This summer will change everything…
Alice Emerson is in need of a new beginning. Broken-hearted after her beloved grandfather passes away and her relationship falls apart, she makes a pact with her best friend Sasha. Swapping city living for the beautiful sun-bleached beaches of the Outer Banks, they launch an ice cream shop together in the crumbling house by the sea where Alice spent blissful childhood holidays.
As Alice and Sasha settle into the close-knit community, making friends with the locals and tempting them with their delicious recipes, Alice finds herself falling for the warm charm and golden smile of mysterious doctor Jack Barnes. Spending time together during sunshine-filled days and long romantic evenings, Alice starts to wonder if he could be the one for her?
But just when Alice’s summer couldn’t be more perfect, she discovers an old letter tucked away in the beach house. It contains a family secret that turns Alice’s world upside down and makes her question everything she’s ever known. And then Jack complicates their summer romance with an unexpected offer…
Faced with a difficult decision, will Alice and Jack follow their hearts and find true happiness this summer?
‘One Summer’ features essential elements, necessary for a holiday read. Romance, loss, starting again, family secrets, friendship and fulfilling a legacy are all expertly woven into the plot. The characters are likeable and realistic.
The relationship between Alice and Sasha is believable, and the secrets revealed, add an extra depth to the story. The coastal setting is vivid, but the pacing is slow. The writing style is easy to read, and Alice and Jack enjoy a gentle romance with a happy ending. It’s a pleasant read but overly detailed and lengthy.
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
For the beleaguered German and Russian armies, there is no war beyond the carnage in the city’s grim skeleton, and the terrible winter at their heels. Desperate men need heroes to boost their morale: orders come from the very top for a duel between champion snipers Antonov the Russian, and Meister the German – a contest each must win. For the two marksmen, there is now no war but the race to pin the other in their sights. And no other companion, either, than the stranger whose mind each must read. Dead heroes or living legends? Only time will tell.
Not your usual WW2 story, it begins amid the devastation of the battle for Stalingrad, with the onset of Winter both the Russians and the Germans need a champion, and two young snipers, Antonov and Meister fit the bill.
The story follows their lives and gives a real insight into the ravages of war and the pressure on the young men and how they cope. It’s a poignant story, with an unexpected ending.
I received a copy of this book from Collins Crime Club – Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Can you leave behind Paris if your heart belongs in Cornwall?
With a gorgeous new life in vibrant Paris, Clemmie isn’t looking forward to heading home to the picturesque but sleepy village of St Aidan, Cornwall. However, when she discovers that her cosy apartment by the sea, which her beloved grandmother left to her, is under threat from super-hot but ruthless property mogul, 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 supper 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…
Clemmie finds adjusting to life in Cornwall after the buzz of Paris difficult but feels she has no choice; she has to protect her legacy, against a ruthless property developer. Charlie’s emotional baggage and problems make him prickly, but he mellows even though Clemmie seems determined to be his number one difficulty. Conflict, personality clashes and past hurts challenge their relationship, but there’s something there that they can’t ignore.
The friends that support Clemmie through her life-changing events are supportive and driven. They’re not put off by Clemmie’s hostility. The Cornish Kitchen is an inspired idea. There is a lovely medley of laughs and poignancy which bring the characters to life. The coastal setting is pure seaside and makes you long for ice cream, cake and paddling in the sea.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Take a trip to New York and the best little bakery in Brooklyn for bagels, bakes, and more than a sprinkle of romance!
When Sophie Bennings arrives in New York, love is the last thing on her mind. Still reeling from a painful break-up, she throws herself into her work as a food editor on a top-notch magazine.
Columnist Todd McLennan is everything that Sophie wishes she didn’t want. Like the gorgeous bakery below her Brooklyn apartment, he’s as tempting as the sugary cupcakes on daily display. Surely a little of something you fancy can do you good?
As Sophie and Todd get to know one another, a love of food isn’t the only passion they share. In the city that never sleeps, has Sophie finally met the man of her dreams…?
Sophie who we met in the first book in this series set in Copenhagen, is the main protagonist in this romantic and fun-filled story. New York beckons, but Sophie isn’t interested until she suffers a devastating break- up with her boyfriend and needs to escape.
