Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes.
Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.
Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.
When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.
Because, after all, it’s her funeral…The perfect antidote to all those books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry.
I received a copy of this book from One More Chapter via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Death is often deemed life’s only certainty. It’s something we often avoid talking or thinking about until its inevitability creeps upon us.
Fusing romantic comedy and death needs certain skills to work. Firstly, the ability to inject humour into a sad event. Secondly, creating a vivid setting, so that the reader can visualise the humorous events, as they read. Finally, the creation of believable, vibrant characters, who the reader can relate to. The author manages all of this, and the result is funny, poignant and surprisingly romantic.
The plot is simple, an ambitious young woman encounters unexpected local resistance, which threatens her venture’s success. Using the ‘four weddings and a funeral’, format, which works so well, we follow Nina’s experiences as she tries to make a success of her business, keep on the right side of neighbours and cope with an enigmatic stranger.
There are five wakes and a wedding, and each is full of conflict, humour, and poignancy. The business of death and funerals is well researched and has intrinsic interest. Not as darkly comical as the US show’Six Feet Under’, it does have the same noir comedy appeal, with distinctly British humour.
An original twist for the romantic comedy, which has wide audience appeal.
As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction. Five Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads: the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony
Karen has been self-employed for many years and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur. By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stock market, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.
When Edie’s mother-in-law, Anna DeLuca, dies, she is relieved. Edie blames Anna for the accident that destroyed her family. So, when her will lures Edie to Sicily and the long-abandoned Villa Della Madonna del Mare, she sees through Anna’s games.
Suspecting Anna is meddling from beyond the grave to try to reunite her and her ex-husband, Joe, Edie is determined to leave Italy as soon as possible. But before she can, the villa starts to shed its mysterious secrets.
Who are the girls beside Anna in her childhood photos, and why has one of them been scratched out? Why does someone, or something, want them to leave the past untouched? The villa is a place where old ghosts feel at home, but does their legacy need to be laid to rest before Edie and Joe can move on…
Bestselling author Louise Douglas returns with a captivating, chilling and unforgettable tale of betrayal, jealousy and the mysteries hidden in every family history.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
‘The House by the Sea’, is an atmospheric, emotional family drama, with ghostly and menacing elements. On one level, it is a poignant family story, of loss, and the emotional damage losing a child wreaks to the parents left behind. Another level brings a story of forgiveness, new beginnings and learning to live again. Within this, there are dangerous secrets and strange supernatural influences entangled in the old villa and its gardens.
Set in Sicily, Edie and Joe are forced together, to claim and decide what to do with their inheritance from Joe’s, recently deceased mother, Anna. Edie blamed Anna for the death of her son Daniel, and Joe and Edie’s marriage disintegrated with his death. The villa is a character in its own right, in this story. Rundown, it still has a powerful appeal and draws Edie and Joe gradually together. There are many hidden secrets, some supernatural elements and mysteries to solve before Edie and Joe can begin their healing together.
The plot has many levels which are cleverly intertwined to reveal past secrets. Edie and Joe, are understandably complex damaged people, still grieving their lost son. This story has many poignant moments, but ultimately it is heartwarming and uplifting. The suspense builds as the story progresses, leading to an adrenaline-fueled climax, tinged with a tender, supernatural moment, which is both believable and necessary for the story to reach its positive conclusion.
The cast of supporting characters are authentic and although the story is gently paced, it is absorbing and you keep turning the pages wanting to know what next.
A lovely, poignant tale of love and loss and forgiveness.
Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author of 6 novels including The Love of my Life and Missing You – an RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.
Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.
Aria Philips has lived on Jewel Island all of her life. Even when her sisters Clover and Skye left its stunning shores for bigger and better things, Aria stayed to help her father run their family hotel.
A year after her father’s death Aria’s done everything she can to keep things afloat but the hotel has long been struggling to make a profit. With so few guests Aria risks losing the only home she’s ever had.
Noah Campbell earned his fortune from making hotels a success, and he also just happens to be staying on Jewel Island this summer. Could he be the answer to Aria’s problems? If only he hadn’t kissed her under the willow tree the year before and never called her again. It had been the most incredible kiss of her life, but clearly business and pleasure should never be mixed.
As gorgeous and charming as Noah may be, Aria vows to keep things professional while she seeks his help. But for the past year Noah has been keeping a secret and his return to Jewel Island is about to change Aria’s life forever…
Soak up the sun in Sapphire Bay with this feel-good novel you won’t be able to put down. An unforgettable summer romance
Two vicars, their marriage in tatters with wounds reaching far back into the past, set out on a journey to find healing and restoration. Their route will take them from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but will it help them find their way home? Along the 320-mile route across rural France, burdened by backpacks and blisters, Kim and Penelope stumble across fresh truths, some ordinary, others extraordinary. But will they be defeated by the road ahead or triumph over the pain of the past? Is there a chance they’ll find themselves in France and walk back to happiness? In this simple but enchanting book, part travelogue and part pilgrimage, Penelope invites you to walk with her and her husband on their epic journey as they encounter new faces and new experiences, and reconnect with each other and with God. Every step of the way, you’ll discover more about yourself and what’s really important to you.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An interesting, motivational travelogue, full of honest reflection and astute observation.
