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Blog Tour: The Woman Inside

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Synopsis

Daisey Garrett wakes up in a hospital bed. She remembers her boyfriend has left her for another woman but she doesn’t remember what happened to her. The night she was attacked in her own home.

Daisey shouldn’t be alive but against all odds, she’s survived an ordeal most would never recover from. And her new friend and roommate Iris will help her get back on her feet.

But Daisey’s mind is broken. She’s on edge, drinking too much and as she sits across from her cheating ex, Luke, in the beautiful home they once shared together, she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched.

Yet tiny fragments of Daisey’s memory are starting to come back to her.

The missing pieces of that fateful summer night are beginning to surface…

The lies she told the police.

The lies Luke told her.

Iris will help her find the truth, won’t she?

A tense, twisty, addictive page-turner, The Woman Inside takes you within the tangled mess of people’s lives and the dark secrets they hold close. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and The Wife Between Us.


Review

The Woman Inside is the fourth book in the DI Dan Riley series. I instantly took to Detective Inspector Riley. I did not feel as if I lost anything coming into the series midway. The book definitely stands alone and is well written so that you have enough context to get the backstory on Dan, our victim Daisey and the killer. The book does goes through flashbacks showing critical scenes in the past that affected our killer better known to the press as “The Rose Petal Ripper”. This name is earned by the serial killer’s MO of leaving fresh roses on the bodies of the victims.

Daisey Garrett is our killer’s third victim but she is the first to survive leaving DI Dan Riley with his only witness. The problem: she suffers from traumatic amnesia and cannot remember most of the events of that night. And what she can remember she does not want to tell out of embarrassment and misplaced loyalty. These lies and half truths color the evidence. Will DI Riley be able to discern the facts in the case before the killer comes back to finish what they started?

One way that I rate my mysteries is to see if I can solve the case before the big reveal. In this case I was partially right though Weatherly did throw in a few curveballs.

One thing that I noticed was that Daisey’s memory loss was attributed to trauma to the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is primarily involved with rational thought, decision making and impulse control*. It’s the justification for setting the drinking age at 21 because this part of the brain is still developing through your teenage years. Basically, it’s that part of the brain that keeps us from doing stupid stuff. Lawyers have used damage to the prefrontal cortex to explain away the depraved behavior of their clients as it plays a critical role in governing personality and emotions.

Why do I say all of this? Because this type of injury is more in tune with the killer than the victim. We also don’t see too many unexplained behaviors with Daisey after the attack. Her personality seems to stay pretty much the same. Understandably, she has a greater sense of fear but at her core she is a good person. To her detriment, she still wants to believe in the goodness of the next person.

Despite my little quibble, (I’m a Biology teacher. No one else is going to care.) I enjoyed the book and read it over 2 days. For the most part the medical aspects made the mystery more interesting. Great police procedural! And DI Riley is as good as they come.


Meet the Author

Anna-Lou began her career as a dancer but a moped accident in Ibiza put paid to those aspirations and so she went back to her first and one true love – writing! She re-trained as a journalist, specialising mainly in women’s interest and celebrity, becoming the Editor of J-17 and Smash Hits as well as writing for a host of women’s magazines.

Anna-Lou has written three Adult Fiction titles – Vengeful Wives and Wicked Wives, both published by Avon in the UK and Bookouture in the US and Canada and Pleasure Island published by Bookouture.

Where You Can Find Her


*The prefrontal cortex controls what is known as semantic memory; things like colors, shapes and other basic facts not tied to personal events or emotions. The limbic system of the brain connects emotions to memory. It’s not so much a physical part of the brain as it is a functional part. If one had to pinpoint Daisey’s memory loss from that night most likely the amygdala would have been damaged as it controls memories based in fear.

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Blog Tour: Their Frozen Graves

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Synopsis

Two women are dead. They both look like you.

