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

The Deptford Girls Patricia A.McBride #GuestPost #HistFic #TheDeptfordGirls The Lily Baker Series #WW2 #Friendship #London #BlogTour @rararesources

A country at war. Friends in trouble. A fascist traitor. Stepping up can only lead Lily to danger.

Rescuing friends or spotting spies; Private Lily Baker always gets involved.

While London burns she looks out for workmates and girlfriends but also uncovers a web of deception at the Depot where she works.

When the ruthless suspect knows she’s closing in, she must act fast to unmask the traitor and save her friends, herself, and the brave soldiers overseas whose lives are at risk.

The Deptford Girls is the fourth in the Lily Baker wartime series. This heart-wrenching story features courage, friendship, betrayal, compelling characters, and a captivating plot.

If you like vivid stories that take you right into the world of the characters, you’ll love The Deptford Girls. Cuddle up with a cuppa and enjoy this exciting, warm-hearted read.

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How I write – Guest Post Patricia A. McBride

This is a frequent topic in writing magazines – how I write and where I write. Let me tell you both.

I write anywhere where I have my laptop – cafes, on a bus, in the garden, at my kitchen table. Call me weird, but I have no rituals and no lucky mascots. Often I have no plot either which is worrying for an author. I’m sometimes found wondering what on earth to write next. How I envy writers who say they have a hundred plot ideas in their heads!

How I write is another matter. My goal is to have a plot worked out in great detail before I start. Every single scene oven ready. This would work well because when I know where I’m going with a story I write fast. Five thousand words on a good day. But as I said, that’s the goal. The reality is, I have some plot ideas worked out, and optimistically think that’s enough. It never is – hence the dreaded writers’ block.

I have a few ways to break through the block. Number one is to take my husband Rick to a nearby coffee shop and mercilessly pump him for ideas. He’s not a writer; he’s a very down-to-earth engineer, but somehow he has more imagination than me. That’s just plain unfair. So he’ll often give me great ideas, but he sometimes gets frustrated when I twist and turn them to fit the plot. ‘But that’s not what I said!’ he complains. I can’t argue with that, but without his suggestions I’d still be looking at a blank screen.

My second method is to speak to my great writing buddy, Fran Smith. We speak at least twice a week about writing and marketing. Oh, and sometimes about our husbands, but we won’t tell them that. She’s a massively supportive person who writes brilliantly (head off to Amazon to read ‘Best wishes, Sister B’ you’ll love it!  https://books2read.com/u/3Lg10M)

As with Rick, I often change her suggestions, but they are always inspirational. Both of us write period stories and find old photos aid the writing process. My Lily Baker series is set in World War Two England and France. There are hundreds of photos online that give me ideas and I love the BBCs People’s War web pages where people alive during the war tell their stories. Many of them have found their way into Lily’s novels.

While I was writing The Telephone Girls, which is set in England and France, I was absolutely stuck for a plot idea. Lily and her friends worked as telephonists in Paris for the British Expeditionary Force. They had to work right up until the German army entered the city, then they had a frantic race across France to avoid the murderous invasion. I’d already given them several horrible obstacles to overcome, then dried up. I asked for suggestions on a writing Facebook page I belong to, and someone came up with the perfect idea.

If you’d like to read The Telephone Girls, you’ll find it on Amazon now.

Patricia A. McBride

Patricia lives in Cambridge, England with her husband Rick. She first wrote non-fiction, mainly self-help books, but became inspired to try her hand at fiction. In addition to writing she volunteers for a local museum and Addenbrookes Hospital.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Domestic Thriller, Friendship, Guest post, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Do Her No Harm Naomi Joy #GuestPost @naomijoyauthor @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #PsychologicalThriller #CrimeFiction #Secrets #Lies #DomesticSuspense #Friendship #DoHerNoHarm

One unsolved murder. A best friend determined to right the wrongs of the past.

On the 21st August Tabitha Rice disappeared without a trace. All the signs point to murder, but no signs point to a murderer. The easiest answer is her husband, Rick. But he protests his innocence and there is little proof he is the murderer.

Annabella knows there is more to the story than what the police are telling. Tabitha was her best friend and she vows to uncover the truth.

As Annabella delves further into the past, she uncovers sides to Tabitha that she never saw coming, and she finds herself asking the question… Was this murder? Or is there more to Tabitha Rice’s story than meets the eye?

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Guest Post Naomi Joy -The inspiration behind Do Her No Harm

My novel Do Her No Harm – a play on the Hippocratic oath declaration Primum non nocere, ‘first, do no harm’ – was inspired by the current state of the non-surgical cosmetics industry in Britain. It’s not very well known, and it certainly surprised me, that in the UK, it is legal for procedures like Botox and dermal fillers to be injected by anyone, regardless of their training or experience.[1]

I was equally stunned to find out that Botulinum toxin – Botox – is the most poisonous biological substance known to humankind[2] – a couple of teaspoons would be enough to kill everyone in the UK – and yet it is so routinely used in an industry that is not currently well regulated.

