Blog – First Steps

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream – Christie Barlow – 5* Review

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For the last two years, Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…

Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

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My  Thoughts…

It’s easy to warm to the Little Rock Marina community, they are friendly and supportive and very believable. Nell and her husband were living the dream until fate intervened and left Nell broken and lonely on the Nollie that once embodied all her dreams. The cafe run by Bea is full of interesting characters and provides a backdrop for much of the action.
A second chance beckons in the form of Guy, a gentle Irishman but he has dangerous secrets which threaten Nell’s new found happiness. He’s is not the only one and as Nell finds a way of giving her partner the legacy he deserves, the secrets start to unravel with upsetting consequences.
This is a romantic tale, which spans the generations and makes you want to know what happens next at the Little Rock Marina.
Nell and Guy are great characters and it’s easy to empathise with them.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

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The Secrets of Villa Rosso – Linn B, Halton – 5* Review

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Some places stay with you forever…

When Ellie Maddison is sent on a business trip to Southern Italy, she’s reminded why she loves her job – set amongst rolling vineyards and rich olive groves, the beautiful Villa Rosso is the perfect escape from her life back home. But what Ellie isn’t prepared for is the instant connection she feels to the estate’s director Max Johnson or the secrets they share that are as intertwined as the rambling vines that cover Villa Rosso. It’s not long before Ellie finds herself entangled in the history of the place, trying to understand the undeniable effect Max is having on her. As their relationship grows, what will Ellie discover about this idyllic villa and those who have walked through its doors? What started as a simple work trip will change Ellie’s life forever.

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My Thoughts…

We’ve all experienced that feeling of deja vu about a place, a person or an event but what if the feeling didn’t go away but intensified and impinged on your real life, threatening the happiness of those you love most? This is what happens to Ellie when she meets Max at the Villa Rosso on a serendipitous business trip.
The story is full of mysteries and broken relationships that hide beneath the beautiful facade of Villa Rosso. Max’s story is so sad and it is this inherent sadness that draws the reader to him, even though his presence is putting Ellie and Josh’s idyllic relationship in danger.
There are plenty of twists and supernatural shadows as the story unfurls but the strength of Ellie’s relationship with Josh gives us hope that love will prevail, even when the romance of Italy draws Ellie closer to Max.
The ending is both expected yet surprising and perfect for such a thought-provoking read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Big Dreams Beach Hotel – Lilly Bartlett – 4* Review

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Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

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My Thoughts…

A well-written story, which cleverly combines two story timelines. There is a cast of quirky characters, some of which reminded me of ‘Fawlty Towers’, except this faded hotel is in Scarborough rather than Torquay.

England’s northern coastline is particularly popular with writers at the present. It is an area I holidayed in as a child and when I was first married, so it was a pleasant walk down memory lane. 

There is plenty of detail in this story, which makes it an absorbing read but I did find it a little slow paced in places, but the characters carried it along and made it an okay read.

Perfect for short bursts of reading, it allows you to escape life for a little while, what more can I say?

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Christmas Reads: Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles – The Driftwood Inn. 5* Review

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For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she’s moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.

But even though she can’t wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas – the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.

Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn’t expect him to last the week, but to her surprise, Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?

As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?

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 My Thoughts…

There is something inherently captivating about island life, so for me, this story is a must-read. The Cornish Isles inaccessibility and the reliance on those you live so closely with makes for some fantastic characters and relationships, which the author captures beautifully in this simple tale.

Maisie’s fierce determination to rebuild her life among the people she grew up with, is the story’s focus. She is a strong woman, but Patrick’s unexpected arrival reveals her vulnerability and adds plenty of Christmas romance to this story.

 Written chronologically, in a style that reinforces the story’s credibility. The vibrant coastal setting and vividly described, cast of supporting characters leave an impression on the reader

I can’t wait to see what happens in Spring on the ‘Little Cornish Isles’.

A charming story with a twist of Christmas perfect for reading any time of the year.

I received a copy of this book from Avon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

‘To Have and to Hold’ (The Wife-Book 1) M.L Roberts… 5* Review

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‘Michael and Ellie are that couple.

