Tuesday 31 August 2021

Book Review - Stolen by Tess Stimson

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Amazon UK

Title: Stolen
Author: Tess Stimson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 5th August 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worst.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie? 

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

A totally addictive thriller, with a twist you just won’t see coming. Fans of Lisa Jewell, Louise Candlish and T.M. Logan will be totally gripped from the very first page.

Wowser!  I didn't see all of that coming.  It's been a while since I last read a book by Tess Stimson and thus had forgotten just how impressive her storytelling is. 

I was completely hooked in with the prologue and spent a bit of the book wondering just how it fitted in, as we learn of Lottie's disappearance. 

I liked how it was likened to the Madeleine McCann real life disappearance, and there are all sorts of matters touched on, that had me thinking. 

It really is every parent's worst nightmare, taking your eyes off your child for a few moments and them not being there afterwards. It is shocking to see that a child can disappear from a wedding when there are so many people around. 

At first it was hard to really like Alex, her initial very honest thoughts of of motherhood, but it soon becomes apparent how much she really does care about Lottie, and how the not knowing where Lottie is, or if she is still alive or not being the hardest thing to cope with. Her tireless efforts to keep the story in the press and the search afoot were incredibly heartening to see. 

At points during the book I pretty much suspected everyone at being involved and what is clear is Alex's anguish is real. As is the pain of anyone else in a similar situation. 

I really quite enjoyed the chapters from Quinn's point of view, she is troubled with her demons, but also quite determined.

I was reading the last quarter on the tube and it was a miracle I got off at the right stop as I was so engrossed in the story.

Truly wonderful and gripping  that I was utterly hooked on.

Thank you to Avon and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday 30 August 2021

Book Review - The Wedding Party by Tammy Cohen - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK

Title: The Wedding Party
Author: Tammy Cohen
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Publication Date: 24th June 2021
Rating: 4 Stars

Till death do us part . . .

Lucy has dreamt of her wedding day for as long as she can remember.

And now the day is almost here. Her nearest and dearest are gathered on an idyllic Greek island and she just knows it's going to be perfect. It has to be.

But even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Why are her parents behaving so strangely? Why won't the rather odd lady from the airport stop hanging around? Who is the silent stranger her sister brought as a plus-1?

And then they find the body.

It's going to be a day to remember.

Starting with a dead body at a wedding without knowing whose it is, we then get in real time the run up to their death from various focal points of the wedding party, as well as police interviews, and one characters diary.

It took a while to discover whose diary it was, and from the moment you have that knowledge the book kicks up a gear and suddenly becomes rather interesting.

I mean I was enjoying the first half but it was that first reveal that really made things start to click in my mind. And I was able to stay coming up with totally wrong theories. 

I was shocked by the outcome, and couldn't put the last quarter of the book down at all. 

The writing was excellent as I've come to expect from this author  and I absolutely loved the setting of this book.

The characters were perhaps a tad harder to gel with, but I was invested in discovering just what went wrong with this wedding party. 

Plenty of drama and for me an unexpected conclusion which made sense, make this a book definitely worth reading. 

Thank you to Transworld and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday 19 August 2021

Book Review - The Happy Family by Jackie Kabler

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Amazon UK

Title: The Happy Family
Author: Jackie Kabler
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: 4th June 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

My family has just been reunited. So who is trying to tear it apart?
A mother who disappeared… 
When Beth was 10 years old, her beautiful, wild mother Alice walked out and never came back. Beth’s life since hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but now she is happy and settled, with a successful career, a loving family and a beautiful home. 
An unexpected visitor…
Then one day there’s a knock at the door. Alice has returned. Overjoyed to have the chance to rebuild their relationship, Beth invites her mother to move in.
A life that comes crashing down…
At first, everything seems wonderful. But then Beth’s friends begin to drift away, strange things start to happen at home, and rumours begin to circle about her past. As the mysterious events around Beth become darker and more dangerous, she is forced to question everything. Is somebody in her life trying to destroy her happiness? And how far will they go?

Well you know a book is pretty amazing when you actually exclaim WTAF in full out loud at a key moment. Thankfully no one was around and I didn't have to explain, but once again Jackie Kabler has managed to keep me on my toes throughout. 

I think at times I had thought about various of the outcomes and my mind flitted on most of the truths, but I couldn't quite figure out the specifics and I was still very shocked as everything is revealed. 

