Willow : Blog Tour

Willow by Grace Parks

Willow Banner

A bubbly personality and a great job in social media didn’t mean that Willow Lawson had it all. Her love life was distant memory and her social life only work related. The maddening demands of life seemed to get in the way of finding time for herself or her friends.
She starts the Pepper Lane Club as a chance to step away from her busy schedule once a month to reconnect with her friends.
Thomas Greer, the proprietor of the Pepper Lane Café, annoys her. He’s her complete opposite; unsociable, serious, old-fashioned and dead set against social media.
Always game for a challenge, Willow decides to take him on as a client. She’s going to prove to Thomas that he needs her help. She knew she would be successful, she just didn’t know she would lose her heart along the way.
Can Willow fall in love with a man that doesn’t respect her profession? Will Thomas let go of his preconceptions long enough to get to know the real Willow? Enjoy this sweet romance as Willow finds love and friendship in the first book in the Pepper Lane Series.

Six women.  Six stories.  Six chances of love.  One café.

The Pepper Lane Series follows the lives of six women as they share life, love and heartache once a month at the Pepper Lane Club. They might be an unlikely group of friends, but it takes all types to form a tribe.


Willow CoverWhat a delightful romantic comedy. I was hoping this book would be entertaining, funny, and lift me out from the doldrums I found myself in. It did just that – and more.

Comical, light-hearted, witty, clever, it was an absolute delight to read.

The characters are familiar and relatable, and on occasion the reader will feel they are sitting chatting with a bunch of friends. The author’s easy style, and a story that hooks you in and keeps you glued to the page, made this a read-in-one-sitting book. I’m generally not into ‘sweet’, but at the risk of needing an insulin shot, this is one of the sweetest romances I’ve read in a long time.

Willow and Thomas were charming and amusing, Thomas came across as a very pleasant, bright, and appealing young man. I liked Willow, but there were times when I wanted to slap her, especially when she was being thoughtless or argumentative, however her verbal skills were awesome. She ‘bantered like a don’, to quote a friend.Following their romance was a reading pleasure.

Grace Parks has a very droll and clever turn of phrase. I definitely had a heavy set boss (male) for whom this is a perfect description:

We turned around to the sound of our boss, who had snuck up on us like a thief in the night.

Perfect for any time of the year, brilliant as a pick-me-up, and ideal as a holiday read, I highly recommend Willow by Grace Parks, a thoroughly amusing and entertaining romance.


Purchase Links

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Author

From Grace, with Love…
Grace Parks is a sweet romance / chick lit author with a penchant for the happily ever after.


Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graceparksauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/graceparksauthor/

Website: www.graceparksauthor.com


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A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores

A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 2

CoverA Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores by Laura Briggs

It looks like a perfect Cornish autumn, with aspiring novelist Maisie Clark still finding inspiration as a maid at the historic Penmarrow Hotel. Between the staff of quirky co-workers, glamorous and unusual guests, and her growing friendship with the charming but mysterious Sidney Daniels, Maisie is living out adventures instead of just penning them in the pages of her would-be novel’s growing number of chapters.

And then there’s the slight problem of keeping the balance between friendship and ‘something more’ with Sidney, who’s helping introduce her to the village’s version of a Cornish Halloween, and has recently taken an interest in Maisie’s secret that may change things between them. But even Maisie’s imagination can’t conjure the unusual event this Halloween brings to the Penmarrow. An eccentric earl has chosen this site to host his lavish birthday celebration that includes a pretty (and perceptive) young psychic whose predictions seem to have everyone on edge — and, to Maisie’s delight, the elusive novelist Alistair Davies is rumored to be part of the guest list! But with the earl’s bickering relatives and illustrious friends on hand— and more than one ghost of the past waiting to be revealed — it’s anyone’s guess what the festivities will bring before the party is over.

Will the psychic foretell doom for the earl’s gathering—and is her ‘gift’ as genuine as it seems? Will Maisie finally meet her favorite author face to face? And, more importantly, what about the romantic sparks that fly between Maisie and Sidney?


Review:

BannerIt wasn’t until after I started reading that I realised this was the second book in a series. I had no time to read the first, but if you haven’t read A Little Hotel in Cornwall, then do so. Then you must come back to this one.

I found this book uniquely enjoyable and frustrating in almost equal measure. The language and phraseology persuaded my reading brain that I was in an Agatha Christie novel. The places and people were introduced and described in such a way, that even though you are fully aware she is clearly giving a nod to Agatha Christie, intentionally or otherwise, this is the Laura Briggs own style. Reading happily along, there came the first reference to the modern world, and suddenly I’m dragged back to the 21st century. In the world of classic afternoon tea, elegant drawing rooms, and 1930s phrases, a reference to LED lights was a most disconcerting experience. To be honest it was a bit jarring.

And yet, and yet…

I loved the book, the characters, the irritating behaviour, and the mysteries. Yes. Mysteries – plural – lots of secrets with suggestions of nefarious ‘goings on’. So here we have this lovely gentle tale of an aspiring author, a handsome if somewhat dilapidated gardener, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and lovely people, and underneath they all appear to have skeletons in their cupboards.

There is actually an awful lot ‘going on’ in there, (we could talk plots, sub-plots, tangential plots…the whole nine yards) but it isn’t confusing, superfluous, or boring; far from it. Although all the tropes are there: the very elderly, eccentric but amusing Earl, his cheerless offspring, the inscrutable Manager, a angry retired Colonel, the slutty wife  – its a veritable stew of simmering deception.  They all make the reader feel their presence. This is especially when the enigmatic psychic hints of secrets, reveals hidden truths, and sets the reader’s imagination running off in circles, trying to figure out what they are.

What Larks!

Maisie is a fun and interesting character. I love that she isn’t above eavesdropping on the guests, and it is also through her we find out much about the guests and staff. She is kind to Molly, who is sweet and a bit gullible. Maisie is also a good friend to Riley who is a bit of a ‘naughty boy’, but likeable and hilarious.

Sidney. What can I say about Sydney? He’s an equally likeable and frustrating character. While he is nice and fun, and no doubt all kinds of wonderful, if he kept forgetting he’d made arrangements to meet me then he’d be kicked to the kerb, ot at the very least given a good warning.

There are many threads and sub-plots running through the book, not just those of Maisie and Sidney. In another author’s hands, this story could hit the rocks, fall apart, and sink in confusion –  badly – but it doesn’t. The author has a firm grasp on her people and their stories, and steers a steady course through all their uproar and shenanigans. What we are offered is a landscape of fantastic characters, with real personalities, and their own intriguing deep, dark, secrets. And what secrets they appear to be….

Mr Trelawney and the MOD – what’s that all about?

What’s Brigette hiding?

And Kay?

If Laura Briggs doesn’t give up the secrets in Book 3, I shall hunt her down ‘Misery’ style and hold her in a remote cabin until she tell me what I want – nay need – to know.

If you like a gentle, warm-hearted romance, a bit of intrigue, and panoply of rich characters, with a Christie feel to it, then THIS is the book (or books) for you. Even if it isn’t – you should give it a go.

Just read it!


Giveaway to Win one of 3 Cornish themed prizes

(Open Internationally)

Poldark Knit1st Prize: A Ross Poldark collectible Knitdark character doll (Open Internationally) –1 winner

Perfect for fans of all-things Cornwall, this Ross Poldark doll with tricorn hat is made by Angela Blay, whose popular Knitdark creations have been featured on The Graham Norton Show. Since each doll is hand made, the Ross the winner receives may vary slightly in appearance from the one in the picture. Readers can learn more about the Knitdarks at Angela’s Twitter page @kwerkyknits as well as her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/kwerkyknits

Tardis2nd Prize: A decorative tin T.A.R.D.I.S (Open Internationally) –1 winner

A tin T.A.R.D.I.S similar to the keepsake Maisie is gifted by Sidney in Book 1, A Little Hotel in Cornwall. Designed by Etsy artist KittyConduitt81 and perfect for fans of Doctor Who! Being a unique, hand made item, the final design may vary slightly in appearance from the one pictured. Learn about KittyConduittDesigns on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/KittyConduittDesigns

 

3rd Prize: A Kindle/Tablet case featuring cover art from A Little Hotel in Cornwall (Open Internationally) –1 winner

A specially designed case for a Kindle or Tablet featuring the cover art for Book 1 in the series A Little Hotel in Cornwall. The final product’s size, texture, and color will depend on the winner’s device.

*All 3 winners will also receive a digital copy of Book 1 in the series, A Little Hotel in Cornwall.

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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.


Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirited-Cornish-Shores-Little-Cornwall-ebook/dp/B07R59BM53

UShttps://www.amazon.com/Spirited-Cornish-Shores-Little-Cornwall-ebook/dp/B07R59BM53


Author Bio

AuthorLaura Briggs is the author of several feel-good romance reads, including the Top 100 Amazon UK seller ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’. She has a fondness for vintage style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, caring for her pets, gardening, and seeing the occasional movie or play.


Social Media Links 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaperDollWrites

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurabriggs/


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The Dating Debate : Review

Dating DebateDisclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is not for anyone who has to get in the last word, but it is for all book nerds, especially those who live next door to so-called unapproachable gorgeous guys. There’s no debating the chemistry.

 

 

Nina Barnes thinks Valentine’s Day should be optional. That way single people like her wouldn’t be subjected to kissy Cupids all over the place. That is, until her mom moves them next door to the brooding hottie of Greenbrier High, West Smith. He’s funny, looks amazing in a black leather jacket, and he’s fluent in Harry Potter, but she’s not sure he’s boyfriend material.

West isn’t sure what to make of Nina. She’s cute and loves to read as much as he does, but she seems to need to debate everything and she has a pathological insistence on telling the truth. And West doesn’t exactly know how to handle that, since his entire life is a carefully constructed secret. Dating the girl next door could be a ton of fun, but only if Nina never finds out the truth about his home life. It’s one secret that could bring them together or rip them apart.


I loved Nina, I loved West, and I loved their story. It is funny and sweet, has real depth, and is happily missing those awful ‘bitchy cheerleader’ and ‘bullying jock’ characters that can be a real turn-off. I love how this book deals with issues of mental health and  abandonment. The treatment isn’t glib or superficial, nor is it dark and heavy, but handled with sensitvity.  The situations are woven so well into the story that you ache for the characters in their lowest moments, yet also feel certain they are going to be ok.

West may be a ‘brooding hottie’ but Nina isn’t a girl to be overshadowed or overwhelmed by it or him. Their banter is hilarious, and their debates brilliant; both characters are well-developed and well written. They feel very real and identifiable, demonstrating a  sensible level of maturity when they have opposing opinions on a big issue. Each is able to accommodate the other’s perspective without having a silly argument or a break-up over it. Switching points of view works really well and didn’t have the repetitiveness that often happens with this device.

What is also joy is the ‘book-wormery’ of both characters. Far too often teen and young adult characters are presented as either emotionally over-sophisicated, with rampant sex lives, and parents with little or no control over their off-spring,  or they are geeks, nerds, and losers who must be mocked, humiliated, and bullied because they read, are an IT wizard, love Sci-Fi, etc etc. The author is more in touch with their world and gives us the reality – the majority of teens and older are as fluent in Harry Potter and other book series as Nina and West.

How these two get together is fun, and how they stay together is entertaining. There is lots of humour and laugh-out-loud moments. Yes, there are real lows as well as highs, but  the author has balanced them perfectly.

This is a book that I highly recommend; another ‘curl up with drinks and nibbles, read it in one go‘ book for me. Try it and see.


Purchase

 


Author

CHris CannonChris Cannon is the award-winning author of the Going Down In Flames series and the Boyfriend Chronicles. She lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and various furry beasts. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or snarky romantic comedies.

Chris Cannon Website

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Absence Note

SorryI want to send out sincere apologies for being absent.

First to Rachel’s Random Resources for whom I write reviews.

Secondly, to the authors who were expecting reviews.

Last but not least, to my followers.

To cut a long story short, in the lead up to Christmas I was under a tremendous amount of pressure to finish research and meet publisher deadlines. I missed them both.

I suffer with anxiety and depression which is normally under control, but missing the deadlines triggered the anxiety. Then, in the New Year, my elderly parent’s Alzheimer’s took a steep and heartbreaking decline. It pushed me deeper into depression.