The industry has seen a boom in recent years thanks, in part, to Instagram. The perfect pouts and filtered faces created in clinics across the country have led an increasing number of people to seek out cheap cosmetic surgery in order to emulate what they see on the platform. As a result, an increasing number are suffering the serious consequences of being injected by untrained and unprofessional individuals. In 2018, Save Face, a national register of accredited practitioners, received a whopping 934 complaints from patients regarding unregistered practitioners.

Another documentary, The Botox Bust, took this one step further and found beauticians across the country happy to give Botox to an undercover reporter without a valid prescription, and a struck-off doctor supplying Botox over the phone. The BBC’s One Show found that 17 out of 23 providers visited were happy to offer lip fillers to a 15-year-old.

I found all of this fascinating and just knew I had to write about it. In Do Her No Harm we meet Annabella, an aesthetic nurse who uses these toxins every day. In fact, her entire personality has been shaped by cosmetic procedures, nipping and tucking each time she wants to reinvent herself. With the news that her best friend, Tabitha, is missing, Annabella’s life begins to spiral: her only focus finding out what happened to Tabitha and bringing her kidnapper to justice.


[1] https://www.saveface.co.uk/about-us/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1128745/

Naomi Joy

Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at a prestigious PR firm in London. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in to the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

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Read my review of Do Her No Harm

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Guest post, Romance

The Winter We Met Samantha Tonge #GuestPost @SamTongeWriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #festive #Family #Friends #Romance #Christmas #CareHomes #Party #Toys #BlogTour #publicationday #TheWinterWeMet

When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

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Guest Post – Samantha Tonge – The Randomness of Life

Have you ever thought about the randomness of life? Sometimes, the way things happen by chance, scares me a little! It’s strange to think that if I’d got my first choice of university (bad interview – long story!) I’d never have met my husband, never have had my children. And when my two started their degrees I thought how strange it was that probably the closest group of friends they would develop for life was going to be determined by an administrator allotting them to a particular room in  a particular halls of residence.

Life is random and that’s why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if things don’t always go to plan. In fact, the unexpected nature of our existence is, in my opinion, what makes it so exciting. I think back to my student days… I was never going to get married nor have kids, and I was focused on learning languages, translating, nothing to do with being an author. However for many different reasons, my life went down a different path – and who knows where I will be a decade or two from now.

That randomness is what I wanted to capture in The Winter We Met, by  lead character Jess sitting in the wrong seat on an aeroplane and by doing so meeting Nik,  a man who was going to change her life in ways she could never have expected.

Travelling is a great opportunity for chance encounters. I remember aupairing in the south of France when I was nineteen. One day I travelled on a bus to meet a friend. I sat next to a young Frenchman, an artist, and we chatted and laughed all the way. As we parted, both of us knowing we would never meet again, he reached into his bag and gave me a silver pocket watch to remember him by. I still have it today. And for several months afterwards he would send me a postcard with a watercolour he’d paint onto the front.

Then a couple of years later, I had a job in London and commuted every morning. I’d sit on the train reading a French magazine to improve my language skills. Often I’d catch the eye of a particular guy with lovely freckles and a great smile. Eventually we got talking – he’d assumed I was French. And that gave rising to another friendship forming and, under different circumstances, could have easily led to a romance.

Several of my books have been inspired by chance encounters. One Summer In Rome has a blind main character and he was inspired by an incredible woman I met and chatted to on a train, who couldn’t see – she travelled the country alone, with her job, training visually impaired people to use special technology.

Chance encounters, life’s randomness, it’s a wonderful thing because when things are going really badly, when you’re in one of life’s ruts, don’t ever forget that there is always the possibility that something totally unexpected will pull you out of it – and that could be just around the corner.

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.

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Read my review of The Winter We Met here

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Return to Cornwall Laura Briggs #GuestPost @PaperDollWrites #Cornwall #RomCom @rararesources #BlogTour #ReturntoCornwall

The sequel novel to the best-selling UK series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL brings new surprises, romance, humor, and wedding bells, to readers who fell in love with the first stories.

Busy mother of two Julianne Rose has extended her talents beyond the manor house, opening her own event planning agency with the help of no-nonsense best friend Kitty. Balancing the chaos of daily life with their respective careers in their beloved Cornish village means Julianne can rarely snatch a romantic moment with handsome husband Matt. And just when it seems things couldn’t get any more chaotic, a sudden arrival at Cliffs House lands Julianne in the most unusual event of her career.

The reappearance of Percy or ‘the old earl’ after years of adventures abroad has temporarily shocked Lord William and Lady Amanda and set the entire village abuzz with gossip. Grizzled, spry, and delightfully eccentric, he’s returned with a most unusual set of traveling companions: an archaeological team digging in a spot whispered to have ties with the legendary Camelot. But it’s Percy’s ties with a certain charming woman among its team that has everyone taken by surprise, along with the news of their soon-to-be nuptials.