But the journey to get there was utterly addicting, kept me on my toes and had me feeling rather creepy at times, with some of what Beth was experiencing. 

This is a book that starts of relatively gently all things considered, but before long it all ramps up, and events become a lot darker, a bit sinister and although you may like me have some theories, as to what is going on, I would suggest you won't be able to predict the exact nature of how everything occurs and all the consequences. 

And then there are other twists that through me completely and well I just love a book that keeps me on my toes. 

The blurb tells you everything you need to know about the plot, anything I would add would definitely be counted as spoilers which I avoid, and it really does cover the key points and had me intrigued to read at any rate. 

What is though fast becoming rather apparent is just amazingly talented Jackie Kabler is. I really enjoyed her cozy mysteries, but since she has started writing psychological thrillers well her skill, storytelling and well the dark twisted part of her mind are just superb and seem to be getting more and more impressive by the book, and they started at a high level! 

I couldn't get enough of The Happy Family, loved the characterisation, writing, and just everything about it.  

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Wednesday 11 August 2021

It's that time again... I'm finally off on holiday!

 As followers of my blog probably will know by now, that I love a holiday and try to go away as much as I can in a year.  Obviously since the pandemic has begun I've barely had a break, I managed by some miracle to get to Malta last year for a fortnight, but other than taking a few weeks off to sit at home in tier 4 (essentially lockdown) over Christmas - I've barely stopped for any proper rest and relaxation. 

Of course with the ever changing green, amber and red list and barely being able to work out what the foreign travel rules are, I decided to play safe, and stay in the UK, and I'm already aware this is working out to by my most expensive holiday ever - and there is no guarantee of sun... so please cross your fingers for me that heatwave returns!!  I need it.

So where am I off to? Well I'm spending 3 nights in Southampton, before boarding Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas for a 8 night UK Isles cruise, and then disembarking and heading to Bournemouth for 5 nights - meaning a nice 16 nights away, full of rest, relaxation and possibly running around like a headless chicken for the duration of the cruise to make the most of everything on offer. 

Just take a look at this little video about the ship I'm staying on, although not everything will be open due to Covid protocols. 

I'm hoping for many days of either sunbathing, or trivia quizzes, great entertainment, good food and just a lot of fun.  And the beauty of the ship portion of the holiday is if the Great British weather is as nightmarish as it has been - well there is always something going on indoors! 

The ship is stopping in Inverness, Glasgow, Orkney Isles and Liverpool but the excursions on offer don't appeal, and you are only being allowed off on a ship excursion to keep the ship as a big bubble. 

And of course my other aim of the holiday is as always to catch up on some reading! Last year in Malta I read 34 books, and previous holidays 33 and 36. Now this is a longer holiday but I most likely for large parts of it be more active - so have no idea how many books I'll read, but given my kindle goes everywhere with me I'm sure I will make a dent on my review TBR. 

As per all my other holiday blog posts, this is the point where I show you just what is currently on my review TBR, and ask for your recommendations as to which I should definitely read this trip, what you would like to see reviews of sooner than later (although some of these probably won't hit my blog until next year, just depends how I schedule everything. 

So what do you think of this massive selection of books that are all on my kindle waiting patiently for me to get to them?!

So which book should I kick off my holiday reading with, I had a few ideas but given I have to take multiple tubes and trains, I'm thinking something that I know will mean I may miss stops may not be my smartest idea! 

Have you read any of these, or what are you looking forward to from these?

I'd love to know - and I'll be back on 30th August to regular posting but watch out on 19th August I apparently I have a review still scheduled for The Happy Family by Jackie Kabler for her paperback publication day! (Spoiler alert - it was fabulous!). 

And if you are off anywhere over the next few weeks have a fabulous time and above all stay safe! Oh and show me pics!!

Book Review - The Promise of Summer by Bella Osborne

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Amazon UK

Title: The Promise of Summer
Author: Bella Osborne
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 22nd July 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Ruby’s life is about to change for ever…

After years of dating losers, cheats and one guy who did something unrepeatable to her kettle, Ruby has all but given up on romance. But then a stranger sits next to her on a train to London and explains his plan to propose to the woman of his dreams. Maybe true love does exist after all?

When the man accidentally leaves the engagement ring behind, Ruby is determined to save the day. But she hasn't counted on fellow passenger Curtis stepping in and insisting he should be the one to track the stranger down.   
As summer closes in, the unlikely pair make a promise to reunite the ring with its owner. But can they find their own happy ever after along the way?

