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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.

 

 

**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!

 

The Posing Playwright by David Field

The year is 1895 and Detective Inspector Percy Enright and his nephew Detective Sergeant Jack Enright find themselves investigating a highly sensitive case. Playwright Oscar Wilde stands accused of homosexuality and with the possibility of high profile names being mentioned in court, the detectives must work to suppress any scandal. Meanwhile, in a second case, which Percy believes is connected, a peer has vanished on a train, and the carriage he was travelling on has also disappeared! With both detectives clearly out of their comfort zones, they hope that, this time, there will be no element of danger for anyone connected to them…

Like the first in this series (The Gaslight Stalker), David Field has used a real historical event as the backdrop for this book, namely the trial of Oscar Wilde. When reading this book, it must be remembered that it is set at a time when homosexuality was illegal and people’s opinions were very much different to today. As a result, some other reviews I have read have commented on the highly inappropriate language used by some of the main characters. While it is correct to find this offensive today, it would have been common usage in the late Victorian era when attitudes, in general, were very different.

Although the title is The Posing Playwright, and the main plot is, indeed, about Wilde, it was sub-plot that interested me the most, and could have been something straight out of a Sherlock Holmes novel. Not only has a man disappeared, but, somehow, so has the whole train carriage he was travelling on! I enjoyed Percy’s investigations on the railway as to how this seemingly impossible feat could have occurred and also learned a lot about the Victorian railway system in the process!

While this was not my favourite in the series, it was still an enjoyable read. I just hope that we see more of Esther in the next book as she only played a minor role in this one.

Take a look at my reviews for the rest of the series:

The Gaslight Stalker

The Night Caller

The Prodigal Sister

The Slum Reaper

 

 

 

**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.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Daddy’s Girls by Sarah Flint

Someone is breaking into the homes of the elderly at night. He doesn’t steal anything of any value, he doesn’t hurt anyone, he just wants to talk. This rather odd case takes a sudden turn for the worse, though, when 87-year-old Florence Briarly is found neatly tucked up in bed, cold to the touch. D.C. Charlie Stafford realises that the man’s crimes have escalated and there are concerns that Florence won’t be his only victim…

It  is my pleasure to be one of the blogs featuring on the tour for the latest in Sarah Flint’s Charlie Stafford series, Daddy’s Girls. This is the fifth book and long-time fans of the series are going to be incredibly happy with this one! Similarly, if you have never read one of Sarah Flint’s before, then don’t be put off that you are joining in mid-series as this can definitely be read as a standalone.

In Daddy’s Girls, we have two main plots. As readers, we can see that they are not connected but Stafford and her fellow officers are unsure whether this can be the case. This leads to wrong decisions being made and the perpetrators being able to continue their crimes. In books such as this, we are used to the police being at the top of their game so it was a great idea to show how they are not infallible and how one wrong decision can completely change the course of an investigation.

Both plots contain particularly heinous crimes, namely the murder of the elderly and the rape of a woman. What I especially liked was the fact that we were in the dark as to who was committing the murders, but, from the outset, we knew who the rapist was. It was horrifying seeing this story slowly develop, knowing that something terrible was about to happen, the poor woman completely oblivious as to her fate. It was good to see her strength of character, however, and this was also shown in the case involving the elderly with one person in particular showing the sort of mettle that this generation are known for.

In Daddy’s Girls, we begin to see a different side of Charlie, as she decides that it is time she put the past firmly behind her and look towards the future. The ending of the book, however, threatens to thwart her plans, and sets up the next installment nicely! This is an action-packed read and a great addition to the Charlie Stafford series. With those revelations, I’m already looking forward to book six!

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at my reviews for the rest of this series here:

Mummy’s Favourite

The Trophy Taker

Liar Liar

Broken Dolls

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Perfect Lie by Karen Osman

Claire Carmichael has the sort of life many would dream of: a successful husband, two lovely sons and a great reputation. At school, her brains and likability led her to becoming a member of The Queen Bees, a clique of popular girls. Something happened to Claire back then, though, and The Queen Bees closed rank to protect one of their own. Now, years later, there is someone who hasn’t forgotten what happened, someone who is keen to exact their revenge…

Although from the blurb, we know that something horrendous happened in Claire’s past, it is not until about a fifth of the way in that we finally get a glimpse of what it may be. I liked this very much as it gave me the chance to be introduced to the characters whilst also allowing me to speculate as to what was going to happen. During this time, I came up with several theories, all of them incorrect!

For me, the book really took off when we went back to 1989, just prior to the event that would, eventually, change Claire’s life. In Claire, we see a teenager, desperate to fit in with her peers by being accepted into The Queen Bees, a clique of all the ‘popular’ girls. It was obvious that this was never going to end well, and my heart went out to Paul who, unbeknownst to him, was a pawn in the hands of these girls. Similarly, though, I also had a lot of sympathy for Claire, whose feelings towards Paul were at conflict with her need to appease The Queen Bees.

The Perfect Lie is a lesson in how one event can completely alter the course of your life, whether it be for the better or for the worse. We also discover how past sin will eventually find you out as the events of 1989 start to impact on Claire’s present life, threatening to bring it all crashing to the ground. I do not want to say too much about the plot, but I did deduce what had actually happened in 1989 and made the connection to what was happening in the present. The shock, however, came towards the end, when you see the lengths people will go to exact their revenge.

This is a great thriller and one that became difficult to put down as the plot progressed. It is also one of those books that is so well written, it will leave a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth.

