Friday, 25 November 2022

The Orphans

 The Orphans

Fiona McIntosh



Reviewed by Helen


This is a beautifully told story that will stay with me for a long time to come, written in true Fiona McIntosh style it tells us the story of Fleur Appleby and Tom Catchlove from when they first meet in very sad circumstances at the age of eight and ten, a meeting that neither will forget.

Fleur was adopted by Henry and Mae Appleby has known nothing but love and happiness, Henry owns and operates one of the best undertaking companies in Adelaide and Fleur starts learning the trade at a very young age and is determined to be the first female mortician.

Tom is raised on a sheep station in the outback of the Flinders Rangers in South Australia, with a father who is a drover and mother who loves him and teachers him all about life but when tragedy takes his mother away from him Tom learns about his mother’s family and is determined to become to best wool classer there is.

It is now 1935 and Fleur has lost her mother and her father has remarried, her step mother, Irma is a difficult woman to live with and her father is drinking a lot, Fleur is keeping the business going well but Irma is a thorn in her side for many reasons.

Tom has arrived in Adelaide after deciding to make some changes in his life he gets a good job on the wharf in the woolstores but a chance meeting at a dance brings him back in contact with Fleur the girl he never forget.

A lot of obstacles are thrown in their path to finding their forever happiness, including a murder investigation, they are pushed to the limits with everything that is going on. I loved this story so much Fleur is so beautiful and empathetic and Tom is quiet caring and loving. I learned a lot about being an undertaker and felt the emotions that run throughout the book.

This is one that I would highly recommend, yes it is tragic at times and emotions run high but it shows what love can bring to life not matter what goes on, I loved Fleur's strength and courage and the sheer determination to do what she set out to do and now with Tom's help.

My thanks to Penguin Australia for my copy to read and review.

5 stars
October 5, 2023 Penguin AU

Sunday, 20 November 2022

The Forthright Woman

 The Forthright Woman

Darry Fraser




Reviewed by Helen


I loved this book from start to finish, the mystery, the setting and the wonderful characters, and the title is perfect once you get to meet Marcella Ross, if you love a good Australian historical mystery with a lovely romance threaded throughout, then this is one book that you should read, Marcella is someone you should meet.

In 1898 widow Marcella Ross born to Italian immigrants lives in the town of Port Pirie in South Australia she is now living with her brother Adam and his wife Hilda running the fruit and vegie store their parents opened. While going through her late mother’s things Marcella comes across a small piece of paper that starts her on a journey to find the truth about her Uncle Luca’s death.
Marcella sets out with her brother and sister in law to the ruins of Kanyaka ruins near Quorn, here she meets Proby Cutler and discovers he too is looking for answers about his missing grandfather.

1955 Francesca and husband Joe decide that if they can’t have children they will travel after purchasing a caravan they start their trip but Fran is pulled to the ruins of an old property Kanyaka a place that her grandparents visited a lot and talked about the past and what happened there, this visit will change Fran’s life.

This story shows the strength and courage that two woman show when faced with what life has handed them, Marcella forced into her marriage is determined to never marry again and never to be forced to do what she is not happy with, she is a very independent woman and determined to stay that way but Proby weaves his way into her life, he is there for her when most needed. Fran too stood up and made the changes she needed to in her life as she too researched the past.

This book is so well written the characters called to me they are so easy to love and Mrs. Costa what a wonderful character you have to meet her, as well as Marcella, Proby and Fran. With such a beautiful ending there were tears from me. This is one that I highly recommend, it is an awesome story.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy to read and review

5 stars
November 30, 2022 by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd

Friday, 11 November 2022

The London Girls

 The London Girls

Soraya M Lane



Reviewed by Helen


Another beautifully told story about women in World War 2, as Soraya M Lane does so well showing the strength and courage that they had, this one follows three woman who sign up for the navy to become motorcycle dispatch riders, they become true friends as they journey through the blitz bombings in 1941, come along and meet Ava, Olivia and Florence and do make sure you have tissues ready.

Ava is loving her job as a WREN, her life at home with her father is not the best and this job gives her some freedom, but when she sees the advertisement about the motorcycle riders she sees this as more adventure and freedom for her, and once Ava sets her mind to something nothing stands in her way.

