Friday 26 March 2021

Book Review: The Bushranger's Wife by Cheryl Adnams

 The Bushranger's Wife
Cheryl Adnams
How do you tame a wild colonial boy? With an even wilder colonial girl.

Publisher: Harlequin Australia 
Imprint: Mira AU
Publication date: 6th January 2021
Genre: Historical romance
Pages: 352
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace Book Club
About the book
Central Highlands of Victoria 1861

Jack the Devil's reputation precedes him. The most notorious bushranger on the Central Highlands, nothing throws him off his game-until he holds up Prudence Stanforth and her grandmother. Jack can't help but be captivated by the feisty Pru and her lack of fear in the face of danger.

Weeks later, Pru crosses paths with the respectable businessman Jack Fairweather, and it's not long before she recognises him as the bushranger who stole her favourite necklace. His price for the locket's return is a kiss-a kiss that ignites sparks in them both.

When Pru discovers her grandmother has been keeping a devastating secret, running away with Jack the Devil is the perfect escape for her broken heart. The dangerous nature of his less than salubrious occupation is a poetic contradiction to her sheltered upbringing, and only fuels their passion.

But as life becomes more complicated, will the return of dark elements from Jack's past ruin their chance at happiness?
My review
Cheryl Adnams goes beyond the stories of the bushrangers of colonial Australia to the women that love them. What type of woman would marry a bushranger, a criminal?

Prudence has moved from England to Australia with her grandmother Lady Deidre Stanforth. When they are held up by a bushranger, introducing himself as Jack the Devil, on their very first day in Victoria rather than be afraid Prudence is thrilled by the excitement and adventure this new land held.

Jack Fairweather businessman and closet bushranger, Jack the Devil, loves his carefree life and the thrill of the heist. He vows he will never settle down. But after holding up the carriage of Prudence and Lady Stanforth he can’t get the young woman out of his mind.

It’s 1861 and girls are brought up to be subservient and dutiful. Prudence knows this and has done her best to comply but she sees her move to Australia as a last chance to run wild and spread her wings until she must settle into the marriage of a grandmother approved suitor.

"She hoped she'd have some time as a free woman to explore her new country, before she was sold a wife and baby maker."

I loved Prudence’s character. She was wild, rebellious, full of life and could be persuasive, even quite devious when she wanted something.. She was intelligent and inquisitive and was well read. She was raised to be delicate and dainty but her true nature was to be fierce and determined. The more she tasted freedom the more she wanted. She was a young woman before her time.

Jack was the most delectable anti-hero. Handsome, charming and a true gentleman. Even though he was a bushranger and thus a criminal his cheeky, easy going manner made it easy to look past this. He was the perfect fit for Pru.

The Bushranger’s Wife is a story filled with passion, danger, adventure and the true power of love. It is fast paced and heartwarming, flirty and sensual. It has all the elements of a perfect romance read.

This was my first book by Cheryl Adnams and I am now eager to read some of Cheryl’s backlist.   

5/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This review first appeared on the Beauty & Lace website 
About the author
Photo credit Goodreads
Cheryl Adnams lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has published four Australian rural romance novels and this is her second Australian historical novel. Cheryl has a diploma in Freelance Travel Writing and Photography, has lived and worked in the United States and Canada, and spent two years with a tour company in Switzerland and Austria. Her favourite writing retreats include Positano on the Amalfi Coast and Port Willunga Beach just south of Adelaide. When she's not writing, Cheryl is still creating in her  busy full-time job as a learning designer.

 Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021
                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
                                 Historical Fiction Challenge #HistFic2021 

If you enjoyed this review you may also like:


Sunday 21 March 2021

Book Review: Traffic by Robin Gregory

Robin Gregory
A Sandi Kent Mystery 

Publisher: Clan Destine Press
Publication date: 1st December 2020
Series: Sandi Kent Mystery #1 
Genre: Crime / Mystery
Pages: 234
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Melbourne Private Investigator, Sandi Kent, has her hopes for an easy December dashed when two complicated cases crash into her lap.

Sandi is hired by her volatile ex-girlfriend to rescue a young South Korean woman from an illegal brothel. And then - in a curiously parallel case - is engaged by a lawyer friend seeking defence angles for a Colombian immigrant charged with murdering a sex worker.

