicErica James is the number one international bestselling author of twenty-two including the Sunday Times top ten bestsellers Summer at the Lake, The Dandelion Years and Song of the Skylark. She has sold over 5 million books worldwide and her work has been translated into thirteen languages.
Erica won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her novel Gardens of Delight, set in the beautiful Lake Como, Italy, which has become a second home to her. Her authentic characters are thanks to the fondness of striking up conversations with complete strangers.

Blurb

A compelling story of family, love and betrayal.

Autumn 1962, in the idyllic Suffolk village of Melstead St Mary, four women recieve anonymous letters which threaten to turn their lives upside down – and to unravel a secret that has been kept hidden for years.

Meanwhile, in the sunbaked desert of Palm Springs, Romily Devereux-Temple is homesick for her beloved Island House. But on her return, shocked by events in her absence, she finds herself reluctantly confronting her own long-held secret. Can Romily save the day, and seize some happiness for herself at the same time?

 

Letters From the Past cover

Review

Focussing on the late 30’s/ early 40s, but predominantly the early 1960’s, this is one totally fascinating story of secrets, posion-pen letters and relationships, history. This book has it all I loved it all. This is wonderful book that shows so much life and yet can be read with consummate ease as it has a magic of drawing you into everyone’s lives without a second thought. This is a book that spans across many generations and would appeal to many generations.

The book starts with the scars of the war. The book fascinates me because it mentions about the RAF (my step-great-grandfather was part of the RAF in both world wars). The book also takes readers to Bletchley Park, which has just always interested me.
Then there’s the 1960’s, such an interesting period of time. From beginning to end I just loved this book, it swept me up instantly and carried me away. Time didn’t matter, I was hooked and kept wanting to know more about the people within Melstad St Mary in Sussex and in Palm, Springs and the secrets that mount up.

Poisoned pen letters appear on people’s doorsteps. Every so often you get to see what the accusatory content of these letters are. There are twists and turns and abuses of power to be discovered in this book. It may be set in between the 40’s and the 60’s, but some of the themes feel very current.

Hope is an author and she and Romily helped get a small library off the ground. Again, this makes me smile because I know myself what it takes to do that, as I’ve done that in recent times. Funny how books can resonate with people, and that’s the thing with this book, there is plenty to capture people’s imaginations and plenty that people who did live through certain periods of time, will have memories of.

There are many characters to meet, but they are  nicely split up into short chapters of mostly the main characters, with others being weaved in. The book is just over 500 pages, but it really does not feel it because the chapters are so short, the story so absorbing from beginning to end. There is also the fact that the characters are divinely interesting and the more the book delves into them, the more I wanted to know about them, their lives and why they were getting the poisoned pen letters.

The book begins with Evelyn, such an interesting character with immense secrets from having worked in Bletchley Park. It is interesting seeing Evelyn’s life in the 1940’s and in 1962. There is Isabella, an actress who had finally made it and wasn’t only starring in films, but being recognised. Meanwhile there is Romily, who has impressively hidden a secret for a long time. There’s a love story going on with Stanley and Annelise (He is illiterate and insecure and yet reinvented his life, but still nervous around women. His scars from war and the way his own mother treated him are telling as his life story opens up more, revealing darker beginnings. Red is a Hollywood scriptwriter, but all isn’t well.
There’s also a glimpse into abusive relationships, abuses of power. There are twists and turns in all of the characters lives, no one’s life is straight forward.

This is a glorious book sweeping over history of the world war and 1962. Lots of the events are all mentioned from the storm, to Australia doing a £10 deal to attract UK citizens to set up residency there. It is fun reading about the dance moves to pop songs that were becoming trendy. The book glides along beautifully in its mix of fiction and historical facts and always at the centre of it all are the characters and their lives. I love that Erica James isn’t too heavy-handed on getting every fact down. The balance between fact and fiction is perfect. The story is perfect. This book has made me want to read many more books by Erica James. Of course I’d heard of her and I’d read a couple of years ago and enjoyed them, but this book has compelled me into wanting to read more.