The giant stretch of frozen river was melting and the light made the lake glitter like crystals. The women lay side by side on the shore, eyes open and glassy. Their long, dark hair was like tangled rope, their faces a reflection of each other…

When two bodies are found dumped in one of the vast lakes in Lakemore, Washington, Detective Mackenzie Price is first on the scene. She identifies one of the victims as Katy Becker, a local known for her work helping the community. The other victim looks strikingly similar.

Still grappling with a shocking revelation from her past, Mack is only too happy to throw herself into the case. But when she goes to break the news to Katy’s husband, the investigation takes an unexpected turn: Katy is very much alive, and has never met the women who resemble her so closely.

Now the race is on to find the killer before Katy becomes the next victim. But when Mack unearths a disturbing connection to a sixteen-year-old suicide, she realizes they could be hunting someone whose crimes span decades – and there are more lives than just Katy’s at stake.

Addictive, pulse-pounding and packed full of jaw-dropping twists, fans of Lisa Regan, Angela Marsons and Karin Slaughter will love Their Frozen Graves.


Review

Their Frozen Graves opens up with three murders. That’s right – you saw that correctly. Three murders within the first three chapters. The first of which is Detective Mackenzie’s father 20 years ago. Was it a dream or a mirage? Because somehow he is standing before her in the flesh right now. This one storyline would have been enough to keep me hooked but Choudhary turns up the heat by dropping two more bodies on the shore. The two women are almost identical in appearance. Mackenzie is sure that one is local activist Katy Becker until she and her partner Nick go to Becker’s home to give the notification of death. In front of them is Katy Becker alive and well. How could this be? Who are these other women and why do all three look so much alike? One thing is clear. Katy Becker is not safe.

This second book in the Mackenzie Price series was fast paced and gripping. There were a few twists that caught me off guard, but they were realistic and believable. Even though this is my first time reading this series I instantly took to Mackenzie Price’s character. She’s been through some things but she’s come through the fire burnished with determination. I was as fascinated by her backstory as I was with the case. I certainly am curious to see her life unfold in future installments of this series.


Meet the Author

Ruhi Choudhary discovered her passion for writing when she was seven years old and wrote her first Star Trek episode. Being a fan of the dark and twisted, she found her calling in crime thriller.

She likes to write stories that make you a little uncomfortable and characters that you struggle to make up your mind about but stay with you.

She lives in Toronto and spends her days training to be a scientist and wishing it rained more often!

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Blog Tour – Find Me In Havana

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Synopsis

A novel based on the dazzling story of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated Hispanic actresses and her daughter’s search for closure.

Cuba, 1936: When Estelita Rodriguez sings in a hazy Havana nightclub for the very first time, she is nine years old. From then on, that spotlight of adoration–from Havana to New York’s Copacabana and then Hollywood–becomes the one true accomplishment no one can take from her. Not the 1933 Cuban Revolution that drove her family into poverty. Not the revolving door of husbands or the fickle world of film.

Thirty years later, her young adult daughter, Nina, is blindsided by her mother’s mysterious death. Seeking answers, the grieving Nina navigates the troubling, opulent memories of their life together and discovers how much Estelita sacrificed to live the American dream on her own terms.

Based on true events and exclusive interviews with Nina Lopez, Estelita’s daughter, Find Me in Havana weaves two unforgettable voices into one extraordinary story that explores the unbreakable bond between mother and child, and the ever-changing landscape of self-discovery. 


My Review

Find Me In Havana is a historical fiction based on the life of actress Estelita Rodriguez. Despite her career its focus is not on her life in film. We are given insight into the Cuban revolution when Castro came to power. But this book is not really about that either. This book is about a mother and a daughter.

It is written in an epistolary style with chapters alternating between letters from Estelita and her daughter Nina. It is interesting to see their feelings and mindsets. How each of them experiences these different life events. You get to see how their perception differs. For example when Nina is kidnapped by her father she feels as if her mother has sent her away. That she has once again chosen her career or someone else over her. But Estelita feels rejected as well, not sure if Nina chose to leave.