I switched off; literally with technology, social media, mobile, and metaphorically with people outside my family and close friends – I was barely able to get out of bed, and when I did drag my sorry, unshowered hulk downstairs, I binge watched box sets of anything and everything, ate vast amounts of rubbish, otherwise I slept like Rip van Winkle.

Happily, things are back on an even keel.

I apologise for the reviews that weren’t posted. As much as I would like to catch up, and I really wish I could, it is not going to happen. I’ll be reviewing again soon, but I don’t know how often.

I’m a work in progress….

HSBS 🙂


 

Blog Tour : A Promise Of Tomorrow

The Promise of Tomorrow by AnneMarie Brear

The Promise of Tomorrow AnneMarieBrear_ThePromiseOfTomorrowCharlotte Brookes flees her lecherous guardian, McBride, taking her younger sister with her. After a year on the road, they stumble into a Yorkshire village. There, they are taken in by the Wheelers, owners of the village shop. This new life is strange for Charlotte, but preferable to living with McBride or surviving on the roads. 
Harry Belmont is an important man in the village, but he’s missing something in his life. His budding friendship with Charlotte gives him hope she will feel more for him one day, and he will have the woman he needs. 
However, when McBride finds out where Charlotte lives, his threats begin, and Harry takes it upon himself to keep Charlotte safe. Only, World War I erupts and Harry enlists. 
Left to face a world of new responsibilities, and Harry’s difficult sister, Charlotte must run the gauntlet of family disputes, McBride’s constant harassment and the possibility of the man she loves being killed.


Do you ever start to read a book, become embroiled in the story, and everything just fades into the background? Well, be prepared for that experience when you read A Promise of Tomorrow!

Charlotte and Hannah had a great start in life with a comfortable life and a family that loved them both. Tragedy steals it all away, and inexplicably they end up with McBride. Yet so quickly, their lives are shattered and become unrecognisable. Between lecherous and greedy men, and those who take care of two girls alone, we travel through the trials and tribulations of their life. Charlotte the older, the worker, taking care and protecting her little sister Hannah, through the safety of their new family, the Wheelers, to finding a man she loves, we are given a great story, with a cast of superbly portrayed characters.

The pace fluctuates between slow, steady and swift. While that sounds like a ‘well, duh’ comment, the author uses the pace to match the action, scenes, and emotions in the story. It is pacy at the start, then slows once the girls are in the safe hands of the Wheelers. It speeds up when McBride re-appears. The author clearly knows that this technique effects the emotional response of the reader – and she gets that response too. Once we reach the heart-ache of the First World War, with its attendant disruption and loss, the tension rises, and the danger heightens, not only because Harry is at the Front, but also because of the danger McBride poses to Charlotte and Hannah. With Harry’s sister thrown into the mix, the situation is worsened.

The author does not baulk from putting our leading ladies are put in uncomfortable and menacing situations. Yet it is through Charlotte’s strength and determination, no matter how nervous or terrified she is, that they come safely through. The war is reflected through both Harry’s and Charlotte’s perspectives. This juxtaposition of the war front and the home front is convincingly written, and the action and drama grab your attention and won’t let go.

AnneMarie Brear writes skilfully and with talent. Her characters are recognisable and familiar, and their experiences shape and mould them throughout the book; they grow as people. No situation feels forces or far-fetched, and when emotions run high it does not feel hysterical. In the end the big question is:

Will Harry make it home to Charlotte?

Nothing is certain in this turbulent but touching and emotional journey, so you will have to read it to find out. I have no hesitation therefore, in recommending The Promise of Tomorrow. It is engaging and sweet, tense and impassioned, and a wonderful sweeping tale set under the cloud of war. So good its on my Books of the Year short-list.

The Promise of Tomorrow Full Tour Banner


Purchase 

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GHCXQ8Y/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GHCXQ8Y/

 


Author

The Promise of Tomorrow AnneMarie Brear small

Australian born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances and sometimes the odd short story, too. Her passions, apart from writing, are travelling, reading, researching historical eras and looking for inspiration for her next book.

Social Media Links –

http://www.annemariebrear.com
http://annemariebrear.blogspot.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear
Twitter @annemariebrear


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Blog Tour : A Christmas Date

A Christmas Date by Camilla Isley

A Christmas DateNo one wants to be single at the holidays.

Even Little Miss Grinch, Nikki, a successful and independent woman, must face her bachelorette status at the most horrible time of the year. December is her personal version of holly-jolly hell: a merry torture made of couples kissing at every corner, forced vacation days, and an inescapable family reunion. And when her baby sister announces she’s engaged—to Paul, the man Nikki is secretly in love with—and that he’s spending the holidays with them, Christmas starts looking bluer than ever.

Nikki can’t possibly survive an entire week trapped home as the family’s spinster. But she has no time to meet men or to try the newest dating app, she’s too busy working as a video producer for an advertising agency. So what’s a girl to do?

Nikki has the perfect solution: to hire a fake boyfriend.

Luckily, her job gives her access to an endless catalog of gorgeous actors to choose from.  But Nikki will soon discover that keeping business and pleasure from mixing isn’t so easy, and that she might not be immune to a little mistletoe magic. Especially not when she picked out the perfect man as her Christmas date…

A fun, festive romantic comedy with lots of bad behavior and Christmas spirit. Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously hilarious novel down.

First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels, however, each book in the series can be read as a standalone.

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Sally Thorne, and Jo Watson.


A Christmas Date CoverI must confess that this is my favourite time of year for romance novels – all that Christmassy falling in love stuff. I’m a sucker for it! A Christmas Date kicks off my seasonal reviews, and what a brilliant start it is. What can I say other than I was so hooked on Nikki and Diego’s story, that I read it in one sitting.

After a very stressful period of  playing hide-and-seek with my  internet connection, I was left with missed deadlines, missed reviews, and… well other missed ‘stuff’, but Camilla Isley gave me the perfect antidote and a wonderful stress reliever! If I have any ‘moans’ about the book they are trivial and all about me! (eg: Diego is a Spanish name not Italian – meh!)

At first, you’ll think the four main characters are just typical tropes of the romance genre:

Nikki – thinks she’s not so pretty, work driven, pitied by family for not having a boyfriend

Julia – younger sister with all the golden good looks, popular (Prom Queen), just got engaged to Paul, Nikki’s friend and long time secret love

Paul – the nice, steady, reliable guy, in job he loves that others think is boring

Diego –  head-turning male model and actor, and all round hottie, hired to play the boyfriend

Knowing the type of characters, you quickly wonder in which direction the story will take the reader. You want Nikki to get her guy – but which guy?  While there is always the chance that it will go in a certain direction, Nikki herself observes that it’s the norm that hot male model/actor ends up with hot female. Will Diego prove her right? What will the author do?

Camilla Isley cleverly starts with a grumpy Nikki not wanting to talk with her mother, trying to brush off her sister, dreading the thought of Christmas with her family with their questions about boyfriends, and their pitying reactions when she says she doesn’t have one. The reader won’t necessarily take to her character immediately, but they’ll certainly grimace at her mother and the messages she sends. As we roll on into the story, our sympathy levels rise, and we quickly appreciate Nikki, warm to her, like her, and understand why she has these ‘family and holiday’ issues.

Julia isn’t unlikable per se, but she doesn’t endear herself to the reader. Everything is centred around her; she must be the centre of attention and thinks of herself first, always. The tension between the sisters is palpable. Her engagement has thrown Nikki into turmoil, and the catalyst that creates the need for a fake boyfriend is her insensitive mother’s request regarding Nikki’s bedroom at home. When Julia confronts Nikki over the bedroom issue, asserting that she can’t make Paul sleep in her childhood princess bed. Nikki says she can change it, but selfish Julia doesn’t want to, ‘But I love that bed.’ She does not seem to be able to appreciate that her stance is heartless and totally self-absorbed. It is little wonder the sympathetic reader will identify with and cheer Nikki’s response:

Well sorry… You’ll have to pick: either Paul sleeps in the princess bed or the bed goes.’

That is also the scene when the ‘new boyfriend’ penny drops for Julia. Her attitude towards her sister, and her estimation of Nikki, is revealed clearly in the statement that she thought their mother was mistaken. Nikki can’t have a boyfriend, the golden child cannot have anyone steal her thunder, certainly not her sister.

Nikki’s best friend since childhood is Blair, and she is a great foil to Julia. Both Nikki and Blair are confident and highly successful, but where Blair has a steady relationship, goes to parties, and has an active social life, Nikki doesn’t. It isn’t lack of opportunity, rather more because her work often precludes an active dating life, and she’s fallen into the habit of not going out. It is to Blair that she turns for sympathy and advice, and it is Blair who bolsters Nikki when she seems to have lost her nerve. They know each other’s strengths and foibles, weaknesses and habits, and Blair provides an insight into her friend’s character and life. It speaks volumes for the reader that she truly understands the situation with Nikki’s family, and doesn’t make light of it. Their families live opposite each other so during the holidays, she is the bolt-hole Nikki runs to when her family become unbearable and she needs some space.

Diego and Paul are characters that defy the trope or archetype. We don’t see as much of Paul as we do Diego. We do, however, get to know enough about him to appreciate he is a good man with a good heart, and very much in love with Julia. He needs it all to put up with the nonsense that Julia inflicts upon him (and her family) when it comes to food. The ‘pizza betrayal’ and his attitude that Julia would ‘get over it’ made me laugh, and no-one will deny smiling when he realises, towards the end, that he holds an ace card to play when it comes to Julia’s food.

Diego (apart from his name) is everything unexpected in a hot, fantasy, male model, and the author portrays him cleverly. He’s domesticated, thoughtful, intelligent, and wears his good-looks unpretentiously. The family background he is given is rooted in the macho world of police and firemen, very far removed from the life he has chosen, and yet we see that reflected in the man he is, and the character he has. Strong and confident, and yet as easily hurt and broken when it comes to romance. He ‘gets’ Nikki, understands her, and although  suprised, if not shocked at his insights into her personality, she puts this down to his observation skills as an actor. In reality, Diego is clearly invested in her personally.

The ending is just a heart-melting, eye-watering, total delight.

All in all I just loved this romance. While the general pace of the novel is quick, taking place over a matter of a few weeks, it isn’t rushed either. There were no parts where I felt the author has hustled us on to get to the next part sooner. A gentle humour is woven throughout the story and adds a lovely level of enjoyment and delight. The romance between Diego and Nikki is, by comparison, more slow-burn. There is a strange juxtaposition with this romance. On the one hand they fall in love quite quickly, and yet the physical side is very slow, sweet, and tender. It was a pleasure to read and revel in. What is also a pleasure is the knowledge that this is one of a series of novels where each can be read as a stand-alone, so Camilla Isley has just increased my ‘TBR’ pile significantly.

We are heading to that time of year when I start collating my 12 Books of the Year, and this is certainly a strong contender. Do yourself a huge favour, read this one.


Purchase Links

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GBXB5PK

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07GBXB5PK

Amazon Geo-linked http://hyperurl.co/s3dxdc

iBooks https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-christmas-date/id1424973663

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-christmas-date-camilla-isley/1129274291?ean=2940155770961

Kobo http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=9788887269253

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Camilla_Isley_A_Christmas_Date?id=p4ZoDwAAQBAJ


Author

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad. She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Social Media Links –

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/camillaisley/

Twitter https://twitter.com/camillaisley

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14135080.Camilla_Isley

Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/camilla-isley

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/camillaisley/

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/camillaisley/


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How To Date A Douchebag : Review

I discovered recently that one of my favourite New Adult authors had published the first book in her new Jock Hard series – Jock Row: Book 1. I was so ticked that I had missed the notification; in my defence I was up to m eyes in deadlines.  So I bought a copy and am loving it. It reminded me of Sara’s ‘How To Date A Douchebag’ quartet. I loved those so much I decided to tell you about them, before I finish and review Jock Row. You will find the cover and synopsis for each of the four books below this review.

All for titles

All four books are sexy, witty, funny, and every single one is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Each book is worthy of reading on its own merit, and while each story is different, they all have a similar foundation – characters who have their egos pricked and deflated when they meet someone who won’t fall at their feet as they expect. They don’t realise the true worth of the person in front of them and behave in unacceptable ways.

