We haven’t hosted a giveaway for a while here at CR’s so we thought we would give our readers a treat. Up for grabs is an adult colouring book with pens, a £5 amazon gift card, 2 x book marks and a mystery book which will be chosen by us. Good Luck!
We haven’t hosted a giveaway for a while here at CR’s so we thought we would give our readers a treat. Up for grabs is an adult colouring book with pens, a £5 amazon gift card, 2 x book marks and a mystery book which will be chosen by us. Good Luck!
Last night (13th April) we were privileged to be invited to the Launch Party for Cally Taylor’s stunning novel The Lie. Held at the new HarperCollins office (which has breathtaking views over London).
It was a wonderful evening where we were treated to Cally reading from her latest novel (& even revealing a teeny tiny glimpse into her next book, which I am definitely looking forward to!)
It was fantastic to meet some of our fellow bloggers and put faces to twitter accounts and most importantly it was wonderful to meet Cally who was very welcoming.
We’ll be posting a review on The Lie soon so keep your eyes peeled for this – it’s a stunning book and as a very special treat we have 2 signed copies to give away. Check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Compellingreads) for details on how you can win 1 of these! https://www.facebook.com/Compellingreads
Death In The Rainy Season is the second book in the Commandant Serge Morel series. I was not fortunate enough to have read The Lying Down Room before reading this as Amy had reviewed that particular book last year.
I was a little concerned about starting this book without having read book one as I was worried I would be lost with the characters and knowledge of past events that would be needed in order for this book to make sense, but my concerns were very quickly put aside. While it focuses on Commandant Morel it a completely new story.
Death In The Rainy Season is set in Cambodia, where the story starts with a break in and a brutal murder. It becomes apparent that the murderer was someone who was known by the victim but at this point we do not know whom this person is. Luckily for Commandant Morel he happens to be in the right place at the right time (or not as he may be thinking) and is called in to assist in the investigation as it becomes apparent that the victim is related to a minister tangled up in all sorts of scandal. Straight away I knew this was going to be an interesting plot and I was right.
Commandant Morel faces a lack of resources, quirky investigation styles and politics in his quest to the truth making this a rich story which certainly kept me interested . Whilst this is a thriller, it is neither heart stopping or terrifying, but it is a beautifully crafted story full of layers which we have to peel away to discover exactly what has happened and who the murderer is. With beautifully formed characters which and are both fascinating and intelligent you really can not go wrong. This book certainly gives some insight in to some of the darker and seedier aspects of life, giving us an insight both in to life in France and Cambodia; making for a truly fascinating and compelling read.
Enter here to win one of three copies of Death in the Rainy Season:
One Hundred Christmas Proposals is out now, here’s the blurb
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to One Hundred Proposals.
If you thought Harry & Suzie’s life couldn't get anymore sweepingly romantic than Harry asking her to marry him at the end of One Hundred Proposals – think again!
It’s Christmas in a snow-kissed London, and the.PerfectProposal.com have vowed to carry out one hundred proposals in December. No easy task at the best of times – made even more complicated by Harry & Suzie trying to plan their first Christmas and a visit from the dreaded in-laws. But one hundred deliciously Christmassy proposals later they find themselves asking if everything is still perfect in their own relationship….
Welcome back to the divinely warm world of One Hundred Proposals – with a sprinkling of pure, joyful, festive magic.
Have yourself a very merry Christmas indeed with Holly Martin’s Christmas novella.
I love this story and I’m so excited about you guys reading it too. I never thought I would write a sequel for any of my novels, but catching up with Harry and Suzie, two of my favourite characters, in London at Christmas was a story that was begging to be told. What I love about this story is instead of Harry proposing to Suzie, we get to see some of the amazing proposals they organise for their clients and we learn a little about their clients lives too. One of my favourite proposals in this story is the sightseeing flight over London withthe proposal written in flowers on a boat on the Thames.
Now you can win a sightseeing flight over London too and experience some incredible views of our capital.
This experience gives you a unique perspective on the sights of London. After a short pre-flight briefing, you'll board a Piper Seneca twin-engine plane for a fantastic half hour sightseeing trip.
After taking off in Essex you'll follow the Thames west into the heart of the city, getting a unique view of the capital. You'll see the O2 arena, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, the towers at Canary Wharf, The London Eye, The Shard and the Houses of Parliament. Then turn north to fly over Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, before heading back east to land in Essex. You'll get an amazing perspective on the geography of the city and the beauty of its landmarks, so whether you're a tourist or a Londoner, you'll see the capital in a whole new way. And if flying isn’t your thing, this would make the perfect Christmas present for someone in your family.
