Coming Home to Puddleduck Farm by Della Galton

The story begins in December with Phoebe Dashwood, a 34-year-old vet, leaving London to get away from her partner Hugh, who she had found cheating after they’d been together six years. She heads home to her parents in the New Forest – Louella and James.

Her grandparents, Maggie and Pete, were dairy farmers at Puddleduck Farm for decades, but since Pete’s death twelve years before, Maggie has found solace in helping animals. Setting up an animal shelter known as New Forest Neddies, she looks after donkeys, dogs, geese, ducks and cats. But Maggie is 72 now and finding things difficult on her own – not that she would admit it to anyone!

Maggie’s nearest neighbouring dwelling is the impressive Beechwood House, owned by Lord Alfred Holt. His son and heir is Rufus Holt, who seems rather obnoxious, but maybe there’s more to him that needs to be revealed…

I had a soft spot for lovely Sam. He is Louella’s best friend Jan’s son, and the same age as Phoebe. Sam and Phoebe have been friends forever, but had drifted apart over the past few years.

This is the first in a new series of books and I am looking forward to reading more and finding out what is in store for all the characters. I especially love a good animal in a novel and there were loads here, I was spoilt for choice, and I loved all the different personalities of them all. The two Alexas were lots of fun as well!

A lovely, heart-warming, fun read.


Coming Home to Puddleduck Farm

When your heart’s broken, all roads lead home…

London City Vet, Phoebe Dashwood, finds her partner Hugh and their boss in a passionate clinch beneath the mistletoe at their works Christmas party.

Heartbroken, she bolts to the New Forest, her childhood home to regroup and soul search.

Being home gives Phoebe the chance to reconnect with friends and family and especially with her fiercely independent gran, widower Maggie Crowther, owner of Puddleduck Farm, and makeshift animal shelter New Forest Neddies.

Deciding not to return to London, Phoebe hunts for work locally, hoping she can also help Maggie, who’s clearly swamped and not coping. But will Maggie accept Phoebe’s help?

Her quest is hampered by stubborn grandmothers, meddling mums, an attractive childhood friend, a real-life Lord, a remorseful ex, and a best friend who’s determined to play matchmaker.

Can Phoebe find happiness professionally and personally in the place she calls home, surrounded by those she loves or does fate have other plans for Phoebe?

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Author Bio –

Della Galton writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset.

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One Hot Summer by Anita Waller

The novel begins with a shocking start as two teenagers are killed in a fire. The police become involved, with DI Laura Henshall and DS Will Peters from the Serious Crimes Unit in Sheffield investigating. But while they are working hard to solve that crime, another arson attack happens…

Wow! You’re right into the action with the dramatic first chapter. It’s all go! You want to find out what happened and who was responsible, while following the kids’ families too and seeing how they cope with such devastating news.

The police are great, Laura and Will have a wonderful chemistry and are instantly likeable. It’s always fascinating to follow how the police investigate – and hopefully solve – a crime and that also piqued my interest immediately. You want justice for the victims and their families. I found myself trying to solve it all alongside the police!

All the characters are very believable and I was instantly absorbed into their world and lead into the action. Even the little cameo appearances are beautifully done, especially Joanne the barmaid, the feisty Veronica and young Todd!

It’s hard telling you much more because I don’t want to give anything away – but be prepared for some surprises and shocks along the way! This was definitely a page turner and I’ll look forward to reading more of Anita Waller’s novels, maybe even another with DI Laura Henshall.


One Hot Summer

A city on fire. A killer who can’t be stopped. Who will be next?

When two teenagers are found dead in a fire, DI Laura Henshall and DS Will Peters are called in to investigate. They believe it was a revenge attack gone wrong.

But soon fires are cropping up everywhere, and the police suspect they’re dealing with something much bigger . . . something that could bring the city to its knees.

With time running out, can the detectives find the arsonists before the city goes up in flames?

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Author Bio –

Anita Waller is the author of many bestselling psychological thrillers and the Kat and Mouse crime series. She lives in Sheffield, which continues to be the setting of many of her thrillers, and was first published by Bloodhound at the age of sixty-nine. Her first book for Boldwood will be published in August 2022.

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Starting Over in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen


Earlier this year, I read Summer in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen, which I really enjoyed, so I was excited to return to Bellbird Bay for more adventures in the series.