Even if, you are not religious, there is something important to take away from this book. The author’s shared experiences show that marriage is a journey in itself. Like the walk they embark on, it is punctuated by happiness and sadness, hope and despair, and courage and fear.
The description of the walk, the people encountered and the places visited has intrinsic interest for those familiar with this region and those, like myself who are not. The statistics at the end of the story and the highlighted moments rounded off the book well.
Using an arduous physical walk, as a way of making sense of, and coming to terms with a couple’s emotional and spiritual journey works well. Both in a literary sense, and thankfully, in reality for Penelope and Kim.
Worth reading on many levels, whatever your marital status or religious belief.
Penelope is an avid walker and spends a lot of her time stomping in the hills and valleys near her home outside Bath. She is a chaplain at Bath Abbey and a spiritual therapist and counsellor for clergy (and some normal people too). Since becoming a vicar nearly 20 years ago, she has worked in churches in the UK and the USA, and has led pilgrimages in the UK and in Europe. She and her husband Kim have been married for more than 40 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Penelope rarely sits down, loathes gardening and relaxes by reading, going to the theatre or playing the piano. She is the author of two books, Women by Design and Walking Back to Happiness and is currently working on her third, due out in 2020: Scent of Water, a devotional for times of spiritual bewilderment and grief.
At mile marker 139 along the Ohio Turnpike, a mysterious woman named Shelley Parkinson arrives at 3:14 at the rest area every night. She sits outside at one of the picnic tables, her fragile hands clutching one cigarette after another. Troubled people swirl around her, battling their own sorrows.
Gruff old janitor Mike Popkins works third shift at the facility and has been lost since his wife died, cutting himself off from his only son and going through the motions of his job. Idealistic young Sarah Wilcox whips up drinks at the happening new coffee shop at the rest stop, but her mind whips of dreams of travelling the world and living the life her late grandpa did as he drank a coffee on all corners of the globe. Heartbroken middle-aged trucker Russ Jacobs would rather spend long hours on the road than fall in love again. They all befriend Shelley. Each one desires something different, but none of them knows why she haunts the rest area.
Unexpected death, disease, and accidents force Mike, Sarah, and Russ to make hard decisions to move forward, ripping them from their pasts. Can these three motley friends find healing in their own lives and help a woman who says she doesn’t need anyone, even as her brokenness spills onto them?
Cynthia 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.
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.
There’s nothing sexy about her humdrum life as a mum. But is her husband’s crazy scheme a bit too exciting?
Sarah’s mind-numbing housewife existence is turning her brain to mush. With her third bun in the oven, this British mum is drowning under a mountain of playdates, bills, and head lice checks. But her man’s get-rich-quick idea of writing steamy novels isn’t her ideal way to dial up life’s passion.
Drew desperately wants a break from Sarah’s whinging. And if that means researching how to write racy books all by himself, then he’ll make the sacrifice. But as he finally warms Sarah up to the sultry side hustle, their R-rated private project gets publicly exposed…
With an office scandal brewing, it’s only a matter of time before gawking workers and a perfectly nosy PTA president turn them into social pariahs. Can Sarah and Drew earn some extra income from sizzling lit without falling prey to stiff gossip?
Erotic Fiction is a charming comedy for fans of humorous fiction. If you like sweet love stories, endearing characters, and dry British humour, then you’ll adore Kindle Storyteller Award Winner Hannah Lynn’s delightful tale.
Buy Erotic Fiction to slip into something a little more lovable today!
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I enjoyed this very British romantic comedy, full of laugh out loud moments, poignant interludes and witty retort.
Sarah is a stay-at-home-mum, expecting her third child, and wondering if she will ever see beyond the sleepless nights and tantrums. Drew loves his family, but wants to give them more, he wants Sarah to smile again, and quite by chance he finds an unusual avenue to improve the family bank balance.
This is a well-paced, easy to read, tale about children, financial struggles, marriage, parenting and relationships. It is written with vivid characters and events, that lets you visualise what is happening, it’s almost like watching a quintessentially Britsih sitcom, familiar, funny and farcical.
The plot is simple but effective and provides the perfect foil for the excellent characters. Sarah and Drew are relatable and easy to like, the cast of supporting players are noteworthy and give the story, authenticity and quirkiness that is appealing.
If you enjoy finding the humour in everyday life, with just a touch of fantasy, this story is recommended.
Hannah Lynn is an award-winning novelist. Publishing her first book, Amendments – a dark, dystopian speculative fiction novel, in 2015, she has since gone on to write the multi-award-winning The Afterlife of Walter Augustus – a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist, Fiona and the Whale – a thought-provoking romantic comedy and the delightfully funny and poignant Peas and Carrots series.
