Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Mystery, New Books, Romance

Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage Samantha Tonge #GuestPost @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Family #Friends #Romance #Secrets #mystery #BlogTour #publicationday #SummerSecretsatStreamsideCottage

A new start can come from the most unexpected places…

It’s been years since Lizzie Lockhart spoke to her parents. But she was safe in the knowledge she knew everything about them. Once upon a time, they were as close as could be. Until they weren’t.

After receiving the earth-shattering news of their passing, Lizzie decides it’s time to unearth some family secrets and find out just who her parents really were… starting with Streamside Cottage. A cottage Lizzie never knew existed, in a place she’s never heard of: the beautiful English village of Leafton.

Leaving behind London, and the tattoo parlour she called home, Lizzie finds herself moving to the countryside. Faced with a tight-lipped community, who have secrets of their own, Lizzie is at a loss for what to do, until her rather handsome neighbour, Ben, steps in to help.

As Lizzie finally begins to piece together the puzzle of her family history she realises she has to confront the truth of the past in order to face her future.

Amazon UK Bookshop.org Kobo Google Play

Guest Post – Samantha Tonge – Tattoos

Do you love or hate tattoos? They can attract an extreme reaction and that’s the reason I wanted to write a story featuring a tattoo artist as the main character. Even though tattoos are mainstream these days, stigma still exists around them, along with set ideas about the *type of person* who would get one. It’s only in recent years, for example, that the Met Police have relaxed their policy on officers being banned from having visible ones on their hands or face. I wanted to show that they represent so much more than just a piece of art. It is the reasons behind why people put themselves under the needle that interest me most.

In 2016 I started my mental health recovery. Buddhism was a big part of this and I decided I wanted a tattoo of a lotus flower, on my wrist. It was my first and it’s very small – I now wish I’d had it drawn much bigger! It’s a daily reminder of how far I’ve come, and how I need to keep doing what I did in 2016 to stay well. Whilst she inked me I chatted to the artist, admiring her incredible skill. She talked about the many reasons people want tattoos. As part of her job she hears painful stories, about abuse for example, or bereavement. I chatted about my personal journey as the tracing paper version of my lotus flower became pink and vibrant on my skin.

Of course, you’re always going to get those tattoos that have been done whilst drunk on holiday and are misspelt, and they carry entirely different stories! But reputable artists won’t ink anyone under the influence and you have to be over eighteen. And, like Lizzie in my story, each artist has their own set of ethics, such as refusing to ink on the name of a short-term boyfriend or girlfriend in case the relationship breaks down, or saying no to doing them on a part of the body they’ll rub off easily, such as the fingers.

Tattoos have been around as long as the Ancient Egyptians, and to me are as much a part of human life as haircuts or make-up. Very often they represent a hard time that person has been through, yet some critics still only associate them with people of dubious character. They’d no doubt be surprised to learn that Winston Churchill had one!  I understand why not everyone wants a tattoo – I’m not sure a Mohican haircut would suit me, for example – but that’s the beauty of being human, our individualism.

I thoroughly enjoyed doing  research and each chapter begins with an interesting fact, such as how the Indian Apatani tribe used to tattoo young girls to make them unappealing to rival tribes who might abduct the  most beautiful women.  Or how some people get loved ones’ ashes put into the tattoo ink, as a permanent commemoration.

Lizzie’s job is a big reason she fell out with her parents – or is it? If you read this story I hope you enjoy her emotional journey to the village of Leafton, to find out why they cut her out of their life so completely. It’s a novel about confronting the past in order to face the future.

Samantha Tonge

Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.

Website Twitter Facebook Instagram

Read my review of The Winter We Met here

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Gangland Crime, ganglit, Guest post, Historical Crime Fiction, saga

Siren Sam Michaels 5*#Review @SamMichaelsGG @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #GuestPost #WW2 #GeorginaGarrett #Siren #HistoricalCrimeFiction #Saga #CrimeFiction #BlogTour #BookReview @HoZ_Books #ganglit

Georgina Garrett has made many enemies, but with every victory she’s only grown stronger. But it only takes one defeat to crumble an empire and is this the one that brings Georgina to her knees?

Sam Michaels returns with her bestselling Georgina Garrett series…

Amazon UK Kobo Google Play

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus -Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is an addictive historical ganglit with the indomitable Georgina Garrett desperate for release from Holloway Prison to reclaim her children and get revenge on her enemies. With WW2 still raging when Georgina returns to Battersea, she has to regroup and diversify to achieve her aims with grit and tenacity, meeting violence with violence.

This is a well-written story with vivid characters and a menacing ethos. It captures the gangland era dynamic and personalities in an intricate plot with unexpected twists.

Guest post- Sam Michaels – Siren

Hi everyone,

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and thank you to Jane for inviting to me contribute to her fabulous website.

I’m thrilled that Siren is now out in the big wide world and I can’t wait for you to read it! This is the fourth book in the Georgina Garrett series. The first, Trickster, begins on the day that WW1 is declared. And then Rivals is next which is set just before the outbreak of WW2. Vixen and Siren follow Georgina’s life through the turbulent and challenging times of worn-torn Britain.