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

Order links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y2fIkh

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2NRI9NN

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2LT6KPS

One Year Later by Sanjida Kay

A year ago, Amy lost her daughter Ruby-May in a terrible accident. With the anniversary of her death looming, the family decide to go on holiday, away from the scene of the incident, to a place where, they hope, they can begin to heal the rifts that have happened since their loss. It soon becomes apparent, however, that all is not quite what it seems and there is at least one person hiding something that could change their perception of what exactly happened one year ago. Just exactly who caused Ruby-May’s death and what other secrets have been concealed over the years?

The tone is set from the very start when what seems to be the body of a woman is discovered. For the majority of the book, this is not mentioned, leaving me wondering who is was and how it fit in with the tragic death of Ruby-May one year earlier. By the time this is, again, referenced, we are aware that there is, indeed, a lot more to Ruby-May’s death than we realised and there has been a huge cover up to stop the real guilty party from coming to light.

We read the story from the perspectives of Amy, Ruby-May’s mum, and Nick, the dead girl’s uncle. Their grief is portrayed in different ways and was definitely one of the strengths of the book. In Amy, we see real visceral grief, struggling to come to terms with the death of her youngest child while trying to keep going for the sake of her two other children. The scene where she realises how much she neglected them in the weeks following the death was truly heartbreaking, more so because of the way the children dealt with the terrible situation.

Nick displayed his grief in a different way as he has been carrying around the guilt of not being there when Ruby-May died. His head full of ‘what ifs’, it is understandable why he is intent on trying to heal his family’s rifts, even if his good intentions often result in more unrest.

While it is obvious that the official version of the accident is not correct, and that there has definitely been a conspiracy of silence, I did not predict the ending. This is one of those books where you realise that you have been drip fed information throughout the plot, and the ending is completely in-keeping with what you have read. The several references to Dante’s The Divine Comedy are also very apt, with salvation and repentance being running themes in both texts.

I really enjoyed One Year Later and I thank Readers First and Corvus Books for my copy.

Take a look at my review of My Mother’s Secret, one of Sanjida Kay’s earlier books.

 

Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

When Detective Kim Stone arrives at the crime scene, she is not prepared for what she finds: a woman, tied to a child’s swing with barbed wire, the letter X carved into the back of her neck. It soon becomes apparent that the victim, Belinda Evans, a retired Professor of Child Psychology, had something to hide. Belinda’s home revealing a side of her that few seem to know about and a sister hardly forthcoming with information, Kim begins to wonder what the secret was that lead to her untimely death. When more bodies are found bearing the same markings, Kim and her team make the breakthrough that is needed – all were about to attend the same annual tournament for gifted children. With a list of potential suspects as long as her arm, Kim and her team must work quickly to prevent another death.

With Child’s Play being the eleventh book in the Kim Stones series, I am genuinely running out of superlatives to describe how fantastic these books are! With each new installment, I am left wondering how Angela Marsons keeps up such a high quality, but she does it with aplomb.

For me, the best thing about these books are the characters. I love the relationship between them and, over the years, I feel that I have come to know them very well. In Child’s Play, due to a directive from her superiors telling her not to overwork her team, we see a different side of Kim and her fellow officers, and this provided some laugh-out-loud moments as they struggled with their home lives due to them working more sociable hours! You could almost sense their relief when they had to stay at the tournament! New character ‘Tink’ is a breath of fresh air and I hope that we see more of her in forthcoming books – I can see some great scenes with Kim ahead!

I feel that this is the book where, despite not being part of the investigation, Penn cemented his place as part of the team. The sub-plot involving a potential wrongful arrest and imprisonment gave us the chance to get to know Penn better and I feel I have more of an understanding of this character now. In a book where there are particularly gruesome murders, the relationship he shares with his brother is a beautiful contrast. This part of the story also gave me my favourite moment – all I will say is, What would Billy do??!!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for providing me with yet another superb book from Angela Marsons.

The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson

51UbsxvrAiL._SY346_It’s July 1899 and the crime rate in Leeds has been unusually low. This all changes when Superintendent Tom Harper receives word of a particularly daring burglary at one of the city’s more expensive residences. Meanwhile, his ex-colleague, Billy Reed, is seeking some assistance after the suicide of his brother who was facing an extortionate rent increase. Investigation uncovers a web of corruption involving some of the area’s influential residents. Who are the ringleaders and will Harper be able to apprehend them before the death toll rises?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical crime fiction, particularly those books set during the Victorian era. In the Tom Harper series, we are now reaching the end of the nineteenth century, a time which has seen great changes for the Leeds detectives. As in all of his books, Chris Nickson has created a very vivid picture of the time, creating characters that feel real and who you can certainly feel empathy for. Again, we see Tom’s wife, Annabelle, taking a central role in the plot, her new position as poor law guardian giving her a platform to help those unable to help themselves. Annabelle has always been my favourite character, her ongoing fight for women’s equality being a great theme running throughout the books. With her daughter, Mary, seemingly being a chip off the old block, I think we are in for some entertaining times ahead!

It was pleasing to see Tom and his old friend Billy attempting to build bridges as they investigated the reason behind the suicide of Billy’s brother. Although this was set over a hundred years ago, the story is all too familiar to many people nowadays with those in power preying upon the poor and less fortunate. It was easy to imagine Harper’s frustration as he faced brick walls when trying to uncover the identities of those involved, especially seeing as he was desperate to close the case for the sake of Billy. The crooks doing the dirty work, the Smith brothers, are a particularly nasty pair, leaving a trail of death and destruction wherever they go. I spent the whole book willing for their capture!

If you are new to the Tom Harper books, please don’t be put off by the fact that this is the seventh book in the series as it can definitely be read as a standalone. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite so far, and I eagerly anticipate what the next installment brings for Tom, Annabelle and the rest of the characters we have grown to love.

With thanks to Severn House Publishers and Net Galley for my copy.

 

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