Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

A Highlander is Coming to Town

A Highlander is Coming to Town
A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham

Friday, December 4, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan- Feature and Review


A festive mystery for the holiday season: mulled wine, mince pies... and murder

When Mordecai Tremaine arrives at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame on Christmas Eve, he discovers that the revelries are in full swing in the sleepy village of Sherbroome--but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

When midnight strikes, the partygoers discover that presents aren't the only things nestled under the tree...there's a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas. With the snow falling and suspicions flying, it's up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit--and prevent anyone else from getting murder for Christmas.



Murder for Christmas (Mordecai Tremaine Mystery #1)Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan is a 2015 Vintage Digital publication. (Originally published in 1949)

A ‘Dickensian’ Christmas tradition gone horribly awry.

This story is billed as a classic Christmas mystery, but in all honesty, I’d never heard of Francis Duncan or this book until about a month ago. I was intrigued, especially since I have no problem finding holiday romances, but struggle to find a Christmas mystery that isn’t a part of a very long running series. As it turns out, this is an excellent holiday mystery and is exactly the type of book I'd been looking for!

Mordecai Tremaine has been invited to spend Christmas with at Benedict Grame’s country retreat. He accepts the invitation with no small amount of eagerness, due to an almost prophetic assurance within his own mind that he might get a chance to use his newly acquired and highly praised detecting skills.

Sure enough, by Christmas morning a murder has taken place and Tremaine is commissioned by local law enforcement to help them solve the crime.

With a house full of guests, all having exhibited odd behavior, or have clear and obvious motives, Tremaine has his work cut out for him.

It’s Christmas, and love is in the air, starting with Tremaine's honest admission that he enjoys romantic fiction. However, he gets more than his share of lover’s conflicts while staying at the country estate, including secret affairs, forbidden love and love triangles, all pointing to possible motives for murder.

This story is a classic representation of a proper British mystery. I’m glad I stumbled across this little gem and hope to find the other books in this series, as well.

Although the plot moves slowly at times, and the excitement level is rather low key, with the characterization taking center stage, I was always engaged in the story and found the all the characters and their pasts to be very interesting.

There were several possible motives, and hidden agendas among the gathered guests, which kept me in the dark until the last chapter. With many of these older mysteries, it is easier to spot the killer early on, but it is still fun to watch the way the author fits all the pieces together. But, this one was very clever and sly, and I honestly couldn't be sure who the murderer was.

I ended up enjoying this novel more than I would have imagined. This is a perfect mystery to curl up with on a cold winter night!!

Although this is a classic novel, you won’t have any trouble finding it, since it is now available in digital format. (If your library offers ‘Hoopla’ you can check it out now, with no hold time!)





Francis Duncan is the pseudonym for William Walter Frank Underhill, who was born in 1914. He lived virtually all his life in Bristol and was a 'scholarship boy' boarder at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital school. Due to family circumstances he was unable to go to university and started work in the Housing Department of Bristol City Council. Writing was always important to him and very early on he published articles in newspapers and magazines. His first detective story was published in 1936. In 1938 he married Sylvia Henly. Although a conscientious objector, he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, landing in France shortly after D-Day. After the war he trained as a teacher and spent the rest of his life in education, first as a primary school teacher and then as a lecturer in a college of further education. In the 1950s he studied for an external economics degree from London University. No mean feat with a family to support; his daughter, Kathryn, was born in 1943 and his son, Derek, in 1949. Throughout much of this time he continued to write detective fiction from 'sheer inner necessity', but also to supplement a modest income. He enjoyed foreign travel, particularly to France, and took up golf on retirement. He died of a heart attack shortly after celebrating his fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1988.

Monday, November 30, 2020

A Highlander is Coming to Town to Laura Trentham - Feature and Review


The third book in the Highland, Georgia romantic comedy series from Laura Trentham, A Highlander is Coming to Town, full of love, laughs...and highlanders!

You better watch out. . .

Holt Pierson is dreading Christmas. His parents absconded to Florida for the season and left him to handle the family farm which will be his one day―whether he wants it or not. Driven by duty, Holt has always followed the path expected of him. But lately, he’s been questioning what he wants and where he belongs. Will assuming the responsibility of the Pierson farm make him happy or is there something―or someone―else out in the wider world calling to him?

To Claire Smythe, the Scottish lead singer of a touring band, Highland, Georgia, is the perfect place to hide . . .until a very handsome and deeply curious Holt begins to ask all the questions Claire doesn’t want to answer. As Holt draws Claire out from under and into the fabric of small-town life, can Claire put the past behind her and embrace the unexpected gifts of the season―including the new and lasting love?



A Highlander is Coming to Town (Highland, Georgia #3)A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Highlander is Coming to Town by Laura Trentham is a 2020 St. Martin’s Press publication.

Slightly offbeat, small town Christmas romance-

After quitting her gig as the singer in a rock band, Claire is basically hiding out in Highland, Georgia, taking care of Ms. Meadows, an elderly woman who requires a little assistance and company.

Why is Claire hiding out? She has a few heavy decisions she will soon have to face regarding her future, and she’s taking some time to come to terms with the burdens of unavoidable responsibility that awaits her once the holidays are over and she must return home to Scotland.

