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A Quiet Death in Italy by Tom Benjamin

Bologna: city of secrets, suspicion . . . and murder

A dark and atmospheric crime thriller set in the beautiful Italian city of Bologna, perfect for fans of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Philip Gwynne Jones.

When the body of a radical protestor is found floating in one of Bologna’s underground canals, it seems that most of the city is ready to blame the usual suspects: the police.

But when private investigator Daniel Leicester, son-in-law to a former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man’s lover, he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the rotten heart of the present-day political establishment.

Beneath the beauty of the city, Bologna has a dark underside, and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption – before he is caught in it himself.

Tom Benjamin’s gripping debut transports you to the ancient and mysterious Italian city less travelled: Bologna.

 

My review

This is an exciting and absorbing book with interesting characters, a clever, intriguing plot and lots of excitement. It takes us to a lesser written-about part of Italy – the seedier side of Bologna.

The narrator is Daniel, who is somewhat detached being an Englishman. As such he is all the more observant, and makes the reader more aware of the particularities of Italian culture.

The book is all about connections, relationships, links with the past and betrayal, all of which gradually come to light. The pace of the action gradually builds up and the action and excitement builds up to an exciting and unforeseen conclusion. It’s clever, convincing and a must-read.

A thriller in every sense of the word.

 

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/

Author Bio –

Tom Benjamin started off as a reporter before moving to the press office at Scotland Yard and running drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He moved to Bologna where his work as doorman at a homeless canteen inspired him to create English detective Daniel Leicester in a series that serves up equal helpings of the local cuisine and ubiquitous graffiti; the city’s splendour, decay, and danger.

 

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/tombenjaminsays/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tombenjaminsays

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tombenjaminsays/

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Winter’s Gift by Florence Keeling

Winters’ Gift: A heart warming, feel good romantic comedy.

Bea Winters is in desperate need of a fresh start. Being bullied at work is not her idea of fun and she longs to follow her dream of becoming a published author. When an advert appears in her local paper to work in a publishing house in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale, it sounds too good to be true.

She strikes up an instant friendship with gorgeous aspiring author, Eddie Richards and her dashing millionaire boss Scott Summers

But all isn’t as it seems in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale.

How does the local clairvoyant know her name? Who does the little black dog that keeps appearing belong to and why does she keep bumping into the mysterious Charlie?

As she starts to unravel the truth, it seems that everyone in Bea’s life is keeping secrets.

 

My review

There’s an interest combination of mystery, self-discovery and the paranormal in this book, as well as a nod to a few serious contemporary issues such as job dissatisfaction and apparent family failings.

Bea is a bit of a dreamer but she gains a sharper focus as the book progresses. She finds her feet – and more besides! She’s likeable and kind and makes for a pleasant heroine.

The mystery is intriguing and enjoyable.

All in all a gentle bit of escapism.

 

Purchase Links:

 UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winters-Gift-Florence-Keeling-ebook/dp/B07KDWRWXP/#ace-4131440328

US – https://www.amazon.com/Winters-Gift-Florence-Keeling-ebook/dp/B07KDWRWXP/

 

About Florence Keeling

?Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

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An Implacable Woman by K T Findlay: a gritty black comedy

Synopsis

If a tooth costs a tooth and an eye costs an eye

When a man hits his wife, then it’s his turn to die

Furious that the courts and police can’t prevent respected surgeon John Kirby from beating his wife, Sally Mellors steps in to save her. Permanently…

But Grace Kirby isn’t the only one who needs saving and Sally quickly discovers she’s taken on a much bigger job than she’d thought.

With her unique ability to blend justice with fun, Sally sets joyfully about the business of removing the monsters from women’s lives, but is she in danger of becoming a monster herself?

As her friends in the police get ever closer, Sally has some serious questions of her own to answer.

 

My review

This is the second book in K T Findlay’s Sally Mellors series. It follows A Thoughtful Woman, but works as a standalone.

