#BlogTour Dark Hollows by Steve Frech

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Dark Hollows by Steve Frech.

About the Author

Steve Frech lives in Los Angeles. In addition to writing, he produces and hosts the Random Awesomeness Podcast, an improv-comedy quiz show that has been performed at Upright Citizens Brigade, The Improv, iO West, and Nerdist.

Follow @stevefrech on Twitter, on Goodreadson Facebook, Buy Dark HollowsAbout the book

Jacob Reese enjoys the quiet life, running a coffee shop and renting out his cottage in The Hollows, Vermont.

But the calm is shattered when a woman who looks eerily similar to his ex-girlfriend Laura turns up to stay in the cottage, and leaves a mysterious note in the guest book.

Now Jacob’s seeing Laura everywhere—a glimpse of her face across the street, her music box left outside his house, a gift he gave her years before hanging from the trees.

But it can’t be Laura. Because Laura’s dead.

Someone knows Jacob’s secret—what really happened the night Laura died—and they’re out for revenge…

Review

To an outside observer Jacob appears to have it all. A man who is liked by all with a successful business and with both feet firmly placed in the community – what could possibly be wrong with his life? As if that wasn’t enough to cement the impression of a person in control of his life and happiness there is also his delightfully droll dog Murphy.

The truth is Jacob does have a secret – the kind of secret he can’t afford to let surface. It would destroy the life he has built for himself. But it seems as if someone else knows about his secret and are intent on destroying his life bit by bit.

Laura is back, which is a bit of a conundrum because Jacob is pretty sure she is dead. Very sure actually, which begs the question – who is trying to convince him that she is very much alive and well?

It’s interesting how Frech doesn’t really take the most obvious path of Jacob being the guilty party and deserving of some kind of punishment. Instead the mystery and tension is built around the Jacob of now, as opposed to the Jacob of then.

It’s a psychological thriller that plays with the question of guilt. Does the punishment fit the crime? Is the destruction of his life and those he cares for really the right way to punish him? It’s a cat and mouse game and I’m not sure there is a clear victor at the end, which is probably the most satisfying way to end the story.

Buy Dark Hollows at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Digital ebook pub date 6 Dec. 2019. Paperback release date 20 Feb. 2020. Buy at Amazon comBuy at HQ.

#BlogTour Black Summer by M.W. Craven

Today it’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the BlogTour for Black Summer by M.W. Craven. This is the second book in the Washington Poe series -it’s a cracking read.

About the Author

A brand new voice in British crime fiction, M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full-time author. the first in the Washington Poe series, the Puppet Show, won the 2019 CWA Gold Dagger, has sold numerous foreign territories and has been optioned for TV by Studio Lambert.

M.W. Craven has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award, an Amazon Reader Award and a Cumbria Life Award. He is also the author of the Avison Fluke novels, Born in a Burial Ground (shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger) and Body Breaker. Black Summer is the second novel in the Washington Poe series.

Follow @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK on Twitter, on Facebookon Instagramon Goodreads, Visit mwcraven.comBuy Black Summer

About the book

After the Puppet Show, a new storm is coming…

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath… He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Review

The first chapter will remain with me for a long time. It takes an excellent author to write something that is simultaneously innocent and the most menacing thing I have read in a long time. I just can’t get the birds out of my head – the description of the scene and the sound I think it must have made.

I’m sending curses to Craven, because I just can’t lose the imagery.

Washington Poe is called in to confirm the details of a gruesome past case. A celebrity chef killed his own daughter, and despite there being no body, he was convicted of her murder. But Elizabeth is back and she is very much alive and kicking, which means Poe made the kind of mistake that ends careers. It also means a psychopath will soon be walking the streets again.

Poe goes over every single step, especially the blood evidence, to find some kind of loophole that will explain how this was able to happen. He, and others, question his investigation and whether he neglected the truth in favour of a fast solution. Then Elizabeth goes missing once again and the shadow of suspicion falls on Poe.

It’s a psychological thriller, a police procedural with the vibe of the macabre, which is drawn from a deep well of darkness. The Puppet Show was good, but this second book in the Washington Poe series is even better. Craven is cementing his mark in the world of crime writers.

I really enjoyed the read and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Craven has this knack for creating memorable characters that readers connect with – Tilly for instance – and writing his crime with a hint of horror, a dollop of suspense and a spoonful of noir. It’s a dark, riveting read – what can I say it’s Cravenesque.

Buy Black Summer (Washington Poe #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Constable – Little Brown Books UK pub date Paperback 12 Dec. 2019 – £7.99. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven

#BlogTour A Song for Bill Robinson by C.E. Atkins

Today it’s my turn on the Blog Blitz for A Song for Bill Robinson by C. E. Atkins.

