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The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 3) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

I’ve loved this trilogy, fresh and unusual, it hinges round the characters in a series Elgar read wrote. By some quirk of fate he wrote magic so perfectly that it – and the actual characters, places and events, became real. As a Reader, Pip was pulled into the world and met Forsyth. Now they both live in the Overrealm, our world, with their daughter Alis.
They had issues with Hain and certain people in the last book, where events there were affecting the Overrealm, and now they fear that things weren’t as safe as they left them, that maybe, just maybe, someone else has come through to the Overrealm.

There’s another fantastic adventure, Syth being his spymaster self here in the real world, master of the PC and Internet. I love how he’s adapted to it, his careful turn of phrase, his planning, always looking ten steps ahead and of course his love for Pip and Alis.
Pip is wonderful, such an intelligent girl and I love how she breaks out the writing jargon, explaining to Syth ( and readers like me!) about tropes, genres, and how books are plotted. I read, I had no idea of the structure of a story but it makes sense, and makes my author admiration even greater! She’s having a bad time in this book, due to the events of the past that connect her to magic through the carvings.
To begin its just a series of odd events that could be explained away, but Syth being the cautious type he sets his programme up to look for anything that might be connected. I love when he says he thought Pip’s Poster “its not paranoia if they’re out to get you” was a warning not an irony. That sums him up in a way, written to protect, its in his very marrow to do just that.
Of course what he and Pip don’t know is that Elgar is having issues too, with what the police think is a stalker, but what Elgar fears is Hain stuff, and vengeance from there. He had no way of knowing what he wrote created a real world, and he feels so guilty for the casual way he wrote torture and death in his stories. There’s a top secret TV series based around his books being planned and the police agree its a good idea for him to go there for a couple of weeks. Syth’s programme tells him what Elgar didn’t though, so he’s beginning to piece together events and he now knows he, Pip and Elgar are facing real danger that the police can’t help with. How can they fight magic and fictional people that have become real. If they tried to tell them they’d be taken to the nearest Psych centre!

It all comes together in a nail biting, climatic finish, and I was gutted at some of the events and yet – it was the perfect way to end the trilogy.
I read the Magician trilogy when that was first out, back in Oct 2014, and thought it would make a great family film, Disney agreed some time later. I think this too would make a great film, has that magic (hah!) content that will appeal to kids and adults alike and is so very unusual.

Stars: Five, a perfect ending to a terrific, exciting and fresh trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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What Happens at Christmas, Evonne Wareham

What Happens at Christmas,  Evonne Wareham

What Happens at Christmas (Choc Lit) by [Wareham, Evonne]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

A mixed read here, it being a Choc-lit read I didn’t notice the genre, ( I adore Cho-lit romances) and was expecting more romance. There is some, but its tied up in the mystery, kind of equal parts.

It was a fun read, and I loved the section where Lori, Misty and Drew were having Christmas in the barn. That was just magical, and felt so right for this time of year, had me hankering for some snow and crisp, bright days. That was my favourite part of the story, I felt “there” with them, sharing their Christmas. Sometimes its so commercialised we forget how simplicity can make it special.

Misty was a real star, poor kid had a flake of a mother, Lori’s actress sister, and was just dropped off with random friends while her mum swanned off being Actress and Film Star….thank goodness for Lori, and for Misty’s dad Dan, also a film star but not so concerned about image, aging and having a growing daughter.
I loved Lori, a real heart of gold person, ready to help anyone, wanting to be a writer but lacking in self confidence, so determined though that if she was a success it was going to be on her own merits and not by way of her famous family.
Drew, what a sad tale, and even sadder when he reveals the full details. Twenty years of carrying that around, what a burden. I was so glad he found Lori, and the fact they kept things secret and then he was tied up with work, and couldn’t trace her fitted perfectly. Fate though brought them together again, but the mystery of how they met and the repercussions weren’t over, and we got a gripping action finale.
I hadn’t guessed who was behind things, and the motive and that was a perfect surprise. I had a slight idea but couldn’t see how it would fit, so it was satisfying finding out how everything joined together.

Stars: Four, a little slow to pull me in, but once they found drew and had those magic days in the barn I was hooked.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours, Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours: A gripping, unmissable and shocking tale which you won't be able to put down by [Wingate, Lisa]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Gah, I have to start by saying its categorised on Netgalley as “women’s fiction” and I HATE that title. Why shouldn’t a man enjoy this book? Why do we rule out a whole section of readers under this stupid stereotyping? We shout Equality, and rightly so and then practice inequality in this unnecessary way. Ah well, rant over, now to the book which was Fabulous, gripping, unputdownable.