This book tells the story of Cleo Johansen. Cleo moved to Bellbird Bay after the death of her husband five years before and is now manager of a cafe. She has a daughter, Hannah, who is 21 and a teacher at Bellbird Bay Primary School. Hannah moves out and begins sharing with Owen (the local surf champion, who is 21) and Nate.

Will Rankin is Owen’s dad and has been single since his wife died. He was also a surf champion in his younger days and now owns a surf school. He is being stalked by an annoying woman called Joy, so a plan is hatched for Will and Cleo to pretend to be a couple to deter Joy’s affections. But could a real romantic involvement be brewing?

I always enjoy novels where the main characters are around my age. Obviously, at 52, I’m going to have more in common with someone in their fifties than someone in their twenties. I thought Cleo and Will were great characters.

Although it’s set in Australia, so you get the gorgeous beach setting, Bellbird Bay is still a small community so you get that “village feel” that I love in a book, because it feels like you get to know everyone, almost as if you’re living there yourself.

There’s a bit of everything in here – grief, romance, new beginnings, strong female friendships, kids growing up, empty nesters, there’s even a worrying spate of girls going missing.

Highly recommended.


Starting Over in Bellbird Bay

Following the death of her husband, Cleo Johansen and her daughter moved to Bellbird Bay determined to make a new start. Having carved out a new life, Cleo is shattered when a shadow from her husband’s past throws their lives into disarray.

Will Rankin has lived in Bellbird Bay all his life. Now widowed, the former surf champion runs the local surf school and enjoys a close relationship with his son. Content to lead a single life, the appearance of an undesirable stranger is quick to upset his peaceful existence.

While neither Will nor Cleo is interested in forming a new relationship, an unexpected attraction surfaces when a mutual friend suggests they spend more time together.

Set against a background of sun, sea and sand, can Cleo and Will find a way to move forward together?

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

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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. Maggie has been called the queen of mature age fiction and 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, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call to ‘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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Her Deadly Friend by Rae Sargeant


Set in the fictional town of Gleveham in Gloucestershire, Her Deadly Friend is a really good, exciting read. Right from the prologue, you are hooked. It begins 29 years ago at school. Amy Ashby and her mother are complaining to the head teacher that Terri and Steph have damaged her viola.

It then moves on to the recent present. Someone is murdered at the Georgian Gardens and we follow the police case. Steph from the school incident is now Detective Inspector Stephanie ‘Steph’ Lewis, and along with her boss DCI Kevin Richards and the police team, they set about solving what soon becomes more murders.

As for the other two girls from school, Terri is still Steph’s best friend. Amy Ashby lives with her elderly, ill mother Eileen after her father has died. She is matron at a posh private school and it seems her ex-boyfriend Sean is stalking her.

Well, this story certainly holds your interest, I read it in a few days as I wanted to know what was happening. The chapters are the perfect size too – just one more soon becomes fifty pages read! There are so many great, realistic characters in here – some you love and a couple you’ll really hate! It is a page-turner, it’s very twisty-turny, and full of surprises right till the end. And no, I didn’t guess whodunnit!


Her Deadly Friend – the closer she gets, the more people die

The Suspect

Bullied by Steph Lewis at school, then betrayed by her lover, Amy Ashby still seethes with fury. Despite the decades-old resentment, she’s on the hunt for a new man and a fresh start. This time for keeps.

The Stalker

When both women are stalked by a figure from their shared past, danger threatens.

The Detective

Now Detective Inspector, Steph follows a tip-off to her old rival. After quarrels exploded beyond the playground and changed lives forever, she vowed never to see Amy again. But that was then.

The Deaths

Murder rocks the city. First one, then another. The body count reaches five, and all Steph’s leads point to Amy. But is Steph obsessed with a schoolgirl vendetta or closing in on a deadly killer?

Book 1 of Gleveham Killers Suspense series

A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House by Rosie Hendry

I read another of Rosie Hendry’s novels earlier this year (The Mother’s Day Victory) and enjoyed it, so I was keen to read more of hers. A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House is the start of a new series, but features some characters from her previous books, so it was good to catch up with them, but can definitely be read as a standalone.

The book begins in London in October 1940. Genevieve Hamilton-Jones is 22 years old and works as a nurse, though secretly. The novel begins with a shocking reminder of what life was like in the Blitz and Genevieve’s narrow escape leads her to vow to live how she wants to, instead of only doing what others want her to do. She decides to continue her life as Evie Jones, moving on from the restrictions of living as Genevieve.

