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**BLOG TOUR** The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall by Jessica Thorne

Grief-stricken gardener Megan Taylor, tries to put thoughts of her missing in action brother out of her mind by taking a job at Foxfield Hall, restoring the maze in the overgrown gardens. She soon becomes interested in the mystery of the hall’s most famous resident, Lady Eleanor Fairfax, who disappeared in 1939 during the harvest festival. Although no body was ever found, Megan begins to wonder if she could have been murdered. There is also the possibility that she ran away in order to avoid a marriage to someone she didn’t love or could it even have something to do with her father’s war work? Megan finds the maze drawing her in, feeling that the truth could lie inside. Will she discover what happened to Eleanor or will she become the next woman to simply disappear without a trace?

If you had the opportunity to prevent a past tragedy from happening, not knowing how your actions would affect the future, would you do it? This is the dilemma faced by Megan when she is somehow transported back to 1939, days before the disappearance of Lady Eleanor Fairfax. Ellie, as she is known, is about to find her world turned upside down due to the outbreak of World War Two, her fiancé’s involvement in the armed services and her father’s secret war work meaning that she is left in the care of Ava Seaborne, her father’s new secretary. Ava was a mysterious character, this feeling of forebording becoming stronger when Megan encountered a Dr Faye Seaborne. A familial connection or something else entirely?

The Lost Girls of Foxfield Hall packs in an awful lot, switching genres effectively throughout. Part mystery, science-fiction, history and romance, it was the time travel element that fascinated me the most. The two lead characters, Megan and Ellie, were both strong women, Ellie in particular showing great tenacity when faced with her future. Knowing the fate that was about to befall her, yet not knowing exactly how it was to happen, I admired Ellie’s determination to get to the truth, not letting the aforementioned Ava Seaborne stop her in her tracks.

Jessica Thorne managed to blindside me numerous times, leaving me wondering which characters were on the side of Ellie and Megan and which ones were not. This definitely kept me on my toes throughout! In such a complex plot, I was pleased that there were no loose ends left at the end, the story reaching a satisfying conclusion.

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

Buy  Link:         

Amazon: https://geni.us/B08WPZDM5GCover

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The Empty House by Arthur Conan Doyle

It has been three years since Sherlock Holmes plunged to his apparent death in a confrontation with his nemesis, Moriarty, at the Reichenbach Falls. His companion, Dr Watson, is continuing to solve mysteries in his absence and he is about to face the toughest one yet: the locked room murder of Mr Adair. Little does Watson know that help is about to come from a most unexpected source…

This is a fantastic adaptation for children by Stephanie Baudet of the classic Sherlock Holmes story. Despite it being aimed at the younger market, however, I found it a super read and enjoyed it just as much as another of this series, A Study in Scarlet, that I read a while ago. The story has been simplified for younger readers but it has lost none of it’s excitement and sense of mystery. The illustrations also capture the text perfectly, bringing the story alive.

This series by Sweet Cherry Publishing is a perfect way of introducing children to the work of the great Arthur Conan Doyle. It can be purchased from https://www.books2door.com/ at a great price!

With thanks to Sweet Cherry Publishing and Net Galley for my ARC.

**BLOG TOUR** The Searcher by Tana French

When ex-cop Cal Hooper moves from Chicago to a remote Irish village after his divorce, he is just looking for a quiet life. When a local teenager visits, however, telling him that his older brother has disappeared, he is intrigued. What exactly has happened to Brendan Reddy and what secrets are being hidden in this quiet area of Ireland?

The Searcher is a standalone book from the author of the Dublin Murder Squad books, so you do not need to have read any of those before this one. Indeed, this is a very different book, a slow burner with very much a character-driven plot that draws you into the world of Cal and his young friend, Trey Reddy.

Like in all remote fictional villages, there is something that the locals want to keep hidden, so when Cal arrives, people are naturally suspicious of his motivation. His relationship with young Trey helps to fuel the fire and so soon, Cal is determined to help the teenager discover what had happened to his brother, someone who he is adamant wouldn’t just have left of his own volition. I really liked how we found out bits of the story at the same time as Cal, slowly edging towards a shocking conclusion.