Its two stories, that at first don’t seem to have a connection. There’s Briny, Queenie and the family back in 1939, and Avery and her political family in the present time. Slowly as things draw on the two begin to merge. It took me til about 25% to really get hooked on the story, I loved the bit in the past but the present day story was quite enough to keep me reading and I did put aside at about 20% for something else….picked it up the next day intending to read to 50%, thinking it was one of those review books that I’d struggle with and would have to make myself read a bit each day, and found myself drawn in to the story and unable to put it down til the end 🙂 It was a fascinating read, a truly gripping story and chilling in that although this is fiction stories like it were real for hundreds of families. No-one really knows the true extent of the crime. All those families, fractured for profit was heartbreaking to me, and there were times in the story, Camilla for example, when I found myself tearing up. I still feel a bit choked thinking of that reality for all those poor kids, and parents who knew their children were somewhere but who were unable to find them, and had no legal rights to them even if they did. Sadly I suspect this Baby trade still goes on in too many parts of the world.
Madonna – remember when she adopted an “orphan” who was later proved to have living father and other relatives but they were poor so in our Western eyes that make taking him from his family to live with people thousands of miles away OK. It was that same kind of thinking that let this awful trade exist back then, the kids in the book were often described as “river rats” and inferred that their parents were poor so therefore they were doing the kids a service finding them new homes. The people adopting must have had questions, but suppressed them, especially as this was being sanctioned from the very highest in society.

I wasn’t sure of Avery at first but quickly grew to love her, and when she first met Trent I could feel that attraction, though they were very much a backstory. I loved the way she was with May, so determined to find out the truth, and yet so respectful of May’s feelings. She was doing something that from a political side could have been the downfall of her families political ambitions, but which was right. Should the truth be left alone? Of should people have a right to know where they come from? I’m with Avery, Truth is all, and I was glad she wasn’t dissuaded from her quest.
It had a perfect ending, rounding things up wonderfully, but I still wondered about others in the story. I can’t name them for spoiling things, but I kept thinking what happened to them, and wondering too about how the kids grew up, what kind of families and story they had. I guess you could go on ad-infinitum as each person would draw others into the story.
A wonderful story, harrowing at times but Lisa resisted the all too often temptation of making things too graphic. Sometimes its what isn’t written that holds more power, what we imagine is worse than words on a page. Violence, written too often in many novels, loses its horror impact, and Lisa keeps it all “off the page” so to speak. It’s not a novel full of horror though, its a horrible story in that it was reality for so many, but lightened by the friendships, the day to day life on the river, little things that meant so much when kids had nothing. What people forget sometimes is for kids, a poor but loving family is worth all the fine clothes, fancy food and ponies.

Stars: Five, a heartbreaking read, but with moments that made me smile, like little sparks of light in the dark. A story well worth reading.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Winter’s Tale, (Shakespeare Sisters), Carrie Elks

A Winter’s Tale, (Shakespeare Sisters), Carrie Elks

A Winter's Tale: the perfect feel good Christmas romance (Shakespeare Sisters) by [Elks, Carrie]

Genre:  General fiction

I love Carrie Elks writing, started with the wonderful Fix You, followed by Love in London and its sequel, and then the first book of the Shakespeare sisters – all were perfect reads for me.
I love the UK links, though the Shakespeare sisters one isn’t featured heavily in UK, but its still referenced. Sometimes I think authors forget there are countries outside the US 😉

Kitty struggles so hard, a perfect student, first class work but she needs an internship and interviews fluster her to the point she fails, always, despite her excellent record academically. By a roundabout route she ends up nannying over the xmas break for a top producer, hoping that this may give her a chance somehow to get the fabled intern position.

The family are staying with Everett’s parents over Xmas, with his brother Adam staying in a cabin close by. He and Everett had a major falling out the previous year and its something everyone is very tight lipped about, with Adam still doing his best to avoid Everett. Difficult though when they’re so close, staying with the parents.
Kitty and Adam don’t get on well at first, nor at second meeting, but when he looks at why he’s so antagonistic to her he can see the fault was all his. He tries to be friends with her as he wants to make amends, well that’s what he’s kidding himself, really he just finds it hard to stay away. Of course friendship isn’t going to work, not when he’s so attracted to Kitty and she to him….