As Sandi juggles the demands of her clients, she becomes embroiled in the city's seamy underworld of human trafficking, drugs and murder.

And soon more lives, including her own, are at risk.

My review:

Traffic is the first book in Robin Gregory's PI Sandi Kent series. Sandi is a fledgling private investigator and supplements her meagre earnings from investigative work by teaching swimming to children.

Sandi is hired for two separate jobs both concerning sex workers. She is hired by her ex-girlfriend, defence lawyer Maria, to interview her client Ricardo who is accused of murdering a sex-worker, and find out more about his background. The second case, where she is hired by another ex, Cassy, who is based at The Fair Sex Coalition, is to help a trafficked sex-worker escape from the people who hold her. But first she needs to find out where she is held.

The idea of two different cases both involving sex-workers landing with Sandi at the same time was a little hard to believe but that minor point aside the story was fast moving and filled with believable danger.

I really warmed to Sandi. We get a fair bit of her personal life and she has had a rough time in the love department. She tries much too hard to please and I feel her girlfriends seem to abuse her loyalty.

The investigations were well executed both in a narrative way and in an investigative way. Sandi doesn't baulk at putting herself in danger to get the information she needs.
I loved Sandi's best friend Stewart. He is also not having much luck with love as his boyfriend is cheating on him but he can't let go. Stewart is always there for Sandi coming to her rescue when needed and getting her out of some sticky situations. 

Robin Gregory exposes the hidden horror of sex-trafficking and the plight of the girls that are lured to Australia under false pretences, then once there are kept under lock and key and have no means of escape.

Set in Melbourne, Australia, Gregory depicts the fickle Melbourne weather with accuracy as we tour the seedy side of metro Melbourne. Each scene is vividly described and it was like having a movie running through my mind as I read.

Robin Gregory has given her readers a character that is vulnerable, courageous and raw. I am looking forward to the next book in the PI Sandi Kent series and I'm hoping Stewart will also make an appearance. 
4/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Photo credit Goodreads
Robin has worked as a social worker in community health, the family violence sector, and with victims of crime. her day job gives her deep understanding of crime and exploitation; her fiction enables her to solve it.
Apart from a teenage stint in North Queensland, Robin has always lived in Melbourne and loves the city's diversity and many subcultures. Her many overseas travels have involved picking coffee beans for the Nicaraguan revolution, and trekking the Inca trail in Peru.
 Robin lives with her long-term partner and an unpredictable black cat in inner-city Melbourne, where she is currently working on the second Sandi Kent mystery. 

Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021
                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
                                 Cloak and Dagger Challenge
                                 Aussie Crime Month  #SouthernCrossCrime2021
If you enjoyed this review you might also like:


Saturday 20 March 2021

Winner of The Paris Affair announced

Once again I would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of The Paris Affair The giveaway closed on the 19th March and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Helen S.

 The winner has been notified and has seven days to provide a mailing address.

Please look under the giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.


Wednesday 17 March 2021

Book Review: A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe

 A Home Like Ours
Fiona Lowe

Prejudice, privilege and betrayal: what really lies beneath the idyllic facade of this small town?

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Imprint: HQ - Fiction
Publication date: 3rd March 2021 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 576
RRP: $32.99AUD 
Source: Courtesy of DMCPRMedia

About the book

Tara Hooper is at breaking point. With two young children, a business in a town struggling under an unexpected crime wave, and her husband more interested in his cricket team than their marriage, life is a juggling act. Then, when new neighbours arrive and they are exactly the sort of people the town doesn't want or need, things get worse.

Life has taught Helen Demetriou two things: being homeless is terrifying and survival means keeping your cards close to your chest. Having clawed back some stability through her involvement in the community garden, she dares to relax. But as she uncovers some shady goings-on in the council, that stability turns to quicksand.

