This post will return when it stops being an ass
Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.
Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.
James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.
If you think I’ve been on a historical fiction binge lately, you’re right. I have.
But, guys. There have been so many good ones these past couple of months! And this one is no exception to that! I ADORED it!!!
It’s a love story wrapped up in Grace Kelly’s own story but yet completely separate from her and you just want to cheer on the two protagonists.
It’s a sweet love story that really makes Grace Kelly’s involvement quite serendipitous in it.
James is a brilliant ‘male lead’ and you really love how big his heart is, how much he cares for his friend, for Sophia, and most importantly, for his daughter. Honestly, that type of fatherly love is not seen enough in novels whether they’re historical or not and so this was a very important point for me.
There’s this collision of cultures as well, our French countryside where Sophie hides away to make her perfume scents, James and his ‘grittier’ London, the Hollywood life style and the royalty of Monaco. All of it is just spun together in this excellent tale of perfume, glamour, and love.
It didn’t hurt that to begin with I’m a pretty big Grace Kelly fan, but it really was Sophie and James who won me over. Sophie is such an intriguing character, her love of perfumes comes from her Father but yet she is a genius in her own way and what’s more is that when she finally breaks free of things holding her back it is such a satisfying moment for you as the reader.
It was the same when James decided to change his fate, to do something to make him happy.
Also the way this love story ended may or may not have made me teary eyed. ‘It was perfect, and really I’ve had such a great time reading this that I’ve been raving it about it to my sister and mom, I’m hoping they’ll get the point and read it themselves.
This is such a great novel and it wasn’t too heavy, it’s set in such a great period too so even if you’re not a fan of historical fiction, if you love, well, love and beauty, you’ll probably like this too.
Four cups of coffee from me!
Thank you to Jessie @ Harper 360 for a copy of this to read in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour.
About the Authors
Hazel Gaynor is the acclaimed New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, was an Irish Times and Globe and Mail bestseller, and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she published THE COTTINGLEY SECRET and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (co-written with Heather Webb). Both novels hit bestseller lists, and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Hazel’s most recent novel, THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller. Her latest novel MEET ME IN MONACO (co-written with Heather Webb) will be published in July 2019.
Hazel was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. Her work has been translated into ten languages and is published in seventeen countries to date. She is co-founder of creative writing events The Inspiration Project, and lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. She is represented by Michelle Brower of Aevitas Creative Management, New York.
When Josephine Bonaparte appeared to Heather in a dream, she switched gears from fun-loving high school teacher to author & history nerd on the prowl for fascinating stories.
To date, her historical novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide, received national starred reviews, and have been featured in print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, and more. In addition, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS was a Globe & Mail bestseller in 2017, and in 2015, RODIN’S LOVER was chosen as a Goodread’s Pick.
Next up? She had so much fun writing Last Christmas in Paris with her co-author Hazel Gaynor that she decided to do it again! Their novel, MEET ME IN MONACO, set to the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s wedding, will release in the summer of 2019 from HarperCollins.
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world, (especially her beloved France). She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb) or via her Facebook page. Stop on by!
The Rest of the Tour
Acclaimed author and managing director of The Times Literary Supplement, James MacManus, creates a compelling historical novel that brings to life an unbelievable but true love story set during the Second World War. In 1942, Cork-born Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is tasked with driving General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair takes an immediate liking to one another and he gifts Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that against all military regulation sees Kay travelling with Eisenhower on missions to far flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany. She becomes known as “Ike’s shadow” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with ‘Ireland’. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay US citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer when he returns to America. When the US authorities discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce from his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…
MacManus has an effortless flow to his storytelling and you’re transported back to the 1940s. He doesn’t get overly flowery in details and yet he gives great descriptions. Like the title implies this is a story about Ike and Kay, his driver, there are a couple of other chapters that are from the POV of others but they are part of history and their story in a way so it does work.
Kay was an interesting character and you could have a good bit of sympathy for her for the choices she makes, knowing she does things usually with the best intentions/out of love.
I do think MacManus did a commendable job with Ike, we’re not meant to idolize him in this and in fact he does a lot to show him as someone who achieved quite a bit but didn’t go unscathed by making mistakes in his personal life. I really didn’t like Ike, but not because of MacManus’s lack of competency, rather, because he did so well writing him. He is not the hero of this story.