Although my gangland sagas are fictional, I like the facts to be historically correct so I’ve spent many hours researching the history of these times and read hundreds of personal memories of the Blitz. The things that I’ve learned have been both fascinating and heart-wrenching. Tales of rations, shortages and the blackouts are bad enough but the stories of bombs raining down on cities across the country are horrendous. The Blitz began in September 1940 and for fifty-seven consecutive nights, London was bombarded by the Luftwaffe’s bombs. Over three hundred planes would fly across the city, destroying a third of London and killing and injuring thousands. The accounts of the people whose memories I read makes me wish that I’d asked my grandparents more about their personal experiences of being Londoners living through the war.

But it wasn’t all fear and gloom. One of the overwhelming feelings that I got from my research was the sense of community and coming together that the war seemed to bring. I loved reading about the impressive strength of the British resolve and I found the make do and mend attitude admirable. Also, with the men away fighting the enemy, women found a place in the workforce doing the jobs that men once did. This was a huge shift from the traditional role of the stay-at-home housewife and mother though in most jobs, women weren’t paid the same rate as the men had been. Mothers had to quickly adapt a new way of life. For many, their children had been evacuated to safer homes in the countryside away from the nightly air raid sirens, explosions and fires. Food shortages meant that they had to be inventive with new recipes. Even stockings were hard to come by so ladies might use gravy browning to colour their legs and draw a line up the back to imitate a seam. With homes being destroyed all around them, lives being lost, their husbands and sons in foreign, treacherous lands and sleepless nights in air raid shelters, it does make me wonder how people today would cope if we were thrown into the same situation.

In Siren, the book opens with Georgina behind bars in Holloway prison. During my research, I was shocked and horrified to discover some of the facts about prison life for women at this time. And not just women. Holloway Prison also held German-Jewish refugee children incarcerated with their mothers. It was a time of deep suspicion of anyone German which was transposed onto the German-Jews who came to Britain when fleeing death from Hitler. I was equally shocked to find out that Sir Oswald Mosely, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, was also held prisoner at Holloway. Under Winston Churchill’s orders, Mosely was detained with his wife, Diana, in a house within the grounds of the prison. They even had women prisoners to wait on them and they were allowed to order deliveries from Harrods!

So when you read my books, you’ll find bits of background information weaved throughout  which are fact, not fiction. For instance, the meagre breakfasts in the prison, the continual bombing of London, the firewomen on motorbikes… all these things and many more are true stories.

I really hope that you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them! And, by the way, this isn’t the last that you’ll hear of Georgina… I’m halfway through writing the fifth book in the series.

Love, Sam xxx

Catch up with the series. Read my reviews of Trickster Rivals and Vixen

Sam Michaels

Sam Michaels lives in Spain with her family and plethora of animals. Having been writing for years Siren is the fourth book in Georgina Garrett historical crime saga.

Twitter Facebook

 

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Friendship, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Medical Romance, New Books, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Travel

Staying Out For The Summer Mandy Baggot 4* #Review #GuestPost @mandybaggot @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Corfu #Greece #Summer #StayingOutForTheSummer

After a summer of staying in, it’s time to let your hair down and escape to Greece!

For Lucie Burrows, it’s time to embrace Greek life and put the past behind her! Having spent the summer of 2020 battling a global health crisis, Lucie Burrows is looking forward to a summer out of lockdown.

When best friend, Gavin, finds them the perfect Greek escape Lucie finally starts to think this summer might just go without a hitch.But after a landslide puts the village into a local lockdown, Lucie is thrown together with Michalis Andino, the super sexy village doctor. It’s not quite the holiday she had planned, but things could certainly be worse.

As Lucie relaxes into the Greek way of life, she begins to wonder whether this lockdown might just end in a new life, a new love…

Amazon UK Kobo Google Play Bookshop.org

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus – Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a lovely laugh out loud romantic comedy set mainly in Corfu. There are many humorous moments and countless romantic encounters. Set in a post-Covid19 world, it acknowledges the courage of key workers and the effect on our everyday lives of the pandemic.

There is so much to enjoy in this story. Passionate romance, vibrant characters and the vivid setting make this story full of drama, humour and poignancy, come alive, letting the reader escape to the sunshine. There was one aspect I didn’t enjoy, and that was the setting in the butcher’s shop and the associated humour. I have strong beliefs about animals, so this element was tough to read for me. Overall this is an engaging story.

Escaping it, but not ignoring it!

 Why I wrote about the pandemic in my latest rom com…

Let me say this first, my brand-new book – Staying Out for the Summer – is all the summer escapist fiction you’ve come to expect from me! There’s a gorgeous Greek hero, a heroine and a best friend that you will be rooting for, plus all the sun, sea and sizzling flavours of Greece wrapped up in the pages too! But does it mention the worldwide pandemic we’re still going through? Yes, it does!

When I started writing this book it was July 2020, we were out of restrictions and I was in the middle of spending six weeks at my house in Corfu, Greece. I certainly thought, by the time this book was published, the pandemic would be completely behind us and if there were any restrictions still in place they would be minimal. How wrong was I? I don’t know how many times I had to make edits to what was happening in the book with regard to rules of six, all the tiers and Christmas arrangements. However, even after all that, I don’t feel I was wrong to write about Coronavirus and have it as the backdrop to this story.