For teenage mother Jade Innes, life can be lonely among the judgement of the town and the frequent absences of her boyfriend. A chance encounter draws her into the endangered community garden where she makes friends for the first time. Glimpsing a different way of life is enticing but its demands are terrifying. Does she even deserve to try?
My review
Tara is concerned about her marriage. Her husband has become distant and in her hour of need those she thought were her friends have deserted her.
Helen has known homelessness and fears it could happen again at any time. She is passionate about the community garden and strives to help the less fortunate but she is up against a council that prefers profit before community.
Teenager Jade lives from week to week with a baby son to support and a boyfriend that comes and goes as he pleases. She wants to be the mum she never had, she struggles alone with no friends or family.
Fiza has arrived in Boolanga hoping for a better life for her three children after escaping the death and destruction of Sudan. However there are many in Boolanga that fear change and look on the new arrivals with suspicion.
A Home Like Ours follows these four women, all from very different backgrounds, as they overcome hurt, prejudice and pride to find they have much more in common than they ever realised. Lowe's characters aren't perfect, they are quite often judgey and temperamental but the women support each other and open up to heal and grow, restoring their faith in human nature and in themselves.

I did find A Home Like Ours a bit depressing to start off with as the background on the four women was introduced and they were all struggling with their lives. I book being a bit uncomfortable and confronting is a good thing as it makes you stop and think about your own life and the life of those around you.
Through these four families Fiona Lowe succinctly introduces many topics that not only affect small rural communities but people everywhere. She develops the story to give her readers hope for a brighter future for these women and the whole community.

A Home Like Ours highlights many social issues and each one is fully explored. I suppose that is why the book is so big, Fiona Lowe is not prepared to skimp on details with any of the issues featured. Her readers are given a fully rounded perspective from many different view points.

Set in a picturesque town on the banks of the Murray River in Northern Victoria what you would imagine to be an idyllic life harbours prejudice, anger, racism, fear, a crooked council and developers waiting to move in.
I feel A Home Like Ours will have diverse appeal and I can see it becoming a popular book club read.

4/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Multi published, Fiona is very excited about her 2021 release, A HOME LIKE OURS, a novel about women struggling to find their home, both physcially and emotionally, in a small town that seethes under the surface. Previously published with Berkley and currently with Harper Collins Australia, (HQ Fiction) Fiona's been the recipient of a RITA and a RuBY award. Families and communities intrigue her and she loves creating characters you could meet on the street and enjoys putting them in unique situations where morals and values can blur and she begs the reader to ask themselves, 'What would you do?' 

Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021
                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
Also by Fiona Lowe and reviewed on The Burgeoning Bookshelf

Friday 12 March 2021

Giveaway - Win a paperback copy of The Paris Affair by Pip Drysdale

Thanks to Simon & Schuster I have a paperback copy of The Paris Affair to giveaway to one lucky reader.

Meet Harper Brown …

Occupation: Arts journalist
Dream job: Hard-hitting news reporter
Location: Paris
Loves: True crime podcasts, art galleries, coffee, whiskey
Does not love: fake people, toxic positivity, being told how to live her life by smug workmates who have no life (that’s you, Stan), her narcissistic ex
Favourite book: 1984
Favourite artist: Noah X. Sometimes.
Favourite painting: Klimt’s Schubert at the Piano
Special skills: breaking out of car boots, picking locks and escaping relationships.
Superpower: She can lose any guy in three minutes flat. Ask her how.
Secret: She’s hot on the trail of a murderer – and the scoop of a lifetime.

That’s if the killer doesn’t catch her first
Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at midnight on 19th March 2021.
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE

Thursday 11 March 2021

Book Review: The Paris Affair by Pip Drysdale

 The Paris Affair
Pip Drysdale
It turns out, Paris isn't always a good idea 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 3rd February 2021
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Pages: 336
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Meet Harper Brown …

Occupation: Arts journalist
Dream job: Hard-hitting news reporter
Location: Paris
Loves: True crime podcasts, art galleries, coffee, whiskey
Does not love: fake people, toxic positivity, being told how to live her life by smug workmates who have no life (that’s you, Stan), her narcissistic ex
Favourite book: 1984
Favourite artist: Noah X. Sometimes.
Favourite painting: Klimt’s Schubert at the Piano
Special skills: breaking out of car boots, picking locks and escaping relationships.
Superpower: She can lose any guy in three minutes flat. Ask her how.
Secret: She’s hot on the trail of a murderer – and the scoop of a lifetime.

