If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio


If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

On the cover jacket there is a quote “When friends become enemies there’s no limit to the damage they can do” and there is the real crux of this incredible novel by M.L. Rio. In If We Were Villains there is a touch of Shakespeare and may be that in no small part is due to the fact the author M.L. Rio is a Shakespearean scholar.


What a debut novel this really is. A story of how friendly rivalry among good friends can turn into something much more sinister and here it really does. Oliver Marks is studying Shakespeare at a renowned Arts Conservatory. There he is with a group of other friends but with Oliver he always has this doubt that he will be playing a ‘bit part’ in one of the others plays. There is friendly rivalry among the group. Like any group of friends there are always moments when you disagree or just fall out with each other, but then when things turn ugly something is bound to happen and it does. One of the group is found dead and no the suspicions start.

So it is that Oliver was charged and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Fast forward a decade and Oliver is released with the truth out of what really happened. And what of the remaining group, what part did they play? Each one of the characters in this dazzling murder mystery with added Shakespearean quotes throughout the story.

M.L. Rio’s plot is something so very unique and unlike anything I have read I the crime genre. It is so different is just extraordinary. A novel of revenge, and of lust with each of the characters having the sort of personalities that are destined to make an Impact on each other with the resulting scenario. As a lover of thrillers and the personalities involved I found these leading characters so intriguing and was trying to get inside their mind sets. If you mention the word Shakespeare to anyone then the reactions tend to be straight love him or hate him so it will be interesting to see how this novel goes down with the readers.

I guess the one burning question is now how does M.L. Rio follow this? Another thriller with more Shakespeare? I for one would not complain.

Thank you to Lydia Gittins for the advanced review copy of If We Were Villains

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio is published by Titan Books and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.


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Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughn MacAulay


Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughn MacAulay

I am sure that I speak for many that when we were young we all had dreams about what we wanted in our careers and then tried to aspire to achieve them. Meet Simon Haines is just that sort of a guy. Tom Vaughan MacAulay’s debut novel is about chasing his very own dream.


For Simon Haines his dream is that partnership at the prestigious law firm Fiennes & Plunkett for these past year Simon has put in blood sweat and tears not to mention the gruelling long hours, lost weekend to achieve his ambition. Within a matter of just a few weeks or so he will know if his dream and the rewards that go with it will be his. It is part of his DNA he wants this more than anything and he believes it is his reward for the sacrifices he has made over the years on relationships and friends that have come and gone. Now it is this close and he wants it so badly.

Now Simon heads of to Cuba for a break by himself before he finds out if his dream that will change his life has come true. There he spends time on this break alone touring Cuba and while there he discovers something else and that is his old former self, the old Simon Haines not the current driven and determined Mr Haines. Is this an epiphany moment? During this time, he meets some interesting people not to mention the culture of Cuba.

This is book that does not really read like a novel it comes across as something different, something more personal as we discover Simon from his early days. A story set against a backdrop of a world that seems be changing by the hour and along with it the people. Dream and aspirations and what makes us who we are. A captivating debut and what that left me asking a few questions. Thought provoking. I really enjoyed Tom’s style of writing and how he made the story read like a memoir.

Thank you to Red Door for the advanced review copy of Being Simon Haines

Being Simon Haines by Tom Vaughan MacAulay is published by Red Door and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.

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