The males in each book range from the cocky star athlete of the wrestling team, full of himself or miserable as sin, to their friends who are generally nice guys but capable of douchey behavior. The women are sassy, smart, and witty. Between overtly sexual and shyly timid, they put up with no-nonsense from these guys. They are refreshing, real, and likeable.

Regardless of how you meet the characters in the books, you soon come to realise that there is more to them than the superficial image they present to the world, and often to each other. Equally, the reader starts by believing that they know which way the story will go, and when the plot takes a sharp turn in a very different direction, its fantastic. None of the characters are crass stereotypes, and that is also one of the points that makes this series so very enjoyable.

The relationships may be slow-burn friendships that develop into romances, and the books may be classed as light reads, but there is justice and redemption, downfall and liberation.  Do not doubt that they are clever, incisive, multi-layered and multi-faceted.

They are also flirty, hot, and sexy. Buy yourself a fan!

Enjoy!


Author

Sara NeySara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.

Website: https://authorsaraney.com/

Twitter: @saraney

Facebook: saraneyauthor

Instagram : saraneyauthor


How To Date A Douchebag series

All for titles

Book 1 : The Studying Hours

Buy here £2.95 for Kindle

Studying CoverCRUDE. ARROGANT. A**HOLE.
No doubt about it, Sebastian ‘Oz’ Osborne is the university’s most celebrated student athlete—and possibly the biggest douchebag. A walking, talking cliché, he has a filthy mouth, a fantastic body, and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you or anyone else thinks.

SMART. CLASSY. CONSERVATIVE.
Make no mistake, Jameson Clarke may be the university’s most diligent student—but she is no prude. Spending most of her time in the hallowed halls of the library, James is wary of pervs, jocks, and douchebags—and Oz Osborne is all three.

She’s smart, sarcastic—and not what he expected.

…EVERY DOUCHBAG HAS HIS WEAKNESS.

He wants to be friends.
He wants to spend time with her.
He wants to drive her crazy.

He wants… Her.


Book 2: The Failing Hours

Buy here – £2.95 for Kindle

Failing Hours CoverZeke Daniels isn’t just a douchebag; he’s an asshole. A total and complete jerk, Zeke keeps people at a distance. He has no interest in relationships—most assholes don’t.
Dating? Being part of a couple? Nope. Not for him.
He’s never given any thought to what he wants in a girlfriend, because he’s never had any intention of having one.
Shit, he barely has a relationship with his family, and they’re related; his own friends don’t even like him.
So why does he keep thinking about Violet DeLuca?
Sweet, quiet Violet—his opposite in every sense of the word.
The light to his dark, even her damn name sounds like rays of sunshine and happiness and shit.

And that pisses him off too.


Book 3: The Learning Hours

Buy here – £3.06 for Kindle

Learning Hours CoverHe’s not a douchebag; but that doesn’t stop his friends from turning him into one.

MY FRIENDS WANT ME TO GET LAID.

So much so that they plastered my ugly mug all over campus, in bold printed letters:

Are you the lucky lady who’s going to break our roommate’s cherry?
Him: socially awkward man with average-sized penis looking for willing sexual partner. You: must have a pulse. He will reciprakate with oral. Text him at: 555-254-5551

The morons can’t even spell. And the texts I’ve been receiving are what wet dreams are made of. But I’m not like these douchebags, no matter how hard they try to turn me into one.

THIS ISN’T THE KIND OF ATTENTION I WANT.

One text stands out from hundreds. One number I can’t bring myself to block. She seems different. Hotter, even in black and white. However, after seeing her in person, I know she’s not the girl for me. But my friends won’t let up–they just don’t get it. Douchebags or not, there’s one thing they’ll never understand: GIRLS DON’T WANT ME.

Especially her.


Book $: The Coaching Hours

Buy here – £2.87 for Kindle

Coaching Hours CoverTHERE ARE NO DOUCHEBAGS IN THIS STORY.

Well, there are, but they’re not who this story is about.

This story is about me—the coach’s daughter.
When I moved to Iowa to live with my dad, the university’s take-no-prisoners wrestling coach, I thought transferring would be easy as pie—living with my father would be temporary, and he’d make sure his douchebag wrestlers left me alone.

Wrong on both counts.

ASSHOLES ALWAYS COME OUT OF THE WOODWORK WHEN THE STAKES ARE HIGH.

A bet is placed, and I’m on the table. After one humiliating night and too much alcohol, I find the last nice guy on campus. And when he offers to rent me his spare bedroom, I go all in. It’s time for the nice guy to finish first.

Midnight chats and spilling my problems turn to lingering touches. Lingering touches turn to more.

And the ultimate good guy has the potential do more damage than any douchebags ever could.


 

Cupid F*cks Up : Blog Tour

Cupid F*cks Up by Paula Houseman

Cupid Fcks up ebook cover

Ruth Roth is a straight shooter. Pity Cupid’s not.

Smart-mouth Ruth is an inspirational humour columnist for a popular women’s magazine. Recently divorced, she has found the love of her life. Without any help, mind you, from the little fat love god. Ruth has decided she herself is her one and only. And she’s in a comfy place. Why wouldn’t she be? No need to yell ‘Put the bloody toilet seat down!’ No need to hoover toe-nail clippings off the carpet.

But then a silver-tongued Prince Charming fronts up in his shiny Merc and tickles her discarded, little-girl fantasies. He tells her their love is written in the stars.

It must be a misprint.

A romance with this particular PC is not so PC! Still …

Ruth’s life plays out more like ancient myth than fairytale. And what hot-blooded woman can resist forbidden fruit? There’s a problem, though. Ruth does not have a hot-blooded mum. Ruth has a pain-in-the-arse mum whose squawking disapproval cranks the taboo up a notch. All the more reason to take up with the stud! But it means taking on the harpy.

Tensions mount, and even Ruth’s man can’t protect her from the trash-talking voices in her head. It looks like he can’t muzzle his own either. When an earth-shattering revelation causes him to give her grief, it makes her feel like she’s dating her mother.

Taking the kind of advice she doles out to her readers is not so easy, and Ruth wonders if this love can survive. More to the point, is it worth the trouble?Ruth has survived plenty with the help of her friends. And as a writer, her wry wit, dirty muse, and a bent for ancient mythology have sustained her. This, though, might be her undoing.


In my review of the first book in this series, Odyssey in a Teacup, I wrote:

The hallmark of a great writer is their ability to make their characters, the situations they find themselves in, and the feelings they experience, entirely relatable for the reader. 

Paula Houseman did it then and does it now. Sometimes in a series, the author’s writing dips and we are not as wowed by the second book as we are the first, not so here. The author has presented us with another laugh-out-loud, face-achingly funny, exploration of family and relationships. It’s the same Ruth; lewd and immature, crass and self-conscious, strong and insecure, she stumbles through life, dealing with whatever drama comes her way, with her usual style and bravura.

In this novel, we have moved forward, and as in real life, the old makes way for the new, and so we have fresh characters to get our reading-teeth into. Various twists and turns present us with a dramatic production whose characters include Ralph as her new-love-man-of-her-dreams, teenagers filled with angst and issues, the neighbour from hell, as well as their respective idiosyncratic families and friends. As we are moved, from scene to scene, through the tragedies and comedies of their lives, and the revelation of secrets, Ruth discovers they have more skeletons than the local cemetery.

With a littering of births, marriages, and deaths, self-discovery and re-incarnation, with a wry look at the realities and craziness of  life, Paula Houseman entertains, amuses, and enlightens us. What I said of Odyssey in a Teacup is just as true here:

She writes with vigour and humour, giving the reader no time to excuse themselves from the reading room. Her highly comic and satirical look at Ruth’s (and Ralph’s) navigation through the minefield of their respective families and assorted relatives, is nothing short of brilliant.

Want more? Read the book! You’ll love it!

Cupid & Twat Full Tour Banner


Purchase 

Amazon UK – HERE

Amazon US – HERE

 

Author

photo copy – Version 3Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaHousemanAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman


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Fake Date : Review

The Fake Date by Lynda Stacey

Fake Date CoverNine hours and eleven minutes …
That’s how long it’s been since Ella Hope was beaten to within an inch of life and left for dead. 
She lies, unable to move and praying for somebody to find her, as she counts down the minutes and wonders who could have hated her so much to have hurt her so badly. 
Was it the man she went on a date with the previous evening, the man linked to the deaths of two other women? Or somebody else, somebody who wants her out of the picture so much they’re willing to kill? 
Whoever it is, they will pay. All Ella has to do first is survive …


While strap lines and publicity blurb are fun to read, the books they promote rarely live up to the hype. So, what about Fake Date?

  • Gripping
    • YES
  • Edge of the seat
    • YES
  • Thrilling
    • YES
  • Twists and turns to keep you guessing
    • YES
  • Romantic
    • YES

It ticks all the boxes, but in all honesty I would have never put these words together to make up a new genre – Romantic Psychological Thriller. Sounds utterly implausible and complete nonsense, and yet this is what Lynda Stacey gives us with Fake Date, and its brilliant.

Within a few pages of opening, the reader is reeling with shock, and you are straining to send life to Ella through the pages. It is one of the most powerful and dramatic opening chapters I have ever read, and combined with the killer’s dark and threatening thoughts peppered throughout the book, both ploys are clever, seductive, and compelling.

It is Ella who sets the tone and pace of the book. This is her story as much as it is any of the pawns in the killer’s game. She refuses to play the victim, and as a journalist she is determined to follow it to the bitter end, to find the person who tried to kill her and murdered others. The inevitable twists, turns, red-herrings, and blind alleys are equally effective in ramping up the tension. Believe me, if you get as involved in this book as I did, there are some sections that will exhaust you mentally and emotionally. Thank goodness for the romance. Lynda Stacey cleverly breaks up those intense passages with not only a delightful romance, but also the ‘hot’ romantic action of her policewoman friend. Both provide much-needed light relief, and moments of great hilarity.

Ella is a feisty, strong-minded, independent woman who has the character and determination not to let what happened to her take over her life or crush her spirit. Her first meeting with Will, her new neighbour is fraught with fear, but this is one of the moments where the tension is broken with humour. Will is a kind and gentle man yet strong-minded. Driven in both career and his personal life, he suffered a personal trauma in his past that has left deep scars both emotionally and psychologically. Whilst he has dealt with them well over the years, and is an out-going and confident man, it is the vulnerability these scars have left him that makes Will as a convincing, interesting, and complex personality as Ella. They are both impressive characters and a delight to read.

Whilst this is a relatively fast-paced story, it has layers, and even the layers have layers. The author takes several elements of the plot and slowly reveals them to the reader bit by bit, creating edgy, suspense-filled chapters. The romance between Ellie and Will is sweet and gentle, heated and passionate and sits in perfect contrast to the twisted, obsessive love that is central to the murders. The race to the end was just that, I couldn’t read and turn pages fast enough. It was on several levels devastating and shocking.

Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is one of the best I have read this year and may well make it on to my Books of the Year list.


Purchase

Just £1.99 in Amazon UK Kindle Store HERE

Audio Book HERE (FREE with Audible free trial)


Author

Lynda StaceyLynda grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire and went to both Bentley New Village School, and Don Valley High School.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.
Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

@LyndaStacey 


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A Laughing Matter of Pain : Blog Blitz

A Laughing Matter of Pain by Cynthia Hilston

harrycoverHarry Rechthart always knew how to laugh, but laughter can hide a lot of pain that’s drowned by the bottle and good times. He grew up the joker in the early 1900s in Cleveland, Ohio, but as he enters adulthood, conflict splits him. His once close relationship with his brother, Erik, breaks as they come into their own and Erik goes off to college. No longer under Erik’s shadow, Harry feels he might finally shine and make others see him as someone to be proud of. Harry finds an unlikely comrade who understands how he feels–his younger sister, Hannah. Once free of high school, Harry and Hannah double date sister and brother, Kat and Will Jones, attending wild, extravagant parties during the years of Prohibition. Harry thinks he’s won at life–he’s found love in Kat, in a good time, and in the bottle. But all the light goes out fast when Harry’s alcoholism leads to disastrous consequences for him and Kat.