I always write about topical subjects in my books with references to pop culture and I like to have a big touch of reality amid the fiction. My characters discuss things that are going on in the world, what TV shows they’re watching or music their listening to, it’s all very current and relatable. I chose to write about the pandemic because we have all been through it together. It has touched everyone. Yes, we might have had very different experiences of it, but we have all had to stay home and face limited lives and some of us have been ill with the virus or sadly lost people that we love to it. The hero in Staying Out for the Summer – Michalis – is a Greek doctor who specialises in the lungs and my heroine – Lucie – is an NHS nurse who has been working tirelessly trying to save as many lives as she can. This book and their stories is my tribute to the medical staff around the globe and all the keyworkers who have risked their lives doing all those things we take for granted to keep the world going.

I know a lot of other writers have decided to avoid writing about Covid-19 in their books because they feel readers are looking to get away from all that. I understand that completely and, as I said straight off, my book is going to take you to Greece for all the fun in the sun and so much more. But, for me, I felt if I didn’t acknowledge that this has happened in our lives it would be like sweeping under the carpet all the sacrifices people have made over the past year. Whatever we feel about it, no matter how dreadful it has been – and continues to be – I don’t think we should pretend it didn’t happen. I want people to read this book and feel. It’s really a salute to all the good that happened during the hardest times and a testament to our strength and resilience. It’s also a big nod to the fact that brighter times are coming. We just have to hang in there!

So, grab a cool drink, snuggle up and let me transport you to Corfu where the weather is beautiful, and the hot Greek doctor is ready to see you now…

Mandy Bagott

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Facebook Twitter Instagram

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Romance, Saga

Wartime with the Tram Girls Lynn Johnson #guestpost @lynnjohnsonjots @HeraBooks #WW1 #Romance #Saga #BlogTour @rararesources #WartimewiththeTramGirls

July 1914: Britain is in turmoil as WW1 begins to change the world. While the young men disappear off to foreign battlefields, the women left at home throw themselves into jobs meant for the boys.

Hiding her privileged background and her suffragette past, Constance Copeland signs up to be a Clippie – collecting money and giving out tickets – on the trams, despite her parents’ disapproval.

Constance, now known as Connie, soon finds there is more to life than the wealth she was born into and she soon makes fast friends with lively fellow Clippies, Betty and Jean, as well as growing closer to the charming, gentle Inspector Robert Caldwell.

But Connie is haunted by another secret; and if it comes out, it could destroy her new life.

After war ends and the men return to take back their roles, will Connie find that she can return to her previous existence? Or has she been changed forever by seeing a new world through the tram windows?

Amazon UK  Kobo  Apple

Guest Post – Lynn Johnson – Wartime with the Tram Girls

I cannot believe that, as I write this post, I have two books out in the big, wide world, a scary but happy situation to be in. Before I start, I would like to introduce to you an acquaintance of mine who would like to have a few words.

“My name is Connie. Don’t call me Constance. It is important that everyone knows me as Connie. I have a secret, you see and if it becomes known, I will most probably lose everything. Besides, I like being Connie, the Tram Girl. She is far more interesting than Constance Copeland who has little if anything to do with her life. Connie has more freedom for a start and Father has less control over me. I like it that way. The name change was partly Ginnie’s idea. You might know her as The Girl from the Workhouse. She thought that Constance sounded too posh for my plans. I thought Connie would be just about perfect. Ginnie’s younger than me but she makes an awful lot of sense sometimes.”

This is the voice of Constance Copeland, and Wartime with the Tram Girls tells her story against the backdrop of WW1. As with the first book in my Potteries Girls series, I wanted to write about the Homefront, what happened to the families and friends of those who kept the country going during the Great War, and how they managed when their men came home again, many of them changed forever. Coming from a different social class, writing about Connie gave me the opportunity to look at many events, both good and bad, from a different perspective. I loved getting inside Connie’s head and looking at the world through her eyes – always asking the question – what would Connie do?

When I really want to know my characters, particularly major characters, I interview them – perhaps a result of my past life as a personnel manager. By asking characters what they like, don’t like, favourite pastimes, which books they read – or can’t read, I really have to delve deep inside their psyche. A key part of my process is to get each of these characters to talk about their backstory. What they say and what their feelings are about other characters can often give pointers to where the story is/should be going.

When writing from an individual character’s point of view, it is important to relate only thoughts, feelings and speech that that character would be aware of. This makes it rather difficult to get input from others, so writers need to find creative ways to overcome that through such using more than one point of view character, showing through actions and letters and so on, seeing behaviour and emotions reflected through the demeanour of others. An omniscient narrator might tell the reader a lot about the events leading up to the denouement. How much more exciting it becomes when your characters are happy to communicate with you directly.

I love seeing my characters come to life in this way. It’s as if they are sitting on my shoulder watching the words become sentences, paragraphs, chapters, stories. And woe-betide me if I get it wrong!

Lynn Johnson was born in the Staffordshire Potteries and went to school in Burslem, where the novel is set. She left school with no qualifications and got a job as a dental nurse (and lasted a day), a nursery assistant, and a library assistant before her ambition grew and she enrolled at the Elms Technical College, Stoke-on-Trent and obtained six O’levels. She obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a BA Hons in Humanities with Literature from the Open University while working full-time.