In Norfolk, Great Plumstead Hall is being made into a new Red Cross Military Hospital for injured servicemen. We meet Thea Thornton, who is 43 and works with the WVS. She has an older brother Reuben (51) and married younger sister Prue (39). When Evie arrives to work as a VAD nurse, she is billeted with the Thea at Rookery House. Hettie also lives there, plus Marianne and her baby daughter Emily.

There are a lot of characters introduced, but it’s easy enough to keep track of them all. Besides the wonderful Evie, I really loved Prue too, especially as she has found the courage to stand up to her horrible husband Victor. Life changes even more for Prue as evacuees Nancy and her daughters (Marie aged 8 and Joan aged 6) move in with them.

The novel is great for portraying a real feel for the 1940s, without it being a book “about the war.” The setting of the village of Great Plumstead is lovely too and the grand Hall. Mothers and children are evacuated from London and arrive in the Norfolk village to be welcomed by the women there. I find these kind of “home fires” WWII stories always show how strong the women of this time were. While they weren’t fighting on the front line, the work they did at home was essential.

The book hooked me from the first chapter – you’re straight into the action, with a scary reminder of what life was like in London in WWII. Genevieve’s story is intriguing too, you want to know why she is hiding working as a nurse. All this makes you eager to read on!

Overall, this book has everything I’m looking for – an interesting setting, a good story to tell and a host of believable characters you care about.

BLURB – A Wartime Welcome at Rookery House

Follow the much-loved characters from the award winning MOTHER’S DAY CLUB in a brand-new World War Two saga series.

October 1940

When VAD nurse Evie narrowly avoids being killed in an air raid during the Blitz, it propels her to make a life-changing decision to break free of her troubled and unhappy life. She escapes to the Norfolk countryside to start afresh, with a job at the newly opened Great Plumstead Hall hospital, and a wonderful new home at Rookery House.

The community of Great Plumstead welcomes more evacuees to the village – mothers and children bombed out of their London homes. Sisters Prue and Thea, along with members of The Mother’s Day Club, help the new arrivals settle in, while continuing their work for the war effort by holding knitting bees, socials and doing WVS work.

Evie is happy in her new life – she loves living at Rookery House and enjoys her job at the hospital, despite working for the difficult Matron Reed. But when a patient arrives who knew her in her former life, Evie’s new-found freedom and happiness is in danger. Will the secrets of Evie’s past be revealed, and the problems from her old life return to trouble her once more?

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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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The Lighthouse Bookshop by Sharon Gosling

My review

Rachel moved to the quiet Aberdeenshire village of Newton Dunbar five years earlier. She lives with a cat Eustace in the top part of the lighthouse there, which is a bookshop on the ground floor. She manages the shop after the owner Cullen MacDonald realised he was too old to continue to live there. The cat is his, but came with the lighthouse. I do love animals in novels and there’s also a collie dog called Bukowski in this one.

The village is full of interesting characters. New arrival Toby Hollingwood is a writer, who is renting a cottage in the village, hoping for creative inspiration. Edie Strang is an artist, she lives in Corner Cottage and hates her neighbour Ezra Jones with his wandering goat. Then there’s the appalling Dora McCreedy, who is vile, especially to homeless youngster Gilly. In fact, Dora is a real panto villain, I wanted to boo and hiss every time she appeared!

Everyone is shocked and saddened when Cullen dies. He has no family, so what will happen to the bookshop and the lighthouse? Can Rachel save it? And what is the mystery about it?

I love the camaraderie between the characters and the real community feel in the novel. I liked both Rachel and Toby straight away and I was intrigued about heir back stories and what secrets they were keeping.

The cover is beautiful too, definitely the sort of book I would be interested in, if I saw it in a shop. I bought Sharon Gosling’s first novel (The House Beneath the Cliffs) in paperback, but haven’t had chance to read it yet.

I enjoyed the historical element too, how we discover the history of the village and the lighthouse. After reading quite a few dual timelines this year, it was refreshing to read someone in the present day (Rachel) investigating the history through documents and items from the past, piecing together the clues. This added a whole extra dimension to the book.

Overall, the book is great on so many levels. Just one teeny tiny criticism – the italicised bit on page 105 was really hard to read! But otherwise, it’s a great story with memorable characters, it has a bit of everything in there and is beautifully written.