The last thing on her mind is romance… until a sexy guy named Holt occasions to come to her rescue when her grocery bag breaks and when she has trouble with her bike. Despite his good looks, Ms. Meadows warns Claire this guy is trouble with a capital T!!

I added this book because it had a holiday theme, not realizing it was a part of a series. For the record, the book is easily read as a stand-alone, so don’t let that deter you.

The characterizations are what makes this a fun and lively story. Highland is apparently a unique place to live, and it’s no wonder Claire felt drawn to it and had no desire to leave. The romance is cute, with only a bit of low- level angst.

My one complaint is that it seems there is a trend among holiday centered contemporary romance novels at the moment, which is to ignore the holiday elements until the last few chapters of the book. In the past, some authors have gone too far in the other direction, I will admit, but if we are going to market a book as holiday romance, perhaps more of balance is called for.

Nevertheless, the Christmas spirit does shine through in the end, adding a dash of magic to the story.

Overall, this is a lovely romance, with a bit of spice, and a touch of holiday cheer!



Author of smart, sexy Southern contemporary romance, Regency historicals, & heartfelt Women's Fiction
Series include:

Sweet Home Alabama
Spies and Lovers
Heart of a Hero
Highland, Georgia

Friday, November 27, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin- Feature and Review


You are invited to the wedding of the year!

Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Cafe and inside, its owner Lily is planning the wedding of the year. Her wedding! She never dreamt it would happen, but this Christmas, she'll be marrying the man of her dreams - in a Christmas-card-perfect ceremony!

The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe's in place – for once, everything's going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives... Suddenly, Lily's famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.

In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Cafe has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says 'I do', can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?




Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe (Gingerbread Cafe, #3)Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe' by Rebecca Raisin is a 2014 Carina UK press publication.

I am so sad this is the last book in this deliciously sweet series. The author really knows how to write wonderful heartwarming and touching stories. Despite the fact I would love to see the series continue there couldn't have been a better ending.

When Lily and Damon first met a year ago, things got off to a rocky start. But, these two were meant for each other, so now one year later they have decided to exchange vows at the Gingerbread Cafe'. So romantic!! 

 Until... the future mother-in-law arrives and Lily finds herself vying for Damon's loyalty. CeeCee once again is at her best although she is going through some problems of her own.

 Madcap last minute wedding preparations, Christmas Eve, snow, a wedding and few little unexpected surprises make this a wonderful holiday romance. I have really enjoyed getting to know these characters and they will stay in my heart for a long time to come. Whatever this author chooses to do next, I'm hoping for a front row seat. 

Very well done! 



Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.
Come say hello to Rebecca on her Facebook page : https://facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Jingle All the Way by Debbie Macomber- Feature and Review


Love can transform even the best-laid plans in this heartfelt Christmas novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Trapped in the middle of five siblings, Everly Lancaster always had big dreams. Now a top real-estate executive, Everly finds her work is her life, leaving no space for anything (or anyone) else. Sensing her stress, Everly's boss insists she take December off. At first, a month away seems crazy--how will the company survive without her? But Everly's mother convinces her otherwise. She deserves a vacation--plus, when she returns, she'll have no excuse to skip family Christmas like she did last year.

But after her vengeful assistant books a guided cruise in the Amazon instead of the luxury beach vacation she expected, Everly is horrified to realize that she's about to spend the next two weeks trapped--with no Wi-Fi!--in the rain forest. Not even Asher Adams, the ship's charming naturalist, can convince Everly that the trip will be unforgettable. Slowly but surely, she realizes he is right: the sights are spectacular. And with each passing day, Everly's relationship with Asher deepens, forcing her to take a long, hard look at her priorities.

Everly and Asher begin to see magic in the possibility of a life together. But as the cruise nears its end, and Everly's family Christmas approaches, both must decide if love is worth the risk. A merry surprise may be in store in Debbie Macomber's newest holiday delight.



Jingle All the Way: A NovelJingle All the Way: A Novel by Debbie Macomber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jingle All the Way by Debbie Macomber is a 2020 Ballantine publication.

Funny and sweet!

After a fiasco involving her new assistant, who happens to be her boss’s niece, Everly is sent on a long overdue vacation. Although reluctant at first, the thought of a luxury cruise does sound nice. Unfortunately, the vengeful assistant booked a cruise in the Amazon just for spite-

Poor Everly encounters one mishap after another, but her naturalist guide, Asher, helps her forget all about the internet, and shows her the magnificence of the Amazon. Her time away without all her technological connections give Everly time to reflect on her life, as her friendship with Asher deepens. But what will she and Asher do once the cruise is over?

This is a very pleasant contemporary romance that couples a little light humor in with a little adventure and a sweet romance, and ends with a segue into the spirit of the holiday season.

As a few other reviewers have noted, the title and cover is misleading, because Christmas doesn't play a role this story until the very last part of the book. The plus side to that, though, is this book can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Due to the length of the story, the chemistry between Everly and Asher was a little forced and the romance felt a bit rushed- but it was still lovely watching the couple fall in love.

