#Blogtour #Review #Giveaway: Blackmail, Sex and Lies by Kathryn McMaster – Part 2 @rararesources @TrueCrimeNovels

Welcome to the second half of my stop of the blog tour for Kathryn McMaster’s latest true crime novel Blackmail, Sex and Lies. If you haven’t done so already, please check out Part 1 – but don’t forget to make it all the way to the bottom of the page for info on how to enter to win an eBook copy (open internationally, ends 12/16/2017)!

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Title: Blackmail, Sex, and Lies: A Victorian True Crime Thriller

Author: Kathryn McMaster

Publisher: Drama Llama Press

Publication Date: August 30, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery

Themes: Toxic Relationships, Romance, Arsenic Poisoning, Class Stratified Society, True Crime

Features: Historical Documents, Archival Photographs


Synopsis

Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.

For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?

This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier.

After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.

Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackmail-Sex-Lies-Victorian-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DV8CY

Purchase from Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Blackmail-Sex-Lies-Victorian-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DV8CY/


Review

If there are two genres I love to read they’re true crime and historical fiction, so having them put together in a single book was an absolute treat. Now add in the fact that Mimi and Emile’s letters, as well as archival photographs, were interspersed throughout the text and that little part of my historian/ librarian brain that craves provenance and evidence does a super excited happy dance! This book was the perfect balance between fact and fiction, giving us not only an evidentiary exploration of the events leading up to Emile L’Angelier’s death but also a gripping read with characters and settings that are bound to suck you in.

Given the depth and subject matter of this book, I was surprised at how easy it was read and how quickly it flew by (and by that I mean how I didn’t notice the time ticking by before my husband hit me with a pillow at 2AM and told me to go to sleep whilst I was caught up in the reading). I’m not normally a fan of alternating perspectives, but the switch between Emile and Madeline points of view created both tension and balance as the story advanced towards to the trial of the century. The structure really played into the true crime genre, giving it the feel of arguments being presented by both sides in the court room, and added an air of objectivity to a story that could have been incredibly biased if only told from one perspective or the other. The shorter segments and natural gaps between the lovers meetings helped to advance the plot naturally, and those moments that felt a little slower were compensated for by the fact that they were packed full of introspection and essential character building. The inclusion of the letters also works wonders, as it allows a glimpse into the long forgotten psyche of these people, while simultaneously allowing the readers a chance to feel the ebb and flow of a romance that once burned bright.

I’m not going to lie, at first I rather liked Emile. I mean, who can blame a man for wanting to work hard to better their station in the world? This is something that has been preached for centuries, so this sentiment really rang true. I even felt for the fellow after not one, but two of his engagements were called off in favour of men with better social standing. But, my pity for him died the minute he started to control Mimi’s actions and pressure her to marry despite knowing full well that it could damage her prospects forevermore.

Madeline, on the other hand, was someone that I actually quite liked and my empathy for her character continue to grow as the narrative progressed. Sure, she was head strong, naive and impetuous, but I happen to have a thing for ladies who like to bend the rules. I giggled along side her, felt the thrill of her secret affair, and became completely wrapped up in her predicament as she tried to distance herself from Emile despite the leverage that he was attempting to use against her. Undoubtedly, Mimi comes across as a more complete and depth character as there are so many more of her letters surviving. The result was that I really felt I gained a sense of who she was as a person and how carefully she walked the tightrope of being a Victorian socialite engaged in a clandestine affair.

Everything from the setting to the clothing transported me back to 1857, and carefully relayed the intricacies of Victorian era society. It is clear that this is a work supported by extensive and painstaking research which is something that I both seek out and enjoy. Those little details, like the pearl buttons on Mimi’s nightgown, the split style of her undergarments, and even the challenges of navigating doorways in flounced dressed and hoop skirts brought a realness and texture that works of pure nonfiction simply can’t provide. I was engrossed too, by the social morays of the Victorian elite as I would never think twice about where I walked and with whom, or the possible implications of attending a concert with a member of the opposite sex.

