In the Midst of Shadows – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • Attempted and committed murder.

Lavinia is a modern young woman who lives with her two aunts in the house her father left her when he passed. While she lives a comfortable life, she longs for something that’s hers. Something that she made herself, such as the stories she writes and sharing those with the world, or at least London.

Before passing, Lavinia’s father kept the books for a lawyer and a doctor, a habit that Lavinia has kept up since he passed since it’s a trade he taught her. One day, the doctor (Malcom) suggests sharing Lavinia’s writing with a publisher friend of his as he believes she could write great Penny Dreadful’s.

When the publisher Courtney Publishing loves her writing, she soon becomes a favourite of London Penny Dreadful readers. That is, until recent deaths appear to resemble her stories a little two closely.

I really enjoy the dark and sometimes twisted way Nicola’s stories find themselves going. Not only are they accurate for the age in terms of sex and races and their positions in society, but they also enable more enlightened thinking on what women can do and achieve as the outliers rather than the norm which fits in with the age the stories are set in.

Normally, while the writing of the stories flows easily and the language between characters might feel a little bit stilted by today’s standards, it’s an accurate depicted of the time period. This time, the whole thing felt a little bit stilted.

Not enough to truly detract from the story, especially if this is your first Nicola Italia read. But it was enough for me to notice and wonder what happened.

Normally the little details are written in such a way to draw you in. But I felt like I was missing some of this. Instead, the attention to the detail seemed to focus more in the dark and scary places rather than a mixture to give you the balance you need.

Basically, it feels much darker and more twisty with all of the writing feeling like it’s more suited to that age than I’d normally find in Nicola’s writing. Not a bad thing, just different.

Shadow of a Dead God – Patrick Samphire

This book contains:

  • Attempted murder, multiple times
  • Mass murder
  • Psychological manipulation
  • Corruption.

Mennik (Nik) Thorn is our main mage. Given he’s the main character one would think that he’s a mega powerful mage, but nope. He’s an average to below average mage of dubious origins who can’t seem to do anything right. And he’s meant to be the hero?

Nik is sitting his butt up doing a shitty job he hates but he desperately needs to help him pay the bills. Then his best friend, also of dubious origins, drags him back into the underworld where from there, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

As the story got deeper and deeper into the shit, it got better and better. Every time something seemed to get worse for Nik, it got more interesting, and more and more questions got raised. I mean, how many times can you change who you think the bad guy is in a single book?!

Not to mention the interplay between Nik, Sereh, Benny, Mica and Meroi was classic. The way their various personalities, loyalties, humour, knowledge and skills made for such an interesting story.

Then of course there’s the magical element that underpins the whole story. How are some mages so powerful and some not? How do ghosts exist? How do dead gods work? How do gods even die?

And then there’s the ending!

It’s got me wanting the next book so bad!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.


I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.

BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official.

The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!


Author Bio

Patrick Samphire is the author of the adult fantasy novel SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD, as well as the middle grade novels SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB and THE EMPEROR OF MARS. He has also published around twenty short stories and novellas.

Patrick has been writing stories since he was fourteen years old and thought it would be a good way of avoiding having to sit through English lessons at school. He was absolutely convinced that he would be famous by the time he was eighteen, but sadly, even infamy has eluded him.

He lives in Wales, surrounded by mountains, with his wife, their sons, and their cat. When he’s not writing, he designs websites and ebooks.

From a Position of Strength – Sean Heary

This book contains:

  • Attempted murder
  • Multiple murders
  • Moving a dead body and staging a murder
  • Espionage
  • Plans for mass murder
  • Treason.

Cathy and Rossi are back. If you’ve read my reviews of their earlier escapade’s you’d be familiar with them, but just in case you’re not.

Cathy is a CIA Analyst who finds herself out in the field when she wouldn’t normally be. She’s worked hard to get herself the life she’s got today and won’t apologise for how she got to where she is. She’s sassy, practical and does everything she can to get to the truth of anything she’s working on.

