THREE HOURS IN PARIS by Cara Black 🎧

In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

The New York Times bestselling author of the Aimée Leduc investigations reimagines history in her masterful, pulse-pounding spy thriller, Three Hours in Paris.

Kate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Führer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of the war, a country girl from rural Oregon finds herself holding the fate of the world in her hands. When Kate misses her mark and the plan unravels, Kate is on the run for her life—all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up.

Cara Black, doyenne of the Parisian crime novel, is at her best as she brings Occupation-era France to vivid life in this gripping story about one young woman with the temerity—and drive—to take on Hitler himself.


Title : Three Hours in Paris
Author : Cara Black
Narrator : Elizabeth Rodgers
Format : Audiobook
Length : 10 hours, 21 minutes
Genre : Historical Thriller
Publisher : Recorded Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

This was a strong character-driven historical read set in WW2 France and Britain. Told from the POV of Kate, an American living on the Orkneys where she lived with her late husband, this was a tense and fast-paced suspense. Kate was recruited because of her marksmanship with a rifle and found herself on a high profile job.

What entailed was a story all about her survival in Paris during German occupation. She ricocheted from one situation to and her, not knowing who to trust. Kate was a woman in the full depths of grief over a significant loss and yet she was navigating this high stress situation. The story gave me Charlotte Gray vibes. It was a gripping listen and totally enjoyable.

The narration by Elisabeth Rodgers encapsulated Kate, her journey and her desperate circumstances so well. She transported me to the era and the story completed.

Thank you to LibroFM and Recorded Books for this ALC.

WHERE THE LOST WANDER by Amy Harmon

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.


Title : Where The Lost Wander
Author : Amy Harmon
Format : eARC
Page Count : 348
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Lake Union Publishing
Release Date : April 28, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

It’s been a long time since I’ve read an Amy Harmon book and for some reason, I just decided it was time. I am pulled to historical fiction that I don’t know a lot about and American history hits that box for me. This book felt like a Jojo Moyes and it really gave me The Giver of Stars vibes (that’s a high compliment).

The prologue pulls you in with a bang, and then you spend much of the book learning about how the story got to the point of the prologue, and you get some great story beyond that. This was an epic narrative of emigration across an American trail…thousands of miles of journey and it was a survival story. It was brutal and I didn’t realise how tough this journey was with illness, children, death and conflict. I learnt a lot and it gripped me.

The two protagonists were Naomi, a young widow travelling with her parents and brothers and John, a half-Pawnee, half-white man who was taking mules for trade. John was an enigma at first, emotionally inept and he didn’t seem to know where he belonged. John’s growth as a character over this book was vast and that was my favourite part of the story.

He cries like it’s the first time he’s ever cried, like all the pain of all his twenty-odd years is rising up at once.

I can’t and won’t even begin to describe what happened to these characters and families, it’s too big and too spoilery but it was a lot and it was grim. There brothers in this story were favourites and I lived for their chinks of light.

The indigenous people woven throughout this story were a range of tribes and had a range of ways. They were so fundamental to this story, John and Naomi and I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and people depicted. Lost Woman and Hanabi in particular, left an impression on me and Naomi.

WHERE THE LOST WANDER is a historical fiction with romantic elements rather than a historical romance and in that, it worked really well for me. On finishing, I feel like I have also been on a journey and I’m a little ’emotioned-out’. Highly recommended for all fans of historical fiction.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for the early review copy.

WHO SPEAKS FOR THE DAMNED by C.S. Harris

It’s June 1814, and the royal families of Austria, Russia, and the German states have gathered in London at the Prince Regent’s invitation to celebrate the defeat of Napoléon and the restoration of monarchical control throughout Europe. But the festive atmosphere is marred one warm summer evening by the brutal murder of a disgraced British nobleman long thought dead.

Eighteen years before, Nicholas Hayes, the third son of the late Earl of Seaford, was accused of killing a beautiful young French émigré and transported to Botany Bay for life. Even before his conviction, Hayes had been disowned by his father. Few in London were surprised when they heard the ne’er-do-well had died in New South Wales in 1799. But those reports were obviously wrong. Recently Hayes returned to London with a mysterious young boy in tow–a child who vanishes shortly after Nicholas’s body is discovered.

Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is drawn into the investigation by his valet, Jules Calhoun. With Calhoun’s help, Sebastian begins to piece together the shattered life of the late Earl’s ill-fated youngest son. Why did Nicholas risk his life and freedom by returning to England? And why did he bring the now-missing young boy with him? Several nervous Londoners had reason to fear that Nicholas Hayes had returned to kill them. One of them might have decided to kill him first.


Title : Who Speaks for the Damned
Author : C.S. Harris
Series : Sebastian St Cyr (book fifteen)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : historical fiction/mystery
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I am late to this series, having wanted to read it for years but only actually getting around to it back in December, but after fifteen books, no matter how recent a fan, you have to wonder : how long will it go on?

