Tag Archives: Suspense

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart, Authors’ Ally, 2015

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart, Authors’ Ally, 2015

Author’s Blurb

From the author of Chameleon comes this historical fiction novel, Mark of the Leopard, the second in the African history series, a story of romance, mystery, danger and betrayal set against a backdrop of wild lands and raging seas.

In 1703 Sabrina Barrington and her children are shipwrecked and presumed drowned off the Cape of Good Hope, the site of the present-day city of Cape Town. Fourteen years later, an investigator tells Sabrina’s brother, Lucien Castle, that one of his sister’s children has been seen on the island of Madagascar, off Africa’s east coast. It is imperative to return the youngster to England before his twenty-fifth birthday, otherwise his grandfather, the corrupt and detested Robert Barrington, will usurp his rightful inheritance. Castle is the only one who can confirm the young man is not an impostor. In order to do this he must leave the comfort of Amsterdam in Holland and embark on a journey into the unknown.

Will Castle be able to overcome his demons and find his nephew in time? Or will he succumb to the perils that beset his epic expedition every step of the way?

In a voyage that takes them from the untamed island of Madagascar to the storm-tossed Dutch outpost at the Cape of Good Hope, Castle and his companion must face innumerable dangers and battle not only rival investigators but also each other.

Review by Hazel Barker

Mark of the Leopard by Kathy Stewart is a fast-moving story that is difficult to put down. It is a novel rich in history and laden with suspense. The author has clearly done extensive research and woven it seamlessly into the novel. She uses her skills as an historian to write a gripping yarn.

The characters, and in particular, Lucien Castle, who goes in search of his nephew, Tom Barrington, spring from the page. A sense of guilt regarding his wife and children, stirs Lucien to help his sister’s son. He fears the sea and faces his fear time and time again, in order to save the boy.

Kathy Stewart is a versatile writer and is the author of children’s books as well as several books of non-fiction.

Mark of the Leopard is her second novel. Her debut novel, Chameleon was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award in 2010.

 

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Rebecca’s Dream by Carol Preston, Even Before Publishing, 2014

Book Description
Rebecca Oakes is just thirteen when her mother passes away, and she is left to care for her ageing father. However, it is not only family that stands in the way of Rebecca’s dream.
She will have to fight the Australian society – a society where it is difficult for a woman to get an education, where women can’t own property, have no vote and no voice. Will she be thwarted by a man who is determined to stand in her way?
Review by Hazel Barker
Rebecca’s Dream is a sequel to Suzannah’s Gold and opens in the autumn of 1873. Her mother has just died and thirteen-year-old Rebecca is left to look after her ageing father, who suffers from depression and dementia. She dreams of studying to be a teacher and entering a convent but her desires are thwarted when she takes on the burdens of others and cares for them.
The story rambles on with births and deaths until the evocative scene of John’s attack of typhoid and her sister Mary’s helplessness in Chapter 4. Rebecca’s Aunt Mary Anne and her Uncle Bill prove a source of comfort to her. Her friend Sarah gives her the moral support she needs, and Sister Catherine’s words of encouragement help Rebecca to keep her faith in God. Sarah’s brother Herbert, however, is a constant source of annoyance to Mary.
Despite all drawbacks, Rebecca displays astonishing strength of spirit and selflessness. She also shows righteous anger over the restriction of women especially in regard to education and the laws of inheritance. Her Catholic religion and her views on women’s rights cause dissention within her family but the budding love between Sarah and William bring a touch of romance to the otherwise sorrowful tale.
Although the misuse of the word ‘laying’ on page 234 and elsewhere in the book rob the novel of much of its true worth, the story is a good read.
Rebecca’s Dream depicts the religious bigotry and injustice towards women during the early days of Australian settlement. The author brilliantly captures the fire scene in Chapter 4. Chapter 17 in which the rape occurs is eloquently described too, and the final pages add suspense when family secrets hover like shadows over the story.

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Book Review: Past Imperfect by Winfreda Donald

Publisher: FeedARead.com.Publishing

Author’s Overview
Freya is the middle child and odd-one-out in the close but dislocated Dunbar family in Australia. When Freya meets soul mate Alexander Marcou at High School in 1976 her thwarted efforts to forge an identity amid secrets and gaps in the family history lose their urgency. Fate intervenes and the pair are suddenly oceans apart – Freya helping Gramma in Scotland. They make the best of a lengthening separation by studying to prepare for their travel adventures around nursing, teaching and flying. But destiny hasn’t finished with them. Malevolent forces swirl under their radar to part them permanently. Bewildered and betrayed, both grieve deeply in disbelief. Eventually Alexander marries. Scarred by her experience with Alexander, Freya shies clear of commitments. Superficially serene, the questions simmer and identity issues trouble her again. Immersion in work is a forlorn but effective way to suppress dreams of a lost future. In the 1990s while undertaking nursing research, Freya meets Reg Prentiss an Australian IT expert. After their professional friendship transforms to a whirlwind courtship, they marry and head for a new life DownUnder. Determined to set the past aside, Freya commits to this marriage and the children she and Reg plan to have.

Review by Hazel Barker
Past Imperfect is the first book in the Long Shadows Series. It is a brilliantly conceived plot, which lets the action unfold, and culminates in an unexpected climax.

The author intersperses action with dialogue, and every now and then waxes into a lyrical style. Although written with clarity, the book tends to have too much detail at times, and pace slows down a bit.

The warm and wonderful letters between the two parted lovers are a delight to read. Like Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, romance lovers will be kept biting their nails, wondering when the twain will meet.

I recommend Past Imperfect to all who are anxious to follow the characters and witness the mystery and suspense unfold with each successive book.

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