The ones who have it all.

Success, charm, trust…but no relationship is perfect and the events of the past cast a shadow over their charmed life together.

When lecturer Michael starts to mentor a new student, Ellie fears that history is repeating itself. As paranoia takes its ugly hold, it’s clear some things just can’t be forgotten…or forgiven.’

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My thoughts…

 

Great build up of psychological tension. Believable characters. The intense storytelling makes it hard to tell what is true and what is in the main character’s mind, building up the suspense and drama. Worth reading.  Can’t wait to see ‘what happens next’.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

 

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Festive angst and cheer at the castle tea shop. Easy to read with believable characters and events, definitely my favourite book in this series. Romance, friendship and sparkling humour. Lovely down to earth characters, a perfect slice of cafe life at the castle for Christmas. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The One With All The Bridesmaids – Erin Lawless – 5* Review

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Erin Lawless has the knack of capturing life events in a humorous and sensitive way that makes everything you read believable and so easy to visualise and empathise with.

The One With All The Bridesmaids is the complete story of Nora and Harry’s wedding year, from Engagement party to Wedding day.  However, it’s the Bridesmaids, Cleo, Bea, Daisy and Sarah and their lives who are the stars of this story. Their friendship with Nora and each other makes this an absorbing fun read and it is easy to identify with parts of their lives and some of their adventures whatever age you are.

The female characters are realistic and recognisable and make this a page-turning read. Enjoyable as individual stories, reading them again as a complete book is a delight that perfectly captures the romance and craziness of getting married.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.31423967

 

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4* Review – Ice Lake – John A. Lenahan

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This story is a mix of cozy mystery and thriller. Set in a small town in Pennsylvania it has delightfully quirky characters that inform the story as well as mislead the reader. Harry is a man with a tragic past and an unusual gift and makes the perfect main character. Ed his state trooper friend makes a great wing man.

The setting is well described and intrinsic to the story, there are also lots of details on environmental issues, so popular in stories today.

The plot and suspense elements are well crafted but the pacing is a little slow for my liking.This said, Ice Lake is an enjoyable read with memorable characters.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

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AN ABANDONDED BODY
Deep in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the body of a man is found – shot three times, dumped under the trees where the local kids will find him.

A HAUNTED PSYCHOLOGIST
Psychologist Harry Cull, tormented by his past, arrives in the picturesque town of Ice Lake to help with the murder investigation. There he unravels a web of lies and deceit that leads to the dark heart of a community torn apart by fracking, drugs and murder.

A DESPERATE KILLER
It’s not long before the second corpse turns up, this time a lawyer left for dead in the forest, and Harry finds himself on the trail of a twisted killer – who will do anything to keep the town’s darkest secrets buried.

Meet Me at the Lighthouse – Mary Jayne Baker – 5 * Review

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Originality defines this author’s books, the lighthouse in the title is an important character, as well as providing the perfect setting for this hilarious, sexy, romantic romp. Whilst second time romance is not as instantly gripping as love at first sight, the chemistry between the two main characters is undeniable and makes for a page turning read.

Like her first story, unscrupulous characters feature here to very good effect and give this story it’s realistic edge. The attention to detail is evident and makes the story a worthwhile read.

If you’re tired of reading tea shop romances you’ll find this story about a rundown east Yorkshire coastal resort, delightfully refreshing. Great story telling with interesting characters and lashing of romance, the perfect seaside treat.

I received a copy of this story from the author in return for an honest review.

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‘The day I turned 28, I bought a lighthouse and met the love of my life’

Bobbie Hannigan’s life in a cottage by the sea with her dog and her twin sister is perfectly fine … until she decides the logical thing is to buy a lighthouse and open a music venue with Ross Mason, the first boy she ever kissed.

Bobbie tries to be professional with Ross, but the happily-ever-after they’re working toward is too good to resist. That is until someone from his past crawls back to cause trouble. Can Bobbie look past the secrets Ross has been keeping from her? Or will the boy, the lighthouse and the dream all slip away?

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