Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn

Jessica Redland

Publication Date: 24/1/23

Publisher: Boldwood Books


Welcome to Bumblebee Barn, home to wonderful animals, stunning views and spectacular sunsets – and resident young farmer, Barney.
While Barney loves his life at Bumblebee Barn – a farm that has been in his family for generations – he’s struggling to find someone to share it with. The early mornings quad biking through muddy fields and the long hours looking after the crops and animals are proving to be a deterrent to finding
So when his sister, Fizz – desperate for Barney to find his soulmate – sees an advert for Love on a Farm, a new reality TV show to help farmers find love, he has nothing to lose by applying. Afterall, he isn’t meeting anyone suitable down the traditional route and surely he won’t be picked anyway…?
Thrown into the chaos of reality TV, Barney could never have expected that his whole life would be turned upside down, with buried secrets to be uncovered and his heart on the line. With his family and friends rooting for him, could the magic of Bumblebee Barn heal his broken heart and help him find love on the farm?


What an absolute joy to read.

I have read just one of Jessica’s books previously and loved it so much I jumped at the chance of reading this one for the blog tour. 

It is written in alternating chapters from Barney and Amber. 

Barney is a young farmer who has been unlucky in love and is now feeling lonely on his farm and is ready to find someone to share his life with. His lovely sister Fizz, who is a great character and works at the hedgehog rescue centre, persuades him to sign up for a reality TV show, Love on the Farm, to see if he can find the love of his life that way. Unsure at first, he decides to give it a go.

He is accepted, nicknamed ‘Farmer Hottie’ by Zara, the producer’s assistant.

Amber, the producer, pays him a visit.

Amber has her own love life failings and is currently back with an ex. She was very reluctant to produce this programme as she hates reality shows after what happened to her younger sister, but decides to take the job for personal reasons.

The filming starts, but the production company who came up with the idea decide they want to change the format to make it more watchable. Amber is fuming and her director quits.

The show carries on, and Amber and Barney realise they have feelings for each other. But with all their emotional baggage will they find love at the farm?

An absolutely gorgeous story, expertly written. Characters I bonded with and hoped they would find happiness. The supporting characters were all extremely well written and developed. 

Yes I loved this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough if you want an uplifting read, with a bit of a cry!

Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for my spot on the blog tour.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3Nq8mOD


Jessica Redland writes emotional but uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where she lives
with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.
Social Media Links
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Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNews
Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessica-redland


Fatal Dose

Brian Price

Publisher: Hobeck Books

Publication Date: 31/1/23


Death stalks Mexton
When a spate of poisonings hits the town of Mexton, DC Mel Cotton and her colleagues are left perplexed. All the deaths seem to be ingeniously planned and the police cannot see anything obvious to connect the victims.

Is a vigilante at work?
Jenny Pike, reporter for the Mexton Messenger, seems to think there’s a link and she’s not afraid to publish her controversial theories. All the victims seem to have got away with harming people in some way. Is that the connection?

Fear from the East
Already stretched to the limit, Mel and her colleagues also face another huge challenge. A ruthless Albanian gang has launched a crime wave in the area and someone has murdered a notorious blackmailer.

How will the team cope? With a serial poisoner at large, is anyone safe?

Fatal Dose is the thrilling sequel to the critically-acclaimed Fatal Trade and Fatal Hate by the brilliant Brian Price


This is the third outing for DC Mel Cotton and my favourite so far. I’m hoping for more! Brian is firmly in my list of top crime authors.

We begin with a prologue, and I am a big prologue fan. We are introduced to the poisoner and how his fascination with poisons began.

The police force in Mexton certainly have their hands full. Set during covid, Mel and the team are swamped with poisoning victims and are finding it difficult to discover a link between them. 

Then the body of a blackmailer is found stabbed. If that’s not enough, a dangerous and violent Albanian gang rear their heads. There are attacks on police officers which puts the team under even more pressure.

