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**BLOG TOUR** Ruby by Heather Burnside

I’m really pleased to be one of the blogs on the tour for Ruby, the latest book from Heather Burnside, and I’m thrilled to be able to share an extract with you.  Heather spent her teenage years on one of the toughest estates in Manchester and she draws heavily on this background as the setting for many of her novels. If you are a fan of Martina Cole or Kimberley Chambers, then Ruby could just be the book for you!

Follow Heather:

Facebook: @HeatherBurnsideAuthor

Twitter: @heatherbwriter

Website: https://heatherburnside.com/

The Blurb

The stronger sex.

Ruby has always been strong. Growing up with a feeble mother and an absent father, she is forced to fight the battles of her younger siblings. And when a childhood experience leaves her traumatised, her distrust of men turns to hatred.

On the streets.

With no safe place to call home, Ruby is desperate to fit in with the tough crowd. She spends her teenage years sleeping around and drinking in the park, and by the time she is sixteen, prostitution has become a way of life. But Ruby has ambitions, and she soon moves up the ladder to become the madam of her own brothel.

The brothel.

But being in charge of a brothel has its down sides, Ruby faces her worst nightmare when an enemy from the past comes back into her life, and gang intimidation threatens to ruin everything. Can she find a way to beat her tormentors? And will she be strong enough to see it through?

The Extract

 

August 1991

Nine-year-old Trina was helping her mother, Daisy, with the housework. As they worked, they both sang along to Tracy Chapman while two of Trina’s younger brothers were playing noisily, drowning out the sound of the stereo.

‘Shut up your noise!’ shouted Daisy, her Jamaican accent still pronounced after more than twenty years in the UK. ‘I can’t hear meself think.’

The two boys stopped their play-fighting, looked at each other and giggled.

‘Get up the stairs,’ said Daisy, clicking her tongue in annoyance.

‘No, we want to play out,’ said Ellis, the older of the two boys.

‘Go on, and take Tyler with you,’ said Daisy.

Trina looked across at her youngest brother, Tyler, quietly playing with his battered toy cars in a corner of the room. He was so different from the other two, Ellis and Jarell, who could be such a handful.

‘Go on, hurry up,’ said Daisy. ‘Let me get me work done.’

Trina put down the duster she was using and walked over to Tyler, ready to take him by the hand.

‘No! Not you, Trina,’ said her mother. ‘I need your help.’

‘But who’s gonna look after him?’ asked Trina.

‘Them two can,’ said Daisy.

Catching the expression on her mother’s face, Trina knew she wasn’t in the mood for arguments. She picked her duster back up and carried on with what she was doing, despite her qualms about the ability of Ellis and Jarell to look after Tyler, who was only three.

Usually the responsibility fell on Trina to look out for her three younger brothers – Ellis, aged seven, six-year-old Jarell, and Tyler – when her mother was busy cooking, shopping or washing. But today was cleaning day and Daisy often asked Trina for help. It seemed to Trina that her mother was overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in looking after a three-bedroomed house and four children. Nevertheless, she undertook her tasks every Saturday without failure, not happy till every surface was dusted, hoovered and cleaned.

Daisy was a respectable woman who took pride in having a clean home. Despite her status as a single parent on benefits, she did her best to maintain her high standards and set a good example to her children. She was an attractive woman in her thirties, of average height and with a womanly figure. Trina took after her mother in looks, but not in height for she was very tall for her age, something she had gained from her absent father.

Trina looked up from her dusting as the boys dashed excitedly to the front door. She was envious of them. It didn’t seem fair that she should have to stay and help her mother while the boys got to play outside. But that’s the way it was and she had long ago come to accept her status as the oldest child. Not only was she the oldest but she was also a girl, which made a difference as far as her mother was concerned. Girls helped with the housework; boys did not.

‘And keep a tight hold on him!’ Daisy shouted to her two eldest boys as they fled out through the front door.

They were no sooner outside than there was a knock on the door. Daisy clicked her tongue again.

‘What on earth’s the matter!’ she called, trying to ignore it.

There was a second knock. Trina said, ‘I’ll get it, Mam,’ happy to put down her duster again.

