The Forgotten Cottage by Helen Phifer

Poor Annie Graham! As if she hasn’t been through enough, dealing with a serial killer and a shadow man, she’s really put through the mill this time. It seems that she’s under attack from just about every angle. I felt exhausted just reading it!
Annie and her fiance, Will, are finally going to get married. Annie has a man who adores her, prospective in-laws who think the world of her, the wedding dress of her dreams, and to top it all off, Will has found them the most perfect little cottage in the country. Okay, it’s a renovation project, as it hasn’t been lived in for twenty years, but Annie’s always up for a challenge, and she can’t wait to get started, turning the cottage into the dream home that will be just right for the family she so desperately hopes she and Will will have one day.
Except…The cottage, it seems, already has an occupant. And she’s not happy that Annie is moving in. As Annie’s nightmares become increasingly vivid, she begins to realise that she’s in danger. And this time, she’s not the only one under threat.
Will’s father has a secret, and it’s about to be brought out into the open in a truly explosive fashion. Will – already reeling from recent events – isn’t prepared, and before long, he’s in deep trouble.
And somewhere, in what should be a place of safety, an old adversary is making plans. He has a new friend, and between them, they have some dangerous ideas. There is some unfinished business, and Annie’s enemy is determined to put an end to it.
Will and Annie are facing so many threats. Can they possibly come through and make it to the altar? Or, this time, is the danger they are in too strong, even for them?
Wow, this book was non-stop action! Annie and Will had the lot hurled at them, and the sense of menace grew as the book progressed. I really enjoyed reading about the normal, everyday stuff in their lives. Preparing for the wedding, finding a home that they wanted to live in, hanging out with family and friends. Of course, you know when you read about Annie Graham, that the normal stuff isn’t going to last very long, and sure enough, you quickly realise that all is not as it seems. Actually, with this book, the action starts on the first page, when Annie’s dreams foreshadow the danger ahead.
I love the way the book cuts to the eighteenth century, so we see the story of Betsy Baker unfolding. She is one scary spook! Also, the present-day threats are interspersed throughout the story, so the pace of the book never flags. On the contrary, it is fast paced and leaves you quite breathless. While two of the storylines are tied up at the end of the book, one remains open, heralding the fact that, in book four, Annie and Will may find themselves in even greater peril. I can’t wait to read The Lake House and find out what happens next!
Helen Phifer is a great storyteller, and the Annie Graham series is totally gripping. Although this is the third in the series, it can be read as a standalone, though why miss out? The Ghost House and The Secrets of the Shadows are just as good! 5/5

You can buy The Forgotten Cottage here.forgotten cottage

From One Night to Wife by Rachael Thomas

Gosh, I really loved this book! I confess, right here and now, that I haven’t read a Mills and Boon novel since I was a teenager, but I’ve heard so much about how they’ve changed and moved on since those days (which were, I have to admit, an awfully long time ago!) that I decided I would give one a try, and From One Night to Wife was the lucky winner.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it at first, as I quickly realised that the heroine, Serena, was stunningly beautiful, yet still a virgin at twenty-three, until she was seduced by a drop-dead gorgeous Greek fisherman, who turned out to be a shipping billionaire. Hmm, I thought. This might not be for me, after all.
Well, I’m sorry, Rachael Thomas. I vastly underrated your storytelling abilities. Yes, Serena is beautiful, but we only see her through Nikos’ eyes. She herself states that she’s ordinary, so maybe she is, to everyone but him. Who knows? The point is, Serena holds the key, as Nikos’ grandmother gleefully tells her. The question is, the key to what? It can’t be his heart, surely, because Nikos doesn’t do love. He has been so badly damaged by his parents that he is unable to trust anyone, and refuses to allow himself to feel anything, for any woman, that is deeper than lust.
He has plenty of lust, though! Luckily for Serena, she more than matches him in that department. In fact, when the two of them get together, sparks positively fly, which is rather inconvenient, given that Serena loves Nikos but daren’t reveal that to him, and Nikos is trying desperately to deny to himself that he has any emotional attachment to Serena.
Serena has returned to Santorini to inform the fisherman that she had a fling with that their night of passion has had “consequences”. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that Nikos lied to her about who he really is, and, faced with his evident fury as she imparts her news to him, she realises that any hopes she had of making a future with him are completely unrealistic.
But Nikos wants his heir to be legitimate. He doesn’t trust Serena, but he is willing to strike a bargain with her. They will marry, and he will be part of his child’s life. In return, he will make sure she has everything she needs and, more importantly, he will help make her sister’s dreams come true. Serena loves her sister, but Sally is going through a terrible time. If she can help her, surely marrying Nikos is the right thing to do? But, given her own childhood, spent being made to feel like a mistake by her own bitter parents, can she really inflict the same on her own baby? Is lust enough to keep Nikos and Serena together? Can Serena hide her true feelings for Nikos? And can Nikos ever open his heart to love, or will his inability to trust anyone poison not only his relationship with Serena, but with his own child?
I read this book in one evening, as I was engrossed in it. I desperately wanted Serena to find a way through to Nikos, and I wanted Nikos to stop unwittingly hurting Serena, who had her own battles to fight. In spite of the fact that I’ve always thought I could never fall for a hero who was a gorgeous Greek shipping billionaire, I did. Rachael Thomas made him irresistible! I just wanted to make everything all right for him. I also, luckily, liked Serena. She wasn’t the pushover I’d expected, and she had guts and integrity.
Their entire relationship was delightful to follow, and at times, reading the sizzling scenes between them, I realised I was turning purple. I’d forgotten to breathe! Those “love scenes” were very well written. I was positively blushing at times! All the same, I got a lump in my throat as the two of them edged tentatively towards each other, and towards a happy ending at last.
I will definitely read more of Rachael Thomas’s books. I may even try other Mills and Boon books. There’s certainly more to them than I’d realised, and I hold my hands up and admit, I was wrong. Fabulous. 5/5

You can buy From One Night to Wife here

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