Although this has a slow build-up, it does not mean that this book is devoid of exciting events – far from it! For me, though, the highlight is the friendship that develops between the two main characters. Despite his initial reluctance to help, Cal soon becomes fascinated by Trey and I feel that, as he is clearly missing his daughter, he is helping to fill a child-shaped void for him. Likewise, Trey has been deprived of a father figure for most of his life and Cal is probably the first adult that has ever given him the time of day.

The Searcher has some truly shocking moments and contains scenes that will make you so angry, you will want to cry for the life that Trey finds himself living. As the book progressed, I found myself become quite attached to Trey and Cal and hoped that, by the end, they would both find the peace that they needed.

I really enjoyed The Searcher and there will be some images that remain with me. With thanks to Tana French, Penguin UK and to Georgia Taylor for organising the blog tour.

**BLOG TOUR** The Forgotten Gift by Kathleen McGurl

1861

When George first sets eyes on Lucy, one of his household’s servants, he is smitten and is soon making plans for his future. After being rejected, however, his hopes are further thwarted when Lucy dies, seemingly the victim of a poisoning. Distraught, George knows that someone at home must have killed her, but who?


Present

Cassie is quite content with her life: a job she loves, friends she can rely on and doting parents who would do anything for her. All this is turned upside down, however, as research into her family history makes her question everything she thought she knew about her life.

I am a huge fan of Kathleen McGurl’s dual timeline novels, my favourite being The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. I was thrilled, therefore to see that the author has revisited my favourite era of historical fiction, the Victorian period, in her latest book, The Forgotten Gift.

As with her other books, we have two different plots set in two different time frames with a common theme running through them. The issue of family secrets is very much at the forefront here and the lengths some people will go to in order to stop these secrets from being revealed. I had great sympathy for George, who came across as a lovely young man, shunned by his family through no fault of his own. By starting the book with George’s will, I immediately became invested in his story, and was desperate to know what had happened in his life. This also provided a good link between the two time frames as Cassie tried to discover the same things.

As a fellow genealogist, I could relate a lot to the character of Cassie and loved how an enjoyable evening for her was one sat reading old documents, trying to make sense of the past. The discovery of scandal is an occupational hazard for a family historian, but Cassie manages to open up several cans of worms that have a profound effect on her life. I won’t give any spoilers, but I felt that this was sensitively handled, showing very real reactions from all involved parties.

I have, recently, been struggling to read books at my usual pace and I knew that a Kathleen McGurl book would help me out of my slump. I was so right as I raced through The Forgotten Gift, desperate to know what had happened in George’s life and how had overcome his problems. (Although I loved Cassie’s story, it was George who tugged at the heart strings for me!)

This is a wonderful read which, although fiction, gives a real insight into aspects of Victorian life. I have sung the praises of this author many times and I will continue to do so. If you haven’t read any of her work before, then please do – you won’t be disappointed!

With thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Kathleen McGurl, Net Galley ad HQ Digital for my copy of The Forgotten Gift.

Take a look at my reviews of other books by Kathleen McGurl:

   The Emerald Comb 
   The Pearl Locket
   The Daughters Of Red Hill Hall
   The Girl from Ballymor 
   The Drowned Village
   The Forgotten Secret
   The Stationmaster’s Daughter
   The Secret of the Chateau

**BLOG TOUR** The Glass House by Eve Chase

After a traumatic event, children’s nanny, Rita, has gone with the family she works for to stay in a remote house in the middle of the woods. Secrets lurk within the family and when a baby is found among the trees, Jeannie, the mother, feels that this could be the start of something good. Soon, however, the discovery of a body changes everything and the Harrington family will never be the same again.