But before she got the chance, they heard a man’s voice outside. ‘Daisy! I know you’re in there so answer the door,’ he shouted.

Trina continued making her way towards the front door till she felt her mother’s sharp pull on her shoulder.

‘No,’ she whispered. ‘Get behind the curtain. Don’t let him see you or there’ll be hell to pay.’

Alarmed, Trina quickly took her place with her mother, standing to one side of the open curtains so they couldn’t be seen through the window. Daisy was busy peering through a gap at the edge of the curtains. A shadow fell across the window and the man’s voice came closer.

‘Open the door, Daisy! I know you’re in there. I’ve just seen the children leave,’ shouted the man.

A look of concern flashed across Trina’s face as she picked up on the grave tone of the man’s voice.

‘I think it’s Mr Dodds. Shouldn’t we let him in, Mam?’ she whispered.

 

Pre-order  links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Nd4O3g

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2Sgd6sg

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2T65ahm

iBooks: https://apple.co/2pMSz6b

 

With thanks to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Woman in the Water by Katerina Diamond

When a woman is discovered submerged in freezing water, the police are shocked to find that she is still alive. With her refusing to confirm her identity, even after the body of another person is found nearby, the police are at a loss as to how to proceed. This is made even more complicated when she disappears from her hospital bed. Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey pursue their only lead at the home of the Corrigans, but this only leads to more unanswered questions. Can their secrets be uncovered before time runs out for everyone involved?

I have been aware of Katerina Diamond’s books for some time, but for some reason, have never read any of them. I am now kicking myself as I have definitely been missing out! Woman in the Water is the sixth book in this series, but if, like me, you haven’t read the previous five, please don’t be put off as it can be read as a standalone – you don’t need any previous knowledge of the characters to enjoy this one!

Woman in the Water is, essentially, a book about abuse, power and the abuse of power. The detectives discover quite early on who is behind the death of the man and the near-death of the woman, but with people refusing to speak out, there is no case for him to answer. For Adrian Miles in particular, this became increasingly infuriating and I could understand his reluctance to take the advice he was given and why it became a personal mission to get this man behind bars.

This book does not shy away from controversy and deals with several taboo subjects. One scene, in particular, will remain with me for a long time as it is rare that I am close to tears when reading a crime novel. We realise what is about to happen at the same time as the character involved and this created a powerful, heart-wrenching moment which caused the need to gather my thoughts before reading on. I applaud the author for dealing with this issue and also the brave people who are acknowledged at the end of the book. This highly-charged, emotional scene was written with sensitivity, as were the consequences.

I raced through this book in three sittings as I became so invested in the plot and the need to see justice served. This may have been my first Katerina Diamond book, but it will definitely not be my last.

With thanks to Avon and Net Galley for my copy and to Sabah Khan for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok

Two years ago, Leo Fenton went missing. Despite his body never being found, his brother, Ben was charged and convicted with his murder, although he has consistently denied any involvement. Now, a body has been found, in a newly-dug grave, close to the home of Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook. Who put it there and, if it is Leo, where has it been for the past two years? It is up to DCI Jansen and his team to try to make sense of what happened two years ago, and discover whether Ben has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

From the start, I was convinced of Ben’s innocence, and felt that this was an incredibly well-planned murder with Ben being made the scapegoat. But why? This was the question I constantly asked myself, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters set prior to the disappearance of Leo as I tried to fathom out what happened that led to the event.

I had a lot of sympathy for Ana, whose life is turned upside down once the body is discovered. With the police convinced that she knows more than she is letting on and her paranoia that she is being watched, a claustrophobic atmosphere is created and you begin to genuinely fear for her safety. Although the secret she is hiding wasn’t that difficult to figure out, it did, again, make me ask questions as I wondered if this was what set off the chain of events.

This is one of those books where you know that one of the characters you meet along the way is going to end up playing a bigger role than you initially thought, and Rachael Blok has done a good job in adding several characters who could, potentially, be this person. Being convinced of Ben’s innocence, two characters in particular stood out to me, my suspicions wavering between the two throughout the book. With numerous secrets being hidden, either of these characters could have been the guilty party!