Here you have a woman who performed with the likes of Desi Arnaz, starred in films opposite John Wayne and hung out with Sammy Davis Jr. But Estelita and Nina did not have a glamorous life. Besides the kidnapping, there’s molestation, rape, domestic violence and substance abuse. The two were not close to their extended family. Their support system consisted of Estelita’s mother. Despite her devotion, all Nina wanted was to be alone with her mother. Just the two of them for once. No grandma. No husbands. No admirers. Just her and her mom.

As much as Find Me In Havana is about that mother-daughter bond, it does capture the time period vividly. In some cases with shocking revelation which prompted me to do my own web sleuthing. Whenever I read an historical fiction I want to know where the line between fact and fiction lies. And I want to know how much creative license was used. But in all my searching I couldn’t find too many facts about Estelita’s life. Even on websites dedicated to her, there were scarce details about her personal life outside her four marriages. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding her death. Some sources said it was influenza. Others said that the cause of death was undetermined.

I was happy when I stumbled upon an interview with Estelita’s daughter Nina Lopez where she is talking with author Serena Burdick. She was pleased with the end result of the book. Not only did Burdick present a true picture of her mother and their life together, but she was able to capture the essence of Nina’s feelings and her inner thoughts. She confirms that there is truth in these words. But for some reason Nina seemed sad to me. When I finished the book I was hopeful for her. Part of my combing the internet was to find her. To find what had become of her. Had she found her place in the world? Was she getting the attention she so desperately craved as a child? Does she feel full, sated with all that life has to offer? I guess this is a testament to Burdick’s writing, as I feel as if I know Nina personally and why I am invested in her actual life story.

Find Me In Havana is my second novel by Serena Burdick. The common thread that I see with Burdick is looking at women in history and telling those stories that have been lost or forgotten. Here she is to say that these women lived. That these are there stories. That there truths will not be buried, nor their memories forsaken.


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WWW Wednesday 1/6

It’s been some time since I have done a WWW post. But I realized that not only was it fun to see what you all were reading, but it also gave me a moment to pause and consider what I had read over the week. So WWW Wednesday will be one of the memes I continue throughout 2021.

So what is WWW Wednesday?

This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a poignant and emotional memoir. I recommend listening to the audio which George Johnson narrates himself.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This epic retelling of the Trojan War is told from the women’s points of view. Haynes begs the question what makes someone a hero during war. How many lives you vanquish? Or how many lives you touch and nurture?


What I’m Reading

This book will be part of an ongoing process and will be included in my 52 Weeks of Women of Color challenge for 2021. As the second volume came out, together these two (at 1841 pages) will count towards my 2021 Pop Sugar Challenge for “The longest book on your TBR.” So far I have been enjoying reading a few pages each morning while I sip on my coffee. There is something about starting your day off with a good book that warms my soul. I also have been journaling my thoughts and writing up additional info that I come across while researching these women.


So far I like the character’s voice and am expecting this to be a 5 star book. Somehow though I got sidetracked watching the election yesterday (and today) so I might not finish this one until tomorrow. Not a good way to start off the year — reviewing days after publication but all I can do now is get it in as soon as possible.


What’s Next?

I have three blog tours coming over the next week:

1/8 – Find Me in Havana

I have already and reviewed this title. The link will be open at midnight Pacific time January 8th. Link to Blog Tour


1/10 – Their Frozen Graves

  • Mystery/ Thriller
  • Kindle Edition, 381 pages
  • Expected publication: January 7th 2021 by Bookouture
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • NetGalley

1/14 – The Woman Inside

  • Mystery/ Thriller
  • ebook, 331 pages
  • Expected publication: January 13th 2021 by Bookouture
  • Bookopoly Challenge
  • NetGalley

Blog Tour: Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

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Synopsis

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see―her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective.


Review

“A snitch, stabbed with a snitch.”

Michelle White knew just about everybody’s secrets. And she knew how to use them to her advantage. So it is no surprise when she turns up dead killed by the instrument of her snooping. But who killed her? Just about everybody had equal motive. In a room full of spies there are many secrets worth killing for.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder reminded me a lot of Harry Potter. With its underground labyrinth hidden behind the facade of an innocuous bookstore and all of the gadgetry it was a fun book to read.