About the Author

Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to reading, writing and music and writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love.

Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life and has now been developed into a 6 book series. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere and award-winning dystopian, The Tree Of Rebels, plus a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. The award-winning Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature was released through Pict Publishing in October 2018. Her next YA novel A Song For Bill Robinson will be released in December 2019. Chantelle has had multiple articles about writing published by Author’s Publish magazine.

About the book

Tensions are building on the notorious Holds End estate. The local community centre is fighting for survival and the murder of 15-year-old Lewis Matthews remains unsolved…

Wannabe teenage singer, Bill Robinson, just got out of hospital after surviving a vicious attack. He thinks he knows who attacked him…and why. When a violent feud escalates between him and local thug Charlie McDonnal, Bill vows to find the killer and help save the community centre by taking part in the local singing contest.

How can music bring a shattered community together? And can Bill keep his own demons at bay long enough to win the singing contest and find out who killed Lewis Matthews?   Review

There are lot of things going on in this young adult story, whether it be homophobia, knife violence, working through trauma after a vicious attack or living in an economically poor area. When you combine all of these aspects they become a recipe for disruption, division and disaster.

It starts with Bill being released from hospital after a particularly violent attack by persons unknown. Bill has his suspicions though. He believes a local thug called Charlie is behind the attack, which is confirmed as far as he is concerned when he watches a video of the attack. Perhaps he is also responsible for the death of a local lad, an as yet unsolved crime.

His suspicions lead to an ever growing conflict between the two of them, which culminates in a nasty tit for tat between the young men. Other people get dragged into the mind games and there are lasting consequences for both families.

The author describes quite well how the need to block out and dull the pain begins with a can of alcohol here and there. As the anxiety and need to forget grows the use of alcohol becomes more frequent, thereby demonstrating how the descent into alcoholism begins for so many people.

It’s a YA urban crime story and it’s also a story about coming-of-age. Atkins doesn’t let her main character be dictated by labels and demonstrates what sexual fluidity looks like when it isn’t defined by society for a young person. The story is very on point in regards to sexuality, knife violence and abuse issues in younger generations in our day and age.

Buy A Song for Bill Robinson (Holds End #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Pict Publishing; pub date December 6, 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Murders of Old China by Paul French

Today it’s a pleasure to review the Audiobook Murders of Old China by Paul French. It is narrated by Paul French.

About the Author

Paul French was born in Enfield, London and moved to Shanghai after studying Chinese at the City Literary Institute. Paul spent nearly twenty years living and working in China, splitting time between Shanghai and Beijing. During this time, he worked as a journalist and book reviewer for a number of publications, researching the early twentieth century history of both cities, particularly the foreign communities that lived there.

French is known for his true crime literary non-fiction set in twentieth century China. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times bestseller, and won a number of prestigious awards including the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Paul’s second literary non-fiction book City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir was a Kirkus Book of the Year.

Follow Paul French @chinarhyming on Twitter, on Facebookon Goodreads, Visit chinarhyming.comBuy Murders of Old China

About the book

Paul French (Midnight in Peking, City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir) dives into fifty years of murder and true crime across China and Hong Kong from the start of the twentieth century in Audible original narrative non-fiction Murders of Old China. Drawing on two and a half decades of research, French explores a dozen gripping murder cases, taking listeners from warlord-wracked Beijing, through the mighty international city of Shanghai and on to the remote and bandit-infested hinterlands of the Tibetan border and Inner Mongolia.

Using new documentation, cross-referencing and what French calls ‘sleuthing by hindsight’, Murders of Old China takes a fresh look at these twelve cases, whisking listeners on a journey through the dangerous underbelly of old China and uncovering more of the country’s unique history.

Each true crime case offers new insights into foreign society in China in the last days of the dying Qing Dynasty and the first decades of the Chinese Republic, shining a light on racial tensions and the criminal underworld, and querying the extent to which foreigners exploited the turmoil of the time. With a backdrop of war, imperialism and revolution, these stories provide an incredible insight into how modern China was formed, and the dark realities behind much of its recent past.

Narrated by French, and written in the style of the “American Noir” exemplified by Capote’s In Cold Blood, Murders of Old China is a must for fans of true crime, and those keen to learn more about China’s fascinating history.Review

What I really enjoyed about this Audiobook is the way the author narrates the story as if he were sat beside you having a dram whilst lounging in a comfortable leather chair in front of a log fire. He adds the smallest details, so in a sense it becomes almost like a vigorous discussion on various murderous scandals. Twelve true stories of violence, betrayal and murder that took place in the 20th century.