That’s if the killer doesn’t catch her first.
My review
The Paris Affair is narrated in first person by Harper. This is a narration style I don't usually enjoy as the narrator is quite often unreliable. I am only getting Harper's POV but it is clear by the way she talks that she knows this and doesn't care whether you believe her...or even like her. Which made me like her even more.
"Of course, I still haven't told him who I am either, so yes, technically that makes me a hypocrite but whatever. Nobody is perfect."
Harper Brown is super feisty and cynical. She is addicted to true crime podcasts, can pick a lock, escape handcuffs, and she knows how to lose a guy in three minutes. She comes across as a real person with hopes and dreams and flaws.
Pip Drysdale has created this wonderfully complex and complicated character. She is not scared to confront people but she is also full of insecurities. Life had been shitty for her. She gave up her chance of a career to support and fund her boyfriend's music career and then when he had finally made a name for himself he dumped her. 
Determined to now live her own life she lands a job with the Paris Observer, an online magazine based in Paris, where she writes about art and exhibitions. When a young woman is found murdered, and Harper is one of the last people to see her alive, the story of her dreams lands into her lap and Harper will stop at nothing to get that story. She is willing to lie, steal and manipulate, putting herself in the path of the murderer.
The Paris Affair is set in the city of love however Pip Drysdale shows us a seedier side of Paris with a serial killer stalking young women. The story is set firmly in the modern day with texting, Tinder dates, Instagram posts and Uber rides. The mentions of Harper stalking her ex on Instagram and Googling the artist from the exhibition she was covering to get more information on him was all very realistic.
There are plenty of twists, turns and danger as Harper investigates the murdered girl's life and I found myself holding my breath with my heart pounding as I turned the pages.
The Paris Affair is another sharply plotted page turner from Pip Drysdale placing her firmly on my 'must read' list. 
5/5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Pip Drysdale is a writer, actor and musician who grew up in Africa and Australia. 
At 20 she moved to New York to study acting, worked in indie films and off-off Broadway theatre, started writing songs and made four records. After graduating with a BA in English, Pip moved to London and she played shows across Europe. In 2015 she started writing books. Her debut novel The Sunday Girl was a best seller and has been in the United States, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Strangers We Know was also a bestseller and is being developed for television.
Challenges entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021
                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
                                 Cloak and Dagger Challenge
                                 Aussie Crime Month  #SouthernCrossCrime2021
If you like this review you might also like
Look out for my giveaway for a copy of The Paris Affair coming soon

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Book Review: Crackenback by Lee Christine

Lee Christine
A thrilling tale of snow-bound crime and suspense

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 1st February 2021
Genre: Crime / Mystery / Suspense
Pages: 272
RRP:$ 29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad is on the hunt for notorious fugitive Gavin Hutton.

After months of dead-ends, the breakthrough Ryder has been hoping for leads him back to the New South Wales Snowy Mountains on the trail of the suspected killer.

Meanwhile, when an injured man bursts into the remote Thredbo lodge managed by Eva Bell, her first instinct is to protect her daughter, Poppy. The terrifying arrival of Jack Walker turns Eva's world upside down as the consequences of Jack's presence become clear.

With a killer on the loose, Jack Walker and Ryder are tangled in the same treacherous web - spun across the perilously beautiful Crackenback Range.
My review
I haven't read Charlotte Pass, the first book featuring DS Pierce Ryder but it didn't impact my enjoyment of Crackenback as it read perfectly as a stand alone.
Pierce Ryder is working on a multiple murder case. They have sightings of a suspect at the scene of both murders however the man has managed to evade him. When another sighting is called in Ryder is headed to the Snowy Mountains to investigate.
As Eva Bell is preparing her remote lodge at Thredbo, for the next lot of lodgers to arrive, a man bursts into her home. He looks familiar but she hasn't seen him for years and she is terrified he wants her daughter Poppy.
Crackenback  was such an engaging read. I was hooked from the prologue! DS Pierce Ryder has a new recruit Detective Nerida Sterling who will be joining him and Detective Mitchell Flowers on this latest case. I loved the natural banter and ribbing between the detectives and how we got to know more about them through their conversations in the car. The police procedural came across as realistic with a lot of waiting around for information and piecing snippets of information together to further the case.
Coming from Sydney myself I found all the mentions of roads and landmarks from the Parramatta Police HQ to The Snowy engaging and easy to picture.
Reading this story during an Australian summer highlights how vividly Lee Christine depicts the cold and driving snow of the area during winter. At no time did I forget how bitterly cold it was and how isolated Eva was in her lodge. 
Jack Walker is a likeable protagonist and a large part of the story is Jack and Eva getting to know each other again and Jack connecting with 3 year old Poppy who he had only ever seen in photos.
Jack, as well as Ryder, is after the murderer and the tension builds as we are held in suspense, we know there is going to be an altercation but we don't know where, when or with whom. 
Crackenback held my attention from the start to finish. I found it tension filled and highly engaging. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from Lee Christine in the future. 
4.5 / 5                    ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
About the author 
Credit Goodreads
In 2009, former corporate trainer Lee Christine decided to turn her writing hobby into a series day job. Her first crime novel. the best selling Charlotte Pass, was published in 2020. She lives in Newcastle, New South Wales, with her husband and her Irish Wheaten Terrier.