Bit by bit, they begin to find the clues they desperately need to track down a very clever poisoner. The investigation into the murder of the blackmailer and the Albanians carried through the book very well. There is a lot going on but it is easy to follow. The author does recap the story so far a few times which helps.

The book is written in short paragraphs which contain so much action! Non stop murders, and many bad people. The body count must be even higher than a Jack Reacher novel and I loved every minute. I quite enjoyed the fact there wasn’t too much waffle about the personal lives of the team. It was all about the action. And so much action is fitted in those pages. 

This is definitely one of those books which is difficult to put down, and I was constantly thinking about it when I wasn’t actually reading it. 

Bravo Mr Price on another stonkingly good thriller.

Thank you as always to Rebecca at Hobeck Books for my spot on the blog tour.


Brian Price is a chemist and biologist who retired from the Environment Agency in 2016. He is the author of Crime Writing: How to write the science and runs a website offering tips on science for crime writers (www.crimewriterscience.co.uk). He taught science and technology courses for the Open University for 26 years. He has advised number of leading crime writers on scientific aspects of crime.Brian’s first crime novel, Fatal Trade, was published, as an ebook and paperback, by Hobeck Books on 14th September 2021. A free novella, Fatal Beginnings, is available from Hobeck Books at www.hobeck.net. The sequel, Fatal Hate, was published in April 2022 and third novel in the series, Fatal Dose, came out on 31st January 2023.Several of his short stories appear in the anthologies Cuckoo, Lock and Key and Seventy Three, produced by the writing group Writers in Stone, and he has had stories published in the charity anthologies, The Dark Side of Christmas and Cooking the Books (published by Hobeck). His short story The Scent of an Ending appeared in the Crime Writers Association collection Music of the Night.Find out more about Brian at www.brianpriceauthor.co.uk

Hanging Out – The Radical Power of Killing Time

Sheila Liming

Publication Date: 26/1/23

Publisher: Melville House


Almost every day it seems that our world becomes more fractured, more digital, and more chaotic. Sheila Liming has the answer: we need to hang out more. Starting with the assumption that play is to children as hanging out is to adult, Liming makes a brilliant case for the necessity of unstructured social time as a key element of our cultural vitality. The book asks questions like what is hanging out? why is it important? why do we do it? how do we do it? and examines the various ways we hang out – in groups, online, at parties, at work. Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time makes a smart and funny case for the importance of this most casual of social structures, and shows us how just getting together can be a potent act of resistance all on its own.


An interesting observation and discussion of the joy of just hanging out and enjoying the moment, and time with family and friends.

In this book, the author explores hanging out in a variety of situations for example at parties and at work. In the first chapter she discusses how we can feel about hosting the perfect party, the different reasons we go to parties (we want to / we feel we have to) and the Facebook generation, where online hanging out and posting photos of hanging out at parties, or indeed anywhere, became a thing. I enjoyed reading about the paper invitations which she used to pop into peoples post lockers at university. Then people started using Facebook and the party invitations were sent through Facebook leaving those not on the platform without an invitation.

With the pandemic, we have all become more used to hanging out online via the likes of Zoom and FaceTime, which is fine and even better for some, but this book tries to convince us to socialise in person more. Personally, I am loving being back to meeting my friends and hanging out in coffee shops for a face to face chat, but I can see that kind of social interaction being difficult for a lot of people. The last chapter of the book gives the reader suggestions on how to start the ball rolling.

The author discusses excerpts from various books, films and poems which feature examples of hanging out, as well as drawing on and sharing her own experiences. I particularly enjoyed her story of travelling to Scotland alone with no one to meet her at the other end, then staying alone in a friend’s flat. Luckily she met a group of people she didn’t know but who were happy for her to hang out with them.

Let’s all try to focus more on real life hanging out and less time on our screens. I’m not a psychologist, but I’m guessing it must help our mental health. It does for me.

I enjoyed reading this book which is something different to my usual fiction novels and definitely made me think and laugh!

Thank you Nikki at Melville House for sending me a proof of this stunning book which I hope will attract many readers. It is definitely one I would pick up.