Tasked with planning the big day, Julianne and Kitty spring at this opportunity despite its rushed timeline and their own woes regarding the renovation of their future event space. But as the big day rolls closer for the earl and his bride-to-be – with cakes and wedding flowers competing with pottery shards and an ancient warrior chieftain’s grave for attention — are there still surprising revelations to come?

Adding to the excitement is the return of former Cliffs House maid Gemma, whose posh new life as a novelist may not be all it seems … and Dinah visits in a flurry of festive baking for a holiday competition on everyone’s favorite baking show. Kitty’s life is in a tizz regarding both family and secrets … and Julianne’s happy marriage is challenged by an unwelcome sexy-and-persistent suitor among the summer visitors.

Filled with old friends, new adventures, and heartwarming Cornish charm, RETURN TO CORNWALL is an all-new, full-length novel—the first one ever to feature the characters from the original series!

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Fun Facts about Return to Cornwall:Laura Briggs

Thank you to Jane for letting me to tell her readers about my newest romance read, Return to Cornwall. It features the same characters and setting from my long-running series A WEDDING IN CORNWALL, with the same sense of humor, romance, and adventure at its heart. There are exciting new changes too, though, and I hope that fans and new readers alike will find themselves caught up in a fun, feel-good escape when they join event planner Julianne and her friends at Cliffs House for a summer in beautiful Cornwall. I thought it might be lovely to share a few fun facts behind the story’s inspiration, so let’s dive in!

  1. Although a little cliché perhaps, the idea of an Arthurian archaeology site was inspired by Cornwall’s ties to the legendary king and his Camelot. With multiple sites in the county already linked to the beloved lore it only seemed fitting to create a fictional dig with the same special connection. My own personal favorite from the historic Arthurian locations in Cornwall is that of his supposed birth site at Tintagel Castle, with its amazing and atmospheric medieval ruins and rugged shoreline—it’s definitely on my travel wish list!
  2. Julianne and Matt’s decision to name their son Heath is fitting for two reasons, first being that it’s a plant native to Cornwall. The second reason is that Matt and Julianne’s first meeting—and subsequent fiery exchange—took place when her spiky heels trod a patch of heath that was freshly planted by the rugged gardener on the grounds of the estate she was strolling through.
  3. Readers of my Cornish wedding series have always known that it owed some of its inspiration to the BBC drama Poldark. And with subtle nods to the series having popped up in previous novellas, I couldn’t resist sneaking yet another parallel into this reunion story. Fans of the television series will likely guess which one if I say it involves a handsome admirer’s attempts to woo our married heroine through poetry—only with very different results than what happens in the television series, I might add!
  4. In the past, I’ve often watched episodes of reality wedding shows for inspiration on designs, trends, and décor that characters like Julianne would be familiar with in their work. But for this book I needed to get a feel for a very different field of work: namely, the world of archaeology and history exploration. So instead of Rich Bride, Poor Bride, I found myself binge watching episodes of Time Team and Expedition Unknown to help create the atmosphere and excitement of a dig site where ancient ruins are being discovered.

If you’re a fan of feel-good romance with a bit of drama and a lot of heart, I hope you’ll be sure to check out my latest read. And if you haven’t read Julianne’s previous adventures, now is the perfect time to start. You can find all twelve of the original novellas from A WEDDING IN CORNWALL available in individual format as well as two convenient book bundles—they go perfect with a cuppa and a sunny day in the garden!

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.

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Giveaway to Win an e-copy of Return to Cornwall by Laura Briggs (Open INT)

To enter click on giveaway link

*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 Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Guest post, Holiday Romance, Romance

A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss Laura Briggs #GuestPost @PaperDollWrites @rararesources #Romance #Cornwall #ALittleHotelinCornwall

Weeks after boarding a train to Paris in pursuit of her writing dreams, aspiring novelist Maisie Clark is right back where she started: on the idyllic shores of Port Hewer in Cornwall, luggage in hand and heart filled with anticipation for what lies ahead. Except that nothing seems the same as Maisie left it, from her place among the staff at the hotel Penmarrow to her budding romance with groundskeeper Sidney Daniels, who isn’t quite ready to overlook the painful consequences of her sudden departure.

Losing Sidney would be unbearable, but Maisie can’t help fearing it might be true if the rift between them proves too deep to heal. She knows her feelings for him are unchanged, but whether he feels the same remains to be seen—particularly since she stopped him from expressing them in the first place. And to make matters worse, her position at the Penmarrow has been filled by another, there’s nowhere for her to live in the village, and her savings are finally dwindling to a pathetic number – with her book still unpublished after her startling discovery about the author helping guide her towards success.