Olivia also a WREN has driven motorcycles since she was a young girl and can’t wait to get back on one, and do more for the war effort transporting important documents around England in very dangerous times, she is engaged to Leo who is away fighting with her brothers.

Florence knows what it is like to lose loved ones having lost her family in one of the first bombings she wants to do more and help, she had been training as a nurse before the war and is now living with her beloved grandmother.

When these three girls meet the friendship is instant even though they are all different people from different lives but friends are friends and we see them grow up change through such dangerous times, becoming closer as the bombs tear London apart and riding motorcycles through bombings is not easy, Florence is now driving ambulances and rescuing as many people as she can.

These girls call themselves The London Girls and stand firm friends, as they find love and themselves, their hearts will be broken as well in these very hard times, I loved all three of these girls especially Ava to see her change so much through her journey, this is a fabulous story that I would highly recommend, beautiful and emotional.

My thanks to Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

5 stars

November 8, 2022 by Lake Union Publishing

Friday, 4 November 2022

The Butterfly Collector

 The Butterfly Collector

Tea Cooper



Reviewed by Helen


I loved this story so very much, from start to finish Tea Cooper took me on a journey back in two time lines, to follow the story of a twisty historical mystery involving gorgeous butterflies and wonderful characters that I loved, come along for the fascinating trip, you will not want to put this one down.

1869 Morpeth which is a small river town close to The Hunter Valley, Theodora Breckenridge is in morning after loss her parents and older brother in a ship wreck, but her three sisters decide it is time to make a trip to Sydney but Theodora is much happier staying at home and working on her research about butterflies and do her painting, she is very excited about discovering a butterfly that has never been seen in Australia and is determined find out much more about it. Hiring a new maid Clarrie to help at home is a bonus as they become close and Clarrie is a lot of help, but Clarrie has a baby who is being cared for by a local midwife and when he goes missing there are lots of questions that need answering. Will Sid the baby’s father find their son and uncover the truth?

1922 Sydney, Verity Binks has wanted to become a correspondent and follow in her father and grandfathers footsteps when she is sent a beautiful butterfly costume and an invitation to the Sydney Artist Masquerade Ball anonymously on the day she has just lost her job at The Sydney Arrow newspaper, this is a mystery but one that Verity is determined to get to the bottom of and arrives and meets Mr. Treadwell and is asked to write an article about the history of The Treadwell Foundation, an institute that supports and helps young girls in disgrace, or does it, what will Verity find when she digs deep a mystery that goes back more than fifty years with links to her past as well.

Tea Cooper has again researched so well and added fact and fiction together to bring her readers a brilliant story, a story that digs deep into the past and has Verity uncovering information about baby farming and Theodore finding the elusive Monarch butterfly, there is mystery, secrets and friendships all wound together to make this a compelling story that had me up late last night. I loved the characters Verity, Theodora, Clarrie and Sid and also Redmond and Arlo all were easy to get to know and made this story fabulous, my thanks MS Cooper for another keeper, this is one that I highly recommend.

My thanks to Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

5 stars

November 3, 2022 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Friday, 28 October 2022

The Trouble with Earls

 The Trouble with Earls

Scoundrels of Mayfair #2

Anna Campbell



Reviewed by Helen


Another sizzling sensual story in Anna Campbell’s newest series and they just get better, this time we meet up with Toby Sutton, Earl of Renfrew and Lady Viola Frain as the rake and the wallflower find their way to a beautiful HEA.

Toby Sutton is a terrible rake, settling down is not on the cards for him, be merry and have fun is his way, but when he is doing his best to escape a situation he finds himself literally falling into the lap of the very quiet Viola Frain, the spark is instant for Toby, but she is so different from the woman he usually clicks with, but there is no getting Viola out of his mind.

Viola is the third daughter, the bookish one who is very happy to let her sisters take the spotlight but when Lord Renfrew decides that she is beautiful and very special this has Viola doing things that she would never do, meeting up at a couple of balls and a meeting in Hyde Park are so out of the ordinary but when he asks for a kiss Viola is lost.