Adam is gorgeous, and I understood why he and Everett fell out when the secret was revealed, and he and Kitty were perfect together.
Everett – I thought he was a jerk, but there’s things about him I didn’t know, and I ended up by – well – not exactly liking him but understanding him a bit more.His wife Mia was a typical self absorbed Hollywood type.
Jonas, Kitty’s 7 year old charge is wonderful, he’s such a friendly kid, so open and loving. considering how neglectful and selfish his parents appear that’s pretty much a miracle.
Annie the housekeeper was lovely, I felt sad though that she was so alone, she deserves her own story Carrie 😉

Of course just when all’s going well its not….you know, how at the peak of being happy disaster strikes and poor Kitty, poor Adam. I was so heartbroken for them.
As always though Carrie pulls the rabbit out of the hat, changes the way I feel about some people, turns what I thought was the story completely on his head to give a different meaning to it and everything works out well. I love a HEA.

Terrific read – and don’t forget about poor annie Carrie, languishing away there all on her own. She deserves a love life too.

Stars: five, classic Carrie read, humour, pathos, angst, drama, happiness, more humour – the subtle British kind that I loved, not the force fed type found in too many novels, and of course, a fabulous story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Her Frozen Heart, Lulu Taylor

  #HerFrozenHeart  @panmacmillan

Her Frozen Heart, Lulu Taylor

Her Frozen Heart by [Taylor, Lulu]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

My first read from Lulu Taylor and though the writing style was perfect for me I did think to begin that I wasn’t going to enjoy this story.
It seemed each time I got into what was happening in the life of Caitlyn or Tommy the chapter would leave them and go to the other one. It took a while before the two stories seemed to gel for me, I couldn’t see the connection and frustrated myself trying to work it out.

Once I really got into it though I loved it and slowly I found myself drawn into the main characters lives.
Loved Caitlyn, and so felt for her when her so called friend Sara began to stir up her memories of the past. she really was a first class bitch, and she was very true to type – I’ve met people like her, emotional vampires, always desperate for approbation and attention from their freinds, but never really happy, ready to use, discard, seduce anyone who can get them on the next rung of what they see as their right, regardless of who gets hurt.
Poor Tommy found someone like that intruding in her life, not by choice but foisted upon her, when her good nature made it impossible to say No.
I loved Tommy, she’d been through so much. I wanted to know Why was her mother so sniping, so sneering of Tommy’s past.
I admired her so much for her determination, her hard work in protecting those she saw as hers, her family and close freinds, she had a very hard job keeping things run during the war when everyone was facing shortages.

Its like another world reading about how they lived during the war and yet it happened, and that’s exactly how people managed to get by.
Talking to my grandkids recently we touched on the 3 day week, electricity rationing, petrol rationing during the 70s and they were astonished. Seems incredible to think of it now but that’s how it was, and like Tommy and family we just got on with life, managed as best we can.
I think its hard for those who haven’t experienced that kind of mass shortages, the time when flicking a switch doesn’t bring lights on, TV on etc.

Its a great read, not a heart stopping must-keep-reading book, but one where you can put it to one side, pick up a day later and within a few lines you’re back immersed in the world of the characters within the book. Now I know the story I don’t think its one I’d reread but its definately a five star read.
I loved the way the stories got closer to the end and then the surprises revealed when everything comes to a head.

Stars: five, a really enjoyable, satisfying read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross, Lisa Tuttle

The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross, Lisa Tuttle

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers,Sci Fi & Fantasy

This caught my eye as its set in Norfolk, my home county. I love a dip into a historical novel sometimes so asked for this.
It proved to be a fun read, fascinating mystery involving local legends.
What surprised me further was the main action takes place in a little village just outside Cromer, called Aylmerton.
Why the surprise? Well, I live in that village and so much of it is exactly as it is now, the shrieking pit legends, the Lions Mouth, the local church. It’s clearly an area the author is familiar with and that reality made it really fun to read.
There are lots of local legends here, the village is set on an area when the Romans used to stay – called of course – Roman Camp, and the whole Holt – Cromer ridge was formed during the ice age, so fascinating fossils and artifacts frequently turn up in fields and on the beaches. The West Runton mammoth was found here a few years back, its the largest almost complete skeleton found.
I’ve often wondered about the Shrieking pits, I’ve a few old books about Norfolk and they’re mentioned. I love Lisa’s explanation.
I love too the Jesperson and Lane duo, a great pair who complement each other well. I do think that maybe Miss Lane might have found life a tad more restrictive though….and I so wish the trains run as well now as they did then. Post too. I’ve a few old family letters and postcards, one always fascinated me, its from a great aunt telling my gran she’ll visit that afternoon. Can you imagine doing that now 🙂
On the whole though the historical setting worked really well, made me feel as though I was with them back in time. The little details really make a difference to the feeling of history found in novels.
I enjoyed the way what seem like disparate plots end up being linked, tied up neatly in an ending I didn’t foresee. I love being surprised like that! Its a gentle read, but very cleverly done, very accurate historically and well researched. The plants and poisons section was very interesting, I’m very interested in plants and natural remedies, and again this showed that Lisa had done her homework.
I think that’s what give novels an edge, when its clear that the details have been checked, not simply invented or left to chance as to accuracy.

