4 Stars, Book review, Historical fiction, Mystery, Nancy Campbell Allen, Romance

Bee Reviews: The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

thesecretoftheindiaorchidFormat: Kindle edition

Published: 1st August 2017 by Shadow Mountain Publishing

Genres: Historical fiction, Romance, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

Anthony Blake is in love with his best friend’s sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honourable earl for the façade of a flirtatious playboy.

Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn’t as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.

She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won’t confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

Somehow the fact that this novel is part romance completely missed me when I requested an ARC. Had I known it was a romance novel, I would have skipped it, because I’m human and we tend to stick with what we know. But I’m glad I picked it up because I ended up thoroughly enjoying it!

It’s so difficult writing characters who are complex and likeable, but, for me, the author nailed it perfectly. A book is always easier to read when you like the characters you’re supposed to.

She always insisted that if a man and woman have love and affection, a desire to put each other above all else, that life is liveable under any circumstances.

In terms of the plot, I enjoyed reading about the history between Sophia and Anthony, their funny encounters across the voyage to India, and about the mystery that was to unravel – a missing document containing information that could put all of their lives at risk.

The fact that this novel is set in India also sets it apart from other novels of this genre. It was interesting reading Sophia’s take on being in a completely new country. I managed to devour this book in mere hours and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light read with a very satisfying ending.

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3 Stars, Book review, Michelle Richmond, Mystery, Thriller

Bee Reviews: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

themarriagepactFormat: Kindle edition

Published: 25th July 2017 by Bantam

Genres: Thriller, suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter… Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.


Review

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this novel. It’s a bit of a slow-burner, but at the same time, it’s never not enjoyable to read. The novel is told through Jake’s perspective – he talks about how much he loves Alice and how they got married and how they came across The Pact, something of a cult that brings law into marriage. If you don’t pick up that phone call from your spouse, if you’re emotionally unfaithful, The Pact will punish you for it.

Whenever I feel old […] Alice tells me to imagine taking a picture of myself, then to imagine myself twenty years in the future looking at that picture, thinking how young I looked, hoping that I had enjoyed or at least recognised my youth.

The goal of The Pact is to make marriages last. And it does just this – Jake is pleased when Alice comes home earlier from work, and it aids their marriage. Except when Jake and Alice learn that the key to The Pact’s success if that couples who don’t fit in mysteriously disappear. Through prison sentences and torture, Alice and Jake have to find a way of leaving The Pact while holding onto their lives.

Sometimes you just have to walk back across that burning bridge.

This sounds like an exceptionally suspenseful novel. On Goodreads, it’s marketed as a thriller. But for me, it didn’t really have that fast-paced element, except towards the end. It was suspenseful when Alice and Jake were forcefully taken away, and when they went on the run – but it was also anticlimactic in the sense that the build-up didn’t quite match the end result.

The boy is picking the starfish up and throwing them back into the water. The academic approaches and asks, “What are you doing?” And the boy tells him that the tide is going out and the starfish will die. Confused, the academic says, “But there are so many, millions even, how can it matter?” The boy leans down, picks one up, and throws it far out into the ocean. He smiles and says, “It matters for that one.”

I feel this is more a fault of marketing, perhaps. Because for me, I enjoyed this novel as more of a “books that make you think” novel. I’ve never thought harder about the concept of marriage and why it’s so unsuccessful these days. Also, with Jake’s insight as a relationships counsellor, I enjoyed reading the facts about marriage and generally life itself.

The fact of couples  coming together is based more upon timing and circumstance than magic.

To summarise, this was a really enjoyable book to read. I finished it in a day because it was that good. I just wouldn’t say it’s particularly a thriller, perhaps something of a dystopian mystery novel, but definitely a philosophical book that provides a deep insight to marriage.