What I loved the most about this book is that the story itself isn’t new – the naive heiress falls for an older man who wishes to take advantage of her – we’ve all heard that one before! But the novelty lies in the way in which McMaster crafts the narrative, leaving just enough real evidence to cause a constant flip-flop as to who did it and why. But more than anything, I love how McMaster leaves it up to the reader to decide.

Would I recommend this book? Oh heck yes! It’s gripping, fast-paced, and undeniably real. Everything from the writing style to the vivid imagery is designed to draw you in, and just like Emile, this is a story that won’t let you go without a fight. And as one of my favourite reads of 2017, I can’t recommend Blackmail, Sex and Lies highly enough – get your copies now!


***Giveaway***

The rules are simple: Like this post and share it via Twitter before 11:59 PM (MST, because this Canadian has to clarify time zones!) on December 16, 2017 for a chance to win an eBook copy of Blackmail, Sex and Lies: A Victorian True Crime Murder Mystery.

This contest is open internationally & the winner will be announced December 18th.

Happy sharing!


Author Information 

Blackmail Sex Lies - kathry-macmaster-author Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.

Social Media Links –

www.kathrynmcmaster.com

https://twitter.com/TrueCrimeNovels

https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmcmaster.author/


Don’t forget to check out Part 1 of my tour stop for an excerpt!

Many Thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for organizing this fabulous blog tour, and to Kathryn McMaster for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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#BlogTour #Excerpt: Blackmail, Sex, and Lies by Kathryn McMaster – Part 1 @rararesources @TrueCrimeNovels

Today I am delighted to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Kathryn McMaster’s latest true crime novel Blackmail, Sex and Lies. This little noir darling has the perfect balance between historical artifact and creative nonfiction to create a gripping read that flies by way too fast!

I had originally intend to post this excerpt, a review, and a giveaway all in the same post, but decided that it would be best to split them up into two as all together it was too long!

Please be sure check out Part 2 for this stop!

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Synopsis

Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.

For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?

This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier.

After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.

Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blackmail-Sex-Lies-Victorian-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DV8CY

Purchase from Amazon.com –https://www.amazon.com/Blackmail-Sex-Lies-Victorian-Mystery-ebook/dp/B0758DV8CY/


Excerpt

The novel is based on the true story of the infamous Madeleine Hamilton Smith, a young socialite from Glasgow. In 1857, she was accused of murdering her working-class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier with arsenic. In this excerpt Emile manages to seduce Madeleine, with little resistance from her side. However, will this act bring Emile the marriage into a wealthy family that he has been wanting all along, or will his plans be thwarted?

‘It was Tuesday night, and all occupants within the house at Row were in bed. Madeleine feigned a headache, telling Mama she thought she was coming down with a migraine. Excusing herself early from the evening reading session, and making sure no one was about, she slipped out of the kitchen and into the garden in search of Emile, whom she had promised to meet.

For once, there was a clear night and a full moon, allowing her to navigate her way around the shrubs and trees until she finally came to the secluded steps, singled out as their meeting point. When she arrived no one was there.

She stood waiting for a few more minutes, wondering if he were coming. Perhaps he had changed his mind. She fiddled nervously with her necklace, speculating where he could be. She chewed her nails as she waited. Then, without a sound, he stepped out from behind a large yew tree where he had been standing all along, watching her.

Madeleine was startled by his sudden appearance.

“Oh! Emile! You startled me!”

He wrapped her in his arms, and kissed her chastely on the forehead. Madeleine drew Emile closer to her. She giggled, and he placed a finger to her lips to silence her.

Placing both hands on either side of his face she said, “Oh, my darling pet, Emile. How I love you! I’ve missed you. It’s so good of you to come all this way to Row.”

“And why would you think I wouldn’t come, my love? Did Emile not promise in his last letter that he would?”

“Oh, my sweet! Life here in Row is so tedious without you.” She pouted a little and he stroked her cheek with the back of his hand.

“I am here now, my love, but not for long as I need to return to De Mean’s house in Helensburgh. How are things?”