Well I was hooked into the story within the first chapter and my absorption and love of it didn't wane throughout. 

There are so many threads running through this book, some I kind of guessed correctly the outcomes of, some I desperately wanted my ideas to be the truth, and others were just so lovely and at all times I was enjoying what I was reading so much. 

Although Ruby is the main character, I also loved the chapters focusing on Kim, her boss and best friend, who has some great storylines of her own, including one with a new four legged friend that is so heartwarming. 

But for me the standout character is Curtis, I absolutely adored him.  He's not the easiest to describe, but has such a way about him that once you are used to his speech patterns and have an idea of how he thinks, he is quite adorable and really just lovely! 

And what of the stranger on the train, that Ruby starts chatting to as mentioned in the blurb, well his initial actions are essentially the catalyst for Ruby and Curtis' budding friendship and I was just as invested as Ruby was in finding him again! 

I'm a massive fan already of Bella Osborne, and this is just another example of a fabulous book from a talented author.  I wasn't really sure what to expect in terms of plot as don't think I'd even looked at the blurb, and was incredibly happy with what was delivered. 

Thoroughly enjoyable, what a fantastic book! 

Thank you to Avon and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Tuesday 10 August 2021

Book Review - The Secret Path by Karen Swan

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Amazon UK

Title: The Secret Path
Author: Karen Swan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Pan
Publication Date: 8th July 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

An old flame. A new spark.
Love can find you in the most unlikely places.

Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Swan returns with The Secret Path, taking us deep into the heart of the Costa Rican jungle – complete with her trademark romance, glamour, and jaw-dropping twists.

'A glamorous adventure' - Hello!

At only twenty, Tara Tremain has everything: she’s a trainee doctor, engaged to the man of her dreams – Alex, a passionate American biology student. But just when life seems perfect, Alex betrays her in the worst way possible.

Ten years later, she’s moved on – with a successful career, good friends and a man who loves her. But when she’s pulled back into her wealthy family’s orbit for a party in the heart of Costa Rica, she’s flung into a crisis: a child is desperately ill and the only treatment is several days’ trek away, deep in the jungle.

There's only one person who can help - but can she trust the man who broke her heart?

Your Costa Rican adventure awaits.

Omg that was amazing. Actually amazing doesn't quite do justice to Karen Swans latest and my new favourite book from her.

With romance, adventure, hair raising moments, revisiting your past, drama and the most impressive setting, I couldn't help but devour this book.

I went to this with only knowing its part set in Costa Rica, and was hooked on all elements of the story.

The amount of research that must have gone into this book, of the indigenous tribes of the jungle, their customs and believes, which all felt rather authentic.

I literally could barely put it down and even very almost missed a tube stop, because of the action.

And after a few summer releases from this author that were dual timelines and featuring more history than I prefer (but that I still really enjoyed), I'm so happy to see this is back to her normal writing style and for me so much the better for it.

I just couldn't get enough of this story and would have happily read another few hundred pages, had they existed. I was enjoying it that much.

A wonderful story to lose yourself in, and to learn the perils of the Costa Rican jungle. Just wow. 

Thank you to Pan and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday 9 August 2021

Book Review - The Beach House by P. R. Black

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Amazon UK

Title: The Beach House
Author: P. R. Black
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 16th January 2020
Rating: 4 Stars

This vacation is about to turn deadly...
Cora's on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancĂ©’s business.

When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.

But it doesn't take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn...

It was definitely the cover that first attracted me to this book and then the blurb, as I do love anything set on a holiday.  Yet it then sat on my kindle for over a year before I had a chance to read it and I went in blind. 

I really had no idea what to expect other than for it to be quite dark at some point - so the relatively sedate opening, took me a bit by surprise, but I really enjoyed getting to know Cora and Jonathan, being happy with their new proposal and impressed with Jonathan's business dealings. 

But then there are a few weird occurrences but even then I had absolutely no idea what turns this book was going to take.  What resulted was the second half of the book is full of action, fast paced, and at no point was I sure exactly what I could believe or not. 

Full of drama this is fabulous, and had me on the edge of my seat and completely gripped and wrapped up in the story.  For this turns out to be anything but at a holiday of a lifetime, but yet it will for Cora be remembered forever but not for the reasons you may first be thinking. 