Sheila Liming (b. 1983) was born in Seattle, WA and educated at The College of Wooster (Wooster, OH) and Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA). Her writing and research looks at American literature in the context of American institutions, like libraries and office buildings. She is the author of WHAT A LIBRARY MEANS TO A WOMAN (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) and OFFICE (Bloomsbury, 2020). She teaches at Champlain College in Burlington, VT, where she is Associate Professor in the Professional Writing program.

Dead of Night

Simon Scarrow

Publication date: 2/2/23

Publisher: Headline

My rating ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️



After Germany’s invasion of Poland, the world is holding its breath and hoping for peace. At home, the Nazi Party’s hold on power is absolute.

One freezing night, an SS doctor and his wife return from an evening mingling with their fellow Nazis at the concert hall. By the time the sun rises, the doctor will be lying lifeless in a pool of blood.

Was it murder or suicide? Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is told that under no circumstances should he investigate. The doctor’s widow, however, is convinced her husband was the target of a hit. But why would anyone murder an apparently obscure doctor? Compelled to dig deeper, Schenke learns of the mysterious death of a child. The cases seem unconnected, but soon chilling links begin to emerge that point to a terrifying secret.

Even in times of war, under a ruthless regime, there are places in hell no man should ever enter. And Schenke fears he may not return alive . . .


Berlin, 1940. Germany is gripped by a spell of freezing weather. Food is rationed. The war is underway, but hopes are high it will end soon as the German people mistakenly believe Hitler is a man of peace.

Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke of the Kripo, the criminal investigation department of the police force, is approached by a woman who recently helped him catch a murderer. She asks for his help to investigate the apparent suicide of a friend’s husband, a doctor and member of the Nazi party. His wife believes he was murdered. He feels he owes her this so begins investigating. He finds sufficient evidence that this death points to murder but he is told by his superiors the verdict of suicide will not be changed. Someone high up does not want an investigation. Schenke is warned off investigating further by his superiors and then again after being abducted and threatened with death if he carries on.

He returns to his investigation of forgeries of ration coupons but he is approached by another third party this time asking him to investigate the deaths of a number of disabled children at a clinic. Are these children being ‘removed’ as the Nazi’s aim is to produce a purer and stronger Germany? An Aryan race.

Putting his life in danger to find the truth, Schenke carries out his investigations secretly and it becomes apparent these cases may be linked. Could the mild mannered doctor have been involved in the horrendous murders of innocent children?

Can Schenke solve all three cases and come out with his life?

Well this is absolutely one of those books which grabbed me right from the beginning. Schenke and his assistant Hauser with the help of ex-Gestapo Liebwitz – a character I particularly liked due to his matter-of-factness even in the most life threatening situations – are the good guys. The police who have not succumbed to the Nazi ideology although of course are unable to speak out against them as it would put their lives at risk.

A non stop action thriller which kept me guessing who was behind the cover up.

I have not read the previous book in this new Berlin Wartime Thrillers series, Blackout, but as Schenke is already one of my favourite detectives after reading this I will be getting hold of a copy! This is easily readable as a stand alone and I don’t feel I have missed out by not reading book 1, but I really want to!

Many thanks to Sophie and Jess at Ransom PR for my copies of the book and my spot on the tour. 


Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. After a childhood spent travelling the world, he pursued his great love of history as a teacher, before becoming a full-time writer. His Roman soldier heroes Cato and Macro made their debut in 2000 in UNDER THE EAGLE, and have subsequently appeared in many bestsellers in the Eagles of the Empire series, including CENTURION, INVICTUS and DAY OF THE CAESARS.

Simon Scarrow is also the author of a quartet of novels about the lives of the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte, YOUNG BLOODS, THE GENERALS, FIRE AND SWORD and THE FIELDS OF DEATH; a novel about the 1565 Siege of Malta, SWORD & SCIMITAR; HEARTS OF STONE, set in Greece during the Second World War; and PLAYING WITH DEATH, a contemporary thriller written with Lee Francis. He also wrote the novels ARENA and INVADER with T. J. Andrews.

