Monday, August 20, 2018

Spotlight: The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles) by Laurie Forest

The Black Witch 
An Epic Fantasy Novel 
(The Black Witch Chronicles)
by Laurie Forest

Age Range: 14+ years

Grade Level: 7 and up

“Potter-worthy.” —Justine magazine

“A whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!”–#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce

“Powerful” —New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb

“Exquisite.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining.

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

Excerpted from The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, copyright 2017 by Laurie Forest. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins Publishers.



A starlit sky overhead, we arrive, the carriage pulling up before Aunt Vyvian’s three-story home, arching windows lit golden and an expansive, dark wooden staircase spilling toward us in welcome.
Lush gardens arc along the curved entrance road, and I breathe in their heady, sweet scent as the carriage slows. Ironwood trees are bursting with glowing Ironflowers that cast the road in their soft blue luminescence.
Our carriage glides to a smooth stop.
Two Urisk serving women stand on either side of the carriage door as I exit, their straight violet hair tied back into tidy braids, their ears coming to swift points and their skin the soft lavender hue of the Urisk upper class. Their coloration is new to my eyes—the only Urisk I’ve ever seen are those toiling at the Gaffneys’ farm. Those women have the white, rose-tinted skin, hair and eyes of the Urisks’ lowest class—so pale they could almost pass for Alfsigr Elves, were it not for the faintly pink sheen of their skin and hair. These upper-class women’s linen uniforms are crisply starched, snow-white tunics over long gray skirts, their expressions neutral.
Suddenly self-conscious, I grasp at the rough wool of my tunic hem. I’m shabbier than even the servants. I crane my neck up, amazed at the height of the house, and swallow apprehensively, feeling small and insignificant in contrast to this grandeur.
Aunt Vyvian’s mansion is the same style of architecture I saw throughout Valgard—a climbing, multistoried building hewn from Ironwood; the broader, higher floors supported by curved, wooden columns; the roof topped with expansive gardens and multiple potted trees, vines of every variety spilling over the sides.
Like a giant tree.
It sits on elevated land with a panoramic view of the ocean to the back, and down onto twinkling Valgard and the Malthorin Bay to the side.
It’s so beautiful.
Heady with anticipation, I follow at Aunt Vyvian’s heels as she briskly makes her way up the stairs, the double doors opened for us by two more Urisk servants.
She holds herself so elegantly straight, I adjust my posture without thinking and hasten my pace to keep up with her. I wonder how she manages to walk so confidently and gracefully in her slim, tall heels, her skirts swishing around her feet.
I’d probably fall clear over on shoes like that.
My own feet are covered in sturdy boots made for gardening and caring for livestock. I secretly hope I can try feminine shoes like hers.
We pause in the most beautiful foyer I’ve ever been in: tables set with fresh bouquets of red roses, the tilework beneath my feet set in a black-and-green geometric design and a pair of stained-glass doors patterned with climbing vines.
A flutter of excitement rises in me to be in the middle of such luxury.
Aunt Vyvian riffles through some papers on a silver tray held by one of her serving women. “I apologize, Elloren, but I must leave you to get settled on your own.” She pauses and examines one of the papers with shrewd eyes. “Fenil’lyn will show you to your rooms, and then we’ll have a late dinner once you’ve unpacked.” She sets down the letter and smiles expectantly at me.
“Of course. That’s fine,” I respond eagerly. I glance around and break into a wide grin, looking at her with appreciation and a heightened desire to win her approval. “It’s…it’s so lovely here,” I say falteringly, suddenly giddy with nerves.
My aunt nods distractedly as if she’s suddenly lost interest in me, then motions toward the servants and strides away, trailed by three of the Urisk, her heels clicking sharply on the tile floor. One stays behind—Fenil’lyn, I assume.
Aunt Vyvian’s aloof dismissal has a small sting to it.
If I had magic, would I be of more interest to her? I let out a small sigh. On the carriage ride here, my aunt repeatedly brought up her disappointment that I take after my famous grandmother in looks only. No matter, I console myself. It’s a huge honor that she’s chosen to single me out and bring me here.
I follow straight-backed Fenil’lyn down a long hallway decorated with small, potted trees, and out into an expansive central hall. I skid to a stop, stunned by the sight that lies before me.
A central staircase spirals three stories up around a life-size tree sculpture. Wrought-iron grating, stylized to look like flowering vines, encloses each story’s circular balcony.
I quicken my steps to catch up with Fenil’lyn and follow as she starts up the staircase. I take in the lifelike carved leaves, fascinated, and brush my fingers along their textured surface as we ascend.
River Oak.
An image of the source tree lights up my mind like the summer sun, moss-covered branches undulating out.