All in all, I highly recommend this brilliant book, which was published just a few days ago.

*Please note, all views are my own and unbiased.

Erica James Letters From The Past BT Poster

 

Olympia’s Dream by Milton Johanides #MiltonJohanides #Cyprus #Greece #Fiction #HistoricalFiction #LiteraryFiction

Olympias Dream
by Milton Johanides
Rated: 3.5 stars 3.5 stars

I would like to thank both Milton Johanides and his wife for asking me to review this book. I first met them in the small community library I currently lead and happened to mention I had a blog. After a conversation with them both, I have happily agreed to write a review. Please note, my review is not biased. I always take books on their own merit, but whilst always remembering the authors, whether I’ve met them or not, are real people too. Opinions are always my own. Although I have rated this book 3 1/2 stars, it isn’t far away from being 4, in my opinion.

About the Author

Milton Johanides was born in the UK and now lives in Scotland. After earning a Classics degree at Bristol University he pursued a commercial career before settling down to become a full-time writer and artist in 2012.

The Cypriot’s Treasure Trilogy is based on his own experiences growing up in London and Cyprus. It is a pulsating tale of bigotry and betrayal set against the turbulent backdrop of Greek, Turkish and Cypriot history.

Links to social media and where to buy the book:
Author Website
Barnes & Noble 
Amazon      

Olympias Dream cover

Blurb

Artie’s beautiful daughter who one day meets the Hollywood star Claudette Taylor and is fired with dreams of fame. World War Two and Germany’s occupation of Greece intervenes and Olympia must adapt to the nightmare scenario which unfolds.

“My mother’s name was Olympia, named after the mountain on which the god’s reside. Her name alone is enough to summon images of immortality, and in her youth she certainly looks like a goddess, or so say those who knew her”

Review

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book in terms of quality, but I have to say that it was better than what I was expecting. This is a book of emotion that encompasses psychological states, relationships between characters and of Cyprus and the history it holds.

I was intrigued to know what people are saying about Olympia from the start. The book is set in Cyprus, which in itself, is an interesting island. People who have read Victoria Hislop’s books or visited the island will be very familiar with it.
Olympia’s Dream questions life and becomes rather thought-provoking quite early on. Readers get to see the inner soul and psychological thoughts, almost of the main character – Artie, who is pretty insecure with his wife – Efthimia. Milton Johanides is skillful in immediately letting readers know the mood and temperament of his characters.

Artie is a character, despite perhaps, many flaws is one that can still be empathised with. He shows life isn’t easy and there is heartache. He seems to drive the plot forward, which helps move the story onwards and to create a focus and is certainly, in my opinion one of the more interesting characters.  Where this book is at its strongest is in the emotions and the mental state of Artie. There is quite a bit of inner depth to the characters portrayed. This is perhaps where the strengths of the book really lies, is in the complexities of this character and when the attention turns to the ensuing war.

The book moves onto being a bit about war times and other historical times. Readers can get a glimpse into what Cyprus was like as there as Cyprus does indeed have a fascinating history. There is some interest to be had within those chapters. There’s clearly been a lot of research done to intertwine the factual with the plot lines.

The plot feels like it did lack a certain pace at times, although does pick up in a number of places, which was pleasing, to move the plot onwards and to keep interest going. This book is fairly good and is worth a read and will certainly be of interest to those who also enjoy Victoria Hislop’s books and it is always exciting to discover new authors who are beginning to come into the fore too. It is worth taking some time to read and to discover the characters and Cyprus itself.

 

The Bobby Girls Secrets by Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity @TeamBookends #TheBobbyGirls #strictlysagagirls #WW1 #HistoricalFiction #bookreview #readingforpleasure #NewBook

The Bobby Girls Secret
By Johanna Bell
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

This is a delightful sequel to The Bobby Girls. I’ve been looking forward to re-joining the volunteer policewomen and I am so pleased that I have the opportunity to and to review this excellently written and researched book that has wonderful characters and plot.