It’s a gritty black comedy, making us really think about our moral standpoint. Is killing always wrong? Isn’t putting an evil person permanently out of action an act of goodness? It’s for the greater good of the majority, after all. It’s all a bit of a grey area but it’s well handled in this novel.

Our characters continue to develop in this clever and complex thriller. We find out a little more about what makes Sally and Grace tick. There’s much more to them than straightforward vigilantism.

It’s not all about the action. The settings are beautifully drawn and add to the richness of the writing. This author has a sharp eye for creating an atmospheric backdrop.

Much to enjoy in this unusual, challenging novel.

 

Purchase Links

The main Amazon.com link is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

The UK link is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

The Indian link is https://www.amazon.in/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

The Canadian link is https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

Additional maps of where An Implacable Woman is set-https://ktfindlay.com/an-implacable-woman-maps/

 

Author bio

K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.

 

Social media links 

Webpage : www.ktfindlay.com

Youtube :   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0UIrcFBnHtHXQzbr37Ay-Q

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/KTFindlayauthor

Twitter :     https://twitter.com/ktfindlay

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The Lazarus Charter by Tony Bassett: entertaining and edgy

Synopsis

Bob Shaw is baffled to see a man in a brown coat at a bustling Underground station. Surely it can’t be his friend, the scientist Professor Morley? Morley perished weeks before in a blazing car. Is the man an impostor or did his friend fake his death?

This fascinating and ingenious thriller tells of Bob’s battle to find out the truth, helped by his wife Anne. They are confronted by ruthless enemies and forced to flee their home in this fast-paced spy thriller from the author of Smile Of The Stowaway.

 

My review

The author set himself a high standard with the prequel to this novel, Smile of the Stowaway, but he surpasses even that with this novel.

It’s a very exciting thriller with political elements as well as a fascinating mystery at its core, featuring husband and wife team Bob and Anne. As their names hint, they’re an ordinary couple who just happen to find themselves plunged into quite extraordinary goings-on. Here a dead man has apparently come back to life – hence this book’s title.

The author doesn’t hang about! He sets a brisk pace, but never so rushed that he skimps on scene-setting or creating atmosphere. The action is largely set in Canterbury and London and you get a wonderful sense of these two very different cities.

As regards the plot, it’s clever and complex. You really have no idea what’s round the corner. You feel a bit like a leaf being whisked along by a gale-force wind! It’s wonderful.

Entertaining, edgy escapism, this novel will absorb your full attention from the first word to the last.

I can’t wait for the author’s next book.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lazarus-Charter-English-Tony-Bassett-ebook/dp/B085MN9KL4

Copies are also available from the publisher.

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A Thoughtful Woman by KT Findlay

Synopsis

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but where’s the fun in that?
Artist Sally Mellors has planned the perfect revenge, but with two secret agents on her tail, and her best friends running the police investigation, getting away with murder is going to be tricky…
Everybody loves Sally. She’s a funny, generous, warm hearted friend, without a nasty bone in her body.
Isn’t she?
Unknown to her friends, Sally’s discovered another side to herself, cool headed and relentless, as she hunts down the three men who killed her husband. But Sally’s not the only one with an interest in the trio. Unknown to her, two agents have arrived in town, urgently hunting a missing man and his diary, which could blow their organisation apart. Their best leads are the very men that Sally’s hunting, and she’s getting in the way…
The inspiration behind A Thoughtful Woman.
The justice system is an intriguing beast. We expect it to be fair, which is why we allow it to resolve our disputes instead of simply taking revenge ourselves, but watch an individual case play out in court and it can seem more like a high stakes game between lawyers than the pursuit of absolute truth. And if you think it’s a game, do you still accept the result if you lose? Is that still justice? At what point will a perfectly normal, perfectly decent person snap, and what happens when they do? Is it possible to plunge into the darkness of revenge and remain the normal, decent happy person you were before you started? Sally Mellors is about to find out.

