Tag Archives: contemporary mystery

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Netgalley arc The Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

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My mother is a solid fan of this prolific author and when I saw this offering on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.

Emotionally hurt in the past, a job in a large country house seems to be Emma’s best option for staying single and safe…

When Emma Ruskin becomes governess to 10-year-old Poppy Ackroyd, the haughty Ackroyd family all treat her with contempt – particularly Gavin, the effortlessly superior eldest son. Yet Emma realises that Gavin alone genuinely cares for Poppy and their unexpected rapport flatters and alarms her – surely he is out of her league?

I’ll be honest – when I first requested this one, for some reason that escapes me, I hadn’t appreciated it was a contemporary romance. You don’t have to spend much time on this blog to appreciate that isn’t one of my go-to genres – however, the mistake is entirely mine and there was a period, longer ago than I care to recall, when I regularly read and liked these books. So I summoned up the Ghost of Higbee Past to read this one with unjaundiced eyes – and I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Fortunately, this novel isn’t just about the relationship between Emma and Gavin, or the obstacles that seem to loom between them in the way of miscommunication that tends to cause such havoc in romance novels. There is also a far more sinister aspect to this book and once that plotline kicks off, the whole book nocks up a gear. However even before all that, I found this book had won me over as Harrod-Eagles writes with verve and an enthusiasm for her protagonist that is catching. Emma is fun to be alongside with her dry, often funny observations on her own life and those around her.

This meant that when she is put in danger, I really cared. The head injury she suffered actually properly incapacitated her – a pleasant change in book-based adventures where severe concussion is often shrugged off after a couple of hours’ rest. Having looked after someone in that state, I can testify the effects can linger for weeks and months and no one is in a fit state to continue rampaging around just a day after being struck hard on the head.

The climax to this story had me staying up later than I should to find out what happens next – and although I won’t pretend it was a huge shock, this turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining, well written book that I recommend to fans of romance fans who like a twist of adventure. While I obtained the arc of The Hostage Heart from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
8/10

* NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook The Outliers – Book 1 of The Outliers series by Kimberley McCreight

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I was offered the opportunity to read and review this book – and took it like a shot. The premise very much intrigued me. Would I enjoy it?

theoutliersIt all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help.
Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself. This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice: she has to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

I’m not giving any more of the blurb, because it moves into Spoiler territory with the next paragraph and the plot is too tightly constructed to allow the reader experience to be so compromised.

I was really caught up with Wylie’s dilemma – struggling with her anxiety since her mother’s sudden death, she is becoming increasingly isolated. However, when her friend gets herself into yet another scrape, Wylie battles her nerves to leave her house in response to Cassie’s cryptic message. Yes… I did find Wylie’s ability to overcome her recent agoraphobia convincing, along with her sudden determination to try and help her friend. The plot moves along at a fair clip, and while Wylie is still grappling with her fear, she is also beginning to reconsider her opinion of Jasper.

I like the way McCreight steadily presents us with a series of surprises, one after the other, jolting us – and the young protagonists – from our initial assumptions and had me reading late into the night to discover what happens next. The subsequent adventures where nothing is as it seems gives the story an almost gothic feel, particularly when they are finally reunited with Cassie.

The backstory that triggers the whole conspiracy does leave me slightly scratching my head, as I am still not convinced as to why the outliers would be quite so crucial to everyone apparently scrabbling to get their hands on them. However, this is the first book in a trilogy and there is a high likelihood that this initial explanation has another couple of layers beneath it, if McCreight continues in the same vein throughout the next instalments in this series.

That said, I’m not wholly convinced at the widespread nature of the conspiracy and feel I need to read at least the next book in the series to know whether I’m selling the author short. It may well be resolved to my satisfaction in the next two books in this trilogy. However, as the story was left on a complete cliffhanger, I definitely plan to read at least the next book – I need to know what happens next to Wylie.
8/10