For exciting news, extracts and exclusive content from Simon visit http://www.simonscarrow.co.uk, follow him on Twitter @SimonScarrow or like his author page on Facebook/OfficialSimonScarrow.

The Fires

Sigríður Hagalín Björnsdóttir

Publication Date: 1/2/23

Publisher: Amazon Crossing


From Icelandic author Sigríður Hagalín Björnsdóttir comes a heart-wrenching thriller about a woman’s desperate quest to save the people she loves from a natural disaster.

After an eight-hundred-year slumber, the volcanoes in Iceland’s most populated region are showing signs of life. Earthquakes dominate the headlines. Echoes of the devastating eruptions in the past stir unease in the people.

Volcanologist Anna Arnardóttir has spent her entire life studying the volcanic powers under the earth’s crust, but even she cannot fathom the catastrophe at hand.

As a series of eruptions threaten most of Iceland’s population, she’s caught off her rational guard by the most terrible natural disaster of all―love. The world as she knows it is about to fall apart, and so is her heart.

Caught between the safety of a nation and her feelings for her children, her lover, and her past, Anna embarks on a dangerous journey to save the lives of the people she loves―and her soul.


What an ending! I was not expecting that at all. Not that I’ll be telling you of course as I never add spoilers to my reviews.

This was quite a unique read for me. Unlike anything I have read before. I guess I would class it as a thriller or perhaps a cli-fi, with many an unexpected turn.

It is told from the point of view of Anna. It seems Anna was destined for a career in earth sciences, becoming a geoscientist working at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland and impressively becoming a professor of volcanology. Her father didn’t read her the usual children’s bedtime stories, preferring to read to her from his tomes on geology, astronomy and magnetics.

On what seems like an ordinary morning, Anna, her husband, young daughter and older son are getting up and ready for work and school when a concerning eruption begins under the ocean, creating a substantial ash cloud.

Anna and her colleagues must use all of their knowledge and experience to try to predict what this means for their country. Is it an everyday occurrence, as there are always small eruptions happening all over the country? Or is it something more sinister and requiring alert levels to be raised and people to be evacuated? It is a delicate balance between safety and the economy. They decide to monitor closely.

Amongst the worry of a potential deadly eruption and earthquake Anna finds herself falling head over heels with a photographer. A strange time to be thinking of romance when she is the head volcano expert and should be keeping her head clear.

There are many quotes and snippets included along the way from books, articles, lectures etc explaining the technicalities of volcanos and how complicated and ultimately impossible it is to predict when eruptions will occur.

Overall this was a fabulously addictive book for me with many edge of the seat moments. I was completely absorbed in Anna’s story. Very well written and translated. It has been a huge hit in Iceland where they evidently love to watch the eruptions and try to get as close to the action as they can. 

I’m going to need a while before I start reading another book and I know I’m going to remember this book for a long time.

Many thanks indeed to Rhiannon at FMcM for inviting me on to this tour and for the beautiful finished hardback copy of the book.


Icelandic author Sigríður Hagalín Björnsdóttir studied history in Reykjavík and Salamanca and journalism at Columbia University in New York and previously worked in Copenhagen before moving back to Reykjavík, where she lives with her husband, children, and stepchildren. Her bestselling debut, Island (2016), was nominated for the Icelandic Women’s Literature Prize in 2017. When she isn’t writing, Sigríður works as a journalist and television news anchor at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Her highly anticipated third novel, The Fires, is a bestseller and viral hit in Iceland.

A Winter Grave

Peter May

Publication Date: 19/1/23

Publisher: Riverrun


From the twelve-million copy bestselling author of the Lewis trilogy comes a chilling new mystery set in the isolated Scottish Highlands.


A young meteorologist checking a mountain top weather station in Kinlochleven discovers the body of a missing man entombed in ice.


Cameron Brodie, a Glasgow detective, sets out on a hazardous journey to the isolated and ice-bound village. He has his own reasons for wanting to investigate a murder case so far from his beat.