At the heart of a tiny community in a remote village just inland from the Aberdeenshire coast stands an unexpected lighthouse. Built two centuries ago by an eccentric landowner, it has become home to the only bookshop for miles around.
Rachel is an incomer to the village. She arrived five years ago and found a place she could call home. So when the owner of the Lighthouse Bookshop dies suddenly, she steps in to take care of the place, trying to help it survive the next stage of its life.
But when she discovers a secret in the lighthouse, long kept hidden, she realises there is more to the history of the place than she could ever imagine. Can she uncover the truth about the lighthouse’s first owner? And can she protect the secret history of the place?

Praise for Sharon Gosling’s first novel, The House Beneath the Cliffs:

‘A wonderfully wise and beautifully written story about finding the courage to start over … I loved it!’ Isabelle Broom

‘A compelling read with a dramatic sense of place and a caring community at its heart’ Heidi Swain, author of A Taste of Home    
‘A gorgeously remote and romantic great escape, brimming with foodie passion, friendship and heart’ Laura Kemp, author of A Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness

‘A magical story set in Scotland…An inspiring book of second chances’ Woman’s Own

‘A story to make you long to visit our glorious coastlines’ Prima

‘With a romance that gently simmers, a plot that flows as fast as the North Sea tides, and some gentle reminders of the need to protect our oceans, The House Beneath the Cliffs provides the perfect holiday getaway’ Lancashire Post

‘Thrilling & romantic’ The People’s Friend    

‘An inspiring book of second chances’ Woman    

‘Packed full of warmth’ Cumbria Life


The Hub by Nicola May

I have previously read and enjoyed Nicola May’s previous books, so I was keen to read her new one – The Hub. This is set in a shared workspace – the Futtingbrook Fram Hub (The Hub of the title!) – where we meet all the characters who work there.

August Saunders (37) is a crime writer who hasn’t written a word since her ex Scott dumped her six months previously. She has left London and moved to a village in Wiltshire, living next door to her sister Ellie (34) and partner Grant, who have two young children – Wilf and James. August lives with her big ginger cat called Prince Harry (loved that!).

Nicola May’s writing style is lovely, really accessible and relatable. Reading August and Ellie talking to each other felt like eavesdropping on a real conversation and I could easily see and hear them together, they are great characters. Their mum Pam is a brilliant character too and very relatable.

The Hub is full of interesting people. I loved the handsome but mysterious Max Ronson (known as Mad Max, 41, and the owner of the place), the adorable Jonah (and his Touching Cloth company!) and bossy Beryl – in charge of the reception, lunches, cleaning, etc. What a great place to set a story!

The book has all you’d expect from a Nicola May novel – wonderfully warm and realistic characters, great dialogue and a lot of witty humour. There’s also plenty of serious messages included, especially when the local suicide helpline is featured.

My only tiny complaints are that there’s a bit too much “sexy stuff” going on and that the C word is used, which I’m not a fan of. But otherwise, it’s damn near perfect and I loved it!

The Hub


When jilted crime writer August Saunders returns from London to her roots in rural Wiltshire, she feels lost and lacking in inspiration. Determined to reignite her writing mojo, she responds to an advert for a shared workspace in a converted barn.

At the Hub, with its ill-equipped gym, inedible catering and motley array of fellow users, including a matchmaker more interested in her own conquests and a TikToker with a dodgy nocturnal sideline, August is confronted with a real-life mystery to solve.

Why is Max Ronson, the handsome but volatile owner of the Hub, so evasive about his past? And who or what is he hiding on the premises? She is determined to find out – but will her curiosity snuff out the spark of romance?

Nicola May mixes mischief with mystery in a fast-paced rural romp which will make Futtingbrook Farm as beloved a location as Ferry Lane Market or Cockleberry Bay.

Perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary, Sarah Morgan, Jill Mansell and Cathy Bramley.

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US –

Author Bio –

Nicola May is a rom-com superstar. She is the author of sixteen romantic comedies, all of which have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. Her books are translated into fourteen languages. Two of them won awards at the Festival of Romance, and another was named ebook of the week in The SunThe Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK, across all genres, in January 2019, and was Amazon’s third-bestselling novel in that year. Described by Winifred Robinson of BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours as ‘the invisible bestselling author’, Nicola campaigned successfully for the introduction of ebook charts in the publishing trade press.

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Nicola May – Home | Facebook


Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Hub (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Daughters of Paris by Elisabeth Hobbes

The novel begins in Paris in 1930. Young girls Colette Nadon and Fleur Bonnivard (11) are best friends. Colette is part of a wealthy family, while Fleur’s parents have both died and they aren’t well off at all. Fleur’s Aunt Agnes is the housekeeper for the Nadon family. The girls wish they were sisters and spend a lot of time together.