But one thing which hasn’t changed is the drama and excitement at the hotel Penmarrow, where the staff is awaiting inspection from the dreaded owner Ms. Claypool. Stirring up trouble in the meantime is the owner’s special guest ‘Mad Ludwig’, an eccentric architect whose demands are definitely driving everyone on the staff a little crazy. And then there’s the hotel’s mysterious new desk manager, whose behavior ignites Maisie’s suspicions and causes her to become entangled in yet another form of intrigue—one that could unwittingly jeopardize the future of the Penmarrow and everyone who works there, unless Maisie can find a way to undo the harm.

With everything that matters to her most at stake this time, Maisie faces her biggest challenges yet…and her deepest question of the heart as she confronts the reason she returned to Cornwall and the Penmarrow in the first place.

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Reasons Readers Might Enjoy A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss: Laura Briggs

Thanks so much to Jane for this chance to tell her readers about my newest Cornish romance read. The sixth book to be released in my ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’ series, it shakes things up for the main character Maisie in a big way, as her life in the quaint village of Port Hewer takes a different route than the one she knows and loves so well. For this guest post, I wanted to share a few of the reasons why readers might look forward to A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss (and perhaps the other books in the series, if they have yet to read them!). So here goes:

It puts the spotlight on romance

Of course, romance has always been a part of Maisie’s Cornish journey, from the moment she woke from a cycling accident to find a handsome stranger cradling her with a look of concern. A friendship was quickly formed, their potential for ‘something more’ always just beneath the surface—with a few stolen kisses and near misses in between, of course. But this story really puts their relationship center stage, exploring those unspoken emotions and loose ends created by Maisie’s abrupt departure back in book four. It’s a bit messy, a bit angsty, and absolutely nothing like the reunion Maisie pictured…and that’s just their first conversation, the rift between them far wider than Maisie dreamed in her rush to get back from London. But since when did the course of true love ever run smooth?

It has quirky guest characters

This always seems to be a popular aspect of the Little Hotel books: the glamorous, grand, and sometimes eccentric guests who check into the opulent hotel by the sea. Past reader favorites include the celebrity ‘psychic’ hired for the earl’s birthday party in A Spirited Girl in Cornish Shores, and the infamous jewel thief known simply as La Fleur in book four of the series. This time, it’s an architect with an obsessive streak and the hotel’s jet-setting owner Ms. Claypool who are keeping the staff on their toes. And then there’s the new desk clerk Frank, whose covert activities make Maisie fear for the future of the hotel and its employees—and, of course, she’s determined to stop him before disaster ensues.

Another secret is introduced

Longtime readers of the series know that just about everyone seems to be hiding something at the hotel Penmarrow. Be it their real name, their native accent—or something even more out of the ordinary—there’s more than one person on staff pretending to be someone or something they’re not. And when it comes to this latest intrigue, Maisie finds herself curious to have the answer for personal reasons. It’s a matter close to her heart, the very reason she came to Cornwall in the first place…and even though she might not get quite the answer she’s looking for within the pages of this particular novella, it’s all leading up to bigger reveals in the final two installments of the series, and I do hope readers will agree that the answers are worth waiting for.

If you haven’t read the stories in my Cornish romance series yet, I hope you’ll be sure to check them out. Books one through six are available in digital format at Amazon and other major eBook retailers, with book seven now on pre-order.

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.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Guest post, New Adult Romance, Romance

Seven and a Half Minutes Roxana Valea #GuestPost #Polo #London #Dating #Love #SevenandaHalfMinutes #BlogTour #ThePoloDiaries @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third instalment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events. 

Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love? 

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Guest Post

Roxana Valea -Find your passions or they’ll find you!

When I was ten, I had a dream. I wanted to ride horses. I didn’t own a horse and didn’t know anyone who did. I had no idea where this wish came from but it was there, coming to visit my dreams at night. I dreamed of riding horses.

My parents were not very open to the idea and it took a couple of years of convincing before they eventually took me to a club where I could learn how to ride. I met Samurai there, the first horse I ever rode. He was a black gelding, old and slow. Perfect for children, my trainer told my parents.

Samurai and I spend that summer together. I came to ride three times a week and felt my heart bubbling with excitement every time I met him. I saved apples and carrots for him but he couldn’t care less. For him, I was just another twelve-year-old learning to ride.  I took a fall or two and made sure I concealed all evidence from my parents. I didn’t want to endanger my newly found passion and I was afraid if my parents found out about my falls, they would put a stop to all this.

But, in the end, it was I who put a stop. Winter came and we didn’t ride in the winter and by the following spring I had to focus on my exams and I somehow forgot about Samurai and the riding club. He came into my mind a few times but every time I was pushing the thought further and further away and other things became more important. A new school, dresses, music. Friends. Going to university. More friends. More dresses. Holidays. And later, work. Career. Money. No time. Very little time, actually. No time for this type of things, anyway.