My interest was piqued right at the start of The Glass House when we are told that a body has been found at Foxcote Manor, the home of the troubled Harrington family. The story then transports us back to the time leading up to the discovery of the unnamed body, giving us a peek into the lives of the Harringtons and their nanny, Rita, known affectionately as ‘Big Rita’ by Hera and Teddy, the children she looks after. There was a very strange atmosphere surrounding the family, partly due to the fact that all was not well between Jeannie and Walter, the parents. I really felt for Rita, who found herself caught between the two while trying to provide love and care for the two children who she clearly had a lot of affection for.

We are also brought into the modern day where we meet Sylvie, a woman who has just separated from her husband after years of marriage. I found myself immediately warming to Sylvie and was devastated when tragedy struck her family. Although I enjoyed reading about this character, I did find myself wondering how she was going to fit into the story of the Harringtons so was pleased when all was revealed. I particularly liked how the connection felt very natural, not contrived in any way. Too many books like this rely upon coincidences to link two plots together, but this was not the case here. 

The Glass House is a beautifully written tale about secrets and how they always have a habit of resurfacing when you least expect it. This is not by any means an action-packed story, despite there being a dead body and other exciting parts along the way, but it doesn’t need to be. The characterisation is perfect, and you really feel that you know these people by the end of the story. The setting is also ideal with Foxcote Manor and the surrounding area providing a claustrophobic atmosphere where danger lurks around the corner. 

The story comes to a very satisfying conclusion and, although some of the details of the plot can be worked out earlier in the book, I was still gripped until the end as more revelations are made.

If you want to become completely immersed in a character-driven plot with an air of mystery and intrigue, then I can highly recommend The Glass House as this was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

With thanks to Penguin/Michael Joseph Books and Net Galley for my ARC and to Gaby Young for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Secret of the Chateau by Kathleen McGurl

It is the end of the 18th century and Pierre and Catherine Aubert, the Comte and Comtesse de Verais, have fled the privileged life they lead at the court of Versailles to set up home at a chateau, the ancestral home of Pierre. With attitudes towards the aristocracy changing rapidly, will the couple manage to start a new, more bourgeois life or will their aristocratic life catch up with them?

In the present, Lu and her husband, along with three of their friends have upped sticks to France to start a new life as joint owners of French property – the chateau Aubert. When people start to talk about the ghost that is known to live there, Lu’s interest is piqued and she begins to research the history of their house, revealing a secret that has remained hidden for centuries…

As always, it is a privilege to be part of the blog tour for one of Kathleen McGurl’s books as this is an author whose work I always eagerly anticipate. As in previous books, the story is told in two time frames: the present and, in this case, the lead up to and the aftermath of the French Revolution. It soon became apparent how much research the author has done into this turbulent time, not only with her historically accurate account of the events In France but also with the descriptions of the Alpes Maritimes. It was easy to visualise the setting such was the description, Kathleen McGurl painting a very picturesque view of this area of south east France. (If you want to see some pictures that inspired the book, take a look at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/kathmcgurl/future-novel/) .

In the two main characters, we see contrasting personalities. Lu is someone who is in need of a purpose in life after retiring from work to care for her mother. The death of her mother has left her at a loose end and so the opportunity to relocate to a chateau in France with her husband and friends seems like an ideal opportunity. Her uncertainty about the venture, however, is the complete opposite to Catherine, a woman who, despite her tender years, knows her own mind, even though her desire to emulate Marie Antoinette could end up being her downfall.

As someone who researches my family history, I liked reading about the discoveries made by Lu as she attempted to find out about the previous occupants in the chateau. This was where the two story lines converged, leading to a harrowing revelation about what actually happened to Pierre and Catherine Aubert. I found this very moving and, although I won’t give any spoilers, I was pleased that there could be closure for characters in both time frames.

As expected, I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret of the Chateau and loved the slow, mysterious build-up leading to a heart-breaking yet satisfying conclusion. This is a standalone, but I can definitely recommend all of Kathleen McGurl’s previous dual time frame books:

The Emerald Comb

The Pearl Locket

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall

The Girl From Ballymor

The Drowned Village

The Forgotten Secret

The Stationmaster’s Daughter

With thanks to HQ Digital, Net Galley and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC and for my spot on the blog tour.

 

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