Most of her working life was spent in Local Government in England and Scotland, and ultimately became a Human Resources Manager with a large county council.

She started to write after taking early retirement and moving to the north of Scotland with her husband where she did relief work in the famous Orkney Library and Archives, and voluntary work with Orkney’s Learning Link. Voluntary work with Cats Protection resulted in them sharing their home with six cats.

She joined Stromness Writing Group and, three months after moving to Orkney, wrote a short story which would become the Prologue to The Girl From the Workhouse.

Twitter

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, New Books, Romance, Travel

The Night We Met @zoefolbigg 5*#Review @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #Romance #PublicationDay #serendipity #guestpost #TheNightWeMet #BlogTour #BookReview

The Story…

 As a man holds his wife’s frail hand, he recounts a journey like no other…

Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together. At least, Daniel thinks this the night he sees Olivia across a sea of people. As he backpacks through Australia, Daniel and Liv continue to cross paths, yet never speak. Until one night, Liv joins Daniel for a drink. And that night everything changes.

Back in London, stuck in a monotonous routine, Daniel finds himself daydreaming of the woman with green eyes and fiery hair. Armed with only a name he begins a hunt to find her. With every passing moment, Daniel’s hopes begin to disappear. What if it wasn’t meant to be?

But then fate steps in, and Daniel and Olivia’s story can truly begin…

This is a tale of serendipity, missed chances and the power of love.

Amazon Kobo Google Play iBooks

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

My Thoughts…

If you think for a moment I’m sure you can remember making a connection with a stranger and wondering what would happen if you’d taken it further? Daniel and Olivia’s love story grows from a series of encounters at different times and time zones. These culminate in one night where they realise they should be together. The story could end there, happily, but it doesn’t. Olivia begs Daniel to write their story for their daughters.

This is an emotional journey full of serendipitous moments. The locational settings across the world, are rich with vivid imagery that immerses the reader in the time and place. The characters and the familial dynamic is relatable, and at times heartbreaking.

This is an undeniably, sad story, but there are lots of happy moments and powerful relationships, that resonate. The poignant ending contains elements of positivity about the family’s survival and future happiness.

Guest post by Zoë Folbigg – The Night We Met

It all started with a glance out of the window, on a bus in Australia. I was 18 and backpacking with my friend Jo, and as our Greyhound overtook another Greyhound up the East Coast highway, I looked out of the window and saw a guy looking back at me from the bus we were overtaking. It was a face I had already seen in three hostels in Australia, at the central Post Office in Christchurch, and on a flight from Fiji to Auckland. The coincidences were getting crazy. We’d never spoken, but gave each other a smile and a look of recognition. A little wave that said a friendly “hi”. These coincidences were spooky – so when we got to our destination and bumped into him again, in our hostel kitchen in Cairns, we decided to go for a drink.

He was friendly and had a sweet face. His name was Robert and he was from Holland. He, Jo and I went for a beer, chatted, talked about our travels and laughed about the coincidences, and then we never saw him again – he was heading back to Europe the next day.

There was no romance or thunderbolt moment – but the coincidences of seeing him in the strangest of places on the other side of the world stuck with me and I remembered that feeling of serendipity – we were meant to chat and go for that drink – when I fell for a handsome stranger on my daily commute; I remembered him when I was writing my debut novel, The Note, and I remembered him when I was writing The Night We Met.

Because that feeling of sliding doors and missed opportunities; of coincidences and excitement in exciting places, has always stayed with me, more than ever as I wrote the story of Daniel and Olivia, who meet on the other side of the world, and keep bumping into each other in the strangest of places.

Daniel and Olivia are destined to be together, and I hope that feeling comes through the book: that the universe conspires for things to happen to us and some things are meant to be, whether it’s for one friendly evening or a lifetime of love. And I think we’re more open to them than ever when we’re travelling, with our eyes are open, seeing the world. I hope when the world opens up and we can travel again, people can find inspiration, friendship – or perhaps the love of their life – on their next adventure.

Zoë Folbigg

Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with ‘Train Man’ – a man she had met on her daily commute. She since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons.

Twitter Facebook Instagram

Posted in Blog Tour, Guest post, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour, Mystery, New Books

Just Bea Deborah Klee #GuestPost @DeborahKlee @rararesources #homeless #uplit #selfdiscovery #mystery #BlogTour

Sometimes you have to stop trying to be like everyone else and just be yourself.

Bea Stevens and Ryan O Marley are in danger of falling through the cracks of their own lives; the only difference between them is that Bea doesn’t know it yet.

When her world is shaken like a snow-globe, Bea has to do what she does best; adapt. Homeless man Ryan is the key to unlocking the mystery of her friend Declan’s disappearance but can she and Ryan trust one another enough to work together? 

As the pieces of her life settle in new and unexpected places, like the first fall of snow, Bea must make a choice: does she try to salvage who she was or embrace who she might become?

Just Bea takes the reader on a heart-warming journey from the glamour of a West End store to the harsh reality of life on the streets and reminds us all that home really is where the heart is.