How often do we treat our passions that way? They come to us in childhood and draw us in with inexplicable force. They make us feel alive, whole, excited. We try them on and love every minute of the experience. But then, other things get in the way and we learn to live life as defined by others. We go on following a path that has been prescribed for us, leaving behind the passion we had found and sometimes a piece of our own soul with it.

But passions discovered in childhood don’t go away. They wait patiently in the dark corners of our mind, the places we have pushed them into. They wait and germinate and every now and then send a signal from down there. “Are you ready?” they ask. “Are you ready to come back to me?”

If we’re not, they don’t get angry. They keep on waiting. They’re patient, these passions. They know something we haven’t learned yet: they know they are part of our soul and there’s no way we can cut them out for good.

And year after year we keep them locked down there. Until one day. Because there’s always one day when things change. One day when we come face to face with this long-forgotten passion.

For me it happened in an office, in my mid-thirties, while I was working for a large multinational company. I had a meeting with a colleague to discuss the upcoming launch of a new technology. She worked in the legal department. I was a project manager. I headed over to that meeting carrying my laptop in one hand and the printed launch schedule in the other. My mind was busy recapping all the points we needed to cover during the meeting. The launch was near and I wasn’t going to let anything get in its way.

But something did. As I entered the meeting room she wasn’t there. I waited for a few minutes, feeling irritation bubbling up. I didn’t have any time to waste. And then, just as I wanted to leave, she came in walking slowly.

“Sorry for being late.” she said. “I can’t walk properly. I’ve got muscle pain. I had a riding lesson yesterday.”

And so, with no notice, no time to prepare and no possibility of denial, my old passion walked slowly back into my life. And the following week I went riding with my colleague.

And if you want to know more about what happens when you reconnect to an old childhood passion, read The Polo Diaries Series!

Roxana Valea

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.


Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Sing Me A Secret Julie Houston 5*#Review @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #guestpost #BlogTour #BookReview #SingMeASecret #Westenbury #WednesdayMotivation

The four Sutherland sisters have all had very different paths in life, but one secret and a slighty tense production of Jesus Christ Superstar are about to bring them all back together again…

When the news that pop-superstar Lexia Sutherland is returning to Westenbury, not everyone is thrilled by the news – including Lexia. There are too many memories she doesn’t need to face – or need re-surfacing. Meanwhile, Juno Sutherland just wants a little peace and quiet.

As the local village doctor, she’s got her priorities in order; kids, job, husband, tenacious pony, a role in the village musical… So when the sexy new locum turns up – and steals her office – the last thing she needed was to be hit with rising temperatures and an over-active imagination.

Will these sisters be able to uncover the past, deal with the future and put on the performance of a lifetime?

Return to Westenbury this spring and find out.

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

My Thoughts…

Relatable characters in an authentic village setting make this story captivating, humorous, poignant and romantic.

The Sutherland sisters grew up in the village and have gradually returned. All except for Lexia the youngest. Their family ripped apart by their parent’s infidelity and mental health issues, has a chance to heal with Lexia’s return. This story explores the sisters’dark secrets, mental health issues, and relationships sensitively.

The balance of laugh out loud and tear-jerking moments are perfect in this realistic story. Character-driven it’s absorbing, you believe in the characters and care what happens to them.

I loved the risque romance, the lovely Tilda and her quirky pets. Lexia’s story is sad and resonates. Thankfully the ending is positive for all the sisters.

Guest Post – Sing Me A Secret – Julia Houston

SING ME A SECRET returns to the village of Westenbury in West Yorkshire where Pandora Boothroyd, the self-appointed First Lady of the village, has put forward an application to The Really Useful Group – an actual organisation that gives permission for local rep. companies and choirs to perform the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The story was somewhat inspired by my own venture into musical theatre.

About fifteen years ago, the choir I’d sung with for several years, was given permission by The Really Useful Group to put on a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar in Leeds Town Hall, the several hundred-strong choir taking the part of the chorus waving palm leaves and belting out the many songs, while Jesus and Judas were drafted in from another part of Yorkshire to strengthen the ranks.

And what a Jesus! I can’t even remember his name now but he was gorgeous, and at every weekly rehearsal we’d be asking, ‘Jesus, just look at Jesus. Is Jesus here yet? When’s Jesus going to do his bit? No Jesus tonight?’ We were all a little bit in love, starstruck even, by this talented young man who, during the day, was possibly a painter and decorator, a postman, a teacher – I really have no idea – but at every Monday rehearsal night was transformed into the son of God.

Similarly, when the characters from SING ME A SECRET are first introduced to their Jesus, there is much wide-eyed oohing and aahing amongst the women:

Everyone…’Pandora trilled, holding out an arm before kissing Jesus as if she were compering the Oscars. ‘Everyone, I want you to give a warm welcome to Brett Bailey. Brett is from Barnsley – he’s just finished a run of Joseph in Sheffield – but has agreed to travel over every week to be with us.’

