Cahoots Publishing (1 Feb. 2018)

available in ebook and paperback

323 pages

My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to take part in the tour. For my turn today I have a guest post from Jenny and there is also a giveaway for 3 e-copies of Hiding (open internationally).  To enter the giveaway please refer to the Rafflecopter box below.


DARK DEEDS? What kind of person writes psychological thrillers? And why?

by Jenny Morton Potts

As Stephen King grew up, he was lonely and his father had left. King had nightmares about a local boy who was hit by a freight train. Additionally, the author had a host of phobias to contend with and was assailed by superstition too. So it’s not surprising perhaps that he found his way quickly to the horror genre.

But what about those of us who don’t mind walking under ladders, who check into hotel rooms numbered thirteen, without a second thought and whose neighbours led uneventful lives? Someone like me, for example. An optimistic girl, with ready humour and a life full of love, why am I writing about murder and mayhem?

Well, all cannot be entirely well, not even in people of the sunniest (and I’m not) disposition. One of our most common fears is being chased, hunted. I dream of this a lot. I have a recurring dream of being a child in a large house and someone is in there looking for me. My only recourse is to lure them away from the door and to run through it to freedom. (Actually, it’s a while since I’ve had that dream but I expect I shall tonight!) This particular nightmare started around the time of a series of burglaries at home. I also regularly dream that men are killing me and I have to kill them first. And I do kill them, lots of them; not with a weapon but with my bare hands. I generally pick them up by their ankles and hurl them around my head, then dash their head against a building. This is not a scene I have used in fiction to date.

‘They’ say these terrifying dreamscapes are practice grounds, to equip ourselves for this actuality in our waking lives. Fortunately, I haven’t had to yet. And for this same reason, ‘they’ say, we like to watch horror (I don’t, only very occasionally because my son pleads for me to watch with him); that our minds need to examine and analyse life-threatening scenarios so that we might learn how to cope in such a situation. Of course the more common explanation for lusting after horror on the page and on the screen, is simply the thrill, the adrenalin rush.

It’s certainly true that I address some of my own fears in writing psychological thrillers, but I address many, many other issues too. I get a strong sense of what is right for the storyline and I write towards that, rather than the other way around, ie incorporating a storyline which facilitates my inner gore. At least that’s what I thought. But now I’m not at all sure…


|   About the Book   |


A gripping psychological thriller with chilling twists, from a unique new voice.

Keller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.

This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?



|   About the Author   |


Jenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of ‘proper jobs’, she realised she was living someone else’s life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.   She tries not to take herself too seriously.


Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK |   Goodreads


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Fighting Monsters is the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series and was published in ebook on 15 February.  Rebecca has been a guest on the blog before with a couple of guest posts and I’m delighted to welcome her back on her blog tour, this time with a Q&A.




It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the blog Rebecca, would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background?

Thanks for having me, Karen. I’m an ex-police detective with 15 years’ service. The first seven years were in uniform and the final years were in a specialist CID department.

Just before I left the police I started writing and now I write crime novels full time. Though leaving the police wasn’t a decision I made by choice. I had to medically retire due to my health. I feel fortunate though that I have found something else I love doing as much.

Without giving away too much information, can you please tell us a little about your latest novel, Fighting Monsters

24 hours after he walked away from court a free man, cop killer and gang leader Simon Talbot is found murdered. In his possession; the name of a protected witness from his trial. 

For DI Hannah Robbins, it’s a race against time to find Talbot’s killer, and locate the bystander before it’s too late.

But as Hannah delves deeper into the past, she begins to question the integrity of the whole operation.

Where do you turn when you can’t trust the police?

We also meet some new characters who I hope readers will connect with and love. It’s a difficult case for Hannah as you really don’t know who you can trust, who has reason for the actions of the events that have unfolded. And at the heart of it are people’s lives.

Fighting Monsters is the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series. Do you feel any pressure in continuing a series rather than writing a standalone?

I love writing the series because I am attached to the characters. They are alive and well inside of my head. I know what is going to happen in the next couple of books at least. But, saying that, I don’t intend to make it run and run. I think there needs to be a natural stopping point. When you’ve done all you can with the characters. I’d rather stop than see readers get bored.