Reaching the top floor, I wordlessly follow Fenil’lyn onto the top balcony. She stops before two expansive wooden doors and pushes them open.
I peer inside and have to blink to believe my eyes.
A roaring woodstove pumps out a crackling heat, a crimson-canopied bed directly across from it. Sanded trunks and branches rise up near the walls, hewn from dark wood, giving off the smell of their rich beeswax coating, the domed ceiling painted to give the illusion of a starlit sky. I step inside and am immediately enfolded in delicious warmth.
Everything already done for me, no wood to lug.
Directly before me, two cut-crystal doors sparkle gold in the reflected lamp and firelight.
I pause to touch the smooth silk of a golden tassel that hangs from my bed’s canopy, to stare in amazement at the intricate tree design embroidered on the scarlet quilt.
I reach the crystal doors, open them and find a curved sunroom just beyond, its walls made of glass that looks straight out over the ocean, a geometric glass ceiling giving me a panoramic view of the real night sky.
Two snow-white kittens play with a ball of string in the center of the sunroom’s floor. They’re fluffy white, with sky blue eyes. Just like my own cat, Isabel.
Enchanted, I stoop down and pick up one of the kittens. She kneads me with needle-sharp claws as a tiny, rumbling purr emanates from her small chest. The other kitten continues to worry the ball of string.
“For you, Mage Gardner,” Fenil’lyn informs me with a polite smile. She’s slender, with gorgeous eyes the color of amethysts. Her violet hair is streaked with a single stripe of gray. “Mage Damon felt you might be missing your pet.”
My chest floods with a grateful warmth. How incredibly thoughtful.
Happily, I rise and turn to Fenil’lyn, hugging the purring kitten against my chest, the animal’s tiny head tickling under my chin.
“You can call me Elloren,” I tell her, grinning from ear to ear.
She stiffens, her smile freezing in place. “Thank you, Mage Gardner. But that would show disrespect.” She tilts her head gracefully and gives a small bow. “Please allow me to honor you with your proper title.”
It’s odd to be in the presence of an Urisk woman who speaks the common tongue. Odder still to experience such deferential treatment, especially from someone who might be older than Aunt Vyvian. I’m momentarily ill at ease.
“Of course,” I defer, the woman’s frozen smile softening into an expression of relief.
“If you have need of anything, Mage Gardner,” she tells me brightly, “simply ring the bell.” She motions toward a golden-tasseled rope hanging by the door with a practiced wave. “I’ll be back shortly to bring you to dinner.”
“Thank you,” I say, nodding.
She quietly leaves, and I take a deep breath, overcome by my surroundings.
Setting the kitten down in a basket with its littermate, I open the sunroom’s side door.
The salty ocean breeze kisses my face the moment I step out onto a curved balcony. The stone balcony follows the arc of the sunroom, the rhythmic whoosh of waves lapping the dark rocks below. I peer over the balcony’s edge, down two stories toward another, broader balcony, where servants are busy setting out an elaborate dinner.
Our dinner, I realize. Nothing to cook. Nothing to clean.
Breathing in deep, I take in the refreshing, salt-tinged air.
I could get used to this.
I wander back into my rooms and skim my finger over the spines of the books in a small library that’s set into the wall, all the texts related to apothecary medicine.
A thread of amazed gratification ripples through me.
She’s created a custom library just for me.
I remember the runehawk messenger bird Aunt Vyvian had her guard send out to bring word of our arrival, but still, I’m stunned that so many personal touches have been pulled together in two days’ time.
I slide a volume off the shelf and open the cover, the new leather resisting my pull. The drawings of herbs are hand-painted and look so lifelike, I can almost smell their scent.
I wonder if she’ll let me take some of these books to University with me—they’d be of incredible use to me in my studies. A sitting table near the bed has a mirror rimmed with stained-glass roses. On the table sits a gilded brush and comb set, along with brand-new bottles of perfume, their spritzers tasseled with crimson silk.
So many pretty things. Things I never had in a house full of messy males.
I pick up one of the glass bottles, spritz it in the air and inhale.
Mmm. It smells like vanilla and rose.
As the mist falls and dissipates, my eyes light on a shelf set into the wall, a cabinet beneath. Set on the table are two marble statues. I walk over to them and pick one of the statues up, the polished base cool against my palm. It depicts my grandmother, her wand in her belt, leading Gardnerian children to some destination, smiles on the children’s upturned, adoring faces. I look closely and trace my finger over the face’s sharp features, her thin nose.
It’s me. Or certainly a close likeness.
The second statue is my grandmother again, powerful and fierce, her delicate wand raised, her hair flying out behind her, a dead Icaral demon crushed beneath her feet.
An Icaral, like Sage’s deformed baby.
I pause, troubled, my brow tensing. The thought of Icaral demons is so jarring in the midst of the comforting warmth, the sweet kittens, the luxury cushioning me all around. It makes me want to hide the statue away in a closet and never set eyes upon it again.
Shaking off the dark image, I clean myself up and prepare to meet my aunt for dinner.