“Dreadfully dull without you, pet. How are you keeping? Are you well? It seems like an age since I saw you last.”

“I had one of my bilious attacks last week. I took to my bed once more, but dear Mary Perry was good enough to come and bring me some grapes, and look in on me from time to time.”

“Please go and see a doctor, Emile. You cannot go on like this without knowing the cause. Promise me you’ll go and see Doctor McFarlane. I hear he’s a skilled physician.”

She placed her hand on his chest and he reached out and caressed it gently before kissing the tips of her fingers.

“Stop fretting, I shall be fine. Have you told your papa about us yet, Madeleine?”

“You know he doesn’t approve. I’m hoping to find the right time to persuade him to have a change of heart. After the last conversation with Mama, it has become impossible for them to agree to anything.”

She could see he was angry. His voice was cold when he responded.

“Madeleine, you have been promising to do this since last summer. You know I want to marry you and we cannot carry on meeting in secret like this. I have needs and urges. Each time I see you I want to love you, all of you. I need you, Madeleine. Do you not want us to marry?”

She hated it when she made him angry. She felt so young and silly sometimes. Her inexperience with men made her unsure of how she should act. Emile had told her he had enjoyed relationships with other women of his own age in the past. He confessed to having been intimate with them. She felt the panic rising. Emile should know what was right. He was so much older and wiser than she was. She looked to him for guidance.

“Emile, you know I love you, but should we not be careful with expressing our physical feelings? We need to wait until we are married, and yes, I do want to marry you.”

“How can we continue like this? Waiting and waiting for your family to accept me, to even acknowledge me? I cannot carry on like this; the furtive glances, the secret meetings, the covert love letters. Madeleine, we’ve been doing this for over a year now. Things have to change. Perhaps it would be better for us to stop seeing each other. I shall take a job in Australia or Lima, anywhere, but here. Being here with you and not being able to have you is torture to my soul.

“And, Madeleine, if I do go abroad, I hope you will at least make an effort to know how much a letter costs to post. I’m tired of having to pay for your letters. You never pay enough for the postage. You really are a silly girl, Madeleine. Never thinking of others, it’s always about yourself. You treat me cruelly. All I’ve ever wanted was to be your husband. Is that not what you’ve always wanted too? Tell me, Madeleine! For if it is not, than we can end this now, as hard as it will be. I need the truth from you, now!”

Madeleine felt ensnared like a spider in a sticky web. How could she prove to Emile she loved him but still remain true to Papa? The fact that she was seeing Emile behind her father’s back was giving her pangs of guilt. She despised the circumstances they were in.

On the other hand, she thought of Emile wanting to leave Scotland to live so far away from her, wanting to escape her, and it caused her high anxiety. How would she survive without him? He had threatened before, and not gone. Perhaps this time he would.

“I want to be your wife, Emile. I’ve never loved anyone but you. I want to please you, pet and I know I’m often a disappointment to you. You think me young and foolish. Let me prove to you that it’s not true. If you want to love me, love me. Take me as your wife.”

Her response caught him off guard and then she kissed him passionately, as a way of confirmation.

The argument was forgotten as he feverishly pressed her face to his, kissing her closed lids, the tip of her nose, before finding her mouth with his tongue and pushing it gently inside her parted lips.

Her lips had opened readily, for she was eager for his love and caresses. But she was frightened too by his sudden ardour and roughness, and again she pulled back.

This time, Emile did not stop. He undid her cape, allowing it to drop to the grass, and moved his hands to the pert breasts which pressed against the thin material of her nightgown. He knew they were aching to be stroked and kissed. He slowly undid the six pearl buttons to expose her nipples. He bent down to kiss them, teasing them to attention as he ran his teeth up and down, gently sucking on each in turn.

He watched in the moonlight, with great satisfaction, as her rosy nipples enlarged and stood erect. He heard her groan and felt her arch her back.

She felt a strange sensation between her legs aching; tension building. She did not stop him when he lowered her onto the grass and moved his hands from her breasts to under her gown. His hands moved deftly between her legs. Repeatedly touching her as she kissed him and whispered, urging him on.