This installment definitely felt episodic in the sense that this was removed from what I sort’ve expected to see come to light by now. Events I can’t hint at or speak of due to s p o i l e r s. Instead this was just another vaguely run of the mill murder mystery that Sebastian involves himself in, much to the dismay of almost everyone around him, and as a result a lot of other people die in the midst of trying to cover something up from long ago, now come back to haunt them, and which is forced out into the open because they tried to cover it up.. again.

The one positive I can say (well, okay, that sounds terrible, this book wasn’t bad, but..) is that some of that copy and paste feeling I had reading these books, particularly when dealing with a certain character, wasn’t present this time. Some of the laziness was absent from this fifteenth book and that made everything feel much less rote, which I appreciated. Again, I just wonder, how long can things continue? I have nothing against a long series but only when the new books offer something worthwhile or fresh for the characters; that’s why we read these. Not for the plot or villain of the week but for progress.

There did seem to be some nostalgia and hearkening back to book one in this installment, some what-if and it-could’ve-been-me which did allow for some perspective on Sebastian’s part but I think we had already worked through most of that, so why was it important to rehash?

If you missed these characters, I think you’ll be satisfied by the new book. If you expected that long-awaited drama to bubble up and dealt with head-on, you might be disappointed. But either way I think you’ll enjoy sinking into a familiar world considering the world outside is looking mighty strange right now. This will be comforting in that respect but a new favourite? I wouldn’t expect so.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

A MURDEROUS RELATION by Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell navigates a dark world of scandal and murder in this new adventure from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award nominated author Deanna Raybourn.

Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian colleague Stoker are asked by Lady Wellingtonia Beauclerk to help with a potential scandal so explosive it threatens to rock the monarchy. Prince Albert Victor is a regular visitor to the most exclusive private club in London, known as the Club de l’Etoile, and the proprietess, Madame Aurore, has received an expensive gift that can be traced back to the prince. Lady Wellie would like Veronica and Stoker to retrieve the jewel from the club before scandal can break.

Worse yet, London is gripped by hysteria in the autumn of 1888, terrorized by what would become the most notorious and elusive serial killer in history, Jack the Ripper–and Lady Wellie suspects the prince may be responsible.

Veronica and Stoker reluctantly agree to go undercover at Madame Aurore’s high class brothel, where another body soon turns up. Many secrets are swirling around Veronica and the royal family–and it’s up to Veronica and Stoker to find the truth, before it’s too late for all of them.


Title : A Murderous Relation
Author : Deanna Raybourn
Series : Veronica Speedwell (book five)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 320
Genre : historical romance/mystery
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : March 10, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Listen, I already know I’m going to be an outlier on this one (again!) so you should just scroll right past this review before you get too sad about this rating.

For various reasons, the last two books in this much beloved series have just not done it for me. Book four because of what I felt were out-of-character behaviours for characters I had grown to love so much, and in book five, it’s the mystery. This book had a lot of expectation riding on it because of where things ended in the previous installment and while it started out hopeful.. it kind of rambled about in another direction, putting certain things on hold, only to pick up a plot from a few books before; one I kind of thought we had moved on from. Only now do I see that this particular bit has finally (please?) run it’s course.

The particular investigation in this book runs parallel to when Jack the Ripper is rampaging around London and I definitely thought there would be some crossover with that. It seems a popular, or common, event for this time period. Strangely, we ended up bypassing it, and in some ways that was a refreshing choice. But there was a moment.. oh, wow, it perked me up. What a brilliantly written interaction.

As for the will-they-won’t-they-have-they-finally-just-got-on-with-it question, whether things progressed or not, you’ll just have to read to find out.

Considering my rather lukewarm feelings about this one on the whole, however, I wonder if this series has just run its course for me. I hate to think it so, I’ve so loved so much of this (again, books one to three? great, delightful, the best kind of frustrating), but lately? Again, I doubt this’ll be the common feeling. So definitely be excited about more Stokewell on your kindles or on your shelves. I’ll just be over here hoping to find the love again in book six. Not willing to throw in the towel quite yet.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

SHINIGAMI by Xia Xia Lake

A coming-of-age love story between an orphan and the heir of the richest family in the Land of Yamato. The human world meets the yōkai in a power struggle for the fate of Fujiwara no Hirotsugu. 

While he battles to find his own path, Hirotsugu finds solace in a boy who will become his secret friend, then his salvation, and then as they become adults together, the love of his life.