I do also have ideas for standalones. So expect to see some of those in the future as well. I like to keep things fresh.

How did you plan/research your books? Do you plot in detail or just see where the story takes you?

My writing process has evolved from writing the first in the series, Shallow Waters, to this one, Fighting Monsters. With Shallow Waters, I was what you call a pantser. I had no idea what was going to happen, other than I knew the ending. I simply sat down and typed.

Now I write a longer version of a synopsis. I try to have an outline of what is going to happen. But in places it can be vague, giving me room to manoeuvre. If I get stumped while I’m writing, I will go back to my plan and work on it some more. Then go back to the writing. It’s a more layered approach now.

As for researching, I think it depends on what it is you need to research. There was one book that I needed to research a subject up front before I could start writing (it’s not one that has been published yet.) And for that I located professionals in their field and talked to them in person. It was important to me to get it right. But, generally, if I can get away with it, I will write around the subject and fill in the correct details afterwards. Getting the story down is the important part. If I think I can research a topic quickly without it stopping my work flow, then I will do it while I’m drafting. I’m a fluid writer. So, do what I feel works.

What is the best writing advice that you have received? Is there anything about the writing/publishing process that you wished you had done differently?

The best advice I have received is to write every day and it’s advice I would pass on. It keeps the story in your head and flowing. You can sit and work without wondering what was happening last time you were at your computer. Even if you can only manage 15 minutes one day, do that. It counts. Everything you do on your manuscript counts. I find it so much easier to write if I’m doing it every day.

Is there any part of the writing process which you enjoy (or find the most difficult) – i.e. researching, writing, editing?

I am not a fan of the first draft. The blank page terrifies me. I have to find the words, the emotions, the people, to fill that page. I would much rather redraft, and edit, because the scaffolding is already there. I can work with what I have. Even if it’s rubbish, I can read it, assess it as rubbish and know what needs to change. But the blank page. You don’t know anything because you haven’t done anything.

Are there any authors whose books have made an impact on you? What type of book do you enjoy reading for pleasure, and what are you reading now?

David Jackson’s books. His writing is just brilliant. He writes crime but he does it in such a way you are completely drawn in and emotionally invested. More people should read him.

I love to read crime, but I also enjoy reading other genres. I read YA, Sci-Fi (not hard sci-fi) and Non-fiction.

Do you read your own reviews?

I read them for the first couple of weeks, just to get a feel for how the book is being received and then I stop. The book is out there, it’s no longer yours. Some people will enjoy it. Some people won’t. It’s the same with books I read. I don’t enjoy every book I read but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a well written book. Or that the author can’t write. It just means the story didn’t resonate with me. Books are subjective and I don’t need to continually read people’s reviews once I have let go of the book.

Is there anything that you wouldn’t write about?

I think there definitely are topics I wouldn’t write about. I don’t feel that it’s necessarily my “job” to shine a spotlight on any particular topic. If I’m not comfortable and don’t feel that I could do it justice, then I wouldn’t cover it.

When you’re not working or writing, what do you do to relax?

I read a lot. I have my two dogs who I love to spend time with. And my family. Also, I’ve recently found Netflix and kind of wish I hadn’t. It takes far too much time up!


If you could only keep 3 books on your bookshelf, which ones would it be and why

That is a really difficult question! 3 books?!

Okay, Stephen King, On Writing – Because it’s a book you can read again and again and is perfect if you are in need of a writing pick-me-up.

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – Because it’s a book about upping sticks and moving to another country. Learning about a whole new culture and trying to fit into that world. I think we are very comfortable where we are and I loved learning about Denmark (apparently the happiest country) and what it’s like to uproot your life for a place that is so completely different to the UK. (It is heavily snowed in a good portion of the year.) It made me want to do similar when I read it and I think I need to be reminded of that feeling occasionally.

Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson – Because it’s brilliant crime writing and maybe I can learn to write so well by osmosis?

Thanks again for having me. It’s been interesting answering these questions!


Thank you Rebecca, and I’m sorry for being mean and only allowing you 3 books!


|   About the Author   |


Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective and lives in the UK with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could she would survive on a diet of tea and cake.