‘Brett Bailey from Barnsley?’ Ariadne, at Juno’s side, who up until then had said very little throughout the proceedings, gave a loud bark of laughter and then started giggling, unable to stop.

‘Oh, but look at him,’ Izzy sighed. ‘Look at Jesus. Jesus, he can lay his hands on me anytime.’

At our actual rehearsals in Leeds, it appeared that someone was missing: seemingly we didn’t have a Herod. During rehearsals, at the point where Herod should be going for his one big number – historically camped up and wearing an over-the-top costume – our musical director, Gary, would simply pass over Herod’s entrance and go on to the next. It wasn’t until the dress rehearsal, when we’d almost forgotten that Herod even existed in the musical, that he made an appearance, flamboyant in yellow suit and purple wig. To begin with, we couldn’t quite work out who was hiding under the wig until he started to sing and we realised it was Gary, the musical director himself. He was brilliant, really superb, and I’ve recreated this scene in SING ME A SECRET when the village have lost their first Herod and a new manifestation then makes an appearance in yellow suit and purple wig, the rest of the choir at first unable to work out just who it is up camping it up on the stage.

What was so great for me, when writing this story, was losing myself once again in the many fantastic numbers in this musical, almost waving a virtual palm leaf as I wrote, remembering not only our very own gorgeous and brilliant Jesus, but my eight-year-old son constantly singing around the house:

Jesus Christ, Superstar

Six feet tall and he wears a bra.

Julie Houston is the author of The One Saving Grace, Goodness, Grace and Me and Looking for Lucy, a Kindle bestseller top100 general, and a Kindle bestseller Number1. She is married, with the two teenage children and a mad cockerpoo and, like her heroine, lives in a West Yorkshire village. She is also a teacher and a magistrate.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Mystery, Noir

Death of a Mermaid Lesley Thomson 4* #Review @LesleyJmThomson @HoZ_Books @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #BookReview #DeathofaMermaid #MurderMystery #Coastal #Mystery #noircrime #Friendships #ComingofAge

Freddy left her childhood home in Newhaven twenty-two years ago and swore never to return. But now her parents are dead, and she’s back in her hometown to help her brothers manage the family fishmonger. Nothing here has changed: the stink of fish coming up from the marshes; the shopping trolleys half-buried by muddy tides; the neighbours sniffing for a new piece of gossip.

It’s not what Freddy would have chosen, but at least while she’s here she’ll get to see her childhood best friends, Toni and Pauline. At school, the three of them were inseparable. The teachers called them the Mermaids for their obsession with the sea, and with each other.

Then Pauline goes missing, and Freddy must decide. Go back to her new life, or stay and find her friend?

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

My Thoughts…

This atmospheric story is a fusion of murder mystery, coming of age friendships and noir crime. Set in coastal Newhaven the setting adds to the story’s sense of mystery. Freddy and her two friends were inseparable as youngsters, experimenting with life and love.

Told from three points of view there are many suspects in the murder mystery. The plot is cleverly constructed and until the end conceals as much as it reveals. The story explores relatable contemporary issues such as abuse and bullying.

The suspense builds slowly in the detailed plot and nothing is certain until the end.

An absorbing believable story.

Guest Post – Death of a Mermaid –  Lesley Thomson – Researching fact for fiction

Death of a Mermaid, is a murder mystery set in Newhaven, a port town in East Sussex. This took me into the world of trawlers, fish, Catholicism and a small animal hotel. When I had the idea, I knew little if nothing about any of these subjects.

I do a lot of research for my novels. Some of this is on the internet and I read books and articles. I talk with people who do the jobs I plan for my characters. For the sake of Jack Harmon, train driver in The Detective’s Daughter series, I rode in the cab of a London Underground train. Stella Darnell’s detective dad showed his little girl the horses at Hammersmith Police Stables. When I went, I mistook a row of loudhailers on a wall for hairdryers. All grist to the mill. In Kew Garden’s Herbarium are plant specimens – thrillingly called ‘dead materials’ – discovered by Charles Darwin. Had I stayed longer in the vast Victorian chamber with spiral staircases the naphthalene that nineteenth century botanists used to preserve specimens and in which they were still steeped, would have killed me. Great stuff.

For all this only a tenth of what I learn reaches the story.

On a hot spring day I visited a pets’ hotel called Creature Comforts. Many guests were out of their hutches basking in wire runs on the hotel’s lawn. There was Mr Bun the white rabbit, a lion-headed rabbit appropriately named Simba and regular residents the guinea pigs, Minty and Angelica. George, an ancient parrot preened himself on his perch. Intermittently he embarked on spelling out his name, always stopping ‘r’ before discriminately squawking, ‘I love you.

