#BookRevew by Lou – Dead Secret by Noelle Holten @nholten40 @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity #CrimeFiction #DeadSecret #DCMaggieJamiesonNovel

There are psychopaths within Dead Secret, the latest in this series by Noelle Holten. Such a case to solve and so many secrets to uncover along the way, that keeps you guessing. Readers are in for a treat, all be it, a dark twisted one… Today I have the priviledge of kicking off the blog tour, thanks to BOTBSPublicity and One More Chapter for inviting me and for gifting me a book.
Find out more in the blurb and review…

Dead Secret Banner


Dead Secret coverPsychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…


This is a twisty and authentic book, as are all the books in this series. Dead Secret is compelling to say the least and psychopath’s are indeed on the loose.

DCI Hastings and his family are missing and a young man has been murdered, meaning DCI Maggie Jamieson has a lot of ground to cover to work out what is going on, not to mention the domestic violence survivor, who Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood deals with at her refuge, so means their paths cross. It turns out it isn’t easy for the domestic violence survivor to speak up about what happened to her, which adds into the layers of believability, necessary for such a storyline.
With all this going on, their lives are busy enough, but then there’s also the press to deal with. DCI Maggie spars quite a bit with the journalists, especially Julia.

In the police station itself, it is interesting reading further into the relationships between the officers, how they communicate to each other and how some of the dynamics have now changed, which refreshes things a bit.

This book keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next and what the connections are in the people the police are dealing with. There are lots of acronyms, perhaps almost on the same scale as Line of Duty, but like that series, it’s easy to get a grasp of what they all mean, well, I find this anyway.

The book in all its aspects is expertly written and also feels very authentic. It is also gripping right up to and including the last chapter. There’s a very good pace and all the characters are pretty strong, but with vulnerabilities that creep in.

About the Author

Noelle HoltenNoelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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#BookReview by Lou of Kissing Lying Down by Kate Tough @LoveBooksGroup #Fiction #KateTough

Kissing Lying Down
By Kate Tough
Rated: 3 stars ***

Today I am delighted to be on the blog tour for Kissing Lying Down. It is a book that takes relationships to their most gritty edges.
Thanks to Love Books Tours for inviting me to review and providing the book.

Kissing Lying Down


Gordon knows what Gabby wants but he hates to do what he’s told; Chrissy stalks the internet to find what her fiance wouldn’t give her; three friends reunite during a heatwave and their evening gets better and better, until it doesn’t.

In these relationship tales, many are burned by their pasts while scanning their horizons… A woman wonders if passing strangers have a better sex-face than her boyfriend; a birthday meal goes sour at the offer of no-strings dessert.

Navigating the on and offline worlds of pairing up, this spiky collection of short stories delves deep, with dark humour, into what it takes to strap on a smile through thirty-something failure and make human connections in the modern age.

Kate Tough ebook cover (1) (1)


Six short stories all consisting of relationships. They aren’t all happy relationships and some have a gritty realism of what can really go on behind closed doors. They take readers into all different stages of love, such as dating to weighing up whether to stay together or not, to that one word of “no” being ignored. At first glance you’d think it’s a book women to read, this is true, but a second thought crossed my mind, what if men were to read it and then think more about their behaviour too, as this is one of the things the stories focus on. It doesn’t feel vindictive against men, it just bravely takes readers away from the complete loved up romance, to something that is also real and dark, but with some uplifting elements scattered here and there too. It shows how romance isn’t all black and white and nor is it as innocent as it sounds…

The first consists of the tangled world of dating and how complicated it can be and just browsing through all those men, weeding out the unsuitable ones is hard enough, but then the story brings out the complexities the internet chats and questioning to find out more about each other to actually meeting.
The writing is all encompassing and paints a pretty accurate picture.

In the second, there’s what Janie calls “Mills & Boon moment” in  cafe, a glance, a wink here and there… the casualness of it all… and if she wants something to actually happen, she’s going to have to be the one to do it, and sounds pretty fed up of how men do this to women and shows how men don’t always do the courting anymore and shy away sometimes from it and how men can be pretty disappointing in how they say stuff, but don’t always mean it. It should perhaps be a story for men to read too.