Sign up to her readers’ club for a FREE novella, the prequel to Shallow Waters, the start of the series. Find it on the blog at You’ll also be provided exclusive content and giveaways.




Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter  |   Facebook  |   Amazon Geolink   |   Goodreads



Related Posts:

Guest Post: Why I Chose Poison as a Mode of Murder

Guest Post: The Differences Between Writing a Novel and a Novella



Come a Little Closer was published on 15 February 2018 and is available to buy in ebook and paperback.  I very much enjoy Rachel’s books and didn’t hesitate to say yes when invited to take part in the tour. For my turn today, I have my review and a giveaway of a signed special edition proof copy (I’m quite jealous of the winner, I’d love to enter for this myself!!) but firstly here’s a little about the book.


|   About the Book   |


They will be coming soon. They come every night.

Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.

Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.

These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there? How many more must die?

Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?


|   My Thoughts   |


I think this is probably the creepiest of stories of Rachel’s that I’ve read. Bodies of young women are being discovered – they have no obvious signs of wounding and have no identification. Where and how did they die and more importantly, who are they? These are questions that the police are struggling to answer. Add to the mix some rather weirdly creepy characters, an abusive controlling boyfriend and you have a cracker of a suspenseful read.

Come a Little Closer is the latest story to feature my hero, Tom Douglas. From previous reviews, it’s no secret that that I have a huge book crush on Tom and I couldn’t wait to see what is in store for him here. As well as trying to solve a particularly taxing and difficult case, his personal life also causes him some grief and added complications when a face from the past suddenly lands on his doorstep and threatens not only his job but his romantic relationship. His working relationship with his DS Becky Robinson is a fabulous pairing. Becky is a great character in her own right, although now heavily pregnant, she refuses to be mollycoddled and is determined not to let the pregnancy stop her from doing her job. As well as providing professional support to Tom, she is also a friend and one of the few people he can confide in.

The story begins with several different strands, all seemingly so random – a young woman about to be married catches the eye of a stranger in a bar and agrees to meet later that night at a secluded beauty spot. Another young woman on holiday is befriended by an elderly couple and then we switch to an unknown location housing women clearly drugged and living in terror. Try piecing that lot together! Never fear, for as confusing as it may seem, all these strands combine perfectly together to form a chilling and suspenseful read.

Come a Little Closer initially has a slower pace than previous books but that doesn’t mean it’s any less thrilling. It isn’t difficult to work out the ‘who’ but it’s the ‘why’ that I couldn’t figure out – and what was there to gain? The story kept me hooked all the way through, the suspense heightening to a thrilling finale…and then that ending! Didn’t see that coming!

If you’ve read Rachel’s books before, you will know just how good they are. This latest release is no different with its intricate plotting and excellent characterisation and if you haven’t picked up any of her books before then you are seriously missing out. Come A Little Closer can easily be read as a standalone although some prior knowledge of the main characters is obviously an advantage.


My thanks to Maura for providing the e-copy to review and for the invitation to take part in the tour.



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|   About the Author   |


Rachel Abbott’s debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again and The Sixth Window. Her most recent novel, Come a Little Closer, is available from February 2018.

Rachel’s novels have now been translated into over 20 languages and her books have sold over 2.8 million copies in the English language.

In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.


Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon GeoLink   |   Goodreads



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Published by Pan Macmillan

Ebook and Paperback | 22 February 2018

336 pages

Source: Netgalley ARC for review



|   About the Book   |


The Mother’s Secret is a powerful story about family, secrets and devastating lies

Love keeps us together

Sisters Kate and Georgie have always shared a close bond. While Kate enjoyed the freedoms of youth, Georgie remained at home. But now Georgie is grown up, it’s time she started exploring.

Love can tear us apart

Their mother Jan loves her daughters with all her heart. So what if she kept them out of sight when they were young? She just cared for them so much. She wanted to protect them.

What if your life was based on a lie?

Maybe there was another reason for Jan’s protective behaviour? If they ventured too far afield, it might destroy the facade of their childhood. This family’s about to discover that while lies can cause pain, the truth could destroy them all.


|   My thoughts   |


Having read and loved Clare’s debut novel last year, Before You Go, (you can click here to see that review) it’s a pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for this second book The Mother’s Secret.  My thanks to Rosie of Pan Mac for the invitation to take part in the tour and for the Netgalley copy to review.