Jane the proprietor explained the hotel’s daily doings. On her guests’ behalf, she pens the owners postcards filled with news of how their creatures pass the time. The pets too are on their holidays. Jane hosts a variety of small animals and birds including hamsters – Dougal rolled past in a Perspex ball – cockatiels and budgies. Degus, Jane warned (Tinkerbell and Nibbles being examples) are tricky. At mealtimes, sniffing pastures new, they can shoot from their cages and whizzing out at top speed are nearly impossible to retrieve. As I scribbled in my notebook, I concocted the scene. An escaped degu – in Death of a Mermaid I call him Roddy – is the stuff of drama. As Jane explained the ins and outs of the hotel, I knew I had struck gold.

I was invited to Waitrose at dawn one morning. In my novel 40-year-old Freddie Power manages the fish counter in the supermarket’s Liverpool branch. In overalls and hairnet, I watched Steve the manager shovel ice onto a display shelf. With an artist’s flair, species by species, he arranged the sea’s produce, bass, salmon, prawns, scallops, cod. All garnished with lemons, parsley and samphire. Yesterday’s unsold fish goes at the front. Good detail. Freddy will do that.

In Death of a Mermaid Freddy, Toni and Mags had met at convent school in Newhaven during the eighties. The actual convent was evacuated to Hampshire in the second-world war after it was bombed by the Germans. In reality, it never returned to the town. In my novel, it’s still there. The girls call themselves the Mermaids after Disney’s The Little Mermaid. In service to my novel, I watched the film several times. Sebastian the Crab singing Under the Sea to Ariel remains an exasperating earworm!

My research is not only to gather facts. The inspiration and energy I get from  conversations, reading, ‘field trips’ to locations like Newhaven and it’s beaches fuel my writing as I draft and redraft the novel.

As I said, not all I discover goes into the novel. To reach the page, a fact must contribute to the plot. I’m afraid that George the parrot ended up on the cutting room floor.

Lesley Thomson

Lesley Thomson grew up in west London. Her first novel, A Kind of Vanishing, won the People’s Book Prize in 2010. Her second novel, The Detective’s Daughter, was a number 1 bestseller and sold over 500,000 copies.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Blitz, Guest post, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Travel

Through Dust and Dreams. An African Adventure Roxana Valea ​#GuestPost @roxana_valea @rararesources #Travel #memoir #Africa #ThroughDustandDreams #BlogBlitz #SundayThoughts #RachelsRandomResources

At a crossroads in her life, Roxana decides to take a ten-day safari trip to Africa. In Namibia, she meets a local guide who talks about “the courage to become who you are” and tells her that “the world belongs to those who dream”.

Her holiday over, Roxana still carries the spell of his words within her soul. Six months later she quits her job and searches for a way to fulfil an old dream: crossing Africa from north to south. Teaming up with Richard and Peter, two total strangers she meets over the Internet, Roxana starts a journey that will take her and her companions from Morocco to Namibia, crossing deserts and war-torn countries and surviving threats from corrupt officials and tensions within their own group.

Through Dust and Dreams is the story of their journey: a story of courage and friendship, of daring to ask questions and search for answers, and of self-discovery on a long, dusty road south.

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Guest Post – Roxana Valea

Through Dust and Dreams.

Follow your dreams

“The world belongs to those who dreams.” he told me looking deep into my eyes.

I was a tourist on a ten day safari trip in Namibia. He was the tour guide. We were finishing our drinks late at night under the full moon. The rest of the tourists were already asleep but I didn’t want to go to sleep. It was my last night in Africa and I didn’t feel ready to go back and face my job, my life, my flat, and all the emptiness I left behind.

I thought it was only a big statement called in by too much alcohol. I pretended I didn’t hear it. But somewhere deep down, it touched me. What are my dreams? I asked myself. I didn’t know. I hadn’t asked myself the question.

I went back the next day and returned to a life that was a far cry from what I really wanted. Not that I actually knew what was it that I really wanted. But then, something magic happened. I started to dream again. New things came into my mind, at the beginning like a shy day dreaming thought that would quickly disappear. Slowly, these thoughts turned into constant companions. Thoughts  like “I want to go back to Africa. I want to travel. I want to find a job that has meaning. I want to explore where I really want to live and what type of job I really want to do.” And then another though hit me with the power of a hammer: these were more than wishes.

These were my dreams.

And then, six month later, when I was offered a moment of choice, I took it. I chose to get up and go follow these dreams and turn them into reality. I left my job and went back to Africa.

Dreams are not wishes. They are not frustrations about things that should have happened in a certain way and didn’t. They are also not the product of imagination, some bubble that comes and stays with us for a while and then departs as unexpectedly and suddenly as it came. Dreams come from somewhere deep down, from the bottom of our soul. Dreams originate from the very fabric of who we really are and come to tell us a story about why we were born and what we are meant to do here, on earth. Dreams are the way your soul talks to us.