In the third story it shows how a bit of romance can go just too far and dominant males don’t always pay attention to the word “No!” There’s the emotion and terror of the struggle as she tries to fight the assailant. It’s an important story that shows that men aren’t always strangers who sexually assault and even if in a romantic liason, this can still happen. It’s quite a vital story.

The fourth tale is about a woman who isn’t into commitment, she wants a man but not a husband. It’s about a different sort of love and terms of relationship, but love none-the-less.

The penultimate story takes place in bustling Sauchiehall Street – Glasgow on a fairly drunken night out. It swiftly moves onto the relationship between Sheridan and Ross and how they live, at least some of it by spreadsheet, but then sometimes he can be protective. The relationship also sounds on the brink. Read further to find out if they can find enough reasons to stay with each other or not…

The final story tells of a couple who met, lived a life and how it all came to an end, which isn’t quite how you might imagine it to be.

About the Author

Kate Tough is a fiction writer and visual poet.

Her novel, Keep Walking, Rhona Beech (Abacus, 2019) is available from all usual outlets. It’s the retitled second edition of, Head for the Edge, Keep Walking (Cargo) which has had five stars on Amazon since 2014. The book is a funny and moving account of how a thirty-something office worker in Glasgow, with a clumsy tendency to speak her mind, puts her life back together after it spectacularly falls apart.

Readers have noted that the novel reminds them of a book about someone called Eleanor Oliphant, although Kate’s novel appeared prior to that one, in 2014, when it got good attention in the Scottish media. It’s great that readers can enjoy both books and a bonus that people who like one character have an opportunity to discover the other one.

Kate’s poetry pamphlet, tilt-shift, was Runner Up in the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award, 2017 and her piece, ‘People Made Glasgow’, was selected as a Best Scottish Poem 2016. Recently, her work was included in Makar/Unmakar: Twelve Contemporary Poets in Scotland and she’s an invited poet at STANZA in 2021. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow.

Last year Kate adopted a cat with very long tail who shares his name with the Prime Minister of Britain – the rescue centre gave him that name – but now that she knows him better (the cat, not the Prime Minister) she’d have chosen the name Rocket, because of the way he shoots from underneath furniture at unbelievable speeds.

Kate understands that life isn’t an easy ride and she lives in perpetual awe of her fellow humans; getting out of bed each day and getting involved. On a general basis, if she sees the sun rising and swims lengths in a tide pool, then its not a bad day.

For occasional updates from the author about new work, writing tips and audio clips, subscribe via the button on Kate’s website at www.katetough.com

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves @g_c_reeves @AllenAndUnwin @RandomTTours #BookReview by Lou of #VictoriaPark #ContemporaryFiction #Fiction

Victoria Park
By Gemma Reeves
Rated: 3 1/2 stars

Well observed and captures the essence of Londoners, Victoria Park takes readers through a rich tapestry of various people’s lives. Also check out the wonderful cover, look through the window and then delve into the book to see what is beyond it. Please find out more about the author, the blurb and full review as you read through this blog post of the penultimate day of the blog tour.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to review on this blog tour and for a physical book.

Victoria Park Graphic


About the Author

Victoria Park Gemma Reeves Author Pic


Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.



Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year.

Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London.

Victoria Park cover Image


Wolfie seems quite the busy man, with a wife – Mona. As well as building a shed for his garden, he also opened a deli near Victoria Park and certainly has a love of food. There’s a bit of history told about Victoria Park and why it was built, which is absolutely fascinating. There’s also all manner of life of people going about their business in the book. It’s one for those who like to observe life. There’s love, attitudes and sometimes waspishness and sometimes hardships and sometimes there are pockets of it being uplifting. It’s interesting reading about this community in London and it certainly feels very London like in many aspects. There are moments of aloofness and a sadness that hangs in the air.  It’s soft in pace, a bit like strolling through a park, as revelations then appear bit by bit as readers are taken through people’s lives one month at a time, during the course of a year, with the ever changing situations as the book focuses on twelve Londoners.
It’s a book that would feed curious minds as to what it can be actually like, living in London, largely away from all the main landmarks and activities that the city is known for, which gives people outwith London a look into how living there can be as it takes readers through the tapestry of various people’s lives. It shows that there are eperiences and behaviours that are not just unique to the city. There are also things to ponder, especially for people living in towns and cities, and also some nuggets for people in the country to consider too.