A Very Awkward Death in Tibet (1907) – The first big murder case tried by the American court for China in Shanghai. It was an attempt by the POTUS (Roosevelt) to extend American justice and punishments to its US citizens in China. A white foreigner killed a Chinese national. It was unheard of in times of white supremacy and patriarchy that a white man would stand trial with the possibility of death.

The Death of a Rickshaw Man (1908) – In this case a white man is tried by a jury. Once again a white foreigner kills a Chinese national. This time a British national, which meant it even made the news in Britain. The accused denied the charge and claimed self-defense. No wonder the Chinese thought the deck was stacked against them when having to abide by foreign rules in their own country.

Trafficked to her Death – Eliza Shapera (1907) – In a time when rumours of White Slavery were abundant. When gossips spoke of white women being tricked into prostitution in foreign countries. The real outrage caused by the thought that non-whites were having sex with white women. The body of a European woman was found – a prostitute.

A Deadly Rampage in Tai-O (1918) – It’s safe to say that not all the evidence or factors leading up to this tragedy were reviewed at the time. Colonialists being reluctant or unable to take issues such as inequality, racism into account and the corruption in this remote location. There is no doubt about victim or perpetrator, but perhaps the reasons for the rampage would have shed a different light on the matter.

The Irritating Betram Lennox Simpson (1930) – French wonders how Simpson managed to attract so many enemies in so many different fractions. Perhaps his part in the looting, which the in China born Simpson always denied. His machinations and loud protestations both written and vocal made him a contentious person to everyone.

A Deadly Dinner in Shanghai’s Gangster Mansion (1932) – Shanghai represented the power position of France equal to that of their rival Britain. Shanghai was often known as the Paris of the East or the Whore of the Orient. The Green Gang was a well-known criminal operation both in China and overseas. The leader or crime boss of this gang at the time, Big-Eared Du, invited the most senior and important French officials to a dinner at his fortress like mansion. It became the most vicious of lessons in authority and power plays.

Slain by His Best Friend – Two Tragic Deaths in Shanghai (1932) – Did a personal dispute really cause one man to kill the other over something as trivial as a job promotion? Why did the two friends end up in such a contentious relationship? Or was the disagreement that ended in the death of one of them born in a more base emotion like greed?

Gareth Jones – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1935) – The death of the investigative journalist looked like another kidnapping gone wrong by bandits out for quick profit. However his investigations appeared to have hit a goldmine when it came to the political pulse of that era. He was an intelligent young reporter with an interest in current affairs, and interest that probably led to his death.

The Shanghai Long Drop: The Case of The Sikh They Couldn’t Hang (1935) – A straightforward crime and conviction – a death sentence. The story really starts after the death sentence is pronounced. The guilty man was transported to a hellhole, six thousand prisoners in a space equipped for two thousand prisoners. One could argue that physics play a big role in this story and perhaps not ‘luck’ per se.

The Good Doctor Colbert – Wife Poisoner? (1936) – Interesting how poisoning was considered an alternative to ridding oneself of a wife or husband. Divorce, especially for women, was synonymous with scandal. This is also the only story where the victim is actually able to watch the trial herself. It was a case that caught the attention of not only China, but also the US.

Who Killed The Baron of Frenchtown (1941) – A murder, an assassination that remains unsolved to this day. A murder with motives that draw from long before a pre-war time and culminate in wartime. The Baron opposed the new regime and wrote favourably about the prior one. He was highly critical of the way the powers that be let crime run rampant. His opinions may have made him a potential target.

The Death of a Shanghai Gold Dealer (1947) – As an East meets West city, Shanghai became a melting pot of refugees, peasants looking for a better life and ex-soldiers. Eight long years of war and occupation had left their mark on the city that once was its own jewel in the crown of China. Greed and coming to the attention of people who were interested in making a profit to restart their lives back home was the downfall of the Gold Dealer.

I think what shines through in the majority of these old cases is just how oppressive and unjust colonialism was. It’s really no surprise that there is a general sense and feeling of mistrust towards predominantly white regimes that believed themselves to be superior above all others, especially to non-whites. Was there really any justice for victims of crime when the victim was a native, and indeed if the roles were reversed the punishments were harsher for non-whites.

This is a must-listen for readers or listeners who enjoy true crime and like their crime to be factual rather than fictional. French does an excellent job of melding history, politics, social structures and culture together with well-researched crimes that have been buried and forgotten with the passing of time.

French narrates with passion and power, and opens the door to the world and captivating history of China, albeit just a small part His voice draws readers in as he tells the tragic stories of debt, theft, abuse, violence and murder. He brings in all of  the documented evidence that is available and gives life to the men, women and children who have become mere blips in history.