The Scorched Earth is a great thriller, with some very tense moments, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. I was not aware that the detective, DCI Maarten Jansen had appeared in a previous book, Under the Ice, but I will definitely be looking out for this one now!

WIth thanks to Head of Zeus  and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

How well do you know your neighbour? Lexie and Harriet live next door to each other in an upmarket block of flats in London, but never speak. It’s not as though they dislike each other, it’s just not the done thing. The thought of bumping into each other in the lift abhors them and yet they happily eavesdrop on each other through their paper-thin walls. With both women experiencing problems in their personal lives, they soon begin to covet each other’s life with dangerous consequences…

With its slow build-up, Through the Wall is one of those books that takes you a while, but once it’s grabbed you, there’s no letting go! From its opening in a psychiatric hospital, there is a air of foreboding where you know that something bad is about to happen, but what?

From the outside, Harriet looks like the ultimate party girl, her raucous gatherings drawing in strangers from near and far. Lexie wouldn’t be as jealous, however, if she knew Harriet’s past and that this was one way of hiding her loneliness. Similarly, Lexie looks like she shares the perfect life with her husband, Tom, the sort of life that Harriet dreams of. Her happy social media posts hide the trauma of losing a child, though, and do not take into account the pain of trying for a baby. This was a good lesson in how we should not always believe what people choose to share on the likes of Instagram or Facebook, as these posts often display a skewed version of the person’s real life.

Throughout the book, we see Harriet’s interest becoming more and more of an obsession, to the point where she is stalking both Lexie and Tom, even gaining access to their property. I began to fear for Lexie as Harriet became fixated with Tom, wondering just how far she would go to achieve her aim. At the same time, I had nothing but sympathy for Lexie as she began her IVF journey, believing at the same time that her husband was having an affair with a woman called Rachel.

Just when I thought that Harriet had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, the author hit me with details of her past, exploring how she had been the victim of an abusive ex-partner, even if she was in complete denial about this. At this point, I was desperate for someone to take Harriet into their care, to stop her from hurting someone else or even herself. The fears for Lexie were still there, however, and were proven correct when we finally get to the showdown between the two women. The tension was palpable as I began to wonder if history was about to repeat itself.

The story ends where it begins – at the psychological hospital, and it is here where we get the twist that made me gasp. This was one of those moments where you can visualise it on the screen, and I hope that this is something we get to see at some point.

Through the Wall is a disturbing psychological thriller with some genuinely emotional moments. With thanks to Avon Books UK and to Sabah Khan for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox

When a young couple find a savagely beaten, naked woman in the New Mexico mountains, Detective Alyssa Wyatt is plunged into a particularly testing case. The woman, Callie McCormick, is seemingly the latest victim of a mysterious psychopath who is linked to a string of deaths, but who has, so far, left no clues as to his identity. When Wyatt finds herself close to a breakthrough, she unwittingly puts herself straight in the firing line. The killer knows who she is and wants her to know his name, even if it means destroying everyone around her…

I don’t often read crime books set in the USA, preferring, instead the more familiar UK criminal justice system. There was something about All His Pretty Girls that grabbed my attention, however, and piqued my interest enough to make me want to read it. All I can say is, I am so glad I did! It is hard to believe that this is the author’s debut, as it is a confident, well-written serial killer novel with some fantastic twists and turns!

Alyssa Wyatt is a great character with an emotional backstory which has shaped her police career. I liked the relationship she had with her team, particularly her partner, and thought it made a refreshing change to see a united team, all focused on the job in hand. In books like this, I am accustomed to seeing the detective having an erratic home life so it was pleasing to read scenes involving her supportive, well-balanced family – even if there is a little bit of animosity towards her mother-in-law!

The killer in the book is a particularly heinous one and there are several descriptive scenes which should come with a health warning! His shadow box containing ‘mementos’ of his previous victims was particularly graphic, and you could feel the panic Callie was feeling as she wondered what her fate would be. In a clever piece of writing, I also felt some sympathy towards the killer as we read about his childhood, and realised what a horrific start to life he had.

All His Pretty Girls is a fast-paced, breathtaking read and is one that I struggled to put down. This will definitely be making my list of favourite books of 2019 and I sincerely hope that this is not the last we see of Alyssa.