Brodie must face up to the ghosts of his past and to a killer determined to bury forever the chilling secret that his investigation threatens to expose.

Set against a backdrop of a frighteningly plausible near-future, A WINTER GRAVE is Peter May at his page-turning, passionate and provocative best.


There is no question that Peter May is an extremely talented author, and this latest book brings together his fabulous crime writing and his concern for the environment in this cli-fi (climate fiction) crime thriller which is set in a remote Scottish village frequently cut off due to inclement weather caused by climate change.

It is the year 2051. Disastrous climate change means parts of the world are now lost forever underwater due to rising sea levels. Mass immigration is commonplace and the snowstorms in a small remote Scottish village mean the village is often without power or phone signal, despite a local nuclear fuel plant, frequently cutting them off from the rest of the world.

It is on a freezing cold snowy mountain in the Mamores that Addie is doing a regular check of her weather station kit when she finds the body of a man entombed in ice.

The man turns out to be an investigative reporter who disappeared 3 months earlier. What was a man with no climbing experience doing at the top of a mountain?

Cameron Brodie, the only experienced mountain climber in the Glasgow police force, offers to investigate the death. He has a hidden reason for wanting to go to this village – Addie just happens to be his estranged daughter and he has things he needs to tell her before his recently diagnosed terminal cancer kills him. 

Picking up a pathologist en route in an air taxi – a drone like helicopter which is programmed to fly to its destination – they land on a field in the middle of a snow storm to begin their investigations. There appears to be a power cut so they are unable to plug their air taxi in to charge it for its return flight. 

What follows is a nail biting heart pounding fast paced thriller involving more murders and a terrifying cover up which goes right up to the government.

Brodie is a strong and determined character and nothing is going to stop his investigation including the freezing weather and the attacks on his and the pathologist’s lives.

Peter May became very interested in the issue of global warming and has undertaken a great deal of research into its affects. This message has provided the backbone to this his latest stand alone thriller, and is a terrifying scenario that this is what could potentially happen to the planet. A clever way of incorporating climate change into a novel and getting the message across, just in case people are not aware of how serious the situation is.

Thank you Sophie and Jess at Ransom PR for my proof and my gorgeous finished copy of the book and my spot on the blog tour.


Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane fifteen years that followed, became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.

In 2021, he was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library Award. He has also won several literature awards in France, received the USA’s Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy; and in 2014 was awarded the ITV Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year award for Entry Island. Peter now lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally.

Cut and Shut

Jonathan Peace

Publication Date: 24/1/23

Publisher: Hobeck Books


Tensions are high – tempers short 

Following a stupid, drunken car theft, the tragic deaths of three local lads uncovers a powder keg of racial intolerance and bigotry. 

A vicious attack

When two Muslim brothers are violently attacked, WDC Louise Miller sees her hometown with jaded eyes, shocked that so many of her colleagues are reluctant to get involved or help in any way those they once called neighbours.

A terrible truth

As she investigates, Louise, accompanied by WDC Hines and psychologist Karla Hayes, discovers links between the car theft and the assault but worse; the racial tensions that now threaten to tear the community apart, have masked an even darker crime – one that has gone long undiscovered, but will have devastating consequences.


Well this series just keeps getting better. I enjoyed joining WDC Louise Miller and her colleagues again for this third book in the series. She starts investigating a fatal crash which turns out to be a joy ride gone horribly wrong, killing three young lads who were in the car.

Still fuming at missing out on promotion which was rightly hers, to a man, Louise is also having to deal with misogynists and racists in the police force. This is 1989 and racial tensions in Dewsbury are reaching boiling point.

As would happen in the real world, Louise is simultaneously investigating more than one crime. What initially appear to be separate cases begin to overlap. First there is the stolen car. Then there is a violent race fuelled attack on two Pakistani brothers in a pub, which turns out to be a meeting place for local BNP members. Here they share their racist hatred and their plans for a protest rally against Muslims and Pakistanis. There is a missing prostitute.