The historical aspects of this were hands down my favorite parts, and the romance was as grey and confusing as I think it was meant to be.
Overall it was an intriguing read and I really enjoyed learning more about Ike through this as it definitely led me to look into him more after being fascinated by this book!
Thank you to Duckworth Publishing for a free eBook of this in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour.
About the Author
James MacManus is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. After studying at St Andrews University he began his career in journalism at the Daily Express in Manchester. Joining The Guardian in 1972, he later became Paris, and then Africa and Middle East Correspondent. He is the author of several novels including On the Broken Shore, Black Venus, Sleep in Peace Tonight and Midnight in Berlin. James MacManus has three children and lives in Dulwich, London.
The Rest of the Tour Schedule
In Truth, Madness is the fictional story of a correspondent driven to despair by the Middle East and South Asia. A reporter strives to find the truth. The more truth they find, the more maddening the world becomes.
Meet Malek Khalil. In his mid-40s, Malek is a brilliant reporter with decades of experience in the field. If there has been a war, natural disaster or political crisis, Malek has been there and will be there. But the years of conflict reporting have taken their toll and Malek is slowly unravelling. His colleagues, Neeka and Justin, have noticed a change in him. Neeka should know, she has been his producer for decades and knows him better than he knows himself. Justin the cameraman has shot his material for just as long. Together they make a formidable team. But they are only as strong as each other – and Malek is fast going down the rabbit hole.
Born a Muslim but an atheist to his core, Malek undertakes a voyage that takes him around the world and back in time to ancient Babylon as he finds himself arguing with a God in whom he doesn’t believe.
The novel takes place throughout Middle East, South Asia and London where the backdrop of war, religion, political skullduggery and love play out to take the reader on a journey through some of the most dangerous parts of modern culture and the ancient world.
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
BINDING: Demy PB
SIZE: 216 × 135 mm
CATEGORY BIC: FA
ALTERNATIVE EDITION 978-1-911586-91-3
“Life on the road was never this much fun! All reporters should time travel!” – Adrian Finighan. Senior anchor, Al Jazeera English
“A darkly comic tale artfully blending mysticism and current affairs’ – Arwa Damon Senior International Correspondent”
It’s always great when someone uses their knowledge to enhance a story and Khan used his experience and knowledge to such a great advantage to bring us this book. In Truth, Madness reads a lot like speculative/contemporary fiction but it keeps throwing curveballs with the inclusion of the book and the fantasy undertones. There’s this question put to Malek now in his 40s whether there’s a god, he’s staunch in his lack of belief. But what happens to his lack of faith when he’s suddenly and seemingly given the power to determine a person’s fate, or at least weigh in.
And is this really such a heavenly gift?
Up to a certain point, it all flows together in supreme cohesion but eventually Khan guides and Malek toward the deeper depths of his novel and it’s at that point where it almost felt like I was reading another book. Still, it was so enjoyable and the whole time you are as much in the dark as Malek, you may have hints or inklings but there’s no sure way of knowing the truth. What’s real and what’s fake? Is this a mental breakdown from seeing the many horrid truths there are in the world or is this something greater than Malek?
He has a huge spiritual journey and not just in the faith of possible religion but in his own personal growth and it’s interesting to see how his life evolves, including his relationships with those he works with.
I really enjoyed this read and found myself being put through a read that I both appreciated for its honesty of the world and its problems and the heart it had in its faith, which rested quite a bit on humanity.
Thank you to Unbounders and Anne Cater for a copy of this to review honestly as part of the blog tour.
About the Author
Having kickstarted his career in the heady world of 1990s independent magazine publishing with work on Dazed and Confused, and launching seminal style title 2nd Generation, Imran Khan jumped into the mainstream with BBC London – hosting radio shows on popular culture, arts and news as the millennium approached. Despite having a face for radio, in 2001 he produced a series of short documentaries for BBC Newsnight, Britain’s leading current affairs programme. His work was noticed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and Channel 4 commissioned the award-winning film “The Hidden Jihad”, which he wrote and presented. Imran subsequently moved full-time into TV news, working as a BBC producer and correspondent reporting from Lebanon, London and Qatar, with freelance stints in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He became a correspondent for Al Jazeera English in 2005 and is known for his extensive reporting from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine and Libya, as well covering the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria. He continues to work as a correspondent for Al Jazeera English, dividing his time between the Middle East, South Asia and London.