With thanks to Hera Books and to Sarah Hardy from Book on the Bright Side.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney

When the body of a woman is found hanging in her home, wearing a wedding dress, it is initially thought that it is a case of suicide. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when a second woman is found dead, also wearing a wedding dress. This is too much of a coincidence for D I Lottie Parker, who immediately starts to look for evidence of foul play. When it is revealed that one of the women had a young daughter who has seemingly gone missing, it becomes a race against time to catch the perpetrator before more bodies are discovered.

It is hard to believe that Broken Souls is the seventh book in the Lottie Parker series, the first book, The Missing Onesonly being published in 2017. In this short time, we have seen Lottie grow as a character, dealing with the grief of her lost husband and now contemplating marriage to one of her colleagues. Her family is as dysfunctional as ever, with the added bonus of her half-brother, Leo, disrupting the equilibrium even further! After events in previous books, I was pleased to see Lottie’s family taking more of a back seat in this one – there is only so much trauma one family can take!

With there being two deaths near the beginning of the book, and a lot of characters introduced,  I initially struggled to remember who everybody was. As the book progressed, however, and the cases began to intertwine, I developed more of an understanding of each character and how they were connected to the dead women. The setting, a place where everyone seemed to know everybody else, helped to muddy the waters when trying to find the culprit as there were so many shifty characters! A few hints were dropped throughout the book, but I did not predict the outcome at all.

As this is now the seventh book, I feel that I have come to know the characters really well and so I was left reeling at the revelation at the end of this installment. There is a genuine, ‘”Noooo!” moment in the final pages, and I really hope that Patricia Gibney resolves this issue in a pleasing way! To find out what it is, you will just have to read the book!

If you have never read the Lottie Parker series, then I cannot recommend it enough. With great plots and characters, Broken Souls is a great addition to an already brilliant set of books.

With thanks to Bookouture & Net Galley and to Sarah Hardy for organising the blog tour.

 

**Publication Day Party** Expiry Date by Alex Walters

A day out with his family turns into a busman’s holiday for DI McKay when he stumbles across the body of a man. To compound matters further, whilst on their trip, his brother-in-law, disappears and is later found dead, seemingly after an accidental fall. Meanwhile, DCI Grant has problems of her own after an online date turns sour. Sensing that something is not quite right with the man she has just met, her fears are realised when she starts to receive abusive texts from an unknown number. In a case involving murder and human trafficking, McKay has to come to terms that someone close to him has been keeping secrets.

I did not realise that this was part of a series before I began reading, and while there are some things referred to, seemingly from previous books, I did not feel that I was hindered in any way by not knowing what had gone before. The plot was easy to follow and I found myself developing an understanding of the established characters quite early in the book.

The plot is a complex one with several story lines running concurrently and it soon becomes apparent that there is a connection between the body found by McKay and the death of his brother-in-law. Similarly, we also see a link emerging between these cases and that of Grant’s disastrous online date. This was the part of the story I enjoyed the most, and I particularly liked the scene in the restaurant when Grant and her friend came to the rescue of another unsuspecting woman who was out on a date with the detective’s stalker. Girl power at its finest!

Trafficking is featured as part of the plot, and it is in these scenes where I encountered my favourite character, Jana. My heart went out to this woman who, unlike the other women, has an inkling as to what is happening due to her understanding of the English language. Her story is an incredibly sad one and each time I read part of her story, I willed her to get away and start a new life for herself…

Throughout the book, I was trying to figure out who could be behind the murders and when the reveal happened, it was definitely not what I was expecting! This was a clever plot twist and one that I enjoyed very much. This is definitely a series that I will be catching up on!

With thanks to Bloodhound Books at to Heather Fitt for organising the publication day party!