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is copy one of the pre-prepared tweets below, tweet it and you’ll automatically be entered into the draw to win this prize bundle. The more you tweet, the more times you’ll be entered.
The competition will run until midnight (UK time) on Sunday 14th December so plenty of time for tweeting. Every time you tweet, you’ll be entered into the draw.
City Hospital: New Blood follows five trainee medics (doctors, nurses and physios) who live together as they learn about life working on the wards of a busy city hospital. Each faces their own dramas and heartbreak in the first book from the City Hospital series.
I was instantly intrigued by this book when I received an email asking me if I would like to review New Blood and be a part of the blog tour as it seemed familiar. Just a few pages I realised why, I had in fact read and enjoyed these books when they were first published so it was interesting to revisit them. Being a nurse, I am fascinated by medical fiction and literally can not get enough of it, so I was eager to get stuck in.
City Hospital follows Suzie, Mark, Karlene, Gordy and Bella; 5 trainee medics, each of whom are following a different career path, but are brought together by them both working and living together. While a few of the characters are instantly likeable, Karlene and Bella took some warming up to as found them quite difficult to become engaged with. However, each of the characters are well portrayed and developed, although I would like to know more of their back story.
While there isn’t much to go by in the way of actual medical action, this series does offer a good glimpse at the day to day life of working in a busy hospital, although the reality of working in a London hospital is quite different from my experience, especially as a student. Although there are definitely elements and experiences which rang true and made me remember my student days. City Hospital certainly has potential and is perfect for teens, with its never ending drama and interlinking and complex relationships. The writing style is very easy to read, fluent and quick, the descriptions are particularly vivid. It certainly made for an enjoyable read and I whizzed through this in one sitting, with its fast paced plot and unexpected twists and turns this is well worth a read.
Take a look here for other books by Keith Miles including book 2 of the City Hospital series – Flames.
Enter the free “City Hospital” competition to be in with a chance to have a character in a book named after you!
The “City Hospital” novels are written by Keith Miles, who has written loads of scripts and books for primetime TV and soaps. “City Hospital” is perfect for fans of shows like “Casualty” and “Holby City“. It follows the lives of five medical students – Suzie, Mark, Karlene, Gordy and Bella – who share a house, and the ups and downs of working in a busy teaching hospital. Each novel mixes their own personal dramas with patients’ stories. The series was a huge hit in print, and is now being reissued as ebooks for the first time.
To be in with a chance to have a character in the next “City Hospital” book named after you, simply email competition@
I am completely new to this author but I am so glad I read this book as I have discovered an author that can write beautifully and vividly about love, passion, independence and women’s choices in a vastly changing world in America in 1947.
Vada (I love this name as I’ve never heard it before yet think it suits the main character perfectly) Hadley is the daughter of a prosperous family in Charleston, America in 1947 and it is the eve of her wedding to Julian McLeod and yet she is unsure that marriage and settling down is what she wants in life so with the help of Desmond and Rosa Lee, her family’s servants, she runs away to the tiny town of Round O where shockingly for the times, she plans to earn her living as a teacher. It is here that she meets diner owner Frank Darling and so begins a wonderfully sweet and old-fashioned romance although Vada’s past eventually comes back to haunt her and she must make some difficult decisions about what she really wants to do with her life.
I really enjoyed how this novel explored the difficulty that women faced in 1940s America about being treated as an equal to a man and the struggles that they had to go through if they had other ambitions in life other than making a good marriage. I loved the feistiness and independence of Vada and her sense of what is right and wrong and the blossoming of her romance with Frank was elegantly and beautifully portrayed.
The only little thing that bothered me about the book is how the point of view changed quite frequently, sometimes even in the same scene which took a few moments to work out whose viewpoint is being shown but I did like how this enabled me as a reader to understand the thoughts and feelings of the characters.
There were so many unexpected things dealt with in the book including homosexuality and life in a brothel but they were all weaved in seamlessly with the story. I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy a wonderfully innocent and sweet romance story with vividly drawn characters and wonderfully depicted landscapes.
Charleston gift basket (US only) and a copy of Palmetto Moon (International)
June 20, 1947
“Murrah?” Rosa Lee’s eyes go wide and she shakes her head at me like I’ve forgotten the rules, but I haven’t. Since before I was born, my parents forbade the servants to speak their native tongue in our house. Offenders were given one warning; a second offense brought immediate dismissal. I say the Gullah word again, drawing it out softly. “Why are you crying?” The hands that helped bring me into the world motion for me to lower my voice.
