Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Emma Webster is a Labour MP for Portsmouth South and single mum to Flora (14). But after doing an interview with the Guardian Weekend, which causes some controversy, she begins receiving hate mail and threats, both online and in person.

Meanwhile, Flora is being bullied by girls at school, especially Leah, her former best friend. But a rash and desperate act on Flora’s behalf may bring things crashing down, for both her and her mother.

The situation increasingly gets worse and Emma is soon fighting to protect her life, her freedom, her reputation. …

This book was written after Jo Cox’s death in 2016, but before Sir David Amess was murdered last October. It really shows how much risk the MPs put themselves in for the job. The character of Emma Webster MP holds her Saturday surgery in her constituency, making sure her car is ready for her getaway and she has enough water near her to pour over herself, in the event of an acid attack.

It was also interesting seeing things from Flora’s view, as I don’t think I have ever seen or read an interview from a real teenage child of a high-profile MP, yet Flora’s thoughts show how difficult it must be at times, and how frightening. So it’s a very thought-provoking book too.

It is an easy book to get into, it draws you into the story straight away and you want to keep reading to find out what happens. I really sympathised with Emma – and it reinforced my belief that I could never go into politics, because of all the fear and threat around being a public figure. It also shows you how quickly things can spiral out of control – a wrong decision made, an impulsive reaction and life changes irrevocably.

Part Three of the book deals with Emma’s trial and this section is also very well-written and compelling. It comes across as realistic and authentic and I enjoyed this part too. It is good to follow the trial on a day-by-day basis as if you are there in the court.

There are shocks and surprises throughout this book, even in the last chapter and it is so well done. Really a very clever and entertaining read.

9 out of 10

The One by Claire Frost

After being convinced Lottie Brown has finally found the love of her life, she heard devastating news that her boyfriend Leo Sinclair has died. They have only been together three months, but both had declared their love for each other, and Lottie was sure she had found The One.

The novel is set in Oxford and begins with Lottie socializing with her sisters Annie and Emilia (Em). It then goes back in time to show her relationship with Leo (Before) and forward to the present day, as she comes to terms with his loss. It is easy to follow, and you get into the story straight away with there being such a huge shock in the first chapter.

After Leo’s death, Lottie meets his parents, aunt and uncle and re-meets Leo’s cousin Ross. It seems there were a few big, important parts of Leo’s life that he hadn’t told her. What will she think, once she finds out the truth?

The story is beautifully told and really well written. The characters all come across very well, the pacing is expertly done and it draws you in straight away. The three sisters are very authentic, you can easily see their conversations and how the family dynamic works between them.

Even though the novel deals with death and a broken heart, it is never a depressing or negative read. It is cleverly told so you see what Lottie is going through, but can also see how she changes as a person, learns from her experiences and – with the help of her sisters and friends – continues to live her life, even when at times, she felt like it was over.

8 out of 10

The Mother’s Day Victory by Rosie Hendry


The novel begins in Oxfordshire, March 1940. Anna, who is Jewish and from Berlin, loses her job as a governess, because the boy’s father has to send him to boarding school. She ends up relocating to Great Plumstead, a village in Norfolk, where she moves into Rookery House to help Thea in the garden.

Thea and Prue are sisters, both busy doing their bit. Then there’s Hettie (who makes delicious butter and cheese from the cow’s milk) and London evacuee Marianne with her baby daughter Emily.

There’s a lovely community there with lots of activities for the women to help with the war effort and Anna fits in really well, but being German still goes against her in some ways. I won’t spoil anything by explaining what happens, but I loved her rapport with Eva in the story.

I really enjoyed this, it’s full of great female characters and the 1940s setting feels very authentic (if rather poignant, considering the situation in Ukraine right now). I also liked reading how the farm worked and especially after the arrival of Primrose the cow. (Milking a cow by hand is something I’d love to try!)

It’s an easy read, a joyful one and a nice bit of escapism in the present climate.

8.5 out of 10

BLURB for The Mother’s Day Victory

Can the Women on the Home Front protect their community in times of war?

