Book Reviews

ARC Review: Grave Secrets (The Lavington Windsor Mysteries #1) by Alice James #BlogTour @RebellionPub

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Hello fellow bookworms, today I’d like to share my thoughts about Grave Secrets by Alice James. Her debut novel that’s kicking off her cosy paranormal mystery series, The Lavington Windsor Mysteries. My thanks to Rebellion Publishing for the uncorrected proof ebook.

Quote From Grave Secrets

“My dear, you are covered in blood, and you look like you have been shagging in a graveyard. You are a vampire’s wet dream”

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My Overall Rating:4/5

Plot: 4/5 – Flow: 4/5 – Character Development: 3/5 – World Building: 5/5

Read: 17th – 27th August 2020

Publication Date: 1st September 2020

What’s Grave Secrets about?

I received this ARC for free in exchange for an honest review. This doesn't affect my opinion of the book or influence the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I'll receive a small commission from the sale.

ARC Review: Grave Secrets (The Lavington Windsor Mysteries #1) by Alice James #BlogTour @RebellionPubMy Rating:
Title: Grave Secrets by Alice James
Series: The Lavington Windsor Mysteries #1
Genres: Cozy Paranormal Mystery, Paranormal Romance (PNR)
Formats Available: eBook, Paperback
No. of Pages: 300
Source: ARC
Purchase Links:Amazon UK ¦ Amazon US

Agatha Raisin meets Sookie Stackhouse, with croquet and zombies.
Toni Windsor is trying to live a quiet life in the green and pleasant county of Staffordshire. She'd love to finally master the rules of croquet, acquire a decent boyfriend and make some commission as an estate agent.
All that might have to wait, though, because there are zombies rising from their graves, vampires sneaking out of their coffins and a murder to solve.
And it's all made rather more complicated by the fact that she's the one raising all the zombies. Oh, and she's dating one of the vampires too. Really, what's a girl meant to do?


Grave Secrets is marketed as a cosy paranormal mystery, however, the romance in this story plays an important role. Therefore, I think it would sit happily on paranormal romance and cosy paranormal mystery shelves. The story in this book is set in Staffordshire, England but in a slightly alternative reality to our modern world. The existence of vampires has only recently been discovered and the world is trying to find its new normal.

So, what did I like about Grave Secrets?

Alice James is a début author and I was impressed with her writing style. Her prose was articulate but light and embodied our protagonist. It felt quintessentially English through and through with our British spellings, slang, and colloquialisms. I thought that the story itself was intelligent and felt well planned out and researched with her descriptions easily transporting me into each scene. There’s also a wonderful wealth of characters each written with different multi-layered personalities.

While we’re on the subject of characters…

All the characters in Grave Secrets were fantastic. They felt completely believable, and all played their part in the story; even the undead ones. 😉

I need female protagonists to exhibit certain personality traits to be able to connect to them and enjoy their story. Intelligence, common sense, a modicum of resilience, self-reliance, and gumption. Our protagonist, Lavington Windsor (Toni to her friends) definitely has plenty of gumption, a wonderful sense of humour and doesn’t seem to have any prejudices. She also has a strong sense of right from wrong and is willing to put her life on the line to ensure justice is carried out. However, she frustrated me at times with her lack of common sense and love induced rose-tinted glasses while reading this book. On reflection, I now understand that I can’t expect a 27 year old to have the same common sense as a 49 year old. Life experience helps to build and strengthen common sense.

I’m looking forward to seeing Toni evolve through this series as her life experience grows.

My poor heart! Grave Secrets had me gripped and kept me turning the pages. My adrenaline pumped, and I think I actually held my breath a few times throughout this story. The peril and action felt non-stop, however, I admired Toni’s reactions to each and every situation she was thrown into. Just be warned, although this is a cosy, it’s a story with vampires and zombies. Blood. Gore. Violence. However, I like the element of reality that Alice wrote into it, having our protagonist baulking at the violence of vampire nature and the fleshy appetites of the zombies.

Was there anything I disliked about it?

I really enjoyed this book, which is why I rated it 4-stars.

There wasn’t anything that I disliked, however, there were little things that niggled, most of which revolved around our protagonist. Lol! But I think those niggles were age related rather than any gaping holes or flaws.

As the first book in a new series, there was the obligatory world building and character introductions. However, I never felt that this slowed down the pace of the story. Rest assured, dear readers, there are no information dumps and no perilous life-or-death cliffhanger ending in this book. However, there are some threads left to be explored and concluded in subsequent books as expected from a first in series book.

So, basically what I’m saying is…

Grave Secrets has the right balance of mystery, horror, and humour that you’d expect from a cosy paranormal mystery story about a protagonist who can raise the dead.

The story’s got all the aspects that I need to keep me engaged. Great action to get my adrenaline pumping. A couple of mysteries to get my little grey cells whirling. Nail-biting tension to keep me on the edge of my seat. Well-written humour to put a smile on my face and balance any darker plotlines. Grave Secrets also had the added bonus of romance and sexual heat. Delightful!

Content Warning:

Although this book is a cosy mystery, it’s not fluffy. There are scenes of a brutal and violent nature with vivid descriptions of blood and gore. This story also doesn’t shy away from situations of a sexual nature, both consenting and otherwise.

I’d recommend Grave Secrets to fans of mystery stories with a paranormal spin. Especially those who also enjoy relationship/romance tales and like reading stories with vampires and zombies.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to seeing where Alice James takes us next.

Has my review of GRAVE SECRETS (THE LAVINGTON WINDSOR MYSTERIES #1) encouraged you to find out more? I do hope so. Click any of the links to check out the book yourself. Keep reading to find out more about Alice James.

About Alice James

Author - Alice James

Alice James was born in Staffordshire, where she grew up reading novels and spending a lot of time with sheep. She was lucky enough to have a mother who was addicted to science fiction and a father who was fond of long country walks, so she grew up with her head in the stars and her feet on the ground. After studying maths at university and training to be a Cobol programmer (!), she began writing novels to get the weird people in her head to go somewhere else. She now lives in Oxfordshire with a fine selection of cats, fulfilling her teenage gothic fantasies by moving into a converted chapel with an ancient spiral staircase—and gravestones in the garden.

signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to read my review. Don’t forget to add Grave Secrets to your ever growing TBR pile. 😉

Flora x

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About Author

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog - www.florasmusings.com

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