In the high Andes, the shamans, the medicine men and women of the descendants of the Incas, say that we dream the world into being. What they mean is that the reality that surrounds us – where we live, who we marry, what type of job we do – all this is a product of a dream that we have dreamed at some point. We might have done this unconsciously and didn’t fully understand what reality we had called into our life. But we may choose to do this consciously, select the dreams that we dream and then watch how this unfolds in reality.

Because, you see, in order to dream your world into being, it’s enough to hold your dreams in your consciousness. Be aware of them. Let them live in you. Let them inspire you.

So I kept these dreams alive and  six months after my return from the ten day safari in Namibia, I found a once in a life time opportunity to cross Africa from North to South, in a Land Rover, in the company of two others.

And here’s the last catch. Things come to us because we dreamed them. But then we need to take the decision to follow them. The opportunity could have come and gone and I could have stayed in my  meaningless job and carried on with my  empty life in my small flat. But I decided differently.

And with this, a whole new world opened up. Because my African guide was right, the world does belong to those who dream.

If you want to know the whole story, read my travel memoir, “Through Dust and Dreams – The Story of an African Adventure”

Roxana Valea

Roxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate World is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–travelling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband in Mallorca, Spain, where she writes, coaches, and does energy therapies, but her first passion remains writing.

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Posted in Author Guest Post, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Lost Girls Jennifer Wells 4*#Review @jenwellswriter @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #HistFic #HistoricalFiction #Secrets #Lies #FamilyDrama #BlogTour #BookReview

The Lost Girls – Jennifer Wells

Everyone remembers the day the girls went missing.

May Day 1912, a day that haunts Missensham. The day two girls disappeared. The day the girls were murdered.
Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were never meant to be friends. From two very different backgrounds, one the heir to the Caldwell estate, the other a humble vicar’s daughter. Both have their secrets, both have their pasts, but they each find solace with one another and soon their futures become irrevocably intertwined.
Now, many years later, old footage has emerged which shows that Iris Caldwell may not have died on that spring morning. The village must work out what happened the day the girls went missing…

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

My Thoughts…

The Lost Girls is a surprisingly poignant story of two girls, from different social classes, who dared to defy society’s norms. An old home movie, showing a girl who went missing, believed abducted and murdered, is the catalyst for a surprising chain of events.

The characters are complex and flawed, and their story is full of dark secrets, and desperate emotion. An absorbing, engaging story, with a uniqueness that keeps you reading.

Guest Post- Jennifer Wells-The Lost Girls

The little moments which bring the past back to life

There is something quite eerie about old films. I don’t mean cinematic classics or even the first Hollywood movies. I’m talking about the old cine films that survive from the early twentieth century. Such films were shot using cumbersome machines, where filming depended on an operator who could doggedly turn a crank handle for minutes on end. These machines produced images that are little more than light and shadow – grainy outlines and stuttering movements – yet there is something about them that is very alluring.

Among these films are some of the very first home movies. They show horse-drawn trams battling through busy shopping streets, exuberant workers spilling from factory gates, football matches, political marches and family events. The women wear shawls or gloves, their skirts swishing around their ankles as they walk. The men strut boldly, their hands thrust into the pockets of their suits. But whether young, old, rich or poor – everyone wears a hat.

The films I am describing are now over a hundred years old. The Edwardian era is a time that has become unfamiliar to us. When you watch such films, the horse-drawn trams and long skirts seem like things that only ever existed in the pages of history books, and the people appear, not as busy shoppers or factory workers, but ghosts.

It is the ghost-like quality of such films that gave me the inspiration for the opening scene of my latest novel, THE LOST GIRLS. The novel opens in 1937 with a public screening of an old film – a lost home movie that had been shot 25 years earlier on May Day 1912. As the audience watch entranced, the image of a girl in a white dress flashes on to the screen. Her face is one that they all recognise – Iris Caldwell, a girl who was thought to be dead by that May Day morning. A girl presumed murdered.

When I first started writing THE LOST GIRLS, Iris Caldwell was little more than a ghost to me. She was no more than one of those old cine film images, her face in shadow and her movements slow and stuttering. But I wanted to give life to a character who might have appeared in one of these old films, and soon the girl in the white dress became flesh and blood to me. Iris Caldwell became a girl who, like many others, loved to read novels and longed for friendships. She also became a girl with terrible secrets and forbidden desires. We live in a time that is very different from 1912. The horse-drawn trams, long skirts and a multitude of hats belong to a world that seems very strange to us. Yet, among the grainy faces that peer out from the past, we can sometimes spot a smile or a wink – something that reminds us that the people who lived back then were not so different to us after all. It is these little moments which bring the past so much closer again.

Jennifer Wells

Jennifer is the author of THE LIAR, THE MURDERESS, THE SECRET and THE LOST GIRLS published by Aria Fiction. Her novels involve the themes of family, betrayal and love and are set in the home counties in the early 20th century. Jennifer lives in Devon with her young family and cats.

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