 

My review

This is a novel about taking revenge into your own hands. You can’t really blame Sally and Emma for wanting to do so: their husbands’ killers escaped justice thanks to a bent lawyer. You know it’s morally wrong but you want these two to succeed. We do like it when the worms turn.

The action gradually builds up and reaches a brisk pace. There’s plenty of conflict and intrigue, shadowy menacing figures, helpful allies, and clever twists and turns in the plot. It makes for an exciting and original read.

The characters are all convincing. Sally is the stronger of the two women, and she makes for a fascinating psychological study. She shows what happens when a seemingly kind and normal person is pushed too far. She throws herself into her new persona and does seem to enjoy being her own evil twin.

It’s a book that really makes you think and question your own moral values.

 

About the author

K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.

 

Buy the book here: www.amazon.co.uk/Thoughtful-Woman-Sally-Mellors-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07YYZX8NC/

 

 

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A Prison in the Sun by Isobel Blackthorn

After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

 

My review

This is a fascinating, traumatic novel that makes for a challenging but rewarding read. Based on disturbing fact, the author adds a rich and compelling mystery and some engrossing characters to the mix.

The novel begins at a steady pace as the scene is set, but soon the momentum builds and the complexity swells. The atmosphere is tense with menace and foreboding, but there are lighter moments and there is a thread of hope and new beginnings.

Trevor is an intriguing and empathetic hero. He has emotional baggage, but the horrific things he discovers put his own problems into perspective and help him learn to deal with them. He’s a strong, capable person.

This author is adept at creating an all-encompassing world for the reader. You’re pulled in and can’t leave until the book finishes.

If you enjoy fiction with a historical basis, and want to read a story that will give a lot to think about then this is the perfect book for you by a talented author who never fails to impress.

 

Purchase link: http://mybook.to/prisonsun

Author bio

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

 

Social Media Links –

https://isobelblackthorn.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768657.Isobel_Blackthorn

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.instagram.com/isobelblackthorn/

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Hattie Goes To Hollywood by Caroline James: a quacking good read!

Phew. Unforeseen technical problems put the Books Are Cool website out of action for a couple of days, but now we’re up and running again. Apologies to Caroline for running late with this review.

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

A Cumbrian Village…
Three suicides…
A red-hot summer…

Join super-sleuth Hattie as tempers and temperatures rise in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood. With mischief and shenanigans aplenty, will Hattie discover the truth?

A funny and intriguing mystery – the first in a new series by Caroline James

When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer for years, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?

 

My review

It’s wonderful to meet Hattie, a character from Caroline James’s ‘The Best Boomerville Hotel’, again, but even if it’s your first encounter with her, you’ll still love her! She’s lively, indomitable, likeable and a brings a gale of fresh air into the village of Hollywood.

She’s surrounded by a host of equally fascinating, vibrant and eccentric people, some great, some ghastly. There’s even a duck to add even more novelty to the cast!

The setting of village life in Cumbria is warm and convincing, and the brisk plot is clever and keeps you on your toes. There’s lots of wit and humour in the writing, and taken altogether this is an absolutely brilliant cosy mystery with everything we expect from and love in this genre.

A quacking good read!

 

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hattie-Goes-Hollywood-Shenanigans-intrigue-ebook/dp/B083V16G5D/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Hattie-Goes-Hollywood-Shenanigans-intrigue-ebook/dp/B083V16G5D/

 

Author bio 

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

 

 

Books by Caroline James:

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me

Jungle Rock

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

 

Social Media Links –

Website: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

Twitter: @CarolineJames12

Facebook: Caroline James Author

Amazon Author Page

 

Giveaway to Win a cuddly Drake toy! (Open INT)

Be in with a chance to win Drake, Hattie’s faithful pet duck! Tall Drake & Handsome

– A gorgeous soft toy who will be your friend for life.

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494346/#

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Rage and Retribution by Lorraine Mace: a powerful read

Can two wrongs ever make a right?

A man is found by the side of a canal, comatose and brutally attacked.