Amazon UK Amazon

Just Bea -Homelessness Guest Post Deborah Klee

I was inspired to write Just Bea as there were two occasions when women I knew said that they were tempted to offer a temporary home to a homeless man. The first was a single woman whose two children had left home for university. She came across a young man, a similar age to her absent son, who was living in a tent. It was winter and her heart went out to him. She seriously considered offering him a home rent free, until her children talked her out of it as they didn’t want their mother putting herself at risk.

Several years later a gentle, caring woman who lived in my village told me about a homeless man who had been sleeping rough in our neighbourhood. This was an unusual occurrence in our little community. This woman befriended the man, buying him food and giving him books to read. As she came to know him better, she was tempted to offer him a room in her house. Again, friends and family advised her not to do so as they felt it was unsafe.

I can understand how a compassionate woman might be persuaded to invite a homeless man into her home. Bea Stevens, the protagonist in my story has more reason than most: Ryan, the homeless man, is known and trusted by her friend Declan, Bea has had too much to drink at the office party and so her judgement is impaired, she spilt hot chocolate over Ryan’s sleeping bag, and it is snowing heavily.

‘Why don’t you sleep in my spare bedroom tonight?’ Bea blurted out and immediately regretted it. She didn’t know anything about him. But he was a close friend of Declan, and she owed it to Declan. It was too cold for Ryan to sleep outside.

            Ryan looked as though he too was surprised by her suggestion. ‘Because you’re a single girl. A slightly inebriated single girl. I’ve got a little sister, about your age. I would be telling her not to let a strange man into her home on any account – no matter what the circumstances.’

            But he’s not a stranger, Bea thought, and then she decided if Declan trusted him, then so could she. ‘Please. It would make me feel better about spilling hot chocolate on your sleeping bag. I could pop it in my washing machine and it’ll be dry by the morning.’

            ‘I’m not sure. This’ll be the booze a talking. You’ll wake up, forget you invited me in, and scream blue murder.’

            They looked at each other, each weighing up the risks. The snow whirled in the light of a street lamp and Ryan pulled his jacket closer around him. ‘I’d better be off. This isn’t going to let up.’

            ‘That settles it,’ Bea said. ‘Come inside before we both freeze to death.’

One day when I was walking across London Bridge on my way to work, I noticed a young Mediterranean looking man huddled in a blanket. I looked closely at his face and imagined him as a tour guide, a gondolier on a Venice canal, anything but a homeless man. He could have been anything. Anyone. He mattered. At that time, I was too shy to talk to him. Further along the bridge I noticed a woman ask another homeless man whether he would like a tea or coffee. I chased after the woman and asked her whether her offer was welcomed by homeless people or refused. She assured me that it was always appreciated. From that day on, I have always offered to buy a drink and sometimes food for the people I meet who are living on the street. It has also helped me in my research. One man told me that by listening to him I had given him all that he needed.

Everyone who becomes homeless has a story. It is easy to fall through the gaps as Bea and Ryan discovered in Just Bea.

Deborah Klee

Deborah has worked as an occupational therapist, a health service manager, a freelance journalist, and management consultant in health and social care.

Her protagonists are often people who exist on the edges of society. Despite the very real, but dark, subject matter her stories are uplifting, combining pathos with humour. They are about self-discovery and the power of friendships and community.

Just Bea is her second novel. Her debut The Borrowed Boy was published last year.

Deborah lives on the Essex coast. When she is not writing she combines her love of baking with trying to burn off the extra calories.

Website Twitter Facebook

Posted in Blog Tour, Guest post, New Books, Romantic Comedy

Love and Ohana Drama Melissa Baldwin #GuestPost @mpbaldwinauthor @rararesources #RomCom

Love and Ohana Drama is a romantic comedy that explores the challenges of family dynamics and reminds readers that there is always hope for a second chance. Sometimes the most challenging situations bring the most happiness . . .

Twenty-something Cora Fletcher is a book-loving public relations executive who lives with her overly Zen best friend and attention-loving cat. Newly single and focusing on her exciting career, she feels like she’s in a good place. She’s even been invited on an all-expenses-paid Hawaiian vacation! The only catch—it’s a family reunion . . . and her family can be a lot to handle.

Cora vows to not let that get in the way, but even before the family has boarded the plane, the ohana drama begins. As usual, there’s the sister-in-law who is bent on causing friction, the self-centered cousins, and the aunt who loves to party a bit too much. Her mother has filled the itinerary with endless activities, and she’s even invited Cora’s ex-boyfriend in an attempt to get them back together.

Although she feels overwhelmed, Cora gets a blast from her past that could impact her life forever. This is one welcome reunion she did not expect . . .

Will Cora make it through a week of family togetherness? And will she be able to say aloha to someone she thought was out of her life forever?

AmazonUK Amazon

Goals: Guest post by Melissa Baldwin

Welcome 2021, I’m glad you’re here. With the start of the new year, I’ve been making a list of things I hope to accomplish in the coming months. Being the Type A person that I am, setting goals is huge for me. I divide my list into professional, spiritual, family, and personal categories. (Yes, I’m that person J)

After 2020 (we won’t get into that) I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

There’s something exhilarating about checking an item off a list. Taking the time and staying focused despite the many distractions of daily life is a great feeling.