When scandal breaks Viola finds herself married to Toby in a hurry and they make their way to his ancestral home Brazey Castle and here Viola learns the true meaning of sensual desire and the thrill of it all, but she also discovers the dark secrets that has made Toby who he is today.

This beautifully written and emotional story is a must read, I loved Toby and Viola, Toby needed someone and that could only be Viola she was perfect to make him see what true love was and he was just the person to show Viola the sensual delights of being married, it really is more than kissing. To see the light shine through at Brazey Castle was delightful, I loved this one from start to finish and can’t highly recommend it enough, another keeper Anna Campbell, you made me smile big time with this one.

5 stars
First published October 13, 2022

Sunday, 23 October 2022

The Only Child

 The Only Child

Kayte Nunn



Reviewed by Helen


Another brilliant story from Kayte Nunn, a heartbreaking tale of young girls around the 1940’a and 1950’, unwed girls who have to make heartbreaking decisions, mystery surrounds the home for unwed mothers on Orcades Island in the Pacific Northwest of the coast of America, will the new owners uncover the mystery?

1949 and a sixteen year old unwed girl is sent to the catholic run home Fairmile on Orcades Island, here she is give a new name and kept with the other girls till their babies are born, this is the coldest winter there has been but by the end of winter she is gone and what of the other girls?

2013 and Frankie Gray has moved to the island to help her mother Diana restore an old homestead to be known as the Fairmile Inn, Frankie has arrived with her fifteen year old daughter Izzy and with her grandmother in the nursing home on the island there are four generations of the family there, When a nun is found dead at the nursing home and a small skull is recovered while restoring the old home, there are more questions that need to be answered and Frankie is determined to find them but will it hurt her family in doing so?

I loved this story from start to finish compelling and gripping reading as the author digs deep into the history and shame that unwed mothers caused back then and the cruelty that was cast upon them in these homes. These young girls although told not to make friends did and never knew what happened to each other, the pain they must have felt was terrible. I cried for them all, the babies the girls.

This is a must read story that truly I found hard to put down and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fabulous historical mystery, Kayte Nunn is a favourite author of mine and I do hope you pick this one up.

My thanks to Hachette AU for my copy to read and review.

5 stars

August 31, 2022 by Hachette Australia

Friday, 21 October 2022

Daughter of the Home Front

 Daughter of the Home Front

Jennie Jones



Reviewed by Helen


This is a beautifully written story, heart-breaking at times but filled with friendship, caring and love during really hard times, set around Townsville during World War two, we meet fifteen year old Emma Hatton and journey with her through some really hard decisions, make sure you have some tissues.

Emma is living in the small seaside town of Blueholm Bay with her mother and four younger brothers her father is off fighting somewhere in New Guinea, they don’t have much money and Emma’s mother is very domineering and makes sure Emma is always busy working. Emma is a good girl but cannot wait to leave her home when she turns sixteen to help with the war effort.

When Emma finally gets to Townsville to help her aunt car for her US Army borders the world opens up for Emma, she meets the beautiful Cassie O’Byrne and there is friendship instantly, these two become fast friends and soon they out enjoying themselves Townsville is a hive of US army men and Aussies as well, Emma meets Frank Kendrick from California and she is smitten, but his kisses lead to more and then Frank is gone and Emma is in trouble.

As a disgrace to the family Emma is sent to the Holy Refuge of Saint Philomena a home for pregnant young woman, the girls are treated like prisoners here and made to work hard till they have their babies and they are taken away from them they have no choice whatsoever, Emma does something she is not supposed to and makes friends with a couple of the other girls, who are all struggling with what is going to happen to them, they would much prefer to keep their babies.

Emma finally leaves the home and returns to Blueholm Bay where she finds herself a good job to help her family her mother is still as hard as ever and the decisions Emma has made will stay with her forever, will she find happiness with them? One thing Emma has done is made true friendships along the way, she showed such courage and strength, my heart went out to her, and she is always there for everyone, such a kind heart, I loved her.

This is a story that I would highly recommend, it is hard to put down when you pick it up, filled with so many emotions, yes there were lots of tears sad and happy, and thank you Jennie Jones for such a wonderful story, it is one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy to read and review.

5 stars

October 5, 2022 by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty Ltd