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#Bookreview THE WOMEN OF HEACHLEY HALL by Rachel Walkley (@RachelJWalkley) #RBRT A Romantic mystery, with a touch of the paranormal, a gothic mansion and wonderful characters.

Hi all:

It’s not one of my usual days to share a review, but as this book launches today, I decided it was only appropriate, as I’d really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Rosie Amber (and don’t forget to check her blog, here).

Cover of The Women of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley
The Women of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

The Women of Heachley Hall by Rachel Walkley

Miriam has one year to uncover Heachley Hall’s unimaginable past and a secret that only women can discover.

The life of a freelance illustrator will never rake in the millions so when twenty-eight-year-old Miriam discovers she’s the sole surviving heir to her great-aunt’s fortune, she can’t believe her luck. She dreams of selling her poky city flat and buying a studio.
But great fortune comes with an unbreakable contract. To earn her inheritance, Miriam must live a year and a day in the decaying Heachley Hall.
The fond memories of visiting the once grand Victorian mansion are all she has left of her parents and the million pound inheritance is enough of a temptation to encourage her to live there alone.
After all, a year’s not that long. So with the help of a local handyman, she begins to transform the house.
But the mystery remains. Why would loving Aunt Felicity do this to her?
Alone in the hall with her old life miles away, Miriam is desperate to discover the truth behind Felicity’s terms. Miriam believes the answer is hiding in her aunt’s last possession: a lost box. But delving into Felicity and Heachley’s long past is going to turn Miriam’s view of the world upside down.
Does she dare keep searching, and if she does, what if she finds something she wasn’t seeking?
Has something tragic happened at Heachley Hall?

https://www.amazon.com/Women-Heachley-Hall-Rachel-Walkley-ebook/dp/B07B53V6YM/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Women-Heachley-Hall-Rachel-Walkley-ebook/dp/B07B53V6YM/

Picture of author Rachel Walkley
Author Rachel Walkley

About the author:

Born in the Midlands, I grew up in East Anglia and am now firmly lodged in the North West of England. My first writing achievement was my Brownie badge and after that, I’ve never let go of the dream of becoming an author. Once a librarian and caretaker of books, I’m now a teller of tales and want to share with you the secrets that hide in the pages of my books.
Please stop by my website – rachelwalkley.com and find out more about my books in the making.

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Walkley/e/B07B5G7VZP/

You can check her blog here:

http://thequietwriter.com

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you are looking for reviews) and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

I love old mansions, old houses, and antiques, and that was one of the things that attracted me to this book, together with the mystery aspect of it. As I’m in the process of moving, and I’m dealing with a house sale, the topic felt timely, and I am pleased I decided to go with my gut feeling.

This book manages to combine quite a few elements that I love in stories. There is a lone female protagonist, Miriam, that has to face challenges (OK, she is not fighting with a sword, but she has to confront difficulties she has never had to deal with before) and she gets to learn plenty about herself in the process. There is an old mansion (there is more than a touch of the gothic novel) that hides mysteries and tragedies of old (there are rumours that it is haunted and… well, I’m trying not to include any spoilers in this review, so I’ll keep my peace). There are family secrets, both Miriam’s and those of previous occupants of the Hall, that Miriam feels compelled to investigate, to fully understand her legacy and her feelings about Heachley Hall. There is a small town with friendly folks (and some not so friendly) that help give the place a genuine feel. The struggles of Miriam to make a living as a self-employed illustrator of children’s stories made me feel particularly connected to the character. I also enjoyed the way her relationship with Ruth, an older woman, a client and now a friend, is portrayed. There is also an element of historical fiction, as later in the book Miriam has access to a document that covers past events in the house (again, I’m trying not to give too much away), and we get to experience the way time transforms the mansion and also see how much society has changed since the XIX century. Ah, and let’s not forget, there is also a very romantic love story. (And a paranormal element…)

Imagine getting stuck, alone, in a huge old house that is falling to bits, with hardly any money to make any renovations or even make it liveable, and having to stay there for one year and one day to receive your inheritance. Although money is initially a big draw for Miriam (she is not in a particularly good place and feels she should show people she can rise to the challenge), she is also intrigued about her aunt Felicity’s reasons for setting up such strange condition. She only remembers having visited her aunt a few times as a very young child, and it makes no sense. Like so many amateur detectives, she is like a dog with a bone and has to keep making enquiries, no matter how many times she seems to have hit a dead end.

I liked Miriam. Although she has suffered tragedy and losses as a young child, she has reached adulthood as a well-balanced individual. She does have insecurities and issues, but she does not allow any drawbacks to bring her down and keeps going. She becomes stronger and more determined as the book progresses, but she does not waste much time feeling sorry for herself (only a little bit). I enjoyed the rest of the female characters as well, and although we only learn about some in the retelling of their stories, the author manages to bring them to live and make us connect emotionally with them.

The story is mostly narrated in the first person by Miriam (apart from the document I mentioned before), and she is excellent at describing, not only people and places (she is an artist after all), but also her own feelings, doubts, and mental processes. Although I know not all readers are keen on first-person narratives, I think the author does an excellent job of creating an engaging and genuine character. She is no superheroine who can do everything as soon as she steps into the property (she gets some help with her project), and she gets distracted, forgets things, gets scared, but does not give up. The story ebbs and flows as the time passes and the mystery aspects kept me reading on, although this is not a fast-paced action novel. The writing is beautifully descriptive without going over the top, and although there are sad moments, there are also light and joyful moments its readers can enjoy.

