#BlogTour #BookReview A Right Royal Face-Off by Simon Edge #Giveaway @rararesources @EyeAndLightning

A huge delight to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for A RIGHT ROYAL FACE-OFF by SIMON EDGE.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for the copy of the book and putting this tour together – and letting me be part of it all!

There’s also a chance for you to win a copy of this book too!! I do spoil you……..

A Right Royal Face-Off

It is 1777, and England’s second-greatest portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, has a thriving practice a stone’s thrown from London’s royal palaces, while the press talks up his rivalry with Sir Joshua Reynolds, the pedantic theoretician who is the top dog of British portraiture.

Fonder of the low life than high society, Gainsborough loathes pandering to grand sitters, but he changes his tune when he is commissioned to paint King George III and his large family. In their final, most bitter competition, who will be chosen as court painter, Tom or Sir Joshua?

Meanwhile, two and a half centuries later, a badly damaged painting turns up on a downmarket antiques TV show being filmed in Suffolk. Could the monstrosity really be, as its eccentric owner claims, a Gainsborough? If so, who is the sitter? And why does he have donkey’s ears?

Mixing ancient and modern as he did in his acclaimed debut The Hopkins Conundrum, Simon Edge takes aim at fakery and pretension in this highly original celebration of one of our greatest artists.


Purchase Link

Readers can order the book from the Lightning Books website at 50% off (with free UK p&p) if you enter this code at checkout – BLOGTOURFACE

Eye Lightning Books

Author Bio –

Simon Edge was born in Chester and read philosophy at Cambridge University.

He was editor of the pioneering London paper Capital Gay before becoming a gossip columnist on the Evening Standard and then a feature writer on the Daily Express, where he was also a theatre critic for many years.

He has an MA in Creative Writing from City University, London. His first novel, The Hopkins Conundrum, was longlisted for the Waverton Good Read Award. He lives in Suffolk.   Read more about Simon and his work at http://www.simon-edge.com.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @simonjedge

Instagram: @simonjedge


If you are looking for a book that is the perfect antidote to the miserable, crazy world we currently live in, then you’ve come to the right place!!  This is a Georgian comedy about Thomas Gainsborough  and his rival painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds – if you thought the art world was stuffy and dull then think again!  It’s a book that made me smile and chuckle on numerous occasions and I just adored spending time with these characters and wondering where the story would take me!

It’s a dual timeline story – from the present time when a new antiques show is about to debut on TV and they’re looking to spice things up, to the past where we see Thomas dealing with royalty and rivalry on a grand scale!  There’s also letters we get to read from the past as we read the Georgian goings on from the point of view of David, a servant to the master painter and he has a whole different take on events at work, as he reports back to his family and let them know about a world they can’t even  begin to imagine!

Gainsborough is a  wonderful character! He almost seems to resent having to paint portraits but it pays the bills and he wants to be #1 – not easy when Sir Joshua seems to be flavour of the month! I loved the behind the scenes  goings on too at a sitting for a painting – the royal family gossiping and complaining about life as they chat with him!

In the present we get to witness how the world of TV operates, especially reality shows who try and use the public and humiliate them – when Muriel Mudge takes a painting along to be valued they think they’ve struck gold with her absurd claim but they’re soon the ones eating humble pie when she digs in her heels and refuses to speak to them as they try and make amends when doubts start to creep in!

The whole flow of this book was just pitched perfectly! There’s a great balance between the two timelines and so much to keep you entertained and intrigued! Just why is there a painting of a man with donkey ears?!  You can tell that the author has had so much fun with creating this storyline as it really comes across and his imagination has run riot!

A blast to read and quite touching too at times! It’s a book that has a little bit of everything from history, to mystery to satire and it  is one I highly recommend to everyone!



A treat for those of you in the UK who want to win a copy of this fabulous book!

Giveaway to Win 5 x PB copies of A Right Royal Face-Of (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Click below to enter!! GOOD LUCK!!




The Optickal Illusion by Rachel Halliburton #bookreview


In this vividly fashioned debut, Rachel Halliburton draws from the sordid details of a genuine scandal that deceived the British Royal Academy to deliver a stirring tale on the elusive goal of achieving artistic renown.

It is 1797 and in Georgian London, nothing is certain anymore: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with conspiracies, and the French could invade any day. Amidst this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a dubious duo comprised of a blundering father and vibrant daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian.

West was once the most celebrated painter in London, but he hasn’t produced anything of note in years, so against his better judgment he agrees to let the intriguing Ann Jemima Provis visit his studio and demonstrate the techniques from the document. What unravels reveals more than West has ever understood—about himself, the treachery of the art world, and the seductive promise of greatness. Rich in period detail of a meticulously crafted Georgian society, The Optickal Illusion demonstrates the lengths women must go to make their mark on a society that seeks to underplay their abilities.

Hardcover, 352 pages

Expected publication: February 8th 2018 by Duckworth Overlook       ISBN139780715651971


Amazon UK  –  £15.18

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  –  £12.45


Book Depository  –  £12.76

About Rachel Halliburton

Rachel Halliburton graduated in English and Classics from Cambridge. As a journalist and the former Deputy Editor of the Time Out she has interviewed notable people including Gorbachev, Yoko Ono and Kissinger for publications such as The Times, Financial Times, New Statesman, Spectator, Evening Standard and Independent. She lives in London.


This is a sumptuous read, stepping back to Georgian times to take a look behind the scandal that rocked the art world, deceiving so many prominent artists of the time, and looks at those behind the deception.

I have to admit to knowing very little of the art world, although reading this book has made me eager to learn more, and of the scandal that hit the British Royal Academy but this imaginative and beautifully written novel, sets out to go behind the story and looks at all those involved. The American painter, Benjamin West, is the president of the Royal Academy but his star is waning and has many lined up to take his place, so when he is made aware of a manuscript by a father and daughter duo that is alleged to contain secrets which most artists would kill for, he is intrigued and is taken in by their stories and wants to use these secrets for his own gain.

The father and daughter have their own reasons for wanting to share this manuscript, and the daughter particularly, Ann Jemima, is such a fascinating character whom I loved reading about. She was so different to many women of the time, who just knew their place in society and were happy to wait for the right man to come along and provide for them, but she knew she wanted more from life. She had a keen eye for art and shocked Benjamin West with her ability when he asked her to demonstrate the secrets from the manuscript. In these modern times, it was fascinating to read of the lengths that women were forced to, to make something of themselves and that often meant by any means necessary! And she was still treated like a second class citizen despite her obvious talent. She was a very tough cookie and very strong-willed and that came through clearly in how she thought she was being treated at times.

The story is set in such an interesting time in world history and that is reflected in this novel. The political issues facing many countries around the world, alongside the question of the monarchy and slavery were all touched on within this book, and that really made for an even more immersive read.

It often left me wondering how to feel sympathy for, with the amount of deception going on and really questioned all the characters and their motives! While the story revolves mainly around Benjamin West and the Provises, there are a number of other characters involved who often have an equal part to play in how the story pans out.

The level of research that must have been involved in the writing of this book must have been staggering, as the art of painting is brought to life in so much detail, and even though it isn’t an entirely faithful historical account, it still really captured the shock waves that the scandal created and how life must have been for those at the time.

Overall, I found this to be an engrossing, historical read and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Thank you to the publishers for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.