Buy Murders of Old China at Amazon Uk. Publisher Audible Original: pub date: 4 Dec 2019. Buy at Audible Uk.

Audible Audiobook

Listening Length: 8 hours and 32 minutes, Narrated by: Paul French, Program Type: Audiobook, Version: Unabridged, Publisher: Audible Original, Audible.co.uk Release Date: 4 Dec. 2019, Language: English, English, ASIN: B08288B56D

#BlogTour Rage by Suzanne Lowe

Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour Rage (Seventeen #2) by Suzanne Lowe. It’s the second part of the dystopian YA series Seventeen.

About the Author

Suzanne was born in Perth Western Australia and as a young adult grew up in the small country town of Tom Price situated in the outback of Western Australia. Her current home is in Perth with her husband, two daughters and cat Abby.

Suzanne has a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Sports Science. Her interests include watching movies, particularly sci- fi, travelling, photography and reading. She also enjoys going to the occasional comic book convention!

Like the young women in her stories, Suzanne has had the opportunity to experience many exciting adventures in her life so far including being part of the Australian Army Reserves, climbing to Mt Everest base camp, descending into one of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, flying in a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, parachuting from a plane at 12000 feet in York and sitting on the edge of an active volcano on Tanna island in Vanuatu.

Suzanne has won the award for best Sci fi/Horror in an e-book in the New Apple literary awards for her YA novel Seventeen and received a bronze medal from Reader’ Favorite International writers’ literary competition for her children’s novel The Pirate Princess and the Golden Locket.

Suzanne is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Australian Society of Authors.

Her published works include;

Seventeen, book one in the Seventeen Series. A YA dystopian adventure story set in Australia. Rage, book two in the Seventeen Series. The Pirate Princess and the Golden Locket, a pirate adventure story for middle grade children.

Follow @Suzanne_Lowe_ on Twitter, on Facebookon Amazonon Goodreadson Instagram, Visit Suzanneloweauthor.comBuy Rage

About the book

“Revenge. It was all he could think about.

His body ached for it, burned for it like a relentless fire waiting to be quenched. It was all he wanted.”

With the KV17 virus now in its mutated form and the older children infected, Jasper’s Bay faces an uncertain future as they attempt to find a cure.

When old enemies return, causing tension and turmoil throughout the town, Lexi must face her fears and suppress the rage building inside her. Will the virus take hold or can she maintain control? How can you defeat an enemy when it is part of who you are?

The exciting and compelling YA series set in the harsh Australian outback.

Review

This series reminded me of The Tribe, a television sci-fi series from the late 90s, and Gone by Michael Grant. The face of humanity has been changed by a virus called KV17, which has wiped out all the adults. Now the virus has mutated and is infecting the older children or those nearing adulthood.

Although this is the second in the series it can be read as a standalone novel, because Lowe gives readers sufficient information without rehashing the entirety of the last book. In the first book of the series, Seventeen, the small group has no choice but to send three of their group into exile, because they are starting to show signs of the infection. This causes disruption and perhaps a wedge between some of the children.

What it does do without a doubt is enrage the exiled, who are out for revenge, but to do so they need to ensure their ranks grow. They approach another small community of children struggling to survive and persuade them to help get revenge on Lexi’s group.

It’s a YA dystopian story suitable for both older and younger readers, an apocalyptic adventure series. The author plays into the anxiety of many adults by presenting the vulnerability of children if they are put into a position of having to feed, clothe and keep themselves safe. That’s the bit that tugs on the heartstrings.

The flipside of the coin is the correlation between adulthood, a lack of empathy and more aggressive behaviour. It begs the question whether those elements are driven by coming-of-age or by the virus itself.

Buy Rage (Seventeen #2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published in paperback and ebook formats by Silvergum Publishing on 2nd September 2019. Buy at Amazon comAt Amazon AuAt BlackwellsBuy at BookDepository. At Waterstones.

#BlogTour Fighting Back by Rachel Churcher

Today it is my turn on the BlogTour Fighting Back, the fourth part in the Battle Ground series, by Rachel Churcher.About the Author

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

About the book

Bex Ellman and her friends are in hiding, sheltered by the resistance. With her family threatened and her friendships challenged, she’s looking for a way to fight back. Ketty Smith is in London, supporting a government she no longer trusts. With her support network crumbling, Ketty must decide who she is fighting for – and what she is willing risk to uncover the truth.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence. Review

I recommend reading the rest of the series to get the full gist of the characters and this series. The books can be read as standalone books, but I think readers will get more from the entirety of the series.