Norfolk, 1940.
 As war rages on, sisters Prue and Thea, along with the wider community of Great Plumstead, are doing all they can to help the war effort, from running the mobile canteen for the Women’s Voluntary Service to organising clothing drives and collecting salvage.

When, Anna, a young German girl who fled her country, seeks refuge in the village, Thea opens up her home, Rookery House, and invites Anna into their growing family. But while many in the village welcome Anna with open arms, others are suspicious of the new arrival . .

As the war intensifies and panic sweeps the country, Anna is taken by the government who fear she’s a spy. The women of Great Plumstead are already fighting their own battles on the Home Front, but will they come together in Anna’s time of need to keep the newest member of their community safe from war?

The Mother’s Day Victory is the perfect wartime family saga and the second novel in Rosie Hendry’s much-loved series, filled with heart-warming friendships, nostalgic community spirit and a courageous make-do-and-mend attitude. Perfect for fans of Nadine Dorries, Donna Douglas and Elaine Everest.

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Author Bio – Rosie Hendry lives by the sea in North Norfolk with her husband and children. She writes uplifting, heart-warming historical fiction based on true events from our social history. Listening to her father’s tales of life during the Second World War sparked her interest in this period and she loves researching further, seeking out gems of real-life stories which inspire her writing.

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56 Days

This book is set in Dublin during the pandemic. Ciara (25) and Oliver (29) meet in a supermarket and begin talking. This is the same week as Covid-19 hits Ireland. As their relationship continues, lockdown is announced and they decide to move in together, due to the situation. But 56 days later, only one of them is alive…

This is a really intriguing idea for a book and a great use of the pandemic, a really clever “What if?” scenario. I found it very interesting watching everything unfold again through these characters’ viewpoints and as it is set in Ireland, it had a slight distance to it rather than it being set in England where I live. Leo Varadkar pops up instead of Boris Johnson (who, let’s face it, is much nicer to look at!) but otherwise, Ireland followed a similar path to England and it is fascinating reading this and reminding myself what things were like at the start, and how much improved the situation is now.

The story is multi-layered and very twisty-turny; you think it’s going down one way, then it changes course and veers off somewhere unexpected – which is great to read, of course! I love books that keep you guessing. You think you have worked out what one of the characters wants from the relationship, then you think – oh maybe, it’s not that, it’s this… Some of the same scenes are shown from both Ciara and Oliver’s viewpoints, which is quite revealing at times and definitely adds to the reader’s experience, by providing a fuller picture.

You also follow the story in the present time, following the police investigation including the great characters of Lee (DI Leah Riordan) and Karl (DS Karl Connolly).

I was shocked and surprised so much by this book, it really is like no other book I have ever read. I can’t go into much more detail, because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Besides you should all read it, it’s absolutely brilliant!

9.5 out of 10

Death by Decree by Keith Wright

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

“The view from across the road was a good one. The two men had parked the car facing the betting shop and were only twenty paces away from the door. It seemed quiet in there – ‘Squires Turf Accountant’ the weathered sign declared. They had only seen three people go in. However, none had come out. The Bookmakers clientele tended to stay longer than a few minutes. Often, they would be in all day. 

The front window was filthy and afforded access only to a cardboard effigy of horse and rider in black silhouette against a white background. Once inside, punters were protected from prying eyes and inquisitive spouses. 

It was cramped inside the car with two big men rubbing shoulders both with each other and the door frames. The driver wound the window down by a couple of inches and lit a cigarette up, turning his head periodically to blow smoke out of the crack. The smell of tobacco smoke quickly invaded the interior. Condensation on the windscreen obstructed their view a little, prompting the driver to start up the engine once more, fiddling with the choke to get the petrol flowing through. In turn, he ratcheted the blower on the heater up high. It also created a rattling sound 

from inside the vents. The two men were Dougie Brown and his brother Lenny ‘the bitch’ Brown, the most feared men in Nottingham. People were terrified to have anything to do with them; afraid to be in their orbit or visible on their horizon. These were men to be avoided by the public at large. However, in parts of the criminal fraternity, people clamoured to be a part of their gang. 