Victoria Park BT Poster

#Bookreview by Lou of The Winter Garden By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @simonschusterUK

The Winter Garden By Heidi Swain Rated: 5 stars *****

The Winter Garden is a gorgeous, uplifting book by Heidi Swain that covers amazing ground within a community of people in Nightengale Square. Follow the blurb and review below to find out more. Thank you very much to Simon & Schuster for accepting my request to review.

The Winter Garden cover


***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!*** Will love bloom this winter?   Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.   There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.   Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling? The Winter Garden is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley and Sarah Morgan.

The Winter Garden cover


Eloise Thurlow-Forbes is an octogenarian estate owner in Broadmeadows, country estate, Suffolk and sad events kick start something new and positive in Freya Fuller’s life. It seems very apt at the moment with all that is going on in the world. Certain things in her life, she decides need to change, such as her job, where she isn’t entirely happy. There is a bit of strength of character shown in the way she works things out and speaks up about how things were. This starts off as a journey of self-discovery as Freya stumbles over local radio stations that guide her to Nightengale Square that has a community garden at Prosperous Place, a place with a history and one that is going to have a future in the fact that people have come together to do renovations. It’s a gentle way of guiding readers to where  the destination is going to be. There is then planning and plotting between Freya and Luke for turning the garden one fit for winter. Both she and Luke have some heartache in their lives and there seems to be a positivity in the book about them turning their lives around and there are elements of mental well-being within what is a gentle, cosy read as the colder months come in.

The book has stories within it of other characters and how they came to be in Nightengale Square that make a community working towards the aim of transforming the garden. It is realistic and not all plain-sailing. There are ups and downs between people and much that I think readers will be able to relate to, as they get to know each other and try to work together to meet the same goal; but tempers fray at times and romance buds amongst them. In the story, it’s as people try to create Winterfest, but the same applies for any group of people coming together trying to do something new and also discover more about themselves and each other. The book doesn’t shy away from mental health conditions and it is shown in bursts as you get to know the characters as their backgrounds are revealed. The book, however, gives a sense of positivity as the “Grow Well” group develops and all feels authentic as the story moves along in its build up to Christmas, feel-good vibe that has a lot of compassion and community throughout.  

#BookReview of The Servant By Maggie Richell-Davies; An immersive book into a different side of Servant’s Life #MaggieRichellDavies #HistoricalFiction #Fiction #NewBook

The Servant
By Maggie Davies
Rated: 4 stars ****

The Servant, it transpires (do read the end note), was inspired by a visit to the Foundling Hospital Museum, London, a place I too have visited. Readers are plunged into the 1700’s and it is far from a glamorous version. There’s a harshness of life and secrets aplenty in what becomes quite a drama for readers to become entangled in, as well as a bit of a love-story.

The book won the Historical Writers’ Association 2020 Unpublished Novel Award this spring, together with a publishing deal from Sharpe Books. It is currently gathering four and five star reviews on Amazon. Discover the blurb and my full review below.

I thank Maggie Richell-Davies for getting in touch on the Contact Form on my blog, to ask me to review and for sending me out a copy.

The Servant cover


Young Hannah Hubert may be the grandaughter of a French merchent of a Spitalfields silk weaver, but she has come down in the world.

Sent one day as maidservent to a disgraced aristocrat, she finds herself in a house full of mysteries – with a locked room and strange auctions held behind closed doors.

As a servant, she has little power but – unknown to her employers, she can read. And it is only when she uses her education to uncover the secrets of the house that she realises the peril she is in.

Hannah is unable to turn to the other servant, Peg, who is clearly terrified of their employers and keeps warning her to find alternative work.