This year I’m hoping to release four (possibly five) new books including a new series. To help me stay on track I use my trusty planner, lots of sticky notes and I started talking with a life coach. And since my memory isn’t what it used to be, I have to write everything down. My husband used my office recently and was in awe at the number of post-it notes strategically placed all over my desk. I like to call it organized chaos.

Staying organized and keeping my days structured is necessary for me to keep up with everything I have to do. I’m a busy author, mother, and wife and it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks.

Of course, there are some days I’d prefer to sit on the couch and watch Beverly Hills 90210 re-runs. Those guilty pleasures just love to creep in and mess with my productivity.

Although there is quite a bit of uncertainty right now, I’m choosing to stay positive for a great year. I look forward to bringing more stories to life in 2021. Stay tuned for more from Melissa Baldwin.

Melissa Baldwin

Melissa Baldwin is a planner-obsessed Disney fan who still watches Beverly Hills 90210 reruns and General Hospital.

She’s a wife, mother, and journal keeper, who finally decided to write the book she talked about for years. She took her dream to the next level, and is now an award-winning, bestselling author of nineteen Romantic Comedy and Cozy Mystery novels and novellas. Melissa writes about charming, ambitious, and real women, and she considers these leading ladies to be part of her tribe.

When she isn’t deep in the writing zone, this multitasking master organizer keeps busy by spending time with her family, chauffeuring her daughter, traveling, attempting yoga poses, and going on rides at Disney World.

 Facebook Instagram Twitter Bookbub Website Amazon author page

Giveaway to Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card (Open INT

Click on giveaway link to enter

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above.  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 be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the 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.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Festive Read, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

One Snowy Week in Springhollow Lucy Knott 4*#Review @LucyCKnott @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #BlogTour #BookReview #RomCom #OneSnowyWeek #Festive #SecondChance #Romance #uplit #GuestPost

Tomboy Scarlett thought Devon would be her best friend forever. He was the only person in Springhollow who supported her ambitious artist dreams. But then one winter, Devon and his parents disappear without warning to start a new life in NYC and a devastated Scarlett is left alone to face her high-school bullies and overbearing mother.

Fast-forward ten years: Scarlett is playing it safe in her childhood village with a dull PA job and a wardrobe that passes her mother’s old-fashioned standards. Meanwhile, Devon is a Hollywood heartthrob, starring in the latest superhero blockbuster. And he’s finally coming home for Christmas…

Scarlett can’t help blaming her former best friend for the way her life has turned out, but Devon’s cheeky charm and gorgeous smile prove difficult to resist. Devon always did make her feel on top of the world, but Scarlett knows her heart isn’t racing just because she has her friend back – is it mistletoe madness, or is she seeing Devon in a completely new light?

Scarlett hasn’t taken a risk in years… but this Christmas of second chances could finally be her time to shine.

Amazon UK Kobo  Google Play iBooks 

‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ –

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

My Thoughts…

This is a charming story of two childhood friends reunited as adults. Both are different people but can they recapture their friendship? The characters are flawed and relatable. Scarlett is likeable and easy to empathise. Her originality shines through, and she grows as a character throughout the story in a satisfying way.

This festive story is an enjoyable read, with realistic characters relationships and gentle romance. The small-town setting is perfect for the festive time of year.

The Inspiration behind my story. Lucy Knott

There was a chill in the air, a cool wind that nipped at my cheeks as I walked the busy sidewalks of Times Square. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck being careful not to bump into the fast walking pedestrians doing their late night shopping or possibly heading out to see a show, or just simply going about their day to day lives in New York City a day after Christmas. Myself, I was on a mission. The festive spirit lingered in the night, twinkling lights and Christmas décor sparkled from every shop window and I had to find Broadway.

Ticket in hand, a smile permanently etched on my face, I find my destination. After taking in the bold, bright, and beautiful posters and the lettering that read ‘First Date,’ I ducked inside and took my seat. Two hours of pure joy, laughter and entertainment followed as I experienced my first Broadway show in New York. The show was fantastic, the music was fabulous and the fact that I was getting to watch one of my favourite actors, Zachary Levi, perform in front of my very eyes was a dream come true.

Shuffling out of the building and back into the frosty night among other Zac fans, I remember the message I got earlier from my sister, Kelly, who was all the way in England. The message had told me that Zac said he would come out after the show to say hi to people. So, I zip up my coat to ward off the cold and stick around with the crowd.

It doesn’t take long before Zac emerges, and I stand back in awe. I calmly wait my turn to meet him and watch as he puts everyone at ease and makes time for them. When it’s my turn to say hello, he beams and asks me questions, asks where Kelly is and about my being a wrestler and I in turn tell him of his awesomeness. We say our goodbyes and I proceed to skip around New York City delighting in my own little Fairy Tale of New York as I stand in front of the Rockefeller tree unable to wipe the smile off my face.

And just like that a story idea was born.