For me, the growth between Everly and her sisters was the most heartwarming aspect of the story. The way everything turned out for Everly, Asher and her family left a big smile on my face!

Overall, I enjoyed this gentle story. It was a like soothingly balm in a time of turmoil and anxiety. I think I may need to add more Debbie Macomber to my reading list!



Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today's most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber's novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

Friday, November 20, 2020

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- The Deal of a Lifetime- by Fredrik Backman- Feature and Review


The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and Beartown delivers an insightful and poignant holiday novella about a man who sacrificed his family in the single-minded pursuit of success and the courageous little girl fighting for her life who crosses his path.

It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.

One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.

Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…

Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love.



The Deal of a Lifetime

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman is a 2017 Atria Books publication.

Backman continues to amaze-

Every year there are a handful of holiday themed novels I never managed to read before the season was over, and this one falls into that category.

If I had been able to get my hands on a copy before Christmas, I wouldn't have had any problems working it into my schedule. In fact, I would have pushed it to the top of the pile, no matter how short or long it was. But, I missed any and all ad campaigns for this book, somehow, so by the time it cropped up on my radar the wait time at the library was so long I thought it might be NEXT Christmas before I got a copy.

Well, I obviously didn’t have to wait quite long- but the story was worth waiting for-

This is a very, very short story, and the plot line is written in such a way that to expound upon it, even briefly, would give too much away.

So, let me just say, this is a very thought- provoking story that prompts the reader to take stock, to cherish the small moments, to live life to its fullest, and to keep your priorities straight, and remember what is truly important in this life.

Although the story is a fantasy, it is very emotional, a little dark, and very atmospheric. As the holidays are often a time of reflection, Christmas was a perfect backdrop for this story to unfold.

But, despite the big Christmas tree on the cover, which clearly suggests this is a Christmas-themed story- it is one that can, and should be read and reflected upon all year round.





Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty five territories. His latest novel is BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas- Feature and Review


Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited.

Rumors fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs. Treadles of harboring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted?



Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock, #5)Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lady Sherlock Rocks!

This is my first book in this series. I wouldn't have chosen to start here, but this is an assigned book - on a deadline, I've already missed- so I dug in, hoping for the best.

Despite missing out on some interesting history between the recurring characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent locked room mystery. I had been curious about this series for a long time, so I'm glad I finally had the chance to check it out. I will definitely continue on with the series and hopefully, I will be able to cram in the previous four books before the next release, so I'll understand all the nuances hinted at in this installment.

If you are following this series, I'm sure you'll find this book to be a worthy addition. For me, I love locked room mysteries and this one was a highly entertaining head-scratcher.

If you love historical and British mysteries or like the various Sherlockian pastiches, then you will probably want to check this series out! If this book is any indication, I think this could become one of my favorites!!


Sherry Thomas writes both historical romance and young adult fantasy.

On the romance side, she is one of the most acclaimed authors working in the genre today, her books regularly receiving starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award.

On the young adult fantasy side, there isn't much to report yet, her debut book, THE BURNING SKY, book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy, has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and been named to the Autumn '13 Kids' Indie Next List.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins - Feature and Review


Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?



Life and Other InconveniencesLife and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins is a 2019 Berkley publication.

A Touching and entertaining story!

Genevieve is facing a challenge that, for once, money can not fix. She calls her estranged granddaughter, Emma, explaining her situation, and demands she return home.

After decades of not speaking to each other, Emma is having none of it. But when Emma’s teenage daughter, Riley, hits a rough patch, she decides a change of scenery might do her good.

To that end, Emma returns home to face the woman who kicked her out when she needed her most, to make peace with her past- and maybe to carve out a different future for herself and Riley in the process.

This is just the kind of story I needed, at just the right time. To put it into context- I am severely behind on my reviews, and the truth is, I read this book a couple of months ago.

I needed a story that had depth and humor, and punched all the right emotional buttons, without being too heavy and this book fit the bill perfectly!!

I was immediately drawn in by Emma and Riley as a mother and daughter team, then found myself more charmed, and impressed by Riley, who was able to penetrate the barriers between her mother and Genevieve, becoming something of a gentle go between, or moderator, unlocking the doors of communication resulting in a little more understanding of the other person’s position.

While the novel explores important issues, such as bullying and paternal roles- regret, acceptance, grief, and forgiveness are the core themes of the novel.

There are many thought provoking elements here, but despite some weighty topics, Higgins keeps the tone on the lighter side. The passages between Riley and Genevieve are some of the most revealing, poignant and funny parts in the book.

The romantic elements are also light and realistic, with plenty of charm and chemistry, but mostly runs in the background for much of the novel.

While I have enjoyed Kristan Higgins work in the past, for some reason her novels tend to languish on my TBR list for ages, despite my best intentions.

I really need to work on that!!

Other than a bit of strong language, here and there, I think this is a book anyone could enjoy!



Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal , People and Booklist. Her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year. Kristan is also a cohost of the Crappy Friends podcast, which discusses the often complex dynamics of female friendships, with her friend and fellow writer, Joss Dey.

The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband. They own several badly behaved pets and are often visited by their entertaining and long-lashed children.