Like what you read so far? Buy the book here, and don’t forget to pre-order book two in The Black Witch Chronicles, The Iron Flower, on sale next month!

About Laurie Forest

Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. THE BLACK WITCH (Out Now – Harlequin TEEN, Book One of The Black Witch Chronicles) is her first novel, and WANDFASTED (THE BLACK WITCH prequel, Out Now – Harlequin TEEN) is her first e-book novella. Coming in 2018 are THE IRON FLOWER (Sept. 2018 – Harlequin TEEN, Book Two of The Black Witch Chronicles) and LIGHT MAGE (Spring 2018 – Harlequin TEEN, e-book novella).

Connect with Laurie

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Book Review: Why Her? (Mistaken Identities #2) by Rie Warren

Why Her? 

(Mistaken Identities #2)

by Rie Warren 

If you believe in second chances . . .

All I did was dance with her at a bar. Just once.
Then this undeniably gorgeous party girl, Stevie, turns up at my house, the contractor in charge of my remodel.
How am I supposed to take her seriously?
The problem is she’s excellent at her job, which aggravates me even more.
She’s changing my house, changing my life, and my animal urge to protect and possess her feels like a betrayal to my deceased wife.

She’s absolutely unsuitable.
He’s uptight, f*** hot, and there’s no way she can compete with the ghost of his wife.

A book full of filthy sex and beautiful tortured romance. Why Her? is a standalone novel with a tear-worthy HEA, no cheating, no cliffhangers, just all yes. Keep the fan handy, you’ll need it.

My Rating:

Favorite Quote:

“I ordered pizza.” “I thought you said you were making dinner.” … “I am. I’m making it come to the door.”

My Review:

This atomically hot and lusty couple had amazing sexual endurance and supernatural stamina, I feel so clumsy and inadequate by comparison.  For a middle-aged widower with a relatively sedate first marriage, Kane seemed to be making up for lost time as once he finally caved for his attraction to the feisty Stevie, they want at it like savages.  They scorched the sheets with rapturous abandon every-single-time with their wild and passionate interplays that occasionally had me flinching.  Rie Warren seems to have a proclivity for filthy pillow talk and copious amounts of body fluids since this lewd lipped pair habitually went off like geysers.  In addition to their creatively lascivious exploits, there were clever naughty bits of humor, family drama, and a heart-enlarging and transformative romance.  And as an added bonus, a new euphemism for spanking the monkey was gleaned when Stevie confessed to unwittingly witnessing Kane “shuck his corn.”  ~ Smirk, I doubt I could ever have too many alternative expressions in my pockets for that… 

Empress DJ

Home of Alpha Male Romance and the Original Bad Boys

the Bad Boys of X-Ops and the Don’t Tell series.