That was back in 2013. It would take seven years before my initial story idea and hastily written out three chapters became a fully-fledged world in my head and before that spark of inspiration became ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow.’ I met a hero of mine that night and it was the catalyst for my book that looks at embracing who you are and never losing that childhood joy within. I feel that often when we grow up there is a lot of pressure to act and be a certain way. Society and social media seem to dictate what is cool, sophisticated, and empowering. It likes to tell you where you should be and what you should have achieved by a certain age. But what happens when you feel like you don’t fit in? What do you do when it always feels like you’re an outsider looking in? What happens when your dreams aren’t approved by others? What do you do when you don’t look how other people think you should look or act how people think you should act?

When I was thirteen, I loved the pop punk band Good Charlotte. I think it surprised people at school considering the first ever concert I attended was Gareth Gates and therefore liking Good Charlotte didn’t quite fit. To the school’s resident rockers, I wasn’t a proper punk. At that very same age I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was going to be a Professional Wrestler. However, two shy girls (my twin sister Kelly and I) with no social skills, a penchant for awkwardness and a love of baggy kaki pants and oversized wrestling tees, did not a wrestler make. The women on TV were models, how on earth were two small girls from Stockport going to be wrestlers? The answer to that question according to the other kids at school and most of the adults around me was quite simple, they were definitely not going to be wrestlers, and it was a rather humorous and entertaining anecdote. The laughs were a plenty. Needless to say, I felt like I spent the majority of my teen years trying to justify what I liked and what I wanted to do.

All these year later, I’m thirty-two years old, had a successful wrestling career, still love Good Charlotte and have realised that I don’t have to fit into a box. However, that still doesn’t stop those niggling insecurities. Nowadays, someone doesn’t even have to make a comment about me acting my age or looking my age for me to feel anxious, those nerves are always at the back of my mind. I can’t seem to shake them. Those underlying fears are where Scarlett’s character in ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ came from. I wanted to write a character who felt a little hopeless and didn’t fit in and I wanted to see her come out at the other end feeling strong, confident and inspired by all the things that make her, her.

Furthermore, I wanted to write a story that saw two people carry the things they loved as children with them into adulthood and not feel ashamed of doing so. I wanted Scarlett and Devon to be unapologetic about their love of Superheroes because life is way too short to not enjoy or shout from the rooftops about the things, the people and the adventures that make us happy.

Seven years after meeting Zachary Levi on that magical New York night I got to meet him again at my first ever Comic Con while he was promoting Shazam. I loved that when he talked about being a Superhero his eyes lit up and he wasn’t afraid of being excited about it. I loved that while doing press for the movie that you could clearly see how enthusiastic he was about becoming a real-life Superhero. When I met Zac again, he was just as kind, wonderful and inspirational. To me, he’s always embodied joy, fun and love and ultimately, I wanted ‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to be a combination of all those things.

‘One Snowy Week in Springhollow’ to me is about overcoming those childhood scars, figuring out who you are and loving that person the whole way. It’s about fighting for the people that make us feel seen and realising that you are worthy of your own fairy tale. (of New York.)

So, next time the people at your local Cinema save you a life size cardboard cut-out of Shazam, (see, there will be people that get you) and you have to walk past all the hip, cool and quaint restaurants where people are enjoying a sophisticated cocktail and chilled beer on the patios outside and they offer you odd and curious looks as you hold said giant cardboard cut-out, hold your head high, don’t feel embarrassed and rock it because you in all your nerdy, goofy, beautiful glory are SHAMAZING!

All my love

Lucy xx

Lucy Knott

Lucy Knott is a former professional wrestler with a passion for storytelling. Now, instead of telling her stories in the ring, she’s putting pen to paper, fulfilling another lifelong dream in becoming an Author.

Inspired by her Italian Grandparents, when she is not writing you will most likely find her cooking, baking and devouring Italian food, in addition to learning Italian and daydreaming of trips to Italy.

Along with her twin sister, Kelly, Lucy runs TheBlossomTwins.com, where she enthusiastically shares her love for books, baking and Italy, with daily posts, reviews and recipes.

Twitter Twitter Facebook Instagram

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Humour

The Spy Who Inspired Me Stephen Clarke 5*#Review @sclarkewriter #PAF @RichardsonHelen #humour #historical #WW2 #France #Female #Spy #satirical #BlogTour #BookReview #TheSpyWhoInspiredMe

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.

Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.

Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.

The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.

Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.

Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me

My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.

The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.

This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)

The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.

Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.

And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.

The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.

Stephen Clarke – Image Credit Marie Liss

Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy
novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which
have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a
million copies worldwide.

Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both
hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.

Twitter Website

Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

WeddingVows and Cornish Ribbons Laura Briggs 4*#Review #GuestPost #RomCom #romance #ReturntoCornwall #humour #friendship #community #Weddings #Events #Cornwall #BookReview #PublicationDay @rararesources

Event planner Julianne Rose is on the verge of making her dreams of ‘rescuing’ weddings in need of help a reality. She and business partner Kitty have finally finished transforming the dilapidated barn into a chic event space, and they even have a new client eager to use it—a quirky, charming space organization guru named Deirdre who seems capable of organizing everything but her own special day. As if that wasn’t enough, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity soon presents itself through the who’s who of their sleepy little Cornish village: the chance to step into the event planning void for a posh bride in desperate need of an emergency salvage for her wedding plans. A wedding that could establish Julianne and Kitty as two of Cornwall’s best event planners if all goes well.

