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The Sanctuary By Charlotte Duckworth

The Sanctuary‘The Sanctuary’ is the latest book by Charlotte Duckworth.

Four pregnant women. Three nights of pampering at an exclusive yoga retreat. One too many deadly secrets. On a remote farm in the deepest Devonshire countryside, four pregnant women arrive at an exclusive yoga retreat for a five-star weekend of prenatal pampering. The location is idyllic. Their host, Selina, is eager to teach them all she knows about pregnancy and motherhood. But, like Selina, each of the women has a secret.

The latest book by Charlotte is another gripping rollercoaster of a thriller set around five women at a pregnancy yoga retreat.

The retreat is run by Selina, who’s nervous about her first retreat going to plan and having everything ready for the four women arriving, Nicky and her younger sister Bonnie, Georgia and Poppy, Three of the women are having their babies for first time, whilst this is Nicky’s third and a complete surprise for her at a later stage in life. The retreat is going to plan until lots of threatening things happen, burnt scarecrows, headless animals and scary notes causing all the women to be in fear.

The story is seen through the narrative of the women filled with the anxiety and excitement of their pregnancies, but behind these emotions, they all have secrets that are about to be revealed. Right from the outset, the story is riddled with suspense and tension and with each page new twists and dramas are revealed.

As well as narratives from the women there is also an inclusion of a mysterious narrative who’s obviously got a grudge against one of the women and is willing to do anything to get revenge.

I love Charlotte’s book, they’re intense with complex characters with exciting plot lines that whisk the reader away and ‘The Sanctuary’ is no different. The women are a fascinating mix, all with different issues whether it’s the anxiety and concern of new a baby or grief and this along with the underlying tension.

Cleverly written, claustrophobic and atmospheric from the first page, ‘The Sanctuary’ is an exciting thriller that made for fast paced reading.

You can buy ‘The Sanctuary’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Image Of You By Sonia Velton

The Image Of You‘The Image Of You’ is the latest book by Sonia Velton.

Stella lives with her mother, a smothering narcissist. Her world has shrunk since the terrible accident that left her a shut-in. Her days are broken up by deliveries from a courier that she always returns and by the irresistible urge to watch the life of a stranger – beautiful Connie – unfold on social media. But why is she so drawn to a woman she has never met? And what caused the accident she doesn’t want to speak about? Connie is an expat living in Dubai with her partner, Mark, and their two children. On the face of it she wants for nothing and yet she fears that her husband is turning into a stranger. When she finds herself drawn into the lives of the local domestic helpers, she discovers that there are dark secrets in this glittering city.

This story is a fascinating one, seen through the narrative of two women living in different sides of the world but have one thing in common.

Stella is housebound after an accident and never leaves the house. She’s obsessed with Connie who leads a glamorous life in Dubai with her husband and two children. Stella spends her days ordering deliveries only to return them whilst watching Connie’s life on social life.

The story is seen through the narrative of the two women written in the past and the present tense. Stella’s had a difficult with a narcissistic and wicked mother who regularly put Stella down and lead her to believe her that she’d be worthless without her mother and just as Stella finally gets the chance to lead her life, her mother’s dementia sets in and Stella has to give away her independence. To help her deal with the aftermath of an accident, Stella finds solace in the Connie’s life.

Behind social media, Connie’s life is far from perfect. She wants more from her life than attending pool parties and being a house wife and fitting in with the glamorous lifestyle. And when she gets a housekeeper to help around the house, she can’t help but get involved to help her maid’s friend, who gets in trouble with her boss. Connie has a big heart and cares for others, unlike the other socialites who disregard their staff. She’s unhappy in her life and is counting down the days until she can return to England.

This story is a fascinating one, Stella’s obsession with Connie makes for compulsive reading and I found myself speeding through the book. It’s cleverly crafted with a plot line with protagonists that are both relatable. I found myself intrigued with Connie’s story, she’s sympathetic, lonely and keeps herself away from people and odd moments that she has with other people, really does make for tender reading, particularly the moments with Evengi the delivery driver who takes her parcels. These moments makes for sweet reading, as we see rare glimpses of the really Stella, a warm and witty character who’s not used to human interaction.

A moving and original of love, life and new beginnings, ‘The Image Of Her’ is a thought provoking and fascinating story about two women who have never met but their lives become irreversibly intertwined forever.

You can buy ‘The Image Of Her’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Therapist By Helene Flood

The Therapist‘The Therapist’ is the latest book by Helene Flood.

A voicemail from her husband tells Sara he’s arrived at the holiday cabin. Then a call from his friend confirms he never did. She tries to carry on as normal, teasing out her clients’ deepest fears, but as the hours stretch out, her own begin to surface. And when the police finally take an interest, they want to know why Sara deleted that voicemail. To get to the root of Sigurd’s disappearance, Sara must question everything she knows about her relationship.

If you’re a fan of Scandi noir, then ‘The Therapist’ is for you.

The story is seen through the narrative of teenage psychologist Sara who’s husband is found dead in a forest. Sara is confused about his death as he was meeting friends and he had phoned her to tell him that he had met them whereas they had said he had never turned up. Now Sara finds herself embroiled in an investigation and questioning her relationship.