While she freely moves between genres, her novels are recognisable for their character-driven stories and wonderfully vivid description.
She is currently working on a YA Vampire series and a reimaging of a classic Greek myth.
Born in 1984, Hannah grew up in the Cotswolds, UK. After graduating from university, she has spent twelve years as a teacher of physics, first in the UK and then around Asia and Europe. It was during this time, inspired by the imaginations of the young people she taught, she began writing short stories for children, and later adult fiction. Now as a teacher, writer, wife and mother, she is currently living in the Jordan.
Her husband says it’s suicide. The police say it’s murder.
Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.
One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.
Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.
As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Emotive, intense, thought-provoking family drama, draws Detective Kennedy and Private Investigator Kelly into another dark investigation. Jenny, a terminally ill patient dies suddenly. Was it assisted suicide? Murder? Or suicide? How far is her estranged husband Liam, just returned to the family home, implicated?
Told from multi-points of view, in the past and present, the story unfolds, revealing clues and unexpected events. Sharing the emotional journey of the children, ex-husband, and others connected to Jenny. The emotional damage terminal illness causes to the family, friends and wider network is explored.
The sense of confusion is reiterated by the differing viewpoints and the dual time perspectives. The investigation is not the main focus of the story, but Kennedy and Kelly are intrinsic to the mystery’s resolution.
The ending is realistic, and the epilogue demonstrates human resilience and optimism.
Guest Post – Adele o’Neill -Bringing Emotion to the Page
For me, the measure of a good story is how much it makes me feel and as most writers will agree, a character that evokes an empathetic response is a character that a reader will invest in. As a writer of issue-based fiction, it’s heart-warming to hear that a reader was crying at a scene that made you cry when you wrote it and while scene-setting and plot progression are important it’s in finding the correct balance of emotion in a sub-text that can make all the difference in an authentic character and how they carry the story to a satisfying conclusion.
How do you do that, you say when you couldn’t possibly have experienced everything that your characters have experienced, or have you?
The short answer is no… but like any short answer, it doesn’t really reflect the reality. I have and I haven’t. Let me explain…
The first idea for a novel or the story concept begins very simply for me. Its usually with an issue that piques my curiosity, either professionally or personally, and has potential for layers and layers of complexity to be added in at a later date. In ‘When the Time Comes’, it was the issue of assisted suicide that pulled me into exploring the impossible choices that someone with a terminal illness is faced with. It is another character-driven story of survival, dark secrets and love, just like life and the consequences of that complexity posed many more questions than I could answer and presented an inherent sense of conflict that I wanted to explore and that’s where the concept for the story came from.
Having written three novels, I’d come to understand that simple plot mechanics are important but not nearly enough to truly engage readers and I’m a firm believer that the best stories, the stories that stay with you long after the last page is turned, are not just about the issue that they say they’re about. They are about so much more; the character’s inner conflict, the human experience, the inherent dilemma, the psychological and emotional fallout of choices and the way in which the characters’ circumstances resonate with the reader. So the question still stands, can I, if I haven’t experienced the situation in real life, write my character’s emotions authentically?
The short answer is, yes, because I do know what it feels like. We all do. Let me explain…
I know what pain feels like, what it looks like, what it smells like. I can tell you how emotion overwhelms you when you stand in triumph, conversely too when you cower in fear. I can describe the temperature of tears on my face or the blush of my cheeks and I can tell you the depth of lines around my eyes. Some of them carved from happiness some etched from worry, the deep ones excavated through a deep sorrow that will never leave me. I know what it feels like to laugh contentedly but equally, I know what it feels like to cry in desperation. I can recall all my moments of grace and wisdom and likewise, I can remember what it feels like to be ridiculous (these occasions are more frequent than I would like).
This is what life is for all of us, a series of emotional responses to human experiences that are riddled with happiness, joy, grief, sorrow and fear. And while everyone experiences emotions in their own inimitable way, this collection of personal life experiences and human stories allow me as a writer, to inform the emotional reaction of a character in an authentic way to the set of circumstances that has been written into the scene. Without this realness, the reader wouldn’t engage emotionally so, the next time you come across that common assumption that writers write from personal experience, it’s not the circumstances of the scene or the event that has a biographical element but the emotions and empathy that are represented in our characters. (Otherwise I think a few writers in the crime writing ranks have a few questions to answer!)
Adele is a writer from Co. Wicklow who lives with her husband Alan and her two teenage daughters. Influenced by writers across all genres she has a particular fondness for fiction that is relatable and realistic. Her debut novel was awarded The Annie McHale Debut Novel Award for 2017 and is a character driven story of survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty, just like life. Her second novel Behind A Closed Door is another emotionally harrowing tale of impossible choices, loyalty and friendship. Adele writes overlooking the Irish Sea, which she credits for the tumultuous dynamics in the relationships and lives of her unsuspecting characters in her third novel, When The Time Comes, another dark tale that tests the lengths we go to protect the ones we love.