Warwick’s Mermaid by Ellie Gray

Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?

I’ve loved both of Ellie’s previous two novels, Beauty and the Recluse and Love on the Nile, and I had high hopes for this one. After all, it’s set in one of my favourite places, Whitby in North Yorkshire, a place I’ve visited on many occasions.

Luckily, Warwick’s Mermaid lived up to my expectations. Like Ellie’s other books, it’s unashamedly romantic, sweeping the reader along on a tide of passion, drama and sexual tension.

Chloe, the heroine, is undoubtedly damaged. She’s had a terrible time with her ex-boyfriend, putting up with dreadful abuse – both mental and physical. Breaking free from him, she is still a prisoner of her own low self-esteem – held there, in part, by the drip drip of negative comments she has endured from her own mother all her life. Chloe’s mum has suffered at the hands of a man, and she’s determined that Chloe won’t have the same fate. Unfortunately, all her efforts to convince her daughter to stay away from men have ensured that Chloe is a mass of insecurities and doubts.

When she meets Luke, Chloe experiences an overwhelming attraction that astounds and scares her. But with her heart telling her one thing, and her head another, she is paralysed to move forward with her life and take a chance on this handsome man who has come to her rescue.

For Luke, his feelings for Chloe are a bolt from the blue, and she’s not the only one who’s scared. Falling in love was not part of his plans, and he tries his best to stay away from this intriguing creature, who seems very prone to getting herself into bother.

But when the two of them are thrown together, sparks fly and there is no denying their feelings for each other. With troubled pasts and a mutual suspicion of relationships, can they ever put aside their fears and make a fresh start together?

Warwick’s Mermaid is a passionate love story that will carry you along on waves of emotion as you follow Chloe’s and Luke’s journey back to happiness. Ellie has written another winner here, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next. 5/5

You can buy Warwick’s Mermaid here.

The Dirigible King’s Daughter by Alys West

Anyone who knows me will tell you that Whitby is one of my favourite places, so any book set there is always going to attract my attention. I’ll hold my hands up and admit I’ve never read steampunk before, but when the Write Romantics published our charity anthology Winter Tales,  it included a short story called A Pistol for Propriety, written by Alys, and I’d long thought that the story deserved to be expanded upon. Luckily, Alys had the same thought, and the result is this wonderful novel.

I was quickly drawn into this snapshot of an alternative Whitby – imagining dirigibles sailing by Whitby Abbey, piloted by handsome men wearing flying jackets, helmets and goggles – men like Charlie, or Viscount Davenport, to give him his proper title.

Charlie is a real hero, but he’s more than matched by the independent “New Woman” Harriet Hardy. Harriet has had many troubles and heartaches to overcome, and has learned to defend herself in a man’s world. Unfortunately, her self-defence lands her in a lot of trouble, and her actions plunge both her and Charlie into an unexpected adventure.

As the net tightens around them both, an unorthodox solution is presented to Harriet, but the shadows of the past are all around her. She is the Dirigible King’s daughter, and that’s a heavy burden for her to carry. And Charlie may be a good man, but is it fair to drag him into the murky depths of her family’s shame?

With a chase across Whitby, journeys on steam powered omnibuses, and flights through the air in the wondrous dirigibles, this is a romance with a twist. Lots of fun, lots of adventure…And lots of tea. A really wonderful treat to read.

You can buy The Dirigible King’s Daughter here.