Love is the last thing on her mind but she when she meets Todd, her good intentions fly out the window, despite his bad boy reputation.
She has a flat above a bakery in Brooklyn and soon meets it’s opinionated but kind-hearted Bella and her friends. The cast of characters is realistic, and each succeeds in drawing Sophie into their unique community. She excels at her job, but something is missing, will she take a chance on Todd and risk her heart again?
A gentle love story in an atmospheric setting, which is lovingly described and elevates a sweet love story into something special. If you fancy a trip to New York without the jet lag, I can recommend this story.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Spring is blooming at Meadowsweet nature reserve. Although the sunshine is drawing in the visitors like never before, events coordinator Abby knows she’s treading on thin ice. She’s spending more and more time with village newcomer Jack, and she’ll need to make a real success of the springtime camping extravaganza at the reserve if she’s to keep her disgruntled boss off her back.
Abby hasn’t thrown too many questions at Jack about his shadowy past – she’s enjoying the budding romance, so why break the spell? But when the secrets start spilling out and a glamorous blonde presenter from the nature show, Wild Wonders, turns Jack’s head, Abby knows it’s time to face the music…
Spring is a time of new beginnings, and while this is true for the inhabitants of the Nature Reserve, problems loom on the horizon that threatens its future.
The couple’s gentle romance dominates this third part of the serial. Abby and Jack’s behaviour and willingness to help the other signify their deepening emotions but their pasts make them cautious.
Penelope still keeps her problems secret, but Abby sees another side to her boss, which surprises her. Abby’s plans for the reserve are a success but will they be enough?
When you think this part of the serial is ending on a high, someone from the past threatens Abby’s happiness. The mystery of the house remains untold and with the cliffhanger ending reading the final instalment is a given for me.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction, Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Journalist Eleanor McCartney leads a glamorous life in London exposing the sordid secrets of famous celebrities for Hot Gossip! magazine. But her perfect life is a sham. So when her world collapses, she has to reluctantly head home to her mum and friends in the quiet country village of Cranley.
Willow Tree Hall is still in the midst of extensive renovations under the careful eye of Eleanor’s best friend Annie and her fiancé, record producer and future Earl of Cranley, Sam Harris.
With a recording studio now in the grounds of the estate, it should be the perfect place for global singing sensation Tom Kingsley to hang out. But Tom is burnt out after a gruelling worldwide tour and is escaping the paparazzi after yet another scandal.
Eleanor cannot believe her luck. A story on the world’s biggest superstar would be the ticket that gets her job and glamorous life back in London.
But soon both Eleanor and Tom begin to fall under the spell of Willow Tree Hall. Eleanor begins to wonder whether she can really betray his trust. And does she really want her old life back or is home really where the heart lies?
As a heatwave soars, friendships are made, truths are told and, with the help of a stray dog, perhaps love can be found as hearts are healed.
By escaping to the country, maybe Eleanor and Tom have found their new beginning.
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Theresa had announced the previous week that a senior position had just become vacant within the media group that Hot Gossip! belonged to. It would involve proper investigative journalism. That would mean no more gossip. She could write articles that actually interested her and could make a difference.
Eleanor knew that she alone was the senior member of staff on the team. She had worked there the longest. All it would take was one more big story and the promotion was hers. Then she could leave the celebrity world far behind in the capable hands of Killer Kourtney.
Finally, she could have a job that she could be proud of. A job she didn’t have to lie about any more. She could relax and be herself for the first time in a very long time.
Eleanor shivered, her clothes were soaking. Her knees were almost at breaking point in her crouched position. She had been there for two hours and was chilled to the bone. How much longer would she have to wait? She longed for a hot shower.
She grabbed her phone and automatically checked her appearance. With a grimace, she saw that her long dark brown bob was beginning to kink and curl in the rain. Thankfully her mascara and eyeliner hadn’t run, but her face looked pale and gaunt in the harsh glare of the street lamp.
Thank god, nobody was around to see her like this. Eleanor prided herself on her immaculate looks. Feeling less than perfect on the outside panicked her. Even her boyfriend Lucas had never seen her without makeup on. She liked to look polished and poised at all times. Soaking wet with messy hair wasn’t a good feeling for her and added to her misery.