Right from the start this book is a haunting and thrilling story, from the vivid description of the desolate house that was potentially to be filled with happiness but remains unfinished and is now an empty shell and further from the dream that Sara imagined. But as the story progresses, we seen an interesting insight into Sara, how she helps teenagers mental health and also her own battles with mental health.

I loved the steady pace of the story and the underlying tension throughout ramped at all the right moments to keep the reader engaged throughout.

This is Helene’s debut novel and it was fantastic introduction to a new author. Sara is a fascinating character, her past and present life make for intriguing reading as she begins to unpick her life, Helene’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and atmospheric and sets the scenes vividly and keeps the readers attention with engaging dialogue.

Gripping from the first page, ‘The Therapist’ is a psychological thriller that was suspenseful, engaging and ticked all the boxes for a great thriller.

You can buy ‘The Therapist’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Split By Laura Kay

The Split‘The Split’ is the latest book by Laura Kay.

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat. After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.

I started this book last night and I reluctantly had to put when I had to go to bed.

This debut even though it’s about heartbreak is fun, uplifting and incredibly warm-hearted.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Al and begins at the moment that her girlfriend Emily breaks up with her. Heartbroken, Al returns home to Sheffield with Malcolm the cat for company, even though he’s technically Emily’s cat.

Back under her dad’s roof, Al is at a loss at what to do next with her life, disinterested in a career, her passion is for baking and is delighted when an opportunity to work in a bakery arises. Her childhood friend Jeremy is also recovering from heartbreak after his boyfriend broke up with him. Together, they find solace in each others pain and decide the best way to get over heartbreak is to do a 13 mile marathon even though they’ve never ran a day in their lives. It’s through running that Al, meets Jo and thinks that she might help with the heartbreak and distract her from emailing Emily.

I adored this book with all my heart, it’s a genuine love story and life affirming book all rolled into one. I loved Al, she’s kind, witty and has a lovely nature. I loved her interaction with Jeremy, their banter and support for each other when things got tough. I enjoyed their nostalgia journeys as they reminisced their school years and struggling with their sexuality.

Laura has written a wonderful story, flowing at a lovely pace with relatable characters and scenarios and eager dogs and moody cats. I loved this book from start to finish, wonderfully written ‘The Split’ is a fantastic debut about recovering from heartbreak and finding yourself along the way. I thoroughly recommend this book and fully understand why it’s one of Quercus’ lead debuts of 2021.

You can pre-order ‘The Split’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th March 2021.

An Inconvenient Woman By Stéphanie Buelens

An Inconvenient Woman‘An Inconvenient Woman’ is the latest book by Stéphanie Buelens.

When Claire Fontaine learns that her ex-husband Simon is marrying again, to a woman with a teenage daughter, her blood runs cold. She is sure that years ago Simon molested her own daughter and was responsible for her mysterious death. She can’t let him get away with it a second time. Vandalism, harassment; whatever it takes, Claire will expose him. Simon doesn’t know where Claire got this delusion from; her daughter’s death was ruled a suicide, but she has always blamed herself – is she just lashing out? Wanting to protect his new fiancee, he hires Sloane Wilson, an ex-cop turned ‘sin-eater’, whose job it is to handle delicate cases without getting the police involved, to get Claire off his back.Sloane must navigate the wreckage of Claire and Simon’s marriage to discover the truth. Two people with conflicting stories and a whole lot of reasons to want to hurt each other. Is she crazy or is he manipulative? And can Sloane stay clear-headed enough to figure it out?

Claire Fontaine has never gotten over the death of her teenage daughter and blames her ex husband Simon for her death. Now that Simon has moved on and is getting married again, Claire is determined not to let history repeat itself. As Claire is making Simon’s life miserable, he hires Sloan Wilson, who is a sin eater to stop Claire from ruining his life.

This book is a really interesting concept and I found Sloan Wilson’s job to be quite fascinating. A sin eater, is someone you call to take care of problems and make them go away. A famous sin eater is Mr White from ‘Reservoir Dogs’. But as Sloan delves into Claire’s life and befriends her, she realises that the women have more in common than she would have ever expected with both of them having dominant fathers in their lives.

The characters in this story are fascinating, Claire is a French tutor and through her jobs meets loads of different people of all ages, all wanting to learn French for different reasons. Sloan is also interesting with her career choice, initially a policewoman, she followed in her fathers shoes but she changed her career when the force became corrupt. She’s honest and wants to help Claire, but the more she delves into Claire’s life that she begins to sympathise with her.

The story is quite cultured in parts with the French language as well as Claire love and knowledge with art especially when she starts tutoring an art dealer called Ray. When Claire is with Ray, we see a happier version of a normally stressed and unhappy woman.

This book evoked a lot of emotions in me, there was sadness for a Claire who was grieving for her daughter and is everyday reminded of her loss. But primarily I was angry for the majority of time with the way that women were treated in this book. When Claire fails to reciprocate her feelings for one of her students, he then harasses her, forcing himself upon and turning up at her house, his behaviour towards me riled me, even more so than Simon. Simon is a smarmy character, who has gaslighting down to a tee, one minute charming and immediately using his authority as a lawyer to undermine Claire.

With an unique plot, a gripping hook with flawed characters that kept me engaged throughout. ‘An Inconvenient Woman’ is a cleverly crafted story with strong female characters and suspense that keeps the reader guessing throughout.

You can buy ‘An Inconvenient Woman’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.