5 Stars, Crime, Lauren Lee, Mystery

Bee Reviews: When Houses Burn by Laurèn Lee

whb1Format: Kindle edition

Expected publication: 15th August 2017 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Genres: Thriller, murder mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | AmazonAuthor’s website


Synopsis

Dr. Delilah Hedley is a well-respected Doctor of Psychiatry in a small, affluent city on the East Coast. Despite her professional success, Delilah is physically unable to have children, causing increasing turmoil in her marriage.

When Delilah begins seeing a new patient, a man previously accused of murdering his parents, a woman is simultaneously found dead in the river. As the hunt for Jane Doe’s killer intensifies, Delilah falls deeper and deeper for her new patient, despite his dark past.

Will the doctor get a taste of her own medicine, or will she find an escape from the flame in time to save her own life?


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

It’s unbelievable to think there is this much talent in one author. This novel was so carefully crafted, and completely defied my own expectations – as Lee undoubtedly intended. Lee players on the readers’ assumptions really well to make the characters hugely complex and at the same time, suspiciously simple. I was caught out numerous times throughout this novel.

The plot is wild, which at first I wasn’t overly fond of, until I realised that this comes with the territory of writing a thriller, and the quickly-thickening plot is a sign of creativity more than anything else.

They say “Everything happens for a reason,” but what is the reason for this? Why has fate brought us here, to this place filled with doubt, misery, and unhappiness?

The way the novel is written was, at first, a tad confusing but this is mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to chapter headings because I was so deeply engrossed in reading the novel. I hate to think how much time was spent writing it – and I managed to finish reading it in three hours.

I would definitely recommend this to fans of thriller/crime/murder mystery novels – and put all of your assumptions aside because things aren’t always as they seem, and people can surprise you.

4 Stars, Book review, Haley Harrigan, Mystery

Bee Reviews: Secrets of Southern Girls by Haley Harrigan

ssgFormat: Kindle edition, 400 pages

Published: 6th June 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Genres: Mystery, contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Wordery


Synopsis

Ten years ago, Julie Portland accidentally killed her best friend, Reba. What’s worse is she got away with it. Consumed by guilt, she left the small town of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, and swore nothing would ever drag her back. Now, raising her daughter and struggling to make ends meet in Manhattan, Julie still can’t forget the ghost of a girl with golden hair and a dangerous secret.

When August, Reba’s first love, begs Julie to come home to find the diary that Reba kept all those years ago, Julie’s past comes creeping back to haunt her. That diary could expose the shameful memories Julie has been running from, but it could also unearth the hidden truths that Reba left buried…and reveal that Julie isn’t the only one who feels responsible for Reba’s death.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

This book is quite an easy one to get into, filled with mysteries large and small that keep the reader enticed. Harrigan has a way of knowing what the reader wants and gives it to them.

The novel is set in two thrilling locations – the fast-paced New York City, and the much slower, sleepier small town of Lawrence Mill. Slow and sleepy, but also full of secrets, which is what the main character, Julie, is here to unravel.

Unfortunately, the novel is quite predictable at times. At least, I found that I could predict the bigger mysteries and things that would happen next. But perhaps that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in a world where people try too hard to produce something that will make a huge impact.

I would definitely recommend this novel for people who are looking for a comparatively light mystery to delve into.

 

4 Stars, A J Mackenzie, Book review, Crime, Historical fiction, Mystery

Bee Reviews: The Body in the Ice (Romney Marsh Mystery #2) by A J Mackenzie

the body in the ice coverFormat: Kindle edition

Published: 20th April 2017 by Bonnier Zaffre

Genres: Historical fiction, Mystery, Crime

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones


Synopsis

Christmas Day, Kent, 1796

On the frozen fields of Romney Marsh stands New Hall; silent, lifeless, deserted. In its grounds lies an unexpected Christmas offering: a corpse, frozen into the ice of a horse pond.

