Blog Tour Review | The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien #TheQueensChoice

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Queen’s Choice by Anne O’Brien.

Thank you to Sophie from ed public relations for sending me the book to read and share my thoughts.

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Publisher: Mira Books

Publication Date: 14 January 2016

“France, 1399: The Duke of Brittany is dead and his widow, Joanna of Navarre, has inherited control of their land – a testament to her intellect, integrity and political prowess.

Then comes an unprecedented proposal from Henry IV, King of England. The price of becoming his Queen? Abandoning her homeland, leaving her children and sacrificing her independence.

Henry’s hold on the crown is unsteady and war is brewing. With the constant threat of rebellion, Henry will trust no-one – not even his new Queen. Crossing the channel is a dangerous prospect. But the union between Joanna and Henry would bring the chance of a vital alliance between two proud states – if they will allow it.

One question. Two paths. A choice that will make history.

MY REVIEW

Regular Me, My Books and I readers will already know that I’m a fan of Anne O’Brien’s writing. This obviously means that I was super-keen to find out what she had in store for me this time.

Wow, what a journey! I was quickly pulled into the storyline and, as with all of Anne’s books, it was wonderful to revisit the past and discover it from yet another viewpoint.

I found Joanna very easy to like, she was quite feisty and, at times, hot-headed but I loved that side of her. Henry was someone I had been intrigued by in The King’s Sister so I relished the opportunity to find out more about him. I was surprised by what I found. I hadn’t expected to like him because of his actions in the previous book but as I read about the things he had been through I couldn’t help but warm to him. Another surprise for me was how Thomas de Camoys became such a favourite of mine, I can’t quite put my finger on why I liked him so much, all I know is that I smiled whenever he made an appearance.

When Joanna had to make a big decision about her future I had very mixed feelings which, I would imagine, was exactly how she felt about the situation. I loved how I was drawn into the storyline and made to feel part of it – as usual the author had a fantastic way of making me feel at home in history.

The twists and turns that followed were truly captivating, I became immersed in historical politics, family loyalties and romantic words of the past. As I reached the epilogue (which was everything I hoped it would be by the way) I felt sad that the book was coming to an end.

This was another wonderful novel from Anne O’Brien, a must-read for all historical fiction fans!

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

ANNE O’BRIEN was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in the East Riding for many years where she taught History. Leaving teaching – but not her love of history – Anne turned to novel writing and her passion for giving voice to the oft forgotten women of the medieval era was born. Today Anne lives in an eighteenth-century cottage in Herefordshire, an area steeped in history and full of inspiration for her work.

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The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

Publisher: Mira Books

Publication Date: November 2014

One betrayal is all it takes to change history

1382. Daughter of John of Gaunt, sister to the future King Henry IV, Elizabeth of Lancaster has learned the shrewd tricks of the court from England’s most powerful men.

In a time of political turmoil, allegiance to family is everything. A Plantagenet princess should never defy her father’s wishes. Yet headstrong Elizabeth refuses to bow to the fate of a strategic marriage. Rejecting her duty, Elizabeth weds the charming and ruthlessly ambitious Sir John Holland: Duke of Exeter, half-brother to King Richard II and the one man she has always wanted.

But defiance can come at a price.

1399. Elizabeth’s brother Henry has seized the throne. Her husband, confidant to the usurped Richard, masterminds a secret plot against the new King. Trapped in a dangerous web, Elizabeth must make a choice.

Defy the King and betray her family. Or condemn her husband and send him to his death.

Sister. Wife. Traitor.

She holds the fate of England in her hands.”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank ED PR for sending me this book to read and share my honest opinion. Although I don’t often read historical fiction I have found that I really enjoy books by this author (reviews here) so I was looking forward to getting stuck in.

Every now and then a book comes along that touches me in a completely unexpected way. The King’s Sister was one of those books – the wonderfully romantic tale of Elizabeth of Lancaster and Sir John Holland played on my mind long after I had finished reading!

Elizabeth as a character had so much zest and passion within her, she was a romantic at heart and I found myself willing her on in her sometimes defiant behaviour. Unsurprisingly she found herself drawn to John and the love story that followed was exciting, dramatic and heart-melting.

Once again I just loved the way the author brought these historical characters to life and, in a crazy kind of way, they almost felt like close friends by the time I got to the end of the book.