Harry thinks the joke’s on him now that he’s sunk lower than ever. He’s in jail. He’s pushed away his family. He’s a broken man, but in the darkest depths of a prison cell, there is hope. Can Harry rebuild his life and learn that true laughter comes from knowing true joy, or will he bury himself once and for all in this laughing matter of pain?


Superficially, this is a cautionary tale of a boy coming into manhood in the shadow of a clever and much-loved older brother. It maps his journey through the excitement of 1930s American prohibition, with illicit booze and bootleggers, parties and speak-easies, glamour and sleaze. Harry is out of control. He can’t see or accept how bad he has become, nor the seedy depths he is spiralling down. He hits rock bottom. It is from his cheerless and miserable jail cell, with the lies and pretence stripped away, he tells his story.

Deeper into the tale, we find this powerful and moving study is not of one man alone, but the story of many. It is the study of family; the dynamics of sibling relationships, the conflicts and tensions between parents and children, and the damage we inflict on ourselves and those we love.

BUT…

this is not a bleak story. It is liberally laced with light and love, and with hope and redemption. The author has cleverly and successfully adopted the speech and style of the period which conjures all those images we have of that period in US history. She writes in a way that pulls you until you become so invested in the characters you have no choice but to keep reading. We have been given a gem of a novel that is perceptive and thought-provoking, and readers should add it to their TBR stacks.


A Laughing Matter of Pain

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: HERE

Amazon US: HERE

 


Author

authorimageCynthia Hilston is a thirty-something-year-old stay at home mom of three young kids, happily married. Writing has always been like another child to her. After twenty years of waltzing in the world of fan fiction, she finally stepped away to do her debut dance with original works of fiction. Hannah’s Rainbow: Every Color Beautiful is her first original novel. She’s currently working on more books. Visit her website for more information.

In her spare time – what spare time? – she devours books, watches Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, pets her orange kitty, looks at the stars, and dreams of what other stories she wishes to tell.

Social Media:

Website: http://www.cynthiahilston.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cynthiahilstonauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/cynthiahilstonauthor

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Hilston/e/B01KSD8RPS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1532102291&sr=1-1

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cynthiahilston

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorcynthiahilston


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Mrs Bates of Highbury : Blog Tour

Mrs Bates of Highbury by Allie Cresswell 

The new novel from the Readers’ Favourite silver medalist. 

MrsBatesThirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.

Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.

Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.

Mrs Bates of Highbury is the first of three novels by the Amazon #1 best-selling Allie Cresswell, which trace the pre-history of Emma and then run in parallel to it.


I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, having read all her novels several times, and some more times than I can remember.  When it comes to an author’s canon of work, much beloved by millions, ‘fiddling’ about with the books and characters can be a very tricky undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pedant; I do not baulk at the mere hint of playing with a classic author’s books. I have thoroughly enjoyed several modern authors’ re-writing of Austen’s novels, but there are certainly some where the ink should never have hit the page, never mind the book hit the shelf.

I liked Allie Cresswell’s ‘Game Show’, but this is a very different animal. A prequel to Emma, (not one of my favourites) and set quite some decades in the past, the author has had to reverse engineer the story and at the same time keep the setting and language accurate and firmly under control. Cresswell has achieved what few do, she has taken the Austen style and made it her own, and in doing so has produced a novel where style, behaviour, conversation, and moral code are as comfortable as an old sweater.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Bates women, the Knightly men, the Westons, and all their friends and neighbours. There are some great moments of hilarity, and equally some sorrowful and forlorn moments. Around the main protagonists, the village and its characters help bring the Austen world to life.

We have three women, mother and daughters, each with very different personalities and temperaments, and yet each with a possible romance. In an age when women were restricted by society as to what they could and could not do, many times they were left to fend helplessly for themselves. It was particularly difficult for single women, where marriage was the best and often the only option. Even then, social class dictated a woman’s marriage prospects.  Finding a suitable husband was very difficult, propriety demanded that thoughts and feelings were kept strictly guarded and unspoken, and crossing the social divide was tantamount to social suicide.

Cresswell pitches the tenor of the book perfectly, neither slipping into sentimentality, nor straying into bleakness. As with Austen, she highlights the absurdity in manners, pokes fun at the sycophant, and spotlights the impossible situation women of women in society. Reading this was as natural as reading Austen herself, and as with Austen, you cannot help but enjoy the story. This is a delightful, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining book.

For myself, the only cloud was that I know what happens to all three women – as I said, I have read, re-read, and re-re-read Austen’s novels many times. So, if you have too, then stick that knowledge in a deep dark corner of your brain, lock the door, and temporarily mislay the key.

Congratulations, Allie Cresswell on a brilliant novel. You’ve wowed me again. Thank you.

For the duration of the blog tour, Allie Cresswell has five hard copies of Game Show and five hard copies of Tiger in a Cage, all signed, available for £5 plus p & p to UK addresses. If you are interested then please get in touch.


Purchase

Here : Amazon

Mrs Bates of Highbury Ful Tour Banner


Author

Mrs Bates Author PictAllie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil. She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London. She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters and two grandsons, is married to Tim and lives in Cumbria, NW England.

You can contact her via her website at www.allie-cresswell.com

or find her on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/

@alliescribbler


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Haircuts, Hens, and Homicide : Blog Tour

Haircuts, Hens, and Homicide by Stephanie Dagg

HaircutsHensHomicideBig2Megan finds mayhem when she arrives in France to bury her Gran and sort out her affairs. She expected difficult encounters with civil servants and red tape but not with wandering chickens, an imperious policeman and a dead body. Together with her unlikely new friend, the elderly and grumpy Alphonse and his canine equivalent, Monsieur Moustache, Megan becomes involved in investigating the fowl-related foul play that’s at work in this sleepy part of rural France.
She’s helped but mainly hindered by the people she comes across. These include the local mayor, who wants Megan to stay and set up a hair salon in his village to help keep it alive. There are the cousins Romain, the gendarme, and Nico, the clumsy but hunky farmer. They have always clashed, but do so constantly now that Megan is on the scene. Michelle, Romain’s terrifying ex who wants him back, appears along the way, as does Claudette, a wheelchair-bound old lady, and Kayla, Megan’s best friend, who is hugely pregnant but not above taking on the forces of French law and order when Megan finds herself the prime suspect after Alphonse is stabbed. 

There’s excitement, humour and lots of ruffled feathers in this rom-com slash cosy mystery, the first in a projected series.


This is not an ordinary straight-forward romance; it is a mix of genres (and we all know I like that), filled with a brilliant cast of characters, human and otherwise. I believed in these people, they were as real to me as my friends, and I’m convinced that if I rolled up in a village these people would be in residence and recognisable. The author has created a wholly realistic and believable world inhabited by characters that have all the strengths, weaknesses, and failings of human beings everywhere.

Megan’s life is vastly different from the one her grandmother has been living in France in recent years; she’s a hairdresser in Maidenhead, living an average life, but with aspirations for her career. Although Megan has visited France many times, and feels relatively ‘at home’ there, she encounters much that she doesn’t quite understand. The constant invasion of her kitchen for a start. In an area populated mostly by old and older people, cousins Romain, an unsmiling, serious gendarme, and Nico, a seriously hot looking farmer with a severe ‘bull in a china shop’ problem, are constantly locking horns around Megan. Some of their encounters are comical as are some of her reactions.

Stephanie Dagg’s depiction of the main characters is absolute delight, and she reveals them to us in different ways. Cleverly writing in the first person, we see everything from Megan’s point of view, so immediately we know her thoughts and feelings, her opinions and reactions. With Romain, she peels back the layers slowly and steadily, so like Megan, we are kept wondering just what is going on inside his head. Megan and Romain are constantly thrown in each other’s company, partly by accident and partly by design on Romain’s side. While their backgrounds and experiences are very different, through the narrative the author subtly highlights the underlying similarities. These two devices are a masterclass for anyone with writing ambitions.

Megan was abandoned by her mother, has no clue as to who her father is, and was raised by her prickly, no-nonsense, but loving grandmother. Not only dumped by her fiancée but now newly redundant, apart from her best friend Kayla, Megan is alone in the world. Romain has recently returned home but we don’t know why, he has family, friends, and a community that he belongs to, and though his parents are wealthy and he had a somewhat privileged background, it wasn’t a fun childhood.

Frivolity was frowned on

So whilst one set of parents were there, and the other parent disappeared and declared dead, they have each marked their children. Megan and perhaps Romain too, learn that family is more than blood relatives. Megan’s friend Kayla, and the little community they belong to show more real and genuine care and concern.

Both characters have escaped potentially disastrous relationships. Megan started the new year being dumped by her fiancée in January, two months before their wedding. Romain has escaped from a relationship with Michelle, a rather domineering woman with a demanding career. She is high maintenance, very much a city-dweller, and a force to be reckoned with. Her return causes a frisson of dread to both Romain and Nico, and the reaction of the men to her entrance in the café was hilarious. Megan is not in the least put out or perturbed by Michelle, she deals with snooty domineering women often in her business, and while she has some similar traits to Michelle, they are more subtle and less selfish.

Megan is a feisty, warm-hearted and loving young woman yet simmering quietly beneath the surface is a discontent. She is bright and intelligent, and the walking talking epitome of the phrase, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Torn between returning to England and remaining in France, she weighs up what each has to offer. As the trail of criminal activity expands, shocking secrets revealed, and homicide is on the doorstep, Megan is undaunted. Her open and unsophisticated nature is in sharp relief to Romain who seems to be somewhat aloof. He keeps his behaviour, thinking and emotions, under strict control, and Megan enjoys confronting and provoking him, as much as Romain enjoys doing the same to her. Gradually however he is revealed to be a caring and compassionate man, with a warm and passionate nature.

With a cast of ‘villagers’ that includes Erik the vet and his mother, Alphonse and Monsieur Moustache,  Megan’s girls, the Mayor, and many more, we are presented with a plethora of characters who entertain and endear themselves to the reader. Who hasn’t experienced the rural French lunch hour, where almost everyone and everything stops work, as Megan says:

No-one messes with lunchtime in France

Stephanie has given us a novel that is humorous and romantic, lively and cheerful. The tone and language are light and amusing, and it’s an all-round bloody good read. The burgeoning romance and the murder detection are woven together with subtly and ease. We are flipped from yes they will to no they won’t with no regard for the readers sensibilities – and its brilliant! To find out who killed who and who ends up with who, you’ll have to read the book. Be prepared for face-achingly hilarious situations, cringe-worthy moments, and plenty of wonderful animals, but for me Monsieur Moustache ultimately steals the show.

ShockerAnd the extra bit at the end?

Shocker!

Give me Perms, Pigeons, and Poisons NOW!!

 

What to more can I say?

Buy it. Read it.

Enjoy it. Love it.

I did.

Haircuts, Hens, and Homocides has been added to my books of the year list. Yes. Its THAT fantastic.


Purchase

HERE : Amazon

Haircuts, Hens and Homicide


Author

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.

I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder & Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.

Social Media Links

@llamamum

www.facebook.com/StephanieDaggBooks/

www.bloginfrance.com


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A Wedding in Cornwall : Blog Tour

A Wedding in Cornwall (Books 7—12) by Laura Briggs

A Wedding in Cornwall - Anthology A Wedding in Cornwall 7-12 CoverThe last six novellas in the UK bestselling series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL are now available in one collection! Join American event planner Julianne in her final set of adventures ‘across the pond’ in beautiful Cornwall. From celebrity sightings to a local talent show, from a charming village fete to a secret Cornish garden, there’s never a dull moment for Julianne and her Poldark-esque true love Matthew in the quaint village of Ceffylgwyn.

This collection contains:

  • A Romance in Cornwall
  • A Star in Cornwall
  • A Sewing Circle in Cornwall
  • A Talent Show in Cornwall
  • An American in Cornwall
  • A Garden in Cornwall.

PLUS: Exclusive bonus materials include a sneak peek of the author’s all-new 2019 Cornish romance series!


Purchase

HERE – Amazon


Author 

A Wedding in Cornwall Briggs Author PicLaura Briggs is the author of several lighthearted romance novels and novellas, including the bestselling Amazon UK series A Wedding in Cornwall. She has a fondness for vintage-style dresses (especially ones with polka dots), and reads everything from Jane Austen to modern day mysteries. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, caring for her pets, going to movies and plays, and trying new restaurants.