All of Rie Warren's self-published series are available to read on Kindle Unlimited, including the instant hit Bad Boys of Retribution MC, Carolina Bad Boys, Bad Boy Ballers, and many more!

Badass, sassafras Rie Warren is the author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series—a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command.

She lives in gorgeous Charleston, South Carolina with her small family where she basks in the sunshine during the day, and adjourns to her woman cave at night. A nocturnal creature, she stays up way too late talking to herself, her characters, and anyone who will listen. She’s all about writing with heat, heart, and a hint of the dark, and she doesn’t shy away from the impossible.

Rie’s work has been called “edgy”, “daring”, and “some of the sexiest smut around”.

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Book Review: Tiffany Blues by M. J. Rose

Tiffany Blues

by M. J. Rose

Hardcover: 336 pages

Publisher: Atria Books (August 7, 2018)

The New York Times bestselling author of The Library of Light and Shadow crafts a dazzling Jazz Age jewel—a novel of ambition, betrayal, and passion about a young painter whose traumatic past threatens to derail her career at a prestigious summer artists’ colony run by Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany & Co. fame. “[M.J. Rose] transports the reader into the past better than a time machine could accomplish” (The Associated Press).

New York, 1924. Twenty-four-year-old Jenny Bell is one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s past has followed her to Long Island. Images of her beloved mother, her hard-hearted stepfather, waterfalls, and murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women overwhelm Jenny’s thoughts, even as she is inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I tried to make my voice light. My mother once told me I had a silver voice that tarnished when I wasn’t giving her the whole truth.

I’ve just always viewed marriage as a job, and it’s not the job I want for myself in the foreseeable future.

I felt as if I’d stepped inside a jewelry box. Everything shone and sparkled and glowed in gemstone shades

We’re all broken in one way or another, but it’s through the cracks in our souls that the light comes through. And the light, Jenny, that’s our art.

My Review:

Tiffany Blues wasn’t at all what I was expecting, and more the better.  This was my first exposure to M.J. Rose and I now count myself her newest fan.  Her clever combinations of words deftly painted rich and opulent pictures, equivalent in skill and technique to any of the Old Masters. My curiosity was quickly snagged by the intriguing prologue and continued forth as an ominous and haunting ambiance of tension, danger, and potential exposure of long-hidden secrets remained throughout, which kept me on edge and nibbling at my cuticles.  The writing was lushly detailed with colorful and lavish descriptions of the well-appointed accommodations, feasts, gardens, and elegant clothing and décor.  The storylines were gradually developed yet well-crafted, engaging, tragic, and captivating. 

I cannot imagine the amount of research involved in such an undertaking but I reveled in the fruits of her labor as I enjoyed learning many interesting little tidbits and history of the time as I was unaware of the trendy interest in spiritualism, the history of Ouija boards, and of Thomas Edison’s Spirit Phone - which I Googled to be certain, and he had actually labored with other scientists of the day toward “a telephone that calls beyond this realm to reach people who have passed.”  As I neared the end I began to fret with increasing alarm that my niggling questions would be left unanswered.  Silly me, I sighed a satisfied and relaxing breath at the clever conclusion.  Well-played Ms. Rose, “there is beauty even in broken things.”

Empress DJ

About M. J. Rose

New York Times bestselling author M. J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, a founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, She lives in Connecticut. Visit her online at

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Book Review: Wild With You by Layla Hagen


Planning weddings is my dream job. As a single Mom, I live vicariously through my brides. From picking the dress to cutting the cake, I'm there every step of the way.
When I meet the best man at the latest wedding, sparks fly. Graham Frazier is more than I bargained for. The charismatic soccer club owner is disillusioned with marriage after his divorce, so it's part of my job to make sure he won't slip any sarcastic jokes in his best man's speech.
It's not part of my job to notice his washboard abs, or that he kisses like a dream. Graham's touch is sizzling.
Before I know it, he bosses me into accepting gifts and spending the night at his house (his excuse is good: I can't possibly drive after working a wedding, can I?)
I say yes to both. There are no two ways about it. I have the hots for this bossy man.
Since my divorce, weddings aren't my favorite events. But when my best friends decide to tie the knot, I promise to throw them a party they won't forget.
I was counting on sitting through long hours of preparations, but I didn't count on meeting someone like Lori Connor.
I pursue her relentlessly, wanting those long legs wrapped around me and her smooth skin under my lips.
Then I meet her son, and that boy charms me even faster than his mother did. Before I know it, he has me wrapped around his little finger.
But are Lori and I ready for our lives to intertwine in ways we haven't even imagined before?