Family loyalty was a big part of the storyline but love was an even bigger part, this was a truly powerful love story that pulled a range of emotions from me. In particular, there were a couple of scenes towards the end which had me in floods of tears – I felt as heartbroken as the character on the page!

This was another enchanting read from Anne O’Brien, my favourite so far.

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Jera's Jamboree/Talk of the Town

Survivor by Lesley Pearse

Survivor
Published in February 2014 by Michael Joseph.

“It is 1938 and Mariette Carrera is a defiant, strong-willed and selfish eighteen-year-old. And sooner or later, if she stays in the small, gossipy town of Russell, New Zealand, she’ll get herself into some serious trouble. Her doting parents, Belle and Etienne, fear for her reputation. So, with the world on the brink of war, Mari leaves home on the SS Rimutaka, bound for her aunt and uncle’s house in London. 

Armed with the freedom she’s longed for since childhood, Mari quickly falls for Morgan, the handsome cockney steward on board ship. But once she reaches London, there are other temptations.

Mari loves her new life – caught up in a whirl of dances and parties in the glittering West End, relishing her freedom as she earns her own money as a typist. Finally, she feels she is mistress of her own future.

Until it is all snatched away by the war.

As London endures the Blitz, Mari’s new life is cruelly blown apart. Forced from her loving new home, she ends up alone in the East End, and it’s worlds away from the London she knows. But there, even in the face of so much despair, she finds the chance to make a difference. Amidst the destruction, Mari learns that the only way to survive this war is to fight, with all the strength, selflessness and compassion within her…and only then will she find true happiness.

Because Mari is a survivor…”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank ED Public Relations for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.  I previously read and reviewed Forgive Me by the same author and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was looking forward to getting stuck in.  When I found out that this was the third book in the author’s Belle series I was concerned because I hadn’t read the first two books.  I needn’t have worried because this worked very well as a standalone read, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything at all.

It got off to an exciting start, even at eleven-years-old Mariette was a strong-willed, confident character and I was interested to see what kind of dramas she would find herself in as a result of her personality.  I have to admit that I found it rather difficult to warm to her at the beginning, she is definitely a character who grows on you though and by the end I had taken her and her story to my heart.

When Mariette headed to London I felt a mixture of emotions, I was excited for her but also very nervous as she was so young and clearly quite adventurous.  Even the journey to Europe turned out to be eventful and at that point I just knew I was in for a twisty, turny read!  There were simply so many things this book had to offer – romance, heartbreak, intrigue, temptation, tragedy, mystery, and love. The author captured Mariette’s growth beautifully, she went from being a rather selfish teenager to a compassionate, strong woman.  It was this that made Survivor so enthralling for me.

I also enjoyed the relaxed feeling I got from reading this book (something that is much-needed when you’re 7 months pregnant). The writing style was very natural and comfortable even through some of the more difficult moments and this made it an easy book to read.

This was another lovely read from Lesley Pearse, an emotional roller-coaster!

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

One of the Top 5 bestselling female fiction authors in the UK, Lesley’s colourful life – from hanging out in 1960’s London club-land; to bunny girl; to nursery worker and gift shop owner – meant she was a latecomer to writing and her debut novel, Georgia, was published in her late forties.

A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, based on the true life scandal of British child migrants sent to Australia in the post war, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley lives between Bristol and Bath and has three daughters and three grandchildren.

A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country throughout the year.

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The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O’Brien

The scandalous duchess
Published by MIRA on 7 March 2014.

“If you will be a great man’s mistress you must pay the price…

1372, The Savoy. Widow Lady Katherine Swynford presents herself for a role in the household of merciless royal prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, hoping to end her destitution. But the Duke’s scandalous proposition leaves her life of pious integrity reeling…

Seduced by the glare of royal adoration, Katherine becomes John’s mistress. She will leave behind everything she has stood for to play second fiddle to his young wife and ruthless ambition. She will live in the shadows of the most powerful man in England in the hope of a love greater than propriety. 

But soon the court whispers – whore, harlot, vile temptress – reach the ears of not just John’s bride but his most dangerous political enemies. As the Plantagenet prince is accused of bringing England to its knees, who better to blame than shameless she-devil Katherine Swynford? Dragged from the shadows, Katherine must answer for her sins.”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank ED PR for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.  I previously read and very much enjoyed The Forbidden Queen (review here) by the same author so I was really keen to get started on this one!