Rossi is a charming, flirty ex-Vatican Police commander who want’s nothing to do with Cathy. Especially when she turns up unexpectedly. Since leaving the Vatican, he’s spent his downtime learning all manner of skills one wouldn’t expect him to learn.

Cathy suddenly flies into Rome and drags Rossi into yet another hair brained espionage scheme expecting him to work with her. As they traipse from Rome, to Gaeta, and back to Rome, over and over as they slowly figure out what is actually going on.

Their previous cases feel like they’re perfectly simple in comparison to how complex this case turned out to be. With so many players, so many possibilities, it got a little crazy there for a moment.

I feel a little conflicted about this third instalment.

While I loved the mystery and trying to figure out what was going on, the ending left a little to be desired.

I was expecting to take about a week to read this, but I got so caught up trying to keep up with all the changes and every new bit of information, that I smashed through it in a couple of days. I mean, there was A LOT to keep up with!

But then, when I got to the epilogue, I wasn’t impressed. It was a great ending. I just think I needed another chapter to close out my last few questions before we got the epilogue. I don’t want to ruin the book by telling you what my questions were, but they were enough to leave me feeling a bit deflated.

Undercover Duke – Sabrina Jeffries

This book contains:

  • Attempted kidnapping.

Sheridan is the final child of Lydia not yet happily married. He’s inherited a dukedom that appears to be failing and he’s struggling to figure out how to make more money while continuing to help his family solve their mystery. He’s adamant that he can do things his way and achieve everything he needs to without the help of anyone else.

Vanessa has featured in a few of the earlier novels as the younger cousin of Grey. All this time she’s been known to have her eye on a “poet”. Now she’s centre stage and we get to learn more about her, such as her creativity, intelligence and tenacity.

Sheridan is tasked with having to question Vanessa’s mum by his brother Grey, who suggests Sheridan pretends to court Vanessa to give him the opportunity to question her mum. Of course, like any good romance, Vanessa finds a way to encourage him to court her while she’s working towards her own goal.

With Sheridan being the last child of Lydia to get married, we know we have to figure out who’s been murdering all her husbands. While there were lots of unexpected twists and turns along the way. The culmination of all the books to this point was DRAMATIC!

It’s really hard sometimes to end a series like this, where each book can be read as a stand-alone book and follows a different couple each time, without ruining the final love match. In this case, Sabrina has found a really good balance, although at times, I think she left it JUST A TOUCH too long before bringing the investigation back into the focus.

Duchess if You Dare – Anabelle Bryant

This book contains:

  • blackmail
  • human trafficking and slavery
  • attempted murder.

Scarlett is a young woman who’s lucky enough to be independent and without need of a male to provide for her. She has a knack for investigating and has developed keen fighting skills to keep her safe while she’s a member of the Maidens of Mayhem.

Ambrose on the other hand is a Duke constantly bailing his younger brother out of various trouble to protect the family name. Only this time it seems to have landed him in deeper water than normal.

Scarlett and Ambrose are both chasing information about people they care for. While doing so they keep crossing paths until they finally give in and decide to work together since they seem to have a common goal.

Over the course of the book, they’re challenged in way they weren’t expecting, and through it all strive to come out as better people for it.

I loved how empowering this book was for women, even if it wasn’t quite historically accurate, it was still a great read. The adventure throughout, the small instances of romance, the thought provoking comments and the overall emotionally charged story.

There’s more to this series and I’m hoping I’ll be able to come back to it in the future because it was a great read in the regency times that just hits the nail of action and romance so well!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

USA Today Bestselling author Anabelle Bryant began reading at age three and never stopped. Her passion for reading soon turned into a passion for writing and an author was born. Happy to grab her suitcase if it ensures a new adventure, Anabelle finds endless inspiration in travel; especially imaginary jaunts into romantic Regency England, a far cry from her home in New Jersey. Instead, her clever characters live out her daydreams because really, who wouldn’t want to dance with a handsome duke or kiss a wicked earl?