Rosa Lee’s husband, Desmond, told me my first word was murrah. It was what I called Rosa Lee, until Mother made me call her by name. “My own murrah.” The forbidden words bring more tears. I press my face into the soft curve of her neck and breathe in the Ivory soap Mother insists all the servants use, mingled with Rosa Lee’s own scent—vanilla and lemongrass.
She holds me at arm’s length, trembling, and I know I’ve done it again.
“You got to tell them,” she pleads. “Make them see you can’t go through with this.”
I point to the door that leads to the elegant dining room where my parents are eating their breakfast. “I have told them. Mother refuses to listen, and I’ve begged Father. He says I have to do this.” She looks away. Her body rocks, sobbing violently on the inside. “Rosa Lee, please don’t cry. I can’t bear it.” She shakes her head and swipes at the tears that stain the sleeve of her freshly pressed uniform. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”
“When you’re asleep, your heart takes over. You got no control, and it’s gonna kill you.”
She’s right. Since I graduated and moved home from college two weeks ago, I’ve been sleepwalking like I did when I was a child, but these outings don’t land me snuggled up in the servant’s quarters, between Desmond and Rosa Lee. Most of the time, I wake up and return to bed without incident, but last week Desmond found me trying to leave the house. He said I was babbling about sleeping in the bay, which might not have been so disturbing if I hadn’t been wearing five layers of heavy clothing. I knew what he thought I was trying to do to myself and told him not to worry.
Since then, Rosa Lee has insisted on sleeping on the stiff brocade chaise in my bedroom. Of course, my parents don’t know she’s there or that she’s so afraid I’ll walk to the bay or step off the balcony in my sleep, she’s tethered my ankle to the bedpost with three yards of satin rope she begged from Mrs. O’Doul.
“Maybe it will be different after the wedding.” I love her enough to lie to her. “Father says I’m a Hadley and once it’s over with, I’ll fall in line the way I was born to.”
“But what if Desmond hadn’t caught you?” She threads her fingers in mine and kisses the back of my hand. A part of me wishes her intuition hadn’t sent Desmond to check on me, that he hadn’t found me. “And what are you gonna do when we’re not there?”
“Don’t say that.” My knees buckle, and I melt into a puddle at her feet. Justin has made it clear he’s happy with his staff and has no plans to add “two ancient servants.” But living under his roof and not having Rosa Lee and Desmond with me is unthinkable, another high price of being the last Hadley descendant.
“You think it’s not going to get worse after you’re married? Who do you think’s gonna be there to save you? Mr. Justin?” She hisses the last word. “You think long and hard before the sun comes up tomorrow, because I’m afraid down to my bones that you won’t be alive
to see it.”
She collects herself and heads into the dining room to check on my parents. They won’t look into her beautiful brown face and see she’s been crying any more than they see this wedding is killing me, or at least the idea of being yoked to Justin McLeod is. Not because he’s eight years older than me and, other than our station in life, we have nothing in common, and not because of his good qualities, although no one can find more than two: He is a heart-stoppingly beautiful man and the sole heir of the largest fortune in Charleston.
For over a hundred years, Justin’s family and mine have built ships. And while two world wars made us rich, a prolonged peace threatens to weaken our family fortunes considerably. Somewhere in all that, my father convinced Justin a Hadley-McLeod union would position them to take over the world, at least the shipping world. And Father is certain nothing short of a blood union will keep Justin in the partnership.
Rosa Lee pushes through the swinging door and pours the coffee down the drain, her signal that breakfast is over and my parents are no longer close by. I smile, trying to reassure her I’m okay, that I’m going to be okay. She shakes her head and starts to wash one of the breakfast plates in slow motion, barely breathing. I hate those things, and after tomorrow, I’ll own twenty-four place settings of them, part of my dowry. I don’t give a damn about thousand-dollar plates, but I do care for Rosa Lee.
“I can do this.” I say from behind her. My voice sounds sure, steady. “I will do this.”
“You and I both know you can’t walk down that aisle. Dear God in heaven, Vada, tell them.” Her head is down, and she says the last two words like a prayer. “Make them see so they’ll put a stop to this foolishness.”
There’s no point. I’ve begged my parents, told them I can’t marry Justin, because I don’t love him. I’ve told them I feel nothing for him, not love, not even hate. Even after I told my
father about the other women, he shrugged and said I was being ridiculous. “There are no fairy-tale marriages, Vada. Know your place, your purpose. Marry. Procreate. Continue the lineage. That’s your job.”
This archaic arrangement is not the job I want or the one I applied for. My heart races at the thought of how furious my parents would be if they knew my favorite professor recommended me for a teaching position, not in a posh boarding school but a two-room schoolhouse near a tiny crossroads community. Mother would fume silently while Father would remind me that no Hadley woman has ever worked.
