A Mile of River
by Judith Allnatt
Read by Colleen Prendergast
Published by ISIS Audio Books
It is 1976 and England is suffocating. The long, dry spring has given way to a summer of severe drought. Jess and Tom live on a remote farm with their increasingly difficult and brutal father. Their mother, Sylvie. walked out years before and Jess is struggling with the role of mother figure to Tom, as well as skivvy and hired hand for her father. Daydreaming about her mother's return, Jess discovers Sylvie's old diary and begins to uncover the shocking truth about her disappearance. As the drought grips ever tighter, the menace in the air builds until it reaches boiling point, with a confrontation between Jess and her father that has devastating consequences.
This was indeed utterly gripping, even as I realised where the two story threads were leading. There were a couple of points where Jess felt a little too adult, but generally, the story flowed very well indeed.
The Scarred Heart
by Denise Patrick
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Lionel Cantrell has all but given up hope of finding his missing wife and child. He left them in the care of his parents and older brother while he went abroad to fight the French, only to return to a marriage in shambles, a daughter who cannot possibly be his, and his wife and son fled to parts unknown.
Until now. At a former comrade’s house party, Lion comes face to face with the object of his five-year search. Emma, whose cold reception is keenly edged with barely concealed panic.
When Emma’s perfect marriage to her childhood sweetheart crumbled into an unendurable year of humiliation and torment, she had no choice but to take their son—and her sanity—to build a new life under an assumed name. Her chance meeting with Lion threatens to expose long-buried emotional scars. And physical ones, the origins of which he must never know.
Emma’s stubborn refusal to explain why she won’t return home only fuels Lion’s relentless curiosity. So does their undeniable passion. Time is on his side, and his well of patience is deep. But Emma’s trauma runs far deeper…perhaps too deep for love to reach.
Second in the series, and we get to meet again the main pair and one of the minor characters from the first story, but this time focussing on that minor character and his runaway wife. Her reasons for leaving are grim indeed, but I kept reading all the way through on a long train journey, and now I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out.
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
by Steve Earle
Published by VINTAGE
Doc Ebersole lives with the ghost of Hank Williams. Literally. In 1963, ten years after giving Hank the overdose that killed him, Doc is wracked by addiction. Having lost his licence to practise medicine, he lives in a rented room in the red-light district on the south side of San Antonio, performing abortions and patching up the odd knife or gunshot wound. But when Graciela, a young Mexican immigrant, appears in the neighbourhood in search of Doc's services, miraculous things begin to happen. Everyone she meets is transformed for the better, except, maybe, for Hank's angry ghost - who isn't at all pleased to see Doc doing well. "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" is a ballad of regret and redemption, and of the ways in which we remake ourselves and our world through the smallest of miracles.
Steve Earle proves here that not only is he a master storyteller in song and shorty story formats, but also as a novelist. This is an enthralling slice of life about people whose voices are rarely heard, intercut with ghosts, superstitions and the changing face of Catholic dotrine. I didn't know much about Hank Williams before, but now I want to learn more of his story.
The Pirate Next Door
by Jennifer Ashley
Published by JA / AG Publishing
The Pirate Next Door is a lively take on both the Regency and Pirate genres, with humor, spice, sexy pirates, battles at soirees, and heartwarming romance.
Mayfair, London, 1810: Alexandra Alastair, a respectable young English widow, wonders if she dare add the new viscount who’s moved in next door to her list of potential husbands.
He certainly doesn’t look like the gentlemen on her list—Grayson Finley, Viscount Stoke, is tall and sun-bronzed, muscular and blue-eyed. He wears dress so casual as to be unclothed—long coats, leather breeches, shirts without collar or cravat, and he carries pistols wherever he goes. The men who attend him are just as strange, exotic-looking, even. And the way Grayson smiles at Alexandra whenever they pass in the street -- sinful, blood-warming -- turns her inside out.
In the middle of the night Alexandra hears shouting coming from the house next door, and the viscount’s life being threatened. She rushes over just in time to save Grayson from being hanged by his greatest enemy, his former best friend.
Thus is Alexandra pulled into the adventures of Grayson Finley, former pirate and terror of the seas. Grayson has made a bargain with the devil (in the form of the pirate hunter, James Ardmore), in order to ensure the safety of his daughter. He’ll do anything to keep her safe, but when Alexandra saves his life, he looks into her eyes the color of water and starts to drown...
This was a most fun romp, bought on impulse when I was trying to track down the first of the Mackenzie's stories as an eBook. Alexandra knows what she wants, but is more than prepared to revise her plans as more facts come to her notice. And although she does spend a lot of time getting kidnapped or otherwise into scrapes, she spends just as much time rescuing others from them or criticising the methods employed by her would-be captors. Bonus points for a large cast of characters who all get their moments in the spotlight.
And that's me up to date for now.