I thank Joahnna Bell for being in touch with her publishers to ask them to accept my request to review again and I thank her publisher Hodder and Stoughton for accepting my request to review this wonderful series of books. 

About the Author

Johanna Bell cut her teeth on local newspapers in Essex, eventually branching ut into magazine journalism, with stints as a features editor and then commissioning editor at Full House magazine. She now has sixteen years’ experience in print media. Her freelance life has seen her working on juicy real-life stories for women’s weekly magazine market, as well as hard-hitting news stories for national newspapers and prepping her case studies for TV interviews. When she’s not writing, Johanna can be found walking her dog with her husband or playing peek-a-boo with her daughter.

The Bobby Girls' Secrets

Blurb

As the Great War rages on, will the truth come out?

1915. Best friends Irene, Maggie and Annie are proud members of the newly renamed Women’s Police Service. While Britain’s men are away fighting in France, the girls are doing their bit by keeping the peace at home in London’s East End.

But out of the blue, Irene is given the opportunity to be stationed near an army barracks in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Having recently experienced some heartbreak and keen for the adventure, she decides to go. What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out, plenty. One of the other WPS girls takes an immediate dislike to her and makes her life a misery. On top of that, the man she thinks could be the answer to all her problems isn’t all he seems. And when she finds a psychologically disturbed deserter in hiding, she has a very difficult decision to make . . .

Can Irene overcome all these obstacles without Maggie and Annie by her side, and find true happiness at last?

Review

As soon a I read The Bobby Girls, I wanted to read The Bobby Girl’s Secrets. I must say I was not disappointed. After the first one, I just knew that the second one would be worth the wait. This set of girls have captured me and this is turning out to be one enthralling series, with very likeable characters and highly believable plots. This is down to the research that Johanna Bell has put in, and clearly she has a love of this time period. I love too, that even though there’s a lot going on in the women’s personal and work lives, there are strong bonds of friendship, something perhaps people can carry through into their own lives during and after challenging times.

We re-join Irene, Maggie and Annie in 1915 on Bethnal Green. The three women, in their 20s, who made it to join the Women Police Service (WPS) are now firm friends, despite such different backgrounds and having little in common. There is a great camaraderie about them as they look out for each other. Johanna Bell, ensures you really get to know these likeable characters and their personal lives, as well as their working ones and she does it in a way that you want to be involved with them. There’s heartache and hard-hitting issues, and yet it’s a lovely relaxed pace. The book deals with prostitution (nothing explicit), the consequences that war is having on the men and life in-between, such as how hard it is to deal with losing someone you have feelings for and yet not necessarily reciprocated.

Readers will travel to Grantham to see what new challenges are posed and there are some new characters to meet, such as, Mary, Ruby, Helen and Chief Inspector Boldwood. The issues of status are nicely shown and the differences in attitudes and acceptance of policemen and those who are women on the volunteer team, not to mention some tensions between those in Grantham and a Londoner who had an easier time than them. There’s the trials of things being different in London and the countryside. There’s also tensions between stall holders and soldiers, with the merchants giving the men a hard time. There’s also challenges of getting used to the imposed curfews,due to prostitution. It is interesting to read about the different attitudes and opinions on it, from the volunteer women’s police service point of view. It isn’t all work however as romance is in the air, but all is not all as it seems.

The book is very well researched and is very interesting about different attitudes of the time. Although there is less of the characters (apart from Irene) in the first book, this is still a very good read as Irene carries the story forward and it is interesting meeting new characters in a new location. I feel it also gives a wider perspective of what was happening at that time.

Just like in The Bobby Girls, there is a really interesting part in the last pages of the book, after the story has finished and after the acknowledgements, there are some brilliant photos of Grantham and the people depicted within this book.

You can Pre-Order now from bookshops (lots are open for business online, including independent bookshops) and Amazon. The published date is May 2020.

Look out for the third book in this delightful series – Christmas With The Bobby Girls.

Take care folks!

Elaine Everest, Deborah Burrows, Margaret Dickinson, Rosie Hendry, Evie Grace, Clare Harvey