From Times of Malta article “History at end of the tunnel – detailed map of Valletta tunnels being compiled”

The maze of tunnels was inspired by the cities of London and Valleta, Malta which both used underground passageways for defense during the second World War. What T. A. Willberg does to bring them alive is make them ever-changing with doors sealing off passageways and tunnels shifting direction.

Marion Lane is a new Inquirer and is trying to establish herself amongst this elite and almost mythical organization. As a woman in 1950s London, it is hard to break the mold and get out from under her grandmother’s thumb to live the life she wants for herself. Willberg does a great job of incorporating this into a story and I wonder what plans she has for Marion Lane.


Meet the Author

T.A. Willberg was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and holds a chiropractic masters degree from Durban University of Technology. MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER is her debut novel and launch of her detective series. She currently lives in Malta with her partner.

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Blog Tour: Wrong Alibi

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Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd delivers an all-new thriller, featuring a bold and brash female protagonist.

WRONG JOB
Eighteen-year-old Evelyn Jones lands a job in small-town Alaska, working for a man in his isolated mountain home. But her bright hopes for the future are shattered when Donald White disappears, leaving her to face charges of theft, embezzlement—and a brutal double murder. Her protestations of innocence count for nothing. Convicted, she faces life in prison…until fate sends her on the run.

WRONG NAME
Evie’s escape leaves her scarred and in hiding, isolated from her family, working under an alias at a wilderness camp. Bent on justice, intent on recovering her life, she searches for the killer who slaughters without remorse.

WRONG ALIBI
At last, the day comes. Donald White has returned. Evie emerges from hiding; the fugitive becomes the hunter. But in her mind, she hears the whisper of other forces at work. Now Evelyn must untangle the threads of evidence before she’s once again found with blood on her hands: the blood of her own fam


My Review

Wrong Alibi is my first Christina Dodd novel and found myself on the edge of my seat. Once I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down.

The book starts out with our main character in a juvenile detention center. She is eager to get a fresh start in life and make amends for the mistakes in her past. She takes a job in the wilds of Alaska with a charming man who seems to say all the right things. Even though Evie gets the sense that something is amiss, she ignores her better senses and finds herself framed for a double murder.

Wrong Alibi is about Evie/Petie’s hunt for retribution. She bides her time, hones her craft and allies herself with one of the world’s most feared women. I have to say that the women in this novel – the good, the bad and the ugly – were all strong characters. To me, Wrong Alibi reads like a superhero origin story. Our protagonist is wronged horribly. Forever scarred, her life is turned upside down, irreparable. Somehow, she finds the strength within and persists. Even though there were moments where I had to suspend my disbelief, I really enjoyed this novel. The descriptive scene setting. The Alaskan backdrop. Quirky characters like Hawley and Jeen Lee. Intriguing backstories. The pacing of the novel. I definitely will be keeping up with this series.


Meet The Author

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (ALA Booklist). Her fifty-eight books have been called “scary, sexy, and smartly written” by Booklist and, much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds and join her mailing list at www.christinadodd.com.

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Blog Tour : Breathe Your Last

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Synopsis

Josie presses her hands into the center of the drowned girl’s chest and pumps, counting off compressions. She takes in the girl’s beautiful face, her brown eyes glassy. The memory of a champion swimmer on the podium with her teammates—a red swim cap on, her head thrown back in laughter—a stark contrast to the cold, still body before her. Breathe. Just breathe…

The body of a young girl lying face down in a swimming pool—white tennis shoes still on her feet, chestnut hair fanned out like a halo—is the last thing Detective Josie Quinn expects to find on an early morning visit to see her brother before class at Denton University. But when she recognizes the girl’s face as she drags her limp body from the water, there’s only one question racing through Josie’s mind: how does a champion swimmer accidentally drown?

Nysa Somers’ family are distraught. She was a model student, beloved daughter and everybody’s friend. There’s no way she would do anything reckless enough to put her scholarship at risk, let alone her life. It’s up to Josie and her team to piece together what happened in the hours leading up to Nysa’s death, and that begins with finding her missing backpack.