Georgie, her older sister Kate and mum Jan have always been a team of 3.  The two girls have always been close and Jan has always been overprotective of them as they were growing up, not letting them go to parties, or out to play with other children but keeping them by her side. Whilst an older Kate has been able to spread her wings a little and travel, Georgie has been the one that has stayed – she has never travelled abroad, lives with her boyfriend and their young daughter but has never married, all it seems with the encouragement of her mother. However when Georgie decides to investigate a little further, what she discovers completely shatters her whole world.

In Her Mother’s Secret, Clare Swatman has written an emotional story of grief, love and deceit. Now in her 50’s Jan is becoming increasingly confused and her behaviour erratic. It’s clear that she is suffering from some form of dementia however what secret is she hiding in her confused mind.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of three characters. Jan’s story begins when she was young and living in Norfolk in the 1960s/1970’s with her best friend Sandy. Jan meets biker Ray, and although theirs is not a perfect relationship, they love each other and muddle through well enough. Jan’s part of the story was one of the book’s highlights for me and I was completely engrossed in her younger life. I wanted to know what type of person she was and what made her tick. I was a teenager in the 70s so a lot of the references were familiar and it felt quite nostalgic being taken back in time.

I did find myself shifting alliances between the characters. At times my sympathies were with Georgie, and at other times with her mother. I’m not sure that I ever really liked Jan, either as a younger or older woman. The young Jan seemed a very discontented and hard to please person and the older confused Jan was just nasty. As for Georgie, I felt that she could have handled some aspects in a much more sensitive way but then who knows exactly you would react in that situation.

The reader learns fairly on what the secret is but the story then focuses on the fallout from the discovery and how far the devastation caused by just one split second decision can reach.

With a well structured plot and superb characterisation, The Mother’s Secret is a gripping and poignant read. It’s heartbreakingly sad at times but also there is hope – and the realisation of how strong the bonds of family can be.





|   About the Author   |

Clare Swatman is a journalist for a number of weekly women’s magazines. Clare was Features Editor for Bella and has written for Best, Woman’s Own and Real People. She writes for her local magazine as well as the travel pages for Take a Break. Clare lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two boys.
Before You Go is her first novel, and she’s busy working on her second.

Author Links:  Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads




Published by Head of Zeus

Available in Ebook, Hardback and Paperback (8 February 2018)

352 pages

Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Behind Her Back for its final day. My thanks to Clare at Head of Zeus for the tour invite and for the extract.


|   About the Book   |


In a TV station run by men, how do the women make themselves heard?

Liz Lyon is a television producer at StoryWorld, the UK’s favourite morning show. Her job is stressful and demanding, but she is determined to show her teenage daughter that women can succeed.

Then a new female colleague joins the station. In this predatory climate of toxic masculinity Liz and Lori should be helping each other. But when Lori starts secretly building her power base with the bosses, Liz is desperate to know what’s going on behind her back…



EARLY AUGUST Chalk Farm flat, Sunday, 2 p.m.

As soon as we got in, Flo looked for Mr Crooks our cat and started to panic when he wasn’t in the flat or our garden. She was straight on her mobile to Janis who reassured her that he’d been fine when she’d been in to feed him this morning. He had probably gone for a wander.

I stuffed dirty clothes into the washing machine, two weeks’ worth, some of which were still powdered with sand from the beach at Bordighera. For the first time in years, having Simon as my deputy had allowed me to have a complete break from StoryWorld and I had returned with a good tan and a hole in my finances.

I was heading back to work on Monday and needed a briefing from Simon. I made a mug of tea, black because I’d forgotten to buy milk, and called him.

‘Welcome back. Was your flight OK? Heard there were delays at Heathrow,’ he said.

‘We didn’t fly. We were on the overnight train from Ventimiglia and it was brilliant, though I didn’t sleep much.’

‘Good holiday?’

‘Fantastic. Pasta and ice cream to die for and we swam in the sea most days. How have things been?’

‘Fine, really, no mishaps to report, and Ledley is going from strength to strength.’