But an event that big doesn’t come without a catch. To persuade the posh clients to commit to them, Julianne and Kitty must first impress them with the ceremony for their current bride-to-be—a task that seemed easy, but proves complicated when stories emerge involving a history of broken engagements, cold feet, and commitment phobia on the part of Deirdre, who soon begins to exhibit possible symptoms of nervousness regarding her big day. Faced with a real case of runaway bride—and with their future reputation at stake— they must attempt to the impossible task of holding together a wedding fraying at its seams, and Julianne finds herself seemingly facing a choice between what’s best for Save the Date’s survival and what’s best for her client’s happiness, regardless of the cost.

Are Julianne’s worst fears about to be realized, with Deirdre gearing up for yet another run from the church altar? Can she persuade the posh but sympathetic bride Alexi to take a risk on Save the Date regardless of it? And will Julianne and the handsome-but-equally-busy Matt find time to smolder anything in their marriage besides leftover chicken pie? Readers will learn these answers and more in the funny and heartfelt sequel to the first full-length titular novel Return to Cornwall .

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This first book in the Return to Cornwall series is believable, engaging and funny.

Readers familiar with the author will recognise the two protagonists from the A Wedding in Cornwall series. This book brings together old friends and new, in a delightful story of a would-be runaway bride, and the struggle to get a new business off the ground. For lovers of all things wedding, this is a perfect read. The event and wedding planning research makes this an authentic story and coupled with relatable characters its a must-read book.

Gentle humour runs through the story, especially when exploring family life, and the stress of getting married. There are some poignant moments which makes the happy outcome, well deserved.

This first book promises another lovely series from this author.

Creating Exciting Events for My Cornish Romance Reads!

– Laura Briggs Guest Post

Thank you so much to Jane for letting me drop by and share about my Cornish romance reads. My newest one, Wedding Vows and Cornish Ribbons, makes its debut today as book one in a new series about Julianne Rose, a busy wife and mum running her own event planning firm in the idyllic village she calls home. This isn’t my first time to write about Julianne’s adventures, though, with the same characters and setting used as the focus of my long running series known as ‘A Wedding in Cornwall’, where Julianne begin her career organizing special occasions at the village manor house—and found her own happily ever after with handsome, Poldark-esque gardener Matthew Rose. With the series reboot being launched, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the more unique events Julianne has coordinated over her rather diverse career.

Pippa’s wedding in A Manor in Cornwall:

This was a fan favorite and special for multiple reasons, but mostly because it was the event that introduced Julianne to her new assistant (and future best friend and business partner) Kitty. Tough-as-nails on the outside, Kitty was a village girl who harbored a hidden talent for spotting the little details that make bigger events shine. She would go on to have her own happy ever after—and even her own narrative in one book—because she resonated so well with readers of the series. Of course, A Manor in Cornwall was also the story that bid a bittersweet farewell to Cliffs House kitchen maid Pippa, whose wedding reception would become a favorite memory for both Julianne and her young assistant. And the beautiful—though slightly dilapidated—old stone barn that Julianne and Kitty transformed for Pippa’s wedding reception becomes an important part of their brand new business in the series reboot, serving as a venue for their client’s special occasions.

The village play in A Star in Cornwall:

Shakespeare, community theatre, and a charming stranger in town with a secret made this another fan favorite in the original series. And even though Julianne didn’t exactly relish her brief stint as substitute director of the Cliff’s Edge Player’s summer production of Romeo and Juliet, it definitely made for an interesting change of pace from her usual kind of work. With a new (and temporary) assistant by her side, Julianne managed to navigate her way through the world of local amateur dramatics without too much disaster—although, her production is rather upstaged by a dramatic discovery about one of its lead actors before the next show’s curtain can rise!

The local music competition in A Talent Show in Cornwall:

Ah, who doesn’t love a good talent show? Friendly competition among neighbors in the sleepy Cornish village stirs up excitement after a drought of boredom—and offers a once-in-a-lifetime chance for whoever comes in first place. As usual, things don’t go as smoothly as Julianne would hope for. There’s a bit of humor and a lot of heart as Julianne helps friends pull together a show to remember. And she unexpectedly finds herself in the role of mentor for a shy, budding musician in need of a bit of encouragement.

Percy and Elaine’s would-be wedding in Return to Cornwall:

This official full-length reunion novel for the series characters was packed full of laughter, fun, and friendship. It also found Julianne building a reputation for her event planning business in the village after years of organizing events at Cliffs House. Her business partner is, of course, her old friend Kitty, back in Ceffylgwyn for good it would seem, after globetrotting with her husband Nathan. Together, the two planners are tasked with organizing an elaborate, late-in-life wedding for the eccentric earl Percy and his would-be bride, an archaeologist named Elaine. It’s among Julianne’s most challenging events and comes with a bittersweet twist at the end—but with a promise of hope for the future and more excitement to come for Julianne and her friends in the Cornish village, of course.

If all this sounds like your cup of tea when it comes romance reads, I do hope you’ll be sure to check out the books in all my Cornish series. They’re perfect for those in search of a feel-good, escapist story with humor, romance, and larger-than-life events.

Laura Briggs

Laura 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.

Facebook Twitter