Anabelle’s books have been translated into several languages including Japanese and Russian, but writing isn’t all that keeps her busy. Building miniatures, baking and photography are other favorite pastimes. Often found with her nose in a book, Anabelle is just as happy in a room full of people. She enjoys meeting readers, attending conferences and book signings. She has earned her Master’s Degree and is ABD for her Doctorate Degree in education.

A firm believer in romance, Anabelle knows sometimes life doesn’t provide a happily ever after, but her novels always do.

The Code of Monte Christo – Cenarth Fox

This book contains:

  • planning and committing murder
  • corrupt cops.

Detective Senior Constable Joanna Best is the main character of an Agatha Christie style murder mystery, whodunit. She begins her probation as a Detective at the beginning of the book and we follow her both professionally and personally for the space of a week or two.

There is a raft of other characters, all supporting Jo and her story. With multiple crimes being committed and all being interconnected in some way, these supporting characters inclusion wasn’t wasted. Although, if you struggle to remember lots of characters you may struggle with that aspect as there are quite a few.

We follow Jo becoming a Homicide Detective and her first two cases, one in Elsternwick and one in the Dandenong’s. While investigating these we discover the family secret and begin the secret side project.

I can’t really say much else about the storyline because it’s so interwoven and since it’s a bit of a mystery, anything I say could give away parts of the story and take away your enjoyment of it.

Very quickly I got the feeling that this was going to be a bit of an Agatha Christie style murder mystery, and in a way I was right. Even Jo thought that!

The complexity, the way everything is interwoven, the little details that bring it together are all so well done that I definitely want to read more of the series. Yet the language was something that held me back just a little.

Not enough to dislike the book, but just enough that I couldn’t give it a higher rating.

It felt like some of the explanations you see in a script were included while the descriptions you’d typically find in a book were missing. Given he also writes plays this makes sense so it wasn’t a huge deal to me, especially since this is set in my home city. I know all the locations extremely well and so could imagine them with ease. But if you’re not familiar with the settings I think this might be more noticeable to you.

At no point did I find I couldn’t engage with and enjoy the book; it was just something I noticed and wanted to mention in case it impacted your ability to enjoy the book. Which I do think you should go and read if you enjoy the Agatha Christie style murder mysteries!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Cenarth is an Australian with a Welsh name pronounced Kenarth. As a writer he has created plays, musicals, radio scripts, and fiction and non-fiction books.

The Invisible Radio Show, The Story of Jazz, The Elements of Music and The History of Rock ‘n Roll broadcast on ABC radio.

A trilogy of plays, a novel and a series of five children’s books about Sherlock Holmes. Plays about famous people including Shakespeare, Dickens, the Brontes, Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.

Fifteen novels including the World War 2 thrillers A Plum Job and A Plum Jam, Cassocked Savage, a fictional account of the life of the father of the Bronte sisters, Tricky Conscience, a medical thriller and Noodles for Shakespeare, a tale of Vietnamese refugees in a retelling of Pygmalion Down Under, and eight books in the series, The Detective Joanna Best Mysteries.

His non-fiction titles include The Stage Musical, How to Write and Sell Your Plays, Staging Successful Shows, Play It Again Ham, Drama Skits ‘n Tips, 48 Mini Plays, 25 Mini Musicals and Poetry in Motion.

Among the Darkness Stirs – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • Death of father
  • Murder and its investigation

Audrey is the daughter of a vicar, university educated and in need of work. Throughout life’s challenges and changes, she stays true to herself as she picks up her, and her families lives and works to give them the life they deserve.

With the help (and eventual romance) of Henry, Audrey is able to weather all the storms the workhouse throws at her while Henry continue to support her, offer friendship and help her in her investigation. Although Henry only wishes to help Audrey in the beginning, this changes to more intense feelings that he has to pursue, while trying to keep her safe from her own investigations.

Audrey’s father dies leaving her family destitute with no where to turn to. Thanks to the help of Henry, she’s able to secure a role in a workhouse teaching the children in the hopes of bettering their lives. While working there she makes friends with some of the staff, “inmates” and Henry’s mother.