Get your hands on ANYTHING FOR YOU now:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook | Audio

Add WILD WITH YOU to Goodreads!

 My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I was sporting a grin that took up my entire face—the kind of photo dentists might display in their waiting room.

We're not doomed to repeat our parents' mistakes, you know. Or I'll end up with a bad perm after the age of sixty, or a slight wine addiction. Or both. Imagine the horror.

My Review:

I adored this couple, and what a treat to read a story where the characters aren’t in constant conflict or turmoil but are happy and playfully enjoying and supporting each other instead.  It was gratifying and a welcome respite for my bruised coronary muscle.  The storylines were engaging and relevant while the characters were endearing, enticing, and bright and shiny.  The writing was entertaining and delightfully amusing with witty and bawdy banter.  The pairing of Lori and Graham was dynamic and vibrant as both characters were independent, strong, and successful and secure in their careers although lacking in their social lives.  Their attraction was instant, their chemistry was unmistakable, their passion was volcanic, and their story was pleasantly enjoyable and oh, so, sweet.  I am simply loving her new series and can’t wait to see what this crafty scribbler does with the rest of the large Connor clan.  

Empress DJ

Want to win?

Layla Hagen has a great giveaway for running on her facebook page - head on over to check it out!

 About Layla Hagen

Layla Hagen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.
She fell in love with books when she was nine years old, and her love affair with stories continues even now, many years later.
She writes steamy and romantic stories and can’t wait to share them with the world.
She is represented by fabulous Louise Fury (The Bent Agency)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: INFINITE (A Carolina Beach Novel #3) by Cecy Robson


by Cecy Robson 
A Carolina Beach Novel, #3 
Publication Date: August 15, 2018 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone



Hale Wilder, aka the Anaconda of Wall Street, spent his childhood fighting to be the best to win his father’s love. He was the best student and the best athlete, who grew into a successful businessman and took the finance world by storm. Want to retire before you’re forty-five? He’s got you. Need your millions to be billions? He’s your man.

Young, rich, and powerful, Hale was unstoppable, until a company scandal destroys his reputation and threatens to bring down everything he’s bled for.

Becca Shields is the kickass public relations goddess spinning scandals to gold and launching has-beens into superstardom. She never expected to see Hale again—not following the humiliating night when her family caught them on the beach, barely clothed.

When Becca discovers Hale is in trouble, she can’t turn her back on the boy who was once her world and the man she never forgot.

Hale never thought he’d have another shot at greatness or with Becca. Now that he has both, he won’t let either go without a fight.

*NOTE* Although a part of a series, INFINITE can be read as a complete STANDALONE and features a new couple!


My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

She smiles. It’s not that friendly smile I’ve seen her flash to her devoted fans. Come to think of it, I think sharks might have fewer teeth.

I don’t like machines that are smarter than me. I don’t think it’s natural…Ever see the Terminator? … As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lesson in the making.

Candy and flowers are overrated, Becks. Give me clean floors and dinner started and Callahan can have me any way he wants.

You come across as fine and sweet as sugar until you open your mouth and cuss viciously enough to send a drunken sailor staggering off and screaming.

My Review:

Cecy Robson is a recent find for me and each time I read her work I adore her even more.  Infinite was well-crafted and evenly balanced between heart-squeezing family dysfunction, heartbreaking insights, swoony romance, and amusing wit.  I relish Ms. Robson’s clever humor and comedic observations.  My curiosity was captured and held throughout each well-paced and engaging storyline.  I fell hard and fast for this couple and was reluctant to put my Kindle down.  There were just a few sensual scenes but oh my, they left me breathless.  Cecy Robson has the word voodoo and I will gladly fall under her spell time and time again.   