It’s a story I really enjoyed, not a heart stopping suspense but a more gentle meander through history with a fascinating couple.

Stars: four, an interesting and fun read, with a special connection for me with where I live.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond. A Winter’s Wish Come True, Lynsey James

The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond

Genre:  Women’s fiction, Mystery and Thrillers

My first book by this author so I didn’t really know what to expect. Its a curious novel, if I’d read the sample I’m not sure I’d have requested it.
It does drag at times, with so much inner thinking from Jake. There was lots of detail too about his various patients ,and stats and data connected with his job. I found that part was interesting in very small doses but in great detail it made me skip sections, unable to face more of it….

I did like both Alice and Jake, but found, especially given their professions, it incredible they jumped right in without even checking what they were getting into, without questions, without reading what they signed.
Blithely they just thought it was a bit of fun and I guess I could see that in a way, they thought nothing unpleasant could happen, and they could leave if they didn’t like it. But the Pact has a long reach and that part was chilling. Its not too far fetched to see how it could happen.
Its a weird novel, I didn’t like what was happening, was so cross at Alice and Jake at times, and yet it was strangely compelling and I just had to keep reading.
I had to see how it ended despite not really enjoying the story…and TBH I felt the ending was anti-climatic, a cop out. I felt cheated, wanted something more concrete. I have a real dislike of ambiguous endings, where the reader has to decide what comes next – I’m a reader not a writer, I can’t make up stories, that’s why I read them and I Want Them to Finish Properly, not just fizzle out leaving me dumbfounded about what happens next.

Couple of things I felt were off. I felt given the long arms, the reach and the money the Pact clearly spent I’d have liked to know more about how it was funded, not just a couple of lines about top investment guys doing well. Even the best guys need money to invest with and I didn’t see where it came from.
I felt too that a membership of 12,000 wasn’t enough to sustain the kind of practices and close observation of members that was actually in place. It wasn’t just eyes on them but hidden cameras, audio, tech interference, they really were Stalked in a big way. That takes serious money and big manpower.

It’s a chilling novel, creeping forward from a bit of fun to something they were desperate to get out of but were stuck with.
Curiously compulsive reading but yet I can’t say I actually enjoyed it.

Stars: Three, an interesting book, lots of food for though, some scary possibilities but ultimately not one I actually enjoyed 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Winter’s Wish Come True, Lynsey James

A Winter's Wish Come True by [James, Lynsey]

Genre:  Romance, women’s fiction

A shortish, seasonal read, just under 2800 kindle locations. If light and fun, little sections such as the baby shopping with the two grandmothers, and the dinner from hell made me snigger even while feeling sad for Cleo and Scott, caught up in family issues and  granny rivalry.

I could see why they split but was sad that it came to that, that they didn’t try to make long distance work for them. they’re now two unhappy people. Scott is back now though – so what happens next?
Well, a brief hot re-union and…Cleo is pregnant. A shock at first but Scott is solidly there behind her, and its clear he wants a second chance, or in Cleo’s view after the way he decamped at their last encounter, maybe its a thrid one and she’s not sure her heart can take it.
I got a bit irritated at the way Cleo seems determined to see and think the worst of Scott. He admits he over-reacted when Australia came up – but then so did she, and he explains what happened the next time. I could see her hurt but the guy is doing his best and I was cross at her negativity.

The other character here were good supporting cast, the school bully who’s moved back, catalyst to Cleo body issues, but though her life seems perfect, is it really? Then there’s Natalie, Scott’s ex, willowy, gorgeous model, who’s back on the scene. Is she trying to get Scott back, how can pregnant, lumpy Cleo stand up against her looks? Well, that’s the way Cleo sees it, but is she right?
I did find it odd that both of Scott’s girlfriends had body issues though…

Its a fun read, but pretty light, and I felt for me its a bit too sweet’n’happy, lacked the drama that balances the sweetness.
I had high hopes for Natalie or Amanda in that direction, but they only provided subtle light distractions.