But help might come from Thomas, the taciturn farmer delivering milk to the neighbourhood, or from Jack Twyford, a friendly young man apprenticed to his uncle’s bookselling business. Yet, Thomas is still grieving for his late wife – and can she trust Jack, since his uncle is one of her master’s associates.

Hannah soon discovers damning evidence she cannot ignore.


Through darkness of the streets and the people you will meet, there is also a bit of a love story that emerges, which pierces through some of the dark and brings a bit of lightness here and there.

London, Spring 1765 is when this story begins. The scene is set instantly in a way where you’ve got to catch breath. It’s atmospheric already and then comes the main character – Hannah Hubert, who readers will instantly get a feel for her predicament. Very quickly the tones of the characters emerge, altering from character to character, depending on their position very well. This is all established pretty early on.

Hannah gets a position in the home of Mistress Chalke and is sent on her way to meet her by Mrs Lamb. As well as meeting the mistress, she also meets fellow servant – Peg.

This isn’t like Downton or its predecessor – Upstairs Downstairs. It’s a fair bit darker and has many more shades to it. It captures a different side of a servant’s life, which shows a brutality and darkness as crime enters her life as Hannah is plunged into a situation that could mean she is imminent danger. . It is, however, a well-developed story with a richness that readers would be expecting in its descriptions of fashionable materials of the time, as well as the interior of the house and outside world.

Before and after this concern, she meets Jack, who is a bookseller and an interesing character, as is Master Chalke, who is a writer. It’s an interesting walk that Jack and Hannah take through London. It’s far from the usual sort, it shows the workhouses, the Foundling hospital and all is woven tightly into the fabric of the city along with how money is used.

The chapters are immersive as they plunge you into the darker streets into a somewhat seedier side of the 1700s. It is interesting to note that the Chalkes sound like they ought to have many high society connections, but they do not. They also disappear on Mondays. It adds to the intrigue as the story goes along. This is more than the clean lines of a Lord and Lady of the manner with the seasons and dances. It’s the complete opposite, which makes it somewhat refreshing in a way. It isn’t a place where you’d want a servant to end up at all, which makes you root for Hannah.

About the Author

Maggie Davies was born in Newcastle and has a first-class honours degree from the Open University.

Her debut novel, The Servant, won the Historical Writers’ Association 2020 Unpublished Novel Award, together with a publishing contract from Sharpe Books.

The book was inspired by a visit to London’s Foundling Hospital Museum, with its heart-breaking stories about the tokens desperate women left there in the hope that they might, one day, be able to reclaim their child.

Maggie has had short stories published, been shortlisted for the Bridport Flash and Olga Sinclair Awards and longlisted for the Exeter Novel Award. She is a member of the Historical Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Royal Tunbridge Wells with her husband, but also spent a number of years in Peru, Africa and the United States.

#Review of the gritty Dance With the Reaper by Wes Markin @MarkinWes @CazVinBooks #NewBook #CrimeFiction #blogtour

Dance With The Reaper
By Wes Markin
Rated: 5 stars *****

I have been reading and reviewing Wes Markin’s books since the second one. This is now his 5th (discover after the review. They are gritty, gripping, fast-paced crime fiction/police procedural books that have readers follow DCI Michael Yorke. The suspects are very intriguing and attention grabbing.
I thought the previous one was his best yet, but perhaps it could even be this one. They are all so well-crafted and especially this one. It was again, a pleasure to be invited by Caroline Vincent to review, this time – Dance With The Reaper, so I thank her and Wes Markin for providing a copy of the book to review from.

Find the blurb and review and then Wes Markin’s social media links below.

About the Author

Wes Markin Author Image (2)Wes Markin is a hyperactive English teacher, who loves writing crime fiction with a twist of the macabre.

Having finished the fifth instalment in the DCI Yorke series, Dance with the Reaper, Wes is now working on the sixth instalment of DCI Yorke’s wild ride. He is also the author of Defined, a prequel to his DCI Yorke novels, which takes the reader back to his blood-soaked university days.