She gave a start as the mobile suddenly rang out into the quiet of the night. Seeing the name on the screen, she immediately grimaced. It was her editor, the fearsome Theresa. A woman so rude and abrupt in nature that she could make Cersei Lannister look cute and cuddly.
With her phone in one hand, Eleanor reached out with the other to stroke the smooth pink petals of one of the roses. Her floral comfort blanket.
‘Hello. You’re working late,’ said Eleanor, faking a bright tone of voice.
‘That’s because I got called into the boardroom this evening,’ snapped Theresa, straight to the point as always. ‘Circulation is down. The owners want to know why.’
‘Well, everyone in the industry is struggling at the minute,’ began Eleanor. ‘It’s tough out there in the current climate, what with…’
‘Your stories have been a total snoozefest recently,’ said Theresa, talking over her.
Eleanor was taken aback. ‘Well, it’s getting harder and harder to get an exclusive when everyone is so empowered with Twitter and Instagram these days. But I’ve had a tip-off that…’
‘Kourtney manages it.’
Eleanor took a deep and calming breath. ‘Kourtney’s Dad owns a Formula One team. She has access to all those secret parties.’ The ones that you know I can’t possibly get into, she added silently.
‘Quite. The London season is coming up and I need someone young like Kourtney to handle it.’
‘Young? I’m only thirty,’ blurted out Eleanor, with a shocked laugh.
‘Anyway, I’ve decided to make Kourtney the senior reporter in my team.’
Eleanor quickly stopped laughing. ‘What? No!’
‘Look, thanks to her contacts, she can bring in exclusives that you can only dream about,’ said Theresa.
‘But I’ve earned this promotion!’ Eleanor told her, beginning to lose her temper. ‘I’ve spent eight years working on this magazine! She’s only been with us for six months!’
‘Kourtney assures me that she can bring in a different angle on things, liven up the stories and that will boost circulation.’
Eleanor could feel her pulse racing as her heart hammered away in panic. It was the third time this month that it had happened. She had assured her doctor that her stress levels would be back to normal soon. But that had been when she had thought the promotion was hers.
‘Theresa, listen to me,’ said Eleanor, rubbing her throbbing chest. ‘Please. I can’t carry on doing these celebrity stories any more. I just can’t. I’m losing the will to live on a daily basis. You’ve got to give me a break, let me do something different. I beg you.’
‘Well, there may be some relief for you there, I suppose,’ drawled Theresa. ‘I’m afraid that I’ve got to let you go. The board want us to downsize. Cut our overheads.’
A chill came over Eleanor that had nothing to do with being soaked to the skin. ‘Downsize?’ she repeated, in a daze.
‘I’m sure you understand.’
‘Actually, I don’t think I do,’ said Eleanor, struggling in her shock to form a coherent sentence. ‘I’m out of a job? Who’s going to get the celebrity stories for you now?’
‘Kourtney’s going to do both for the time being. It makes more sense.’
‘But I need this job.’ Eleanor could feel her dream of a garden flat slipping far out of reach. Even a bad job chasing celebrities was better than no job at all.
‘Surely working somewhere that makes you lose the will to live on a daily basis can’t be good for you?’ She could hear that Theresa was almost smiling down the phone as she carried on speaking. ‘I’m sure you can find something more suited to your lofty position.’
‘I was kidding!’ said Eleanor, quickly. ‘I mean, aren’t there any other vacant jobs in the company that I could take? I don’t care which department they would be in.’
‘The board are making cuts all over the place,’ Theresa told her. ‘It’s not just you. Now, I’ve had a look at your contract. Your redundancy package will be in accordance with your time of service, of course. Three months’ pay, I think. I’ll email you the details first thing. I’m sure you’ll find it more than fair. But it’s probably for the best that you don’t come into the office any more. Internal politics can be so exhausting. Make sure you return your pass to reception at some point.’
Eleanor’s head was reeling, trying to take in everything she was being told.
Theresa finally took a beat. ‘Look, if you can find me a decent story at some point over the summer, call me and we’ll talk.’
Then she hung up.
Eleanor sank onto the ground, barely registering the wet grass soaking through her jeans. She couldn’t believe it. She had just lost her job. What was she going to do? What was she going to tell everyone back home in Cranley?