Stars: Three, a fun read, but a bit short and fluffy for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By The Currawong's Call by [Marsland, Welton B.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I loved this book. Amazingly moving, so very realistic.
When I read a romance I want something different, not just a cookie cutter A loves B story but something that creates emotion in me. this book delivers that.

I love an occasional dip into a historical novel and it really suits this genre, with the draconian laws against homosexuality. ( Sadly in many areas laws like this still exist, and even when areas are more enlightened its still a battle against some people ).
The setting was perfect, had that small town feel, the way religion and priests were so respected. the snippet when one of the ladies mentions here suspicions about Jonah’s sexuality to Matthew, and then apologises for talking about such matters to a man of the faith…..In little towns back then, as now, everyone knows everybody and rumours and gossip are what keeps life flowing.

Jonah and Matthew are both such great characters, Matthew so very innocent, shamed of how he feels towards men so he’s subjugated it for so long, ignored anything he feels, wrapped himself up in his work and God. He really is a staunch Believer, not someone I felt was paying lip service to religion, but God totally shaped his life. I loved his naivety, it was part of the person he was.
Jonah too has a calling, he’s been a policeman for a long time, worked his way up from the bottom and is so well respected by all the locals. He’s a part of the community, not just the man who upholds the law.

For a small community they’ve had a few issues, Jonah was shot a few years back, and in this book he deals with a serious fire, assaults, runaway horse and a murder….a real Hero. And yet he can’t be openly with the man he wants, they have to hide so carefully. If caught they face loss of both jobs, loss of standing in the community and not just that but a long spell of imprisonment. The way homosexuals were treated then they’d probably both get killed. Serious stuff.
It amazes me how people can forget all the good others do in their judgmental views. Even if they didn’t do anything particularly good, so long as they’re not harming any one so what if they want to be together?

Its a book that made me so sad, so angry, but which was so tender in the way the romance grew out of the blue. Jonah had spent time with lots of ladies but never really considered men sexually, though he knew a few from his police work and had a view that he’d turn a blind eye where he could. He had a good argument about the Bible and how we understand what’s written. It IS very conflicting, it Is subjective and interpretive.
Meeting Matthew and how he felt towards him came as a shock, and the relationship grew at a very natural for the time rate.
Sometimes that’s more tender, more romantic, more erotic even, that the more contemporary reads where it’s lust at first sight, and they’re hot and heavy before even getting to know each others names. A tiny touch, a careful glance can be so very sensual written properly, and this book is full of that.

Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Don’t Mean a Thing, Renee Conoulty

Don’t Mean a Thing, Renee Conoulty

Don't Mean a Thing (Got That Swing Book 1) by [Conoulty, Renee]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction

Liked the sound of this, and it proved to be a light and entertaining read.
It wasn’t a must-keep-reading book, but it was a fun novel. Its not one I’d read a second time though, to be honest I didn’t really like Macie….

I loved the setting, enjoyed seeing life on an air base, especially one that’s not the US. As a UK reader its always a treat to get a novel set somewhere other than the US, it’s not that I don’t enjoy them but there is far more to the world, are so many wonderful places. there’s something fascinating about Swing, and I love to find it in a novel, I really felt there with the characters when they were having such fun.

I liked the characters, Rachael was kind of light – shallow almost – but fun, Jeremy a sweet guy underneath that always flirting jack-the-lad exterior, Matt was wonderful, and of course Nadiene, his dance partner was a perfect character for me. I adore a good b itch in a book, and would have liked her part to be more active 😉 Sadly the only one I didn’t like much was Macie, I just couldn’t quite take to her.
I really felt for her having walked from a domineering man, who sought to control every aspect of her life. That takes guts and at first I though she was just being self protective, ensuring she didn’t get taken in like that again.
As time passed though she was so ready to jump from Matt at the slightest hint things weren’t going her way, and I felt that rather than compromising she was just expecting him to make all the adjustments, something she slated her ex for doing but it seemed to me she was doing the same, placing Matt’s career second and just waiting to bail out as soon as anything looked hard.
It meant that while I enjoyed the story I wasn’t so much rooting for a HEA for Macie, but for Matt, he really deserved one all the effort he put in to their relationship.
It was a good read, but a one off for me.