Empress DJ



INSEVERABLE (A Carolina Beach Novel, #1)

(#FREE) Amazon:
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ETERNAL (A Carolina Beach Novel, #2)



Cecy Robson is an author of contemporary and new adult romance, young adult adventure, and award-winning urban fantasy. A double-nominated RITA® Finalist, Winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and published author of more than twenty titles, you can typically find Cecy on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine.
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Book Review, Giveaway: Calamity in Camberwell (The London Murder Mysteries Book 3) by Alice Castle

Calamity in Camberwell - 
The London Murder Mysteries Book 3 
by Alice Castle 

Amazon US/UK  

Beth Haldane, SE21's answer to Miss Marple, worries she is losing a kindred spirit when her friend Jen, the only other single mum in the playground, suddenly gets married and moves to Camberwell.

Soon Beth has to face much more pressing fears. Has something gone horribly wrong with Jen's marriage? What is her husband really up to? Why is her daughter leading Beth's son astray? And where on earth IS Jen anyway?

As Beth's friends push her to start dating again, Beth turns to Met Police DI Harry York for help. But will they solve the mystery in time, or will it turn out that in south-east London, not everyone gets to live happily ever after? 

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

To onlookers, her long fringe, sturdy build, and diminutive stature might say adorable little Shetland pony, but inside, Ben’s exams made her feel like an overbred dressage horse, nostrils flaring, quivering with nerves before going into the ring to do utterly impossible things with her hooves.

Puberty was lurking round the corner, like the bad fairy at the Christening. It would change her soft-skinned, gorgeous boy, with his luxuriant eyelashes and ready smile, into a gangling, bristly, spotty giant that she would scarcely recognise or want to acknowledge.

‘What happened? Not a pervert? What was he, a boob man?’ Sam leaned in to get all the details. ‘Toe sucker?’ said Lily understandingly.

Oh come on, don’t you recognise Ryan Gosling when you see him? Someone’s just using his picture. You can bet he looks nothing like that at all.

‘I should go to the movies more. The only things I see now are superhero films with Ben. He’s ten… I don’t think I’ve seen a man who isn’t wearing a mask and a Lycra bodysuit for years.’ ‘Well, you can probably find loads just like that on Tinder,’ said Sam.

What do you call it when you’ve had déjà vu twice? Déjà vu-vu? Or déjà déjà vu?

My Review:

I have become quite a fan of Ms. Castle’s wry and sardonic humor and cleverly amusing depictions of her characters’ appearance, temperament, and contemplations.  Her vivid and evocative descriptions never failed to call forth keenly sharp and smirk-inducing visuals.  This installment had a lighter tone than the first two volumes as the focus was not on solving a murder (until much later in the book) but rather on the characters themselves.  Widowed for eight years, Beth felt under pressure from her friends and co-workers to return to the social minefield of dating.  Her colleagues even introduced her to Tinder – oh my.  And being a world-class procrastinator, Beth did what she did best - she dithered and ruminated - over everything.  I adored the little pixie boot-wearing sprite but there were times I wanted to give her a good pinch, or ten.  My curiosity was quickly piqued and remained alert to something rather foul and troublesome occurring in the home of her friend Jen, although the discovery of what exactly was always thwarted by Beth’s scatty dithering.  I was beginning to despair that the wily author had forgotten to include my favorite Detective Inspector, the Inscrutable Harry York, although he was just busy elsewhere until midway through the book.  I look forward to more pairings and hopefully sparks flying for this somewhat recalcitrant duo in future installment as I am totally grooving on this author’s lush word skills.  My latest extra fun bonus word addition to my Brit List was “goolies,” which are those rather useless appendages that my coy and genteel Grandmother called the family jewels, but of course, only when absolutely necessary.  

Empress DJ

Author Bio – 

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, set in Brussels and London, was a European hit and sold out in two weeks.

Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 and has been a number one best-seller in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. A sequel, The Girl in the Gallery was published in December 2017 to critical acclaim. Calamity in Camberwell, the third book in the London Murder Mystery series, will be published this summer, with Homicide in Herne Hill due to follow in early 2019. Alice is currently working on the fifth London Murder Mystery adventure. Once again, it will feature Beth Haldane and DI Harry York.

Alice is also a mummy blogger and book reviewer via her website:



Links to buy books:

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats. 

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