The prologue introduced me to Katherine and the unfortunate situation she found herself in. Katherine seemed like a strong, interesting woman and I was immediately drawn in by her. When the Duke’s proposition came along a short while later I found that it wasn’t as harsh as I had expected and, even though I felt he was rather quick off the mark, I actually quite liked him. Katherine’s reaction to the proposition was interesting and once again not as I had expected – as I read further and learned the strength of her feelings I began to understand her reaction better.

The Duke’s seduction of Katherine was wonderful to read, this part created a dangerous sort of excitement that radiated from the book.  I felt nervous for Katherine when rumours began to circulate and I was surprised by this – being a married woman myself, I thought I would feel a strong dislike towards the ‘scandalous Duchess’ simply because of her involvement with a married man but somehow it wasn’t like that at all.  She wasn’t as brazen as I thought she would be and I found myself respecting her attempts to put distance between herself and the Duke.

The whole story captivated me, I was taken along on a historical ride that had me glued to the pages and eventually I was brought to tears by an emotional epilogue.  It was beautifully written once again, the author has the wonderful ability of making history come to life.  I have to admit that history has never been one of my favourite subjects but with Anne’s books I find myself utterly immersed in the subject – the characters, the setting, the old-fashioned customs, and especially the romance, all combined to give me a fascinating glimpse into the past!

This was another fabulous, romantic read by Anne O’Brien.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

Anne O’Brien was born in the West Riding of Yorkshire.  After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Masters degree in Education at Hull, she worked as a History teacher in East Riding until she was encouraged by success in short story competitions to become a full-time author.  After publishing a number of “Regency Romances”, Anne decided to focus on giving voice to women in history who fascinated her the most.  In 2010, she published the acclaimed Virgin Widow, which told the story of Anne Neville, the wife of Richard, Duke of Gloucester.  Devil’s Consort followed in 2011, telling the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and in 2012, Anne published The King’s Concubine, depicting the scandalous life of Alice Perrers, the mistress of Edward III, and Katherine de Valois, the child bride of Henry V in The Forbidden Queen (2013).  The Scandalous Duchess is her fifteenth novel.

Anne lives with her husband in an 18th Century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marshes in Herefordshire, an area steeped in history.  ’A wild and beautiful place’, on the border between England and Wales, it is renowned for its black and white timbered houses, ruined castles and priories and magnificent churches, as well as a fair few bloody deeds.  When not writing, Anne enjoys trekking (early experiences were both exhilarating and beautiful, or life-threatening!), yoga and gardening in her herb patch patterned on a Tudor knot Garden.

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Coco’s Secret by Niamh Greene Including Giveaway!

Coco's secret
Published by Penguin Ireland in August 2013.

“Coco Swan has always been embarrassed by her name. 

With a name like Coco, she thinks people expect her to be as exotic and glamorous as the famous designer, not an ordinary-looking small-town antiques dealer who could win an award for living cautiously. 

But when a vintage Chanel handbag turns up in a box of worthless bric-a-brac, Coco’s quiet world is turned upside down. Where did it come from? And is it just coincidence that it’s the same bag Coco’s late mother always wanted for her? 

When Coco discovers a mysterious, decades-old letter hidden in the bag’s lining, she sets off on a quest to piece together the story behind it, stumbling across secrets that span three generations as she goes.

Could the beautiful Chanel bag be about to teach Coco more than she wants to learn? Or will it show her just where her heart can take her if she lets it lead the way?”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.

It began in Paris 1993 with a tragic event that made me care for Coco straight away, I felt very motherly towards this character who I’d only just met and this is something that doesn’t happen often.  I quickly discovered that Coco’s name wasn’t entirely appropriate for her but I loved the way she handled it – she seemed to be very laid back, making jokes whenever she felt uncomfortable.

The fascinating world of antiques led Coco to a very special vintage Chanel bag which held an intriguing letter – this was a mystery that I couldn’t wait to solve because the whole idea seemed rather magical and romantic to me.  Her journey to find out the history of the bag and letter became an addictive investigation, and not only for Coco! The twists and turns managed to surprise me again and again keeping me hooked on each and every word.

Coco’s Secret contained warm characters and a natural humour that made it a really easy book to read, I can easily say that I enjoyed every part of the storyline.