But the bag, discarded in the woods on the nearby campus, contains nothing more than empty food wrappers, Nysa’s phone and a cryptic calendar entry telling her to be a mermaid.

The next day, a terrible housefire envelops the nearby home of a retired fireman, nearly killing his two granddaughters. The last words the little girls heard him mutter before he set the blaze were, be a match.

As the body count rises, it’s only Josie who can see the deadly pattern forming. Can she convince her team that the wrapper found in Nysa’s bag that everyone overlooked is the crucial link they’re missing? Not while her partner, Noah, is avoiding her calls and acting so coldly towards her. Josie knows she must go it alone if she’s going to stop this silent and calculated serial killer before any more precious lives are taken.

But with the killer finally in her sights, Josie takes a deadly risk and finds herself hanging onto life by her fingernails. Can she trust her team to save her, and before it’s too late?

An unputdownable and totally gripping crime thriller from an Amazon, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Caine.


Review

What does a star swimmer a decorated hero and a police officer have in common? That is what Detective Josie Quinn must figure out. And fast before this elusive killer strikes again. In this case the serial killer has a unique modus operandi which gives them the wherewithal to kill from afar and watch the chaos ensue from a safe distance.

Breathe Your Last is the 10th installment in the Josie Quinn mystery series. Being a first time reader of Lisa Regan I did not find that to be a problem. I think the novel stood well enough on its own and I was able to get right into the story. Josie Quinn’s character is smart and clever. She is strong and loving and willing to put her own life at risk to save others, even the bad guys. As a new reader to the series I found that the glimpses into her back story made her all the more more relatable. I also enjoyed having time Josie Quinn’s family even though it took me a minute to figure out who was who.

The plot was fast moving. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. Here we have a mystery where at first it is not clear how the killer picks their targets. We as readers get to hear the killer’s thoughts in short chapters interspersed between the investigation. These chapters add an eerie tone to the undercurrent of the novel and make the mystery even more intriguing. Regan keeps you waiting until the last minute to figure out how and why the killer strikes. I though it was a clever how she developed this story and the reasoning behind the killings. I’ve already looked into where I could get my hands on the earlier books in the series. Although they are not available through my library to borrow or to order, I found a discounted bundle on the first three books in the series on Amazon here.


Meet the Author

Lisa Regan is a USA TodayWall Street Journal bestselling author and Amazon bestselling crime novelist.  She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University.  She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

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Blog Tour: Take it Back

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Synopsis

From author Kia Abdullah, Take It Back is a harrowing and twisting courtroom thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page is turned.

One victim.

Four accused.

Who is telling the truth?

Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.

When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie’s best friend doesn’t believe her.

But Zara does—and she is determined to fight for Jodie—to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion.


Review

At the center of this compelling drama is the rape of a deformed 16 year old girl by four of her classmates. In and of itself this premise has enough bones for a great legal thriller. But Abdullah takes us beyond “He said, she said” and has us take a good hard look at how societies respond to such high profile cases.

Our protagonist Zara has started on a new path in life. She has left behind her career as a barrister and has now assumed the role of advocate. We know that some trauma has brought her here and we see the fallout – strained relationships, substance abuse, casual sexual encounters. But the one area where Zara does not falter is in her unshakeable belief in Jodi’s story. Despite the ease with which Jodie has lied, her stories differing between advocate, police and lawyers. Despite the wholesome well bred reputation that the boys have. Despite her family’s pleas for her to leave the case alone. Despite the Muslim community denouncing her as a traitor.

As you turn the pages Take It Back develops into a complex shape that is layered with feminism, race and religion. We are asked as readers to view the case from all angles. To think about why men rape. To consider how physical beauty, or lack thereof, impacts how people perceive our character. Take it Back asks us to think about how society and culture mold us into individuals that can accept “boys just being boys”. We are tasked with looking at how our prejudices color and impede our quest for the truth.