Title : Shinigami
Author : Xia Xia Lake
Series : Takamagahara Monogatari (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 352
Genre : LGBTQIA+ historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : indie
Release Date : October 1, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.75 (rounded up) star review

I’m going to be honest. I have very different feelings for the first half of this book vs the latter half. The first half details the life and experiences of Hirotsugu as he grows up as the heir to one of the wealthiest, and respected, families. In contrast to those around him, particularly his family, he’s very aware, and almost ashamed, of the divide that separates him from the poor, and this is reinforced by a chance encounter with a young beggar. A chance encounter that happens not just a second time, but a third, thus sparking a friendship that would turn into a great love.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first half of this journey is very heavy on the historical elements, the traditions, the myths; if you love world-building, if you love losing yourself in cultural descriptions, you will be overjoyed with the author’s research and attention to detail. I’ll admit that while I did follow along (and had a handy glossary, along with chapter header definitions to help out), I wasn’t as engrossed by the history as I was the characters. So while I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t fully immersed or on the edge of my seat in the early chapters. It was easy to put down, even with the magical elements and the mystery surrounding this presence that ran parallel to the narrative.

Also I made the mistake of speculating a theory or two to a friend who had read this already and boy was I wrong. But hey, I’m owning up to it. I recommend you try and throw some guesses around, too! Ahem, anyway..

And then the second half of the story happened and it was sweet and lovely and all of a sudden I was punched in the gut with feels and this time I was putting down the book so I could finish crying. Which I did.. twice. I definitely felt the strength of these characters near the end, the events felt more high stakes, with the added element of some melodrama to really get those emotions flowing. As a bonus, much is revealed that is only teased throughout, and while some subsequent actions felt rushed or maybe a little unrealistic, you still feel it. It still hurts. And you’re still blown away.

Readers who pick up the book one, KOGITSUNE, might be surprised, and confused, when they follow it up with SHINIGAMI only to realize it isn’t a direct continuation. And does, in fact, happen long after the events of book two. But by the time you get to the end of this book, you’ll understand why it’s important, and necessary, to read first. So go do that now.

Overall, this is an experience unlike one I’ve read before. It’s detailed, rich in history, magic and myth and folklore, it’s about a forever love between two young men, and so much more. And it’s not over! There’s more to come. I cannot wait to see how these stories progress in book three.

KOGITSUNE by Xia Xia Lake

A coming of age story set in medieval Japan. A friendship between a young fox god and his human childhood friend is built on deception, but grows stronger and purer as it’s driven by common purpose. However, the vast differences of the worlds they live in can’t be ignored, as their relationship is frowned upon by both humans and spirits.

As Kogitsune’s feelings for his human friend turn from friendship to something deeper, he will learn that love can be all consuming and heartbreaking. 

‘Kogitsune’ is a retelling of the famous Noh theater play ‘Kokaji’, a story about a swordsmith who requests the help of the Inari god to build a sword for emperor Ichijo (980-1011).


Title : Kogitsune
Author : Xia Xia Lake
Series : Takamagahara Monogatari (book 1)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 62
Genre : LGBTQIA+ historical fiction/fantasy
Publisher : indie
Release Date : September 10, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.5 (rounded up) star review

This is such a sweet, magical, little story of the birth, and early years, of a kitsune; a fox god. As he discovers the world around him, he also meets a human boy, and they develop a sweet friendship that, over time and after reuniting after a separation where they each grow into their own, becomes a romance.

Despite how short this story is, Lake nonetheless manages to perfectly set the scene, delving into Japanese folklore and myth, all through the eyes of a curious and adorable protagonist, who is both naive and wise and, like mortals, just as susceptible to heartbreak, remorse, and love.

This is the first in a series and I can’t wait to read on.

THE MERCIES by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization. 


Title : The Mercies
Author : Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Format :
Page Count : 352
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Pan Macmillan
Release Date : February 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

THE MERCIES was all dark atmosphere, engaging story, conspiracies and foreboding. It required my total engagement from the first page and I gave it willingly. The writing was sublime and something special that it could take such a bleak context and turn it into such an exciting read.

Narrated from the POV of two very different young women, THE MERCIES told the story of a remote fishing village at the remotest tip of Norway. It started in the midst of a storm that wiped out the men on their boats, leaving the women of the village bereft, grieving and with a need to sustain themselves. The slow revealing of characters in the village was a strength to the storytelling, which was very much about trust and mistrust. Maren was a strong and vital young woman, caring for her family and village. They were Lutheran (I think) but they also kept some Sami traditions and rituals.

Time passed and with it, it brought a man tothe village. His purpose was to herald structure and Christian godliness back in the village, with him came his wife, Ursa, the second protagonist. She was weak and unused to hardship but she had character growth that was a great part of the story.

Remember the mistrust? What started as a rumble, became a full blown witch hunt in literal terms. The patriachy was in full throttle and the pack behaviour of some of the women had me wanting to disassociate myself with my gender. That said, I had all sorts of feelings and inner monologue about women knowing only patriarchy and how that affected them when all the men had gone. It was a mess, it was unsettling and then it was hideous.

Suffice it to say that this read gave me all the feelings, some good, many not. Some of the best reads are unsettling, make you feel extreme emotions and drop you at the end. I felt winded and rewarded. What a read, what a writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave is and please can I devour all her books now?