This was a charming read that completely captured my imagination and left me smiling.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR

Niamh Greene lives in the Irish countryside with her husband and two children.  Unlike the lucky heroine of this novel, she has never stumbled upon a vintage Coco Chanel handbag, although she’s not giving up hope yet.

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GIVEAWAY

**GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED**

I was fortunate enough to receive two copies of this book for review so I am offering one of them as a giveaway prize for a lucky Me, My Books and I reader!

To enter just click on the link below and follow the instructions:

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Good Luck!

Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Witch Finder

“London, 1880, and eighteen-year-old Luke Lexton is about to endure his initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum – the secretive brotherhood devoted to hunting witches, and the organisation that will help Luke take revenge on the witch who murdered his parents. His final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. 

Luke picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, a witch-girl living in rapidly fading grandeur on the west side of town. She’s the last bargaining chip in her family’s struggle to avoid bankruptcy and is about to be married off to the handsome, cruel, grotesquely rich Sebastian Knyvet – a powerful member of the Ealdwitan.

As Rosa and Luke get to know each other, Luke realises it will be impossible for him to kill Rosa, just as Rosa knows she will bring disgrace on her family if she does not marry Knyvet. But Knyvet is hiding dark secrets – including the key which will unlock the mystery of Luke’s murdered parents. Torn between appeasing their elders and their love for each other, Rosa and Luke must each make their choice between life and death.”

MY REVIEW

Firstly I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me this book to read and give an honest review.  I loved the Winter Trilogy by this author (my reviews here) so I was really excited to be starting on her new series.  It turned out to be very different from her previous books but it was just as captivating.

The beginning was fascinating as I found out how Luke became involved in witch hunting.  I also learned about Rosa and her life which wasn’t what I had been expecting at all.  The two of them faced many difficulties in their lives and following them as they tried to figure things out was a real treat. There were a couple of moments that I found difficult to read as an animal lover but it was something that I was able to see past.

The author created a wonderful, historical, atmosphere with her descriptive writing – there were times when I felt like I was right there in 1880 alongside Luke and Rosa.  I admit that it was obvious where the storyline was going but it didn’t matter to me because I enjoyed the journey anyway.

There was a little bit of everything in this book: romance, witchcraft, danger and history too.  The end left me wanting more so I can’t wait to see where Luke and Rosa find themselves next!

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Released 2 January 2014…

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The Promise of Provence – Patricia Sands

The promise of provence

“Surprise, shock, and a shift in her comfortable life tumble into Katherine Price’s world when least expected. The future she has imagined suddenly vanishes, leaving little to focus upon beyond her career and the caregiving her elderly widowed mother might require.

Fate has other plans.

June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves. Ancient hilltop villages beckon. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

As Katherine explores the romantic cobblestone lanes of medieval towns, discovers the intoxicating pleasures of Paris and savors the sun-kissed Côte d’Azur, she begins redefining the possibilities in her life.”

MY REVIEW

I’d like to start by thanking Janice at Loveahappyending for sending me this eBook to read and give an honest review.

There was a powerful scene to begin with, Katherine’s emotions jumped out at me and made me feel so sad for her.  She was a character who I easily connected with and enjoyed following her as she faced lots of difficult decisions.  The main feeling I got from the storyline was all about learning to move on with life when massive changes are thrown at you, there was a strong sense of hope radiating from the pages.

A letter from Katherine’s mother was particularly touching, I was fascinated and at the same time saddened by the story of her life during the war.  This was a side of the storyline that I hadn’t been expecting but thoroughly enjoyed.

The whole house exchange thing was so intriguing and was the factor that led Katherine back to France.  This was the part I had been looking forward to the most and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed by it – from the delicious food to the beautiful scenery, the author’s warm words made me feel as though I were right there in France alongside Katherine.  She somehow managed to find herself in a couple of sticky situations on her travels which just added to the atmosphere.  The romantic side was well written, it felt very natural and gentle and I think that this made it more believable.  Another great part of this book for me was Picasso the dog, he reminded me very much of my own dog so I really enjoyed his scenes.

This was a book that left me with a smile on my face and the strong desire to visit France!

To find out more about Patricia Sands:

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Buy the book:

Amazon Kindle Edition £3.23 | Amazon Paperback £12.35

(Prices correct at time of writing this review)