Born in 1978, Wes grew up in Manchester, UK. After graduating from Leeds University, he spent fifteen years as a teacher of English, and has taught in Thailand, Malaysia and China. Now as a teacher, writer, husband and father, he is currently living in Harrogate, UK.


How do you stop a perfect killer?

After the terrible events of the past year, DCI Yorke’s team are on the verge of finding peace. But after a terrifying act of violence shatters their equilibrium, they are forced to dance with a skilled assassin who knows no equal.

After it becomes clear that this hitman is connected to the most shadowy of criminal organisations, Yorke is forced to dive into his own past, and face a future in which he is either alone, or dead.

Can Yorke and those he holds dearest survive the Reaper? Or will this be one dance too many?

Dance with the Reaper - book cover


This is the latest of the DCI Michael Yorke gritty and gripping series. There’s a mix of the literal and the non-literal within this book. Murder and music are mixed, all atuned together to create the essence of this story; there’s also the dance. The dance in the literal sense, relates to a ballet and Ukrainian and Russian syndicates.
The dance isn’t, however all in the literal sense. It’s the dance of life and death, the dance that the police are led on to follow and try and capture the victim’s murderer. In a sense, there’s the dance that readers are led on with all the different music that is ‘played’ that is weaved in and out of the story as you inadvertently also ‘Dance With The Reaper‘.

There’s some fun banter between him and his wife – Patricia as The Rolling Stones are on in the background on the radio – Radio Exodus. The lyrics that Wes Markin has picked out are cleverly apt for the book and its title. It always amazes me when people can do that.

The book shows the effects death can have on a 14 year old, even with all the support from Michael and Patricia Yorke who adopted him. It is however quite a small part of the story, but it nicely shows their life together when they aren’t at work. It’s a nice thing to see their lives at home too.

There is something else brewing as there’s obvious distress from the radio presenter Michael and Patricia are listening to and the action that ensues. The distress is for good reason. Anyone in her position would be as her life is in imminent danger. The book becomes suddenly tense.

There had been a question asked on the radio where the answer relates to the title of this book, almost…  The tension builds so well as this one question will determine on if she lives or dies.

Cozy Mystery writer – Matthew Peacock is a curious man, chancing his luck that the police will tell him everything. He may or may not be a suspect.

Herbert Wheelhouse (‘Reaper’ Wheelhouse)is in a downgraded prison now from a category A prison and is 70 years old. There’s a good insight as to what someone working in the police may feel about the different types of prisons, at least from DCI Yorke’s point of view. Herbert is definitely a most evil character. It’s written with believability about how both DCI Yorke, who keeps his professionalism and his colleague – Jake feel about seeing him and questioning him in prison about Janice Edwards, and also The Youngs, a particularly evil group who have mastered torture.

The book touches on things that have been reported on the news, such as County Lines. It’s added into the story very well and makes it so current, with the issues with drugs that are going on within the UK. It’s a gritty, contemporary book!

There are unexpected connections to Patricia with a criminal – Douglas Firth, who may or may not have something to do with a murder. It’s something that may make you sit up right! Both prisoners are also chilling down the spine. There is also Borya Turgenev who is wanted for crimes, who the police want to capture, who is a ballet dancer. An impressive one at that, by all accounts, but doesn’t act like your usual dancer at all. He has a secret that he has in his room. It’s one that wouldn’t be expected. It’s one that goes against the grace of his ballet steps.

Although this can be a somewhat gruesome series, it is incredibly well-conceived and written as crime and office politics and relationships all weave together, with their twists, so it is one that I recommend.

The books can be read as stand-alone books or as part of the series. There are: One Last Prayer for the Rays, The Repenting Serpent, The Silence of Severance, Rise of the Rays and the latest is – Dance With the Reaper

Wes Markin on Social Media

Twitter                                     twitter.com/MarkinWes
Facebook Author Page           http://www.facebook.com/WesMarkinAuthor
Goodreads Author Page         bit.ly/GRtoWesMarkin
Amazon Author Page             author.to/WesMarkin

Dance with the Reaper Blog Tour Poster