Her Mum and best friends, Annie and Megan, actually believed in the fake lifestyle that she had created for them so many years ago. The fiction she had told them bore no resemblance to her real job. They would all be horrified if they knew that she had been lying over and over to them. And now, at the end of so many wasted years, it turned out that her gut instinct had been right all along. That she wasn’t the big success in the city that she had pretended to be. That deep down beneath the expectations of her friends and family, she really was just a big, fat failure after all.
On the opposite side of the street, the front door opened to Tuesday Tavistock’s apartment just as a taxi drew up outside. Eleanor watched in a daze as Tuesday kissed an elegant woman on the cheek. They looked so alike it could only have been her mother.
The tip-off had turned out to be nothing. Just like the rest of her career.
Eleanor slowly became aware that she was still holding the rose, clutching the petals so hard that as she let go, they floated down to the sodden ground next to her, along with her dreams.
Whatever the future held, it was unlikely that her very own Superman was going to show up and rescue her. Tights, cape or otherwise.
Escaping to the Country seems to be everybody’s dream nowadays, but Eleanor had the perfect country life and longed for the bright city lights of London. After a few years, she doesn’t recognise who she is. Tom is living the dream but he still he’s lonely. Serendipity decides to give them another chance and when Eleanor loses her job and Tom has an accident they both end up in the country and have a chance to start again.
Eleanor is a likeable, flawed character; appearance is everything to her because its the only thing she can control but her health is suffering, and she needs to recapture her former friendships and values to recuperate. Looking for someone to love the real man is all Tom wants; it’s all he’s ever wanted and losing his Gran makes him evaluate his current choices of companions and lifestyle. Eleanor and Tom’s encounters are stormy, but gradually circumstances make them value the other, but both have secrets, and Eleanor’s could ruin their romance.
There are many humorous scenes in this story and some questionable choices and values, but the message is clear, be true to yourself and don’t live a lie. The country setting is idyllic, and Sam and Annie and Rose and Arthur who provide an oasis for Eleanor and Tom are lovely characters, vividly described and realistic.
Dylan is a star and makes this a must read for any dog lovers.
The second book in the Willow Tree Hall series, this reads well as a standalone story. It’s a lovely breath of fresh air with conflict, humour and romance making an ideal summertime read.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Alison Sherlock enjoyed reading and writing stories from an early age and gave up office life to follow her dream. Alison lives in Surrey with her husband and a daft golden retriever.
It’s winter at Meadowsweet nature reserve. Wildlife-lover Abby is busy trying to lure in the crowds, and although her event planning is a little on the whacky side, her creative efforts are helping to keep Meadowsweet afloat. She’s not having quite the same luck, however, in getting to know the elusive village newcomer, disgraced celebrity author Jack. It’s clear that Jack has mysterious reasons for staying out of the limelight, and the village rumour mill is in overdrive.
Abby’s passion for the great outdoors is nothing short of infectious and when Jack joins her on a special nature walk, sparks unexpectedly start to fly.
As their relationship thaws, should Abby be on high alert? Or would a new romance be the most natural thing in the world…
New Year starts off the second book in ‘The House of Birds and Butterflies series. Abby’s hoping for new beginnings, and when she unexpectedly spends New Years Day alone with her mother, she finds her parent wanting to build bridges.
The nature reserve is still in need of new ideas to keep it afloat, and Jack seems determined to be involved. Penelope, the owner of the reserve, is keeping secrets and Abby realises she needs to find out what if she’s going to help.
Abby’s fascination with Swallowtail house continues, and Jack seems to share her interest, leading to sharing and insights into both their troubled pasts. Their chequered relationship dominates ‘The Lovebirds, which ends with more secrets than solutions.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction, Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.
With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?
I read the first part of this serial for completeness, having already read the rest of the book. Part one is an entertaining read and sets the scene well for what follows. It highlights the mystery and tragedy surrounding Daisy’s mum’s death and lays the foundation for the attraction between Max and Daisy. Daisy is drifting, and the death and legacy of her great-uncle challenge her to evaluate her current life choices and fulfil her potential by coming to terms with her demons.
A lovely introduction to a humorous, poignant and romantic series.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.