This is the first book I've read from the author and if this is an indication of their skills, then I'd certainly be happy to read more in the future. 

Thank you to Aria and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday 6 August 2021

Book Review - All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle

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Amazon UK

Title: All The Lonely People
Author: Mike Gayle
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 23rd July 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

In phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun and friendship.

But Hubert Bird is lying.

Something has made him turn his back on people, and he hardly sees a soul.

So when his daughter announces she's coming to visit, Hubert faces a race against time: to make his real life resemble his fake life before he's found out.

Along the way Hubert renews a cherished friendship, is given a second chance at love and even joins an audacious community scheme. But with the secret of his earlier isolation lurking in the shadows, is he destines to always be one of the lonely people?

Beautiful and emotional.

I'm at a loss for words how to describe this wonderful book.

There were rather unexpected moments, some that will make you cry and others that will have you smiling.

And I was hooked on the past sections, learning about Hubert and Joyce's life from when he moves to the UK in the 50s from Jamaica right unto the present.

And in light of recent events after the Euros final its clear the views of some in this country haven't changed since the 1950s which is rather disturbing.

There are so many important topic covered in this story but most key and perhaps even poignant after the last 15 months or so of the pandemic is of loneliness. And raising awareness of it.

Mike Gayle has gone up yet another notch with his superb writing, in this book. I cant do it justice but its definitely worth a read. 

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday 5 August 2021

Book Review - Escape to Honeysuckle Hall by Rebecca Raisin

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Amazon UK

Title: Escape To Honeysuckle Hall 
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 5 August 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

A fresh start brings a second chance at love…

When Orly’s boyfriend and business partner dumps her for a celebrity fling, she finds solace in tacos, tequila and tears. One terrible hangover later, she’s packed her bags and swapped her London apartment for the overgrown grounds of Honeysuckle Hall.

After years spent catering to others’ whims, Orly is going after what she wants: a simpler life, surrounded by nature. Her plan to set up countryside retreats for burned-out city-dwellers means she soon has the social life she’s been dreaming of – and gorgeous carpenter Leo is always around when she needs something fixed…

As Orly’s new life blossoms, so does her friendship with Leo, and she wonders if she’s finally found somewhere to put down roots – until she discovers a series of anonymous notes, warning her off. Was she wrong to trust Leo? Or is someone else trying to sabotage her future?

A heartwarming romance full of humour, friendship and honeysuckle-scented dreams! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.

There is just so so much to love about this book I wouldn't know where to start...

... well there is the extravagant proposal in the opening chapter that drew me in instantly and had me almost wishing there was far more about Orly's initial job. 

... there's Esterlita who from the moment she entered Orly's life, was a colourful breath of fresh air and I honestly think deserves a book of her own!  She's easily one of my favourite secondary characters I've come across in a long while. 

... there is the mystery about who on earth is leaving Orly mystery notes, trying to scare her out of her fabulous plan of offering retreats for people who are burnt out

... there is the first retreat with its great mix of campers, all of whom I loved and was invested in, even though they don't feature until around the last third or so of the book, I really loved their personalities. 

... And there is Orly herself who is a fabulous leading lady, who is after experiencing some humiliating heartbreak is now following her dreams with Honeysuckle Hall, and I just loved everything about her. 

This is a book that has so many threads running through it, which combined make one incredibly engaging and entertaining story. 

Oh and I forgot to mention what really drew me instantly to Orly is her hobby.  It's a hobby I don't recall seeing in any other books, but given it is one I indulged in as a child at the very least, I was rather happy to see it represented at last, but I'll leave it you to discover what she enjoys doing in her spare time. 

I had a lovely time reading Escape to Honeysuckle Hall even with its rather menacing chicken, giant spider and gorgeous carpenter - with at least 2 of those providing rather memorably funny moments! 

Thank you to HQ and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Book Review - The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans

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Amazon UK

Title: The Little Bookshop of Love Stories
Author: Jaimie Admans
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 8th May 2020
Rating: 5 Stars

Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired – and it wasn’t even her fault!

Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life.
That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop!
Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie’s dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first page of every book, she knows she's stumbled across something special.

But Hallie’s beloved bookshop is in financial trouble, and with sales dwindling, she can’t help but wonder if she is really cut out to run a business.

Things start to look up when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever.
But maybe it’s time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?

Perfect for anyone that believes in the true power and magic of books.  It's like an ode to how brilliant books are and how great they can be in uniting people.