Challenges entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021
                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
                                 Cloak and Dagger Challenge
                                 Aussie Crime Month  #SouthernCrossCrime2021
If you enjoyed this review you might also enjoy:

Monday 1 March 2021

Mailbox Monday & Life This Week - March 1st


Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Life This Week is a meme created by Denyse Whelan Blogs where bloggers share snaps of what is currently happening in their lives.

Happy Monday!
Below are some snaps from our daily walk


We also had a win with our garden. Cucumbers! Lots of cucumbers!

Books I have received in the mail over the last three weeks:

 Traffic by Robin Gregory
A PI Sandi Kent mystery. Sandi is hired to rescue a young woman from an illegal brothel. Sandi is soon embroiled in the city's seamy underworld of human trafficking, drugs and murder.

As Swallows Fly by L P McMahon
Malika, a young orphan in rural Pakistan is left disfigured after a savage attack. She spends her life hidden from the world.
Her life is changed when she is taken to Australia and teamed with plastic surgeon Kate. But is the price of beauty higher than either of them ever expected.
A poignant portrayal of survival, identity and empowerment in a culture dominated by the pursuit of perfection.

The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair
Set in Brisbane during WWII. Ellie O'Sullivan exceptional skills attract the attention of the Central Bureau and she joins a group of elite women deciphering enemy communications. They soon form a close bond - yet could there be a traitor in their midst. 
A compelling story about tenacity and friendship inspired by the real codebreaking women of Australia.

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon
Aggie, her mother,Valeria, and her distant daughter, Holly, as well as her meddling great aunt, Myrtle come together on a trip across Australia on the Ghan for her mother's seventieth birthday. The four generations of family will be reunited at last.

This is a sweet and soulful story about women being there for each other through the stickiest situations. It celebrates the joys and sorrows of life, and reveals the essential ingredients of the true recipe for happiness.
The Mistake by Katie McMahon
Bec and Kate are sisters, but they couldn't be less alike.
Bec lives the domestic dream with husband Stuart and three children. So why is she attracted to free-spirited Ryan?
Kate's life is hardly a dream. But when she meets Adam things start looking up. Until she finds out he's been keeping secrets from her.
Then there's the incident both sisters are desperate to ignore...
Will they discover some mistakes can't be put right?

Those Hamilton Sisters by Averil Kenny
Following their mother's death, the Hamilton sisters have returned to Noah Vale to live near their aunt and uncle.
Sonnett, fiery and independent, Fable, a gifted artist and a dreamer and Plum, who is anxious to please and notices everything.

The sisters settle into small-town life but suspicion and judgement follow them wherever they go. When Fable falls in love with Noah Vale's golden boy, is history destined to repeat itself?

The Paris Collaborator by A W Hammond
Set in German occupied Paris during WWII

Former schoolteacher Auguste Duchene has stumbled upon an unusual way to survive: he finds missing people. When he's approached by the French Resistance to locate a missing priest - and a cache of stolen weapons - Duchene initially refuses. But the Resistance offer him no choice. Within hours, he's also blackmailed by a powerful Nazi into searching for a German soldier who's suspected of deserting.

I would love to hear what books you've received in the mail recently!