A few names from previous books crop up including Pete, asking the police about their investigation into his missing sister. Unfortunately the police have not prioritised this case as they believe she may have disappeared of her own volition although Pete is adamant she would never have left him without saying something. There is no need to have read the previous books as this can be read as a standalone, but I would recommend them.

The racial tensions reach a climax at the protest rally which turns into a riot, and one of the team’s life is put in serious danger. I found myself flying through the last few chapters. 

Another fantastic edge of your seat police procedural thriller from Jonathan Peace which I devoured in a day. He bravely tackled the issue of racism which he handled well, covering the issue from both sides.

Thank you Hobeck books for my ebook ARC and my spot on the tour.  


Jonathan Peace is a husband, cat-dad and author of the WDC Louise Miller novels, set in West Yorkshire during the 1980’s and 90’s. Signing with Hobeck Books in January 2022, the first two books, DIRTY LITTLE SECRET and FROM SORROW’S HOLD were released in May and July, with the third in the series, CUT AND SHUT, due for release in January 2023.

He holds a BA (Hons) degree (First) in Creative Writing, enjoys Marvel and Star Wars movies and tries to find time to indulge in his passion for tabletop gaming.

Jonathan is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Website: https://www.jpwritescrime.com

In The Blink Of An Eye

Jo Callaghan

Publication Date: 19/1/23

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK


In the UK, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds.
Just gone. Vanished. In the blink of an eye.

DCS Kat Frank knows all about loss. A widowed single mother, Kat is a cop who trusts her instincts. Picked to lead a pilot programme that has her paired with AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock, Kat’s instincts come up against Lock’s logic. But when the two missing person’s cold cases they are reviewing suddenly become active, Lock is the only one who can help Kat when the case gets personal.

AI versus human experience.
Logic versus instinct.
With lives on the line can the pair work together before someone else becomes another statistic?

In the Blink of an Eye is a dazzling debut from an exciting new voice and asks us what we think it means to be human.


Absolutely excellent.

I loved Kat as the main character. She is a strong woman who is feeling quite lonely trying to look after and support her son, and carry on with life after losing her husband. She returns to work in the police force to find she has been tasked to pilot an AI support for the police. Initially hoping it would fail as she is concerned about job losses, it begins to grow on her with its fast data processing and it’s guidance. It can appear as a hologram and is spookily realistic. Although she doesn’t believe a computer could ever have the empathy and gut instinct needed to do the job of a human, perhaps it has its place in a supporting role. Time will tell.

The AI is so believable and I can see this, or something very similar, actually happening in the future.
The support characters were also great, and we get to know them a little. Each with their own personal problems.
I met Jo when she did a fantastic book club talk last week (if you get the chance to hear her speak, do it!) and I’m delighted to find out this is the start of a series. Can’t wait for the next one!
Many thanks to the publisher and the Likely Suspects team for my advance copy.


Jo at book group in Waterstones, Durham 14/1/23

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE is Jo’s crime debut and first UK published book. It will be published on January 19th 2023. You can pre-order it now as a little present to your future self, which is also a massive help to new authors like Jo.

As well as being an author, Jo hoovers up books, so she loves hearing from other readers. She spends a lot of time on twitter talking about the books and TV shows that she loves, how the writing is going or just chatting about random stuff like the weather, kids, and food. She has recently joined TikTok and Instagram, but twitter is really where she hangs out if you want to see what she is up to and maybe hear a bit about book 2 in the series…

You can find Jo on twitter: @JoCallaghanKat or (less often) Instagram: @JoCallaghanKat or (even less often) TikTok @JoCallaghanAuthor

Jo works full-time as a senior strategist, where she has carried out research into the future impact of AI and genomics on the workforce. After losing her husband to cancer in 2019, she started writing In The Blink of An Eye. She lives with her two children in the Midlands, where she is currently writing the second novel in the series.