The badge and the shield that working for the Browns gave a criminal was worth a lot. It was a free pass, immunity from trouble anywhere they went. It gave them VIP status, and the young criminals would do anything, to be accepted as part of this untouchable and ‘respected’ crime family. The reality was, of course, they garnered fear which was somewhat different to respect. They are not the same thing but are often confused as such. “



Joy Browne lives in a farmhouse in the village of Bramleywood, which has been her home for twenty-five years. Since inheriting The Old Dairy, she has been running it as a halfway house, helping people who needed it, as she had been helped years ago. Some of the “waifs and strays” are characters in this book, including Drew (who now runs his own kayaking business), Lauren (who has started up a cake business), Freddie (who looks after the land and farms fruit and vegetables) and Cameron (the newest arrival).

I thought it was really unusual to include these kinds of characters, the sort that often end up in trouble. It was great to see how they had made something of their lives and how Joy had helped them, but also how they gave back to her, so she has a kind of family. Now in her late sixties, Joy has become a sort of surrogate mum to these young adults.

Joy’s only biological family member she is in touch with is her niece Libby, who is now thirty-six. One day, Libby writes to her to say she is leaving New York and coming to England to see her aunt. The chapters are written from Joy and Libby’s viewpoints.

Libby comes over and things seem to be going well. But Joy has long held a dark secret which someone knows and is threatening to reveal…

I loved this book. All the characters are beautifully written and I loved how the farmhouse was such a positive place. The puppies are gorgeous too! The community is very realistic and I could easily see the settings and the people in them. You come to care for both Joy and Libby early on in the story and root for them throughout.

The story is really well-paced, never becomes boring and all the threads weave beautifully through the book, tying up perfectly at the end. A complete delight!

9 out of 10

By Helen Rolfe

Published by Orion Fiction 17th February 2022 Paperback Original and ebook £7.99

The uplifting new novel from the author of The Little Village Library about second chances, making a community and finding where you belong

Home is where the heart is…

Joy has made a family for herself. She’s turned her beautiful old farmhouse into a safe haven for anyone who is looking for a new beginning. She’s always ready with a kind word, a nugget of advice and believes that anyone can change their life for the better, if they really want to.

Libby has exchanged her high-flying job in New York for a break in the quiet Somerset countryside. She’s soon drawn into Joy’s world and into her family of waifs and strays – including Drew, whom Joy once helped get back on his feet, and now helps out around the house.

So when a secret from Joy’s past threatens everything, can the unlikely group come together to give Joy a second chance of her own?

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Ali McNamara!

Readers adore Helen’s heartwarming storytelling;

‘Enchanting… Employing all the warmth and charm of Maeve Binchy, and a special brand of kindness that she has made her own, Rolfe weaves together elements of mystery, romance, family relationships and the warmth of community in a story guaranteed to bring laughter, tears and miles of smiles’ Lancashire Post

‘A warm, comforting tale of family and community which brims with kindness and love’ Annie Lyons
‘A heartwarming story about family, forgiveness and the importance of kindness… If you’re looking for a feelgood novel in these difficult times, this is definitely it!’ Fiona Harper

‘A lovely community, full of friendship and love’

‘I enjoyed every minute of this book and found it very hard to put down’

‘Lovely, feel-good…filled with lots of love’

‘Gave you all the emotions: suspense, happiness and excitement’

About the author:

Helen Rolfe is the author of feel-good fiction. She writes romantic and contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending.

To learn more about Helen why not visit her Twitter @HJRolfe, Instagram @helen_j_rolfe,  and Facebook @helenjrolfewriter

To join in the conversation use #farmhouseofsecondchances.

Summer in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen

The novel starts just after Christmas. Ailsa McNeil is fifty-two and lives in Canberra, Australia with her husband Bob. Their sons are in their twenties (Nate and Pat) and have left home, so it’s just the two of them now. They have been married nearly twenty-five years, but Bob has changed and Ailsa is worried if their marriage can survive.