The Rest of the Tour Schedule
Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.
Addie has a secret. On th emorning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.
Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives.
Publication date: July 25, 2019
Format: Hardback, eBook and Audiobook also available
Author: Phoebe Locke
I haven’t read Locke’s first book, The Tall Man, but after reading The July Girls you can bet I’m definitely interested in reading it now.
You all know how much I love a good thriller, and Lock did not disappoint. The premise was promising enough but it was Addie’s narrative voice that really made this book a gem for me. The story is told from her perspective from the age of 10 all the way to following after secondary school, divided into sections for a different time period each. The fact that this is told over a decade was a wise decision on Locke’s part. This is the sort of crime that needs time to mature, too often I read things where serial killers accomplish numbers in such a short time period that I’m left wondering how there’s anyone alive in their towns, but this is different, it’s careful and well thought out.
This, of course, makes it, as I love to say, deliciously creepy to read. Like any solid thriller, it’s not too easy to figure it out, you expect some misdirection but I have to say I was definitely pleased that though I knew I was being misdirected I still hadn’t fully grasped the whodunit part, at least not in its entirety and haha oh, she’s a clever one because I DID not see that twist coming.
It was great, and if you want to know what it was, well, you’ll have to read it, won’t you?
I definitely have to say this will be on my list of favorite thriller reads of 2019 and Addie has been one of the best narrators that I’ve read in a thriller to date.
She’s so honest and consistently stuck between a rock and a hard place that you can’t help but want the best for her while simultaneously reading as tragedy keeps surrounding her story.
Jessie was by far one of the most complex characters of the story. A big sister who loves her little sister more than the world and who has tried to protect her at any cost.
I also loved how their father was portrayed, he wasn’t a good father, but, there were times where Addie still felt love for him, just as many of us have felt with conflicted feelings when it comes to our own parents, no matter the aspect.
There’s such a varied cast of characters and I loved Lock’s vivid and bright writing style. I read this in one Saturday, unable to put it down.
About the Author
Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of the full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in Cabridgeshire. The July Girls follows Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller The Tall Man.
**Thanks so much to Jen Harlow and Wildfire, an imprint of Headline Books for sending me an ARC to review. In return, I have published an honest review of The July Girls**
**Thank you to Sandstone Press for sending me a copy of this book, below is my honest review in exchange for receiving the book.**
The lives of a professional shoplifter and a young art student collide. Delia needs to atone for a terrible mistake; Tess is desperate to convince herself she really is an artist. Elsewhere in London, the Krays are on the rise and a gang war is in the offing.
Tess’s relationship with her gay best friend grows unexpectedly complicated, and Delia falls for a man she’s been paid to betray.
Publication Date: 27/06/2019
This was such a creative premise for a novel. I always love a good historical fiction but this grabbed me from the moment I glanced at the cover. But finding out it was basically a 1960s Female centered version with hints of ‘Ocean’s 11’? Oh I was all in. Disclaimer: This is way better than Ocean’s 11, and I refuse to talk about any movies from that after Ocean’s 12. They don’t exist in my world.
[Funnily enough my husband asked if the model on the cover was Joan from ‘Mad Men’ and considering that was focused on the 60s I would say they really nailed it with this cover.]
Wharton absolutely brings his A game to his debut novel, his writing is completely engaging and when I think of this book the first thing that comes to mind for me is ‘beautiful.’
The characters had so much intrigue to them, and the fact that he kept true to the time period of the 60s without taking away from the integrity of the characters just impressed me.
There was a whimsical air to Delia and I have to say she was my favorite, for being someone so utterly raw and from her roots she was like a changeling with a hint of the old ways in her superstitions.
Tess was complex and I think I would have wanted to see more of her but I was happy enough with how Wharton introduces her to us. She’s young, in London and trying to figure out who she is. Her story is also one that really resonates with the times. There was such a love of art and to see her blossom in her concepts of it was really great and her journey with Jimmy was one that I really appreciated at the end for all its difficulties and the heart aching truth of it all.
David Wharton gave a truly brilliant debut novel and I loved it, keep an eye out for this book and his future works. If you like a more ‘modern’ historical fiction or just a good fiction novel in general, I hope you’ll give this book a try.
About the Author
“David Wharton grew up in Northumberland and lives in Leicester, where he has worked in education for many years. He now divides his time between writing fiction and training English teachers. Finer Things is his first novel.”