Their ardour and passion overtook reason and responsibility. He pushed himself into her and she winced at the fire of pain. She wanted to love him, but was surprised at how much it hurt.

He pushed a little deeper and then he was moving inside her. He was trying to be gentle, but in the end passion overcame consideration. She waited for him to finish; wishing for it to be over. It was nothing like she had expected. The speed at which he moved inside her increased, until he managed to withdraw before collapsing and quivering on top of her; it was over in a matter of minutes.

She lay there quietly, not knowing quite what to say, or what to do. Instead she caressed his head and ran her fingers through his hair as she felt his pounding heart against her exposed skin.

As she hugged him to her she heard him say, “Oh Mimi, what have we done?”

Madeleine only knew she had wanted to please the man she loved. And she had not regretted any of it, even though she had not taken much pleasure from it.

“You must return to the house, Madeleine, before you are missed, and I need to return to Glasgow. We will correspond tomorrow. We’ve a lot to talk about and much to think about.”

He stood up, extending a hand to help her, and placed her discarded cape around her shoulders. They walked back to the house in silence and she was bitterly disappointed that he wanted to depart so soon. When they arrived at the edge of the garden, he planted a chaste kiss on her brow, and vanished into the darkness, leaving without a word.’


Author Information 

Blackmail Sex Lies - kathry-macmaster-author Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.

Social Media Links –

www.kathrynmcmaster.com

https://twitter.com/TrueCrimeNovels

https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmcmaster.author/


Don’t forget to check out Part 2 of my tour stop for a review and giveaway!

Many Thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for organizing this fabulous blog tour, and to Kathryn McMaster for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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#BlogTour #Review: Solitaire by Jane Thynne @janethynne

Today I am delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Jane Thynne’s latest instalment in the Clara Vine series, Solitaire. I’ve been following the Clara Vine series for several years now, so you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to take part in the tour! Thynne’s writing is the perfect blend of romance, history, and espionage and I can’t wait to see where Clara’s adventures take her next.

Blog Tour Schedule


SolitaireTitle: Solitaire

Author: Jane Thynne

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Publication Date: November 17, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Thriller

Themes: WWII, Espionage, Survival, Romance, Grief

Features: Historical notes


Synopsis

June 1940: Nightly blackouts suffocate Berlin. Then France falls and a shadow descends across Western Europe now under German occupation.

A shadow has fallen over Clara Vine’s own life, too. She is an Anglo-German woman in a country that hates Britain. Virulent anti-British propaganda is everywhere.

Then she is summoned to meet the Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels who has decided that Clara should adopt a new role – as his spy — and that she must go to Paris on a mission.

Much as she dislikes the idea, Clara realises this might be the chance to find an escape route to Britain. But Goebbels has other ideas and soon Clara is drawn into a web that threatens to destroy her. As everything she holds dear is taken as ransom, she must fight to protect her family – and to survive…


My Review

If you like historical fiction with a touch of espionage, and you haven’t read the Clara Vine series yet, where the heck have you been?! Daring and dramatic, Solitaire is the kind of book that will hook you right off the bat and just keep reeling you in. And the best part is that even though Solitaire is part of a larger series, you can read this book by itself and you won’t feel like you’ve missed a thing.

The opening passages at the casino in Lisbon, and Clara’s encounter with the man on the train, provided more than enough action to propel me through those passages where Clara is dealing with Leo’s loss. And not only is Clara a fiercely strong female lead, this novel is packed with a cast of secondary characters that give it both texture and depth. I adored the American correspondent Mary Harker for choosing to stay when leaving would have been the easiest option, her neighbour Doctor Franz Engel for his subtle defiances of the Nazi party, and even found a soft spot in my heart for Irene Schonepauck given her difficult position of trying to break into the world of party-wives.

The secondary story line of Sonja and Katerina was just as good as Clara’s. While Sonja initially seemed like a harsh and judgemental person, once I realized the steps that she was taking to protect her sister I couldn’t help but warm to her character. It must have been hard to leave Katerina behind, to intentionally burn those bridges so that she wouldn’t come looking for her, and to quietly protect Katerina from the extermination initiatives being carried out against those with disabilities. Now add in Katerina’s infectiously plucky character, and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the sister’s stories.