The mystery aspect of the novel is well integrated into the narrative, and although I had my suspicions about what was going on, the story is beautifully constructed and precious, and it is very satisfying. If you are one of those readers who hate cliff-hangers and always feel that there is some explanation missing and you’d like to know a bit more, you’ll be over the moon when you read this novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, which combines so many of my favourite things, and I’d recommend it to people who enjoy gothic stories (it is not scary but it has some eerie moments), who love old mansions, mysteries without blood and guts (no explicit violence), who like to read a romance with a difference (no explicit sex either), and who like to make friends with the characters of a novel and feel at home with them. Although it does remind me of some books (Rebecca, Jane Eyre…) and movies, I don’t want to go into any detail to avoid spoiling the story for you. But do check it out if any of the things I’ve mentioned appeals. It’s a winner.

Thanks to Rosie Amber and to her whole team for their continued support, thanks to the author for her book, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

 

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Blog Tour book promo

#BlogTour GARDEN OF HER HEART by Shanna Hatfield (@ShannaHatfield) The perfect gift for lovers of historical romance

Hi all:
Today I’m taking part on a blog tour organised by Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR. I think this novel will make a great present.

Title: Garden of her Heart

Author: Shanna Hatfield

Genre: Romance 

Editor: Eliza Dee from Clio Editing

Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR

Blurb:
Can forbidden love blossom amid the constraints of war?  

     The moment the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, life shifted for Miko Nishimura. Desperate to reach the Portland Assembly Center for Japanese Americans, she’s kicked off the bus miles from town. Every tick of the clock pushes her closer to becoming a fugitive in the land of her birth. Exhausted, she stumbles to her grandparents’ abandoned farm only to find a dying soldier sprawled across the step. Unable to leave him, she forsakes all else to keep him alive.

     After crashing his plane in the Battle of the Atlantic, the doctors condemn Captain Rock Laroux to die. Determined to meet his maker beneath a blue sky at his family home, he sneaks out of the hospital. Weary and half out of his mind, he makes it as far as a produce stand he remembers from his youth. Rather than surrender to death, Rock fights a battle of the heart as he falls in love with the beautiful Japanese woman who saves his life.

     A poignant, sweet romance, Garden of Her Heart proves love can bloom in unlikely places even under the most challenging circumstances.

USA Today Bestselling Author Shanna Hatfield writes character-driven romances with relatable heroes and heroines. Her historical westerns have been described as “reminiscent of the era captured by Bonanza and The Virginian” while her contemporary works have been called “laugh-out-loud funny, and a little heart-pumping sexy without being explicit in any way.”

Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, this hopeless romantic is out to make it happen one story at a time. When she isn’t writing or indulging in chocolate (dark and decadent, please), Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

Shanna is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Romance Writers of America, Sweet Romance Reads, Cowboy Kisses, and Pioneer Hearts.

Author Links: 

Pre Order Link: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cVw4ED

“I thought I heard you calling for me,” Miko said, climbing down a ladder on the far end of the building with an arm full of berry crates.

Rock rushed to help her. By the time he threaded his way through the packed contents of the building, she was already on the floor.

“That’s quite a car,” he said, taking half the berry crates from her and motioning to the convertible.

“Thanks. I bought it when I was still gainfully employed,” she said, walking over to the car. “I fell in love with the color the first time I saw it and started saving my money to buy one. When the weather’s nice, it’s fun to drive with the top down.”

Rock gaped at her. “It’s your car?”

Miko grinned. “Is that a hint of disbelief I hear, Captain? Not only is it my car, but I know how to change the tires, check the oil, and siphon gas out of my dad’s car when my brother, Tommy, borrows it and brings it back empty.”

He laughed, setting down the crates and wiping his hands along his trousers before touching the car. “It is a beaut. What’s this color?”

“Laguna maroon. Papa calls it the luna moon mobile, but I still think it’s one of the prettiest colors out there.” Miko opened the driver’s side door and motioned for Rock to climb in.

He sank into the leather seat and inhaled the aroma as if it was the most expensive perfume.

“Like it?” Miko asked, bending down to better see his reaction to the car.

“You bet!” He settled his hands on the steering wheel, forcing his injured fingers to curl around the wheel.

“If you like the outside of the car, you’ll probably be more impressed by the eight cylinders under the hood.” Miko released the hood latch and Rock slid out to study the engine.

He whistled and smirked at Miko. “What’s a girl like you doing with a car like this?”

“Anything I want,” she said with a sassy grin. “At least it used to be that way.”

Rock sobered and closed the hood, using the hem of his T-shirt to wipe away the smudges made by his fingerprints.

“I didn’t realize you had cars here. I was trying to figure out how to catch a ride on the bus into Portland.”

“By all means, drive one of the cars wherever you need to go.” She pointed to her grandparents’ sedan. “Papa and Mother must have sold their car or it would be here, too. Granddad wouldn’t care if you take his.” She cast a taunting look his way. “Or, if you think you can handle it, you’re welcome to drive mine.”

His raised an eyebrow at her dare as he lifted the berry baskets and followed her out the door. “Is that an invitation or a challenge?”

“Maybe both.” She turned and sauntered away, casting a flirty smile at him over her shoulder.

Thanks so much to Lady Amber’s Reviews & PR and to the author for sharing this great novel with us, thanks to you all for reading, and you know what to do: like, share, comment and CLICK!

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