Social Media Links 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PaperDollWrites

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlaurabriggs/

Website:  https://paperdollwrites.blogspot.com/


A Wedding in Cornwall

This is the second half of a series and consists of books 7 to 12. I haven’t read any of the first six, but I found it didn’t matter.

These stories are lovely, sweet and endearing, but sadly I couldn’t totally engage with them. There were parts of some of the books that I found a little routine, and to be honest, I skimmed some bits.

That said….

The characters were quirky, amusing, and scary – who’d like to be under Mrs Norbert’s reign of terror? The villains were equally well drawn and many of the scenes were sheer delight. The author writes with an easy, relaxed style, and her some of her descriptions are brilliant – who wouldn’t want a man ‘as sweet as chocolate and as brainy as Sherlock’? There were amusing moments of great observation and wit, and others that were perceptive and shrewd.

If you want some thoroughly enjoyable and charming books to relax with, then these are definitely for you.

Read and enjoy.


Brought to you via

Rachels Random Resources

Oddest Little Shop Series : Blog Tour

Having already read and reviewed three books in author Beth Good series, namely the Oddest Little Romance shop, Chocolate Shop, and Book Shop, and loved all three, I approached the final two books with excitement and trepidation in equal measure. What if they were not as good? What if I didn’t ike them?

My fears were unfounded. Beth Good delivers again and again. Completing the series are two novellas that only add to the love and romance of Cornwall, its villages, and traditions They are funny, heartwarming, quirky, with characters you’ll love, and delicious romances that get you just that little bit hot and bothered.


Author

Jane Holland Beth Good credit Anna Rybacka-1Born and raised in Essex, England, Beth Good was whisked away to an island tax haven at the age of eleven to attend an exclusive public school and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Sadly, she never became rich or famous herself, so had to settle for infamy as a writer of dubious novels. She writes under several different names, mainly to avoid confusing her readers – and herself! As Beth Good she writes romantic comedy and feel-good fiction. She also writes thrillers as Jane Holland, historicals as Victoria Lamb and Elizabeth Moss, and feel-good fiction as Hannah Coates.
Beth currently lives in the West Country where she spends a great deal of time thinking romantic thoughts while staring out of her window at sheep. (These two actions are unrelated.)
You can find her most days on Twitter as @BethGoodWriter where she occasionally indulges in pointless banter about chocolate making and the Great British Bake Off. Due to a basic inability to say no, she has too many children and not enough money, which means she needs as many readers as she can get.

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BethGoodAuthor

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BethGoodWriter


The Oddest Little Cornish Tea Shop

Oddest Little_TEA SHOPIt’s a big day for Charlie Bell – the grand reopening of her Aunt Pansy’s long-closed tea rooms in Tremevissey, a quaint Cornish seaside resort. But not everyone is happy for Charlie. The locals say the tea rooms are cursed. For Pansy was cruelly jilted by her lover, and walked out into the ocean, never to return.

Charlie dismisses the ‘curse’ as superstitious nonsense, but by the end of the first day, her world is in tatters, and she’s not even sure the tea rooms can open again.

Then in walks a rugged, taciturn man with a sexy smile and everything he owns on his back, looking for a summer job . . .

Is Gideon Petherick an angel in disguise? Or is history about to repeat itself?


After all the time effort and money she ploughed into refurbishing the tea shop in the village of Tremevissey, Charlie (Charlotte) has a disastrous re-opening. Her cook turns out to be clumsy and incompetent, after ruining the food, she almost burns the place down, and Charlie has to close again.

Awaiting the insurance assessor, the handsome and enigmatic Gideon turns up and offers his help in return for food and lodging. Even with his help things go from bad to worse as electrics need to be fixed and more. Is there really a curse on the shop? And just what is Gideon’s secret?

What is he hiding from Charlie?

Seriously, with its mix of romance and mystery, characters that will have you laughing, tearing your hair out,  and loving every minute of it, you need to read this book.


Purchase 

HERE – Amazon


The Oddest Little Beach Shop

Oddest Little_BEACH SHOPFrom the first day of Annie’s arrival in the sleepy Cornish resort of Polzel, next-door neighbour Gabriel seems determined to make her life difficult.

Despite his sexy looks and angelic name, Gabriel behaves like an ogre to everyone, and has apparently been that way since losing his wife in a surfing accident. Annie would do far better, her friend Claudia urges her, to focus her attentions on Jamie instead. Jamie’s the hottest lifeguard in the village – and her co-worker in the Polzel beach shop.

But when Polzel’s famous annual pie-rolling contest sees Annie and Gabriel forced together, it turns out Annie might have a thing for big Cornish ogres after all . . .


Very different in so many ways to the last novella. This is a wonderful story of family, bereavement, and starting over. Annie and her teenage nephew are learning how to make life together work. They move to the small town of Polzel in Cornwall where her friend Claudia lives, looking for a fresh start.

But does the fresh start mean new love for Annie? And if it does, then who with? Jamie the hot lifeguard, or Gabriel the grumpy neighbour? What about Leo? Maybe she should put her life on hold until he’s older? She needs to focus on Leo, a damned annoying and utterly lovable thirteen-year-old boy. A typical young teenager, finding his way out of death and loss.

Again, the author gives us clearly defined characters that the reader will love; we get them warts and all.


Purchase

HERE – Amazon


These two are arguably the best, or maybe just my favourites, or maybe not….

I loved them all.

What I said in my last set of reviews applies equally to these final two novellas, adding just a soupcon of mystery into the mix:

Beth Good writes beautifully and can draw a character for the reader with just a few words…each book is whole and complete in and of itself; readers were not left wanting.  Like their titles, they are the oddest collection of romances, a little off-beat, idiosyncratic, and an utter delight to read.  They’re sweet and lovely, laced with humour, alive with romance, and with the merest hint of darkness and wickedness. All of which combines to lure the reader deeper into the story until, like me, you cannot put the book down.

Buy them. Put them on your phone, your kindle, slip a paper back into you bag or pocket, and when you are waiting somewhere, having a coffee, or on your lunch-break, whip one out to read. You’ll not regret it.

Enjoy my pretties…enjoy them all.


Brought to you via:

Rachels Random Resources

Sleeping Through War : Blog Tour

Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira

Sleeping Throught War - Whole cover copy

 

It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in 50 years?

 


Sleeping Through War is one of the most moving and poignantly powerful books that I have read in a while.  Its full of pain and compassion, tenderness and strength. It is an all-round breath-taking and provocative novel that speaks directly to women everywhere. Readers of any sex who approach it openly and receptively, will find a nuanced novel that explores the dichotomy between domestic lives and the political unrest and war around them. And more. So much more.

The book hit me on so many levels, invoked so many memories and emotions, and reminded me of the importance of history and writing. (The pen is mightier than the sword?)  I was so immersed in the lives of these women against the political backdrop of world affairs, that I have gone back to my history books to re-examine the period both globally and personally.

Set in May 1968,  which gives the story an interesting and electric historical background. It was a year of revolution, demonstration, and civil disobedience. Across the world, but especially in the UK, Europe, and the USA, the old guard were challenged, people rose up to demand equal rights, military veterans protested against war, immigration was as big a topic then as it is now. I was still in primary school, but in our house we all watched the 6 o’clock news. 1968 was a pivotal year that I remember well. I already had the history bug, so television, newspaper, and magazine reports were engrossing. I had great conversations with my father who explained much of it all to me. !968 was also the year that photography became a passion, primarily thanks to the Vietnam war, but also those great photo-journalists who reported on the Biafran famine, the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the riots in Paris, and the civil rights demonstrations in the USA.

And yet amid the chaos and carnage, ordinary citizens carried on their ordinary lives, each day much like the last, and watching these global upheavals from the safety and comfort of armchairs in their front rooms. And here we have three strong, very distinct, and very separate women who never meet, and yet each of their lives are as altered and changed as much as the world is around them.

In Lisbon lives Amala, a widow and single mother doing what she needs to provide a good life for her son, Ricardo. Courageous, strong, compassionate, the struggle to survive takes its toll, but she holds on to her dignity regardless of the circumstances of her existence.

In London is Rose, a nurse in a care-home who took the enormous step of leaving her home and family and moving to England from the West Indies at a time when blatant racism was rife. She meets that racism at both work and in the street, but her life carries on around it regardless. She takes a young neighbour under her wing, mothering her with love and compassion.

In the Unites States is Mrs Johnson, a wife and mother with a son fighting in Vietnam. Uniquely her story is told through letters to her son, tender, sweet, and gives the reader great insight to the thoughts of ‘middle America’ at the time.

Interspersed between the chapters are news reports about events at the time. These are a stroke of genius on the part of the author. Not only do they act as a counterpoint to the lives of the women, but also drive home the comparison between the lives of men and women at the time. In the period, as with most other industries, reporting the news, journalism, and photojournalism was male dominated, so the reports are from a male perspective. If you put those reports against the narratives of the women, it will give you much to think about, and to compare and contrast.

The book is also very a pro pos, given what is happening in the world today, and again, plenty to compare and contrast, and to think about.

I could go on about the vivid imagery, the strong characterisation, about the excellent writing, and the great way the pace is varied, but I won’t. I’ve avoided going into detail because its important you meet these incredible women for yourself, on your own terms.

Do yourself a massive favour – read it. Read it now.

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Purchase 

HERE Wordery

HERE Waterstones

or

HERE Amazon

 

Author


Sleeping Through War - HeadM5Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced this novel. Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.

FACEBOOK: @SleepingThroughWar

WEBSITE: jackiecarreira.co.uk


 

Rachels Random Resources

Oddest Little Shop series: Blog Tour

The Oddest Little Series

Today Heartshaped is reviewing three of author Beth Good’s novellas from her Oddest Little Shop series. Two more will be coming later.

Reading a novella is a lovely change for a blogger used to reading full novels. Rather like a sorbet after a fish dish, they clear and refresh the reading palate., and they slot neatly into the space between short-stories and novels. It’s the Goldilocks Syndrome; there are times when one is too short and the other is too long, but novellas are just right. Beth Good’s books are certainly all that; refreshing, pleasant, and the perfect length for an afternoon’s reading.


So – to the books, and first out of the starting gate is:

The Oddest Little Romance Shop

Oddest Little_ROMANCE SHOPIzzie has the perfect plan for a perfect life. Work hard, get married, settle down, start a family. But when a mysterious Valentine’s day card arrives, asking in a bold scrawl, ‘Will you marry me?’, it upends everything.
Because Izzie thought she’d found Mr Right – and the card isn’t from him.

Puzzled, she sets out to discover the identity of her secret admirer . . . and is shocked by the truth. Torn in two directions, Izzie doesn’t know what to do.

Should she stick to the plan, or is it time to take life in a bold new direction?


I loved the prologue of this book. It was everything that is sweet and innocent about childhood, friendships, and that blossoming awareness that there is an ‘opposite sex’. My heart melted at the tenderness expressed by Lewis, and then laughed at his horrified surprise in finding his hand being held. It’s a story that is repeated the world over, again and again, and never gets tired.

We jump into the present with Izzie preparing for her wedding to Norman. She has accepted his proposal after knowing him but a short time, and while this may seem implausible to some, things like this happen all the time. In her mid-twenties, Izzy wants a family of her own, children, stability, and she sees no other prospect on the horizon. Sadly, this is not a great whirlwind-swept-off-her-feet-romance; Izzie is ‘settling’. She says herself:

It felt like my life was going nowhere. Or maybe round and round in circles. There was something missing.

Her friend Annie is the perfect foil. Sharp, funny, and out-going, Annie asks the reader’s questions for them. She is the one who shines a light on the odd suddenness of Izzy’s relationship. Norman on the other hand is revealed to us slowly, carefully, and is everything we expect him to be. Controlling, possessive, unpleasant, and deadly, deadly dull.

The arrival of a mysterious Valentine’s card, not from Norman, is the catalyst that shifts the story on to the next level. The realisation that its old, and then who it may be from, rocks Izzy to the core, and forces her to confront what has been ‘wrong’ for many years. What ensues, is a fabulous genre mix of thriller, crime, and romance. But mostly romance.