As they grow older though, their lives change. Just before Fleur turns nineteen, Colette tells her friend she is leaving for England. They lose touch, but Fleur starts working in a bookshop and moves into her own room. She meets some people in a café near the shop and when the Nazis invade Paris, she is firmly on the side of the resistance.

Fleur and Colette have now grown up and grown apart. Can their friendship survive?

The book is well-written, I loved Fleur straight away (Colette definitely has some faults and isn’t as nice!) and I enjoyed the setting of Paris. I enjoyed the bits of French language (which I did at A-level) and the 1930s background. I liked reading something set in the 1930s as it’s a more unusual period to read about, there are certainly plenty of books set in the 1940s during World War II, but this was earlier on and into the start of the War. It was also interesting to see how money and background influences people, even if they are brought up in the same house.

Daughters of Paris

Paris 1930s

A promise that binds them together. A war that pulls them apart.

Childhood companions Fleur and Colette make a vow, under the trailing ivy of their secret garden, that they will be secret sisters forever. But as they grow up, the promises of childhood are put to the ultimate test. For Colette is the daughter of the house, and her life is all jazz clubs, silk dresses and chilled champagne, while Fleur is the orphan niece of the housekeeper and doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere.

Years later, in 1939, life as they know it will never be the same. As the German tanks roll in and Paris becomes an occupied city, the promise they made as children will have consequences they could never have imagined…

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Author Bio – Elisabeth began writing in secret, but when she came third in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013, she was offered a two-book contract, and consequently had to admit why the house was such a tip.  Elisabeth’s historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon and One More Chapter span the Middle Ages to the Second World War and have been Amazon bestsellers and award shortlisted.

Elisabeth is a primary school teacher but she’d rather be writing full time because unlike five-year-olds, her characters generally do what she tells them.  When she isn’t writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.

She was born and raised in York but now lives in Cheshire because her car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

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Giveaway to Win a signed copy of Daughters of Paris by Elisabeth J Hobbes (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Miriam by Linda O’Byrne

Having previously read, and really enjoyed, the first two books in this series, I was looking forward to reading Miriam. I am a big fan of Jane Austen and these Cousins of Pemberley books are genius – they have a real Austen authenticity, featuring the well-known and much-loved characters from Pride and Prejudice, and their offspring, but are entirely new stories. And, of course, you can never have too much of dear Elizabeth!

The book begins with Miriam in Africa, 1833-34. Mary Malliot was the third Bennet daughter. She married the Reverend Matthias Malliot and they were working as missionaries in Africa. Miriam is their only child.

At eighteen, Miriam is sent back to England. The plan is for her to live with her Aunt Jane and her Uncle Charles Bingley who have four children, including a daughter called Beth, who’s a couple of years older than Miriam. But things don’t go to plan…

In good Jane Austen tradition, this book is insightful, it shows how class and snobbery change people’s opinions. Initially, Miriam is referred to as “this African stranger” by Caroline and dismissed because she is, by English standards, naïve and unfashionable. But by being brought up in Africa, Miriam has experienced life in a completely different world to those who have never left the middle class areas of England. But she is prejudiced too and vows never to become friends with the Darcys, who she thinks have treated her mother badly. The clever observations and wit are excellent, with Linda O’Byrne firmly in traditional Austen form.

There are so many interesting characters. Nicholas Sullivan is intriguing as soon as he appears on the Sea Sprite that takes Miriam to England and I was pleased he soon turned up again. The settings are also great, it’s always wonderful to return to Pemberley! With Miriam’s background, it was really good to see her new surroundings through her eyes too, as she is both family and an outsider.

Although I loved the first two books, this one was probably even better because of the additional idea of Miriam’s background being so different to her cousins. Miriam is so much fun!

Please Remember Me by Florence Keeling

Inheriting a run down house from a stranger isn’t exactly the present Laura had expected for her 30th birthday. Especially when the house in question holds memories of a frightening encounter from her prom night fourteen years ago…

So when a man starts appearing in the house her first thought is that she must be dreaming. But Ben is very real indeed and somehow linked to an antique mirror and another life in 1942.

As their friendship blossoms, Laura learns more about the house and its history…and even discovers some surprises about her own destiny.

With her future foretold, Laura must find a way to alter destiny. But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

Amazon link –