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A Christmas Miracle in the Little Irish Village by Michelle Vernal #Review

  Michelle Vernal's A Christmas Miracle in the Little Irish Village was published on September 27th by Bookoutre . Ava Kelly loves returning to Emerald Bay for Christmas. Snowflakes fall on the green rolling hills and mulled wine fills The Shamrock Inn with the smell of winter spice. But this year, the Kelly family is hoping for a miracle… When twenty-four-year-old Ava Kelly and her adventurous twin Grace return home to The Shamrock Inn, their Ma’s favourite baubles bring back so many memories of Christmases past. They have always done everything together, even leaving their little Irish village for the excitement of London. But with the locket her handsome ex Shane gave her hanging just above her heart, Ava has just one wish this festive season… After a year stuck in a job she can’t stand and going on dreadful dates, Ava longs to be back with Shane. Curling up in front of the fire with him, the brooding fisherman everyone else sees melts away as his blue eyes meet hers.

The Mersey Mistress by Sheila Riley #Review #Publication Day


I am delighted to be featuring the first in a new historical family saga by Sheila Riley and on its Publication Day. The Mersey Mistress starts in 1910 and takes you to the onset of the First World War.


Ruby Swift is a hard-working, straight-talking woman of substance who does not suffer fools gladly,

But when tragedy strikes on a bitter Christmas Eve, Ruby and her beloved Archie take matters into their own hands when a trusted employee’s house is mysteriously engulfed by flames and lives are lost.

Orphaned by the fire, Ruby welcomes heartbroken sixteen-year-old Anna Cassidy, into her home and family but circumstances conspire against them and she is unable to save Anna’s twelve-year-old brother Sam Cassidy, who is sent by the Church to Canada as a Homeboy.

Can Ruby help mend a broken heart and can these two children ever be reunited or is there another higher game in play?

Mersey Mistress takes you on a journey to another time, another place. From the banks of the River Mersey to the frozen waters of the Canadian Saint Laurence River.

 My Thoughts

From the start, you are drawn into the story, right to the root of Ruby's situation. The writing establishes a strong sense of place in the Liverpool Docklands and through its domestic detail, creates a believable period story. I found myself swept along as it followed Anna and Sam's lives. There are some strong characters, some well intentioned and others, far from it. Principal among them is Ruby, with her unconventional attitudes and the warmest heart.  You absolutely feel for Anna's family and at times, really fear for Sam. You feel the helplessness of those who are subject to pomposity, greed and hypocrisy. 

    The evacuation of young children to Canada is integral to the story. Certainly, the Church's part in this seems cold and impersonal. Young lives are disregarded to make budgets and administration run smoothly. This isn't the only example of the weak being bullied and there is plenty of rich detail contrasting the different ways poorer people employ to survive. I also enjoyed the real life incidents which feature, such as the sinking of the Titanic and the preparations for war. This is a great opening for a new saga, full of family values, set against a world backdrop.

 In short: Edwardian Liverpool comes alive

About the Author

Sheila Riley wrote four #1 bestselling novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves and is now writing a new saga trilogy for Boldwood under her own name. She has set it around the River Mersey and its docklands near to where she spent her early years. She still lives in Liverpool. Her new trilogy began with The Mersey Orphan in September 2019.


You can follow Sheila here:  Website |  Twitter  |  Instagram 

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Book link:  Amazon UK

Thanks to Sheila Riley, Boldwood Books and Rachel of  Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.

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