But it’s 1947 for goodness’ sake. What did they expect when they sent me away to college, that I would learn everything except how to think for myself? The swell of defiance is snuffed out by Justin’s testy voice in the foyer. “Well, I am here now, madam. What do you want?”
I can’t make out what my mother is saying and slip behind the dining-room door. From the way I peer at them through the crack between the jamb, she looks tiny compared to him, but she emanates such presence. Justin has the posture of a rebellious teenager.
“It’s about Vada, and I am not talking about this here.” She points toward the study. He eyes her for a moment, knowing full well the drawing room is a woman’s place, the study a man’s domain for brandy and smelly cigars.
I can hardly breathe as she leads Justin into the study. Maybe she did listen. Maybe she’s finally going to tell Justin the wedding is off. The door to the study is slightly ajar. I slip off my shoes and tiptoe across the foyer to hear her say the words I’ve longed for since I was fourteen and learned about this horrible arrangement.
“You have me up before noon for this?” Justin is glaring at her, but she’s so strong, so beautiful. She’s not intimidated in the least.
“You must understand that Vada is a young girl, barely twenty. I heard the things she told her father. Your carousing.”
“My carousing?” he laughs and runs his hands through his short dark hair.
“Yes. The parties. The women. After the engagement, I thought you would change, settle down. Surely you don’t expect to carry on as usual after the wedding.”
Justin is no longer amused. His face is red, the veins in his forehead pronounced. “Let me remind you, madam, after tomorrow, I may be your daughter’s husband, but I’ll carry on at my own discretion, not yours, not your husband’s, and certainly not your Vada’s.”
Their standoff is palpable. Mother throws her hands up in disgust. “I shouldn’t even have to have this conversation with you, Justin, but Vada is extremely unhappy, and the very least you could do is try to be more accommodating.”
“Just tell me, what is it going to take?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Your price. To be a proper husband. Doting. Monogamous.” She draws the last word out.
“Trust me, madam, you don’t have enough money.” He stands and straightens the sleeves of his suit. “We’re done here.”
“Justin.” My mother grabs his arm. He towers over her. “Don’t hurt her.”
Her steely look is returned with amusement. “My dear Mrs. Hadley, for Vada or me to get hurt, one of us would actually have to care about this union. Tomorrow we marry together two fortunes for the greater good. Nothing more.”
“But you expect her to be a proper wife?”
“Of course. Why shouldn’t she?”
“Your level of arrogance is remarkable, Justin, even for you. Get out of my house.”
He makes an exaggerated bow. “Good day, Mrs. Hadley.”
The door opens, and Justin stands there for a moment, looking at my tearstained face. He sighs and pushes past me. “Really, Vada, after tomorrow, I’ll expect you to be more presentable in the mornings.”
I’ve honored Mrs. O’Doul’s refusal to talk about Darby for three years now, but with the wedding looming, the loss feels fresh, and I can’t help myself. “I miss her.”
Mrs. O’Doul gives me a hard look to remind me of our silent agreement not to talk about her daughter, my best friend. She nods curtly as she scrutinizes my dress, which she’s had to take in, again, for the rehearsal party. “You’ll be a good wife. You’ll make your ma and da proud.”
I shake my head at my reflection and the exquisite design that looks funny with my bare feet. “Maybe it’s best Darby’s not here. She’d be so ashamed of me.”
“Who knows where that girl is now? And, to be sure, she’d be ashamed if she showed her face around here, but not because you’re marrying Justin McLeod, I can tell you that.”
“She’s your daughter. You can’t still be mad at her.”
Another stern look reminds me Mrs. O’Doul lost more than a daughter when Darby was run out of town for her tryst with Mr. McCrady. But Mrs. McCrady didn’t stop there. She made sure Mrs. O’Doul’s wealthy clients boycotted her dressmaking business. Darby’s mother lost everything: her daughter, her shop, her apartment. My parents fussed when I insisted on Mrs. O’Doul altering my trousseau, but Mrs. O’Doul said it brought some of her
customers back, the only good thing that has come from this wedding plan.
She smooths her hands down the seams of the ivory bodice and inspects a tiny pucker. “Damn beads.” She works the seam with her fingers until it lies flat, then steps back and inspects the dress. Her smile is thin, almost sad. “I remember every dress I ever made for you. And now look at you, wearing couture since you were sixteen. Getting married tomorrow in the finest dress I’ve ever seen.”