It quickly becomes clear that someone is abducting men and subjecting them to horrific acts of torture. After three days they’re released, fighting for their lives and refusing to speak.

A councillor is accused of fraud.

Montague Mason is an upstanding member of the community. That is until he’s publicly accused of stealing the youth centre’s funds – an accusation that threatens to rip through the very heart of the community and expose his best-kept secret. But how far would he go to protect himself?

Two cases. One deadly answer.

As the two cases collide, D.I. Paolo Sterling finds he has more questions than answers. And, when torture escalates to murder, he suddenly finds himself in a race against time to find the killer and put an end to the depravity – once and for all.

 

My review

I usually like my mysteries cosy and tongue-in-cheek so a challenging, gritty, brutal novel like this certainly too me out of my comfort zone. It made for a refreshing change in the way that a walk by the sea does – when there’s a gale blowing and you’re being soaked in spray. It certainly wakes you up.

The story grips you from the first page with its graphic opening scene. From here on the pace rarely lets up. The only times it does is to allow for necessary character development. This book isn’t a one-dimensional police procedural, which can be the downside of this particular genre: here we have an exciting, chilling plot peopled by rounded and interesting characters and taking place in atmospheric, detailed settings.

There’s plenty of edge-of-your seat, tense suspense to keep you turning the pages quickly, interspersed with moments of reflection and revelation. The rage and retribution elements are given equal treatment and justification in the book.

A powerful read.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1786156857

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1786156857

 

Author bio

When not working on her D.I. Sterling Series, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions. A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service. She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of THE WRITER’S ABC CHECKLIST (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel VLAD THE INHALER – HERO IN THE MAKING, and NOTES FROM THE MARGIN, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.

Social media links

Website: www.lorrainemace.com

Blog: thewritersabcchecklist.blogspot.com

Twitter: @lomace

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lorraine.mace.52

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Cherry Slice by Jennifer Stone

Synopsis

Reality TV turns deadly in Cherry Hinton’s first case

When Kenny Thorpe, a contestant on Expose TV’s Big Blubber, the hot new celebrity weight-loss show, is murdered on live television in front of 3 million viewers, the case seems pretty watertight. After all, everyone saw Martin do it – didn’t they?

Cherry Hinton knows there’s more to this than meets the eye. As an investigative reporter, she went undercover on dating show Caravan of Love… but after getting in too deep with one of the other contestants, she was caught knickerless in front of the nation. Humiliated, fired and heartbroken, she has fled to Brentwood, where she opens a cake shop, and tries to forget all about Expose.

Until Kenny Thorpe’s sister walks into her shop with a letter that turns Cherry’s world upside down. Is Martin innocent? How is infamous gangster Leon Solent involved? Is Expose to blame, and is there a killer still on the loose?

Cherry is the only one in a position to find out

 

My review

The cosy mystery genre is one that’s meant to be tongue in cheek. Its central premise is that extremely unlikely protagonists manage to solve crimes that defeat that the experienced police force, and whilst that may occasionally happen in real life it’s not an everyday occurrence. This is what gives the genre its energy and allows authors to pull out all the stops imagination-wise.


Cherry Slice is a wonderful example of an imaginative cosy mystery. It’s an ingenious reworking of the locked room mystery, the type that Agatha Christie made famous. This time the action happens in a reality TV setting. And instead of Christie’s high society characters, we have a true Essex Girl, Cherry, as our chief sleuth, and the murder suspects are a group of wannabe celebs with weight issues.

Cherry, like all good amateur detectives, comes with emotional baggage. She used to date the victim, and she’s under a black cloud for some undercover work she did as a journalist. She now works in her parents’ bakery, famous for its tasteless (metaphorically speaking) gimmicky cakes.

As you’d probably expect from this description so far, there’s plenty of humour, wit and quirkiness in this novel. The characters are all larger than life, and not just the ones on the Big Blubber show. There are shady underworld figures, glitzy bimbos and plenty of almost-ordinary people but with something a little absurd about them to make them fascinating.