Between the two heroines there’s enough and action and adventure to keep you on your toes. I found that Katerina was an excellent vessel for relaying vital information about the war-time landscape of Berlin as well as the plight of the children of the Reich. Sure, we see the city through Clara’s eyes as well, but Katerina’s escapades on foot and in the S-Bahn show the city from a different, if not more detached, perspective. I’d go so far as to say that through Katerina we get to Berlin through the eyes of someone who still loves the city and holds it on a pedestal, rather than the perspective of someone who has resigned themselves to it’s wartime realities.

On the other hand, Clara gets to whisk us away to exotic locations. Through her eyes we are able to see the romance and beauty of occupied Paris, and the melting pot of neutral Lisbon – two incredibly unique settings suspended in those fleeting moments before all hell breaks loose. I liked too, the differences in perspective regarding Lisbon between Clara and Sonja, as the really highlighted the luxuries afforded by privilege – even in wartime. This was especially highlighted through Clara’s encounter with Mrs. Wallis Simpson, who praises her jewels and clothing above all else, and complains about her pending exile in the Bahamas.

And, Oh! That fashion! No matter how threadbare some of the dresses were made out to be, I could picture every pleat, curve, and line of the clothing depicted. This is one of the those books that I would kill to see as a movie simply because of costumes! I can only imagine the overwhelming joy of acquiring commodities in the drought of rationing. Even the simplest of things such as coffee and stockings take on new meaning, and I found myself just as pleased to discover them in each new location as Clara. But seriously, can we please have a Clara Vine movie empire? Because we NEED a female alternative to Mr. Bond.

Oh, dear lord, there’s something else that I  just have to mention – I love a book that calls out the stereotypes and misogyny of Ian Fleming, and Thynne does this perfectly through incorporating Fleming (and his famous martini) during his time in the NIS. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some James Bond, but Clara’s encounter with Ian’s character is perfect – right down to the way in which she rebuffs his rather forceful advances. Despite her situation and his undeniable swagger Clara is able to hold her own in ways that the ladies of the Bond novels never seem to have the grit to do. This whole scene was so incredibly feminist, definitely meta, and so very, very good!

Now, there’s something else all you lovely bookish people don’t know about me, but after university I worked for several years selling high end jewellery and timepieces including Cartier. So, the incorporation of iconic Maisons really hit home for me. It is relatively well documented that the London offices of Cartier were a regular meeting place for the Free French, thus the extension that the Paris offices served a similar purpose in the novel seemed the perfect fit. As too was the inclusion of Jeanne Toussaint, the Panthere collection sketches and High Jewellery, and that iconic caged bird brooch! For those that are interested, the companion brooch with the doors open was produced in 1947.

Would I recommend this book? A hands down yes! This baby reads as a who’s who of European high society in the early years of WWII – drawing in everyone from high ranking Nazi officials and their wives, to British royalty, politicians, authors and internationals film stars. The blend of fact with fiction is seamless, and it’s clear that the research into even the most minute of details was substantial. This is a book that is dominated by breathtakingly brave and undeniably strong women, and we need to see more like it. Masterfully crafted and gripping to the end, I only wish I knew where it was going next!

Solitaire is a must read my friends, and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys WWII, Historical Fiction, and some international espionage.


Author Information 

Janesmiling-e1468872628735.jpg I was born in Venezuela and grew up with my parents and two brothers in London. After school in Hampton, I spent a year working at the Old Vic Theatre before reading English at St Anne’s College, Oxford.

I then joined the BBC as a production trainee, but after a few years succumbed to a hankering for Fleet Street and moved to The Sunday Times. I spent many cheerful years at The Daily Telegraph as media correspondent, but my single most exciting moment in that time was getting a publishing contract for my first novel.