The first half of the book is about Audrey finding her place in the workhouse, getting to know Henry, his mother, Norwich and getting comfortable teaching the children. Then, about halfway through the book, one of her friends suddenly dies and she discovers a diary that concerns her. The remaining half gives Audrey and Henry time to investigate the odd diary and figure out exactly what is happening.

On the whole, the book was quite interesting. Various aspects of society and the changes we likely take for granted now were pointed out numerous times. Simple things like everyone deserving a basic education, women getting a university or college education, women holding jobs and even the idea that people who fall on hard times are lazy.

I did find the first half of the book a little bit slow. Looking back on it I can see how most of it was needed, the pace of it just felt a little slow. Especially when compared to the second half. The first half spanned a few months, whereas the second half spanned maybe a week or two.

It’s not that I think the second half was rushed! I actually think it was really well done.

There was enough detail, enough intrigue and enough drama that it worked really well. It was just a bit of a shock to have the pace suddenly change. When I got to about 60% of the way through I found myself wanting to keep coming back to the book, ditch work and just find out what was happening!

And I was left shocked at the end!

When it was described I thought it was one, normal(ish) thing, but then when it was truly revealed I couldn’t believe it! Did that stuff actually exist in those times?! WOW!

The Finders – Jeffrey B. Burton

Welcome back everyone, I’d read a few positive reviews about this and decided to request a copy on NetGalley. I’m glad I did!

Going into this book I thought there’d be more about the dogs, their training and actively working as cadaver dogs. Since I’m doing a lot of work with my own dog, I was interested in seeing what techniques would be talked about when training cadaver dogs.

What I wasn’t expecting was to have so much of the story be about tracking the killer by regular police work with the dogs just tagging along and causing havoc. In hindsight that makes sense. The amount of disparity in the dog training industry would mean getting reliable information about techniques that no one could argue with wouldn’t be possible. Even myself reading the few snippets was like “O I know some people who wouldn’t be happy about that technique.”

Moving on to the story and how amazing it was!

Right from the get-go I loved it! It was fast moving, interesting, had enough psychology and action to keep me interested, excited and mentally engaged.

We got to see the story from a few people’s perspective, including the main killers. The great thing about hearing the killers perspective is that we learnt about their motivations, their previous killings, how they operate and yet don’t learn anything personal about them until the cops and Reid put it all together.

The final 20% of the book is Reid and Gimm putting together who it is, us getting confirmation from the killer and then the confrontation. Every chapter changed perspective giving us the perfect blow by blow of the whole interaction. Absolutely amazing!

Given this is the first book in the series I can’t wait to see how the following books develop!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Sunday I’ll be reviewing Venators: Legends Rise by Devri Walls.

Who Wants to Marry a Duke – Sabrina Jeffries

Welcome back everyone, I’ve got a bunch of reviews over the coming weeks that I’m really excited to bring to you. It’s been a bit touch and go being able to get them all read in time but I think I’m getting there!

Returning to the Dukes Dynasty we’re on another murder mystery with just as much action as the previous books. If anything, I feel like it got amped up a little!

Olivia’s confidence in her skills amazed me given this book is a regency romance and women didn’t have many career choices. And yet she’s not comfortable moving around society like most of the women in regency romances.

Although Thorn is made out to be a bit of an arrogant rake, we know from the first two books that he’s more than he seems. As Olivia and Thorn work together we see more aspects of both their personalities coming out that, usually, complement each other quite well.

Roughly the first half of the book focuses on the romance, then as things escalate it twists into more of a murder mystery that happens to have some romance spattered in. Normally I’d find this change frustrating, but since we’re now three books into the series it’s good to see the wider story develop.

I can’t wait to find out more with Sheridan when the next book comes out next year. I really need to know who did it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Lost Time and Dead Time by D.L. Orton.

Cookies Collected!

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. To find out more check out my Privacy Policy. By continuing you accept these terms.