The Essex setting is convincing, especially for someone like me from just over the border in  south Suffolk and knows the area, and the plot is original and cunningly thought-out. If you like a cosy that makes you chuckle, occasionally wince and be thoroughly entertained from start to finish, then this is for you.

Pre-order the book here: www.amazon.co.uk/Cherry-Slice-PI-Mystery/dp/1788421655

 Review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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B&Bers Behaving Madly by Sharley Scott: a joy to read!

B&Bers Behaving Madly

Running a guesthouse is never plain sailing, as Katie can testify. Eccentric or challenging guests are the usual order of the day. But when a sinister man moves in across the road, the first ripples of unease appear.

Katie has learned the hard way that a seaside idyll is never what it seems. She and Jason have worked hard at their marriage, but now she has other issues to tackle.

While her new cleaner has proved to be a godsend, she comes with a complicated love life. Then there’s Katie and Jason’s daughters, Emily and Lucy, whose boomerang visits definitely have an ulterior motive.

And what about the threatening man opposite who has taken an intense dislike to Shona, the madcap owner of the adjoining B&B. Shona’s life has always been chaotic, but now it’s verging on disaster.

As the season moves on and guests come and go, Katie fears her daughters have been keeping secrets of their own, while Shona’s troubles come to a head.

When the B&Bers are behaving madly, anything can happen. Can Katie weather the storm?

 

My review

The first book in this series, Bedlam and Breakfast introduced us to many of the characters we meet again here, but you don’t have to have read that book to really enjoy this one.

Katie and Jason’s hectic life as B&B hosts continues. Not only are there wandering guests and an uninvited one to contend with, not to mention a shady neighbour, but there are repairs to do, skeletons tumbling out of closets and family complications to contend with.

There’s so much sharp observation and wry humour that every page is a joy to read. The characterisations are fabulous, the scenery and settings very atmospheric and the twists and turns of the plot are cleverly created and well thought out. The book is endlessly entertaining and extremely enjoyable.

Thank you, Sharley Scott, for another fabulous book!

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Behaving-Madly-Devon-Seaside-Guesthouse-ebook/dp/B081VV5M3C

US – https://www.amazon.com/Behaving-Madly-Devon-Seaside-Guesthouse-ebook/dp/B081VV5M3C

 

Author bio

While ‘Bedlam & Breakfast at a Devon Seaside Guesthouse’ is fictional, I am a guesthouse owner. Thankfully, we have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the characters featured in this novel and the subsequent books currently being written in the series. I would be a lot greyer if they were.

Likewise, Jason is quite different to my husband, who I sometimes nickname Victor Meldrew. He is lovely though and has a fab sense of humour, although some of his dryness has rubbed off on Jason.

Bedlam & Breakfast is set in South Devon, in the fictional town of Torringham, which is loosely based on Brixham. If you’ve been to Brixham you may recognise some of the local features, including the seals, fishing industry and the fantastic lifeboat crew, but the businesses, people and a number of settings are fictionalised.

The same applies to the B&B owners featured. Many guesthouse owners undertake work when they move into a property and our current B&B was not an exception. While our previous owners were nothing like Jim and Maureen, this also means we don’t get to live next door to the fabulous Shona and Kim. But we do have many lovely B&B friends. B&Bers are a wonderful and hardworking bunch, although the ones we know have a penchant for parties in the low season. That’s why I had to end Bedlam & Breakfast at a party.

I hope you enjoy Bedlam & Breakfast. It’s the fourth novel I’ve written, although the first in this genre. A second book in this series is being published in January 2020. B&Bers Behaving Madly can also be read as a standalone. It’s great journeying with Katie and Jason as they enter their second year at the B&B, especially now that Katie is better equipped to deal with Shona. Or, so she thinks.

 

Social media links

https://twitter.com/SharleyScott

https://www.facebook.com/SharleyScott3