In particular I have a passion for historical fiction and love the research that involves. The first in the Clara Vine series, Black Roses, became a number One Kindle Bestseller. In the UK the series is published by Simon & Schuster. Outside Britain, my novels have been translated into French, German, Greek, Turkish and Italian. In France the series is published by J.C Lattes and in Greece by Kedros. In the US and Canada the series is published by Random House.

As well as writing books I now freelance as a journalist, writing regularly for numerous British magazines and newspapers, and also appear as a broadcaster on Radio 4. I have been a guest reader at the Arvon Foundation and have sat on the broadcasting committee of the Society of Authors. I have three children and live in London.

I also have an active Facebook page where I love to interact with readers. Do please follow me on GOODREADS and add the Clara Vine novels to your ‘Want To Read’ list. Get in touch. It’s great to talk!


Thank you so very much to Jane Thynne for sending a copy to in exchange for an honest review, and to Sian Devine for extending the invitation to join in this tour.

#BlogTour #Review: Breaking Bones by Robert White @EndeavourPress @robwhite247

Today I have the absolute pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for Robert White’s latest crime thriller Breaking Bones. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, ask my husband! I tried to force feed it to him (a staunch anti-reader) and, despite some rather vocal protests, later found him hoarding the Kindle – enough said!

Breaking_Bones FINAL


breakingTitle: Breaking Bones

Author: Robert White

Publisher: Endeavour Press

Publication Date: August 2, 2017

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Period Fiction

Themes: Drugs, Organized Crime, Loyalty, Family, Violence

Features: N/A


Synopsis

From Goodreads…

The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter.

But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones.

Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice.

The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.

Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.

Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.

Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.

Every dog will have its day.

This gritty, addictive crime story, fizzes with the energy of the eighties.

Breaking Bones will appeal to fans of Martina Cole, Roberta Kray and Stephen Leather.


My Review

Every now and then you come across a book that is so unique and so gripping, that it’s impossible to think about anything else until you’ve read it all. For me, this year, Breaking Bones was that book. Everything from the characters to our narrator, and the setting to the period in which it was written, just seemed to click.

Lets start with our story-teller within the story. When the book opened, I was expecting our detective to be doing some serious digging, and for this book to play out like an action packed police procedural. Rather, Hacker acts almost like an impartial observer, similar to death in The Book Thief. He provides invaluable background information, advances the plot whenever there are time gaps, and draws the reader into the position of feeling that the three dogs are as untouchable they make themselves out to be. Additionally, Hacker brings us back to the realities of evidence and forensics in the 80s. It was nice to have the gentle, inconspicuous reminders on the state of the law and the science in time that the novel was set. I found myself just as frustrated and angry with the dogs’ slippery ways as Hacker, and was out of my chair with excitement when justice finally started to be handed out at the end.

As for the dogs themselves, Mr. White couldn’t have crafted a more dislikable characters than Frankie and Eddie. Their criminal life aside, I just couldn’t get over how they abused Tony. While they may have genuinely looked out for him in the beginning, at some point this friendship morphed into a relationship of dominance and dependence where Tony was eventually seen as nothing more than braun to command and a willing piggy-bank. Of the three dogs, I ended up loving Tony. Sure, he was a murderous, short tempered drug dealer but he was also sweet, loyal, and capable of being honest with himself as well as emotionally engaging with others. Eddie I pitied though, because despite his bravado he was still nothing more than Frankie’s lackey. Now add in the fact that he’s entirely incapable of being honest with himself and those that surround him, and his back seat encounter with Cheryl, and I could’t ever see him as anything more than disgusting and pathetic.

And then there’s Frankie – oh, he’s the kind if character that I just love to hate. Petulant, jealous, controlling and explosively violent – can we sociopath? And his ego was just too much to handle! But, he was so well written that I never once felt that his antics were unrealistic. Not only did I hate how he treated his friends, but also how he treated women. Between Laurie and Maisy I was amply sick to my stomach, and felt so vindicated when Jamie finally came back into play. I’m glad too, that his enormous ego was ultimately his undoing because seriously, that thing had no more room to inflate.