The next book will require a stash of your favourite chocolate, if you’re a chocolate lover:

The Oddest Little Chocolate Shop

Oddest Little_CHOCOLATE SHOPWhen Clementine discovers that Monsieur Ravel’s beloved chocolaterie is about to close, she rushes to rescue it – without thinking through the consequences.

A lost Persian cat, a depressed but utterly gorgeous French chocolatier, an allergic shop assistant in search of true love, the oddest little chocolate shop Clementine has ever seen.

Can Clementine save them all, or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

 


After many chocolate-free months, Clementine discovers her favourite chocolate shop is closing. As she peers at the empty window, she finds a cat out in the bitter cold and takes it into the shop, thinking it must belong there. She comes to a staring halt when she meets Dominic Ravel, the gorgeous Frenchman who is the Chocolatier and owns the business. He in turn stares at her while they have a slightly stilted and amusing conversation.

Clementine’s thoughts are like a run-away juggernaut. I love how her thoughts race one after the other, tripping and stumbling their way through her head, as well as the way the author weaves them seamlessly into the narrative. It made me laugh, and there isn’t a woman alive who hasn’t had her brain jumbled thoughts when confronted by an unexpectedly lusty male. Dominic is somewhat more inscrutable at first, anxious and under family pressure, but with Clementine he relaxes and we find a charming man.

At one level, I was incensed at the idea that Clementine was rather useless. She has clearly been told repeatedly that she’s not very good at things, and clumsy. Yet she held a good job, gave Dominic some good advice, and is clearly very practically minded and loaded with common sense…. most of the time. She does get very flustered when she’s anxious or embarrassed, which is quite a different thing altogether. She’s feisty and funny, and a marvellous character.

A wonderful story with about going for what you want, believing in yourself, and falling in love in unexpected places!


The final book today is my favourite.

The Oddest Little Book Shop

Oddest Little_BOOK SHOPAfter ten long years away, television star Daisy Diamond is finally going home.

She’s not back at the gorgeous seaside resort of Port Pol in sunny Cornwall five minutes before she realises the mistake she’s made. Her childhood sweetheart Nick Old – affectionately known as ‘Devil’ – is still living there, running the local bookshop, and he is determined to rekindle their flame.

Daisy is no longer the dewy-eyed romantic of her school days. Her life may not have gone according to plan, but she’s not afraid to show Nick how much she’s grown since he famously dumped her at the school leavers’ disco.

Even if it means bending her heart out of shape a little . . .


Television star Daisy Diamond is back at home in Cornwall house-sitting for her parents before filming starts the next series of her show. She has just split from her erstwhile boyfriend and co-star who cheated on her. The paparazzi haven’t a clue she is there – so far – and she is hoping for a relaxed and enjoyable time.

And yet.

There is something lurking in Daisy’s past, an unresolved issue that hurt her terribly. Through the course of the story we meet Nick Old, her boyfriend from ten years past. As they verbally spar and knock chips of each other, the under current of passion and tension is almost palpable. Throw in a mad wife, an 9-year-old daughter, an uncharacteristic make-out session with a married man when she is snapped by one of paparazzi, and the gates of hell open.

What ensues is hilarious, scary, and heart-breaking. You’ll end up pulled in different directions over Daisy’s decisions, and will have moments of hate and sympathy in equal measure. Daisy is a tremendously funny, delightful and amiable young woman, whose moral compass is true and sure on the whole. Equally, Nick is an honourable man, whose decency has led him to ten years of unhappiness, alleviated only by the love of his daughter, and thoughts of what might have been.

Amid the humour and romance the author takes the time to include certain issues such as the autistic spectrum, anger management, and bereavement. She writes with such a light-hand and so sensitively, you may hardly notice that those weighty matters are there. This was my favourite of the three novellas. It had depth and complexity mingled with wit and humour.


Overall:

Beth Good writes beautifully and can draw a character for the reader with just a few words. Often novellas can feel like a Chinese take-away, you feel full after eating the last fork (chopstick)-full but an hour later you want more. Not so with this author. each book is whole and complete in and of itself; readers were not left wanting.  Like their titles, they are the oddest collection of romances, a little off-beat, idiosyncratic, and an utter delight to read.  They’re sweet and lovely, laced with humour, alive with romance, and with the merest hint of darkness and wickedness. All of which combines to lure the reader deeper into the story until, like me, you cannot put the book down.

Devours BooksDo yourself a favour. Read these books. Read them on the train, in your lunch hour, sitting in the car waiting for whatever….

I’m looking forward to the next two I’ll be reviewing soon. In the Meantime, I’ll be looking at her other titles to check which I want to add to my ever-growing TBR Mountain!

 

Purchase  Here


Author

Jane Holland Beth Good credit Anna Rybacka-1Born and raised in Essex, England, Beth Good was whisked away to an island tax haven at the age of eleven to attend an exclusive public school and rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Sadly, she never became rich or famous herself, so had to settle for infamy as a writer of dubious novels. She writes under several different names, mainly to avoid confusing her readers – and herself! As Beth Good she writes romantic comedy and feel-good fiction. She also writes thrillers as Jane Holland, historicals as Victoria Lamb and Elizabeth Moss, and feel-good fiction as Hannah Coates.

Beth currently lives in the West Country where she spends a great deal of time thinking romantic thoughts while staring out of her window at sheep. (These two actions are unrelated.)

You can find her most days on Twitter as @BethGoodWriter where she occasionally indulges in pointless banter about chocolate making and the Great British Bake Off. Due to a basic inability to say no, she has too many children and not enough money, which means she needs as many readers as she can get.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BethGoodAuthor

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/BethGoodWriter


 

 

 

 

 

Heartshaped’s Neck-Nibblers! 

Recommended Reading

Heartshaped’s Recommended Neck-Nibbler Books! 

Bite

There’s nothing quite like a good vampire novel to get the blood surging and the nerves tingling. None of the hairy Werewolf nonsense! Over recent years we’ve had a plethora of books, TV series, and films dedicated to vampires, all of which were set to chill and most definitely thrill.

Here are some of my favourite books, and some of my favourite on-screen vampires.Angel


If you buy any of these books, please post a short review in the comments after you have read it.   If I like your review, I’ll feature it in a full post. 

Prices are for E-Books

The Coldest Girl In Town  Holly Black**  £4.99

Glass Houses  Rachel Caine**  £4.74Erik

Vampire Kisses  Ellen Schreiber**  £2.49

Already Dead  Charlie Huston  £3.99

Dead Until Dark  Charlaine Harris  £3.99Spike

Sunshine  Robin McKinley (VERY cheap 2nd-hand paperbacks)

Let The Right One In  John Ajvide Lindqvist  £4.99

The Passage   Justin Cronin  £3.99Aidan

** fantastic Teen/Young Adult books I recommended to vampire loving adults

 

 

Bank Holiday Book Haul : Part 1

Although I review romance novels via Rachel’s Random Resources,  I do read other genres as the fancy takes me. So for those who read my blog and reviews, it makes sense to show the books I buy for myself. I love a good charity shop rummage and have to limit myself otherwise I walk out with two large bags full.

I read mainly on my Kindle these days, and my e-library is growing rapidly, but I still like to have real thing. I picked up three quite different books, each dark in their own way and in varying degrees, from just a little bit dark through to OMG, Lock the Door! All from Oxfam. It’s just as well that I went into the charity shop after I’d been to the bookshop, but more of that in a later post.

I’ve given links so you can buy your own digital copies; they are all very cheap, falling between £1.59 and £3.32.

There is no way to calculate when I’ll read these, but I had to have them. One is certainly being saved for those dark winter evenings when no-one know what lurks in the bushes…

What I need is a very long holiday, somewhere off the beaten track, , so I can just relax and read, read, read.


Charity Shop

 

Dark Book Haul 25082018

 

So, first out of the charity book haul gate is Skarlet by Thomas Emson.

Book Haul MiniFear grips London as dozens of clubbers die after taking a sinister new drug. But that’s only the beginning. 48 hours later, the dead clubbers wake up – and it’s open season on the living, who are butchered for their blood. Soon, London gives a name to its terror:VAMPIRES
Jake Lawton, bitter and betrayed after the Iraq War, find himself fighting another battle – against the growing army of immortal hunters and their human cohorts. Lawton joins forces with the journalist who brought about his downfall and the dealer tricked into distributing the drug. And together they take on the spineless authorities, the ruthless cohorts, and the hungry dead. But the vampire plague unleashed in London is nothing to what lurks beneath the streets –

Waiting to be fed . . . 
Waiting to be resurrected . . . 
Waiting to reign again over a city of human slaves . . .

Just the tale to read on a dark winter’s night, curled up in your armchair, this one I’m saving for later in the year.

When it comes to the werewolf – vampire debate, I’m firmly in the vampire camp. I love a good neck-nibbler yarn! Years ago I enjoyed the original Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith, then came the Twilight novels, and more. See my recommended book post coming tomorrow.

Buy your own copy HERE


 

Next is The Witchfinder’s Well by Jonathan Posner

Book Haul MiniTudor England – a dangerous world where a few wrong words can get you accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake. So when a freak electrical storm sends modern-day girl Justine Parker time-travelling back to 1565, she quickly becomes the target of sinister witchfinder Matthew Hopkirk. Justine must use all her cunning and ingenuity to keep one step ahead of Hopkirk. But not only must she save herself, she also has to save her new love, Sir William de Beauvais, from the early death she knows history has decreed for him. Can Justine save herself from Hopkirk? And what if she saves Sir William from one fate, only to pitch him into another, even more deadly? 

Not really too dark a book, but it’s set in the Tudor period, and revolves around a Witchfnder. Given that being found guilty of witchcraft at this time could land you on top of a burning pyre, with the local peasantry screaming burn the witch, it’s fairly scary.

Buy a copy HERE


The final book is The Fantastic Book of Everybody’s Secrets from acclaimed, award-winning crime writer, Sophie Hannah.

Book Haul MiniThe Secret’s finally out…but beware, once you’ve read Sophie Hannah’s fantastic stories, everyday life will never seem the same again… Everybody has their secrets, and in Sophie Hannah’s fantastic stories the curtains positively twitch with them. Who, for instance, is the hooded figure hiding in the bushes outside a young man’s house? Why does the same stranger keep appearing in the background of a family’s holiday photographs? Why does a woman stand mesmerised by two children in a school playground, children she’s never met but whose names she knows well? What is the former deputy director of a literature festival doing sorting soiled laundry in a shabby hotel? All will be revealed…but at a cost. As Sophie Hannah uncovers the dark obsessions and strange longings behind the most ordinary relationships, everyday life will never seem quite the same again.

Sends a thrilling chill down my spine. I’ve read a couple of Sophie Hannah’s books and thoroughly enjoyed them. As I’m partial to the odd short story, this falls into the realms of  perfect reading for research trips.

Buy a copy HERE


Dark Book Haul 25082018

 

 

 

A Match Made in Heaven : Blog Tour

A Match Made in Heaven by Sun Chara

A Match Made Lrgr HR

Who’s meddling with happily ever after?

The Wedding: it’s a set up.
The Break-up: it’s a con.
The Reconciliation: it’s a trap.

When high society bride, Samantha Carroll, devises an ingenious plan to ditch her meddling matchmaking mamma’s groom of choice, the banker’s son, instead of the ordinary Irish guy Johnny Belen she’s pining for, all pandemonium breaks loose.

In the meantime, Johnny has devised his own plan to thwart monster-mamma-in-law’s matchmaking for the wedding of the season, but it is soon clear that Sam is not the type of girl who can be scooped up by just any man…


Do you ever get that ‘thing’ when you’re reading a book and you

  • have no idea what’s going on,
  • then you do
  • then you get frustrated because ‘what the hell… how did that happen?’
  • It’s all wrong, but oh lord, you are compelled to keep reading
  • Your reading hours are littered with ‘WTF’ and ‘that wouldn’t happen’
  • but you keep reading because there’s a devil on your shoulder whispering that you really like this story

Yes? You do? *massive sigh of relief*

Well, me and this book is all that…..

I read and re-read the first chapter, the wedding scene, because I was confused. Third time I pretty much had It sussed. But how come no-one noticed the groom’s looks?

Then we jump two years. Shocker – it’s all illegal. I womanfully made it through another chapter and then gave up. However, I am convinced the author has some sort of charm woven into the words and fabric of this novel (or the code as my copy is an e-book) because I came back to it. Repeatedly. Like a siren’s song it shipwrecked my reading on its rocks!