Stars: four, a fun, one off read for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Last Hours, Minette Walters

The Last Hours, Minette Walters

The Last Hours by [Walters, Minette]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Historical fiction

I’ve read a few of Minette’s books, some I loved, some not so much, but i do love a Good historical novel and she writes settings and characters, that whether I enjoyed the story or not, feel so very real.
This one was just perfect, a real escape into the past, at times horribly sad, graphically real, and reminding me of just how unfair life was for the largest section of the population.

I’ve read a few books set in the Era of the Plague, the Black Death, a terrible time that decimated the population.
At that time disease was rife anyway, subject to poor nutrition people succumbed to what would be minor illnesses now, as they had so little resistance . Hygiene was poor too, making it easy for viruses and diseases to spread.

Lady Anne has turned around life on her husband’s estate, with measures such introducing dug out latrines rather than throwing excrement into the moat and urinating wherever they wanted. She introduced practices such as washing too, bodies and clothes, and slowly she introduced education. As they learned the villagers began to understand what she was practising, saw results in less sickness, better health.
Of course all her husband cared about was yields and taxes, and as the population became healthier those increased. Had he bothered to take note of her actions he would have fiercely disapproved and stopped them, but luckily he was typical in that he didn’t take not of how serfs lived, felt they were beneath his notice.

Sir Richard is a sorry reflection of how so many Lords were then (sadly how many would be now if they could get away with it!) Self important, cared for nothing and no-one beyond himself, and felt he was above reproach so long as his pet priest gave him absolution. He was paying him, the guy’s living depended on his goodwill so why wouldn’t he?
Its one of those things that’s always amazed me, that absolution wipes away all sins, leaving the perpetrator free to do them all over again, knowing the priest will remove them. That buying of “indulgences ” too is something that always made me cross.
People were so focused on God, and yet made his words fit the lives they wanted to live rather than vice versa. There have been some real atrocities perpetrated because of, and in the name of God.

Then along came the plague. Was it cast by God onto those who had sinned? For a largely ignorant populace its easier to believe that than to think they have nothing to fight it.

Lady Anne feels differently though, when it comes her husband is away, and she refused him entrance back to the place on his return. She had walled it off and brought the villagers inside the castle grounds to keep everyone safe.
He’s been to a demesne where the Plague is rife, many of the men who went with him are dead, and the few who have returned are ill. She knows if he’s allowed in the plague will spread fast. She asks tells him they have left stores for the men, and after a period without illness they can come in.
I’ve read real life accounts where villages closed themselves off like this, some because they wanted to keep the plague out, some because they wanted to keep the infection contained, knowing it was too late to save themselves, they either were going to get it or survive regardless.

There are some incredible characters here, from the courageous and intelligent Lady Anne, her horrible daughter Eleanor, the sly french steward Hugh, and some of the key characters among the villagers. Thaddeus is one of those, born a bastard, he has managed to stay free by way of some tacit advice from lady Anne. He’s wise enough to keep that quiet, and Sir Richard hasn’t yet noticed he has not sworn allegiance as the others all have to.

I enjoyed reading the day to day life, how they dealt with the threat from outside, managed the food, and later, how they had to decide what to do about the future, how long stores would last, whether it was safe to go outside and search for more, and of course what would happen to a country ravaged by plague, or whether it was just their corner of England that was infected.
Given only the top people ever traveled, with perhaps a steward and a few guards, most had no knowledge of the world outside their village. One five miles away could have easily been five hundred for most of them, they never left the estate of Devilish.

Its a story that shows characters in their true light, who is lazy, who is opportunist, who had the foresight to plan ahead. It also has some pretty graphic cruelty that was sadly so very real. The villagers were regarded as property, disposable to their Lords, they would be beaten and whipped at whim, the young girls subject to abuse and there was nothing they could do.

As the novel continues there are secrets to be revealed that put a different light on some things from the past, and of course affect the possible future.
Its a fabulous read, made me feel i was there with the characters. I liked too Lady Anne’s journal, her dilemma of just how much she could include, whether it would help others in the future if they did all die, or if it would put them in danger if they survived. After all with Sir Richard dead and no sons from their marriage, she was once more a Lady with no power, no say in her life, and likely to be married off elsewhere, with Devilish turned over to someone new.

The only thing I didn’t like was the end, its very, very abrupt, and until I reached the end I hadn’t realised there was another book to come. And not til next autumn….oh, I so hate waiting when I’ve got so engrossed in these peoples lives.

Stars: five,  a very worthy five star read, but i so wish the next book was here now…

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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