Then there is Laurie, who is quite possible my favourite character out of the whole array. Admittedly she started out fickle and greedy, but her growth as a character is undeniable. She remains strong, resilient, and isn’t afraid to admit her flaws and move on. Also, she is one of the only characters that manages to stick it Frankie despite the fear that he instills in everyone around him. Now add in her warmth, compassion, and fashion sense and I could have done with an entire novel written from her perspective!

Would a recommend this book? In a heart beat! It’s gripping, gritty, and expertly transports you in 1980s English gangland. The constantly shifting kaleidoscope of characters and viewpoints keeps you on your toes, and all of the pieces come together to form one heck of a climax. This is a must read for lovers of fast paced crime fiction, and is highly recommend for those looking to dive into the genre.


Author Information 

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Robert White’s novels regularly appear in Amazon’s top ten best selling Crime and Action and Adventure charts.
He captures the brutality of northern British streets in his work, combining believable characters, slick plots and vivid dialogue to immerse the reader in his fast paced story-lines.
Born in Leeds, England, the illegitimate son of a jazz musician and a factory girl, he grew up hating school and was a regular truant.
Joining Lancashire Constabulary in 1980 changed his life. He served for fifteen years, his specialism being close protection and tactical firearms.
Robert then spent four years in the Middle East where he took up a training role, working alongside retired members of the UK and US military.
He now lives a much quieter life in Lancashire with his wife Nicola, and his two terrible terriers Flash and Tia.

Robert White

Website: www.robertwhiteauthor.co.uk

Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/robertwhiteauthor/

Twitter: @robwhite247

Endeavour Press

Website: www.endeavourpress.com

Twitter: @EndeavourPress

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

Instagram: @endeavour_press


Many thanks to Hannah Groves at Endeavour Press for organizing a fabulous blog tour, and for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

#BlogBlitz: Beginnings by Helen J. Christmas @rararesources @SFDPBeginnings

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog blitz for Helen J. Christmas’ latest novel Beginnings. If you like British romantic thrillers, music, and a little bit of period drama – the Same Face Different Place series might just be fore you!

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Synopsis

Beginnings is a romantic thriller set in the criminal underworld of 1970s London. Eleanor Chapman is 16. She has no idea her father is employed in a world of organised crime until the day he is forced to go on the run, leaving her at the mercy of dangerous people.

Her life is spiralling out of control yet on the night she plans to escape, she stumbles across a mysterious prisoner. His name is Jake, a rock musician from Holland and he has a contract on his life.

Their daring escape across London eventually draws them into a place of hiding before Jake’s chilling story begins to unfold. He was the one vital witness to a sinister scene leading up to the death of a British MP and now those responsible want him silenced. As two young people, thrown together by fate they develop intense feelings for each other. It does not take long for Eleanor to realise that she will do anything possible to keep Jake alive.

Their tender love bond keeps you turning the pages as they live on a knife edge, desperate to escape London. Will they outrun the deadly enemies who stalk them? Or are the people at the top more powerful than they think?

Purchase on Amazon – http://apn.to/prod/B0078L8858


Testimonials

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Author Information 

helen-j-christmas Helen J. Christmas lives on the south coast of Sussex with her husband. With a love of writing since childhood, she started her decade spanning thriller series ‘Same Face Different Place’ in 2011. Her first book ‘Beginnings,’ set in 1970s London, combines romantic suspense with a hard-hitting conspiracy thriller. Writing is something she juggles around family and social life. Helen is self employed and enjoys running the web design company, she and her husband set up from home. They have no children but enjoy the company of a faithful border collie and a fluffy white cat. Helen confesses to have got most of her ideas for writing, whilst walking Barney along the beach.

Social Media Links 

Website: http://www.samefacedifferentplace.com

Blog: https://samefacedifferentplace.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.helenchristmas/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SFDPBeginnings

Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5838032.Helen_J_Christmas

Pinterest Book 1: https://uk.pinterest.com/helenxmas/same-face-different-place-beginnings-book-1-by-hel/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/helenchristmas7/


Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for organizing this blog blitz.