I think I fell in love with Dimitri from his initial entrance and by the end I was completely besotted with this character. 

And Hallie is wonderful too and it really is a dream come true for her to win this bookshop. Especially given how unlucky she tends to be.

Many a time while reading I ended up laughing out loud loudly, it's just a really funny book with a wonderful message.

And it's such a warm and comforting read I never wanted to return to the concept of real life, and would have happily gone on reading about these characters for a long time. 

This is yet another truly fabulous book from one of my auto read authors. If you are a book lover, you definitely need to give this a go, and I promise it will make you smile. 

Thank you to Netgalley and HQ for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Tuesday 3 August 2021

Book Review - Vicki's Work of Heart by Rosie Dean

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Amazon UK

Title: Vicki's Work of Heart
Author: Rosie Dean
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Author Supplied Copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 26th March 2014
Rating: 4 Stars

Contemporary Romantic Comedy
Stranded at the altar, knee-deep in her fiancĂ©’s gambling debts, Vicki Marchant seizes her freedom and moves to France, to paint.
It’s her time. No man will get in the way of her ambition again.
She learns two things: some men are hard to resist and her judgement of them is still on the dodgy side.

I've been meaning to read a Rosie Dean book for years, so when I had the opportunity to review Vicki's Work of Heart, I jumped at it. 

And what a lovely story it is, with Vicki Marchant having some really poor taste in men,  which is rather amusing and although you knew at least one of them was clearly hiding something, I honestly didn't quite guess what it was that made him such a bad choice for Vicki. 

And I loved the French countryside, and Vicki's quest to become an artist, as she has a year in France. 

It's a really gentle story, enjoyable and certainly the sort of book that would be great to while away a few hours in the sun.  In fact ha I read this on holiday I would have probably found it a rather quick read, but my concentration was lacking a bit while I did read it.  

It's just a lovely book, of Vicki trying to follow her dreams, and encountering various obstacles along the way. 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 

Monday 2 August 2021

Book Review - Secrets on the Italian Island by T. A. Williams

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Amazon UK

Title: Secrets on the Italian Island
Author: T. A. Williams
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Canelo
Publication Date:  8th July 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Her work has got in the way of relationships before – but never like this
Anna’s job as a geologist takes her all over the world, including to the beautiful island of Elba, where she’s sent to look for precious metals. And the island isn’t the only thing that’s gorgeous – she can’t believe her luck when she meets windsurfer Marco and sparks fly.

But Anna must keep her role on Elba a secret to avoid upsetting the locals, which means lying to Marco even as they grow closer. When her old friend Toby visits, Anna suddenly finds herself torn between the attentions of the two men. However, Anna’s not the only one keeping secrets.

Is Marco being entirely honest with her? And why did Toby really come to visit?

A fun and escapist romance, perfect for fans of Lucy Coleman and Alex Brown.

I'm always excited to be able to be whisked away in a T A Williams book, especially as International Travel looks still so so far away in the real world, that armchair travel via reading is a bit escape for me. 

And once more our talented author has produced the goods in a wonderful story, set against a stunning back drop of the island of Elba, I couldn't get enough of this book. 

From the tasty sounding food, to the two men that Anna may be interested in, although neither are necessarily as they seem, to her job this was all such a great mix. 

In fact Anna is a geologist and actually gets to travel the world looking for precious metals and gets to do cool things like prospect ore, in the hopes something valuable occurs.  Although she loves the job she is starting to realise it may be preventing her from having a relationship, so there is real thoughts she has a lot as to what she really wants in life. 

But yet although she has a gorgeous Italian windsurfer, plus an old friend both potentially interested in her, the men I really enjoyed getting to know are Jack and George.  George is a the latest in a long line of black Labradors to capture my heart within T. A. Williams books, he seems to take to Anna really quickly as well as loving his master, and being known by everyone locally in the area. 

And Jack his owner, becomes a deer friend to Anna, despite being significantly older, and keeps her entertained with stories from his own career and travels.  It's lovely to see this friendship being developed. 

Elba really worked its charms on both Anna and me, and I really wish I was able to get on a plane, and experience the boat trips around the coast line etc...  It sounds so gorgeous. 

There are all manner of secrets being hidden in this book, both on the Island itself but also within its key cast of characters, which makes for some interesting discoveries. 

Another gem of a book from this rare and precious author! 

Thank you to Canelo and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 
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