 

**BLOG TOUR** A Pair of Sharp Eyes by Kat Armstrong

The year is 1703 and young Coronation Amesbury, known as Corrie, is leaving her home in Wiltshire to look for work in Bristol. Before she arrives, she is made aware of a killer that is stalking the town, a killer who has already claimed the lives of six young boys. Locals talk of a travelling man called Red John who is slitting the throats of these young unfortunates without leaving a trail – nobody has any clue as to where he is and very few claim to have seen him. When the killer strikes close to home, Corrie is determined not to rest until justice is served…

I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Kat Armstrong’s debut, A Pair of Sharp Eyes, a book that will delight all lovers of historical fiction. This is one of those books that hooks you from the start as we meet Corrie, a young girl forced to make her own way in life. Although it is assumed that she is a naive country girl, we soon realise that this is someone with her wits about her, her intuition saving her from peril even before she arrives in Bristol! I immediately warmed to Corrie and couldn’t wait to see where her journey would take her.

In A Pair of Sharp Eyes, you are immediately transported back to eighteenth century Bristol, the language and description painting a vivid picture of the contrasting lives of the rich and poor. It was easy to visualise the run-down home of Corrie’s sister and the difficulty she had in just trying to survive. After witnessing her sister’s life, it was understandable why Corrie was keen to secure herself a job as a maid at the house of one of the more wealthy Bristolians.

Some difficult subjects are addressed in the plot, not least the slave trade. I liked Corrie’s attitude towards something she clearly felt was abhorrent and I loved the relationship she had with Abraham – he was probably one of my favourite characters in the book. The characterisation was something that made this book special, a rounded picture being built of each person, their lives slowly unfolding as the book progressed.

Although the blurb discusses the murders of the boys, and this does play a pivotal role in the lives of many of the characters, there is so much more to this book than a historical whodunit. A Pair of Sharp Eyes provides a fascinating look at life in the early eighteenth century when religion and wealth (or lack of it) played a huge role in determining how a person’s life would progress. I feel that, as we have had several hints as to what has happened in Corrie’s past, there is scope for a series and I hope this is what the author has in mind as I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

With thanks to Hookline Books for my copy of A Pair of Sharp Eyes and to Kelly from Love Books Tours for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald

When she finds out that she is pregnant, Katie feels apprehensive as she has not been with her partner, Ian, for long. Her fears are allayed, however, when he is thrilled about the pregnancy, even when it turns out that Katie is expecting twins. Alarm bells begin to ring, though, when the house she moves into isn’t the palace she was expecting, and Ian becomes difficult to contact. Paula, her new friend, seems like a godsend, providing her with care and support when she needs it most. With Ian and Paula at loggerheads and Katie caught in the middle not knowing who she can trust, she soon realises that someone is not being truthful. When the truth finally emerges, how will she protect her girls?

I am really happy to be on the blog tour for Ruth Heald’s latest book, The Woman Upstairs, even though I have just about got my breath back and my heart rate is beginning to return to normal! This is one of those books where there is that much happening on every page, you really don’t want to put it down! In The Woman Upstairs, practically every character in the book had a secret that they would prefer to keep hidden.

I found Katie to be an incredibly naive character and yet, at the same time, admired her courage as her world slowly imploded around her. In Ian, she feels that she has found someone who she can spend the rest of her life with, but the alarm bells were ringing right from the start. Disappearing when she is due to have her babies and leaving Katie to move into a dilapidated house when he is supposed to be a wealthy property developer, Ian was definitely not who he was claiming to be. I definitely had my suspicions, some of which were correct, but there was plenty more to be revealed about Ian and his past, much of it shocking.

If I had my suspicions about Ian, these were nothing compared to how I felt about Paula. Looking from the outside in, it was apparent that she was playing a huge game and that she was quickly getting under Katie’s skin. Acting as Katie’s doula, there was one scene, quite early in their ‘friendship’, that made me feel quite sick, and it was at this moment that I knew that Paula was not the woman she was claiming to be. As she slowly undermined Katie, driving a wedge between her and her loved ones, I could see how easy it was for the inexperienced new mother to be manipulated. At the same time, however, I yearned for Katie to just open her eyes and realise what she was allowing to happen to her!

Although there are many parts of The Woman Upstairs that can be predicted, this is a book full of so many twists and turns that just when you think you’ve got it, Ruth Heald hits you with something else to make you change your mind once again! This culminates in a shocking conclusion where Katie finally finds out the full extent of what has been happening around her.

If you are looking for a fast-paced read that will make you gasp out loud, The Woman Upstairs is the book for you!

With thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my ARC and to Noelle Holten for organising the blog tour.

 

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