‘Glad to hear it. Fizzy is back next month, you know.’

‘So I heard. He’s taken to it so well. Maybe he’ll find it hard going back to a weekly slot,’ Simon said.

Ledley, the StoryWorld chef, has been sitting in for our star presenter Fizzy Wentworth. She’s been on maternity leave and he’s been a hit with our viewers. Fizzy had her baby in late May and is only taking three and a half months off. She’s determined to be back on the sofa at the beginning of September. She’s worried that if she stays away longer Ledley will get too entrenched in the anchor role.

‘And Lori Kerwell arrived last week,’ Simon said, and there was something in his voice, the verbal equivalent of rolling his eyes.

‘What’s she like?’

‘She’s scary; really scary. All pent-up energy and dead eyes.’

‘Oh dear!’

‘She insisted on coming to the morning meetings and by the second day was commenting on the output.’

‘I hope that’s a short-term thing. It’s an editorial meeting,’ I said.

‘Yeah, but she said it will help her understand where she can develop business tie-ins.’

‘And is Julius OK with that?’

‘Not sure. He put her in her place on Friday.’

The gossip at the station was that Julius Jones, our director of programmes, was not overjoyed at the appointment of Lori Kerwell to develop sales and marketing. She had been appointed by the MD, Saul Relph. He is the money man at StoryWorld. Julius, who is the ideas man, was not involved in her selection and employment. There is often conflict between the editorial and the business sides in television.

‘Can you talk me through the running order for tomorrow?’ I said.

‘Loula is our celebrity interview of the day.’

Loula was the latest winner in ITV’s blockbuster talent show.

‘That’s a good signing.’

‘Harry got her for us. And Molly’s story is on FGM.’

Female genital mutilation was a challenging topic for my researcher Molly to have chosen.

‘How did she cover that?’

‘She found this young Somalian woman, Beydaan, very brave. She shopped her parents to social services because she doesn’t want her younger sister to go through what they did to her. Liz, she was seven years old when she was cut.’

‘Bloody hell!’

‘I know. Molly had to shoot the interview so you can’t see her face. And we’ve changed her name, of course.’

This was making me uneasy. Ours is a morning show and we have to be careful about the content we put out.

‘And who will Ledley talk to about it?’

‘We’ve booked the officer from the Foreign Office who runs the FGM Unit.’

‘That’s a good call. Are you sure Ledley is OK with this?’

‘Molly briefed him at length on Friday.’

‘Well, huge thanks, Simon, for all you’ve done. Let’s both sit in the gallery tomorrow and we can go to the morning meeting together.’

‘It’s good to have you back.’

I unlocked the French doors and stepped into our garden. Dead blooms and leaves had accumulated and it needed a good sweep. I have a tiny shed in the corner and I rummaged out the garden broom. My beloved hollyhocks needed water too. I filled the watering can and gave them a good soaking. Their large pale pink and yellow blooms rested against the warmth of the back wall. There is something satisfying about watering plants. The hollyhocks are too big really for our small patch but I love them so much and looking at them lifts my spirits. The washing cycle had finished so I pulled the clothes out and hung them over the drying frame which is a job I hate doing as the frame is not large enough. I wondered if I should call Ledley and talk through the FGM story with him. It is not the easiest subject for a male presenter to deal with. But I had left Simon in charge and I trusted him. The cat flap clattered and Mr Crooks emerged, blinking, into the sitting room.

When he saw me he let out an outraged yowl.

‘Flo, Mr Crooks is back and he’s got the hump,’ I called out.

Flo came out of her room. She had stripped down to her panties and a white T-shirt and I admired her long tanned legs as she walked across the kitchen and picked up Mr Crooks. My rosebud was turning into a rose.




|   About the Author   |

Jane Lythell worked as a TV producer and commissioning editor before becoming Deputy Director of the BFI and Chief Executive of BAFTA (as Jane Clarke). She experienced first-hand the sexual and power politics of the TV industry which have hit the headlines recently.

This is her fourth novel, and the second title in the StoryWorld series. Jane lives in Brighton.


Author Links:   Twitter   |   Facebook   |   Amazon UK   |   Goodreads