A Match Made in Heaven is funny, sweet, and sexy. The will-they-won’t-they rollercoaster keeps things moving, and I enjoyed the antics people got up to. I really liked Sam and Johnny, and was desperate for them to get to what I considered to be the correct and proper ending. The Meddling-Mother I wanted to slap raw for the most part, but then, you know, she is The Meddling-Mother!

Clearly this book and I were never meant to have a Happy Ever After. We were merely a quick fling, and we part company with happy memories, but I will be checking out Sun Chara’s other books.  The fact that these characters aroused the level of emotion that they did, and the fact that the author was able to entice me back again and again to finish the story, says a lot. To be engaged with Sam and Johnny, to care about their happiness, to will them to the right conclusion, makes Sun Chara a damned good writer irrespective of my frustrations.

It’s certainly worth your time reading this novel, because after all, my review is only my opinion; so go on, give this funny, surprising, quirky book a read.

Enjoy!


Purchase

Buy HERE

A Match Made in Heaven Full Banner 520


Giveaway

Win Lindt LINDOR Milk Chocolate Truffles and ebook, A Match Made in Heaven?

(Open Internationally)

A Match Giveaway - Chocolates 71iPfkZDtCL._SX522_*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter HERE


Author

Sun photo-1Sun Chara, an Amazon top 100 bestseller, writes sexy, hip ‘n fun contemporary romance, and romantic comedies w/a divine twist for HarperImpulse. She makes her home in southern California, and has appeared on stage/film to rave reviews in How the Other Half Loves, General Hospital, and McGee and Me. She has a Masters Degree in Education and membership in SAG/AFTRA and Romance Writers of America. Sipping Frappuccinos topped with whipped cream/sprinkles, and dancing on the beach make everyday a celebration!

Social Media Links – 

https://facebook.com/suncharaauthorpage
https://twitter.com/sunchara3


 

Odyssey in a Teacup : Blog Tour

Odyssey in a Teacup by Paula Houseman

Odyssey - Paula_Houseman_Odyssey in a Teacup_AMAZON_LRGE_NOV15Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy. Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.

She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.

Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends. With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.

The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world.


Paula Houseman has given us a veritable cornucopia of characters who are fascinating, utterly adorable, terrible and yet compelling, but like Greek mythology and the people who inhabit those tales, we are driven ever onward through Ruth’s take on her family, friends, and life. And just like the tales of ancient Greece with which Houseman has underpinned her novel, we meet the heroes, the harpies, those who think they’re gods, and those who have to blunder through the havoc these creatures wreak in the lives of those around them. Its great!

She writes with vigour and humour, giving the reader no time to excuse themselves from the reading room. Her highly comic and satirical look at Ruth’s (and Ralph’s) navigation through the minefield of their respective families and assorted relatives, is nothing short of brilliant.

Starting with her single-syllable name, Ruth Roth is terrific. The cruel and demoralising treatment she suffers at the hands of her family is appalling, and yet this cheeky, sassy teenager manages to emerge in adulthood relatively intact. The middle name saga is hilarious, but it is also highly revealing on several levels. Ruth’s father shines a spotlight on the culture in which she’s growing up, specifically when she asks why her brother has middle names but she doesn’t. He tells her:

“The extra initials will look good printed in his cheque book.”

But what about her cheque book?

Girls don’t need one.”      And there it was. Four bloody words that set the precedent for my standing in the family, and beyond.

I seethed with indignation! Her mother wasn’t any better. Her refrain of why can’t you be like everyone else? just irritated the hell out of me; I travelled that road. The hallmark of a great writer is their ability to make their characters, the situations they find themselves in, and the feelings they experience, entirely relatable for the reader. For me Ruth’s life experience aroused so many memories and so many conflicting emotions, but the author writes with such wit and empathy that you cannot help laughing and crying at the same time. You never wallow.

Ralph is utterly adorable and vexing at the same time. His clothes, his treatment at the hands of his father and brothers, his gawky looks do not make for an attractive child, and yet his mind is fabulous. Clever, inquiring, and unashamedly adroit at using his intelligence against his tormentors, he’s that awkward kid you just want to hug and take home. Duck – that’s all I’m saying. He and Ruth, along with friends Maxi and Vette, talk about at length about subjects like school, religion, and family, but of course their minds are dominated by thoughts of boys, girls, kissing, and sex. Ralph joins these discussions, he’s very much one of the pack.

Odyssey in a Teacup is a love song to those who can’t be like everyone else. It sings of their difference – to their parents, to their siblings, and to their wider family, and positively resonates with their inability to conform to the lives and behaviours their parents want to thrust upon them. You will laugh until you cry; you will cry woefully and with sympathy, but in the end you will love the voyage wherever it takes you, and the company you keep on it.

This is another title that is firmly on my Books of the Year list, and is the first of three books. (The remaining two will be reviewed in the fullness of time.)

While you wait…do yourself a favour. Read it!


Purchase

from   Amazon UK 

Odyssey in aTeacup


Author

photo copy – Version 3Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.

She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).

As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).

Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?

Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.

Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulahouseman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/PaulaHouseman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PaulaHousemanAuthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulahouseman


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The Mysterious Lord Millcroft : Blog Tour

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft by Virginia Heath

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft Cover 2Life as a duchess…
Or something much more dangerous…?

Part of The King’s Elite. Constantly told her beauty and charm is all she has to offer, Lady Clarissa is intent on marrying a duke. And intriguing spy Sebastian Leatham will help her! Only first she’ll assist him with his new assignment—playing the part of confident aristocrat Lord Millcroft. Sebastian awakens a burning desire within Clarissa which leaves her questioning whether becoming a duchess is what she truly longs for…

 


It takes a skilled and highly adept writer to make a romance work between two so completely dissimilar characters, each with very different aims and objectives. Yet Virginia Heath does, and expertly so. Not once during the reading of this book did I doubt the personality, attributes, or traits of Gem or Seb, or indeed any of the other characters. The author has made clever use of juxtaposing them all; the high-ranking, yet criminal aristocrats with the low-born or disgraced, yet all loyal government agents. This is also reflected the characters of our hero and heroine; the Incomparable Gem, society’s sweetheart and of the ‘first water’ with the illegitimate son of a Duke and a farmer’s daughter, considered repellent and beneath contempt. It makes for compelling reading.

Sebastian Leatham is a great romantic hero. None of that Alpha male nonsense; in society he is shy, tongue-tied around women, blushes, and hides behind a gruff exterior. He is also a highly accomplished government spy, strong and confident, and above all, an honourable man. He gives Clarissa the nickname ‘Gem’.

Clarissa Beaumont is an Incomparable. A stunning beauty with consummate social skills, especially when conversing with men, and yet she harbours secrets. She has none of the accepted accomplishments for young ladies of the day, such as drawing and music, and by her own admission she is practically illiterate. None of this can be found out as it would be the ruination of her plans to wed a Duke. She calls Sebastian, ‘Seb’.

Whilst their backgrounds and positions in society are poles apart, they each battle their vulnerabilities and shortcomings. They present the world a façade behind which they hide those parts of themselves that could be used to hurt, or even destroy them. These are two wonderful people, who are funny and endearing, annoying and aggravating, yet absolutely real and believable.  The author has written their romance subtly, displaying the attraction they feel yet all the while embroiling them in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Virginia Heath writes with energy and style, and with a precision that slices through the extraneous  to expose the crucial heart of the matter. When she describes Penhurst on his wedding day, we learn more about his character in those few words, than we should from an entire chapter dedicated to that purpose. She writes:

The switch had been abrupt and cold. Instantaneous. To such an extent, a very different groom walked out of the church from the amiable groom who had arrived.

I wasn’t going to read this at first, but I’m glad I did – this story is irresistible. Full of wit and charm, and people you will love, the hunt for the criminals is as exciting and thrilling as the developing romance between Gem and Seb.

This is the first in a new series called The King’s Elite, and I will definitely be reading the next book, just a soon as I can get my hands on it!

Do yourself a favour and read this fabulous Regency romance.


Giveaway

Win 3 x E-copies of The Mysterious Lord Millcroft (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Purchase

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The Mysterious Lord Millcroft


Author

The Mysterious Lord Millcroft - Virginia Heath 2Virginia Heath lives on the outskirts of London with her understanding husband and two, less understanding, teenagers. After spending years teaching history,she decided to follow her dream of writing for Harlequin. Now she spends her days happily writing regency romances, creating heroes that she falls in love with and heroines who inspire her. When she isn’t doing that, Virginia likes to travel to far off places, shop for things that she doesn’t need or read romances written by other people.

Social Media Links 

https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

https://www.virginiaheathromance.com/


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Summer at Carrick Park :Review

Summer at Carrick Park by Kirsty Ferry

Carrick Park coverA summer wedding, fifty cupcakes and a man she thought she would never see again … 

When Joel Leicester walks into the hotel where Rosa Tempest works, she can’t believe her bad luck. Out of all the hotels in all of North Yorkshire, the man who broke her heart would have to walk into Carrick Park!

The last time Rosa saw Joel it was after a whirlwind holiday when they’d been greeted at his flat by a woman claiming to be his fiancée. Rosa never stuck around to hear Joel’s side of the story but now, six years later on, Fate has another trick up its sleeve as a potentially disastrous summer wedding at Carrick Park can only be saved by Joel and Rosa working together …

You may recognise Carrick Park from A Little Bit of Christmas Magic and Some Veil Did Fall!


Summer at Carrick Park is a real delight. I was engaged from page one and read it in a single sitting. There is an amazing cast of people with distinct personalities, which isn’t always the case with secondary characters who often seem to blend into one another. The groom is so laid-back he’s almost horizontal, and he’s as hilarious as his Bridezilla is frightening –  and I want those God-fathers in my life!

Cupcake 2And the cake!

While the novella is charming and funny, it’s not a saccharin sweet fluffy romance. This about two people who clearly belong together, but who have been torn apart by suffering and heart-break inflicted by others, and their own blinkered responses to it.

Rose and Joel have been apart for several years, without any contact. They parted abruptly when Rose thought Joel was engaged to another woman, and she ran before history could repeat itself.  Joel did everything he could to find Rose, but to no avail; she had her family block his every move. Now she works at Carrick Park Hotel, a wedding is booked for the weekend, and Joel walks in as Best Man.

A potential wedding disaster throws the pair together, and things move forward from there.

Cupcake 1With cake.

Rosa is a great character, and instantly relatable. Nursing a badly broken heart, she throws herself in to working at her god-fathers’ bakery, which is when she meets Joel. She has a talent for baking, and its hoped that she will take over the business one day. Kind and loving, she is determined to never to be part of any complicated romantic entanglements. Joel is kind, resourceful, and funny. Reeling from a disastrous relationship, he meets Rosa. He has moved on only in the same way that Rosa has – he works, occasionally hangs out with friends, but there is no-one special in his life.

The author has presented us with a romance that speaks to the knee-jerk reactions we have to hurtful situations, and the subsequent fall-out. It’s a great, realistic love story about how we let our emotional past determine our future, about making rash and impetuous decisions and suffering the consequences. Its also about second chances, letting go of the hurt, and not being an idiot.

Cupcake 3Did I mention cake?

One of the aspects that I loved, was the lack of explicit sex. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good steamy romance as much as the next reader, but as a constant diet it becomes boring. Variety is the spice of life after all, and this story didn’t need it.

Hilariously for me, this combined two parts of the country I seem to be spending almost all my reading time inhabiting – Yorkshire and Cornwall. Beautiful counties with glorious scenery, both brimming with charm and mystery. This warm, appealing romance will leave you happy and smiling. I highly recommend you read it, but Be Prepared. You’ll get hunger pangs, so a supply of tea and cake will be necessary whilst reading.

Altogether a recipe for a perfect afternoon.


Purchase

Available to buy here:


Author

Kirsty FerryKirsty Ferry is from the North East of England and lives there with her husband and son. She won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition and has had articles and short stories published in various magazines. Her work also appears in several anthologies, incorporating such diverse themes as vampires, crime, angels and more.