She’s right. I’ve always had a shameless love for beautiful clothes, even more so for shoes. But when Mrs. O’Doul made something for me, it meant going to Habberman’s on King Street. She always said Darby and me went together like grits and gravy, she couldn’t very well take one of us shopping without taking the other. While she selected the perfect material for my dress, we played hide-and-seek among the tall bolts leaned against the walls. Sometimes we sorted through bins of loose buttons or rhinestones and talked about what our lives would be like when we grew up.
As I got older, I worried that Darby would be jealous of the dresses her mother made for me. I know I would have been. But Darby said she didn’t care—they were just dresses, and we were best friends, the grits-and-gravy kind.
The other girls Darby grew up with wanted nothing to do with her after I went away to college. She gave up a lot to be my friend, and how did I repay her? I didn’t make time to phone her or return her letters. I was so wrapped up in things that didn’t matter, I forgot about the one person who mattered most to me. And by the time I heard Darby had been banished from Charleston, I was too ashamed of what I’d done, of the way I treated her, to try to find her, to tell her how very sorry I was.
“You’re a stunning young woman, Vada Hadley, and that dress—”
“The clothes you made, they were just as beautiful, and they meant something to me.”
She scoffs and puts her tools away, satisfied that my dress looks the way Jacques Fath intended when he designed it. “You’ll not find the likes of this fabric on King Street, I can promise you that. And if you did, I wouldn’t know where to begin to make something this . . . perfect. And your wedding dress? Even grander, Vada. Really.” She pushes a strand of hair behind my ear. “You’re going to be a beautiful bride.”
All through the rehearsal and this ridiculous party, everyone has said those words to me, like somehow the way I look will determine the outcome of this union. But nothing changes the fact that this is a mistake.
The canvas of the massive white tent billows a little, and the night air is damp and thick. Well-wishing men dab at their foreheads with handkerchiefs, and little beads of sweat line the lips of pretty women who are sweltering in the late-June heat. But even their intrusions can’t hold my attention from the Ashley as it flows past Middleton Place. I can’t stop looking at the river, thinking about it. Where does it go? To Edisto? To Savannah? Does it matter? It’s free, unencumbered by family and duty.
“Tears of joy?” Justin’s famous second cousin, Josephine, dabs at my face. I shake my head and turn my attention back to the river. “Middleton Place is stunning. And while I do have El Dorado, in my bones I know this plantation shouldn’t have ended up with the McLeods, least of all Justin. But the gods split the lot the way they saw fit. Perhaps they intended for it to be your consolation prize.”
“Does it console you, Miss Pinckney?” I ask.
“Words console me.”
“Of course they do, your books. The movie.”
She laughs and shakes her head. “Yes, the movie. Well, I don’t think Three O’Clock Dinner will ever make its way to the theater, my dear. I hear Lana Turner’s off again, to Mexico this time, vacationing with Tyrone Power, and who knows who it will be next? Those Hollywood folks don’t know what they want, not really. Besides, I don’t need a consolation prize. But you? I’m not so sure.”
Most of the women here would kill for Josephine Pinckney’s lineage alone, much less her present status as the darling of the literary world. They comfort themselves with catty remarks and whisper that she’s plain and was never beautiful. But even in the moonlight, there’s something about her knowing look and those piercing eyes that make her stunning and powerful.
“Walk with me?” she says.
I nod and step toward the grassy steps that lead to the river and away from the party. Breaking a heel is the least of my worries, but instinctively I tiptoe across the boards that stretch out across the water, and Miss Pinckney does the same. The river makes a swishing sound and cuts hard around the posts that anchor the dock into the muddy bottom, and the waxing crescent of the Palmetto moon dips low across the marsh grass. A fish skips like a stone over the top of the silvery black water, and for the first time tonight, I feel like I can breathe.
“Run out—run out from the insane gold world, softly clanging the gate lest any follow.” I’m not sure if she’s quoting her books or one of her poems, but even in my hopelessness, I feel her silent prodding.
“I don’t want this.”
She’s quiet for a beat. “What do you want, Vada?”
“What I can’t have.”
“Something you can’t have. Really? The only child of Matthew and Katherine Hadley? I speak from experience as an only child born into the pinnacle of this caste system we live in, there’s nothing you can’t have.”
“You’re—wrong.” The sob building inside threatens to turn me inside out, so everyone can see the truth that doesn’t seem to matter to anybody. Not my parents, not Justin, and least of all the party lemmings.
“Then what is it?”
I’m shivering in this heat, teeth chattering, unable to answer. All I can do is point to the river as it flows away from this horrible mess and escapes toward the ocean.
“You are wrong, Vada Hadley.” She wraps her silk stole around me and kisses my tearstained cheek. “You can have anything you want.”
Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.
Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.
As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.
Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.