It falls to the Reverend Hardcastle, justice of the peace in St Mary in the Marsh, to investigate. But with the victim’s identity unknown, no murder weapon and no known motive, it seems like an impossible task. Working along with his trusted friend, Amelia Chaytor, and new arrival Captain Edward Austen, Hardcastle soon discovers there is more to the mystery than there first appeared.

With the arrival of an American family torn apart by war and desperate to reclaim their ancestral home, a French spy returning to the scene of his crimes, ancient loyalties and new vengeance combine to make Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor’s attempts to discover the secret of New Hall all the more dangerous.

The Body in the Ice, with its unique cast of characters, captivating amateur sleuths and a bitter family feud at its heart, is a twisting tale that vividly brings to life eighteenth-century Kent and draws readers into its pages.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

I think I’ve found my new favourite crime series. Aside from the fact that the setting of this novel is local to me, which has an appeal in itself, everything about The Body in the Ice is perfect.

Widow Amelia Chaytor and Reverend Hardcastle are my favourite detective duo. They’re fun, witty and solving a mystery alongside them was a thrilling experience. The Mackenzie team have a way with magic that makes even the minor characters lovable and endearing, from Rodolpho the Cowardly Dog, to her endearing if a little mad mistress, Capurnia.

There’s an art to writing a crime novel and these authors possess it. Everything from the carefully crafted characters to their pasts and the particular roles they play in the novel. The Mackenzie team are meticulous authors and this quality goes a long way in their writing.

I can’t wait to dive into the prequel, The Body on the Doorstep, and the sequel, The Body on the Boat when it’s released!

4 Stars, Book review, Crime, Historical fiction, Horror, Lauren A Forry, Mystery

Bee Reviews: Abigale Hall by Lauren A Forry

abigale hall coverFormat: Kindle edition, 376 pages

Published: April 11th 2017 by Skyhorse Publishing

Genres: Historical fiction, Gothic, Crime, Mystery, Horror

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Wordery


Synopsis

Amidst the terror of the Second World War, seventeen-year-old Eliza and her troubled little sister Rebecca have had their share of tragedy, losing their mother to the Blitz and their father to suicide. But when they are forced to leave London to work for the mysterious Mr Brownawell at Abigale Hall, they find that the worst is yet to come…

There are tales that the ghost of Mr Brownawell’s bride-to-be haunts the desolate mansion, and in the village there are shocking rumours of maidservants meeting a terrible fate within its walls. But is it superstition that Eliza should be afraid of or is there something real and deadly lurking in the dark, dusty rooms of Abigale Hall? Yet vicious, cold-hearted housekeeper Mrs Pollard will stop at nothing to keep the mansion’s terrible secrets, and she exerts a twisted hold over Rebecca.

To save herself and her sister descending into madness, Eliza must wage a desperate battle to escape back to London and uncover the horrifying truth before Abigale Hall claims two more victims. Taut and suspenseful, Abigale Hall is a thrilling debut from Lauren A. Forry.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

It’s difficult to believe that this is a debut novel because, really, it’s too good to be true. This novel was fast paced all the way through with the author giving away enough to keep you guessing – but never more than that.

Packed with horror among other things that will send chills running down your spine, Abigale Hall is everything it should be of its genre, plus a little more. There were times when I was clutching my Kindle close to me, screaming in anticipation, something that no novel has ever made me do before.

There are more mysteries for Eliza to unravel than that of Victoria’s ghost, Mr Brownawell’s wife-to-be before she met her untimely death. Rebecca, Eliza’s sister, is a mystery in herself, as well as the lingering question of what really brought Eliza and Rebecca to the haunted manor in the first place. And will Peter, Eliza’s sweetheart, ever make it to save the two girls?

Everything about Abigale Hall is well thought out, and if this is Forry’s debut novel, I can’t wait to see what else she churns out. Dripping with suspense right the way through, I would definitely recommend this to fans of horror/mystery stories.

Warning: if you’re going to delve into this novel, just remember, fairytale endings don’t exist.