Ailsa’s friend from Uni, Bev Cooper, lives in Bellbird Bay on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Bev invites Ailsa over there and she takes this opportunity, giving herself and Bob time and space to consider their futures.

While staying with Bev, Ailsa is surprised to hear Bev’s twin brother Martin is coming home. They shared a kiss when she was nineteen. Martin is now fifty-two years old and fighting to save his reputation as an award-winning photographer.

I do enjoy reading books where the main characters are around my age – and these were exactly my age at fifty-two, so that was good. I could relate to broken marriages and grown up kids. But I also enjoyed the beautiful setting of Australia and the coast.

It was easy to get into the story and I liked all the characters, they all have something warm and wonderful in them (maybe not Sofia so much) and I was really rooting for Ailsa to have her happy ending.

I would definitely recommend this book.

9 out of 10


Summer in Bellbird Bay

Can Bellbird Bay provide solace to these two broken souls?

When Ailsa McNeil’smarriage falls apart, an invitation to spend the summer with an old friend in Bellbird Bay offers her the opportunity to escape and regroup. What she doesn’t expect is to meet her friend’s twin brother, the first man to stir her emotions when she was an impressionable nineteen-year-old.

As a young man, Martin Cooper couldn’t wait to leave Bellbird Bay. He has spent the past thirty years travelling the world and has accomplished his dream of becoming a celebrated travel photographer. But it has come at a price and, when his career and personal life take a downward turn, he returns to his hometown to consider his future.

When an accident thrusts the two together, their earlier attraction resurfaces. Torn between the desire to protect herself from further hurt and her renewed feelings for the man she’s never forgotten, can Ailsa find happiness again or is it too late?

A heartwarming tale of family, friends, and how a second chance at love can happen when you least expect it.

Purchase Link –

Author Bio –

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations, and historical fiction set in her native Scotland. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.

From the small town in Scotland where she grew up Scotland, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

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The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells


Primary school teacher Casey Cassidy misses going on holiday with her friend, Ellie, after forgetting her passport. This leads to a chance encounter at the airport with Ben Summer, which turns into an intense, loving relationship. But a year later, Ben has gone and Casey escapes to France to try to get her life, and her head, into some kind of order.

The book goes between the year Casey and Ben were together (from how they met onwards), interspersed with chapters following Casey in the present day. It’s easy to follow as the chapters are marked BEFORE and AFTER, plus the BEFORE ones are written in italics. You don’t find out the exact circumstances of the relationship ending until a long way into the book.

I liked the main character of Casey although she did annoy me at times. I liked her friends Ellie (in England) and Sylvie (in France) and felt the book was very good at writing about friendships and how important they are. Kevin is also another great character and I loved his back story. I loved the cats too!

The message about taking comfort from your surroundings is a good one and the importance of nature in recovery. I’m sure we’ve all had awful days only to be awakened by sunshine and birdsong the next morning and realised things can be better.

The book also has lots of messages about the environment and the awful state of things like factory farming. Being a vegetarian for 35 years, I am quite aware of all this, but I found I wasn’t too keen reading about it – especially with the News being so depressing at the moment, I would have preferred something lighter, a bit of escapism!

Overall, it’s well-written and full of important messages about depression, love and life.


The Life You Left Behind

Two strangers.

One missed flight.

It only takes a moment to change a life.

One year ago Casey Cassidy was happy. She had great friends, a wonderful teaching job and a busy life – until with one missed flight, everything changes.

One year later Casey knows what it means to find that once-in-a-lifetime love people dream of. But when Ben leaves, her heart is shattered.

Left facing a year of firsts without him, piecing her life back together seems impossible. But then a friend offers her a home in rural France.

In the solitude and emptiness, Casey needs to come to terms with what’s happened and find a way to move forward. She has no idea where that will take her one year later…

Purchase Link –

Author Bio –

While working as long-haul cabin crew in her twenties, Debbie trained as a pilot and qualified as a flying instructor.  But as the mother of two small children, she wanted a career she could fit around them and started a wedding flower business, Country Flowers.  For thirteen years, Debbie created the natural, seasonal designs she became known for to venues throughout the South East.