Cover reveal – Happy Days by Clare Hawken

Publication Date: 3rd Feb


Meet Steph Barnacle, an English teacher at a private school, married to Dan. Her son has just left for university, her life is feeling a bit stale … and something weird is going on with the skin on her neck. And then Charles Kurmudge, the man she’s never forgotten, walks back into her world.

Charles’s life has blown up spectacularly – he’s lost his job, his house and his marriage. Determined to get back on track, he’s changed career. He’ll now be working for Steph, whose heart he broke over twenty years ago. He still finds her very attractive. What a shame she’s married.

Her husband, Dan, knows he loves Steph more than she loves him. And now that Charles is back in his wife’s orbit, he’s worried about their marriage. But surely Steph wouldn’t dream of leaving him for Charles, who’d treated her so badly … would she?

Can Steph resist her first love? Or will she give him a second chance?


Clare Hawken was born in Zambia and has lived in England, France and Australia. She now lives in Wiltshire with her family and a stubborn springer spaniel. She writes about families, relationships, and the blind spots, mistakes and mishaps that can change life in a heartbeat. Apart from writing, she enjoys reading voraciously across a wide range of genres; other people’s gardening efforts; and long walks, if she can persuade the dog to come with her.

Social Media Links –


The Lace Weaver

By Lauren Chater

Publication Date: 19/1/23

Publisher: Allison & Busby


1941, Estonia. As Stalin’s brutal Red Army crushes everything in its path, Katarina and her family survive only because their precious farm produce is needed to feed the occupying forces. Fiercely partisan, Katarina battles to protect her grandmother’s precious legacy – the weaving of gossamer lace shawls stitched with intricate patterns that tell the stories passed down through generations. While Katarina struggles to survive the daily oppression, another young woman is suffocating in her prison of privilege in Moscow. Yearning for freedom and to discover her beloved mother’s Baltic heritage, Lydia escapes to Estonia. Facing the threat of invasion by Hitler’s encroaching Third Reich, Katarina and Lydia and two idealistic young soldiers, insurgents in the battle for their homeland, find themselves in a fight for life, liberty and love.


My heart breaks for all the innocent civilians caught up in wars and this book, although fictional, is based on facts. The author has undertaken a great deal of research to make her story as authentic as possible.

There are a small group of main characters I was hoping would survive the horrific reality of their country being invaded and their homes and belongings taken. Kati and her parents live on a farm so initially they are left to continue farming after the Russians arrive in Estonia in 1939. They must however provide the Russians with food. Kati runs a knitting group where the ladies make traditional lace shawls to sell, fine enough to pull through a wedding ring. She is carrying on the tradition of her beloved late grandmother, whom she believes is still looking out for her.

Lydia lives a privileged but suffocating life in Moscow. She escapes to Estonia with her companion, who has been like a mother to her since her own mother died. She leaves  her controlling uncle behind in Russia, unaware she has left to find her father. Unfortunately when she finds her father, she discovers life changing facts about her past which she wishes she had never learned. 

The girls lives overlap when Kati and her brother run for their lives, leaving their home behind, and join the Forest Brothers for protection against the Russians. When the Germans take Estonia back they promise to free Estonian people, and they can be trusted right?

I was thoroughly engrossed in this story of unbelievable strength of character under the worst conditions, of endurance, of friendship and love. I loved learning the history of the knitting of the traditional lace shawls, with their myriad of patterns.
I was so intrigued as I love knitting I decided to buy a pattern book and have a go, but the one listed in the acknowledgments is currently selling for around £80 so I’ll carry on searching for something more affordable!
Loved this book which was very different but just as well written as The Winter Dress, both of which I highly recommend to fans of historical fiction.
A big thank you to Allison & Busby for my gifted copy of the book and my spot on the blog tour.



Lauren Chater is the author of the historical novels The Lace Weaver and Gulliver’s Wife. In 2018 she was awarded a grant by the Neilma Sidney Literary Fund to travel to the Netherlands to research her third novel The Winter Dress. She is currently completing her Masters of Cultural Heritage through Deakin University in Victoria, Australia.