Take It Back was a gripping novel. I look forward to reading Truth Be Told, the second installment in the Zara Kaleel series.


Meet the Author

KIA ABDULLAH is an author and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, Channel 4 News, and The New York Times. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog Atlas & Boots, which receives over 200,000 views per month.

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Blog Tour: The Forgotten Sister

Synopsis

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.


Review

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick is an historical fiction novel about the life and death of Amy Robsart. Lady Robsart was the wife to Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite guy, Robert Dudley. From historical accounts we know that Robsart died under mysterious circumstances and although quite a salacious tale at the time it seems as if history has erased her. When Cornick visited Cumnor Place she realized that Amy’s tomb was not to be found. This made her story the more intriguing and Cornick decided to bring her back to life.

In The Forgotten Sister Cornick utilizes a dual time frame between present day and Tudor England. Throughout time, parallel characters are cursed as history repeats itself.

When you first meet Amy and Lizzie you see how these women defined by the society’s expectations of women. Amy is bound to a loveless marriage and must suffer the public shame of being cuckolded. Lizzie is defined by how society thinks she should be responding to men. The platonic nature of her lifelong friendship with Dudley is questioned and at the same time, she is criticized for being virginal and sexless. Both of these women manage to find ways to rebel against the system and find their own path.

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.


Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.

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Blog Tour: The Company Daughters

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Synopsis

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work in an effort to stay out of the city brothels, where desperate women trade their bodies for a mouthful of bread. But when Jana is hired as a servant for the wealthy and kind Master Reynst and his beautiful daughter Sontje, Jana’s future begins to look brighter.

But then Master Reynst loses his fortune on a bad investment, and everything changes. The house is sold to creditors, leaving Jana back on the street and Sontje without a future.

With no other choice, Jana and Sontje are forced to sign with the East India Company as Company Daughters: sailing to a colonial Dutch outpost to become the brides of male settlers they know nothing about. With fear in their hearts, the girls begin their journey – but what awaits them on the other side of the world is nothing like what they’ve been promised…

Based on true history, this is a beautiful and sensual historical novel, perfect for fans of The Girl with the Pearl EarringThe Miniaturist and The Indigo Girl.


Review

“I’ve spent most of my life in pursuit of respectability, and the one time I refused it, I finally felt free.”

Jana Biel has led a hard life. On her own at an early age she has been judged and defined by her circumstances. She has learned how to survive against the odds and make the most of her situation. Work hard, keep your head down, keep your past to yourself. At all costs protect your heart.

Over the course of the novel we see her growth and to some extent Sontje’s as well. The two women experience many hardships, but through it all there is light in Rajaram’s words. I was moved by the subversive text and the colorful descriptions of nature. Rajaram, although dealing with themes of oppression, kept reminding the reader of the beauty found in the everyday things in life.

To describe how ravenous Jana was – “She turns to fetch him while I wait on the doorstep next to the blue, open-mouthed crocuses. Hungry, just like me.”

On hope – “Helena once said the stars were like eyes watching us, winking like old friends, I always thought the stars protected us, reminded us that darkness is never complete.”

Comfort comes in the cadent song of the waves lapping onto the shore. Guidance is given by the unfurling branches of a tree.

Her descriptions of place make both Amsterdam and Batavia come alive. Careful attention is paid to the many layers in which people are oppressed. Through Jana’s narration we not only learn about this historical period but are provided a prism of compassion. We learn what it is like to be an orphan, a women of no means, queer in the 17th century. We are asked to consider the plight of the slave. Jana is flawed, human. But she is also empathetic and able to see outside herself. So when she falters she eventually recognizes, admits and tries to correct her mistakes. Her character and this book will stay with me for quite a while. Great debut!


Meet the Author

Samantha Rajaram spent most of her childhood in Gillette, Wyoming, where she and her family were the first Indian-Americans to live in the community. As a law student, she focused on social justice and international human rights law with a focus on female sex trafficking.

She is now an educator, and currently teaches composition at Chabot College in Hayward, California. She lives in the California Bay Area with her three children.

Where You Can Find Her