It was towards the end of this time she started writing, in a notebook in the shade of her garden on her days off, self-publishing three women’s fiction novels, the third of which, Wildflowers, almost but not quite found her a literary agent.

Pursuing her dream of a traditional publishing deal, she went on to write her first psychological thriller, the Sunday Times bestseller, The Bones of You.  Four more have followed including the e-book bestseller The Vow, but it’s another long-awaited dream come true that her women’s fiction novels have now found a home with Boldwood.

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Bookbub profile

The Chemist by Lewis Hastings

The terrorist organisation, The Seventh Wave, have previously been captured and imprisoned by the police. But now Romanian criminal Constantin Nicolescu has been released from Belmarsh Prison…

When DCI Jason Roberts’s wife is horrifically murdered, emails received by the Metropolitan Police seem to suggest Jason himself was the killer. But he was set up. Can Jack Cade and his team discover what really happened and who is responsible? Can they stop the man who calls himself The Chemist?

Wow, this one is an exciting read! It is thrilling, a real page-turner and at times very brutal, so be warned if you’re a bit squeamish. It’s a complicated plot at times, a thick book to read (530 pages) and is in a print a bit smaller than my eyes would have liked, so it did take a few days to read, but what a few days they were! I felt like I’d ran around London several times myself, it was quite exhausting!

The characters are great and although the police team comprises quite a cast, you soon get to know them all, as they are described really well. It is also hard to write a unique villain, as so many books and films have come up with amazing, horrific, charismatic baddies. But here again, Lewis Hastings has invented a real BAD bad guy, but with charisma, flair and originality. Though, believe me, you wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley. (The bad guy, not Lewis Hastings, who I am sure is lovely.)

Overall, this book is great, Lewis is a talented writer and I’d recommend it.

But, as they used to say at the end of Crimewatch – don’t have nightmares!

Just The Way You Are

Olivia (Ollie) Tennyson is 29 years old, single and works for ReadUp (an adult literacy charity) in Nottingham. She lives with her 63-year-old mother, who is very manipulative and often spoils things that Olivia would like to do.

Olivia has a Dream List, which she began writing in Sixth Form. It’s a list of twelve things she plans to do, once she had fallen in love like her best friend Steph and her husband Drew. All these years later, it’s still unfulfilled as she has no boyfriend and continues to live with her mother.

With encouragement from Steph, Ollie decides things have to change. She needs to move out, begin her life afresh and start ticking off things from her Dream List – without the need for a man.

The book is very well-written and engaging right from the start. I could definitely empathise with Ollie’s plight as I also live with my mother. The characters are all wonderful and very believable and I loved eleven-year-old Joan, with her fondness for books. Readers and writers always love characters who are bookworms, as well as library settings and both feature beautifully in this novel. Look out for Library Lady too!

Just The Way You Are is about many things – friendships, relationships, romance, families, neighbours, animals, love, trust. It has a real heart which shines through the pages and a great message of finding yourself and being happy with who you are. I really enjoyed it.


Just The Way You Are

A novel about friendship, romance and learning to love yourself – just the way you are.

When Olivia Tennyson – or Ollie to her friends – was sixteen, she wrote a Dream List of all the things she wanted for her life, including a happy marriage and a family. But at twenty-nine, Ollie is single, living at home with her over-protective and manipulative mother, and is feeling like her dreams are getting further out of reach.

It’s time for a change. 

It’s time to take matters into her own hands. 

Without telling her mum, or more importantly, asking her permission, Ollie finds the perfect place to start her new life. End Cottage has a duck-egg blue front door, a garden that leads to acres of forest, and definitely counts as her dream home.

Now all Ollie has to do is complete the rest of her list and find out who she really is, before she can imagine any romance coming into her life. After all, how is she going to find her dream man in the middle of a forest… 

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Author Bio –

Beth Moran is the author of four novels, including the bestselling Christmas Every Day. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest.

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