Set in the future post-Brexit and post Scottish Independence era, the series Battle Ground is an alarming dystopian scenario, perhaps more so because it isn’t a far-fetched premise. A civil war rages in the country, a war driven by propaganda and false facts.

In this fourth part of the series Churcher shows the reader how both sides are unable to present themselves as free of guilt and blame. When the resistance takes their fight to the next level and in doing  so an event happens that targets innocent bystanders, well they no longer have a leg to stand on when it comes to presenting themselves to the world as the better solution.

Does the end justify the means? Do two wrongs make a right? I think this is the bitter lesson that certain characters learn within this story. Will some of these choices or retaliations make some of them rethink their position in this vicious war?

It’s a dystopian series set in the near future and set around a premise that isn’t that far-fetched at all. At present the UK is divided by starkly different political opinions, and the question of refugees for instance, which brings us back to the question of race and racism. The division is being defined and driven by the agendas of foreign countries, media bias and the upper echelon of the wealthy. Is it any wonder that there are plenty of voices of dissension. Churcher uses the fire that burns to fuel her stories.

Buy Fighting Back  (Battle Ground #4) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.  Publisher: Taller Books; pub date 20 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Buy the Battle Ground books at Taller Books.

Read my reviews of Battle Ground and Darkest Hour by Rachel Churcher

#BlogTour Unprotected by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Today it is a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Unprotected by Sophie Jonas-Hill.

About the Author

Sophie has had what might be politely described as a varied career, which has seen her be a black-smith, silver-smith, jewellery designer, pattern-cutter and wedding dress designer, home help, teacher, extreme knitter, burlesque performer, artists and various combinations of the above. Her one abiding passion alongside drawing has always been writing, from her early work in year four producing hand bound novellas mostly written in crayon to the inevitable fantasy epic which pushed 500 pages, and thank goodness has never seen the light of day.

She began focusing on her writing after the birth of her first child, and has been working on it ever since, losing hand’s down to the publishing industry’s gatekeepers and Gorgons, until she met fellow traveller Amanda Saint, who as the name suggests, was something of a shining light on the path.

She is currently studying an MA in illustration and discovering how much she hates academic writing, and what a wise move it was to give someone else the task of designing the cover for her first book with Retreat West, Unprotected. She lives in Kent with her long suffering husband, two children and a very handsome cat.

Follow @SophieJonasHill and @RetreatWest on Twitter, on Goodreadson Facebook,Visit sophiejonashill.com , Buy Unprotected

About the book

She’s fighting to save everyone else, but will she have anything left to save herself?

Witty, sharp and sarcastic tattoo artist Lydia’s life is imploding. Her long-term relationship has broken down after several miscarriages and she’s hiding from her hurt and loss in rage. After a big night out she wakes beside a much younger man who brings complications she could really do without.

As her grief about her lost babies and failed relationships spirals out of control, she obsesses about rescuing a wayward teenage girl she watches from her window and gets more involved than she should with her charming but unstable young lover.

Unprotected is a raw and punchy story of love, family and accepting yourself for who you really are.Review

It’s raw, unfiltered and brutally frank at times. The author lays her main character bare and autopsies her mind, body and soul right in front of the reader. There is no unicorn fluff to bolster the hardness or any candy floss moments to make you melt inside. It’s just life as it happens to be for many people – sometimes it’s bleak and full of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Lydia is probably her own worst enemy when it comes to enjoying what she has achieved, as opposed to dwelling on what she considers to be her failures. She feels isolated, misunderstood and quite frankly often patronised by those who are supposed to be her friends and family.

When her boyfriend demands a break, because he he is unable to cope with her obsession and need to have a child, which is exacerbated tenfold by her history of miscarriages, she feels abandoned. Lydia spirals and ends up picking up a romp buddy who turns out to be just on the right side of legal and dealing with his own baggage.

Simultaneously her instincts, as the mother she would like to be, start to scream when she notices something odd going on with a young girl in her neighbourhood. Everything starts to escalate and culminates in a conclusion Lydia could never have anticipated.

It’s women’s fiction and urban crime, it shines a light on the children who fall through the cracks of the system, which makes them vulnerable and targets for predators. At the same time the author presents the hypocrisy of society when it comes to motherhood, ageism and women embracing their sexuality and desires.

I enjoyed the honesty and the lack of need for approval. This is Lydia and she isn’t even going to try to be sorry for embracing herself. Why should she? Why would anyone want her to? Kudos to the author for this captivating and daring piece of work.

Buy Unprotected at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Retreat West Books; pub date 24 Nov. 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Retreat West.