Kirsty loves writing ghostly mysteries and interweaving fact and fiction. The research is almost as much fun as writing the book itself, and if she can add a wonderful setting and a dollop of history, that’s even better.

Her day job involves sharing a building with an eclectic collection of ghosts, which can often prove rather interesting.

You can find Kirsty on Facebook as “Kirsty Ferry Author”
Or on Twitter @kirsty_ferry

http://www.rosethornpress.co.uk/


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The Promise : Blog Tour

The Promise by Michelle Vernal 

The Promise CoverTwo women from different generations brought together by another’s wrongdoing.

When British backpacker, Isabel Stark happens across a car accident on a lonely stretch of road in the South Island of New Zealand her life changes forever. The sole passenger, Ginny Havelock asks her to make a promise before she passes away—to find Constance and to say she’s sorry.

Isabel’s a lost soul who’s been drifting through life unsure of where she fits, and the promise she made in New Zealand haunts her upon her return to the United Kingdom. Her only clue as to finding Constance lies within a conversation held at Ginny’s funeral. It takes her to the Isle of Wight.

In the 1940’s sixteen-year-old Constance’s life on her island is sheltered until the death of her brother; Ted brings the reality of war crashing down around her. He leaves behind his pregnant young widow Ginny. When Constance meets a handsome Canadian Airforce man, she’s eager to escape her grief and be swept up by first love. It’s a love which has ramifications she could never envisage.  

When Isabel and Constance’s paths finally cross will Ginny’s last words be enough for Constance to make peace with her past? And in fulfilling her promise will Isabel find a place she can call home?


What you will find in reading this novel is a tragic and emotional, tender and compassionate tale of two women, separated by some fifty years, and yet connected by bonds that surpass age and time.

Get the tissues; you’re going to need them.

The things people do to each other, and the pain we cause others through our egotism and selfishness, is appalling, and author Michelle Vernal paints a very recognisable picture of unforgivable behaviour. It also highlights how far we have come with regards to social stigma and shame. I don’t do crying, but several times I had wet eyes and heartache.

Isabel and Constance are fellow journeymen on the painful road of broken-hearts. Two women who are at different points in life but have much in common. They have suffered at the hands of those whom they trusted implicitly, and their pain is real and familiar. In the case of Constance, it has barely diminished in the seventy years since it happened. Yet they are strong; even if they don’t realise it themselves, others see it.

Having spent a considerable time travelling overseas, Isabel returns home after promising a dying woman (Ginny) that she would pass on a message. It is her return home that tells us the awful circumstances that caused her to escape abroad in the first place.  Isabel initially appears to be lost, not knowing what she wants to do, or where she is going in life, but she feels compelled to at least try to fulfil the promise she made to Ginny. This positive act leads her to her destiny.  A variety of events and incidents on the Isle of Wight result in her staying, at least for a while.

Isabel is a lovely character who doesn’t think she is brave, outgoing, or flamboyant and yet she has dyed her hair green and backpacked through Australia, New Zealand, and south-east Asia. She is clearly compassionate, and throughout the book demonstrates her deeply rooted kind and loving nature. She is the sort of person it would be easy to treat patronisingly, and certainly her ‘friends’ did and do. On her return home she recognises their superficiality, and realising that they have never been real friends, she moves on.

Early in her life Constance suffered devastating loss, yet instead of caving in under that grief, she becomes a colourful and vibrant young woman. The years have taken their toll however, and it appears to readers that Constance has turned into an acerbic old woman. Quite how anyone would come back from the extreme heartbreak she experienced, I cannot understand, but it goes some way to illuminate the amazing woman Constance is at heart. She has a penchant for Maltesers, and in my book that can only mean good things! Constance keeps herself to herself at the home, and the arrival of Isabel disrupts that mediocre existence. She warms to the young woman, and gradually they both emerge from their cocoons.

As we move from one time-line to another, and their stories unfold, we can probably guess the secret at the heart of Constance’s past. The sweet beauty of her romance, and subsequent events have a parallel of sorts in Isabel’s life that we discover later. Michelle Vernal has researched the war-time period well. It highlights common and heart-breaking events of the war years, the cruel way in which one aspect was dealt with and whose consequences have been far-reaching, even through to today.

The other characters are hilarious, annoying, lovely, and totally familiar. Rhodri is a delight, and I wish there had been a little more about him and his life. I felt terribly sorry for Prince Charles, poor thing. There were a couple of things that made me falter in my reading, particularly two words which I had to look up; ‘EFTPOS’ which we’d recognise as a Debit Card, and while ‘skivvy’ in this country means a servant, in AUS/NZ it’s an item of clothing. I felt the end was a little rushed, and could have done with one more chapter to fill in some details, but none of this spoils the story in any way.

Michelle Vernal has written a compelling tale of love and friendship; of confronting the past yet facing the future, and of always being true and loyal to yourself and to those who are loyal and true to you. I apologise for the seeming vagueness of this review, but I’m avoiding plot spoilers, readers need to let the story unfold in its own beautiful way. What I can tell you is that I adore this book and was moved by it, so much so that it is on my Books of the Year list and gets the full five stars.  I suggest you get a copy and some tissues and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!


Purchase Links

Amazon UK 

Amazon.com 

The Promise

 

 

 

 

 


Author

btyMichelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.

Social Media Links –

https://www.michellevernalbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/michellevernalnovelist/inbox/?selected_item_id=100012836923106

https://twitter.com/michellevernal


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Little Cornish Kitchen : Blog Tour

The Little Cornish Kitchen by Jane Linfoot

cornish kitchen new (1)It’s time to come home to Cornwall

With an exciting new life in Paris, Clemmie Hamilton isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that the cosy apartment by the sea, which her grandmother left to her, is under threat from neighbour and property developer, Charlie Hobson, Clemmie realises she can’t abandon her home in its time of need.

With her childhood friends encouraging her, Clemmie decides to turn the apartment into ‘The Little Cornish Kitchen’ – a boutique pop up pudding club raising money for the repairs to the building in an effort to stop Charlie once and for all. But when Charlie and his easy charm won’t seem to go away, everything soon becomes even messier than the state of Clemmie’s Cornish kitchen…


I seem to be spending my reading time whizzing between Cornwall and Yorkshire – not that I’m complaining – this time we’re back in Cornwall, in a town called St Aidan, with life-long friends and mermaids Sophie, Plum, Nell, and Clemmie. We open with a launch of Sophie’s latest beauty products where her three friends are working as their favourite personas – mermaids.

WARNING: this book is not for anyone with a cake habit! Your mouth will be watering before the end of the first chapter, it won’t stop until long after you’ve finished the book, and you’ll be craving cakes all the way through. I have no idea how I managed on merely half a packet of gingernuts, a cinnamon Danish, some Jaffa cakes, and two large helpings of carrot cake!

Chapter One is a virtuoso lesson in giving the reader necessary information and background about characters in an amusing and totally entertaining way, and without the reader feeling that they are being spoon-fed facts. It’s an absolutely fantastic opening chapter.

(Aside: Iron Maiden Cleaners? Somebody really ought to start that business!)

Our narrator is Clemmie, who has reluctantly returned home after many years working her way around various countries and is currently in Paris. She is back to deal as fast as possible with matters regarding the flat left to her by her grandmother of whom she has very little memory. Clemmie struck me as sulky and petulant. She’s so tied up in her world of travel and adventure, refusing to be tied down to a small, local life, in a town where your private life isn’t private, and the horizons are restricted and narrow, that she can’t see there is no adventure. She believes her friends are

…all as settled as I am rootless. They can’t imagine living without the echo of the waves rushing up the beach, and the familiar clink of the rigging on the boats bobbing in the harbour. If I explained non-stop for a month, they’d never get that for me St Aidan isn’t enough. That after half a day away from Paris, I’m aching for the broad boulevards and big elegant buildings and the round-the-clock roar of the traffic. They don’t get that the world beyond here is huge. And they totally miss that when Paris dulls I’ll move on and feel the thrill all over again somewhere new. Even though my jobs are what they call ‘shit’ ones, and my career trajectory is non-existent, at least they allow me to move. To be free.

What we gradually discover is a woman who, no matter how she protests otherwise, isn’t free at all. Clemmie has a deep-seated hurt – her father left before she was born and has never been a part of her life. Growing up it was not a topic for discussion. Clemmie learned at a young age that any talk of him caused her mother pain and so she blocked him from her thoughts.  Her refusal to even acknowledge this hurt exists, never mind address it, has had implications that affected her life in so many ways. She has taken no interest in the property she owns, has little recollection of Laura, her Grandmother, and just wishes to be rid of this one thing that connects her to her unknown father. A visit to the flat changes everything. There is no escaping your past and its unanswered questions.

While Clemmie has been drifting from job to job and country to country, her three friends have evolved and grown. Each of the three women showed various aptitudes when they were younger that have led them too successful careers and comfortable lives, but Clemmie displayed none.

Sophie is a high-powered, highly organised, super-efficient business woman, married to Nate and with four children, and wealthy. It is her natural beauty products being launched in Plum’s gallery. Sophie’s life looks ‘like she plucked it from the Boden catalogue

Plum is an artist. After she finished university, she took on a disused chandlers as her studio, opened it as a gallery, selling her paintings, and the work of other artists as well. It’s a thriving business, and while she is currently single and happy, unlike Clemmie and Nell, she is not opposed to finding that special someone.

Nell is a ‘hot-shot accountant’ in it for the money. She is also St Aidan’s Singles Club event organiser extra-ordinaire. Her amicable divorce turned out to be painful for Nell. Within a short space of time her ex-husband had a new wife, children, and the domestic life that she wanted but he didn’t.

Thrown into this mix is Charlie Hobson and his dog Diesel. Charlie is hot, dark, but moody and scowling. Worse still, he’s a property developer and therefore the ‘bad guy’. Gradually we learn more about Charlie and have a constant battle as to whether we like him or not. What property is he after and can he be trusted? People who go through life long-faced and miserable, usually have a reason to do so. What has happened to Charlie to make him scowl?

The author takes us through the story regarding Clemmie’s flat whilst at the same time, she peels the layers back on each of the characters, but most specifically Clemmie and Charlie, as well as Nell. It is a beautifully nuanced tale. As Clemmie finds herself thrown into Charlie’s company regularly, never knowing quite what his property developer intentions are, and with her friends rocking from one events to another, she discovers a world of memories. The sulky, petulant woman in Chapter One, shows us that she is funny and feisty, but scared of the unknown in terms of relationships. Whatever misgivings I had about Clemmie’s character at the beginning of the novel, long before the end I really liked her, and felt her struggle. ‘No commitment’ has been her default setting for all aspects of her life, and we see her friends and others gradually build her confidence, show Clemmie her worth, her aptitude, and her capacity for love and forgiveness.

It would be easy to say this is a heart-warming tale, but that is too simplistic. The Little Cornish Kitchen is filled with humour and kindness, tenderness and love; the love of friends as much as romantic love. It’s about second chances, at life, at love, and at family; its about dropping your guard and letting people in no matter how scary, and grasping the future with both hands. I loved the kitchen scenes with Clem and Charlie, they were so revealing for both of them, and I love that she finally discovers that she does have a great talent and skill after all. She had just forgotten.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough – I loved every page, and every character, especially Diesel. Read and enjoy!


Purchase

Here  from Amazon UK

The Little Cornish Kitchen

 


Giveaway

Win a signed copy of The Little Cornish Kitchen, Mermaid Notebook and Sugar Unicorns

(Open Internationally)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494114/?

Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Author

DSCN3473_2Jane Linfoot is a best-selling author, who lives in a muddy cottage, up a steep hill in Derbyshire, with her family, their pets, and an astonishing number of spiders. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.

Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea, and wrote her first book by accident, while working as an architect, and renovating country houses. While she loves to write feel-good books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambley if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her latest books include a series of stand alone novels, based around a seaside wedding shop in Cornwall. Cupcakes and Confetti – The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Sequins and Snowflakes – Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, and Bunting and Bouquets – Summer at the Little Wedding Shop, and most recently, The Little Cornish Kitchen. These are all published by Harper Impulse,  an imprint of Harper Collins.

Follow Jane on Twitter @janelinfoot, or find her on her Author Page Facebook or her Personal Page Facebook. She’s also on Instagram, and has lots of Pinterest boards relating to her novels.


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